|McMillian, Schmidt, Smith, Disken & Stone|
Although it was late July, when most teams have shut down their seasons, there was still competitive basketball to be found on day 1 of the All-Ohio End of Summer Middle School Showdown at Woodward High School in Cincinnati on Saturday. We made the trek down I-71 to catch once last glimpse of some of the state’s top teams and players. One of the best teams we saw all day was Paul McMillian’s 2022 All-Ohio Red squad, and one of the best players we saw all day was Paul McMillian Jr. (5’10/PG/2022/Cincinnati). McMillian, arguably one of the top 2-3 players in the state in his class, was up to his old tricks, slashing to basket, scoring in transition and knocking down jumpers when left open. McMillian has good size for his position, is versatile, highly skilled, is a 3-level scorer, and is almost unstoppable to the cup. He rarely over drills, only need a couple of dribble moves to find a lane to the cup. In the 2 games we watched, McMillian scored an average of 18 points. Look for McMillian at a NCAA D-I college program in a few years. McMillian’s team has several quality pieces including Myles Cameron (5’9/WF/2022/Lima), Isaiah Wilkens (5’5/SG/2022/Columbus) and Kahlil Luster (4’5/PG/2022/Lima), all of whom logged in standout performances on Saturday.
We also liked what we saw with the 2021 Cincinnati Royals. The Royals team is well built, with solid guard play, scoring and athletic wings, size in the post, a deep bench and team-oriented play. The Royals are anchored in the post by Skyler Schmidt (6’5/C/2021/Goshan), who is one of the best big men in the state. Although Schmidt is a big, he moves well, has good footwork, is deceptively athletic, and his soft touch around the rim allows him to finish at a high rate. We think Schmidt projects well going forward. Some of the other studs on that loaded team include Zyon Tulls (6’6/WF/2021/Cincinnati), Kelvin Turner (5’7/P/SG/2021/Cincinnati) and Aiden Turner (5’7/PG/2021/Springboro). We were intrigued with Tulls’ length and ability to score the ball. We had not seen him prior to Saturday, but plan to track his progress over the next couple of years.
|Hale-Frater, Davis, Bransford,Hill & Moore|
We got another look at Orlando Berry’s All-Ohio Purple squad on Saturday, and as was the case the last time we saw them in Columbus a few weeks ago, and true to all Orlando Berry-coached squads, this team played hard! In fact, we’re not sure any team in the country applies the type of defensive pressure Purple does. Although they were missing their best player in Montev Ware, Purple dominated in the game we watched. Stepping up for All-Ohio Purple were Jakada Stone (5’7/SG/2021/Cincinnati), who caught fire from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 15 points. Right behind him in scoring was Marjoni Tate (5’7/WF/2021/Cincinnati), who used his strength and small but powerful frame to bully his way to the basket to the tune of 12 points. Probably the best prospect on the team is one of the youngest players on the team in Jordan Hale-Frater (6’0/C/2022/Cincinnati). Hale-Frater has a massive frame for his age, and can both score the ball in the low post as well as protect the rim; much like Adolphis Washington did for Berry a few years ago. He’s a force playing up with Berry’s 2021 team, but when he suits up for a 2022 team watch out! We can’t wait to see what Hale-Frater does when he laces them of for the South squad in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game next month.
Coach Cliff Green’s 2021 Team Pitbull squad has a few players worth tracking as well, including BJ Bransford (5’11/combo guard/2021/Cincinnati), Kionte Thomas (5’9/PG/2021/Cincinnati), Jared Baldock (5’9/SG/2021/Cincinnati) and Brandon Lanier (6’2/C/2021/Cincinnati). We’re most familiar with Bransford, who has logged in standout performances at our elite showcases in the past, and his play on Saturday confirmed he has continued to develop. What was most impressive about Bransford’s play was his motor, energy and his defense both on and off the ball. Although defense was the highlight of his game on saturday, Bransford’s length, ball skills and athleticism makes him a scoring threat as well. In terms of well-built teams, we have to mention Coach Guy Goodwin’s 2021 Ohio Kentucky United (OKU) squad. Missing 3 of their leading scores, Goodwin’s team took R4L into overtime, and then drained a trey to win the highly contested contest. Coming up big for OKU was Grant Disken (5’7/PG/2021/KY), who exploded for a game-high 19 points, most of which were from 3-pointers, including the game winner with time running out. Like several of the ONU players, Diskens is tough, scrappy and skilled. Also fitting that description is Jay Jackson (5’11/SG/2021/Ft Mitchell) and Mason Rusch (5’7/PG/2021/KY). In the post is Robert Medalion (6’5/C/2021/Cincinnati) who is big, powerful, embraces contact and runs the floor well. We also like Michael Spencer (6’0/WF/2021/Union, KY), who has good size, is athletic and has a solid skill set. Spencer’s combination of size and skill make him a good looking prospect going forward.
|Cameron, Wilkens, Tull, Walker & Madalion|
Coach Carlos Davis’ R4L team lost a close one to ONU, but the roster is full of promising prospects. No one played better for Davis than Nic Smith (6’3/PFC/2020/Cincinnati), who displayed a developing skill set, a nice touch around the rim, body control and improved footwork. In addition, Smith ran the floor well, did a good job of rebounding, dribbling and outletting the ball. If Smith can continue to grow, his place among the state’s big men will be solidified. Other prospects on that team include Jordan Howard (6’2/SG/202/Springfield), Marcus Wise (6’0/SG/2020) and Willieon Yates (5’8/PG/2021/Dayton). Wise burst on to the state-wide scene earlier this summer with a standout performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite 60 Midwest Showdown in June, but his game remains underappreciated due to a lack of consistent exposure. Look for Wise to make an early contribution to a high school program this winter. Yates is one of the fastest PGs in Ohio, and his quickness and ball skills allow him to create separation and get into the paint. Although he can score the rock, he can also make a play for a teammate. Also running for R4L last weekend was Beavercreek’s Isaiah Kennedy, who has played for NEO Shooting Stars the past several seasons. We did not see much form Kennedy on Saturday, but his statewide and national reputation have been well-earned and confirmed.
The 2021 Ohio Hoopsters has several nice players on the roster including AJ Glover (6’0/P/SG/2021/Reynoldsburg), DJ Moore (5’9/PG/2022/Westerville) and Kobe Bufford (6’1/WF/2021/Dublin). We’ve seen Glover twice this season and on both occasions he has balled out. Because he has been a bit under exposed the last couple of seasons, his talent has not gotten the credit it deserves. Glover has good length; he’s athletic, has a great motor, and is a great defender. We didn’t see him take a lot of jump shots (he can shoot the 3-ball), but Glover can get to and finish at the rim with the best of them. His stock should rise as his exposure increases and his game continues to develop. We will be interested to see what he does at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase next month. We were also impressed with Moore, who is a 7th grader playing up for the Hoopsters, and proved he can score the rock. We also think Buford has good long-term potential, but much like Glover, we just don’t see him much. There were several other quality players at the event including: Corajae Hill (5’4/SG/2021/Cincinnati), Dustin Davis (5’5/PG/2021/Cincinnati), Bryce Walker (5’11/WF/2021/Dayton), Cameron Fancher (5’11/combo guard/2021/Huber Heights): and Anbre Simmons (4’9/PG/2023/Cincinnati). Although we were able to spend only a few hours at Paul McMillian’s event on Saturday, we were able to evaluate several players for the first time, many of whom will be attending our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase September 17th and 18th in Columbus.