Sunday, January 31, 2010

2011 vs 1996 Let the Debate Begin

"I can't think of another class like this in central Ohio history," said John Stovall, a long-time evaluator and fan of high school basketball, co-founder of Prep Spotlight and current writer for "I have never seen three guards of this caliber [in central Ohio]," said Jerry Watson, founder of the All-Ohio Summer Basketball Program based out of central Ohio. To what are these long-time basketball gurus referring to? Like most central Ohio basketball fans, there has been much talk about the trio of junior point guards who have, so far, led their high school teams to undefeated seasons. Trey Burke (12-0 Northland), Treavon Jackson (16-0 Westerville South) and (15-0) Gahanna Lincoln's Stevie Taylor may be the most talented group of guards in central Ohio basketball history.

Not since Drew Lavender and Chris Quinn has central Ohio enjoyed such highly regarded guards. In fact, according to John Stovall, only the 1996 class of Estabon Weaver, Kenny Gregory and Michael Redd can come close to rivaling the 2011 class of guards. When comparing the two classes Stovall acknowledges the 1996 class was made up of more "wings and scorers who were bigger and longer," compared with the class of 2011 guards who were more "point guardish, creaters, distributes and leaders of their respective teams," said Stovall. To further contrast to the classes, Stovall predicts the current class of guards will have better college careers than the 1996 guards (keeping in mind Weaver did not attend college and Redd left early for the NBA). One of these three guys may have a chance to make it to the NBA," said Jerry Watson. These guys' (Burke, Jackson & Taylor) overall games are better top to bottom and their skill set is a little more advanced (than Weaver, Gregory & Redd)," offered Watson.

Regardless how the 2011 class of guards stack up to their predecessors, one thing is clear; each of the three guards have their respective teams in the hunt for undefeated seasons and deep tournament runs in the high school state tournament. As of now, Northland stands as the # 1 team in the nation, the State of Ohio and central Ohio, while 15-0 Gahanna Lincoln is ranked 4th in the state, second in central, and could clinch the OCC Ohio division championship on Tuesday night with a win over Pickerington North. Westerville South is currently 16-0 and is ranked high in both the AP State Poll and the central Ohio's Coaches Poll. At this point in the season, its hard to argue with the role these three floor generals have played in their team's current success.

Although each of the 2011 guards have their own distinctive styles, Taylor is a quick and speedy guard who excel in transition and easily creates for himself and teammates, while Jackson uses his size and strength to slash to the bucket, and Burke has a combination of both and the ability to shoot from deep and play lock down defense; they are all winners with a long history of leading teams to championships. In addition, there is little doubt that each of these guards will play ball at the next level, as Burke has already committed to Penn State, Jackson has high major offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Arizona State and several MAC schools, while Taylor has multiple offers from several mid-major schools including Providence.

However you cut it, or whichever class you prefer, their can be no question that the class of 2011 is special, and has a chance to go down in central Ohio basketball history as one of the best. Only time will tell how the final chapter of this class will be written, but if you have not had a chance to see these guys play, you might want to get out and check them out. If you don't get a chance to see them this year you have one more chance, as they are only juniors with another full season of high school basketball ahead of them. Oh yea, if you can't catch this trio this high school season, you can catch them this summer, as they make up the back court of the U-17 All-Ohio Red squad which is currently ranked as the #1 U-17 AAU squad in the nation. Last summer, in one event (Nike's Peach Jam), this trio of guards led All-Ohio to the championship game of the prestigious tournament. Their success at the Nike Peach Jam has many people excited about this summer and the level of success this team could achieve. "This trio of guards gives All-Ohio the the best scoring guard tandem we have ever had. We have never had three guards on a team who's high school teams are undefeated," said Watson. "These guys [Burke , Jackson & Taylor] are 1500 point scorers for their high school teams and potential 1000 point scorers in college," predicted Watson. No matter where the trio ends up in college and beyond, the footprint they are likely to leave on central Ohio hoops could be significant, and hotly debated for years to come! -Click on the red highlighted links for footage and stories of the players-Feel free to weigh in on the debate using the comment section below.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

February Madness in Full Swing

I spent most of the day posted up in Dublin checking out the action at the Dublin Invitational Boys Basketball Tournament for 7th graders. Much to my surprise, there were a number of standout team and individual performances. The first game I watched pitted #1 seeded Pickerington Lakeview vs (2-9) Hilliard Memorial. Although Lakeview was the clear favorite with a 10-2 regular season record, the scrappy Jaguars had an upset on their mind. The game was close until the end, but Lakeview eventually claimed a 32-28 victory. In terms of individual performances, no one played better that Frankie Weirich, who bullied his way to the bucket and a game-high 17 points. Weirich put his team on his back and willed his team to the win. Pickerington got contributions from Bryce Montes and point guard Tyler McCafferty. For Memorial, 5'10 center Collin Reef was big in the post and gave sold defense and rebounding in a loosing effort.

Game two at Grizzell Middle School featured the # 7 seeded Hilliard Weaver vs # 10 seeded Grizzell (a home game of sorts). As was the case in the first game, both teams refused to give an inch, as they went into the locker room at the half tied 14-14. In the end, the Wildcats outlasted Dublin to pull out a 33-28 win. In this one, I was most impressed with Michael Simon, a 6'3 center from Hilliard. Although, like most big men his age, he is still a work in progress, I noted the fact that he has good feet, can pass out of the post, and aggressively posts up ball-side. Based on his current size and build, Simon has a great chance of developing into a long-term post prospect. Simon was supported by guards Jay Peterson and Ziyad Rasul.

After the first session at Grizzell Middle School, I ran over to Sells Middle School where I had the chance to checkout 2 more games against 12th seeded Dublin Davis vs 5th seeded Wellington, and (9-2) Dublin Sells vs (6-6) Hilliard Heritage. In the first game, Dublin Davis defeated Wellington 51-32. In game two, Dublin Sells jumped out to an early lead (23-3 at the half) and never looked back. The combination of superior talent and trapping zone defenses was simply too much for the outmatched Panthers. One bright spot for Hilliard was the outstanding play of guard David Dennis, Jr., who was virtually the only weapon his team had. I could not be more impressed with Dennis' game. I know I really like a kid when I keep having to pick up my note pad to write down all the things I like about his game. With Dennis, there are a lot of things to like. What things you ask? How about his advanced handle, a compliment of one-on-one dribble moves (crossover, in and out, etc.), vision and passing skills. I could go on but I think you get the picture. I was also really impressed with Dublin's dynamic guard tandem of Shaun Rankin, and CJ Saunders. Although these guys are small (about 5'1 & 5'2), they can play. Both floor generals are super skilled, can shoot the trey, can find open teammates with the pass, and both guys were really poised for their age. If that wasn't enough, the Shamrocks brought Drew Krueger off the bench for even more solid guard play. I have to mention Gage Hisey. Although not flashy, Hisey can really finish around the cup. No wasted motion, just straight to the basket for 2 points. Continue to follow Buckeye Prep over the next several days as we try and bring you even more middle school tournament coverage.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Central Ohio Middle School Tournaments

Tis the season for middle school post season tournaments. Starting tomorrow, several 7th & 8th grade post season ending tournaments are set to tip off. One of the most competitive 8th grade tournaments in the area can be found in Gahanna, where three local middle schools will host 15 of the top 8th grade teams in central Ohio. As is the case with the high school tournaments, each of the 15 teams entered in the tournament has been seeded based on their regular season records. The following are the 8th grade teams, and their seeding, that will be participating in the Gahanna Lions Invitational Tournament: Pickerington Lakeview (1), Upper Arlington Jones (2), Reynoldsburg (3), Worthington Wolves (4), Olentangy Liberty (5), Gahanna Middle School West (6), Gahanna Middle School South (7), Gahanna Middle School East (8), Westerville Blenden (9), Olentangy Shananhan (10), Watkins (11), Big Walnut (12), Olentangy Hyatts (13), Worthingway (14) and Worthington Kilbourne (15).

Other local middle school tournaments include the 2010 Martin Memorial Basketball Tournament in Hilliard with the following 16 teams: Dublin Davis (1), Hilliard Weaver (2), Walnut Springs (3), Groveport (4), Westerville Heritage (5), Dublin Grizzell (6), Westerville Genoa (7), Worthington Christian (8), Hilliard Heritage (9), Upper Arlington Hastings (10), Hilliard Memorial (11), Delaware Dempsey (12), Mt. Vernon (13), Marysville Blue (14), Dublin Sells (15) and Dublin Karrer (16).

The community of Dublin hosts some of the top 7th grade teams in the area including: Upper Arlington Hastings (1), Pickerington Lakeview (2), Upper Arlington Jones (3), Dublin Sells (4), Wellington (5), Dublin Karrer (6), Hilliard Weaver (7), Marysville Blue (8), Olentangy Shanahan (9), Dublin Grizzell (10), Olentangy Ornage (11), Dublin Davis (12), Hilliard Heritage (13), Marysville Red (14), Hilliard Memorial (15) and Big Walnut (16). Worthington Kilbourne will also be hosting a 7th grade tournament. Stay tuned to Buckeye Prep over the next couple of weeks as we do our best to cover the post season.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2010 Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Moves to ODU

Thanks to Coach Artie Taylor and his staff, the 2010 Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase has upgraded it's facilities, and will now be held at Alumni Hall (Pictured) on the campus of Ohio Dominican University in Columbus. The Division II facility has recently undergone major renovations, and now offers 3 beautiful regulation size courts under one roof. Showcase fans will be able to watch games on all 3 courts at one time in a professional and confortable environment. We are excited about hosting this event on a college campus and at such a nice venue. ODU is located about 2 miles from the USA Sports Academy at 1216 Sunbury Road, Columbus, Ohio 43219.

Also, the response to the showcase has been tremendous, as over 135 players have already signed up for the event. Between the competition and facilities, this could be one of the best events we have held in the last couple of years. The deadline for entry fees is February 6th, and spots are filling up quickly. If you or someone you know is interested and talented enough to attend this event, email me at for an invitation. You really don't want to miss this event!!

Cleveland Benedictine Wins Play-By-Play Nightcap

"Last but certainly not least," best describes game# 7 of the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic in Columbus, as a Cameron Wright-led Bengals faced off against a Jordan Sibert-led Vikings. This game was highly contested into the 4th quarter and had at least 1 other compelling storyline. Sitting court side, you could feel, see and at times hear, the individual competition between Ohio State-bound Jordan Sibert and Pitt commit Cameron Wright (Pictured). Those two were really going out each. As most people have heard by now, it has been long rumored that Sibert over took Wright for a scholarship at Ohio State. Although that has never really been acknowledged, I got the sense that Wright believed the story, and in his mind, had a point to prove. What ever his motivation, Wright's game-high 19 points was the difference in the 55-48 win. Wright's partner in crime on the night was Central Michigan signee Derek Jackson, who played well and the point and contributed 14 points. Jordan Sibert was the man for Princeton, as he dropped a team-high 14 points. Wright and Sibert took home MVP bragging rights.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Northland Dominates Bishop Luers

A couple of things were evident after the Northland vs Bishop Luers game; 1) the Bishop Luers' coaching staff must not have watch film of the Oak Hill Academy game (Jared Sullinger had a blistering 1st quarter start); 2) Northland can shoot the ball, (the team shot over 66 % from the field); 3) Bishop Luers is really just a one-man show (Deshaun Thomas scored 36 points, more the half of his team's 67 points. In front of a crowd estimated at 5000 plus, the Vikings jumped out to an early lead that was never in jeopardy "All-Everything" Jared Sullinger appeared to channel the scoring frustration he experienced against Oak Hill last week, against the Knights, as he scored early and finished the game with a team-high 24 points. Unlike Thomas' team, Northland benefited from multiple scorers in junior guard Trey Burke who dropped an impressive 23 points and 7 assists and J.D. Weatherspoon contributed his customary high flying antics with several highlight reel dunks and 8 points. Sullinger and Thomas (Pictured) were the two MVPS in the contest. One more thing is Cristal clear, the Buckeyes should be a very good team this time next year, as the members of the much heralded 2010 recruiting class start playing with and not against each other!

Trice Paces Wayne Over Massillon Jackson

In a contest that pitted two of Ohio's top seniors in Akron commit Josh Eigner and Kent State-bound Mark Hinniger, versus top junior guard Travis Trice and forward Marcus Crider, Wayne found away to pull out a 61-53 win. Although most of the fans in attendance at the Value City Arena were awaiting game #6, and #1 Columbus Northland vs Bishop Luers, they were still treated to a few highlight plays from Eiger and Henniger. Even with the steller play of Eigner and Henniger, Wayne's speed and athletisim was key to the win. Travis Trice's 20 points were a game-high and earned him Co-MVP honors. Josh Egner was the high man for the Polar Bears with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Henniger added 13 points and 9 rebounds. The Warriors' Xavier Jones, a 6'3 senior transfer from Gary, Indiana, was the second leading scorer with 17 points and Marcus Crider finished with 13 points.

DeSales Wins It In Over Time

The 5th game of the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic featured two of the state's top senior point guards in Ohio-bound Nick Kellogg (Columbus DeSales) and Miami (OH) signee Quintin Rollins (Wilmington). Both lead guards represented their team's top gun, and their prep match up will possibly be renewed in the MAC next season. The highly contested contest required 2 over time periods before a winner could determined. The game was almost over in regulation (50-50), when Kellogg appeared to hit the game-winning shot, a trey from the corner, with 3 seconds left. However, the DeSales' coaching staff called a time out with 2.1 seconds remaining, requiring the offense to reload for a final shot. DeSales finally squeaked out a 65-62 victory. The leading scorers for the Stallions were Nick Kellogg (27 pts) and Adam Griffin ( 18 pts). For the Hurricanes, Quinten Rollins finished with a game high-30 points, while Malcom Heard added 11 points. It's important to note that Wilmington was without their second best player in Jordan Berlin, a D-II Ashland commit, who was sidelined with an injury. Kellogg and Rollins shared MVP honors.

Canton Timken Outlasts Chillicothe

Game three of the Ohio Play-By-Play Classic featured a showdown down between Canton Timken and Chillicothe. On the strength of junior Rakim Reed's game-high 18 points, the Trojans secured the 59-42 point win. For the Trojans, senior guard Corey Porrini dropped 13 points, while junior guard Jehvon Clark finished with 10 points and 6 assists. Although Desmond Rorie did not put up big numbers in the scoring column, he contributed a game-high 7 blocks. Joining the block party for Chillicothe was sophomore center Malik London, who had 4 blocks of his own. The Cavaliers were led in scoring by 6'5 junior Jalen Ragland who finished with 17 points. The second leading scorer for Chillicotihe was Michael Turner, a 5'9 senior guard who finished with 12 markers. Both Reed and Ragland (Pictured), claimed MVP honors.

Jackson Leads Westerville South Over Logan Elm

In the second game of the Ohio State Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic, junior Treavon Jackson's 13 point effort led the Wildcats to a 55-41 victory and kept his team undefeated at 14-0. Jackson was most productive early as he finished with 11 points in the first half. Logan Elm's Adam Blake drooped 13 points to lead the Braves. Other leading scorers for Westerville were Tevin Flavor (12 pts), freshman Marcus Ball (11 pts) and Isiah Rogers (7 Pts). I really like Ball who is athletic, has a nice body and did a good job of finishing around the bucket. Ball benefited from additional minutes when junior Ben Jones went down with an apparent back injury. According to his father, Jones may have sustained the same type of back injury as Ohio State's Evan Turner, and may be out for the season. Lets all hope for a swift return by Jones, who is a starter and ligitimate 3-point scoring threat for the Wildcats.

Ohio State Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic Recap

The first game of the Ohio State Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic tipped off today and matched Dayton Jefferson against Harvest Prep. Although there was not a lot of of stellar action in the contest, Dayton Jefferson's Adreian Payne provided a few fireworks to the tune of 21 points and 18 assists to pace the Stallions in a 66-56 win. Harvest Prep's Geron Tate contributed a team-high 21 points in a loosing effort. Both Payne and Tate took home MVP honors.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

9th Annual Ohio State Play-by-Play Classic

Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Cameron Wright, Adrian Payne, JD Weatherspoon and Jordan Sibert, are just a few of the elite players who will be competing at the 9th Annual Ohio State Play-By-Play Classic this Saturday at the Value City Arena on the campus of Ohio State University. The first of 7 games tips off at 10:30am and the night cap between Cleveland Benedictine vs Cincinnati Princeton starts at 8:45pm. Over the years, this event has hosted the likes of LeBron James and many other elite players and should be considered a must-attend event. Below is the complete slate of games.

10:30-Harvest Prep vs Dayton Jefferson
12:30-Logan Elm vs Westerville South
2:00-Chillicothe vs Canton Timpkin
3:34-Wilmington vs Columbus DeSales
5:30-Massillin Jackson vs Huber Heights Wayne
7:15-Bishop Lauers vs Columbus Northland
8:45-Cleveland Benedictine vs Cincinnati Princeton

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dayton's Rodrick Caldwell Has Special Qualities

I'm well aware that many of my colleagues will take exception to hyping a 6th grader, but Rodrick Caldwell, a 5'1 PG from Westwood Middle School in Dayton, has the type of special qualities that begs to be written about. Yes, Caldwell is a highly skilled point guard who can light up a score board (I saw him put up 49 points in 2 games this weekend), and yes, he handles the rock better than kids twice his age (he has all the dribble moves and can get to the paint at will), and yes, he has command of his team (he almost single handily willed his team to a championship on Monday), but it's the way he approaches the game that makes him so special.

What do I mean by "special?" From what I saw this past weekend, and what I have heard from others since then, the kid has a great attitude and his understanding of the game is beyond his years. I love to see a kid who loves the game so much that he/she can barley keep from smiling on the court. In an age where so many kids want to be "hard," and appear angry at the world when they play, Caldwell appears to be having fun on the court as he goes about destroying his opponents. Let me be clear, Caldwell will try and dominate you on the court to get his team the win, but he has a healthy attitude about it and he appears to enjoy himself while doing so.

Along with his healthy attitude (his nickname is "smiley"), Caldwell's poise and basketball IQ are a few of his major strengths. He just seems to understand the game, and he seems to make the right play at the right time. Unlike most point guards his age, he understands when to pass, shoot and drive to the cup. Despite his obvious talent, he appears to have his ego in check, as he encourages and motivates his teammates to compete. It's also clear that Caldwell is a bright kid (he made the Honor Roll the last grading period) who understands what it will take to play division I college basketball. Caldwell is already making plans for high school (he wants to attend Stivers HS) and beyond. According to his father Rob, Rodrick is a die hard Ohio State basketball fan who as already researched the dorm room and admissions policies at Ohio State as he prepares himself to suit up for the Buckeyes in a few years. Let me say this, although I'm not ready to crown him the top 6th grade in Ohio, its far too early for that, if there is a better point guard in the state, I want to see him. From what little I have seen and heard, if Caldwell can continue to work hard to develop his game, remain humble, and avoid the many traps and pitfalls that tend to trip up so many of our young people these days, he has a legitimate chance of playing ball at a high level. Like most kids his age, Rodrick dreams of playing in the NBA one day, but if that does not happen, he aspires to be an engineer and/or a basketball commentator after his college career is finished. You read it hear first people, I really think this kid is spacial! If you want to see if the hype is justified, or you want your shot at competing against Rodrick, he and many other of the state's top players will be attending the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase here in Columbus on March 6th.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Airmen Claim 6th Grade Title

The final day of the annual Dayton Airmen Tournament was chuck full of exciting team play and standout individual performances. For the record, the Dayton Airmen 6th grade squad defeated the New Birth Warriors (52-32) in the championship game to claim the title. What was most impressive about championship Monday were the semi-final match-ups (New Birth vs Team Dayton & the Dayton Airmen vs the Beavercreek Stars Red). Again, for the record, New Birth defeated Team Dayton (47-44) and the Dayton Airmen defeated Beavercreek Stars Red 49-38) to reach the championship game.

I have to mention the semi-final grudge match between the New Birth Warriors and Team Dayton (10-1). Despite Team Dayton's overwhelming size advantage in the post (6'0 & 5'8 vs 5'6 & 5'5), and a 35-25 point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Warriors refused to loose and stormed back to advance to the championship game. In that game, DJ Tyree led the Warriors with a game-high 17 points, while Jelani Rogers dropped 16 points of his own. Team Dayton was led by Derek Daniels, a 6'0 center, who finished with a team-high 15 points, Lamar Florence, a 5'8 PF, with 10 points and Devon Baker (5th grader), a 5'2 PG with 10 points. Bottom line, it was a great semi-final game that could have very easily been a championship game.

The second semi-final game between the Dayton Airmen and the Beavercreek Stars Red was not as contested, as the Airmen jumped to an early lead which they never relinquished. Although Beavercreek demonstrated great team basketball and the ability to hit the trey, a standout performance by Roderick Caldwell (25 points) was the difference. The Stars were led in scoring by Jackson Tedder, a three point marksman who finished with 16 points and James Prater, a headsy floor general. The championship game was a fitting ending to the tournament, as it matched arguably the top 2 teams in the tournament (Team Dayton might take issue with that). The Airmen rode the outstanding play of point guard Roderick Caldwell all the way to the title. The Airmen never trailed in the contest and eventually pulled away from the Warriors to the claim the 55-31 victory. Although supported by Courtney Byrd, a 5'6 PF from Dayton, Roderick Caldwell was the driving force in the win. Caldwell led all scorers with 24 points while Byrd contributed 12 points. For the Warriors, DJ Tyree scored a team-high 14 points, Jalen Tate went for 11 points and Jelani Rogers, who was face-guarded for most of the game, contributed 7 points. Below is Buckeye Prep's All-Tournament Team: Roderick Caldwell (Airmen)-MVP, Courtney Byrd (Airmen),Demond Parker, (Airmen), Jelani Rogers (New Birth), DJ Tyree (New Birth), Jalen Tate (New Birth), Derek Daniels (Team Dayton), Devon Baker (Team Dayton), Lamar Florence (Team Dayton), Jackson Tedder (Beavercreek Stars), James Prater (Beavercreek Stars).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Flyin to the Hoop Day One

I had the opportunity to poke my head into some of the day-one action at the Flying to the Hoop Tournament in Kettering. By the time I got there, Columbus' Marion-Franklin had already notched a 83-75 victory over Georgia's Centennial. In that game, Dejuan McGaughy's 22 points was the difference in the game. Elijah Macon had a big game with a double double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Centennial's Devonte White dropped a game-high 28 points to pace the Knights. Game two of the day featured a great match-up between Garfield Heights and Cincinnati Winton Woods. Despite leading for much of the game, late game turnovers by Garfield Heights resulted in overtime (65-65). Auburn-bound Allen Payne was forced to the bench with foul trouble, but re-entered the game in enough time to hit a couple of key shots and to finish with 18 points. Dominique Brown was the man for the Warriors as he dropped a team-high 23 points and led his team to a 72-70 win. Trey Lewis was responsible for a game-high 25 points. I plan to spend all day at the tournament on Monday so come back for my take on the action.

Dayton Airman Tournament Alive and Well

For 13 years, Al Powell (Pictured), a fixture in Dayton-area basketball and the founder of the Dayton Airman Basketball Program, has held his annual Dayton Airman Tournament during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend. Powell's motivation for holding the tournament is two fold. First, Powell wants to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King by holding the tournament on his birthday, he also hopes the tournament "bridges the gap between the local basketball community and leagues. The Dayton basketball community is so divided," Powell said. This sentiment was echoed by Mark Landers, a long-time coach in the storied program. With the tournament, "kids from different parts of the Miami Valley get the opportunity to compete against each other," Landers said.

On Saturday I had the chance to take in some of the tournament action in the 6th grade division. This year, eighteen 4th, 5th and 6th grade teams participated in the 3-day tournament. Some of the programs participating in the event included: the Dayton Airmen, Beavercreek Stars, Centerville Hustle, Trotwood, New Birth Warriors, and the Dakota Swish. At the end of day-two, three teams stood at 2-0. The New Birth Warriors defeated the Beavercreek Stars White (33-17) and the Centerville Hustle (36-28) heading into bracket play. Beavercreek Stars Red defeated Game Faith (35-21) and Mad River to remain undefeated. Dayton White defeated the Dayton Airmen and the Beavercreek Stars White heading into Monday.

I also had the chance to check out a few of the state's top 6th graders. Let me start with Rodrick Caldwell, a 5'1 PG from Dayton (Westwood MS). This kid can play! Caldwell is a consummate floor general, as he has great vision and the ability and willingness to pass the ball to open teammates. Caldwell was unselfish, poised and played the game with great instincts. I thought Caldwell had an advanced skill set, including a tight handle, great one-on-one moves which he used to penetrate. Once he gets into the lane, often with a hesitation dribble, crossover or an in-and-out dribble, Caldwell has a nice looking floater. Other top players included Jelani Rogers, a 4'8 PG from Westerville (Blendon MS) and DJ Tyree, a 5'2 PG from Columbus (Galloway Ridge Elm), both of whom had standout performances. I did not get a chance to see Dayton White, the 3rd undefeated team, but I hope to get back down to the tournament on Monday to catch the championship game.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Flyin to the Hoop Basketball Tournament

If you want to witness some high level prep hoops action this weekend, you might want to head to the Dayton area for the annual Flying to the Hoop Tournament. As is the case every year at this event, some of the top teams in the country will be competing over the course of the 3-day tournament. The tournament tips off this Saturday and will run though Monday. Some of the top players scheduled to appear this year include: Pine Crest's Brandon Knight, Jefferson's Adrian Payne, Whitney Young's Sam Thompson, Marion-Franklin's Elijah Macon, Aiken's Aaron Thomas, Wayne's Travis Trice, Benedictine's Cameron Wright, Garfield Heights' Trey Lewis, Findley Prep's Tristian Thompson, Nick Johnson, Nigel Williams Goss and Godwin Okonji, Princeton's Jordan Siebert, Miller Groves' Tony Parker, Westerville North's Ralph Hill, Flora MacDonald Acd's Luke Cothron, Whitney Young's Ahmed Starks, JR Reynolds, and Anthony Johnson, just to name a few.
11:30-Marion-Franklin vs Centennial (GA.)
1:15-Garfield Heights vs Winton Woods
3:00-Cincinnati Aiken vs Miller Grove (GA.)
4:45-Cincinnati Princeton vs Pine Crest (Fla)
6:30-Trotwood-Madison vs Montverde (Fla)
11:30-Fairmont vs Future Academy (NC)
1:15-Alter vs Huntington Academy (W.Va)
3:00-Cleveland Heights vs Cincinnati Roger Bacon
4:45-Centerville vs West Jessamine (KY)
6:30-Dayton Thurgood Marshall vs Flora (NC)
8:15-Dayton Dunbar vs Whitney Young (ILL)
11:30-Flora Academy (NC) vs Westerville North
1:15-Dayton Jefferson vs Pine Crest (FL)
3:00-Lakota East vs Wheeler (GA)
4:45-Dayton Chaminade vs Centennial
6:30-Wilmington vs Miller Grove
8:15-Huber Heights vs Montverde

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tyree Paces Warriors Over Celtics

For the second time in as many days, the New Birth Warriors faced off against a talented team from Dublin and claimed victory. Today, on the strength of DJ Tyree's 29 point explosion (19 points in the 3rd quarter), the Warriors fought back from a 3-point halftime defect to claim a 59-41 victory. In addition to Tyree's big day, Jalani Rogers chipped in 20 points of his own. Over the past 2 weeks, the Warriors have enjoyed success over Dublin teams, starting with the Rocks in the Capital Holiday Tournament, the Irish yesterday and the Celtics today. From watching those games, a couple of things are clear, Dublin is blessed with a ton of talent in the 2016 class, and if most of those kids can be funneled to one high school, central Ohio is going to have one heck of a team in a few years. Of the 3 teams I have watched, the Celtic's front court is the most impressive, boasting multiple long-term post prospects. Next up for the 14-4 Warriors is Buckeye Valley on Sunday January 17th.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Birth Outlasts Irish

This afternoon, the New Birth Warriors held off a Dublin Irish comeback to claim a revenge victory. Despite loosing to the 10-6 Irish in their last meeting, the Warriors jumped out to an early lead which they never relinquished, on their way to 61-59 win. At the half, New Birth was up by 11 points (32-21), but on the strength of solid guard play, the Irish cut the lead to 6 points at the beginning of the second half, as Dublin scored on six consecutive possessions. The Warriors were led in scoring by Jalani Rogers' 20 points. Other leading scorers for New Birth were DJ Tyree (13 points), Tyrell Carter (9 points) and Brandon Burks (8 points). The Warriors will be back in action tomorrow when they square off against the Dublin Celtics, the third of three Dublin-based travel teams.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buckeye Prep on the Radio

Tomorrow morning at about 11:00am, Buckeye Prep's Rob Taylor will appear on Clay Dade's Inside College Basketball Radio Show. The 2-hour long show will also feature in depth discussion about a variety of subjects related to summer basketball from grassroots basketball icon, Sunny Vacarro. To hear the show live click on the link embedded in this story, or click on the link provided under "Popular Links" on the far right column of this page. If you can't tune in live, check out the show in the archive section of the site. The dialogue should be very lively and interesting for the true basktaballholics. Tune into the show, it should be fun!

Another Blow to Grassroots Basketball

You may not know it, but as the AAU basketball season approaches, the NCAA Board of Directors has been busy drafting legislation that will change the face of summer basketball. Clay Dade's BlogTalk Radio Show has shined a light on the fact that the NCAA will soon pass new rules that will prohibit tournaments, camps and other events from being held on D-I college campuses.

That's right, mega tournaments like Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions (Duke, North Carolina and NC State), Pittsburgh Jam Fest (University of Pittsburgh), It Takes 5ive Classic (University of Cincinnati), King James Classic (University of Akron and Kent State University), Real Deal on the Rock/Hill (University of Arkansas), Wallace Prather (Georgia Tech) will all have to find new homes. It's not just tournaments, but elite camps such as the Lebron James Skills Academy (University of Akron & Cleveland State), Reebok U (Philadelphia University) and other high profile camps will have to relocate. It's not just the big guys, but smaller more local and regional events will also have to find new court space. Don't forget the McDonald's All-American Game (Ohio State University this year) which could also be impacted. In addition, events like Clay Dade's Jr. All-American Camp, which was held at the University of Kentucky this past summer, will be forced to move.

Why is the NCAA taking such drastic steps? Some people close to the game feel that the NCAA is trying to reduce the influence of grassroots/AAU basketball, while returning the power and influence currently enjoyed by travel team coaches and program directors, to high school basketball coaches. Critics will also point to earlier NCAA legislation, which limited "open periods" for college coaches to a few weeks in July as a way of discouraging AAU coaches and players from traveling to elite tournaments around the country, as more evidence of the NCAA's bad intentions. The general rule of thought is, if college coaches were not present at these tournaments, travel teams would pass on the big boys and choose instead, to attend smaller, more local and regional events. As we all know, the rule changes did not achieve their intended goals, as travel teams continued to attend these big time tournaments. Now, instead of following the college coaches, the teams and players follow the scouting services and continue to take advantage of the opportunity to take what amounted to unofficial visits on these college campuses. Other NCAA initiatives such as the popular iHoops program-also known as First Team-are seen as more intrusion into grassroots basketball.

It's not just the NCAA who is pushing this legislation, which will take effect immediately, just in time for AAU season, but many college coaches support the changes because of the perceived advantages these large tournaments provide to their colleagues. Think about it, you are a big time recruit who has the chance to tour the facilities and campuses at North Carolina, Duke and NC State while spending a weekend at the Bob Gibbons TOC. Chances are, you are going to be influenced by the experience. Coaches from colleges who do not host such events feel these schools have an unfair advantage by hosting these types of events. It's also important to note that although coaches on those host campuses are prohibited from watching the actual games going on their campuses, they always seem to be around at the end of the event to greet prospective recruits and their families as they depart the tournaments.

College presidents have endorsed Proposal No. 2009-100 as well, despite the fact that their universities are currently suffering during this poor economy, and will lose revenue streams from these summer events. Talk about panicking, what about the major tournament organizers like the Hoop Group, who hosts huge tournaments at the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Providence? Without the facility space these universities offer, not to mention the allure of playing on college campuses, these tournaments could suffer a significant financial impact.

The reality is, the big tournaments will find away to adjust to the new rules, and will continue to generate big profits; it's the players and their families who will miss the opportunity to play at storied venues such as Cameron Indoor Stadium or the Dean Dome. It's the players who will not get to experience the thrill of playing on the floor of their favorite program and hanging out on various college campuses around the country. Instead of playing on the floor of UC Arena in Cincinnati during the first week of July, players will likely be playing in dimly lit recreation centers, on small middle school courts and older high school gymnasiums around the country. Thanks NCAA for diminishing the experience of grassroots basketball.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Central Ohio Hoops Scene

Earlier today, Scott Bradley's New Birth Warriors defeated the Dublin Rocks by a score of 45-35. The 10 point victory avenged an earlier loss to the Rocks a couple of weeks ago. The second time around, the Warriors' press wore down the Rocks and limited their ability to hit late game shots. Although New Birth had hoped to meet Dublin in the championship game of the Capital University Holiday Tournament on Thursday, the Warriors were defeated by a very talented Ohio Warriors squad in the quarterfinals. The Ohio Warriors went on the win the tournament by soundly defeating Dublin by 20 plus points in the championship game. The leading scorers from New Birth were DJ Tyree (13 points), Tyrell Carter (11 points), Jalen Tate (9 points) and Jalani Rogers (5 points).

All-Ohio (6th Grade) Tryouts

I stopped by the USA Sports Academy today to get a peek at some of the kids trying out for the All-Ohio 6th grade team. About 12 kids worked out for a couple of hours. Over the course of the workout, Lima's Warren Pughsley ran the kids though a number of drills before finishing up with a scrimmage. From what I saw, the team should be very competitive this spring and summer. Some of the better players I saw (or heard about) and are most likely to make the team included: Xavier Simpson, Marcus Dempsey, Aaron Thompson, Trey Cobbs, Brandon Peters, Cameron Copeland, Jagger Epps and Nick Taflinger.

Tournament Champions

While checking out the All-Ohio tryouts, I caught the tail end of the USA New Year's Holiday Classic championship game. Congratulations to Jerry Francis' 3rd grade USA/JFYF All-Stars (Pictured) for claiming the tournament title. The 5-team tournament included teams from Dublin, Gahanna and Springboro. Some of the standout players included: Jordan Whitehall, Alvin Bird, Jaden Lipscome and Jeremiah Francis. Although Buckeye Prep rarely covers kids so young, we thought everybody needs a little love, and a championship of any kind deserves recognition! Good job little fellas!!