Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Stars Emerge at All-Star Saturday Event

Johnson, Kennedy, Anderson, Penn & Davis
For 18 years, Richard Crocket’s All-Star Saturday event has provided the Columbus community with a dynamic Easter egg hunt as well as a high-level basketball event. Although the basketball all-star game has traditionally featured local talent, for the last couple of years we have reached out further to bring in more statewide talent. This year’s event saw Dayton and Cincinnati send representative to this annual event.  However, the star of the day hails from Columbus, and although the game featured some highly ranked kids, Marcus Johnson (6’0”WF/2020/Columbus), a virtual unknown statewide before the event, announced his arrival with a 26-point explosion and MVP Honors in the middle school game. He didn’t just put up gaudy numbers; he excited the crowd with his above the rim theatrics. Johnson is an extreme athlete with elite explosiveness. He has good length, is fluid and is at his best slashing to the basket. This season, Johnson is running with Chris Anthony’s #6 ranked Ohio Bulldogs squad.  We intend to keep an eye on Johnson, as he has a chance to play at the next level with continued hard work and development.

Beavercreek’s Isaiah Kennedy (5’10”/PG/2020) had another big day as evidenced by his team-high 15 points. Some have questioned the merit of his national exposure, but the last 2 times we’ve watched him compete against other elite players Kennedy has excelled.  A big-bodied lead guard, Kennedy is skilled, plays with poise and does not turn over the rock. Kennedy is a starter on Malcolm Walters’ #1 ranked NEO Shooting Stars squad.  We also have to give props to Dayton’s Sammy Anderson Jr. (5’9”/WF/2020) who came to Columbus and increased his stock.  He just missed making the all-star game at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase earlier this month, but his performance on Saturday confirmed for us he is among the best in the state.  Anderson is a threat to shoot it as soon as he crosses half court, and not only is he a perimeter threat, Anderson’s athleticism allows him to get to the cup and finish near the rim.  Anderson is also super smooth and plays with good pace. Anderson runs with his father’s #7 ranked Dayton Swish team.

We also saw some good things from Dominc Penn (5’4”/PG/2020/Columbus) and Von Cameron Davis (6’1”/PF/2020/Columbus), both from Columbus.  Penn is a highly skilled PG with a high basketball IQ and a solid handle, while Davis is a long, athletic big with major upside potential.  Both Penn and Davis are part of a talented Ohio Bulldogs team. Cincinnati’s Darion Henry (6’5”/PF/2020) had some bright spots as did Qian Magwood (5’6”/PG/2020/Columbus).  Congratulations to all of the players selected to participate in this event.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MWA Elite Captures Tourney Crown

2023 MWA Elite-Easter Shootout Champs (6th Grade)
The 2016 travel team season is only in it’s second full week, but already, the 2023 Mo Williams Academy (MWA) is already out to a fast start, with their win at the Easter Shootout in Garfield Heights, OH.  MWA’s 6-0 trek to the championship included wins over Air Attack-Vaughn (26-27), 4th Quarter (73-17), Lake Erie Defenders (47-27), Air Attack-Baker (60-35) Air Attack-McAfee (49-47) and Hardwork Basketball (49-31).  What’s most impressive about their run is the fact that MWA Elite was playing up in the 6th grade division! 

With a roster loaded with future stars (i.e., Desh Molton, Andre Wheeler Jr., Jayvon Moore, Cody Head, Dorian Flowers & Marlon Barnes), MWA Elite should be one of the premiere teams in the state this season.  If you want to catch this young dynamic team in action, head over to the Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament his weekend in Columbus.  MWA’s pool matchup with the North Coast Blue Chips should be a good one!  Congrats to the players, coaches and parents for a job well done!

We also have to give a shout out All-Ohio Red 2020 for bringing home the championship trophy of the Easter Classic in Cincinnati.  All-Ohio ran the table and finished 4-0 on their way to the title. Congrats!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Buckeye Prep Schedule Released (Initial Draft)

Below is a link to this weekend’s schedule.  Coaches should download/copy the document as the coaches’ packet. Sunday’s schedule will be posted at each tournament site.  As always, 95 % of teams will not experience any schedule changes between now and Saturday, however, about 5% may due to last minute cancellations by coaches (you guys are killing me)! It’s extremely important that coaches continue to visit the website for updates as the schedule may change between now and Friday.  The final and official schedule will be posted at each site.  Coaches are responsible for checking for changes.  

In addition, we will not make any additional convenience-type changes (i.e, Friday, early, late games, etc)!  The only changes we will make are for clear scheduling errors (i.e., back to back games, missing games, etc). I know you guys want to avoid extra hotel nights, but we can't schedule around things like that! Plan to play your schedule! Please review the entire schedule closely and alert us if you find any errors. If you have multiple teams in your organization, please review the information in every division for omissions or errors.  If your team is listed and you know you're not coming, please call me ASAP!

For those coaches who still owe a balance, you must settle up as soon as possible before your first game. The site manager and staff will expect your payment when you walk in the door, and do not want to have to track you down all weekend!  Also, coaches need to make sure they read and understand the tournament rules.  All rules will be enforced.  Each team must have birth certificates and grade cards on hand in the case of a challenge.  If challenged (for a $200 fee), teams must produce said documents or face possible forfeits!  Coaches are responsible for their own warm-up basketballs.

Now that those matters are out of the way, we are excited about this year’s field which is 116 temas strong and we believe this weekend should prove to be very competitive!  My staff and I will continue to work hard to ensure your players and parents have an enjoyable experience. Please arrive in the gym with a positive attitude and plenty of patience. As always, we will do our best to respond to phone calls, texts and emails.  Good luck to the teams and players participating in the tournament this weekend and safe travels!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Field Set for UA Next Midwest Combine

Last week we published a press release from Under Armour (UA) announcing the creation of the UA Next Combine Series, their newest grassroots basketball initiative for elite 8th graders across the country.  Beginning in April, UA will commit resources to a series of 6 regional combines to be held in Washington DC, Columbus, OH, Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA and the Bay Area, CA. Through these series of combines, UA will select the most elite players to participate in their prestigious Elite 24 All-Star Game in New York City.  In addition, select players may get the opportunity to participate in UA’s SC Select (June) and All-American Camps. UA’s newest platform will provide young athletes with exposure to a major shoe company’s representatives, which could result in exclusive opportunities going forward.

In addition to serving as one of UA’s primary media sources for each session, the Buckeye Prep Report will be hosting the Midwest session in Columbus on May 14th.  As part of our responsibilities we were required to both identify and to extend invitations to the most deserving 8th graders in a 6-state region. We have accomplished our mission and are extremely excited with the talent level of the field we have assembled!  Below is a link to the current rosters. 

In addition to the UA event, the Buckeye Prep Report will be hosting the Elite 60 Midwest Challenge, a separate event on Sunday the 15th for 20 additional elite 8th graders.  In addition to the 40 players invited for the Saturday combine, 20 additional players will receive invitations to compete against the best players in the Midwest on Sunday following the UA Combine.  Once again, the competition and exposure opportunities with Sunday’s event will me unmatched at this level.  The Buckeye Prep Report is proud to partner with UA with this exciting event!  Get ready Columbus; the best players in the Midwest are headed your way!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

All-Star Saturday Returns for 18th Year

Darion Henry, Isaiah Kennedy, Sammy Anderson & CJ Anthony
For the 18th consecutive year, All-Saturday will kick off this weekend at the Bruce Howard Recreation Center (2505 North Cassidy Road) in Columbus, Ohio. P rimarily a community event, All-Star Saturday brings together community youth for both a citywide Easter Egg Hunt as well a series five (5) of youth exhibition basketball games.  Once again, the Buckeye Prep Report has been asked to assemble the rosters for the middle and high school games.  With the help of our good friend Victor Dandridge, the talent level in both the boy’s high school and middle school exhibition games is quite impressive.  In addition to the boy’s games, for only the third year, and with the assistance of Dexter Nelms, a girl’s high school game will also be played.

The event kicks off at 10:am with the Easter Egg Hunt, followed by elementary games at 10:30am, the middle school game at 1:00pm; the girl’s high school game at 2:30pm and the boys high school game at 4:00pm. The event also offers free health screenings, food and drink as well as numerous fun activities for the kids. In addition, Power 107.5’s City will be on hand spinning tunes and entertaining the capacity crowd.

Some of the standouts for the high school game include:  Nick Ward, Iba Watson, Trey Landers, Derrick Daniels, Isaiah Williams and Jalen Tate, while the middle school game will feature Darion Henry (Cincinnati), Isaiah Kennedy (Beavercreek), Sammy Anderson (Dayton), CJ Anthony (Columbus) and Von Cameron Davis (Columbus).  Most of the players on both rosters have been all stars and previous Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases.  Below is a complete list of the exhibition game rosters.  Judging form the talent in the 2 games, it should be another great event! If you need a basketball fix, make your way over to the Bruce Howard Recreation Center; you want be disappointed!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Weekend Tourney Results Causes Shake up at the Top of Power Rankings

NEO Shooting Stars-8th Grade Grassroots Champions
It was a busy weekend for Ohio-based travel basketball teams as a number of ranked teams faced off in various tournaments around the state. Consequently, there have been a significant shake up in our initial Power Rankings.  As a result of winning the Nike Grassroots tournament in Columbus on Sunday, Malcolm Walters’ NEO 2020 team has ascended to the top of our rankings with a 61-56 win over the Family in the championship game.  With their win, NEO 2020 is now considered the #1 team in the state. 

Walters’ squad is big, physical and is difficult guard.  Almost every player on the team looks like they have set up shop in the weight room.  Their not just big, they are skilled and well coached.  If you want to beat them, you had better defend and be prepared to match their physicality. The game we saw, Isaiah Kennedy (5’11”/PG/Beavercreek) showed why he has established a national reputation, as he played better than we had seen him the last couple of times.  A big physical lead guard who has figured out he’s bigger and stronger then his defenders.  Several times he lowered his shoulder and powered his way to the basket.  NEO may have lost Montori Foster Jr. who went over to OBC, but Kenny McElrath (5’11”/P/SG/Twinsburg) may have filled the void nicely. An elite motor and a willingness to secure 50/50 balls will win you a few games.  He’s not just a hustle guy; he can also score the rock. Case in point, against the Ohio Bulldogs, a top 10 ranked team, both McElrath and Kennedy finished with team-high 12 points.  It should be noted that DeDevante Blanton (6'4"/WF/Nordonia) had a big weekend which he parlayed into MVP honors.  Blanton has stretched out and bulked up and just looks like a division I athlete. Clearly his ball skills have improved which he will need if plans to stay on the wing.

In that same division were the Mid-Ohio Pumas Black, who lost to The Family in the semi-finals, Ohio Bulldogs, Rebels Basketball, Dayton Swish and All-Ohio Red, all of whom were ranked. Walters’ squad was powered by Devantea Blanton, Isaiah Kennedy, Darion Henry, Grant Huffman and Kenny McEllrath.  All but McEllrath made the event’s all-tournament team. We had the opportunity to take in some of the 8th grade action at Reynoldsburg High School on Saturday.  While we were there, we caught a few standouts.

Garvin Clarke-PG 2020
We had heard rumors that there was an elite 8th grade guard in northeast Ohio that reminded you of a young Terry Rozier (Louisville/NBA).  Well, they were right, Garvin Clarke (5’9”/PG/Cleveland) appears to be the real deal.  Good size for his position, strong, athletic, smart and poised under pressure are only a few of his strengths.  Clarke ran his Rebels Basketball squad like a varsity starter. He limited his turnovers, scored when he needed to and consistently made plays for his teammates.  He made great decisions with the rock and got to every spot on the floor he wanted to.  We could write another paragraph about what we saw with Clarke, but we want to see him again before we give him the full Buckeye Prep Treatment!

His team seemed to struggle a bit, but Carter Gray (6’2”/WF/Springfield) didn’t seem to have any problems putting up big numbers.  The game we saw him, Gray went off for 25 points and made it seem easy. Gray has good length and is a volume scorer.  He can score at all three levels and has a real good nose for the ball.  Definitely worth tracking.  Michigan’s Earnie Saunders (6’2”/WF/Flint) is a freak athlete who plays above the rim and is always in search of an oop. Saunders lit it up at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last September and he’s poised to get some major shoe company love when he laces it up at the UA Next Combine Series Midwest in May. We also really like CJ Anthony (5’11”/PG/Columbus) who can also light up the scoreboard.  He’s at his best attacking the cup, but when he’s feeling his shot his Bulldogs squad is tough to beat.

Clark, Saunders, Kennedy, Zeb Jackson, McElrath, Anthony, Exon, Gray & Robinson
The Dayton Swish has a few pieces in Zierin Exon (6’3”/C/Springfield), a rebounding machine and Keo’te Highhley (5’5/SG/WF/Dayton), both of whom logged in sold performances while we were there.  Other than Amarin Robinson (5’6”/PG/Akron) we didn’t get the chance to secure information about the multiple young prospects on Akron Wolfpack’s team. Robinson was a speedy and crafty guard with an elite handle and an attackers mentality.  We were surprised at how good the Wolfpack was, and the fact they went toe to toe with a top 10 Rebels Basketball team convinced us they need to be on the board. We hope the coach reaches out to us, as the Wolfpack has several prospects that deserve some exposure! Until he re-appeared at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase after a 3 year hiatus, we had lost sight of Zeb Jackson (5'8"/PG/Toledo). He still looked good last week, and he was seen putting in work with All-Ohio Red over the weekend. Jackson remains highly skilled and difficult to stay in front of. His team may not be elite at the moment, but Jackson's talent is still evident.

In the 7th grade division, The Family edged out All-Ohio Purple in the championship game. With All-Ohio Purple’s win over NEO Tru Game on Sunday, Purple has taken over the #1 spot in our Power Rankings. Because we have been unable to connect with Purple’s coaching staff, we don’t have any information about their roster nor their standout players.  Return our calls coach; your guys deserve the recognition!

There is a new #1 in the 6th grade division.  All-Ohio Red’s win over the Toledo Wildcats vaults them into the #1 spot. The pool play game represented a rematch, as Toledo defeated All-Ohio Red at the Power League in Detroit earlier this year.  Of course, All-Ohio was without the services of Sean Jones and Paul McMillian IV, but a win is a win. The Wildcats finished the weekend 4-1, with wins over SMAC Premier (58-42), All-Ohio NE (46-36), All-Ohio Green (67-9) and NEO Shooting Stars (48-40).  The leading scorers for the Wildcats over the weekend were Nate Houston II, Emoni Bates and Jordan Kynard.

All-Ohio Red 2023-5th Grade Champions
Drew Lavender’s 2023 All-Ohio Red squad was the last team standing, as they won the 5th grade division crown. With their victory over Maumee Bay Turf, Red moves up 1 spot in our Power Rankings from 4th to 3rd.  For the record, the Ohio Rebels won the 2nd grade division; All-Ohio Red took the 4th grade title and All-Ohio Red 2019 won the 9h grade division championship.

All in all, it was a great unofficial start to the 2016 AAU season.  As always, we would love to feature more teams and players, but we need coaches and parents to value the exposure and to make the effort to document and send us information.  Next up is the Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament April 1-3rd, where a majority of the top 10 ranked teams in the state will put their reputation on the line to play the best!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Alum Captures Mr. Basketball

Cassius Winston-Michigan Mr. Basketball
We've been stating for years that the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase attracts the top talent in the state, region and the country.  This week, Michigan's Cassius Winston collected his state's most prestigious award in the form of Michigan Mr. Basketball.  Winston was an all star in a couple of elite showcases 3 years ago and also participated in the first ever Ohio vs Michigan All-Star Game where he was a standout. The Buckeye Prep Report family would like to congratulate Cassius and his family for this outstanding accomplishment!

Brent Walker Debuts Nationally

Brent Walker-6'4"7th Grader-Huber Heights, OH.
He arrived a virtual unknown, but by the time he left the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last week he was already gaining national attention.  At 6'4" and only a 7th grader, the Huber Heights product's size, strength and athleticism caught people's attention last week.  We caught him in action a couple of weeks ago  in a local tournament, but it was not until his performance at our showcase against a higher level of competition that we were truly convinced of Walker's talent and upside potential. He will be running with Marty Finta's All-Ohio Red 2021 squad this spring and summer, so he will have ample opportunity to play at a high level and display his talent to the nation.  As his skill set increases, so will his potential and national exposure.  In all likelihood, Walker will end up at Coach Travis Trice's storied Wayne program where he will get the skill development that could make him a D-I prospect.  Below is a link to a Ty Kish produced highlight tape thats illustrates Walker's talent.  You can catch Walker and his All-Ohio Red 2021 squad in action at our Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament next weekend.  We can't wait to watch this kid's development!

Brent Walker Highlight Tape
Middle School Hoops TV Article

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Simpson Selected Ohio Mr. Basketball

Congratulations to Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase alum Xavier Simpson for being selected as Ohio Mr. Basketball!  For years, Simpson was the face of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, as he attended not just every year, but every session since he was in the 4th grade.  Not only did he attend, he received MVP honors at every event!  He and his family have worked hard for and with Simpson over the years and the award is well deserved!  The Buckeye Prep family is proud of Simpson and his accomplishments and we look forward to following his career at the University Michigan!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Report

Loveday, Land, Baker, Jackson & McCorkle
By most accounts, the spring session of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase was a complete success, and in addition to the usual household names who were in attendance, a number of hidden gems were unearthed.  Over 300 players from across the state, region and country descended on Whitehall-Yearling High School to participate in the one-day event.  The day tipped off with an inspiring presentation from Ohio State great, Dennis Hopson, and culminated in a series of very competitive all-star games.

Although it’s very difficult for us to adequately scout our own events, as administrative matters consume our time; we always seem to catch glimpses of a few standout performers.  It goes without saying that all of the players that made the all-star teams should be considered standout performers, especially given the significant talent level in the gym (see all-star game rosters); however, there was several players who caught our eyes over the course of the day, many of whom we had not previously evaluated. 

One such player was Jeremy Baker (6’0”/WF/2020/IN), who’s size, strength and athleticism set him apart from his peers.  We first saw him last year at Ty Kish’s MSHTV Camp in Indianapolis, and his performance on Saturday confirmed what we saw then; the kid is a beast.  We also really liked Pierre Brooks (5’11”/SG/WF/2021/MI), who is a multi-dimensional athlete who’s size; athleticism and skill set allow him to play multiple positions.  From what we saw on Saturday, Brooks’ upside potential is big time. Speaking of Michigan talent, we were also really impressed with the play of Lorne Bowman (5’10”/PG/2020/MI), who was highly skilled, athletic and poised under pressure. Equipped with an elite handle and several go to dribble moves, Bowman was very effective attacking the cup. We had not seen him in a couple of years, but based on his play on Saturday, Zeb Jackson (5’8”/PG/Toledo) should still be considered as one of the elite guards in the state. We don’t seem to get many Cincinnati area kids to oue events, but when we do, they usually can play, as is the case of BJ Bransford, who frequently attends our events, Jared McCorkle and Max Land. In fact, McCorkle and Land were both received Top 5 Awards and have been invited to the UA Next Combine Series Midwest May 14th. both Huber Heights’ Chris Scott (6’2”/SG/WF/2020/) caught our eye with his length, fluidity and athleticism, as did Jadon Dance (6’1”/WF/2019/IN), Josiah Shamsiddeen (5’8”/SG/2021/MI), Kalen Howell (6’5”/PF/2019/Springfield), , Cavon Butler, Taylor Kreeger, Caleb Crawford, sol Hines, Jaheim Thomas and Willieon Yates. 

Schmidt, Abuhamdeh, Gadson, Wilson & Sizer
In order to be truly elite, a player must display consistency. Seth Wilson, Omar Abudamdeh and Ashton Henderson, all 7th graders, did just that on Saturday and were rewarded with all-star game selections. One of the most impressive performances of the day was logged in by Wil Sizer (6’1”/PFCincinnati).  He’s big, can score effectively in the paint and rebounds at a high rate.  However, his developing perimeter game, including his ability to shoot and score from the mid-range and beyond the arc suggests his long-term potential is even better than we originally thought. Simply put, Sizer keeps getting better every time we see him!  We had heard a lot about big Skyler Schmidt (6’2”/C/Goshen) and his Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase debut stamped a seal of approval on his talent.  Schmidt is a beast in the paint and is a high level scorer and rebounder.  Good footwork and a soft touch describe his attributes.  Based on what we saw on Saturday, Schmidt is clearly a top 10 player in a talent-rich Ohio. Speaking of big time debuts, Huber Height’s Brent Walker (6’4”/C/2021) attended his first Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and proved his name belongs among the best in the state.  Big, strong and explosive best describes his game.  Still developing a sold skill set; physically, Walker is among the best in his class.  That All-Ohio Red 2021 squad is going to be a tough out!

We have to show some love to Damaryea Gadson, who just keeps demanding attention.  We saw him in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago and liked his speed and energy, and he duplicated that success here in Columbus, to the tune of an all-star game appearance and Top 5 honors.  It’s not about your name, it’s about your game, and Gadson’s game is worthy of mention.  Michigan’s Keyon Menifield is a super talented floor general who has all the tools to be an elite guard in the future.  Menifield is a wizard with the rock, and his speed and quickness are elite. Super crafty with vision and passing skills make Menifield a problem in terms of scoring and playmaking.  If that wasn’t enough, Menifield is also a pesky defender, which is a must for smaller point guards. Needless to say, Michigan has another elite PG!

In terms of some of the younger players, Najih Wright (4’9”/PG/2023/Loraine) is a small, but dynamic PG who can shoot it, get all the way to the cup, or drop it off to a teammate for an easy bucket.  He came all the way from Jackson, MS. and we’re glad he did, as Khary Sykes (4’7”/PG/2022/MS) was fun to watch.  Lighting quick, tough and aggressive with an elite motor best describes Sykes’ game.  The kid seemed to be everywhere. Ezra Manjon (5’8”/PG/2019/Columbus) was quick and crafty, while Jaheim Thomas (6’2”/PF/C/Cincinnati) has good size, strength and is very explosive. 

Smith, Rumple, Little, Duval & Benton
In the 6th grade division, Marlon Elliott Jr. (5’1”/WF/Columbus), Evan Unruh (5’2”/PG/Elida) Turner Butty (5’1”/PG/KY) and Tegan Myers all appeared highly skilled, poised under pressure with elite motors.  Also, we can’t say enough about Dayton’s Sellers Little III (5’0”/PG/Dayton)!  Every time we seen him he was attacking the basket and finishing.  High energy and aggressive are his calling cards. Finally, based on what we observed on Saturday, he may be top 10-15 in the state right now. Adam Duvall (6’1”/PF/Beavercreek) already has impressive length for his age, which combed with a solid skill set; suggests he could be real good down the road.  In fact, we plan to track his progress.  William Rumple (5’4”/SG/Auburn) just keeps turning heads.  Tough and hardnosed, Rumple burst onto the statewide stage at the NEO event a few weeks ago and then followed that performance up with an all-star game appearance and Top 5 honors here in Columbus. It was our first time seeing him, but Jamel Smith II can play, as evidenced by his Top 5 selection.  We did not see a lot of him, but we will going forward.  Another event; another all-star selection for Danny Young Jr., who is proving to be a consistent star.

Michigan’s Ashton Henderson has displayed his talents all over the country and has been consistently elite.  Well, he did it again here in Columbus, as his performance was among the best.  Having been battled tested against the best, Henderson if tough to rattle and knows how to score the ball.  He’s not just a scorer; his advanced ball skills and court vision make him an elite playmaker as well. According to his showcase coach, Michigan’s Mason Docks has talent.  If he’s anything like his older brother, Chris Harrison-Docks, a division I standout, Docks’ future is bright. Cecil Benton Jr. did some nice things on Saturday and is now firmly on our radar, as did Deon Horn and Alex Waters.

The more we see the talent level in the class of 2023 (5th graders), the more impressed and excited we are! This class is turning out to be deep. No one impressed us more than Michael Greenlee Jr. (5’0”/PG/Toledo); a long and athletic lead guard who displayed an almost complete game.  Not only is he effective at getting into the paint and finishing, Greenlee can knock down the jumper as well. Greenlee’s performance was so impressive; he will vault to the top of the class on our top player lists.  We have to mention his AAU teammate, CJ Hornbeak Jr. (5’6”/C/Toledo) who came to Columbus with a rep and confirmed many of the positive things we had heard about him. Hornbeak is a big who rebounds at a high rate and is an effective scoring close to the bucket.  We also think we saw him step away and flash some perimeter skills as well.  Hornbeak is definitely a player to watch going forward.  Staying with the Toledo guys, Justyn Toler (5’0”/SG/WF) also did his thing and made it clear he deserves some attention as well.  Also from Toledo is Deric Jaynes, who is a talented player as well, resulting in his selection to the all-star game, followed by a Top 5 selection.  It’s important to note that each of the above players run with Coach Brad Morison’s Maumee Bay Turf team.  As it’s no wonder we have them ranked #3 in our recently released Power Rankings!

Greenlee, Allen, Frazier, Jaynes & Brandon
Piqua’s Dre’Sean Roberts (5’0”/PG/Piqua) logged in another solid performance and did nothing to hurt his sizable reputation.  We’ve seen him twice now and on both occasions, Marquez Frazier (4’4”/PG/Toledo) has stood out from his peers. As a reward, Frazier got the all-star game nod, where he proceeded to score a game-high 8 points. We were also super impressed with Jyles Brandon, Antaune Allen, Tyron Barnes, Paul Woodard and Blake Lichentenberg (5’3”/WF/Toledo).  Finally, it should be mentioned that Dayton has a ton of talent in this class, some of which we’ve not even seen.  We plan to keep a close eye on this group in the future.  We also plan to monitor the progress of Nino Nesbit, Willie Alexander and Jayson Levis, 4th graders who more than held his own against the big boys.  We had our first-ever 1st grader in the house, and from what we here, Lamont Hamilton is a tough little customer who was not afraid to mix it up with bigger and stronger guys.  He could be a good one in the future.

We did not see all of the standout performers, but from what we did see, the event was absolutely brimming over with talent. We can’t wait to see what happens at the fall elite showcase, which is currently scheduled for September 17th and 18th at Otterbein University. Several of the players featured in this recap have punched their ticket to the prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star Game and have partially built a case for “All-State” honors. You can catch many of these players in action at the Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament in 2 weeks.  Below are links to our Standout Performer list and All-Star game rosters.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Buckeye Prep Releases 2016 Power Rankings

As is the case every season, a debate rages on relative to who the best travel teams are in the state.  Well, we will attempt to shed a little light on the matter as we introduce our 2016 Buckeye Prep Power Rankings.  We have put together our initial list of top teams in grades 5th-8th for the state of Ohio, and will update them from week to week based on the performance of the teams. Although we have started with a top ten, we have several teams listed as Honorable Mention, and as the season winds on and we get a better feel for teams’ talent level, we may increase our list from 1-15.  

Over the course of the season we will use the following criteria to update our rankings: head to head results; results from common opponents; margin of victory; final placements in tournaments; number of ranked players on a roster; and level of competition played. Unfortunately, many of the top teams in the state fail to play against each other during the season.  This happens for several reasons.  In some cases it’s just fate, as teams lose early in a tournament and just don’t meet, while some teams intentionally avoid playing in some of the better tournaments where that may be forced to play other top teams in the state.  We will monitor that situation and factor it in accordingly. At the end of the day, teams and programs know where the competition is playing! In addition, although we attempted to use historical data from previous seasons, that’s difficult because of the high roster turnovers as players change teams.  Also, in many cases, players grow and get better, which impacts a team’s overall talent level. 

Because we can’t be present at every event, we must rely on information from a network of coaches and sources around the state.  In order to produce credible updates, we need coaches and parents to send us accurate and unbiased information at the conclusion of weekend tournaments.  To this end, we have produced a “Tournament Results Reporting Form” designed to capture the information we need to update our rankings and produce feature stories for the website.  If we can get coaches and parents to buy in and take the effort to get the information we need, then we can more accurately track both team and individual progress.  This will help insure that  teams and players gets credit for their efforts.  At the end of the day, if your team is not playing in the top events against the top teams, and is not providing us with your team’s results, you can’t complain about where your team is ranked (or not ranked)!

It should go without saying that we have done our best to be fair and accurate with our rankings.  We mean no disrespect to any team with where we have them ranked.  If you feel you have been unfairly ranked, simply enter tournaments where the ranked teams are playing and beat them.  We will provide a couple of opportunities for the top teams around the state to hook up.  You can see from our “committed team list” for the Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament in 3 weeks that many of the ranked teams will be here.  Here’s your chance!  Also, we will invite the top teams to an exclusive event (Summer Showdown) June 17-19th, where the top teams will go ahead for final rankings and “Team of the Year” honors.  We’re excited about this project and we hope it inspires and motivates players, coaches and parents to seek out the highest competition possible and elevate to level of play in the state.  Finally, please feel free to offer your feedback at  Let the debate begin!!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Loveday Returns to Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase

Zach Loveday-2020
When we talk about young basketball players with big time talent and immense upside potential, we’re talking about guys like Zach Loveday (6’10/C/2020/Gallia Co).  Loveday made his statewide and national debut at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last March (made the all-star team), and he’s been a highly sought after commodity since then.  What makes Loveday such a potential high major prospect; we’ll start out with his size.  Standing just a hair under 6’10 with a 70 inch wingspan, he already has elite size for only an 8th grader. If that wasn’t enough, Loveday has grown 3 inches since last year and he may not be done growing.  Next, Loveday’s ability to protect the rim at an elite level makes him an instant impact.  If he’s not blocking shots, which he does a lot of; he’s altering and/or forcing bad shots from his opponent.  Want multiple possessions; well Loveday can deliver, as he rebounds at a high rate as well.

According to those close to Loveday’s development, he’s working hard with a local trainer (Nathan Conley), and his offensive skill set and basketball IQ are expanding every day.  Not only does he finish around the rim at a high rate, he can now consistently step outside and knock down the trey.  He has also developed a baby hook, and his passing has improved also.  In addition, Loveday is smarter, and routinely recognizes where the double teams are coming and quickly delivers passes on target to an open teammates. Finally, with his developing offensive game, Loveday may project as a power forward going forward.

All-of Loveday’s talent was on display this past middle school season, as Loveday led his Gallia Academy Middle School squad to a 15-4 record and both an Ohio Valley Conference regular season (10-2) and tournament championship.  Over the course of the season, Loveday logged eye-popping stats, including 15 triple double games.  Loveday scored 20 or more points and grabbed 18 rebounds in at least 5 games. Loveday also had a season high 16 blocked shots. Although he has concentrated on basketball thus far, he may go out for track this season depending on his basketball schedule.

He may be an outstanding basketball player, but Loveday is also well rounded.  Exhibit A, he’s a straight A student with a 3.9 GPA, while also taking honors classes as part of his school’s accelerated program.  Moreover, Loveday plays the trumpet in his school’s honor band, and out of 360 students, was recently chosen play in an honors concert at the Ohio State University. 

Although Loveday ran with the local All-Ohio Southeast last year I the spring and summer, he will take his talents to the West Virginia Wildcats this season.  According to Loveday’s father, Billy, the family was drawn to the Wildcats because of their focus on training, and practices designed around skill development.  Needless to say, for the college coaches who frequent this website, get Loveday on your recruiting board and get him on campus; he’s going to be a good one!  You can catch Loveday in action at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase this weekend and at the UA Next Combine Series Midwest in April.