Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Warriors Claim President’s Day Tourney

New Birth Warriors-37-4
Playing in their final tournament of the season, Scott Bradley’s New Birth Warriors finished with a bang, after their 61-59 victory over Kentucky Premiere at the Ohio Players President’s Day Tournament in Cincinnati on Sunday.  After having fallen to Kentucky Premier 55-53 earlier in pool play, the Warriors had to over come an 8-point deficit in order to claim the 6th grad crown. New Birth was down about 2 points late when Carter Reece knocked down a trey to but the Warriors ahead for good.

The Warriors’ 5-1 tournament record contributed to an impressive 37-4 season long record and put a final stamp of approval on the season. Standouts for New Birth included Davion Bridges (5’6/WF/2023/Columbus), who dropped 22 points in the championship game, Mahjaei Cunningham (5’5/CG/2023/Westerville), who went for 21 points in the semi-finals and Bedi Lori (5’6/WF/2023/Caldwell), who averaged 10 points per game throughout the tournament. 

We had a chance to talk with Jeff Hamilton, Head Coach for Kentucky Premiere, and he could not have been more complimentary of the Warriors. “They [New Birth] play with a lot of intensity.  We respect Coach Bradley and his players.  We were the best 2 teams playing and both teams played very well,” said Hamilton.  Standouts for Kentucky Premiere included: Ayden Hamilton (5’7/WF/2023/Campbell County, KY), Caleb Washington (5’10/C/2023/Florence, KY), Landen Hamilton (4’10/PG/2023/Hebron, KY) and Carter Krohman (5’2/PG/2023/Walton, KY).

Because this weekend’s event was the last time Bradley would coach this group of kids, he was reflective on the season. “We had a fun season.  This is a great group of kids who really got up and down the court and played with great defensive intensity.  We averaged 70 points per game [on the season],” said Bradley.  Congratulations to Coach Bradley, his players, coaching staff and parents for a great season!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Buckeye Prep Alum Secures Ohio State Offer

Jerimiah Francis-2019 PG Pickerington
We’ve been watching him play since the 5th grade, so it comes as no surprise to us that Pickerington Central’s Jeremiah Francis (6’2/ PG/2019) has secured an offer from the Ohio State University.  Francis as always been at the top of his class nationally and the Ohio State coaching staff has finally concluded that he can compete at the Big Ten level.  Francis is a sturdy guard that has little problem getting to and finishing at the rim.  He also gets to his spots for the pull up jumper and can convert in catch and shoot situations.  He’s tough, a ball hawk, and at 6‘2, he rebounds well for his position and can protect the rim if needed.  Congratulation to Francis and his family for this well deserved honor!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Molton at the top of his Class

Adisa "Desh" Molton II-2023 Lyndhurst
Every coach covets a big man to protect the rim, rebound and to provide low post scoring; however, to win at the highest levels, every team needs an elite PG.  Adisa “Desh” Molton II (4’11/PG/2023/Lyndhurst) fits the bill.  Arguably the top 2023 floor general in the state, Molton is highly skilled and dynamic.  Everything you need in a PG Molton possess.  He has the rock on a string; lives in the paint; is one heck of a playmaker; and can shoot it from the perimeter.  Moreover, Molton has multiple dribble moves he employs to defeat his defender and to get into the lane for a floater or dime.  That’s not all, he already understands how to change speeds and direction in order to get by his defender. He’s diminutive, but he’s also a hard-nosed and aggressive competitor who backs down from no one.  He also plays with a great deal of confidence that only comes from countless hours in the gym and competing at the highest levels.

Molton is not only one of the top 2-3 players in the Cleveland area, he’s listed among our top 5 players in the state, and is ranked nationally by several middle school sites. Molton shown a willingness to travel out of state in search of the best competition in the nation, and not only has he excelled at our Buckeye Prep events, he consistently makes all-star teams at elite events around the region and country.  In addition, Molton was selected to Buckeye Prep’s First Team All-State, and participated in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game last September.  It’s also important to note that Molton is an academic star as well, as his 3.267 GPA got him a spot on Buckeye Prep’s 2016 All-Academic Team.

As we pointed out in an earlier story, Molton was a key piece to Damon Stringer’s championship Cleveland Heights team this winter. Stringer is a huge Molton fan and thinks his potential is, "...through the roof..." "Dish lives basketball and has one of the highest IQs of any youth player I've seen," said Stringer.  This spring and summer, Molton will again suit up with Andre Wheeler’s talented MWA Elite squad, where he will be joined by an all-star cast.  According to Coach Wheeler, Molton, "is a little general who is definitely a leader on the court.  He's smart, has a high IQ and runs the team for us," continued Wheeler.  If he stays in the gym, continues to grow and to hone his already impressive skill set, Molton has a chance to be real good, and will likely play in a college backcourt several years from now.  We’ll get our next chance to see Molton and his MWA squad in action at our March 31st-April 2nd Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cottingham Leads Team to 3rd Place Finish

Makail Cottingham-2021-Cleveland
When the clock ran out on Shiloh Middle School’s 2016/2017 season they stood at 10-6 and in 3rd place in their league.  They may not have reached their ultimate goal of a championship, but Makail Cottingham (5’8/CG/2021/Cleveland) certainly reached a few individual goals.  For the season, Cottingham led his middle school team in scoring with 24 points, 6-7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. In addition, Cottingham knocked down 54 treys in 16 games, and hit a scoring high of 43 points in a single game.  In the 3rd place consolation game, Cottingham’s 35 points, 11 assists, 13 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks were not enough to get his team a win.

Cottinham’s middle school success comes as no surprise to us, as we’ve seen him excel at several of our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases, and in fact, have featured him several times on this website (see feature).  In addition, here's what we said about Cottingham when we saw him a year ago in a Cleveland area event, “One of the best performances all day was logged in by Makail Cottingham (5’5”/PG/2021/Cleveland). We’ve liked him since we saw him for the first at our elite showcase last year, and his play on Saturday raised his stock in our eyes.  Although he started slowly against a late day matchup with Omar Abuhamden (5’6”/PG/2021/North Royalton), Cottingham got hot from the perimeter, ultimately finishing with 6 treys.  As soon as you think Cottingham is limited to slashing to the cup, he’ll unleash a long-range bomb that finds the bottom of the net. Cottingham is athletic and all ways appears to be in attack mode.  If you fall for any of his many dribble moves and stand up on defense, it’s a layup at the rim.”

We were so impressed with his talent that last season that we selected Cottingham as Third Team All-Ohio and tabbed him for participation in the prestigious Ohio North vs South and Ohio vs Kentucky all-star games.  We also have Cottingham currently ranked among the top 10-15 eighth grade players in the state. From what we’ve seen of Cottingham’s contiued development, division I college coaches should plan to track his progress going forward.  We look forward to seeing Cottingham again at our March 4th elite showcase.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cleveland Heights Crowned League Champions

Cleveland Heights-TNBA 6th Grade Winter League Champions
As they have done 3 other times since the 3rd grade, Damon Stringer’s 6th grade Cleveland Heights Black squad rode a perfect 24-0 season to a TNBA Winter League Championship at Garfield Heights High School on Sunday. On the strength of a 37-24 win over Garfield Heights in the championship game, Cleveland Heights collected their 4th league championship. Although Cleveland Heights jumped out to 15-2 lead, propelled by a ruckus Garfield Heights crowd, Garfield Heights cut the lead to only 2 points by half time.  Despite the Garfield Heights run, Cleveland Heights was able to retake the lead an go on to get the win.

Because Garfield shocked Shaker Heights in the semi-finals on a buzzer beater, Stringer’s team missed out on the much-anticipated rematch with Shaker Heights. Cleveland Heights rolled through the playoffs based on strong play from Marlon Barnes (6’1/PF/Cleveland Heights), Desh Molton (5’2/PG/South Euclid), LA Hayes (5’8/CG/Cleveland Heights), AJ Wheeler (5’2/PG/South Euclid) and Brandon Rose (5’7/PF/Cleveland Heights).  Stringer was clearly proud of his players and parents. “I pushed this team to the limit, and they will run through the wall for me,” said Stringer.  “I challenged them in practice and they all committed to the process, both players and parents,” continued Stringer. We would like to congratulate coach Stringer and his parents and players for an extended period of excellence.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Prospect Alert- Azeem Williams-2017

Azeem Willimas-2017 5'11 PG San Antonio, TX
As most of our followers know, we try our best to provide exposure to young aspiring basketball players from everywhere.  Hailing from San Antonio, TX, Azeem Williams (5'11/PG/2017) is a diamond in the rough. Having transferred into his current school, Williams was subject to Texas’ 365 rule and had to sit out his junior season. Already this season, Williams is the leading scorer in the district and for Fox Tech Law and Health Science Magnet School, where he’s averaging 26 points per game. For his efforts, Williams has received multiple Player of the Game honors by Max Prep.

As the highlight video below reflects, Williams is a dynamic floor general who can get to the spots he wants to and either score or dish.  He has deep range on his jump shot and can also get his shot off the bounce and in the mid range.  He’s an excellent defender both on ball and in the passing lanes.  He’s athletic and is able to get to and finish at the cup though contact.  Also, Williams works well in transition and has great court vision and passing skills.  Williams handles the ball well and is very efficient with his dribble.

He’s not just an athlete, but also a student athlete as evidenced by his gaudy 4.0 GPA.  Williams is also well rounded, as he is taking AP and Dual Credit classes.  In addition, Williams is class president and is involved in several school programs such as the Student Athletic Leadership Council, the school’s Mentoring Program and the National Honor Society.  For programs looking to recruit a dynamic PG, you might want to give Williams a look!


Elite Showcase Coming Soon


Now that the March 4th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase is only 4 weeks away, it's time for all interested players to get registered.  Below is an email that was sent out this morning detailing the need to get registered.  It also provides some basic information about the event. Please keep a track with the event Information Page.

Information Page


Parents/Coaches,

We are now just about 4 weeks away from the spring session of Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the event format and schedule. As a reminder, the event is scheduled for March 4th at Otterbein University located at 1 South Grove St. Westerville, Ohio 43081.  On that Saturday, registration will open by 7:30am and run through about 9:00am. We will open with opening remarks and the showcase games are scheduled to begin around 9:00-9:30am (tentative).

I plan to have an initial draft of the rosters, team assignments and schedule posted on our website (www.buckeyeprep.blogspot.com) at least 1 week prior to the event.  The only names that will appear on the rosters will be those players who have submitted the registration forms and fee. Although I will post a tentative participant list on the website, that list will not be official, so if your son/player’s name is listed there but you have not sent in the forms and/or fee, they will not have a spot in the event.  For those coaches who are bringing multiple players, we need registration forms from each of them as soon as possible. In addition, I have to place the jersey order at least 2 weeks prior to the event and I cannot order a jersey if we have not received the registration fee and forms. Therefore, you must act quickly if you want to get your son/player registered. Additionally, it’s very important that you continue to visit our website on a regular basis so you can follow any updates that may be posted.  There will be slight changes up until the day of the event so please follow the website for updates!

Also, I know a number of you have paid the registration fee via Pay Pal, but have not yet sent in your registration forms.  If that’s the case, I need you to do so as soon as possible so we can match the forms I received with your son/player’s name and get them on my official participant list. If you have/or will pay your fee via Pay Pal, please make sure you bring the receipt with you when you register your son/player. In case you have misplaced the invitation and registration forms, I have attached another copy to this email.

Finally, I’m still in need of a few more coaches for this session.  In addition to the satisfaction of working with young people, coaches receive free admission to the event ($20 value), a t-shirt and access to the media/coaches lounge where they can relax and enjoy complimentary food and drink the entire day.  Also, as a reminder, any player who has participated in past events, have been featured on our website or is ranked nationally on statewide is invited to all Buckeye Prep events.  If you know of any player(s) who meets these criteria, please have them contact me at taylorobe@aol.com or 614-203-2929 for an invitation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the event, please feel free to email or call me at the number listed above.

Showcase Information Page

Sincerely,

Rob Taylor

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Royals Poised for a Big 2017 Season

2021 Cincinnati Royals
With a roster loaded with talent, Coach Gregory Johnson’s 2021 Cincinnati Royals White squad has the potential to make a big impact during the 2017 AAU season.  Although the Royals finished in 7th place at the AAU Nationals last year, we had them ranked just outside of the top 10 in our 2016 Power Rankings; however,  after watching them play late last season where we had the opportunity to evaluate their core group of players, it’s clear that we under appreciated just how good this team was.  Although we are well aware of Skyler Schmidt, who has excelled at out elite showcase and is currently ranked among the top 10 players in the state, we have not seen much of studs like Gregory Johnson Jr, Aiden Turner and Zyon Tull.

In fact, when we caught the Royals in action at Paul McMilliam’s End of Summer Showdown in late July of last year, we had this to say about the team and its key players, “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 (6’2/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."

Skyler Schmidt & Gregory Johnson
Johnson is a key piece to the team and has primary PG duties. Last season, Johnson averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists and 5 steals for his father’s team. Johnson is a pass first PG with good court vision.  He also has good length, is athletic, and can score when the situation dictates.  Skyler Schmidt holds it down in the post where he rebounds at a high rate, protects the rim, and provides scoring. We also really like Zyon Tull, who has good length, surprising athleticism and a non-stop motor.  Aiden Turner, Tyler Montague and Kris McClure are all very talented and add to the Royals over all depth. 

The Royals’ complete roster includes Gregory Johnson (6’0/PG/Cincinnati), Aiden Turner (6’0/SG/Springboro), Skyler Schmidt (6’6/C/PF/Goshen), Tyler Montague (5’10/SG/WF/Vandalia), Kris McClure (6’3/W/PF/Cincinnati), Zyon Tull (6’2/SG/WF/Mt. Orb), Michael Ragio (5’5/CG/Cincinnati), Devin McKinnon (5’9/PF/C/Cincinnati), Oliver Wittenbaum (5’8/SG/Cincinnati), Robert Jordan (6’0/SG/Clayton), Jackson Wassler (6’4/C/Cincinnati), and Elise’e Grandison (5’6/SG/Cincinnati).  You can catch the Royals in action at the March 31st-April 2nd Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hale-Frater Joins All-Ohio

Jordan Hale-Frater-2022 Cincinnati
You know the old adage, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” Exhibit one, when the 2017 season gets under way later next month, Coach Paul McMillian’s 2022 All-Ohio Red roster will include Jordan Hale-Frater (6’3/C/2022/Cincinnati), one of the best players in Ohio in his class.  Many of you may remember him from All-Ohio Purple last year when he was beasting guys in the class of 2021.  At the 7th grade level, Hale-Frater should be a monster! 

We last saw Hale-Frater at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last September when he participated in the Ohio North vs South all-star game.  In addition, Hale-Frater also punched his ticket to the final all-star game on Sunday, and then went on to grab Top 5 honors. We did not see much of him on the summer circuit, but we knew he was good enough playing up with Purple that he deserved his selection as Third Team All-State.  Finally, we currently have Hale-Frater ranked among our top 10 players in the state.

We had this to say about Hale-Frater when saw him and his All-Ohio Purple squad in Cincinnati late last season, 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 up for the South squad in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game next month.”

In terms of All-Ohio’s upgraded roster, from our earlier reporting, McMillian has also added Adam Duvall (6’4/PF/C/Beavercreek), giving All-Ohio possibly the biggest frontcourt in the state.  They have also added Bowen Hardman (6’2/WF/Cincinnati), and Ja’Viontae Ruffin (6’0/WF/Cincinnati).  It’s important to remember, All-Ohio Red’s roster already included Paul McMillian IV (top 5), Kahlil Luster (top 10), Cameron Myles (top 10), Josiah Harris (top 20), Jerry Saunders Jr. (top 30), and Kollin Tolbert.  With their roster upgrades and returning players, All-Ohio will have significant depth and versatility. “Adding Jordan will give us a big bruising tough guy who is hard to get around, scores near the rim and will allow Adam [Duvall] and Josiah [Harris] to step out and stretch the floor,” McMillian said.

According to McMillian, there should be no doubt that his team should get the No. 1 spot when we release our pre-season rankings next month. “It ain’t going to be anybody in the state who can beat us.  I will play anybody,” said McMillian. “It will take a well oiled machine to beat us,” continued McMillian.  You will be able to catch many of the All-Ohio players in action at our March 4th elite showcase as well as the entire team at our March 31st-April 2nd Buckeye Prep Invitational tournament.  We can’t wait to get our first look at this team!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Shooting Stars Ready for Nike Circuit


With the 2017 AAU season fast approaching, the Drew Joyce Shooting Stars (DJSS) are excited to be participating in Nike’s EYBL circuit.  According to the newly released 2017 schedule, when the season tips off in the spring, the DJSS will have their U16 and U15 teams competing in the very competitive EYBL  [U16] and EYBL “Challenge” circuits.  Presently, only U17 and U16 teams actually participate in the EYBL, while U15 teams compete in a separate "Challenge" circuit. As the link below reflects, in addition to the 26 "Nike-Friendly"teams that will be participating in the EYBL circuits, another 40 teams each in the U15 and U-16 divisions will also be playing in the ultra competitive circuits; this includes Jerry Watson's  All-Ohio program.  Congratulations to the DJSS and All-Ohio for representing Ohio in this prestigious circuit!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Grace Christian Heads to Playoff

Grace Christian Middle School-COAL Champs
Packing an impressive 10-1 regular season record and a Central Ohio Athletic League regular season championship, Grace Christian Middle School will enter the league playoffs as the No. 1 seed.  A 44-29 win over Sypris Christian Middle School has Grace Christian players and fans confident they can collect another championship in the post season tournament. 

Grace Christian’s lone loss came at the hands of Gahanna Christian, and according to assistant coach Antown Turner, a possible rematch with Gahanna could come in the semi-finals. Grace Christian was down 12 -14 at half time of the championship game, but after making several adjustments at half time, they were able to pull ahead and get the win. Playing big for Grace Christian were Deijon Jennings (5’7/PG/2022/Reynoldsburg), who dropped a game-high 16 points and Nico Thomas (6’1/PF/2021/Reynoldsburg), who added another 8 points.  Good luck to Grace Christian as they head into postseason play.