Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Buckeye Prep

We at Buckeye Prep would like to wish our followers a very happy Thanksgiving!  Oh yea, get ready for high school basketball!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tis the Scrimmage Season!

Not only is it the season for turkey, dressing and your other favorite dishes, late November represents the scrimmage season, as high school teams prepare for the upcoming hoops season. Today, roughly 22 high school teams made their way to Columbus to participate in Rodney Taylor’s annual multi-team scrimmage event. As is the case every year, Taylor assembled a talented group of teams who were looking for a good pre-season test. A few of the teams in attendance, including Columbus Northland, Huber Heights Wayne, Gahanna Lincoln and Dayton Dunbar, have legitimate chances to make a deep run in the state tournament. In terms of the format, each team played five to six 15 minute quarters with a running clock.

The full list of teams include: Columbus Northland, Huber Heights Wayne, Gahanna Lincoln, Dayton Dunbar, Toledo St. John, Canton McKinley, Toledo Rogers, Dayton Meadowdale, Walnut Ridge, Africentric, Piketon, Fort Loramie, Dublin Scioto, Westerville Central, Bishop Hartley, Columbus Independence, Columbus Eastmoor Academy, Harvest Prep, Columbus East, Granville, Chillicothe and Toledo Central Catholic.

Most of the top teams took care of business and a few other teams demonstrated promise. Northland had a big day as they rolled in game 1 against Dayton Meadowdale, and easily handled Gahanna Lincoln (24-11) on their way to a 5-0 finish. Wayne scrapped their way to a 6-0 record and showed why so many people around the state think highly of them. Dayton Dunbar came close to having a big outing, but with 4 ties and 2 wins, Dunbar headed back to Dayton with a bit of an unsatisfied feeling. Gahanna tied Dunbar (18-18) in their opening game, but with losses to Northland, Harvest Prep and 2 ties, the Golden Lions (3-2-2) showed that they still have some work to do. I thought Walnut Ridge had a good day, as did Westerville Central and Toledo St. John. Also, keep an eye on Toledo central Catholic as they have just enough talent to make some noise this season. To see the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Taylor Signs with Ohio University

This afternoon at Gahanna Lincoln High School, in front of numerous well wishers, Stevie Taylor signed his national letter of intent to play college basketball at Ohio University. The 5’9 senior verbally committed to Ohio early August and chose the Bobcats over Providence, University of Richmond, Miami (OH), Akron, Toledo, UNC Wilmington, George Mason and James Madison. John Groce expressed early interest in Taylor shortly after leaving Ohio State and taking the head coaching job at OU. Taylor was impressed with Ohio’s academics, the campus, facilities and a program that is clearly on the upswing. Joining Taylor in Ohio’s 2011 class is Joe Mitchell, a 6’3 junior college point guard from Kansas and Tyquane Goard, a 6’7 small forward from Charleston, West Virginia. To see pictures of the event visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. (Signing video) (This Week Story) (Recent highlight Video)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trey Burkes Inks his NLI for Michigan

About hundred well wishers gathered in the Northland High School gymnasium tonight to celebrate the signing of Trey Burke’s National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of Michigan.  During the course of the program, several school administrators took the podium to praise the Northland star’s performance both on and off the basketball court. In addition, Burke took the opportunity to thank the many people who helped him along the way (video). At the conclusion of the program a Ty Kish video montage chronicled Burke’s basketball successes from the time he was in diapers until his standout play for the Vikings.  It was clear from the many hugs and smiles from the family and friends assembled at the event that the Northland community was proud of Burke’s accomplishments and was determined to send him off in style.  To see the picutres I took at the event visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook fan page.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Players In The Game (Lucius Jones)

Lucius Jones-Hidden Gems
As most of our readers know, every couple of months we like to highlight an individual or organization as a “Player in the Game.” In this series we feature individuals who have impacted the game of basketball in some positive way, and have contributed to the overall development of student-athletes in the Buckeye State. This month we feature Lucius Jones, known by most in central Ohio as “Big Lou,” and his Hidden Gems organization.

There are a number of individuals involved in the game of basketball for a variety of reasons; Lucius Jones is in the game for the right reasons, to help kids! Known as “the person to call” for division II and III talent; though his various endeavors Jones has connected college programs with local kids for many years. If a small college coach is looking for players, he calls Lucius Jones. Also, although his Hidden Gem AAU teams don’t always boast the elite talent, many of his players possess enough talent to play small college basketball.

Although he was born in Marion and spent some time in Mansfield, Jones has called Columbus home since 1990. When he arrived here Columbus Jones began working with Ed McCants, who was only a young high school player at the time. Jones’ initial involvement with McCants involved training, and he later assisted McCants in securing a D-I scholarship with Wisconsin-Milwaukie. From his early involvement with McCants, Jones began working with more and more young players, until he realized he needed turn what had once been considered a hobby into more of a business, hence the formation of Hidden Gems. Shortly after his arrival in Columbus, Jones recognized that the community possessed a great deal of division II and III talent, and although a majority of the programs in the area concentrated on discovering and developing the elite player, there were few exposure opportunities for small college players.

The Hidden Gems concept really began to take shape in 2002, but did not really take off until 2006. Since that time, the organization has built a small empire that has grown to include a professional placement service, a high school recruiting/college placement service, individual training, AAU team sponsorship, adult men’s basketball tournaments, a high school ranking service, men’s and women’s semi-professional teams, and annual high school showcase events. In addition, Jones is very knowledgeable about opportunities to play abroad, he has assisted many players in securing contracts to play basketball overseas, and he regularly submits articles to eurobasketball, a valuable resource for international basketball fans. In addition, Jones’ Columbus Hidden Gems women’s basketball team is one of the top teams in the Women Blue Chip League (WBCBL), and his Ohio Hidden Gems men’s basketball team has recently been accepted into the International Basketball League (IBL). As a side note, many of Jone's endeavors are sponsored by Pengwyn.

A few of the players who have benefitted from his program in some way include: B.J. Mullins, Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, Josh Bostic, Kenny Langhorne, Javonte Clanton, Robbie Taylor, Scott Thomas, J.D. Weatherspoon, Michael Green, Greg Avery, Rob Brandenburg, Vinny Zollo, Ethan Michael, Rob Matthews, Eric Beard, Scott Hilbert, Ian Nixon, Ian Quick, Taylor Hobbs, Vinny Coleman, Re’mon Nelson, Lothario Jones, Sean Hobbs, Josh Schuler, Stevie Taylor, Trey Burke, Jalen Robinson, Kyle Molock and many more.

As part of this piece I had an opportunity to speak with Nate Davis, a former assistant coach at the University of South Carolina Aiken (SCA) about his involvement with Jones. As I had expected, Davis had nothing but great things to say about Jones. “Lucius has a genuine interest in kid’s development and he really wants to see kids succeed both on and off the court” said Davis. “There are a lot of people in the game of basketball and Lucius is in it for the right reasons” Davis said. When asked about Jones’ eye for talent, Davis indicated that while he coached at SCA,” the team won 72 games in 3 years with Ohio guys on our roster.” According to Coach Davis, Jones was instrumental in connecting SCA with Javonte Clanton (RIP JC), Cordell Ballard and Re’mon Nelson, all starters and/or all-conference players.

With so many negative influences in the game of basketball, it is so refreshing to see guys like Lucius Jones positively impact the lives of young people. Jones is a Christian, a family man and right by his side you can find his lovely fiancĂ©e Juanita Jordan and his 4 children; Zephaniah, Aaliyah, Jayden and Jeannie at his events supporting his efforts. “I just want to take secondary kids and put them in successful situations, “said Jones. From this writer’s experience, Jones has been true to his mission, as a number of central Ohio kids are playing college basketball across the country through his efforts. As a suggestion, if you have a son, daughter or player who has not generated much attention from college programs just yet, and you believe he or she has the talent to play college ball, you might want to reach out to Jones for assistance. Hidden Gems Facebook Page.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Columbus Dominates All-Ohio City Series

12 Grade Championship Team
Let there be no doubt, central Ohio teams made a huge statement this weekend at Jerry Watson’s All-Ohio City Series event, as the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade teams all took home championships! Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Cleveland all sent representatives in each of the four grade divisions, but Columbus enjoyed broader support and more success. For the sake of full disclosure, the event was not perfect, and I’m sure Jerry Watson will tinker with elements of the event next year. In addition, other than Cincinnati, some of the other communities were unable to motivate their best players to compete in the event and to represent their respective cities. However, at the end of the day, it was a great basketball event in terms of competition and excitement.

Of course there were many reasons for passing on the event, but at the end of the day, Columbus area organizations, including high school and AAU coaches, did not throw up barriers for participation in this event and embraced the concept of playing for our community. From what I saw this weekend, the kids who played their hearts out this weekend did so for community pride and competition, not All-Ohio, OBC, Kings James, CBIZ, Dayton Nets, ect. Big ups to Ozzie Davis and the Queen City Prophets, Orlando Berry, Paul McMillan, Mark Baker in Dayton and the Toledo guys for looking past boundaries and fear of losing players, and deciding to support the event. The players who attended the event had a great experience competing against the best talent in the state, and it’s unfortunate that many of the kids from other cities had to come to Columbus and go to battle without their full complement of players.

12 Grade Division

In the 12 the grade division, a 5-0 Cincinnati team faced off against a 4-1 Team Columbus. After falling to Cincinnati in a 12 minute exhibition-type game earlier in the day, the central Ohio area based team entered the game with redemption on their minds. By the time the clock showed zero, Columbus had grabbed the title by a score of 109-92. All-I can say to those who missed this one, you missed one hell of a game! I can’t recall the last time I saw a gym explode after every amazing shot or play the way it did today. People will be talking about how Trey Burke and Aaron Thomas, Michigan and Florida State commits, respectively, went toe-to-toe, with each other dropping 34 points worth of long range bombs and drives to the basket, or how super crafty Stevie Taylor pulled out all of his tricks on the way to an 18-point game and numerous oohs and awes from the crowd.

Also, many will talk about the balanced attack of Team Columbus and the contributions the team got from guys like Miami (OH) bound Brian Sullivan (16 points) who had his shoot dialed in, Ohio Dominican-pledge Steve Bridgeman (12 points) and Upper Arlington’s Wesley Richter (7 points). In support, Schroeder’s Jalen Billups, who has clearly gotten a lot better since I saw him play last year, added 15 points in the championship game, while Middletown’s Jailhen Teague finished with 15 points. On another note, after the game, Jerry Watson proclaimed to the crowd the Ohio’s 2010/2011“Mr. Basketball” had just played in the championship game and those in attendance could write down where ever they pleased. Time will tell of Watson’s crystal ball was accurate! Below are the results of day two of the event.

Columbus Roster-Stevie Taylor-5’9 Gahanna Lincoln, Trey Burke-6’2 Northland, Brian Sullivan-6’0 Upper Arlington, Steve Bridgeman-6’5 Bloom Carroll, Wesley Richter-6’6 Upper Arlington, Zach Riddle-6’2 Dublin Coffman, Dwayne Bazemore-6’9 Walnut Ridge, Adam Hall-6’6 Dublin Coffman & Clinton James-6’2 DeSales. Cincinnati Roster-Jaihen Teague-6’1 Middletown, Gene Primus-6’1 Aiken, Ulysses Thomas-6’4 Princeton, Christopher Lowe-6’5 Taft, Aaron Thomas-6’6 Withrow, Jabrill Coaston-6’5 Roger Bacon & Jalen Billups-6’8 Schroeder.

All-Tournament Team

12 Grade All-Tournament Team

Trey Burke (MVP)
Jalen Billups
Steve Bridgeman
Brian Sullivan
Stevie Taylor
Aaron Thomas

11th Grade Division

The championship game in the 11th grade division was highly contested, as Team Columbus entered the game at 4-1, after an upset loss against the second Columbus team, and team Dayton was looking to remain undefeated. In the contest, Dunbar’s Teddy Hawkins arrived for the second day of action and immediately announced his arrival. Although Dayton’s backcourt tandem of Lima senior’s Tyler White and Trotwood’s Andre Yates was spectacular, Dayton had no answer for Marion Franklin’s Elijah Macon who dunked his way to 22 points and MVP honors. I can’t recall the last time I saw Macon play so hard and with so much passion. It was truly a beautiful sight. Columbus went on to claim the championship by a score of 83-79. Other leading scorers for Columbus included Isaiah Rogers and Khalid King, both of whom finished with 10 points. For Dayton, Dunbar’s Tedddy Hawkins finished with a team-high 19 points while his high school teammate Gary Ackbar added 12 points.

Columbus Roster-Isaiah Rogers-5’8 Westerville South, Khalid King-6’3 Brookhaven, Granat Harris-6’3 Harvest Prep, A.J. Ireland-6’4 Bloom Carroll, Nick Neal-6’4 Dublin Jerome, Matt Rhodes-6’6 Westerville North, Nick Archer-6’8 Olentangy Liberty, Jalen Robinson-6’8 Northland and Elijah Macon-6-8 Marion Franklin. Dayton Roster-Jacob Lavavie-6’0 Alter, Soloman King White-6’0 Northmont, Andre Yates-6’1 Trotwood, Tyler White-6’1 Lima Senior, James Brown Jr.-6’1 Trotwood, Gary Akbar-6’4 Dunbar, Justin Rossi-6’8 Franklin and Jacob Rossi-6’8 Franklin.

All-Tournament Team

11th Grade All-Tournament Team

Elijah Macon-MVP
Isaiah Rogers
Grant Harris
Nick Archer
Teddy Hawkins
Tyler White
Andre Yates

10th Grade Division

Columbus’ sophomore team capped off an undefeated weekend with a 118-95 win over a scrappy Toledo squad. Also, the freshman team completed the sweep with an 81-60 win over Cincinnati.

Columbus Roster-Keon Johnson-5’6 Mansfield, Jack Gibbs-5’10 Westerville North, John Drapper-5’10 Eastmoor Acd., Kenny Robinson-6’0 Harvest Prep, Isaac McGlone-6’1 Bloom Carroll, Jaylen Benton-Northland, Kevin Marsh-6’4 Dublin Coffman, Aaron Jackson-6’4 Gahanna, Wendell Davis-6’5 Reynoldsburg & Marquice Lawrence-6’5 Marion Franklin. Toledo Roster-Dave Brown-5'5 Maumee Valley CD, Austin Gardner-5'10 St. Johns, Tony Kinard-6'0 Rogers, Clemme Owens-6'0 Rogers, Demetrius Woodley-6'3 Lima Senior, Deondre Martin-6'5 Lima Senior, Vitto Brown-6'7 Bowling Green & Mark Donnal-6'9 Anthony Wayne.

10th Grade All-Tournament Team

10th Grade All-Tournament Team

Jack Gibbs-Columbus (MVP)
Aaron Jackson-Columbus
Wendell Davis-Columbus
John Drapper-Columbus
Tony Kinnard-Toledo

9th Grade All-Tournament Team

Freshman All-Tournament Team

Shamar Waugh-Columbus (MVP)
Ronnie Williams-Columbus
Dymiere Finch-Columbus
Manuel Powell-Columbus
Kenny Kaufman-Cincinnati
Maycio Teague-Cincinnati (8th grader)

To see day two pictures, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Also, check out the ESPN piece on the event. Championship pictures.