Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Livingston to Build Case for #1 Spot at Buckeye Prep Event

Chris Livingston-2022 WF Akron
With his outstanding play this season playing up 1 to 2 grade levels for We All Can Go, Chris Livingston (6’5/WF/2022/Akron) has been building a case for the #1 spot in the nation for the class of 2022. According to some [Coast to Coast Preps] the questions begs to be answered; “Is Chris Livingston the top 2022 in the nation?” In September, Livingston will get another opportunity to add to his resume and bolster his case as the nation’s top rising 8th grader when he suits up for Team Ohio in the prestigious Ohio vs Michigan All-Star game, which will be held in conjunction with the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  Livingston will join on a loaded roster of Ohio’s top 8th graders as they battle Team Michigan in the annual interstate grudge match.

Of course we’re no stranger to Livingston’s talents, as he has excelled at our Buckeye Prep events for several years now.  In fact, we selected Livingston as our “Player of the Year” last season based on what we saw during the course of the season.  Moreover, we extended him an invite to the UA Next Midwest Regional Combine earlier this year, an event designed for elite other graders, and as a 7th grader, he made a significant impact at the event. 

Alongside nationally ranked guys like Paul McMillan IV, Khalil Luster and Sonny Johnson Jr. as well as under the radar guys like Sincere Harris, Raymar Pryor and Trey Dennis, Team Ohio could be the favorite to get the win over Team Michigan in a few weeks!  With that said, Coach Ted Docks has assembled a quality Team Michigan squad that expects to do more than just compete.  Can’t wait to see that one!  On a final note, we will be releasing the full rosters of participants for both teams in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

UA Next Experience All-Star Game Rosters Released

Just today, Under Armour released their official list of players who will be participating in the UA Next Experience rising freshman all-star game scheduled for August 19th at Georgetown Preparatory School in the Washington D.C. area.  A majority of the 20 players selected for the event excelled at 1 of 5 regional combines.  In addition, all of the players have been mentioned among the most elite players in the class of 2021 for several years.  In addition to the actual game, the 2-day slate of activities includes, practices, bowling, hanging in the exclusive player’s lounge and a tour of Under Armour’s headquarters. Below is a complete list of players who will be participating in the event.

All-Star Game Rosters: Amar’e Marshall, Brayon Freeman, Jalen Blackmon, Malik Thomas, William Jeffress, Jr., Julious Ellerbee, Duncan Powell, Mohammed Aminu, Nnanna Njoku, Victory Naboya, Meechie Johnson, Carter Whitt, Ryan Conway, Darius Tilgham, Langston Love, Trevor Keels, Trey Patterson, Javonte Brown, DeTwan Montague and Jai Smith.  Having watched theses player hoop for the past several years, we’re confident the level of play will be elite and the game will be very entertaining!  Congratulations to all of the players who made the cut.

Brooks to Attend Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase

Pierre Brooks II-2021 Detroit, MI
Coming off an impressive performance at a recent national event (see highlight video below), Pierre Brooks II (6’3/CG/2021/Detroit, MI) will be returning to the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase set for September 9th and 10th at Otterbein University. Brooks has been a consistent standout at previous Buckeye Prep events, but in September, he will try to lead his Team Michigan team to a victory over Team Ohio in the prestigious Ohio vs Michigan All-Star Game.  Last year, Team Michigan (2020) mounted a furious comeback to defeat Team Ohio in the same event to even the interstate series. Brooks will be joined on the Team Michigan squad by nationally ranked Keon Henderson and a host of other elite Michigan-based players. We can’t wait to see Brooks and his fellow Team Michigan teammates in action in a few weeks!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Power Hoops Proud of 2017 Season

2021 Power Hoops
Although they won 4 of the 8 tournaments they participated in during the 2017 season and finished 12th at the AAU Nationals, Walt Bonner’s 2021 Power Hoops squad is more proud of their community service record and their approach to the game. “We want kids to understand not just about basketball, but how basketball translates to life. Our main focus is getting them ready for high school [basketball],” said Bonner. While most travel programs focus most of their efforts on playing games and winning, the Cleveland-based Power Hoops has carved out time to complete community service projects.

As an example, this summer at the AAU Nationals in Orlando, FL., Bonner’s team was chosen from 110 teams to participate in the AAU Cares program. As part of the program, the team shared time and handed out lunches and keepsakes to the children in Oncology Ward and throughout Florida’s Children’s Hospital.  According to Coach Bonner, “We got the opportunity to see how truly blessed we are and how great it feels to be a blessing to others!  The kids got some of the most valuable gifts they could ever receive way beyond medals. They received original drawings, tremendous words of gratitude, ingratiated smiles and pride of knowing they contributed to easing the hospital stay if just for a moment for the children and parents of Florida.” We applaud Coach Bonner and his team's effort to develop kids and serve their community!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

All-Ohio Gold Makes Noise in Inaugural Season

U-15 All-Ohio Gold
In only their first year of existence, Eddie Norrils’ All-Ohio Gold (AOG) program has made a significant impact on the Ohio travel basketball scene.  In their first year, All-Ohio Gold fielded teams in 3 divisions including U-14, U-15 and U-16. The Toledo-based program is collaboration between Norrils’ former Team Toledo (2020) team, Tony Scruggs’ Toledo Ice (2019) team and Derek Kizer’s Toledo Wildcats (2021) team. It’s safe to say, AOG’s U-16 team was the most successful in year one based on their multiple tournament championships and #2 state ranking by Ohio Preps.  Although the U-15 squad only won 1 tournament, they made the championship game in at least 5 tournaments, including the Buckeye Prep Invitational in April when they finished second to C2K Elite.

All-Ohio Gold was formed with the intent of keeping the top northwest Ohio kids together and to get them more exposure and recognition. “We recognized that our team would get more exposure with All-Ohio on our chest,” said Norirls. In terms of expansion, Norrils would like to add a few younger teams from the area.  However, there are no current plans to expand statewide. We asked Norrils why he decided to partner with All-Ohio versus some of the state’s other shoe-company-sponsored programs and he pointed to long-term relationships with guys who were already affiliated with All-Ohio.  We can’t wait to see how All-Ohio Gold grows in year two.  Congrats to Coach Norrils for giving northwest Ohio kids more options for competition and exposure.

Monday, August 7, 2017

DICK’S Sporting Goods Sponsors Elite Showcase for 2nd Year

The Buckeye Prep Report is proud to announce our continued partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods for the upcoming Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase currently scheduled for September 9th & 10th. Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) is the leader in the sporting goods industry and their participation in the elite showcase will continue enhance the overall participant experience.  As part of the sponsorship package, DSG will provide 20% off the entire purchase of any items purchased during their exclusive Buckeye Prep In-Store Shopping Days at Easton Town Center and Polaris stores for all showcase participants on Saturday and Sunday of the event. In addition, there will be several give aways during the event including DSG Bonus Certificates and various DSG merchandise.  The Buckeye Prep Report looks forward long and prosperous relationship with this iconic brand!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Loveday Receives Big 10 Offer

Zach Loveday-6'11 C Galia Academy
When you stand 6’9 as only a rising freshman, college coaches tend to take notice early.  Such was the case for Zach Loveday (6’11/C/2020), who recently secured his first scholarship offer from Purdue during a recent on-campus visit.  Although Purdue was the first program to offer, Loveday has been receiving interest for other Ohio-based programs. Loveday first burst onto the scene a few years ago and quickly became a hot commodity on the travel basketball circuit.  After several stints with multiple travel programs, Loveday settled on the Mid-Ohio Pumas last season. 

We’ve seen Loveday play on numerous occasions at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases and other elite events and it has always been clear to us that high-major basketball was in his future.  The fact that Loveday has continued to grow and to develop has obviously not been a secret. We fully expect more interest for Loveday’s services going forward.  Congrats to Zach and his family for this significant accomplishment!

Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Welcomes a Bumper Crop of Elite Freshmen

Seth Wilson, Malaki Branham, Tae Perie & Noah Peeples
When the 2017/2018 boys high school basketball season tips off in November, the freshman class at Drew Joyce’s Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (ASVSM) high school program could be the talk of the state.  Having secured a 7th state championship last season, ASVSM is an attractive destination for elite players and continues to be poised for future success. The old adage, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is certainly relevant to what’s about to go down at the storied program in Akron.  Seth Wilson, Malaki Branham, Noah Peeples and Tae Perie, all of whom are listed among Buckeye Preps’ list of the top 10 rising freshmen in the state, will be attending Drew Joyce’s program in the fall.

Although Wilson, Peeples and Perie all reside in northeast Ohio, Branham is a Columbus kid, whom many local high school programs have coveted for a couple of years. In addition, all 4 of these elite players have been perennial all-stars at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, so we know all too well their level of talent.  Based on what we know, and with no disrespect to St. Ed’s 2020 class last year, it’s hard for us to imagine a better high school freshman class (2021) than what’s heading to ASVSM.

In terms of history, whenever multiple stars get together on one team the natural questions always seem center on whether or not there are "enough basketball balls" to go around.  We put that question to Donovan Wilson, Seth Wilson's father and were not surprised at his response. “I’m confident that each one of these players will share the ball. I feel the talent will mesh together, but we’re going to have to go out and work,” stated the elder Wilson.

The second question often centers on playing time and how soon players will make the varsity squad.  “We could have gone somewhere where it would have been a little easier to get on the court, but this program [ASVSM] will help Seth get to the next level,” continued Wilson.  Wilson also has lofty goals for this class over the next couple of years. “This class is tremendous.  They are going to put a lot of points on the board.  We should win a few state championships,” Wilson proclaimed.

We spoke to Coach Dre Joyce regarding his thoughts about the incoming freshmen class and he could not have been more excited with their arrival. “This is one of the most heralded classes in some time; we expect big things from them. It’s always good when you [ASVSM] can get talented players who have been very successful at the middle school and travel team level,” said Joyce.  In terms of their role early at ASVSM, “Where they fit in I don’t know, I have not seen them much, but I believe the transition will be smooth.  We are very talented and deep; it’s going to be a battle to see who plays at the varsity level,” continued Joyce.

Only time will tell how this class turns out at the next level, as success in middles school travel basketball does not always translate at the high school level.  Moreover, players come and go from programs these days, so who’s to say if all 4 players will remain in the program for their entire careers.  With that said, we look forward to following this class and the ASVSM program over the next couple of years.  By the way, you can catch 3 of the 4 players at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September as they will all suit up for the North squad in the prestigious North vs South All-Star Game, then again as Team Ohio takes on Team Michigan in the ultra-competitive Ohio vs Michigan game.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Johnson Tabbed for UA Next Experience Game

Mechie Johnson-2021 PG Cleveland
Coming off a breakout performance at the Adidas Summer Championship last week, Meechie Johnson (6’0/PG/2021/Cleveland) recently received a formal invitation to participate in the Under Armor Next Experience game scheduled for August 19th in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area.  Over 200 elite 8th graders participated in the 5-session UA Next Combine Series so to be selected as 1 of 24 players is a huge accomplishment.  Johnson has been a star in the Buckeye State for many years, but this season has seen his reputation soar on the national scene.  Already holding a D-I offer, Johnson has a chance to play at the highest level.  Congratulations to Meechie and his parents for this great accomplishment!

Hardwork Basketball Takes Jr. Fab 48 Diamond Crown

Hardwork Basketball White
After stumbling in pool play with an opening game 51-53 loss to Vegas Elite 2021 White, Hardwork Basketball White mounted a 4-0 run through bracket play of the 16-team Diamond Division (8th grade) of the Jr. Fab 48 in Las Vegas, NV to claim the title on Saturday. Hardwork’s path to the title ran through Gardina Wolpack (65-28) and AVAC All In (66-52) in pool play, followed by 24/7 (62-37), Vegas Elite Southeast (75-66), The Legion of Hoops (68-65) and EWE 2021 Silver (62-61) in the championship bracket.

Coming up big for Hardwork was Sonny Johnson Jr. (2022/PG/Cleveland) who propelled Hardwork to the Final Four on the strength of 34 points and 7 assists. Speaking of Johnsons who were balling in Vegas, Cousin Meechie Johnson led Mike Duncan’s 2020 OBC squad to the title game of the Adidas Summer Championship.  In one game, Johnson knocked down clutch shot as time ran out. Of by the way, James Harden was in the gym! 

Meechie Johnson, Sonny Johnson Jr. & Marcus Johnson
If that wasn’t enough, Marcus Johnson (2026/PG/Cleveland), playing up on Hardwork Basketball’s 2025 team, led his team to the finals of the Jr. Fab 48’s 3rd/4th grade division.  Johnson was a scoring machine during his team’s 5-1 run as evidenced by his 29.6 points per game average, including a gaudy 41 points in a Final Four game.  Johnson’s team went down to Vegas Elite 44-52 in the title game.

As a result of his dominate play in Vegas, Johnson has ascended to the top of Coast to Coast’s 2026 national rankings.  Needless to say, Vegas was very good to the Johnson boys!  You can catch all three Johnsons in action at the September 9th & 10th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Schmidt Joins Tru Game

Skyler Schmidt-2021 PF Goshen
As is the case in most instances when players enter their high school years, team upgrades are a common practice.  Such is the case with Skyler Schmidt (6’6/PF/Goshen/2021), who recently announced that he will be joining Coach Danyelle Love’s Tru Game juggernaut for the 2018 travel season.  Schmidt has made a national name for himself running with Coach Greg Johnson’s Cincinnati Royals squad and will represent a valuable piece in an already talented team.  Schmidt will not only provide much needed rim protection and rebounding, but low post scoring as well.  Schmidt will join a star studded cast which includes guys like Seth Wilson, Maliki Branham, Trey Woodyard, J Nob Cameron, Noah Rittinger and others.  It can often be difficult for players to leave local teams which have helped develop them throughout their formative years, but the allure elite shoe company sponsored circuits, exposure and financial relief makes the transition a must for many players and their families.  We would like to wish Skyler much success as he makes his transition.


MKU Athletics Secures Sponsor

We did not see them until late in the season when they participated in the Buckeye Prep Summer Showdown, but Coach Charles McKee’s 2021 MKU Athletics squad really impressed us with their athleticism and up and down style of play. In fact, after the weekend, MKU cracked the top 10 of our Power Ranking. Not only are they well coached, but MKU is loaded with talent with guys like Vernon Smith, Demarcus Roger and Martavien Johnson. With the team’s recent notoriety has come some big time sponsorship; specifically, McKee’s Akron-based team has partnered with Jon and Al Horford and will be know as Hortford Hoops going forward. Congrats to Coach Mckee and his team!