Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ohio’s Top 100 Rising 7th Graders (2018)

Below is a link to our list of some of Ohio’s top rising 7th graders. Right now, the class of 2018 appears to have several elite point guards who have a chance to be really good down the road if they continue to work hard and develop their games. There are a few bigs in the class who are doing some good things, but there does not seem to be the emergence of 1 or 2 dominate and/or long-term high-major type prospects. I’m sure they are out there some where, but they are not truly dominating the scene at this point.

Keep in mind, it’s still very early for this class, and this list will grow over time. In fact, almost every event I attend I find new kids to add to our lists. Also, in a few months, I will be publishing my initial list of Ohio's top 30 rising 7th graders, so stay tuned. Finally, if there are players I missed and who clearly deserve to be on this list (I know there are many), and/or I have incorrect information for the players already listed, I invite input via my email (, and I will make every effort to do research and try and watch the play. At the end of the day, if you care about these types of lists, it’s the parent’s responsibility to insure their child is getting the necessary level of exposure.

Top 100 Rising 7th Graders (2018)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SMAC U 6th Graders Claim Grand Nationals Title

SMAC U-6th Grade Champions

The best game I saw all day on Sunday was the 6th grade championship of the SMAC Grand Nationals,which featured a slug fest between SMAC U and the King James Shooting Stars. Having defeated King James earlier in pool play by 24 points, SMAC was the clear favorite heading into the game. Although King James drew first blood on a layup by Yaeal Hill, SMAC answered on the next possession to tie the score.  After that, King James went on a 13-6 run with 10:08 left in the first half. SMAC would counter with a run of their own to cut the lead to 12-15 by the 8:05 mark. At about the 7:36 mark, costly King James turnovers and the emergence of lead guard Sincere Carry, SMAC seized momentum and quickly took a 21-19 lead with about 5 minutes left in the first period. With 45 tics remaining, the Shooting Stars drew to within 1 point (31-32) after a Greyson Green layup.

Sincere Carry-MVP

The score was tied several times early in the second half, before Sincere Carry starting taking over the game.  Carry, a 4’5 PG from Solon, put on a clinic with his ability to separate from his defender, and get in the paint for kick out treys or bounce passes for easy layups. Although Carry did not dominate the game in terms of scoring, this kid created numerous scoring opportunities for guys like Cooper Crawford (5’10 WF Avon Lake) and Jaret Pallotta (5’9 WF Jackson). Carry performance was the most impressive I saw all day, and solidified in my mind that he is one of the top 2 or 3 floor generals in the state in his class. Carry has several advance dribble moves which were very effective in beating his defenders off the bounce. Very efficient, skilled with a healthy dose of swag is how I would describe Carry's game.

Yael Hill-Dropped 18 Pts in Final Game

Back to the game; despite a valiant effort by King James’ Yael Hill (game-high 18 points), who almost single handily kept the Shooting Stars in the game, SMAC eventually pulled away and finished the game with a lopsided 74-50 victory. The fact that Carry was the player of the game is an easy call; but the performance logged in by Hill was almost equally impressive.  Were as Hill was a scoring machine, Carry was the consummate pass-first floor general who controlled every aspect of the game. I should mention that Carry created more points than he scored, but he proved he could get to the cup and score almost at will, while also demonstrating the ability to shoot if left open.

DB Hoops Martin-7th Grade Champions

Although I did not watch much of the action in the 7th grade division, I did get a chance to check out DB Hoops Martin in one of their early bracket games. After only watching for a few minutes, it was evident that the go-to guy for DB Hoops is John Williams, who accounts for the bulk of the offense, either through scoring himself or creating opportunities for his teammate. In support, Derek Koch (6’3 PF West Salem) is probably the second leading scorer and leading rebounder, while Calvin Calhoun (6’3 C South Euclid) patrolled the paint defensively and blocked shots with a vengeance. In the 7th grade championship game, DB Hoops defeated the Columbus Crusaders 45-32.

SMAC’s 5th graders had a good weekend, as they captured the 5th grade division title with a 40-31 victory over Shooting Stars Sports from Kentucky. In that game, Solon’s Michael Bekeljia closed the game with 3 highlight treys in the closing minutes of the game.  Other standouts for SMAC Showtime were Julius Jones (5’4 SG Macedonia) and Michael Simpson (5’3SG Twinsburg).

Monday, June 25, 2012

King James' 2016s Capture SMAC Grand Nationals

King James Shooting stars-8th Grade Champions

On Sunday, I made my way up to the Cleveland area to cover SMAC’s Grand Nationals. The 3-day event hosted 57 boys teams in grades 4th-varsity, including 17 girls teams from 6-8th grades. The tournament sites included John Carroll University, Gilmore Academy and Garfield Heights HS.

In the 8th grade division, a loaded King James Shooting Stars team cruised through the tournament on their way to the title. It’s important to note, the Shooting Stars have expanded their roster by adding DB Hoops Jackson’s top players. Specifically, Joining Tervell Beck, Anthony Christian and Derek Funderburk  on the King James squad are Willie Jackson, Keith Griffin and Ronald Jones Jr.; 3 of the state’s top players. On championship Sunday, King James crushed a James Manns-led Hope All-Stars 60-31 in the semi-finals. The championship game pitted King James against SMAC Primetime. Other than the Shooting Stars, SMAC was one of the bigger teams in the tournament, boasting a front line that featured 6’7 Omari Spellman from North Royalton and 6’8 Mark Kostelac from Richmond Heights.

The game got off to a slow start, as neither team scored a bucket until the 12:14 mark. Faced with a King James team loaded with height and athleticism, SMAC countered with a 2-3 zone. Despite the zone, King James raced out to a 7-2 start by the 9:25 mark then made a run which ran their lead to 17-3 with 7:53 left in the opening period. Very early in the contest it was obvious that King James’ length was giving the SMAC guards problems defensively. With about 3:50 left in the period, the gamesmanship started, as King James spread the floor and held the ball, hoping to draw SMAC out of their zone. Although they were down 23-12, the SMAC coaching staffed refused to come out and engage King James as the clock ran down 1:80. King James then called a time out, and with 35 seconds left in the half, King James initiated their offense. After Yavari Hall (6’2 SF from Warrensville), missed on a jumper, and SMAC’s Deven Stover did the same on the other end, Willie Jackson received an outlet pass and finished with a breakaway dunk to put his team ahead up 25-12 at the half.

Despite some “trickeration” from the SMAC coaching staff (they set up defensively on the wrong side of the court), King James sniffed out the deception and inbounded the ball on the correct side of the court before, Keith Griffin hit a jumper to open the second period. Although SMAC would make several runs to cut the lead to single digits, King James would eventually step on the gas for good to extend the lead. By the end of the game, and despite a 14 point effort from Deven Stover, King James would claim the title with a 45-35 win.

Keith Griffin-Player of the Game

I don't know how many points he had (individual stats were not kept), but my player of the game was Keith Griffin, a 5’10 PG from Shaker Heights, who was clearly the engine for his team. Griffin scored when open, distributed the rock to his teammates and provided a steady hand to his team during adversity. This is the first time I’ve seen Griffin, but his play was as good as advertised. Griffin proved he could shoot the rock as he knocked down multiple treys. In addition, he handles the ball well, has no problems getting into the paint where he can employ a nice looking floater or find a cutting teammate. I think it’s safe to say, Griffin’s name needs to be mentioned along with the other elite PGs in the state. I was also really impressed with the play of Ronald Jones, who was the 7th man off the King James bench. Although he is a bit undersized for his position, Jones is strong, aggressive and finishes well with contact. Willie Jackson did some nice things in the game, and Derek Funderburk was productively defensively. Because of his slender frame, Funderburk played more on the perimeter rather than posting up and banging down low. Yavari Hall was first off the bench, and contributed just enough to confirm the reports I had received about his talent. Tervell Beck showed glimpse of his potential as did Anthony Christian. If the coaches can coral these kids and mold them into a focused, team-oriented team, the sky is the limit!

Omari Spellman-Worth Watching

Keep an eye out for 6’7 Omari Spellman; this kid has a ton of potential. Already blessed with good height, the 226 pound center also has skill, athleticism, good feet, a soft touch and blocks a ton of shots. In this evaluator’s opinion, Spellman projects well as a long-term college level post player. His SMAC teammate, Mark Kostelac, is not as far along as Spellman in terms of his skill set, and does not possess the same athleticism, but at 6’8 and only a rising freshman, he has a chance to play at least some small college basketball if he continues to develop. Finally, both Deven Stover and Justin Layne play big roles for SMAC Primetime.

My good friend Reggie Stover helped me out by watching some guys, and he informed me that ICC Truth out of Rochester, New York has a couple of players worth spotlighting. Melvin Grayson, a 6’3 PF from Rochester has a great low post game, is very skilled around the basket and plays physical on both ends of the court. Tyreik Snow, a 6’4 center from Rochester has a high motor and is relentless around the cup. Only 14, Snow is a high volume rebounder with super potential.

In the Varsity division, a few players from Team Elyria caught my eye, including Lou Cheers (6’5 WF Loraine) and Andre Phillips (6’0 PG Loraine). Other guys with potential on that team include Jason Moore (6’1 combo Oberlin) and Tyler Ridell (6’0 SG Eleryia). Later I will be posting a story about some of the results from the lower divisions.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ohio Dynasty’s Super 60-Recap

Murphy AC Knights-7th Grade Champions

On Saturday, I caught some of the action at Ohio Dynasty’s Super 60 tournament in Columbus. Although many of the top teams who had previously committed to the one-day event dropped out at the last minute, there still were a few talented 6th, 7th and 8th grade teams participating. The top 6th grade squads were the Ohio Hoopsters, Murphy AC and the Pickerington Wildcats. The best game I saw was in the 6th grade division, and pitted the #1 ranked Ohio Hoopsters against the #6 ranked Pickerington Wildcats.

In the game, the Hoopsters drew first blood on a David Madison jumper, but the Wildcats answered right back on a layup by Hilliard’s Isaiah Speelman. Pickerington took its first lead (9-8) with 10:47 left in the first half, and would expand the lead to 16-11 by the 6:05 mark. After the Hoopster’s Ty Wiley drained back-to-back treys, the lead was closed to 1 point (20-21) with 2:45 remaining in the half. The Hoopsters retook the lead (22-20) at 1:30, and finished the half up 24-21. It was nip and tuck the entire second half, and the game was not decided until the closing minutes. In fact, down 32-31 with 57 seconds left, the Wildcats could have taken the lead as Isaiah Speelman stepped to the line to shoot 1 and 1. Speelman missed the front end, and a subsequent layup by David Madison all but sealed the game at 34-31 with 28.1 ticks left on the clock. The hoopsters would eventually claim a 38-31 victory. It should be noted the Antwon Johnson was running with the Wildcats and will be playing with the team at the AAU Nationals.

Ty Wiley-5'2 PG Columbus

The leading scorer for the Hoopsters was Ty Wiley who finished with a game-high 11 points. Wiley continues to build his case as not only one of the top guards in central Ohio, but the state. Wiley is quick, crafty with a tight handle, and he has proven he can shoot the rock consistently. David Madison is also one of the key cogs in the Hoopsters’ machinery, and he may have as much upside as anybody on that team. Madison finished with 10 points, followed by Juan Elmore with 6 and Corey Baker with 5 points apiece. For the Wildcats, Isaiah Speelman did the heavy lifting, finishing with a team-high 11 points.

Isaiah Speelman-6'2 C Hilliard

This was the first time I have seen Speelman play, and I left quite impressed with his skill set. Although the 6’2 Speelman is thin, and will need to continue adding weight, right now, the kid is an excellent passer for his position, and he finishes at a high rate around the basket. In addition, Speelman flashed a couple of quality post moves, and he defends very well. I also like the fact that Speelman is a good free throw shooter and he runs the floor reasonably well for his size. The next closest scorers for the Wildcats were Garret Tipton and Seth Goodson, both of whom added 4 points. Both Tipton, a big, and Goodson, a guard, are key pieces to the Wildcats’ puzzle.

Tarik Wright-6'2 WF/PF Columbus

While watching the Hoopsters versus Wildcats’ game on court #1, I would occasionally glance over to court #2 to watch some of the action between Hills Sports versus the Showtime Ballers (8th grade division). Although the Hills Sport would go ahead and get the 54-45 win, the big story of the game was the standout performance of Tarik Wright, a 6’2 swing man from Columbus. Built like a linebacker, Wright was surprisingly agile for his size. Not only did Wright display athleticism and explosiveness on a breakaway dunk, he knocked down a handful of treys as well. Most teams are forced to play Wright in the post because of his size, but his play on Saturday proved he could get it done on the perimeter. Wright finished with a game-high 19 points. Too bad Wright is moving to Detroit, MI. this summer as I would have liked to watch his progression. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Coach Sunny Calloway for making sure I kept an eye out for Wright!

Coryon Rice-5'8 SG Cleveland

Although I was not there to see it, Kevin Jackson’s 6th grade Murphy AC squad won the tournament with double digit victory of the Hoopsters in the championship game. Although the Hoopsters clipped Murphy by 1 point in an earlier game, they erased an early Hoopsters’ lead to claim the tournament title on Sunday. The standout performers for Murphy AC were Coryon Rice, Jerry Higgins and Dwayne Colhill. Over the weekend, Murphy AC finished 3-1, which included a  win over the Pickerington Wildcats in the semi-finals.

In the 7th grade division, the Murphy AC Knights downed DB Hoops Martin by 20 points to claim the championship. Over the weekend, the Knights finished 5-0, with wins over the Lima Kings (by 15), Dayton Pilots (by 20+), Hills Sports (8th grade), OIC Dynasty (by 30) and DB Hoops Martin. The Standout players for Murphy AC were Tommy Schmock, Jaylen Harris, and Matt Davit. For DB Hoops Martin, John Williams, Kenny Harden, Calvin Calhoun and Derrick Cook were the top guys.

James Manns II-6'6 C Columbus

On my way out of the gym, a caught a few minutes of a game between the 8th grade H.O.P.E. All-Stars and Hidden Gems White. Before I left, the H.O.P.E All-Stars were handling their business. From what I can tell, Columbus’ James Manns II is continuing to develop. He has gotten a littler taller and appears to be filling out a bit since the last time I saw him play. Manns has good length, can play multiple positions and had several nifty plays in the few minutes I watched him play. Unfortunately, Manns is still flying under the radar for various reasons, but his D-I talent is still recognized by most fans in central Ohio. As he ventures out a little bit more and competes against the top players more regularly, more people will come to recognize his talent, and college coaches will make sure to add his name to their lists.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wildcats Take 6th Grade Title

Pickerington Wildcats-6th Grade Champions

Over the weekend, Allen Henderson’s 6th grade Pickerington Wildcats finished undefeated on their way to the championship of the Joe Riggins Jr. Memorial Pre-National Tournament in Dayton. In pool play, the Wildcats defeated the Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep (13 points) and The Mr. Basketball Academy (4), Dayton Pilots. In bracket play, Pickerington downed the Dayton Nets for a second time (20) and the Dayton Pilots (20) in the championship game. Although the Wildcats got it done on the strength of “team play and execution,” according to Henderson, the team’s reserves “came off the bench and played their tails off.”  Those reserves included Jalen Mitchell and Nick Giardina. What’s interesting to note, the Wildcats played the entire weekend without Isaiah Speelman and Dondre Palmer, the team’s starting wing and center. In addition, Pickerington picked up Dayton’s Antwon Johnson for the weekend.

I have to give a shout out to Damon Stringer’s Mr. Basketball Academy (MBA) who traveled down from northeast Ohio in search of competition. Ohio basketball fans may remember Stringer, as he was a standout for Cleveland Heights, was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 1995, and went on to play with Ohio State and Cleveland State. With an overall season record of 32-8, Stringer’s 6th grade squad has established themselves as one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the northeast area.  This weekend, MBA finished 3rd behind the Dayton Pilots and the Wildcats, but played both teams closely. It should be noted, MBA was missing Johnny Bigsby, the team’s second leading scorer, due to a hip injury. Deion Burton and Derrick Veasley Jr. were both standouts for MBA. For the season, MBA’s resume includes a win over #10 Dayton Nets/Buckeye Prep, a split with #7 King James, and a 4 point loss to both  #6 Pickerington and the Dayton Pilots.

In the 7th grade division, Brooks Hall’s Next Level squad closed their season on a positive note, with a lopsided victory over the Columbus Braves (30) in the championship game of the same tournament. Next level blew by Dayton Nets-Turner (30+), Ohio Varsity, Dayton Pilots B, and Columbus Crusaders before dispatching the Braves in the title game. Danny Davis, L’Christian Smith, Keegan Seban and Ryan Proffit were all standouts for Next Level. Hall’s team finished the summer with an impressive 40-4 over all record. For those wondering, as is the case with a number of kids this time of year, Hall mentioned that Smith and Seban will be heading down to the AAU nationals with the Indy Hoosiers.

Congratulations to the 7th grade Cincinnati Royals for winning the Louisville Legends Classic in Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend. On championship Sunday, the Royals defeated Indiana Elite South (46-38), Focus (63-46) and Rob D’s Elite (71-48). Standouts for the Royals included Matt & Dan Sichterman, Sean Clifford, Matt King and Jaeden Orr

All-Ohio Red-5th Grade MIT Champs

Congratulations to All-Ohio Red 5th graders for getting it done at the Maryland Invitational Tournament in Baltimore. This tournament has traditional attracted a strong field. This team just keeps on winning!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ohio AAU State Tournament Recap

Esa Ahmed-6'7 PF/C Shaker Heights

Although I was not present (injured my knee bowling with my sons on Friday), my sources of information informed me that I missed some great games at the Ohio AAU State Tournament in Cincinnati this past weekend!  The event hosted approximately 81 teams from 8th - 11th grades. Let's start with one of the best games of the tournament. The semi-final match up between U-15 All-Ohio Red and the King James Shooting Stars (formally Cincinnati Knights) was a longtime coming, featured some of Ohio's top 9th graders (Ohio's Top 30 Players), and was a straight slug fest. Not only was the action on the court heated, I understand the tension carried over off the court as passions ran a little hot (as did the facility) with the standing room only crowd that gathered at Landmark HS in Cincinnati. According to the people I spoke with, the game was nip and tuck throughout the contest, with neither team being able to mount more than a 4-5 point lead throughout the game.

One of the featured match-ups of the game pitted 2 of Ohio's top post players in Cleveland's Esa Ahmed, and Cincinnati's Nate Fowler. Although the debate over who the top guy is in the state has been raging for years, the argument may have been settled on Sunday, as it has been reported that Ahmed had a monster game and proved difficult to guard. Although Fowler is the bigger of the 2 players, Ahmed is quicker and more agile, and can use his perimeter advantage to drive around bigger defenders. On Sunday, those offenders were Fowler and Tony Anderson (formally ran with All-Ohio). Ahmed may have logged in the bigger performance in terms of scoring, but Huber Heights' D'Mitrik Trice inflicted much of the damage as well with his clutch shooting and timely buckets. Although Trice has not been the featured guard on that loaded squad so far this season, it sounds like his play over the weekend represented a breakout of sorts.

Amos "AJ" Harris-PG Dayton

By the time the final horn had sounded, All-Ohio had grabbed bragging rights (I understand there was a lot of that) with a 69-54 win. Make no mistake, because of the number elite players in this game, and the fact that both teams are Ohio's best, this game was the most important game of the year in any division. Unfortunately, we may only get to see the match-up i time per year! The standout performers for Red were Esa Ahmed, D'Mitrik Trice and VJ King. My sources also tell me that AJ Harris did nothing to be dethroned as the top PG in the class as his play was at a high level. In addition, it has been reported the Luke Kennard may have been the leading scoring, despite an off shooting night (by his high standards), and MaCieo Teague is reported to have logged in a solid performance as well. According to Coach Q, Newark's Jordan Dardis deserves to be mentioned among the top PGs in the state, based in part on his size (6'1) and his "complete game." To be honest, Dardis has never really been on our radar, but from most accounts, he can go.

Because of questionable scheduling, the best game of the tournament for the 9th graders was the aforementioned semi-final game. Consequently, in the Championship game of the division, All-Ohio Red easily defeated All-Ohio Black to claim the gold medal with a 68-43 victory. Although Black reportedly played Red close early in the first quarter, Red eventually flexed their muscle, took control of the game and eventually got the W. On their way to the final game, All-Ohio knocked off the Ohio Hoopsters (+35), Ohio Crossover (102-32), Dayton Metro (71-30), Cincinnati Lakers (76-43), King James and All-Ohio Black.

Cincinnati Lakers-2012 Ohio AAU Champions

In the 8th grade division, we may have a brand new #1 ranked team in the state, as Charles Riggens' Cincinnati Lakers avenged an earlier loss to Team Lima in the championship game of the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron several weeks ago and are now back-to-back state champs. This time around, employing a 2-3 zone for most of the game to neutralize Team Lima's athletic advantage, the Lakers jumped to, and sustained a double digit lead until the clock showed zeros. According to Riggens, the guard play of Jeremy Larkin and Rodrick Caldwell, coupled with solid post play of his bigs; Jake Houserman and Andrew Homer, was the difference in the game. The Lakers' win was even more remarkable considering they were without the services of his son, Ashon (cramps) and John Bubenhofer (concussion). For the record, cramps also took it's toll on team Lima, as Jalen Thomas did not play and Tree Cobbs struggled with the issues.

On their trek to the championship, the Lakers defeated Hidden Gems, All-Ohio Red, Cincinnati Royals, Nova Village, Cincinnati Bulldogs and Team Lima. It should be noted, Coach Riggens was really complimentary of the Bulldogs' and the play of Tommie "TC" Wells and Hunter Lampley. We are not surprised at his assessment, as both players have excelled at our elite showcases in the past. For team Lima, Xavier Simpson deserves special mention for the way he ran his team. Team Lima's path to the championship game included wins over Ohio Varsity (80-20), All-Ohio Purple (79-39), Ohio Warriors (56-38), Dayton Heat (16 +) and All-Ohio Elite (52-44).

The top 4 finishers in the 8th grade divisions were the Lakers, Team Lima, Cincinnati Bulldogs and All-Ohio Elite. On another note, unfortunately, the fact that the King James Shooting Stars dropped out of the event on Thursday was a source of disappointment for many fans, as a lot of people wanted to see the individual and team match-ups that would have been created had they shown up. I also heard that several other players had good weekends, including Columbus' Seth Towns, Tyrus Battle, Ruben Flowers, Tree Cobbs, Derrick Daniels, Jerron Cumberland, Trey Smith, Wells, Lampley and Jalen Tate.

Finally, it has to be mentioned the Jerry Watson's All-Ohio Red teams pulled a clean sweep of the 3 high school divisions. The U-17 squad squeezed by a very talented Queen City Prophets team with an overtime victory in the semis, before taking down Martin Wolverines by about 10 points to claim the title. In the U-16 division, All-Ohio Red pulled out a close one against the Shining Stars to claim the gold.

The AAU State tournament was not the only show in town this past weekend, as there was a small interstate shootout between 3 of Ohio's top 6th grade teams and 3 of Kentucky's best squads right across the river at the Midwest Sports Complex in Florence. The 3 Ohio teams included All-Ohio Purple, Pickerington Wildcats and Dayton Metro, while Kentucky featured Lousiville's Spiece Gators (ranked #1), Kentucky Thunder (ranked #2) and the Shinning Stars (D-II AAU State Champs).

In terms of the format, each team played 3 games against the opposing state's teams. It looks like Ohio had the better day, as no team finished worse that 2-1, while 2 Kentucky teams left town 0-3. Kentucky's Spiece Gators got 2 wins against Pickerington and Dayton Metro. The final tally is as follows: AOP (3-0), Pickerington (2-1) Dayton Metro (2-1), Spiece Gators (2-1) Kentucky Thunder (0-3) and the Shinning Stars (0-3). It should be noted that the Thunder was without their best player. Standouts for All-Ohio were Kane Cooper and Jackson See. For Dayton Metro, Antwon Johnson and TK Robinson and Drew Ashurst were the top guys.  Pickerington's standouts include: Seth Goodsoon, Isaiah Speelman and Xavier Henderson.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ohio Kids Garner National Recognition

Exposure is one of the primary things we try to accomplish with Buckeye Prep. We attempt to get kids the kind of quality exposure that will lead to national exposure and opportunities traditionally reserved for elite level players.  Also, when we see our kids making an impact on the national level, we are proud to write about it and share the information with our followers. Our friends at Middle School Hoops, a website devoted to highlighting elite middle school basketball players, has figured out what we have know for quite sometime, Ohio has a lot of great young talent! Recently, the website featured videos of some of Ohio's up and coming middle schoolers.  Check them out below.

Willie Jackson-6'3 PF Cleveland

Willie Jackson first burst onto the statewide scene at our 2011 fall elite showcase. Jackson, a 6'3 PF from Cleveland, took full advantage of his size, athleticism and explosiveness to log in a dominate performance at our showcase; so much so, he was selected to the showcase all-star team, where he played his way into Top 5 honors. Not only is Jackson squarely on our list of top 30 players, he is illegitimately considered a top 5 player statewide. Jackson is an 8th grader, and he will be attending Garfield Heights HS next year. The video shows some of Jackson's explosiveness as he catches a pass of the backboard for a dunk. (video).

Jaylen Harris-6'3 PF Cleveland

Jaylen Harris, a 6'3 PF from Cleveland, has attended the last 2 Buckeye Prep Showcases and has excelled on each occasion. Not only is Jackson on our top 30 list, he is widely considered the top kid in the class for the moment. Most fans are impressed with Harris' size, strength and his ability to score around the rim and block shots. Harris is an active defender, with good feet and mobility. In the video, Harris steals a ball from a guard for a break away dunk. (Video).

Paul "PJ" Jones-5'6 SG Columbus

It seems like we have been watching and writing about Paul "PJ" Jones for 10 years now. Jones, a 5'6 6th grader from Columbus, has long established the fact that he is one of the elite guards in the city, and state for that matter.  The best thing about Jones' game right now is his ability to shoot the 3-ball.  In addition, Jones is a solid defender with a good motor.  Traditionally, Jones has been a standout at our eliet showcases, and his name will likely appear on our list of top 30 players when we release it in the fall.  In the highlight video, Jones shows the world that he has game. (Video).

Derrick Daniels-6'6 PF Dayton

You have no doubt already seen the video showing Derrick Daniels throwing down an alley oop dunk during our showcase last fall, but since the video is also featured on the website, we thought we would mention him again.  By most accounts, Daniels is one of the 2 top big men in his class (along with Derek Funderburk). Not only has he established himself as a top 10 player in the state, he is now attracting national attention for his talent. (Video). Congrats to the players featured above, and thanks for making Ohio proud!