Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ohio Mr. Basketball-The Process

As the Ohio high school basketball regular season begins to wind down, and thoughts start to turn towards the upcoming state tournament, a new debate is starting to sweep the Buckeye State. Ohio’s Mr. Basketball Award is coveted by many of the state’s top players, but only the most outstanding player of the season will be selected for this prestigious honor.

As I read the banter on a couple of Ohio’s most popular websites, much of which includes resume dropping, prognostication, and sometime over the top justification for a person’s favorite player, I can’t help but wonder about the actual process and the criteria used in the selection process. As an example, if you listen to the average fan, a player’s “body of work” over the course of his/her entire high school career, scoring average, high school championships, post-season honors, team’s state-wide ranking, and AAU success all factor into the decision making.

Because I was curious, I did a little research on the matter and discovered that there are actually two Mr. Basketball Awards granted each year for both Boys and Girls. Both the Associated Press (AP) and Ohio High School Coaches Associations (OHSCA) annually select a player for the top award. It’s interesting to note, only on ten occasions over the history of the awards have the two organizations disagreed, and over the past three years the same player has received both awards. Unlike last year when the award was a no brainer (remember Jared Sullinger), this year the award is still up for grabs, and a handful of players have a legitimate shot. Therefore, there may be a good chance the award maybe split between 2 players.

Also, I took a look at the OHSCA’s website and found they have several formal criteria for their award. The procedures for the selection of Mr. Basketball include: (1) that the player must be nominated by a District Director or Officer, (2) Nominees can be a senior or underclassman, (3) Each player's stats will be discussed among the District Directors and Officers and (4) District Director will vote to determine the winner. A list of the State’s District Directors can be found on the OHSCA website at:

For this piece, I contacted Rusty Miller, Ohio AP Sports Editor, to obtain some insight into the AP’s Mr. Basketball selection process. According to Miller, who has been involved in the Mr. Football, Mr. Basketball and Ms. Basketball selection process for over 25 years, the decision is made by a panel of chairpersons from each of the AP’s seven districts around the state. Those districts include: Central, Southwest, Southeast, Eastern, Northwest, Northeast Inland and Northeast Lake.

According to Miller, each District Chairperson will first meet with their local members-a panel of various media types-within their own district to take an initial look at things like stats, records, strength of schedule, etc, and will then compile an initial list of the top players in their districts, then decide on whom they will recommend from their district for several statewide awards including All-District, All-Ohio and Mr. and Ms. Basketball. That's right, the AP votes on several of the top awards in the state.  Depending on the quality of the competition in their respective districts, some districts may recomend, one, two or even three players for the various awards. Of the course the larger districts, like the Southwest, Central and Northeast, may have more elite playersen; therefore, they may recommend more players for the various awards. After they have made their decisions, each district chairperson will send those recommendations to Miller who is based here in Columbus.

Miller will collect the recomendations from the seven districts, and sometime in March, usually the Wednesday before the Boys and Girls State Tournaments, Miller and the 7 district chairpersons will meet to hash out the final All-District, All-Ohio and Mr. and Ms. Basketball Award winners. The decision will be based on  points (i.e 5 points for first place, 3 pomits for second and 1 point for thrid). Miller then compiles the final list and sends them out to the AP membership, made up of TV, newspapers and radio outlets, for distribution.

Because there are so many questions, rumors and myths surrounding the criteria for the award, I put the questions to Miller. “There are no criteria; we try to select the best player in the state,” offered Miller. “We try to recognize the top kids and just pick the best,” continued Miller. As I continued to probe Miller, he agreed that the ultimate decision can be somewhat subjective between each of the district chairpersons, and the criterion each member relies on is not well defined; however, Miller feels comfortable with their past decisions and he believes the ultimate decision should be “clear to everyone.”

In addition, Miller acknowledged that some chairpersons might be more influenced by the scouting services and websites, where as another member may not pay any attention to them at all. When asked if a player’s “body of work” over their high school career may affect the decision, he agreed that it might, depending on the player’s particular situation. With respect to a player’s stats, that may play a factor as well, it just depends. I also asked about the “Ohio State” factor. Miller agreed that a player who is being recruited and/or signs with Ohio State has a good chance at the award, as does any player who will be attending a big time program. Bottom line, there is some weight given to the size of the colleg program a player will be attending. According to Miller, “in some years when Ohio State is playing well and they are recruiting a kid, he must be pretty good.” Finally, Miller, who has cast votes for the Heisman Trophy for years, contends that “a kid will sink or swim based on what he has done.”

Ok, what a lot of you really want to know is who the front runners are for this year’s Mr. Basketball Award. If you listen to guys like Kurt Stubbs or Prep Spotlight’s John Stovall, or even the many armchair quarterbacks and barbershop experts who are convinced they already know the results, the next Ohio Mr. Basketball will be one of the following players: (listed alphabetically) Trey Burke (Northland), Treavon Jackson (Westerville South), Cole Krizancic (Mentor),Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights), Brian Sullivan (Upper Arlington), Stevie Taylor (Gahanna Lincoln), Aaron Thomas (Withrow), Travis Trice (Huber Heights Wayne) or Aaron White (Strongsville). As a note, as you can tell, the above list only includes the names of upperclassmen. In reality, an underclassman could very well get the nod. For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit, I think the actual list of probable award winners is 4-5 deep.  I will not disclose my list of five, but I just have that feeling one of the five players will get the award.

The debate over which player is most deserving of the award will be left to others, and of course I don’t purport to I know who is going to win this award, and the eventual winner may not be represented on the above list, but I hope this piece helps shed some light on the process. Whoever the fortunate player happens to be, he will join a long list of elite players from the Buckeye State. Good luck to all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stevie Taylor Breaks 43 Year Old Gahanna Scoring Record

With 9 seconds left in the first quarter of the Gahanna Lincoln versus Lancaster game, Stevie Taylor received an outlet pass from junior guard Aaron Roberson and converted a layup to score his 5th point of the night, and the 1263rd point of his career, to break the 43 year old Gahanna Lincoln all-time scoring record. The record was previously set by Mark Browning during the 1968-69 season. This week, Taylor spoke to Browning on the phone about the record. According to Taylor, “Mr. Browning was cool. He congratulated me on my success, and he stated that although he is disappointed that his record was about to fall, he had heard I was a good kid and he wished me good luck at OU (Ohio University). That meant a lot to me.”

Although individual records are secondary to team goals, Stevie Taylor’s career and Gahanna Lincoln’s recent success have gone hand-in-hand. Not only did Taylor score his 1000th point last year during the regional final against the #1 nationally ranked Columbus Northland, Taylor led his team to the school’s first undefeated regular season (20-0), the school’s first District and Regional championships, and the program’s first state tournament appearance last season. So far this year, Gahanna Lincoln is undefeated at 15-0, ranked second in the state polls, and is well positioned to win back-to-back conference championships, a feat that has not been accomplished by any school in the league since 1980, and a chance at Gahanna’s second district championship. Congratulations to Stevie, his family and Gahanna Lincoln High School for a truly special accomplishment! To see pictures of the game, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page.  Also, to check out 10TV's  and NBC4's coverage of the occasion, click on the following link. Cap City Prep Video.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Seniors Finish Prep Career with All-Star Showcases

For many of Ohio’s seniors, their high school careers will end with either a state championship, or a hearting breaking loss. However, soon after the senior class has played their final high school games, attention will quickly turn to post-season honors. In addition to the all-conference, all-district and all-state-type honors, the most accomplished players will be selected for one of a handful of post-season all-star games. These all-star games range in prestige from the elite national games such as the McDonalds All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, to the statewide games like the Ohio-Kentucky and the North-South all-star games, and even local games such as the various OHSBCA District level all-star games.

In terms of state level all-star games, one of the most prestigious and long-running all-star games pits Ohio’s best ballers against the Kentucky’s top kids, in the annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Basketball Game. Since the first game was played back in 1991, the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game has featured many of Ohio’s and Kentucky’s elite prep talent. As an example, some of the players on last year’s Ohio roster included: Aaron Craft (OSU), Jordan Sibert (OSU), Cameron Wright (Pittsburgh), Ralph Hill (Dayton), Griffin McKenzie (Xavier), Quentin Rollins (Miami), Rob Brandenburg (VCU), Kevin Gray (Morehead State), Josh Eigner (Akron), and Mark Henniger (Kent State).

The game’s alumni also include several current and past NBA stars such as Steve Logan (Cincinnati & Golden State Warriors), Sam Clancy (USC & Philadelphia 76ers), James Posey (Xavier & Miami Heat), Calvin Booth (Penn State & Washington Wizards), Kevin Martin (Western Carolina & Houston Rockets), Donta Smith (SE Illinois & Atlanta Hawks) and Romain Sato (Xavier & San Antonio Spurs). More recently, guys like Jon Diebler, Ron Lewis, Matt Terwilliger, Matt Sylvester, Terrence Dials (OSU), Alex Kellogg (Providence), Kenny Freaze and Dante Jackson (Xavier), Chris Johnson (Dayton), Chris & Brett McKnight (Akron), Devon Moore (James Madison) and Nick Dials (OSU & Akron) all participated in the game.

According to Randy Ward, Founder and Game Director for the event since 1990, the Ohio-Kentucky game is unique because “we don’t play politics, we watch and pick the best players.” Primarily, players are selected for the games based on recommendations from high school and college coaches. In addition, most of the players who are selected for the game are either being recruited by division I college programs, or they have the ability to play D-I level basketball. “Ninety percent of our players have played D-I basketball,” says Ward. According to Ward, because the NCAA limits all-star game participation to just 2 games, the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game must compete against the national, state and local games for the elite players.

John Craft, the father of Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft, has experienced multiple all-star games and he was most impressed with the Ohio-Kentucky game. “Aaron had a great time. It was a really good experience and he had a chance to play with guys he had only played against for years,” said the elder Craft. “The event is well organized and the organization was top notch,” continued Craft. “It was a good way for Aaron to finish out his senior year.” Like several of the top seniors last year, because of favorable scheduling, several of the players participating in the game will also compete in the North-South All-Star game, which is currently scheduled for April12th at Capital University in Columbus.

On another note, most basketball fans know that the Bluegrass State has a great reputation as a basketball state. With storied college programs such as the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky consistently produces elite players. However, despite Kentucky’s hoops history, the Buckeye State actually holds a 3-4 game lead in the 20-year history of the game (Boys division). For the Girls game, the reverse is true, as Kentucky has about the same lead.

According to ward, invitations were recently extended, and 80-85% of the rosters are confirmed. Although the Buckeye Prep Report has confirmed that Aaron Thomas (Florida State), Treavon Jackson (Wisconsin), Stevie Taylor (Ohio), Brian Sullivan (Miami) and Nate Anderson (UNC Greensboro) have all received invitations to this year’s event; the final rosters will not be published until mid-March. The game is scheduled for April 9th and will be held at Thomas More College located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. The Girls game starts at 5:30pm while the Boys game tips off at 7:30pm. The actual all-star game festivities begin on Thursday 7th with the first of 3-4 practices; includes slam dunk and other contests on Friday, and culminates with the Boys and Girls games and a banquet on Saturday. For more information about the game visit at:, or checkout their Facebook Fan Page at Also to read the recap of the event, visit the Buckeye Prep website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Vikings Hold Off a Scrappy Irish Squad

In the night cap of the Ohio Play-By-Play Classic in Columbus, Columbus Northland, the 4th ranked team in division I according to Ohio’s AP polls, squared off against St. Vincent St. Mary (7-7). Northland’s main guy is Michigan-bound Trey Burke at the point guard spot, while juniors Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott patrol the paint. St. Vincent is led by senior guards DeVonte Beard and Ricky Johnson.

The Irish came out hot and scored the first 4 points in the game. From there, Northland got things going as the Viking’s post play stated to assert itself, and Northland took the lead midway through the opening quarter. By the end of the first period, Northland possessed a 21-16 lead. St. Vincent started the second period with a bucket, but a Trey Burke-initiated spurt at the end of the quarter added to the Northland lead. A driving layup by Ricky Johnson ended the second period with Northland up 30-39. Over the course of the third quarter, Northland increased its lead by 2 points, as the period ended with a score of 49-60. The teams traded buckets for most of the 4th quarter, and the Irish’s full court pressue resulted in a couple of Viking turnovers, and allowed the Irish to cut into the Northland lead. However, Northland was just too tough down the stretch, as Robionson and Scott got a few easy dunks, and Northland went on to claim the 77-49 victory.

Northland’s Jalen Robinson was the leading scorer and MVP for Northland with an impressive 25 points. Right behind Robinson was Trey Burke and Devon Scott, who finished with 19 and 12 points, respectively. St. Vincent’s Ricky Johnson dropped a game-high 27 points on his way to game MVP honors. DeVonte Beard supported his efforts with 14 points. All-in-all, Central Ohio basketball enjoyed a great day of basketball. To see some of the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Checkout the Cap City Prep Video.

Westerville South Notches Another Big Win

Ranked 5th in Ohio’s Division I AP state polls, Westerville South (14-0) faced against a LaQuinton Ross -led Life Center Academy (NJ) in the third game of the Ohio Play-By-Play Classic in Columbus. Fresh off a huge win against Big Ten foe Illinois, Ohio State’s Head Coach Thad Matta and his staff were front and center at Capital University to watch Ohio State signee Ross in action. Ross is surrounded by other D-I talent in Pittsburgh-pledge John Johnson, a 6’1 senior, and Andre Horne, a 6’3 forward who is receiving D-I interest. Westerville South is led by senior Treavon Jackson, a Wisconsin commit, “Zeek” Rogers, a junior guard, and a pair of seniors in Demarkio Lyshe and Ben Jones.

Although Westerville sprinted out to a 4-0 lead to start the game, Life Center responded with a run of their own, and knotted the game at 14-14 to close the first quarter. The Wildcats started strong again to start the second quarter, as Life Center struggled to score. By the time the horn had sounded to end the first half, Westerville had extended its lead to 31-19. Life Center came out of the locker room at half time and turned up the defensive pressure on the Wildcats, and eventually cut the lead to 48-39 at the 1:37 mark. Westerville went on a mini-run, as senior Ben Jones knocked down a 3-pointer and DeMarkio Lyshe finished a layup to increase the lead to 9 points (46-37). The Wildcats’ "Zeek" Rogers scored to bring the score to 48-39 to close the third quarter.

Life Center scored on a back door to start the 4th period (50-44). Life Center’s pressure really began to cause problems for the Wildcats, as back-to-back turnovers cut the lead to 6 points with 4:42 remaining in the game. Life Center could only cut the lead to 4 points (53-49) by the 3:53 mark, as Westerville went on the claim the 60-55 win. Westerville’s Ben Jones scored a game-high 12 points, while "Zeek” Rogers finished with 11 points, and DeMarkio Lyshe and Treavon Jackson added 10 points apiece. Treavon Jackson was selected as one of the game MVPs. For Life Center, John Johnson finished with a game-high 17 points and game MVP honors, while LaQuinton Ross added 16 points in a loosing effort.  To view the photos I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Also, check out the Cap City Prep highlight video.

Gahanna Cruses Past Chillicothe in Ohio Showcase

The second game of the day featured the AP 3rd ranked Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions (14-0) against Division II 2nd ranked Chillicothe Cavaliers (10-2). This game represented a rematch of sorts, as the Golden Lions easily defeated the Cavilers at the Ohio State Camp this past summer. Chillicothe is led by UTEP pledge 6’6 Jalen Ragland, and has a top big man in 6’8 Malik London, while Gahanna is paced by Ohio signee Stevie Taylor and is supported by a cast seniors including: Jamel Morris, Trey Warr, Brandon Smith and Jordan Martin.

As they did the last time these two teams met in June, Gahanna jumped at to an early 7-0 lead on a jumper and lay-up by senior guard Jamell Morris.  Gahanna never really looked back, as the Golden Lions finished the 1st quarter with a 19-8 lead. It was much the same situation in the second quarter, as a much quicker and more athletic Gahanna maintained their dominance and finished the half with a 32-20 lead. Although Chillicothe got on the score board first to open the second half, Gahanna answered with a steal and layup by Stevie Taylor. By the 4:19 mark, the Lions had ballooned their lead to 40-24. Gahanna Lincoln maintained a comfortable lead throughout the 3rd quarter and took a 49-33 margin into the final period. The Cavaliers could only muster another 10 points in the final quarter, as Gahanna went on to claim a gaudy 68-43 victory.

The leading scorer and MVP of the game was Stevie Taylor, who scored a showcase-high 28 points. Sophomore Aaron Jackson had a good day and finished with 9 points, while Jamel Morris finished with 8 points and Brandon Smith finished with 6 markers. With his 28-point explosion, Taylor is only 5 points away from breaking Gahanna’s all time career scoring record of 1262, which has been held by Mark Browning since the 1960-61 season. Gahanna's next game is at home against Lancaster on Tuesday. For Chillicothe, Tyler Manion finished with a team-high 11 points and MVP honors, while Jalen Ragland was held to 8 points. Although his offensive output was limited, Malik London represented a problem in the post, as he rejected several Gahanna shot attempts. Checkout the game pictures at the Buckeye prep Facebook Fan Page. Click on the link to check out Cap City Prep's game video.

Walnut Ridge Upends Dublin Coffman in Play-By-Play Classic

Day one of 9th Annual Ohio Play-By-Play Classic tipped off on Saturday at Capital University in Columbus, and the opening contest of a 4-game slate featured an Ohio Capital Conference versus Columbus City League matchup between (8-2) Dublin Coffman and (8-3) Walnut Ridge. Walnut Ridge struck first with a mid-range jumper by Dwayne Bazemore, but the opening quarter was a seesaw affair that ended with a 13-14 Dublin Coffman lead. Unfortunately for Walnut Ridge, big man Dwayne Bazemore was forced to the bench with 2 fouls with 1:28 left in the opening quarter. The second quarter was much of the same as each team took turns playing with a lead; however, Coffman was able to eek out a 2 point lead and entered the locker room up 22-20.

In the second half, Coffman got off to a positive start with a Chris Heine trey from the wing. Dwayne Bazemore made an immediate impact with his return and knocked down 3 straight buckets in the paint to tie the game at 29-29. Ridge’s defensive pressure forced consecutive turnovers by Coffman and led to back-to-back buckets by Austin Traylor and a 34-32 Walnut Ridge lead. Bazemore returned to the bench after he picked up his 3rd foul with 1:40 left in 3rd quarter. With time runniing out in the 3rd, the Scots held the ball for the last shot, and Isaiah Brooks converted a pull-up jumper to take a 37-34 lead into the 4th quarter.

After Coffman took a couple of questionable shots and missed on its first 2 possessions, Walnut Ridge increased the lead to 39-34 with an Austin Traylor layup. Coffman finally got on the board in the 4th quarter with a trey by Matt Dithomas. Eric Weisenbach hit a corner trey to give Coffman a 40-39 lead, but Ridge came right back with a layup to retake the lead. Bazemore returned to the game with 3:20 left, immediately drew a foul on Wisenbach, and went on to hit both free throws to give Ridge a 45-44 lead.

With 1:49 left in regulation, Ridge held the ball and a 45-41 lead. Dublin Coffman was forced to foul Adam McCall with 1:08 left, sending him to the line to shoot 1-and-1. McCall missed the front end, but a steal and a layup by McCall put Ridge ahead 47-44 with 40 seconds left. Regulation ended with a 47-47 tie after a baseline drive by Isaiah Brooks missed the mark. Walnut Ridge went on to win the contest by a score of 51-48 in overtime. The leading scorer and MVP for Walnut Ridge was Austin Traylor who dropped a game-high 20 points. Dwayne Bazemore finished with 14 points, followed by Isiaih Brooks (6) and Adam McCall (5). The top guy of Coffman was Zack Riddle who finished with a team-high 12 points and MVP honors. Chris Heine finished with 7 points and Eric Weisenbach contributed 6 points. To see some of the pictures I took at the game, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Checkout Cap City Preps' game video.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ohio Shines at Flying to the Hoop Tourney

The final leg of my MLK weekend found me at the Flying to the Hoop Tournament in Kettering.  By the time I made it to the gym, I had a chance to watch two of Ohio’s best teams make a huge statement about the strength of basketball in this state.  Although the Buckeye State is known more for its gridiron success, basketball in this state rivals hoops anywhere in the country.  On Monday Night I watched with great pleasure as Westerville South fought off a hard charging Hamilton Southeastern to squeak out a hard fought over time victory.  Following that nail biter, Huber Heights Wayne flexed its muscle as they cruised to a blowout victory against top ranked Whitney Young from Chicago.
You have undoubtedly already read about the specifics of the weekend’s festivities, including standout performances from Westerville South’s Treavon Jackson (23 points) and Wayne’s Travis Trice (30 points), so my contribution to event can be found in some of the pictures I took at the tournament.  To see inside the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page to view the pictures I snapped. Also, to read more about the tournament, visit Kurt Stubb's website. You might also want to check out the mixtape.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

McDonalds All-American Nominations (Ohio)

The initial round of nominations were handed out for the McDonals All-American Game today, and in total, 30 Ohio kids made the initial cut. The selection process is lengthy, and invloves 4 rounds of cut.s Twenty four lucky players will find themselve on the final rosters.  This year, the Bucuckeye State will need some luck to have representation in this storied showcase. If you will recall, Northland's Jarred Sullinger was the only Ohio player to compete in the game last year. The game is scheduled for March 30th in Chicago, Illinois.  Congratulations to all of the Ohio nominees and good luck making the final roster! Below is a complete list of the Ohio nominees.

McDonalds All-American Nominations (Ohio)

Nate Anderson -Teays Valley High School Ashville OH
Aaron Ashley- Cleveland Heights High School Cleveland Heights OH
Dwayne Bazemore- Walnut Ridge Scots High School Columbus OH
Davonte Beard -St.Vincent/St.Mary's High School Akron OH
Jalen Billups- Shroder High School Cincinnati OH
Tre' Brown- Warren G. Harding High School Warren OH
Jared Bryant -Roger Bacon High School St. Bernard OH
Trey Burke- Northland High School Columbus OH
Darius Carter -Firestone High School Akron OH
Lance Carter- Troy High School Troy OH
Jehvon Clarke- Timken High School Cantan OH
Sam Collins- Cleveland Heights High School Cleveland Heights OH
Markus Crider -Wayne High School Huber Heights OH
Robert Davis -E.L. Bowsher High School Toledo OH
Nyles Evans- North Canton Hoover High School North Canton OH
Pat Forsythe -Brunswick High School Brunswick OH
Paul Honigford -Garaway High School Sugarcreek OH
Traevon Jackson -Westerville South High School Westerville OH
Ricky Johnson- St.Vincent/St.Mary's High School Akron OH
Cole Krizancic- Mentor High School Mentor OH
Trey Lewis- Garfield Heights High School Garfield Heights OH
Delbert Love -St. Edward High School Lake Wood OH
Cody Martin- Cleveland Heights High School Cleveland Heights OH
Chester McFadden- Springfield High School Holland OH
Shonn Miller -St. Ignatius High School Cleveland OH
Cheatam Norrils- St. Johns Jesuit High School Toledo OH
Jalen Ragland- Chillicothe High School Chillicothe OH
Desmond Rorie-Timken High School Cantan OH
Brian Sullivan -Upper Arlington High School Columbus OH
Rayshaun Sumlin -Martin L. King High School Cleveland OH
Khristian Taylor- St.Vincent/St.Mary's High School Akron OH
Stevie Taylor -Gahanna Lincoln High School Gahanna OH
Aaron Thomas -Withrow High School Cincinnati OH
Austin Traylor -Walnut Ridge Scots High School Columbus OH
Travis Trice -Wayne High School Huber Heights OH
Adam Westbelt -Kettering Fairmont High School Kettering OH
Aaron White -Strongsville High School Strongsville OH
Kirby Wright -Middletown High School Middletown OH

Play By Play Classic Returns to Columbus

If you want to see some competitive high school basketball this weekend, you might want to head over to Capital University in Columbus on Saturday and take in the action at the annual Play-By-Play Classic. This year’s event will offer another slate of 8 quality teams and highly ranked players. Some of the top players expected to compete in the event include: Laquinton Ross (Ohio State), Trey Burke (Michigan), Treavon Jackson (Wisconson), Stevie Taylor (Ohio), Jalen Ragland (UTEP), Malik London (Chillicothe), Isaiah “Zeek” Rogers (Westerville South), Devon Scott (Northland), Ricky Johnson (SVSM) and Jalen Robinson (Northland). Tickets are $12 and must be purchased online. Below is the event schedule including start times.

Saturday Schedule

2:45-Walnut Ridge v Dublin Coffman

4:30-Gahanna Lincoln v Chillicothe

6:15-Life Center NJ v Westerville South

8:00-St. Vincent St. Mary v Northland

Sunday Schedule (Value City Arena)

12:15- Bishop Hartley v Canal Winchester

2:00- Roger Bacon v Teays Valley

3:45- Peebles-\v Fairfield

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dayton Airmen MLK Holiday Tournament-Monday

As I try to do every year about this time, I spent Monday in Dayton covering Al Powell’s holiday grade school tournament. This year’s event hosted boys teams in grades 4th-6th, and was held at the Corinthian Baptist Church on the east side of Dayton. As is the case every year, the competition was fierce. While I was there, I was able to catch some very competitive games in both the 5th and 6th grade divisions.

One of the best games of the tournament pitted the 5th grade Dayton Airmen against Salvation Army. After having watched Salvation Army dispatch Cliff Greens’ Team Pit Bull 46-41 in an earlier game, my money was on Salvation Army to take this one. Although Salvation Army took an early lead and held on to it for most of the contest, the Airmen came storming back to take a late game lead. The Airmen went on to win 26-25 to advance to the 5th grade championship game. In the championship game, the Beavercreek Stars upended the Dayton Airmen. Some of the top 5th graders I saw included: TJ Owens (Trotwood), James Shanklin (Huber Heights), Dylan Craver (Dayton), Omari Peek-Greene (Fairfield), Cleveland Farmer (Mt. Healthy), Hezekiah Shaw (Dayton), Antown Johnson (Dayton) and Shalom Seals.

The top teams in the 6th division included the Dayton Airmen Maroon, Team Blue and Scott Bradley’s New Birth Warriors from Columbus. Earlier in the day, I watched Team Blue dismantled a grossly over matched Beavercreek Stars team (48-15 final) in a quarter-final game. A little later, New Birth easily defeated Dayton Airmen Gold 32-14 to advance to the semi-final game with Dayton Airmen Maroon. Later in the evening, Team Blue defeated the Dayton Airmen Gold team to set up a rematch with the Airmen’s top team.

Although many Dayton area fans had already penciled in the Dayton Airmen’s Maroon team as the eventual champions, due in part to their 4-point win over Team Blue earlier in the year and a close win in pool play over the weekend; Anthony Parker’s Team Blue had different plans. In the championship game Team Blue defeated the Airmen 48-46 for the second time in as many days to claim the championship. Some of the top players I saw over the weekend included: Torrey Patton (Airmen), Keagon Saben (Airmen), Kobe Vinegar (Airmen), Jacquel Freeman-Parks (Team Blue), Dujuan Ford (Team Blue), Shamari Jamison (Team Blue) Jordan Mitchell (New Birth), Paul “PJ” Jones (New Birth) and Ty Wiley (New Birth). All-in-all, it was a great weekend of basketball. To see the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page.

Martin Luther King Holiday Classic-Saturday

Over the weekend, I had a chance to shoot down to Cincinnati to check out the grade school action at the Martin Luther King Holiday Classic at Sports Plus. Sponsored by MWX Tournaments, the event hosted teams in grades 2nd-high school. Although I intended to watch more of the 6th grade division, I was most intrigued by some 4th graders. All-Ohio Purple, a Cincinnati based 4th grade team sponsored by Orlando Berry, has a chance to be one of the best teams in the state for many years. I know it’s still very early, but this team is simply loaded with talent, as evidenced by their 25-0 overall record. In the game I watched, All-Ohio destroyed a Lakota-based team 52-3.

Of course blowouts are common these days, but this team was surgical in how it picked Lakota apart with stifling defensive pressure, which often led to easy offense. Also, let me be the first to introduce Joey Edmonds, a 4’10 PG from Wyoming. The son of an assistant high school coach at Moeller, Edmonds posses a skill set and determination beyond his years! Of course many of you will say I’m just hyping up another 4th grader, but for real, this kid has a chance to be really good. Not only is the kid very skilled, his attitude is tough and rugged, he has great basketball instincts already, and he plays the game with intensity. As an example, during a timeout, I saw the kid on the sidelines doing pushups as a self-imposed punishment for missing a shot. Edmonds is already making moves that some middle and high school kids can make yet.

Let me be clear, there are several talented players on this team, including Mike Hill (Finney Town), Kevin Singleton (Westwood), Greg Tribble (Forrest Park), Demarko Bradley (Price Hill), Jalen Rose (Bon Hill) and Donte Mosley (Westwood). I know it’s way too early for a lot of my colleagues, but I’m going to keep an eye on this group of kids! A couple of other talented 4th graders I saw included: Chris’seon Brown (Hamilton), Corey Davis (Hamilton), Terry Evans (Forrest Park) and Zuri Edmondson (Hurtwell).

I did get a chance to watch some 6th grade ball, as the Central Ohio Knights took on the Cincy Buckeyes. The Knights made the trek down to Cincinnati in search of competition, as they have dominated the teams in the Columbus area. Needles to say, they got what they asked for, as the Buckeyes erased and early first half lead, and had a chance to win the game at the free throw line with under 2 minutes left. The knights held on to win by a score of 42-35. The Knights went on to claim the title with a win over the Friars Hawks in the championship game. Some of the top players I saw included: Trey Pugh (Hilliard), Braden Budd (Hilliard), Nick Irwin (Grove City), Brendon White (Olentangy) and Preston Easnaugle (Grove City). For the Cincy Buckeyes, Raymere Jeters (Madisonville), Mykel Anderson (College Hill), Trey Releford (Evanston) and Carlos Weathers played well.

As most of you know, Ohio kids cannot play in AAU-type tournaments during the middle school season; however, that rule does not apply to Kentucky kids who benefit from relaxed rules. Because of those opportunities to get in more basketball against greater competition, the Northern Kentucky Legends’ 7th grade squad traveled a few minutes north looking to build on their 14-1 record. By the time I left the gym, the Legends were well on their way to running their record to 15-0. However, the Legends were downed by the Sherwin Stars in the Jr. high championship game. Some of the top kids for the Legends included: Brennon Englemon (Florence), Jacob Smith (Covington), Brandon Moore (Covington), Andrew Arnold (Covington) and Cameron Snapp (Brackon County).

Finally, although Buckeye Prep has rarely covers girls hoops, I have to say a few words about a very talented All-Ohio group from Columbus. Coach Jon Bethea, better known as “JB” in girls’ hoops circles, has once again assembled a juggernaut with his 6th grade girls team. Over the weekend, with their superior size, athleticism and talent, All-Ohio breezed through the tournament to until they were upended by the Friars Blue Wave in the championship game. To see the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fanpage.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dayton Airmen's MLK Tourney Tips off Friday

For the 14th consecutive year, Al Powell's Dayton Airmen organization will host their annual MLK tournament at Corinthian Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio. This year's tournament will encompasses 42 games over the 4-day MLK weekend, and will again feature a  number of very talented 4-6th grade teams. For a recap of this annual tournament, continue to follow Buckeye Prep. Also, for more information about the event, contact Mark Landers at 939-304-8784.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dayton Airmen Claim Title

The 6th grade Dayton Airmen closed out 2010 with a convincing 63-39 win over the Springfield Beasts to claim the Red Division championship yesterday at Kingdom Sports Center's Southern Ohio Prep Shootout. Although the Beast began the game with a lot of intensity and an early lead, after the Airmen employed a 2-2-1 full court press, turnovers led to a reversal of fortunes for Springfield and an eventual blowout victory for the Airmen.

The leading scores for the Airmen included Keegan Saben (16), Kobe Vinegar (12) and Chris Jackson (9). Springfield was led in scoring by Ben Harris (15) and Danny Davis (11). To advance to the championship game, the Airmen defeated the South Dayton Knights (57-44). In the other semi-final game, the Springfield Beasts got by the New Birth Warriors (48-35) to reach the championship game. Brunner Catholic won the Blue Division championship with a 55-23 win over the Cincinnati Buckeyes. In the 5th grade division, the Cincinnati Buckeyes defeated the Middletown Middies (44-42) to claim the championship. Lorenzo Sparks led all scorers wth 18 points while Dominic Brewton finished with 11 points. Below is a list of some of the top players I saw at the event.

Top Players:

Keegan Saben-Dayton Airmen (Pictured)
Kobe Vineger-Dayton Airmen
Chris Jackson-Dayton Airmen
Ben Harris-Springfield Beasts
Dashawn Parker-Springfield Beasts (5th grader)
Darious Quisenberry-Springfield Beast (5th Grader)
Paul Jones-New Birth Warriors (5th grader)
Jordan Mitchell-New Birth Warriors (4th Grader)
Ty Wiley-New Birth Warriors (5th Grader)
Nate Schumann-South Dayton Knights
Tony Boddie-Brunner Catholic
Miles Joiner-Brunner Catholic
Evan Clayborne-Brunner Catholic
Lorenzop Sparks-Cincinnati Buckeyes (5th Grader)
Dominic Brewton-Cincinnati Buckeyes (5th Grader)
EJ Williams-Middletown Middies (5th Grade)

To see the pictures I took at the event, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan page.