Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas From Buckeye Prep

Buckeye Prep would like to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas!  Please take the time to enjoy your families, as the events of last week show us that tomorrow is not promised to any of us!

Monday, December 17, 2012

National Youth Basketball League Debuts in 2013


National Youth Basketball League Debuts in 2013

Columbus, Ohio (December 17, 2012) - Beginning in March of 2013, twenty-four elite travel teams from the current sixth grade class [2019] will participate in the inaugural season of the National Youth Basketball League’s (NYBL) junior high school basketball league (The League).

In terms of the format, The League will host 24 of the nation’s most elite 6th grade teams. The 24 teams will be divided into four, 6-team divisions, and during each of three 3 sessions, each team will play a total of 5 games (1 game on Friday, and 2 games on Saturday and Sunday) against teams from an opposing division. Team standings, individual player stats and a photo gallery will be posted on The League’s website and at the conclusion of the first 2 sessions, and The League will culminate in a championship in Columbus, Ohio on May 31-June 2, 2013. The League entry fee is $1200 ($400 average).

Modeled after Nike’s very popular Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), The League will offer an unprecedented level of competition and exposure, as many of the nation’s top middle school scouting service will be covering the events (i.e., Dunk Dog & Buckeye Prep Report). In terms of its mission, The League is designed to improve grassroots basketball at the junior high level by providing a challenging and organized circuit series for elite boys’ travel clubs in grades six through eight. The selected venues enable players’ skills to be tested and potential to be accurately identified while facing advanced competition on a national scale. The environment of the N.Y.B.L. is one that encourages team development and the overall experience is one that simply cannot be duplicated in youth basketball. Finally, because “every game counts,” players will compete at a higher level from game to game, which will enhance team-oriented play and foster greater individual development.

The N.Y.B.L. concept will be expanded in 2014 to include an additional 24 sixth grade [class of 2020] clubs as well as returning seventh grade [class of 2019] teams. In 2015, the model will encompass all junior high divisions [grades 6-8], with each consisting of 24 teams. Teams already committed: All-Ohio Red, Carolina Preps, Worldwide/Southern Stampede, Team Izod, SC Hornets, ETU Select, Arkansas Soldierz, WV Xplosion, Maryland's Finest, Reach Higher Kings, Team Penny, Enplay Elite, CJ Hawks, E.O.T.O, 6th Man Warriors, Indy Hoyas, New York Gauchos, New Heights,  Derby State Racers, and Murphy AC. (See AAU Power Rankings)

Other NYBL features:

-A NBA-styled NYBL all-star game.
-Team Profiles

NYBL Dates & Locations:

Session #1 March 15 – March 17, 2013 Bethesda, Maryland
Session #2 May 02 – May 05, 2013 North Augusta, South Carolina
Session #3 May 31 – June 01, 2013 Columbus, Ohio

NYBL Webpage
Committed Teams Update
NYBL League Standings

Monday, December 10, 2012

All-Ohio Red Debuts With Championship

All-Ohio Red Captures 1st Title

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to catch some of the action at the Ohio Hoopsters Holiday Classic in Reynoldsburg. As expected, Demarko Bradley’s super team, All-Ohio Red (AOR), ran through the 6th grade division with little resistance. As most of you have heard by now, AOR is made up of kids from last year’s All-Ohio Purple and All-Ohio Red teams; two of the top 2019 teams in the country.

On Sunday, on their way to the championship, All-Ohio destroyed the Mansfield Cavs 92-24, and then followed that up with a 73-15 blowout victory over RNB, followed by a smack down the Ohio Hoopsters 93-31 to claim their first title as a complete team. In each of those victories, AOR’s trapping defenses, length, and overall skill level was simply too much for their grossly overmatched opponents.

Jordan Mitchell-Gahanna

In the championship, Gahanna’s Jordan Mitchell dominated early with easy buckets in the paint. Off the bench, Jaiden Lipscomb got hot from the perimeter, and had to have dropped close to 20 points. After watching them play on multiple occasions, I still believe Mitchell has the most upside potential of any 2019 kid in the state, while Lipscome has to be the top shooter and most prolific scorer in Ohio. In addition, anytime you have a nick name like “Grown Man” as a 6th grader you have to be pretty good. Cincinnati’s Chris’Sean Stringer is a man child who possesses a good combination of size, athleticism and skill. Right now, Stringer can legitimately play all 5 positions well. His versatility allows Bradley a number of personnel options.

Chris'Sean Stringer- "Grown Man"

I still continue to be impressed with the footwork and developing skill set of Gerard Reynolds. Although he will surely face much bigger and more athletic players on the national circuit, Reynolds’ strength, toughness and skill will allow him to compete in the post. Pickerington’s Jerome Francis III can dominate games when he is fresh. At the guard position, Francis is a load to defend, and defensively, he difficult to get around. Greg Tribble Jr. and DeMarko Bradley Jr. are smaller guards who bring speed, quickness and toughness to the backcourt. I have not seen much of him, but Chris Payne appears to be another key piece to the AOR puzzle. Payne has good size, athleticism, and he rebounds and defends well. Malachi Matthews is another shooter off the bench while Morgan Stafford and Alvin Byrd Jr. add more quality depth to the squad.

Jerome Francis III-Pickerington

Watching this team for the first time I was left with several observations. First, this team is deep, and can come off the bench with players who can, and have, started on other teams. Also, this team has a lot of length and versatility at multiple positions. With Jordan Mitchell, Chris’Sean Stringer, Chris Payne and Jerome Francis III at the front of a full court trap, it’s extremely difficult for opposing teams to advance the ball up court. On Sunday, AOR fed off easy transition points after their full and half court presses forced numerous turnovers. What’s even more impressive is the fact that AOR did so much damage without 2 key players, as DeMarko Bradley Jr. and Omari Davis were both sidelined with injuries. Finally, AOR is well coached, as Bradley’s high energy has his team executing multiple offensive and defensive sets and playing unselfish, team-oriented basketball.

All-Ohio’s complete roster includes: DeMarko Bradley Jr., Greg Trimble Jr., Jerome Francis III, Jaiden Lipscomb, Chris Payne, Jordan Mitchell, Chris’Sean Stringer, Chris Payne, Garrard Reynolds, Omari Davis, Morgan Stafford and Alvin Byrd Jr. Many of AOR’s players are included on Buckeye Prep’s 2019 Watch List.

From what I saw yesterday, All-Ohio is going to have to be creative in order to find way to play more competitive teams. It’s simply unfair, and unwise for this team to play local talent in their age group. This team is constructed to win a national championship, and from what I saw, there is no reason that should not happen.

Getting back to the tournament, Indiana Elite defeated the Ohio Hoopsters to claim the 3rd grade division title, while the 5th grade Indiana Hoosiers downed the Mid-Ohio Pumas 44-37 to claim the 5th grade crown. There was not 4th grade division in the tournament. Some of the other standout performers included 6th graders Gavin Baker and Treohn Watkins, both from the Ohio Hoopsters.

Photo Gallery

Friday, December 7, 2012

Clark Kellogg Tip Off Classic-Standouts

Below is an ESPN article on the Clark Kellogg Tip Off Classic written by John Stovall.

The inaugural Clark Kellogg Tip Off Classic was held this past weekend in suburban Columbus. This Showcase looks to be a must see event moving forward as it should feature some of, not only Ohio, but the Midwest's best as it continues to gain steam in the coming years.


Marquiez Lawrence - Columbus, OH./Marion-Franklin (2013, PF, 6'8 200)

Long and tall 4 man has improved his skill level. He is a solid face up shooter to 17 feet. He can also do just a enough off the dribble to keep you honest. He is best as an active garbage man that can get quite a few things done around the basket. Marquiez is a mid-major recruit that is unsigned.

Mike Wells - Delaware, OH./Hayes (2013, PG, 5'7 175)

Mike is a Tailback on the basketball court. He gets in the lane at will with his strong body. Once he gets his shoulder into you it's over. He is either scoring or getting fouled. He is a streaky shooter with range to 19 feet. He scored 29 in a solid win. He is another Division 1 talent that is still available.

Carlton Bragg - Cleveland, OH./Villa Angela - St. Joseph

2015, PF, 6'8 205

Bragg has a chance to be an elite level recruit. He has all the tools. Long, tall, athletic and skilled. His motor is not always running at maximum level but he is still productive. He had 17 in a victory over Columbus Africentric. He is being recruited by practically every high major school in the midwest. Carlton is a much improved shooter and has solid range to 19 feet. He should be in our national rankings once they are updated.

Brian Parker - Cleveland, OH./Villa Angela - St. Joseph

2015, SG, 6'2 195

Brian is a strong bodied scorer that is tough to stop when he is in attack mode. The lefty attacks the rim and is an excellent finisher in the paint. He needs to improve his shooting range and consistency but he knows how to get the ball into the basket. He has the build of a future college linebacker but he will be D1 college basketball player.

Seth Towns - Columbus, OH./Northland

2016, SF/PF, 6'6 190

Seth is on his way to being an elite level prospect. He is skilled and has good size and length. He scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his first varsity game. He has a nice turn around baseline jumper already. He is another that will appear in a future ESPN rankings list.

Clemmye Owens - Toledo, OH./Rogers (2013, SG, 5'10 170)

This pocket wing knows how to score the basketball. He is a streaky shooter with range to 22 feet. He is strong and is effective scoring in traffic. Owens plays hard and should be a very good player next season at his college choice...Bethune Cookman.

Jae'Sean Tate - Pickerington, OH./Central (2014, SF/PF, 6'4 195)

Tate is tough to handle on the high school level. He is strong and has a motor that won't quit. He scores in the paint and has improved his range so that he can be effective out to 19 feet. The lefty is best when he is attacking the basket where his strength and athletic ability make him virtually unstoppable.

Connor Kern - Pickerington, OH./Central (2014, SG, 6'2 185)

Connor is a specialist. He is one of the better shooters in Ohio with his feet set. The lefty is a little streaky and can get on a roll where he can knock down 4 or 5 in a row from 22 feet or beyond. Kern is committed to attend Wheeling Jesuit University.


Though Canton Timken did not fair so well in their game versus Pickerington Central, their best propsect by far was 6'3 Freshman wing Lepear Toles. The lefty is raw but has some skill and talent. He has a solid feel and is a good passer. He struggled some in his first high school game but showed enough promise that he is a player that will need to be monitored in the future.

6'0 Sr. wing Kenny Robinson of Columbus Africentric is one of the better athletes you will see on the high school level. He is built like a Football Safety and plays basketball with that same attitude. He is probably a Division 2 basketball prospect but he is an attacker that finishes well at the rim.

Written by John Stovall-ESPN

Monday, December 3, 2012

John Stovall's Recruiting Tips

As most Ohio basketball fans know, John Stovall is an athority when it comes to boys hoops in the state. With his role with Nike, ESPN and Prep Spotlight, Stovall understands the inner working of travel basketball and what college coaches are looking for in recruites.  Below Stovall offers several tips that may prove helpful to aspiring ballers. Feel free to share you comments and questions in the "comments" section below.

Recruiting Tips

1) Be open, friendly and grateful to any college that contacts you. It is truly a blessing! First, you don't want to burn any bridges. Your goal should be to go to school for free despite the level. Second, the basketball community is very small. People and coaches talk. You don't want to be the family that has a bad or rude reputation.

2) Not counting academics (which should be priority one) your basketball goal should be to play once you get to college. Level is overrated. If you want to be a Pro it will never happen if you are not playing 30 minutes a game. A player at a D3 level school that scores 1500 points for his college career has a better chance at having some type of professional career than a player at a high major school that sits the bench for 4 years. It is better to have a great college experience even if you have to play at a "smaller" school. The key is to play! That's my opinion.....you have to make your own.

3) The level chooses you...you don't choose the level. In other words if you think you are D1 and there are only D2 schools recruiting you then guess what.....you are D2!! It's still school for free! You are 1 of a very few players (generally 40 to 60 per year) in Ohio that gets a basketball scholarship. Be happy and embrace it! If you tell D2 schools you are not interested and that is all that has offered you a scholarship you are making a mistake. You could end up with nothing. Recruiting is like dating for women. It is best to go with the guy that wants you and shows he cares for you. When they pursue a guy that has not shown any interest it normally does not turn out very good. Go where you are truly wanted.

4) If possible be sure to go to practice before choosing a school. It gives you some idea of what the environment will be like.

5) As soon as possible during the recruiting process have the schools you are interested in examine your transcript and let you know what you need to do qualify academically as well as what is needed to gain admittance to the school. The sooner you have this information the better. Even being a freshman is not too soon.

6) Letters from schools does not constitute being recruited. You are not being recruited until a school actually calls you. Even that isn't that significant. It only counts once they put money on the table..ie...offer you a scholarship. My advice is to stay totally open and only count those schools that actually offer you a scholarship.

Please send any questions you may have to Mr. Taylor. I will answer as many as I can. I hope this helps. I will write some summer basketball suggestions soon.

Thanks for "listening."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Calhoun Impresses at Lucas Camp

Kelvin Calhoun II-6'4 C South Euclid

Last weekend, Kelvin Calhoun II, a 6’4 C from South Euclid, Ohio was one of 4 Ohio kids to make the trek to Chicago for John Lucas’ Camp Right Way regional camp.  According to a Brian Merritt, who is in charge of player selection for Lucas, Calhoun logged in an impressive performance as one of the top big men at the event. “Calhoun has high major potential,” said Merritt. “He needs to continue to develop a left hand, but the potential is there. He can be either a starter or ride the bench at the highest level, depending on his continued development,” Merritt said.

Prior to his MVP performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September, Calhoun was only really known to basketball fans in northeast Ohio; however, the 6’4 eighth grader’s performance at the event convinced some people that he has the potential to be the top big man in the state going forward.  For his efforts, Calhoun has been invited to Lucas’ International Combine in Houston, Texas in May. An invitation the event is hard to come by, as only 100 7th and 8th grade players are invited, and that includes international kids. Also, as an example of the prestige of the event, of the 43 players invited to the tryout for Team USA, 27 of them had attended the combine in the past.  

Joining Calhoun in Chicago were Tommy Schmock (8th grade), Yael Hill (7th grade) and Derrick Veasley Jr. (7th grade). Although Calhoun was the only player to receive an invite, Merritt noted that Derrick Veasley Jr. was a player he intended to keep an eye on in the future.  On another note, Michigan’s Brian Bowen, another standout out at September’s Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, made some noise of his own and received an invitation as well. Merritt described Bowen as skilled, athletic with a motor. Bowen will reportedly be running with King James next spring and summer. Congrats to Calhoun and the other players for participating in the event.

John Stovall's D-II High School State Rankings

State Division II Breakdown by Area

Central Ohio
1.   Columbus Brookhaven
2.   Columbus Bishop Watterson
3.   St. Clairsville
4.   Columbus Centennial
5.   Columbus Eastmoor
Southwest Ohio
1.   Dayton Thurgood Marshall
2.   Dayton Dunbar
3.   Trotwood Madison
4.   Cincinnati Aiken
5.   Franklin & Kettering Alter
Northeast Ohio
1.   Akron SVSM
2.   Cleveland Benedictine
3.   Cleveland John Hay
4.   Cleveland Central Catholic
5.   Akron Buchtel & Alliance
Northwest Ohio
1.   Sandusky Perkins
2.   Elida
3.   Bowling Green
4.   Napolean
5.   Toledo Scott

Friday, November 30, 2012

John Stovall's D-I High School Basketball Rankings

State Division I Breakdown

Top Teams by Area

Central Ohio

1.   Westerville North
2.   Gahanna Lincoln
3.   Columbus Northland
4.   Pickerington Central
5.   Newark
6.   Olentangy Liberty
7.   Upper Arlington
8.   Reynoldsburg
9.   Dublin Coffman
10. Zanesville & Columbus Walnut Ridge

Southwest Ohio

1.   Cincinnati Walnut Hills
2.   Cincinnati Moeller
3.   Cincinnati Winton Woods
4.   Beavercreek
5.   Springboro
6.   Huber Heights Wayne
7.   West Chester Lakota West
8.   Middletown
9.   Cincinnati LaSalle
10. West Chester Lakota East & Cincinnati St. Xavier

Northeast Ohio

1.   Shaker Heights
2.   Cleveland St. Ignatius
3.   Lakewood St. Edward
4.   Mentor
5.   Brunswick
6.   Massillon Jackson
7.   Garfield Heights
8.   North Canton Hoover
9.   Akron Firestone
10. Medina & Cleveland Heights

Northwest Ohio

1.   Toledo Central Catholic
2.   Toledo Whitmer
3.   Toledo St.  John
4.   Norwalk
5.   Mansfield Senior
6.   Whitehouse Anthony Wayne
7.   Toledo Rogers
8.   Findlay
9.   Perrysburg
10. Toledo Bowsher & Lima Senior

Division II will be posted tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Birth Opens Season with Championship

Jerome Francis III- Averaged a triple double

 Scott Bradley’s 6th grade New Birth Warriors squad got off to a great start to their winter basketball season with a championship run at Kingdom Sports Center’s Thanksgiving Classic in south Dayton last weekend.

According to Coach Bradley, the Warriors fought back a hard charging Lakota Pride squad to claim a 47-40 victory in the championship game. Although New Birth raced out to a 15 point lead, foul trouble forced Jordan Mitchell to the bench. While Mitchell was out, a Joey Edmonds led Lakota made a serious run. Despite the heroic effort by Edmonds and the Lakota bigs, New Birth held on for the win.

Jaiden Lipscomb-Scoring leader w/ 16.5 ppg

In the semi-finals, the Warriors defeated the Dayton Swish for the second time in the tournament with an easy 57-19 victory. Because he averaged a triple double over 4 games, Pickerington’s Jerome Francis III was the tournament’s unofficial MVP. The Warriors were led in scoring by Jaiden Lipscomb (16.5 ppg), Jordan Mitchell (16.2 ppg) and Francis (13 ppg). Congrats to Coach Bradley and the Warriors on their victory.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Murphy AC Feeds the Homeless

Tis the season for giving. Coach Kevin Jackson and several players from his 6th and 7th grade Murphy AC team got involved with community services this morning by serving meals to the homeless at the Volunteers of America located in west Cleveland. According to Jackson, "It's important to show the kids that there are a lot people who are less fortunate than themselves." For the past couple of years Jackson has involved his players in "give back" type of activities. I think it's a great idea to expose young people to more than just basketball. Congrats to Jackson and his players for their efforts!

Happy Thanksgiving

The Buckeye Prep Report would like to wish everybody and their families a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Central Ohio Open Gym Standouts

For 4 years now, Victor Dandridge’s central Ohio open gym has become a must attend event for elite, varsity level basketball players in central Ohio. As has been the case for the past few years, the event attracted many talented players who are destine to hoop at the college level.  A few weeks ago I asked Dandridge to give me a list of his top 10 performers over the cousre of the fall, but as you will read below, he gave me much more than I asked for. Below you will find specific player evaluations as well as Dandridge's take on the player's potential. Enjoy!

Wendell Davis-6'3 WF Reynolsburg

In the senior class there were a few standout performers and quite a few diamonds in the rough. As expected, Aaron Jackson of Gahanna and Wendell Davis of Reynoldsburg were consistently top players when they attended the events.  Aaron showed that his game continues to progress and I look for him to be a great addition next year to the University of Akron.  Wendell Davis is a coach's dream.  He plays hard and smart.  He brings consistency and toughness every time out on the floor.  Ashland stole a D1 talent. 
Jaylen Benton of Westerville North can be tremendous.  He has ability to score or facilitate scoring and should be a D1 recruit if all of his ducks are in a row.  Mark Alstork of Dayton Thurgood Marshall is a consummate competitor.   I would like to see him develop even more with his ball handling but he is relentless on the court. 

Armarni Towns-WF Northland

A few diamonds in the rough are Kenny Robinson of Africentric, Armani Towns of Columbus Northland, Tyler Stern of Worthington Kilbourne and Tyrell Jackson of Dublin Coffman.  Robinson is a tough dynamic guard.  He is about 6'0 tall and has explosion in his leaping ability.  Very strong and physical.   He will make a great pg find for some university.  I found his mannerism off the court to be something to behold.  Great kid very good player.  Armani Towns is very similar to Kenny Robinson.  At 6'3", he can play on the next level at several positions.  Both players must continue to improve their ball handling but they should both play at the next level and get a free education.  Tyler Stern is a D1 talent that is just coming into his own.  He needs work but if he gets in the right situation then someone will walk away feeling like the hit the lottery.  Very athletic 6'7" that has a decent jumper from 17 ft out.  Tyrell Jackson will be a name that rings out during the coming season.  At 6'2" he makes plays all game long.  Takes and makes big shots.  Very nice combo guard. 

Also would like to mention Adrian Cook of Westerville North.  He goes primarily unnoticed due to the fact that he plays alongside two of the best guards in Central Ohio (Jaylen Benton and Jack Gibbs).  While Adrian has an unorthodox style of shooting he takes and makes good shots consistently.  Very worthy prospect.  Other notables are Isaiah Osborne and Christian Cumberlander of Centennial High School.  Omar Diop of Columbus South.  Brian Marshall of Pickerington Central, John Draper of Columbus Eastmoor Academy, Jett Speelman and Conner Keck of Newark Catholic.

Shamar Waugh-PG Northland

In the Junior Class, The two best players of all were Shemar Waugh of Northland and Javon Bess of Gahanna.  These two players made major impacts on whichever team they played on.  On a weekly basis they did it all.  Other notable performers from this year’s junior class:  Jalen Tucker of Columbus Northland, Alex Stewart of Westerville North, Joey Schmidts of Bloom Carroll, Derek McKeigthen of Columbus Northland, Manny Powell of Gahanna Lincoln High School and Brandon Manley of Bloom Carroll.  If I could take all of these players and have my own AAU team I would be set.  They are a great collection of talent.

In the sophomore class, Seth McCoy of Canal Winchester; Tony Anderson of Marion Franklin; and Jae’shon Tate of Pickerington Central were all fantastic performers.  Tate may be the best player in the whole class. Two hidden gems are Chiante Palm of Reynoldsburg High and Doug Taylor of Columbus Northland.  Palm is a very smooth guard who can light up the scoreboard while taking very few shots.  Very consistent and capable shooter.  Doug Taylor is a potential nightmare.  He is 6'8" and while still learning the game he can be a force on both ends of the court.  Continued improvement will have both of these players on many coaches A-list of players. A player to watch is Austin Schaub of New Albany.  Austin is a coach on the floor and a deadly shooter.  His understanding of the game and his ability to take and make good shots will only cause his stock to continue to rise.

Seth Towns-6'7 WF Northland

In the freshman class of 2016 we had a few notable performers.  Remember that in order to play at this open gym you must be a varsity player.  Look for these players to don Varsity uniforms as freshmen: Seth Towns of Columbus Northland.  As good as advertised.  Can play inside or out.  Already one of the top players on very talented Northland team.  I expect Seth to start as a freshman and when all is said and done he may be the most prolific scorer in school history.  Seth is 6'7" and skilled well beyond his years.

James Manns-6'7 WF Marion Franklin

James Manns of Columbus Marion Franklin.  Tremendous player who will get better as he gets stronger.  He is quick and versatile.  At 6'5" he is a smooth lefty who can get a good shot against anyone.  He has nice athleticism and is a consistent worker on the court.  One of the top 15 freshman in Ohio for sure. Nick Ward of Gahanna Lincoln.  A hardworking undersized 4 who does not know he is undersized.  At 6'4" this lefty can challenge anyone in the paint.  He uses his body well and is very adept at getting his shots off while be guarded by bigger players.  I look for Nick to expand his game and if he gets two more inches in height then look out!!!!!

Tarik Wright-6'2 SG Walnut Ridge

Tarik Wright of Walnut Ridge.  Do everything guard who at 6'2" plays tough.  Can get to the cup and will finish inside against contact.  Will be a great addition to the Scotts varsity as a freshman. Houston Smith of Africentric.  Houston is 6'3" and a sponge.  He takes it all in and then cleans up.  He can develop into a very nice wing or if he continues to grow an extremely athletic power forward.  I look for him to be a contributor on the Africentric varsity basketballs team run to the Schott.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nike City Series-Final Day Results

Team Dayton Captures 9th Grade Crown

The 4th Annual Nike City Series Championships concluded on Sunday, and although the overall talent level was down this year, there was still a lot of individual and team talent represented at all levels. In the high school division, the championships were divided among Columbus, Dayton and Cleveland.

In the 12th grade division, Columbus Red defeated Columbus Gold 81-75 in a seesaw battle for citywide bragging rights.  Although Columbus Gold got out to a spirited start, Columbus Red got back on track and retook a lead they would never relinquish. Although Columbus Red was paced by Kevin Marsh and Wendell Davis in terms of scoring, Westerville North’s Adrian Cook helped direct his team to the win while rapping up MVP honors. Columbus Gold’s early success was due to the impressive play of Columbus South’s Omar Diop and his 14 first half points (20 for the game).  In the second half, Brookhaven’s DeAndre Martin took over and finished with a game-high 22 points.

Although I did not have a chance to catch the games, I understand that Cleveland defeated Columbus in the 10th grade division, while the junior crown was captured by Columbus over Cleveland. Shaker Height’s Esa Ahmed captured the MVP award for the sophomores, while Pickerington Central’s Jea’shon Tate claimed the honors for the juniors.

Rodrick Caldwell-9th Grade MVP

Fortunately for me, I arrived at Reynoldsburg High School just in time to catch the start of the freshman championship game, and what a game it was, as Columbus’ best faced off against Dayton’s elite. The game was nick and tuck the entire way, and required overtime before a champion could be crowned.  With the game all knotted up, Columbus had a shot to win it in regulation with time running out, but a last second shot had little chance of going in due to the heavy pressure that was exerted by a Dayton defender.  After a 3 minute overtime period, Dayton would go on to claim an 81-83 victory. Dayton was led by lead guard Rodrick Caldwell who virtually took over the game late in the second half on his way to 15 points and the MVP nod. Also playing well for Dayton were Trey and Terrence Landers and Derek Daniels. Although there were some questions with the accuracy of the individual scoring, Columbus was paced by Seth Towns, Terik Wright and Jeloni Rogers.

Esa Ahmed-10th Grade MVP

According to John Stoval, the following players were all standouts over the course of the weekend: (2013) Aaron Jackson (Gahanna Lincoln), Randal Clarkson (Brookhaven), Jeff Thomas (Norwalk), Austin Grimes (Cincinnati Aiken) Wendell Davis (Reynoldsburg); (2014) Jae’shon Tate (Pickerington Central), Javon Bess (Gahanna Lincoln), Rosel Hurley, Jaylen Tucker; (2015) Jordan Dartis (Newark); Esa Ahmed (Shaker Heights); (2016) Seth Towns (Northland), James Manns II (Marion Franklin), Derek Daniels (Thurgood Marshall), Rodrick Caldwell (Stivers), Willie Jackson (Garfield Heights), Tervell Beck (Cleveland Central Catholic) & Derek Funderburk (St Edwards).

Dayton captured their second championship of the event with a 44-43 win over Cincinnati. The all-tournament team included: Jaquel Freeman (MVP), Shamari Jamison, Matt Wilcox, Jaden Sayles and Keshawn Gamble.

Coryon Rice-7th Grade MVP

Because of a last minute scheduling change, I did not make it back over to the USA Sports Academy in time to catch the 7th grade championship game; however, I heard that Cleveland squeaked out a single digit win over Columbus. According to my source, it was a great game with great effort and passion by players from both teams. Bedford’s Coryon Rice was named MVP, and although no official all-tournament team was selected, the unofficial team may have included Ty Wiley, Juan Elmore and Yael Hill, all of whom are reported to have played well.

Jerome Francis III-6th Grade MVP

The 6th grade crown was contested by both Columbus teams. The Blue squad claimed the chip with a 62-53 win over the Red team. The All-tournament team included: Jerome Francis III (MVP), Gerard Reynolds, Tre Watkins, Jordan Mitchell and Gavin Blunt.

Cleveland took home a second championship with an easy 53-36 victory over Columbus Black (aka Hilliard Pumas). The all-tournament team included: Shamar Morrow (MVP), Omahn Dobbins, Meechie Johnson, Jalon Keith and Jack Pugh.

The final championship of the day pitted Columbus #1 versus Cleveland in the 4th grade division. Cleveland took it 50-41. The all-tournament team included: Seth Wilson (MVP), Manny Hill, Sonny Johnson Jr., Josiah Mobley and Sean Jones (3rd grader). It should be noted the Wilson led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Hill with 16 points and Johnson with 11 markers.

All in all it was a good weekend of basketball and an excellent tune up for the upcoming high school and middle school season. The event was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it represented a good opportunity to get in some quality work.  Also, it gave me the opportunity to see a lot of young kids I had not yet seen. Look for many of the standout players to participate in our spring Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase currently scheduled for March 3rd. Finally, click on the links below to see the championship team pictures, all-tournament teams and the day two standouts; plus day 2 pictures. Also, I will provide some misc comments about mu observations this weekend in our new "What's Happening Around Ohio" feature.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nike City Series Championship-Day One Report

On Saturday I spent the day at USA Sports Academy in Columbus checking out the young guns at the Nike City Series Championships.  For the first time in the 3 year history of the event, Jerry Watson added divisions in grade 4-8th. One of the things I noticed on Saturday was the overall strength of the northeast Ohio.  The Cleveland and Akron/Canton regions bought down some really strong teams in most of the divisions. The 6th & 7th grade teams, made up of mostly Murphy AC kids, boasted many of the top kids in their respective classes.

Logan Hill-6'3 C Jackson Twp

Although there were a number of young talented kids in the gym., there were certainly a few players who really stood out.  Jackson Township’s Logan Hill logged in another solid day of play. The 6’3 post had his way all day and put up big numbers in the games I watched. Although there were a lot of the top 8th graders at the event, Hill was clearly the top representative of the class. Both She’mari Jamison and Jaqual Freeman-Parks represented the class of 2017 and Dayton  with impressive performances as well. I got my first real look at Loraine’s Naz Bohannan (6’1 WF) and I liked what I saw.  Bohannan has good length, blocks a lot of shots and finishes well close to the bucket. His team was not that talented, but Bohannan was the unmistakable bright spot and should be a good college prospect going forward.

David "DJ" Dials-5'3 PG Cleveland

With the Murphy AC kids, some of 2018’s top guys did work at the event. Dwayne Cohill Jr. and Coryon Rice both had big days, as did Juan Elmore, Ty Wiley and PJ Jones. I was really excited to see the new crop of 6th graders and evaluate some kids I had not seen.  Of course the top guys like Jeremiah Francis Jr., Jordan Mitchell, Jaiden Lispcome and Gerard Reynolds all performed as expected, but a few less heralded guys had big days. I could not have been more impressed with David “DJ” Dials, 5’3 PG from Cleveland.  Dials is a dynamic little guard who has skills and an IQ beyond his years. Watching him play on Saturday, there wasn't really anything he could not do. Dials’ handle is tight and creative, his change of speed is advanced and his shot mechanics look good for a kid his age.  Very impressive! Also liked little Tevin Jackson, a 5’3 PG from Maple Heights. Although he is small, the kid is a little pit bull with a serious motor. Don’t leave him open because he will take the deep trey and knock it down more times than not.

Shamar Marrow-5'9 WF Aurora

Keep an eye on Shamar Marrow, a 5’9 WF from Aurora.  This kid was clearly the top 5th grader in the gym and has a chance to be a star down the road.  Morrow, a lefty, has tremendous size and athleticism for his age.  The kid runs the floor well and finishes at a high rate. Morrow is not just productive around the cup, but his shot looks good and he defends the paint very well. Not only did Morrow create a buzz in the gym, he has motivated me to track his progress.  The kid just looks like a stud, and you could be reading a lot about him on Buckeye Prep over the next few years!

Seth Wilson-5'2 PG Loraine

While I’m talking about up and coming young talent, I have to say a few things about Meechie Johnson, a 5th grade floor general from Cleveland Heights. This kid has a crazy handle and a great feel for the game.   Also, Johnson has a bag full of dribble moves which he uses very effectively to either score or set up a teammate. This kid is just fun to watch.  Keeping it in the family, Sonny Johnson Jr. continues to follow in the family tradition of elite ballers.  Another smaller point man, Johnson already possesses the skills and IQ required of an elite PG. The future should be brought for this young guy.  I also like Seth Wilson, a 4th grade scoring machine.  Someone told me to keep any eye on this kid, and when I did, I saw what makes the kid special, he can get buckets!  Some other players to watch include: Chase Wells (8th), Garner Wallace (4th), Jerry Higgins (6th),  Yael Hill (7th), Josiah Hitchens (6th), William Henry (7th) and Darius Moss Jr. (6th). Below is a link to the other standout performers on day #1.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Feature Added to Buckeye Prep Website

In an effort to keep track of all things basketball around the state of Ohio, I have developed a new feature I'm calling, "What's Happening Around the State." With this link, I will periodically publish tidbits of information I receive that I think our readers might find interesting.  This information does not rise to the level required for a full story, but it may prove interesting to our readers.  In addition, some of the information will be hard fact, while some of what I publish may be pure rumor, or just my random thoughts or updates/addition to stories I have already published. The reader will have to decide to what extent the information has value.

I will also be highlighting players and teams I see from week-to-week and will provide information about upcoming events that may be of interest to our readers. The link is located on the right hand side of this site. If you have some news worthy information you would like to get published, feel free to email me at buckeyeprep@yahoo.com. So, every time you visit the site, make sure you checkout the new feature so you can see what’s going on!

What's Happening Around the State Link

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Time to Shift Focus to Class of 2019

Jordan Mitchell-6'0 WF Blacklick

 Every year about this time I look forward to turning my sights towards the new crop of 6th graders. Now that the 7th and 8th grade classes have begun to take shape, Buckeye Prep will begin the task of identifying the young up and coming players in the class 2019 around the state. Starting in the fall and continuing with winter leagues and tournaments, we will begin to develop a solid list of the top 100 players in the class.

Because I have kept at least a partial eye on this class over the past 12 months, some of the class’ top guys have already begun to surface with standout performances at various elite tournaments, showcases and camps.

Anyone who follows this class even on a casual basis recognizes that several of the elite players could be found on either All-Ohio Red (AOR) or All-Ohio Purple (AOP); the top 2 teams in the state over the past several years. Also, it stands to reason that any team that has captured an AAU National Championship, or has competed with other top teams from around the country has to be loaded with talented players.

Before I go any further I need to acknowledge the fact that AOR and AOP will look vastly different when the season tips off next year, as the two organizations have merged for the upcoming season, and will play as either All-Ohio Elite or All-Ohio Red. According to DeMarko Bradley and other sources, the new team will combine several of AOR’s top players with the top guys at AOP. Coming over from AOR are: Jordan Mitchell; Jeremiah Francis Jr.; Jaidon Lipscome and Gerard Reynolds. From AOP, DeMarko Bradley Jr.; Greg Tribble Jr., Joey Edmunds, Chris’Seon Stringer, Omari Davis; Christopher Payne, Kendall Matthews and Malachi Matthews will fill out the roster.

Although the new team will be the preseason “team to beat,” you might want keep an eye on Murphy AC, as Coach Kevin Jackson appears to be putting together another talented squad from northeast Ohio. Some of Jackson’s top guys include: Darious Moss; Alonzo Gaffney; David Dials Jr.; Tevin Jackson; and Alex Feelings. According to Jackson, his team is loaded with talent.

De'Zion Taylor-4'10 PG Mansfield

Of course we understand that there are other quality teams and players around the state who do not play on any of the aforementioned teams. Some of the other players we intend to keep an eye on include: Matt Allaco (Upper Arlington); N’Keely Elmore (Columbus); Noree Uloho (West Carrolton); Payton Harris (Springfield); Chase Harding (Mason); De’Zion Taylor (Mansfield); Jaron Smith (Dayton); and Anthony Byrd Jr. (Garfield Heights).

Below is a partial list of some of the other top 6th grade players in the state. This list is only a starting point and will be updated weekly based on what we see on the circuit. I’m always on the lookout for updated player information; therefore, please email me at buckeyeprep@yahoo.com if you are a coach in this class with either updated information for a player already listed or you have information about a player you think deserves to be listed.

Finally, I’m trying to reach out to all of the coaches in this class so I can start the process of building my network of coaches and begin to secure week-to-week information about the players. So, please email with contact information for you or your son’s coach so I can make contact with him/her.

Players to Watch

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Teams to Watch in 2013

Although it’s only October, many of Ohio’s top AAU teams are busy building and upgrading rosters for an AAU season that will not start for another 5 months. So far this off season, no organization has worked harder to retool their roster than All Ohio. George Howard, All-Ohio’s top recruiter, has been working the phones and fall events, and has put together arguably the best collection of talent in the class of 2017 (8th grade).

Based on reports from Howard, only a few of the players who ran with the squad last summer will be returning, as the team will feature some of Ohio’s top players in the class. If reports are true, All-Ohio's 2013 roster will include: Tommy Schmock; Garcia Dixon; Jaylen Harris; Matt Davet; and Logan Hill. With the new additions, All-Ohio should compete with the 2 other elite teams in this class.

Next Level, Buckeye Prep’s #1 ranked 7th grade team last season has not overhaul their roster, but Brook Hall’s team has upgraded with the addition of Ethan Bradds and Floyd Scott, both of whom will provide more size and athleticism in the paint. According to Hall, the team will return Daniel Davis, Keegan Seban, L’Christian Smith and Ryan Profitt. With the returnees and upgrades, look for Next Level to remain as one of the top 2-3 teams in the class.

A potential wildcard for next season may hinge on where DB Hoops' top players land. As most of you know, DB Hoops-Martin featured Kelvin Calhoun IIJohn Williams and Derek Koch. According to Jerry Williams, who appears to be handling the group, he is confident he can keep his son, Calhoun and Koch together. If they form another team, and add some quality role players, the team could be solid. If the trio joins forces with one of the elite squads mentioned above as a package team, that squad could be special. I’m sure William’s phone will be blowing up in the near future.

In the 7th grade division, Buckeye Prep’s #2 ranked team last season was the Ohio Hoopsters. Although Tony Freeman’s creation will be joining Mike Duncan’s Ohio Basketball Club organization, they will retain the services of most of their top players, including: Tyrell Ajian, Trey Pugh, Antwon Smith Jr.; Dylan Dupler; and Grant Denbow. In addition, Tyler Knetch will reportedly be running with OBC full time next year. According to Freeman, the team will upgrade with the addition of 1 or 2 additional players, but he elected to keep their names a secret for the time being. In addition, there has been some suggestion that Ryan Peaks may be looking to change teams as well, and may be moving to All-Ohio. With their roster of returning players and the new additions, Freeman’s squad should compete for the top spot again next year.

Speaking of power moves, Kevin Jackson’s Murphy AC squad was already tough to beat last season, but with the return of all 5 starters (Jerry Higgins, Coryon Rice, Tyree Harris & Dwayne Cohill Jr.), plus the addition of Yael Hill from King James, and Derrick Veasley from Mr. Basketball Academy, Murphy could wrestle the #1 spot away from All-Ohio Purple. This team should be a monster next year, both in the state and on the national scene.

Lamonte Tillman’s Ohio Hoopsters’ roster will remain intact, as Ty Wiley, Cory Baker, James Madison, David Fitzgerald and Juan Elmore are all set to return to a team that was once considered the top team in the class. The addition of Hilliard’s Isaiah Speelman from the Pickerington Wildcats should add depth to the post.

From what I understand, and despite their success last season, the Pickerington Wildcats’ roster will look vastly different next season if they actually field a team. According to some of the people I talked to, Scott Bradley’s New Birth Warriors will be fielding a summer team, which will include Seth Goodson, Paul “PJ” Jones, Garrett Tipton and possibly Antwuan Johnson. Although Jordan Mitchell and Jeremiah Francis Jr. will be playing up with Bradley’s team in the winter, it’s unclear how long into the spring and summer the two 6th graders will be with the team. Most likely, one or both players may split time between Bradley’s team and All-Ohio Purple’s 6th grade squad. If both players stick around the entire summer, the Warriors could be a tough out.

I have received no word from Gene Ready about his SMAC squad. Most likely, he will return Sincere Carry, Cooper Crawford and Jaret Pallotta to a very solid team. Also, it is unclear if Kings James will be able to find a replacement for Hill, or whether they will suffer more defections.

In the 6th grade division, you know what they say; “The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.” Well that would appear to be the case with DeMarko Bradley’s All-Ohio Purple squad, as the team has reportedly inked the services of Jordan Mitchell and Jeremiah Francis Jr. from All-Ohio Red. Already blessed with a loaded roster with players like DeMarko Bradley Jr., Greg Tribble and Chris’Seon Stringer; Purple should retain their # 1 spot next season.

Unfortunately for All-Ohio Red, “The rich got poorer,” as their roster may be depleted by the time the season tips off in March. Despite all the success this team enjoyed over the past 3-4 years, it apparently was not enough to keep all of the talent satisfied; consequently, parents looked for greener pastures elsewhere. Although it is unclear where guys like Jadien Lipscome and Gerard Reynolds will end up, right now, it’s safe to say, it’s unlikely Red will retain or acquire enough talent to retain their place as one of the top teams in the nation.

In closing, what has been reported in October may not transpire in March; therefore, none of what I have predicted may come true, as parents may be hedging their bets, “double booking/promising” or may simply change their minds completely relative to where they place their child for next year. Stay tuned; it should be another exciting season come March!

Below is a link to my list of the top middle school teams including a list of the team’s top players. I will be updating the list day-to-day as more information surfaces. You will be able to follow the updates by clicking on the logo on the right side of the face page. If you are a coach or parent of one of the teams listed, and you can provide information about the roster, please email me at Taylorobe@aol.com so I can update my information.

Teams to Watch