Thursday, January 18, 2018

Shaker Heights’ Season Culminates in Championship

Shaker Heights Middle School 6th Grade Team-League Champions
Congratulations to Coach Jeremy Hill and the Shaker Middle School 7th Grade Basketball Team. The team compiled a 17-0 record on the season, and concluded with a GCC Conference Tournament Championship win over 3rd seeded Solon 51-30. The team was lead all season by the their "big three" Cody Head, Xavier Peterson, and Kellon Smith, all Buckeye Prep Showcase participants. The team also received contributions from defensive specialist Edward Robinson and sharp shooter Adam Sopenski.

Due to the average margin of victory being 20 plus points all of the players saw significant minutes over the course of the season. The growth and development of the bench will serve the Shaker Basketball program well going into the future. Those boys who grew and developed over the season included: Carmellis Proctor, Randy Morrison, Nolan James, Trey Guice, Imanu Lewis, Kylan Marshall, Sherrod Edwards, and Jayse Thomas. Job well done by all! Rest up quickly and then get back to work. Spring AAU will be here before you know it.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blue Chips win Another Early Season Tourney

2022 DV45 2018 Gym Rats MLK Classic Champions
Although the 2018 travel basketball season is barely under way, Coach Paul Soroka’s 2024 North Coast Blue Chips squad is already in midseason form.  As evidence, this past weekend the Blue Chips returned to Spiece Fieldhouse in Fort Wayne, IN. and ran through the competition on their way to the 2018 Gym Rats MLK Classic championship.

In pool play, the Blue Chips took down Progeny 2024-Select (59-36) and Bates Fundamental 2024 (64-42).  During Sunday bracket play, the Chips got by Motor City Bad Boys (59-27), MWA Elite 2024 (49-9), MWA Elite National (52-48) and Progeny 2024-Select (54-39).

While we’re talking about the North Coast Blue Chips we should mention that the 3rd and 4th grade teams took home gold as well.  The 4th graders got by Quest (39-11), The Family (49-31), C2K Elite (37-13), MWA Elite 2026 (51-45) and Team Teague (65-68), while the 3rd grade team mowed down Gym Rats 2027 (40-3), GR Phoenix (38-8), Team Teague (47-16) and Sky’s The Limit (38-10) on their way to the gold.

We would also like to give a shout out to Coach Ted Docks’ 8th grade DV45 team that finished 5-0 on their trek to the 8th grade title at the same event.  Docks’ team cruised to the title with wins over Tipping Point/IE 2022 (42-22), Team Focus 2022 (54-31), MBA-Black (43-23), Michigan Roadrunners (48-23) and Indy Heat 2022-Black (64-55).  So far this year, DV45 is 2 for 2 in tournament championships.  Congrats to Coach Docks and his team for a great start to the 2018 season!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tri-Village Duo Dominates Competition

Morgan Hunt & Rylee Sagester
Any team fortunate enough have both an elite guard and an elite post player has the chance to put together a championship caliber season.  Such is the case with the Tri-Village Patriots who are currently undefeated and sitting at a perfect 10-0.  The Patriots are blowing out the competition and are averaging 65 points per game.  In most cases, the Patriots starters are only able to play 3 quarters of a game because of the lopsided scores.

The Patriots are so dominating because their roster includes 2 of the top 7th graders in the state. In the backcourt the Patriots have Rylee Sagester (5’5”/PG/2023/Tri-Village) and in the frontcourt they have Morgan Hunt (5’9”/Post/2023/Tri-Village).  Sagester, a highly skilled floor general with a high basketball IQ, leads the team in scoring, averaging 24 points per game.  In addition to her ball handling skills and ability to run a team, Sagester is a threat to knock down the deep ball as evidenced by the fact she has already hit 38 treys in only10 games, and in most of those games she only played 3 quarters.  It should also be noted that 2 years ago, as a 5th grader, Sagester finished as the national runner up in the Elks Hoops Shoot in Chicago, where she made 23 of 25 free throws in regulation. Sagester’s talent has not gone unnoticed, as at least a couple of college programs already have her on their radar and have brought her in on unofficial visits!

According Josh Sagaster, assistant coach for the Dayton Lady Hoopsters, Hunt is a skilled big who is very aggressive, possesses good size and great hands and feet, and can also shoot it accurately out to 15 feet.  Moreover, Hunt finishes around the basket at a high rate using both hands, and in terms of her skill set, Hunt can face up, shot fake then drive around defenders to the cup and finish.  Sagester and Hunt have played together on various teams since about the 3rd grade and now they represent arguably the best 1-2 punch in the state for the Dayton Lady Hoopsters.  With respect to Hunt’s long-term potential, her level of play will depend largely on her continued growth and development.  From what we understand, Hunt’s parents have good size, which could suggest she has a lot more room to grow.

We look forward to catching both Sagester and Hunt in action at our March 10th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  In addition, there’s a good chance one or both of them could get an invitation to participate in the prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star game.  We would like to wish the Patriots good luck with the remainder of their season!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Mattes Among the Best Nationally

Margo Mattes 5'8" WF 2023 Cincinnati
As the best player on a loaded and nationally ranked Cincy Pride team, Margo Mattes (5’8”/WF/2023/Cincinnati) is easily one of the top 7th graders in the country.  According to Coach Anthony Stanley, his Cincy Pride squad finished 4th at the AAU Nationals at the Boo Williams complex in Virginia Beach, VA this past season, and Mattes was a huge part of that success. Also, as the team’s leading scorer and best defender, Mattes was clearly one of the best players in the entire event according to Stanley.

In terms of her game, Stanley could not be more impressed with Mattes.  “She’s very smooth, is a very good ball handler and shooter, and she can defend multiple positions.  Margo is very athletic and she impacts the game on both ends of the court,” Stanley said. “Margo was a Jr. Olympic swimmer before she started playing basketball; she’s the real deal,” according to Coach Stanley.  “She’s [Mattes] is also very coachable and her work ethic alone makes her one of the leaders on our team,” continued Stanley.

This winter, Mattes is running with her All Saints Middle School team where she’s averaging 20+points per game and has her team undefeated.  Coach Stanley is also confident about Mattes’ upside potential and projects she will play ball at the next level.  “Margo is a high major D-I prospect.  I’ve seen a lot of girls play, even in high school, and Margo is better than all of them,” Stanley proclaimed.  Apparently, Mattes is a good student as well and is currently carrying an A average.

A little research reflects that Mattes is far from an unknown, as she has logged in standout performances at elite showcases and tournaments and has been featured on media outlets such as and Blue Star Media. In addition, Mattes' name appeared on an AAU “Watch List” based on her performance at the 6th grade D-I Nationals last year. Also, this is how Mattes was described Lady Ballers Insiders:

“Margo Mattes 5’8” 2023 G/F Cincy Pride: A wing player with point guard handles, Margo is a valuable member of the three-peat State Champion Cincy Pride.  She is a special all-around player, excelling on offense and defense.  Mattes is a matchup nightmare for opponents.  She drives around bigger, slower players and uses her solid frame to go through smaller defenders.  Her ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the court makes her an even more dangerous weapon.  All of these skills along with the ability to rebound out of her area and lock down opposing scorers contribute to the recipe for team success that the Cincy Pride continue to enjoy.”

Mattes is surrounded by talent on her Cincy Pride team including: Zy’aire Miller (5’5”/WF/2023/Cincinnati), Taylor Stanley (5’5”/PG/2023/Cincinnati) and Raeven Raye-Redmond, and Stanley projects each of these 3 players as D-I prospects as well.  When we release our statewide rankings in a few weeks look for Mattes name near the top in her class.  We also look forward to catching Mattes and teammates in action at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase scheduled for March 10th!

Livingston to Return to Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase

Chris Livingston 6'4 WF 2022 Akron
It’s been confirmed that Chris Livingston (6’4”/WF/2022/Akron) has registered and will be returning to the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, which is currently scheduled for March 10th.  As most of our readers know by now, Livingston has been a perianal all-star at our events for several years, and he’s widely considered one of the top 5 players in the country in the class of 2022.  

As an update to Livingston's current middle school season, he has his Emmanuel Christian Academy team a perfect 5-0 and poised to win their 3rd championship in as many years.  In addition, Livingston is dominating the competition to the tune of 31 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3.25 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

In terms of Ohio, Livingston and Paul McMillan IV are among the top 2 guys in the class.  Having watched Livingston develop into a national phenom over the past several years, we’re excited to welcome him back to our event.  Livingston will be joined by a number of elite players from around the state, region and country.  Can't wait!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Bransford’s Potential is Unlimited

KK Bransford 5'10" PG 2022 Cincinnati

In terms of raw talent and middle school girls’ basketball, we have to believe that KK Bransford (5’10/PG/2022/Cincinnati) has as much talent as any player in the state.  Having played against the boys and excelling in several of our events, we know Bransford’s game very well.  Not only has Bransford played with the boys at our elite showcases, she has made the all-star team and was even selected for a “Top 5 Award” based on her standout performance in the final all-star game.

In fact, the last time we saw her at our Buckeye Prep Winter Showcase in Cincinnati, we had this to say about Bransford: “Remember this name, KK Bransford, a 5’1 PG from Cincinnati will be playing major college basketball for a lucky D-I program in a few years. She may be a female playing with the boys, but you would never know it by her game. Advanced skills, tough as nails and relentless best describe her game right now.  We know she has had success in past events, but Saturday was really the first time we had enough time to watch her play and truly appreciate her game. Big upside potential!”

Currently, Bransford has her Finnytown Middle School team sitting at a perfect 4-0.  As the top player on that team, Bransford is averaging 20 points per game, and not only can she score the rock, Bransford is the top rebounder in her league.  Last season, Bransford led her 7th grade team to a 14-2 record and the school’s first league championship.  In the spring and summer, Bransford runs with Coach Carlton Gray’s Cincinnati’s Finest travel team. According to her coach, Bransford is a team player who is very coachable and shows great leadership on the court.  Moreover, Bransford is highly skilled, sees the floor well and is a real floor general for her team.  She also defends well and excels at knocking down the mid-range jumper.

Undoubtedly, Bransford’s skill set and basketball IQ were forged by many years of playing with and against the boys.  In addition, Bransford has played up a grade for most of her career.  Although she’s only in the 8th grade, college coaches have already taken notice of her talent.  As a matter of fact, according to her mother, Bransford currently holds scholarship offers from Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan State, Miami University, Xavier, Indiana, West Virginia and Minnesota. 

We may be still putting together our local and statewide rankings, but needless to say, Bransford will be near the top of every list!  Also, we have a long way to go before we announce the official rosters for the girl’s Ohio North vs South All-Star Game March 10th), but we can confirm right that Bransford will be running the point for the South team! Finnally, as the first girl to compete at our elite showcase, we are proud to count KK Bransford as one of our alumni, and we can’t wait to see her compete at the next level!