|Cincinnati Lakers vs Team Lima Black (8th Grade)|
I started my day of watching Ed Lyshe’s 6th grade Buckeye Prep team notch another win in the Bronze division against a scrappy and rugged Elite Sports Center (ESC) out of West Virginia. Although Buckeye Prep would never trail in the game, ESC would mount several runs, including a 5-0 run to start the 4th quarter that cut the lead to 1 point (28-27). Despite ESC, s last minute push, Buckeye Prep would hang on to advance to the final four with a 40-32 victory. He did not lead the team in scoring, but Westerville’s Malique Lyshe sparked Buckeye Prep with back-to-back-to-back defensive plays that preserved momentum. It should also be noted that Lyshe showed a lot of improvement over the weekend, clearly logging in his best performance of the season.
|AJ White-4'11 PG Indanapolis, IN|
While waiting for the Buckeye Prep final four game, I got the chance to watch a very entertaining 5th grade semi-final game between Demarco Bradley’s All-Ohio Purple squad from Cincinnati and the Indiana Hoosiers from Indianapolis. According to a fan in the stands, the Hoosiers were seeking revenge for a 2 point loss to All-Ohio in Indianapolis a few weeks earlier. When I walked in at half-time, Purple was up 23-19. By the end of the third quarter, Indiana had seized momentum and cut the lead to 1 point (33-34). After scoring on their first 3 possessions to start the final period, the Hoosiers were up 40-34. An Indiana 11-0 run in the 4th quarter broke All-Ohio’s back, as the Hoosiers advanced to the championship game where they defeated the Metrolina Havoc to claim the 5th grade title. Indiana’s AJ White, a 4’11 point guard from Indianapolis, was dynamite at the point as he displayed an impressive floor game and led his team with poise. Also, Keion Brooks, a 5’7 center from Ft. Wayne, has the makings of a star player. He is a bit slender right now, but he has good length, is still very young, and has the body type that usually suggests continued growth. All-Ohio Purple had a nice pair of guards in Demarco Bradley Jr. and Greg Tribble. These two little guys can go. Both guys attack the cup consistently and both bring extreme pressure on the ball. I intend to keep an eye on these two guys going foward. It's also important to note that the Hoosiers defeated All-Ohio Red, the defending AAU national Champions, to adavnce to the semi-final game.
|DeMarco Bradley Jr. & Greg Tribble Jr.|
In the final four matchup with KYWA out of Lexington, KY, it was clear from the tip that Buckeye Prep was going to have its hands full with the KYWA bigs. I wish I could tell you Buckeye Prep was in this one, but that was not the case. KYWA’s front line featured 5’11 center Kyle Rode who was surprisingly skilled for his age and size, and 5’9 Jefferson Harkless, who was a monster in the paint. Harkless inflicted most of his damage near the basket, while Rode was taking the Buckeye Prep bigs off the bounce and finishing. Harkless was way too physical for Prep’s post guys and he did a great job of finishing plays. Suffering from too many turnovers and an inability to rebound the ball, Buckeye Prep was bounced from the tournament after a 56-27 loss.
|Tyree Harrs-6'2 PF Cleveland|
For the second day in a row, I checked out Murphy AC Elite’s 6th grade team as the battled it out with Arizona’s Powerhouse in the quarter-finals of the silver division. Not only did Murphy AC Elite get the easy 40-25 win over Powerhouse, they went on the championship game after downing the Dayton Nets. In Friday’s report I highlighted the play of Cory Rice and Jerry Higgens, but the other stud on that team is Tyree Harris, an athletic post from Maple Heights, Ohio. Earlier in the month Harris logged in an impressive performance at my Buckeye Prep Invitation tournament, and really impressed many people who were watching his games. Harris already has the length; size and mobility that will draw people to get an early look at the kid. Powerhouse’s Bryson Mewhinney (5’5 PG) and Paul Bingaman (6’2 C), both paced their team to a quarter-final finish.
|Quam Dosumu, Chase Adams & Zion Young|
In 6th grade Gold division action, I walked in on a quarterfinal game between crosstown rivals, Chicago Select and Ferrari. As you would expect, these teams and their fans were hungry for Chi Town bragging rights, so you know the crowd was rabid. Ferrari would go on to get the 34-40 win and advance to the semi-finals. Although I had seen Chicago Select the night before, this was the first chance I had to check out Ferrari. From what little I saw of this game, I was most impressed with Ferrsri’s Quam Dosumu, a dynamic 5’4 PG. Chicago has long since been known for its guard, and from what I saw of his game, Dosunmu has a chance to be special. He is crafty, aggressive, and he has a pocket full of dribble moves he employs to separate from his defender. Dosunmu’s handle is among the most mature I’ve seen from a kid his age. This kid is a gamer! Ferrari also had a pair of quality bigs. I was most impressed with Stephen Harris, a 6’0 center who was strong and physical. Although a lot of big kids this age are just big, Harris fully understands how to use his physical gifts. When he gets the rock form one of the talented Ferrari guards, he immediately attacks the basket. Ferrari would later defeat 916 Select to advance to the championship game.
|Sheriff Kenny & Dimarco Baucum-DC Assault|
In another 6th grade gold division quarterfinal game, I watched a little of the DC Assault and Showtime Select game. Though it was another close game, DC Assault out lasted Showtime Select and advanced with a 44-40 win. The top guys for Assault were Sherif Kenny, a 5’10 PF, and Dimarco Baucum, a 6’2 center. For Showtime Select, Mark Watts, a 5’1 PG was the man. DC Assault would later punch their ticket to the championship game with a win over Indiana’s George Hill Rising Stars.
|DC Assault-6th Grade Gold Division Champions|
The 6th grade gold division championship game featured a battle of AAU program heavy weights with Ferrari and DC Assault. Right from the tip, Ferrarri’s superior backcourt of Quam Dosumu, Zion Young and Chase Adams went to work, when Young, a 5’5 SG, drained a trey to start the game. Ferrari would start the game on a 6-0 run. DC Assault would finally respond at the 2:49 mark with back-to-back scores to close the lead to 2 points (6-4). Ferrari would counter with another 6-0 run to finish the first half up 12-4. Early in the second quarter DC Assault mounted their own run and was able to trim the lead to just 2 points (16-18) with about 2:51 left in the half. DC Assault tied the game at 18 at the 2:12 mark on a layup by Dimarco Baucum, and completed the comeback with 2 free throws and a 2 point lead to close the first half (18-20). Assault would begin the second half by knocking down 2 free throws, then mount a 5-2 run midway through the quarter (20-25).Ferrari would make a run of their own and retake the lead (26-25) with 1:28 left in the third quarter. Assault went back in front at the 1:00 minute mark on another Baucum layup (27-26). Assault would close the third period with 3 consecutive buckets to run their lead to 31-26. Though Ferrari would score first to start the 4th quarter, Assault’s final run propelled them to a 44-32 victory and the championship trophy. Dimarco Baucum was big for Assault. Though Ferrari’s 2 bigs were nice, I really loved the Chicago guards. He may be small, but Chase Adams is one of the most exciting players I’ve seen in this class. He is an absolute blur with the ball and has an insane handle. Also, the kid is not afraid to mix it up with the big boys, which is a must for smaller guards. I already told you about Dosumu; the kid has a polished game. If I’m not reading about this kid a few years, something is seriously wrong. Zion Young, the third piece of the puzzle, has an athletic body, is strong, and can shoot the 3-ball.
|Team Lima Black-8th Grade Gold Division Champions|
Last but not least, there were a few significant observations associated with the 8th grade gold championship game. First of all, the fact that there were 3 Ohio-based teams (Team Lima Black, Cincinnati Lakers & All-Ohio Elite), in the final four of this major tournament was a statement about Buckeye basketball! In terms of story lines, AAU basketball at the highest levels is often about respect for individual performances, matchups and team supremacy. Along those same lines, we may have seen a “changing of the guards” of sorts in Ohio’s class of 2016. The Cincinnati Lakers have been the standard by which this class was defined for many years. With that said, the Elite Cavilers (now All-Ohio Elite) have occasionally challenged the Lakers for “top dog” honors. Although there is still a great deal of debate about who the top team has been in the class over the years (I’m not picking between the 2 in this piece), there should be no doubt that Quincy Simpson’s Team Lima Black went a long way in gaining some respect and a seat at the 2016 table with his convincing 56-36 win in the championship game on Sunday.
|Jaylen Thomas, Xavier Simpson, Ruben Flowers & Rico Stafford|
In terms of individual matchups, the championship game featured 3 of Ohio’s top 3 guards in Xavier Simpson, Rodrick Caldwell and Ashon Riggens. I have seen all three of these guys for many years and in many settings, and all-three elite guards have been consistently selected as all-stars at my Buckeye Prep Elite showcases. Since I did not get an opportunity to watch much of the 8th grade division this past weekend, and only caught half of the championship game, I’m not going to claim a winner in the “top PG in Ohio sweepstakes” at this point. However, if there were ever a gap between the elite floor generals in the state, the gap has surely narrowed. For my out-of-state readers, there are a number of other quality 8th grade teams in the state including the Cincinnati Bulldogs, Hills Sports, King James, All-Ohio Red, VCC Ohio Warriors, All-Ohio Purple, Nova Village, Dayton Heat, DB Hoops and others. Simply put, the 2016 class may be one of the best Ohio classes in many years. For Team Lima Black, the top performers for the weekend were Xavier Simpson (Unofficial MVP), Ruben Flowers (6’3 PF), Jaylen Thomas (6’0 SF) and Rico Stafford (6’4 SF). The Lakers’ Rodrick Caldwell (5’10 PG), Ashon Riggins (6’0 PG/SG) and Jeremy Larkin (5’9 SG/WF) were the standouts. It should be noted that Larkin did not play in the championship game due to a jaw injury he sustained in the semi-final game.
All-in-all it was a great weekend of basketball. Once again, the King James Shooting Star Classic has proven to be one of the most competitive tournaments in the country. Congratulations to Drew Joyce and his staff for putting on an outstanding event. For the final results in all of the divisions, visit the tournament website at: www.neobasketball.com.
Day Three Standouts
Day One & Two Standouts
Day Three Pictures