Sunday, February 18, 2018

R4L is all about Development

There are numerous youth basketball programs in the state, but few are true grassroots organizations committed to developing young players for future success.  Carlos Davis’ R4L organization is one such program and has been in the business for over 16 years.  Having started R4L more than a decade ago, Davis merged with the Cincinnati Lakers organization for 5-6 years before returning to his own R4L brand.
“Our goals is to keep kids together and intact to move into high school ball,” said Davis. “We’re all about teaching kids how to play ball; running sets and we work with kids based on their ability,” continued Davis.

Currently, Davis’ program works with boy’s team in grades 3rd-6th.  His teams are “very competitive and are playing up this winter,” Davis said. Because R4L is all about development, the organization offers more than just games. “We provide all services including training,” offered Davis. Although the program is “pay to play,” R4L tries to hold funding raising and secure sponsorships where they can. 

In terms of their philosophy, Davis handpicks the kids he wants to work with.  “We don’t do tryouts. I recruit kids; I target the kids I want to work with. I look for support systems first and who will get them to practice.  Players and parents have to be committed,” Davis said. “We focus on long-term development; we don’t do trophy chasing,” continued Davis.

In the winter, R4L teams play up in order to find competition.  In the spring and summer Davis’ team will travel far and wide in search of the best competition they can find.  Their season will tip off in early March and will include the April 13th-15th Buckeye Prep Invitational.  Because Davis and his organization has supported the Buckeye Prep Report for over a decade, we’ve seen up close and personal his dedication, passion and how he works with the kids.  We would like to wish Davis and his players much success this season!

Buckeye Prep Invitational Information Page

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Buckeye Prep Girl’s 2023 Player Watch List Released

Mari Bickley, Margo Mattes, Mahogany Cottingham, Shelby Humphrey, Paris Gilmore,  Sole Williams & Taylor Stanley
Although we are still attempting to identify more of top middle school girls’ players in the state of Ohio, we feel good enough with our current 7th grade list to publish it now.  In terms of our methodology, we reached out to as many 7th grade/2023 coaches as we could find, and for the most part, we received a great deal of cooperation and feedback from the coaches we contacted.

What has become clear very early, the Cincinnati/Dayton area girl’s basketball scene is the most talented, organized and committed to preparing players to compete at the next level.  Consequently, of the 3 “Top Player Lists” we will publish over the next couple of weeks, Cincinnati and Dayton are considerably more represented!  Quite simply, the coaches in this area were much more cooperative and responsive to our requests for information!

We certainly don’t know all of the top girls just yet, but we have already identified a few players who are elite, and have already established reputations that have landed them on the radars of college coaches.  Arguably the top 7th grader in the state is Mauri Bickley (5’9”/WF/2023/Akron), who has already secured a D-I scholarship offer from Akron, as well interest from several high major programs. 

Also, Margo Mattes (WF/Cincinnati), Mahogany Cottingham (5’8”/PG”/Parma), Shelby Humphrey (5’1“/Post/Cincinnati), Grace Barnes (SG/Cincinnati), Kendall Braaten (5’8”/WF/Beria), Paris Gilmore (CG/Youngstown), Madison Green (5’5”/CG/Licking Heights), Margo Hunt (C/Tri-Village), Rylee Sagester (5’5”/SG/Tri-Village), Raeven Ray-Redmond (WF/Cincinnati), Abby Riddle (5’9”/WF/Cincinnati), Sole Williams (SG/Cincinnati), T'asia Hill 
(5'5"/SG/2023/Toledo) and Taylor Stanley (SG/Cincinnati) are all potential top 10 players.  Again, we know there are others, but these names have been presented to use from area coaches.

Morgan Hunt, Gracie Barnes, T'asia Hill, Kendall Braaten & Rylee Sagester
As is the case with any list of this type, we know there are a number of players who deserve inclusion.  However, in order to receive exposure, players must participate in elite events where they can increase their chances of being seen and evaluated. The list below is just our initial effort to identify the state’s top players.  We are still working with coaches around the state to help us with the process. 

At the conclusion of our March 10th elite showcase we will be updating our Watch Lists to reflect the results of the event.  We will also be updating are picture database so we will be able to develop and post individual player profiles and features going forward.  Please take the time to review our list and provide us with feedback about what you see.

If we have made any mistakes please email us at: with the correct/updated information and we will make the necessary changes ASAP!  Finally, every player on our list is invited to our elite showcase and they need only register using the link below.  If you’re not on this list and you feel you deserve the recognition, register for our elite showcase and make your statement!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Hill has Team Positioned for Championship

T'asia Hill 5'5" PG 2023 Toledo
Rocking a 7-3 overall record, T’asia Hill’s (5’5”/PG/2023/Toledo) Notre Dame Junior Academy team will play for a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) championship this Saturday.  As the leading scorer on that squad (averages 18 points per game), Hill deserves much of the credit for her team’s success.  In the summer, Hill rolls with the Keshanw Johnson’s storied Toledo Thunder program and her role on that team is similar, score the rock!

Based on Hill’s size and skill set, she’s able to play multiple positions.  In addition to her ability to shoot the 3-ball at a high rate, Hill’s strength makes her equally equipped to drive to the cup and finish.  “She just stronger than most of her opponents,” said her father.  As her team’s leader, Hill routinely “takes the big shot” when the game is on the line, and she has hit multiple buzzer beaters in her short career.  When we say “short career,” it’s because Hill has only been playing organized ball for 2 years!

Hill’s talent is no secret, as she has been recognized for her standout performances at various events.  Specifically, she received rave reviews at a recent OGBR camp and she has been selected to play in a Top 64 event, where she will get the opportunity to play against high school girls.  In addition, Hill was selected MVP at a BEES Spotlight tourney last June.  Hill is also getting in done in the classroom as well, where she is an A/B student.  We look forward to catching Hill in action at our March 10th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Spartans Dodge Bullet to Stay Undefeated

Last week the community of Lima was treated to a battle of the undefeated!! In one of the most exciting middle school games ever, Coach Marcus Addy’s Lima West Spartans (15-0) defeated coach Duane Morgan’s 15-0 Dayton Wogamon Elks 56-54 on a game winning put back by Anthony Mosley.

This was a game of runs, and it was clear that whoever could make the last run would win.  Lima started the game on a 9-0 run, before Wogamon came storming back with a 9-0 run of their own. The rest of the first half was back and forth as Lima took a 2 -oint lead into halftime. 

In the 2nd half, Wogamon’s standout point guard Sellers Littles IIIl led his team on a run that would put Lima face to face with defeat for the first time this season. The Elks expanded their lead to 54-45 with 1:54 remaining in the 4th qtr. 

Faced with serious adversity, Lima West responded with an 11-0 run to win the game in front of a packed house. Lima’s big 4 all contributed. Quintel Wilson Jr chipped in with 9 points, Khalil Luster, and Cecil Benton Jr. both scored 11, but Camren Miles had a standout performance leading all scorers with 24 points. Sellers Littles III led the Wogamon Elks with 21 points and 6 assists, while big man Shawn Phillips controlled the lane with 11 points and 6 blocked shots. Congratulations to the Spartans for a big time win!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gilmore’s Star on the Rise

Paris Gilmore 5'2" PG 2023 Youngstown, OH
As we scour the state in search of the top middle school girl’s basketball players new names continue to emerge. According to several people we talked to, Paris Gilmore (5’2”/PG/2023/Youngstown) has a chance to be really good.  Gilmore has a skill set that includes a tight handle, the ability to knock down the 3-ball and the willingness and ability to deliver the rock to open teammates.  She’s also aggressive to the cup, sees the floor well and has a high basketball IQ.

In the spring and summer, Gilmore runs with the SMAC Young Ballers where she averaged about 10-12 points per game last season.  In addition, her standout play has earned Gilmore some notoriety over the past couple of season.  More specifically, Gilmore excelled at the Future Stars Showcase in Pittsburgh last season to the tune of a Top 10 selection.

Finally, Gilmore is also handling her business in the classroom as well where she routinely brings home A’s and B’s.  We look forward to seeing Paris in action at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase on March 10th, where she will go head to head with many of the top players in Ohio.  Moreover, you should expect to see Gilmore in the prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star game as well!

UA Next Combine Series Returns for 2018

Under Armour’s Invite Only “UA Next Combine Series” for Basketball’s Next Generation

This March, Under Armour Basketball in conjunction with the Junior NBA will introduce the “UA Next Combine Series” for select middle school basketball players. The third annual Combine Series is an invite only program that will offer eighth graders high-level teaching, instruction and competition.  The program will run for a full day in each of the following six cities nationwide, including: Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and New York City.

The “UA Next Combine Series” is for current eighth grade players (Class of 2022).  40 boys and 24 girls will be selected at each location except Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles which will feature boys only.  Players will compete for invitations to the prestigious “UA Next Experience” at the Under Armour Elite 24 this August.  Under Armour’s Elite 24 event is the nation’s premier annual high school basketball showcase that offers the world’s top prospects an opportunity to experience the energy and spirit of authentic playground basketball, while competing on the biggest stage of the summer.

“UA Next Combine Series” is the latest program from Under Armour’s Grassroots Basketball platform. It joins ongoing nationwide events, including the UA Association League, NBPA Top 100 Camp, SC30 Select Camp, UA All American Camp and the UA Elite 24. It is the purpose of these events to provide youth basketball players with the opportunity to hone their skills and maximize exposure in high-level teaching and competitive environments.  The platform aligns with Under Armour’s mission to “Make All Athletes Better.”

For more information please visit the UA Next tab on or email