Monday, October 28, 2013

Buckeye Prep Top Thirty 7th Graders (2019)

Over a year ago we released our “Watch List” for the class of 2019. That list contained the names of about 75 6th graders who we felt represented the best players in the state at that time. Fast forward to today, and we finally had the chance to better define the top kids in the class of 2019. As most fans would expect, our top 30 list is dominated by players from All-Ohio Red, one of the top 2-3 teams in country last year.  Having won the NYBL championship, then following that up with a 3rd place finish at the 6th grade AAU Nationals in July, it only stands to reason that team is loaded with talent, and should be well represented in our rankings.

Although we did not rank players from 1-30 (players are listed alphabetically), we did attempt to highlight (in red) those players whom we felt had top 10 potential. In terms of the top player in the class, there is much debate around the state, and country for that matter. By most accounts, the top 2 guys are Jeremiah Francis, a 5’11 PG from Columbus and Jordan Mitchell, a 6’2 WF from Blacklick. Who you like depends or your particular tastes.  If you like big strong point guards, who can score, defend and who represent matchup problems for most opponents, then Francis is your man. If you like long, versatile players who can play multiple positions, you might go with Mitchell.  Regardless of who you choose, both players are very talented and project well going forward. It should be noted, in terms of the national rankings, most middle school talent evaluators say it’s neck and neck, but give the nod to Francis right now.

In terms of the national rankings, Columbus’ Gerard Reynolds (6’0 C) is consistently recognized as a top 50 player, and he is certainly in our top 5 as well. Reynolds, though a bit undersized for his position, is an absolute beast in the paint, and a handful for those who are forced to defend him in the post. Reynolds has consistently excelled on the big stage, and his trophy case is full of MVP awards as proof of his talent. Cincinnati is blessed with talent as well, as Chris’Seon Stringer (5’11 PF), A.K.A. Grown Man, and Chris Payne (6’0 PF) are two of the Nati’s best ballers.  Both are strong, athletic and specialize at attacking the rim. In addition, both Stringer and Payne logged in impressive performances at the NYBL All-Star games in September.

Cincinnati also has some quality guards with Joey Edmonds, DeMarco Bradley Jr. and Greg Tribble Jr. Bradley and Tribble are well known nationally and have competed against the best guards in the country routinely, but Edmonds is still elite, despite the fact that he is rarely seen on the statewide or national scene (baseball kid). We certainly hope that changes in the near future, as the entire state should get the pleasure of seeing him hoop. Dayton’s Amari Davis (6’0 WF) plays behind a lot of talent on the All-Ohio Red squad, but the kid has game and could start for most other teams. Keep an eye on Davis, he could be one of the top guys before this this is finished.

We can’t forget about northeast Ohio, as the area continues to crank out quality players. Among the best is Alfonse Hale (5’6 PG), a dynamic guard who can get it done. Hale was the leader of a Murphy AC team that got better during their play in the NYBL. Justin Smith (6’0 PF) was another key piece to that Murphy AC Squad (with O.B.C. now). Smith is a big who is still under development, but he showed flashes of greatness last summer in the NYBL. David Dial Jr. (5’3 PG) is another player who has not really been seen on the “big stage” consistently just yet, but he seems to always excel at events like the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, where he proves he can play with the big boys. Mike Bekeja (5’7 SG Solon) has also established himself as an all-star at past Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases. Very skilled with a high IQ best describes Bekeja.

The poster child for “flying under the radar” is Andre Gordon, a 5’10 PG from Sidney. Gordon has logged in several impressive performances in the few times I’ve seen him play. Blessed with good size, athleticism a solid skill set and an aggressive style of play, Gordon is right there among the best floor generals in the state.  In fact, in this evaluator’s opinion, Gordon’s talent is worthy of a national ranking, if only he was seen more. Also in the shadows are Gavin Baker (6'1 PF Worthington), Tanner Holden (6’0 WF Wheelersburg), Peyton Harris (5’11 PF Springfield) and Jeremiah Keene (5’9 WF Columbus). None of these guys are household names right now, but they all can play.

Of course we all understand that rankings are just “someone’s opinions,” and that most lists fail to include all of the players who are truly worthy of recognition, but until players make themselves easy to find and evaluate, it’s tough to give them their props. Also, like most lists of this type, they will evolve over time as kids emerge on the scene and develop. Next week, we will publish our “Watch List” for the class of 2020 (6th graders). As I always say, let the debate begin!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

All-Ohio City Series Tipped off on Saturday

Kentucky Commit Tyler Ulis was Impressive

On Saturday, I made my way over to Reynoldsburg High School to check out the day-one action at the All-Ohio City Series. Although the level of competition and number of teams are down from year one of the event in 2010, there was still a lot of talent in the high school divisions. The best player in the gym was Kentucky commit Tyler Ulis from Chicago, IL. I know you what you’re asking; because Ulis is originally from Lima, and developed his significant skill set in that city before relocating to Chicago, he was allowed to run with Quincy Simpson’s Lima team as a symbolic gesture.  If you don’t believe Ulis is a Lima kid, checkout this old highlight video of Ulis putting in work at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase when he was in middle school. To be honest; it was an unexpected treat to see the dynamic PG display the talent that garnered him a scholarship with one of the top college programs in the country. Ulis did not disappoint, as he led his Lima squad to an 83-53 win over Team Akron, while leading all scorers with 23 points.  Ulis made it look easy as he commenced to break down defenders off the dribble with crafty moves, dropping sweet passes, and draining treys, all without breaking a sweat. Justin Blanks paced Akron with 20 points followed by Martyce Kimbrough who finished with 14 points.

Javon Bess-Michigan State Pledge
In another 12th grade division game, Columbus Red got by Dayton 85-73. Columbus was in control the entire game, and was up big early.  However, Dayton mounted a late run and trimmed the lead to 10 points (50-60) with 8 minutes left in the contest. Michigan State pledge Javon Bess was big for Columbus, finishing with a game-high 20 points. Trotwood’s Dazhontae Bennett finished with a team-high 15 points followed by Jordan Smith (Dunbar) who added 11 points.

Ryan Mikesell Had a Big Day
The 11th grade division saw a great game between Columbus Red and Dayton.  Although Dayton was winning for most of the contest, and was actually up by 16 points into the second half, Columbus came roaring back to take a 1 point lead with 7 minutes left in the game.  Dayton would regroup with a 7-0 run to push the score to 81-73 by the 1:24 mark.  Dayton would go on to capture the 87-77 win. St Henry’s Ryan Mikesell led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Wayne’s Ahmed Waggner (18 points) and Xeyreus Williams (10 Points). Columbus was led in scoring by Jaquan Harrison who finished with a team-high 11 points followed by Nicholas Bapst (9 points).

Ty Wiley & Jabari Perkins Shined
Because most middle school divisions were held at different facilities, I only had the opportunity to catch one middle school game.  I have to admit, it wasn’t much of the game, as a loaded Columbus Red dismantled an undermanned Columbus Grey squad (it was 25-8 at one point).  When I say loaded, I’m talking about a team that featured some of 2018’s best players with guys like Ty Wiley (5’7 PG), Jabari Perkins (5’10 SG), Jamiel Goliday (6’0 SG/WF), Jerome Hunter (6’3 PF), DeShawn Daniels (6’3 PF/C), Juan Elmore (6’3 C) and Cory Baker 5’9 PG/SG). In this evaluator’s opinion, Jabari Perkins and Ty Wiley were the stars of the game. These to kids run together with the Ohio Hoopsters in the summer, but they always seem to find themselves on the same team, and it shows with how they play off of each other. Both players can handle the rock, are aggressive and can knock down jumpers if left unguarded. Wiley is craftier of the two in terms of his handle, while Perkins is more about using his strength and athleticism to get to the cup.

Ryan Ross-Has Potential
I also saw some good things from Jerome Hunter. Hunter is new to the state-wide scene, but by most accounts, his upside potential is good if he continues to develop. Although I saw more jump shots than rebounds from Hunter, he has the ability to be productive closer to the bucket. Ross Ryan, a 6’5 PF from Centerburg was the best player on the Grey team, and showed a lot of promise with his size, footwork and post moves.  Not only can Ryan score in the post, he has the ability to step outside and knock down a jump shot as well. He is overshadowed a team full of talent on the Ohio Hoopsters, but the kid can play. Hopefully I can get back over to the event on Sunday to check out the City Series final.

Tyler Ulis City Series Highlight Video
Saturday Highlight Video

Friday, October 25, 2013

Buckeyes Represent State in National Rankings

Shamar Morrow-#1 Ranked 6th Grader
Although many question the accuracy, let alone relevancy of ranking middle school-aged players; the fact remains, they are here to stay! Love them or hate them, middle school rankings are important to a lot of people, and they inspire many reactions, both positive and negative. Not only does the Buckeye Prep Report rank young players in the state, we keep an eye on other national rankings.

Case in point, our colleagues at Prospect Central recently released rankings for grades 6th, 7th, and 8th, and a few Ohio kids were recognized for their talent. In terms of 6th graders or the class of 2020, Ohio can lay claim to the number 1 player in the country. Shemar Morrow, a 6’0” WF from Loraine has been a prominent fixture on the AAU basketball scene for several years, and his talent is already being compared to some of the greatest basketball players in history. With great size and athleticism at a young age, Morrow has dominated up until this point in his career. During his recent play at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September, Morrow’s talent was on full display as he was clearly a cut above the competition. Although Prospect Central’s 2020 list only totals 10, Morrow sits atop the class for now.

Jordan Mitchell Ranked 6th Nationally
Prospect Central also dropped a list of their top sixty 7th graders, and a trio of Buckeye made the cut. Blacklick’s Jordan Mitchell (6’4 SF) was the highest ranked Ohio kid at #6, followed by his All-Ohio Red teammates Jeremiah Frances (5’11 PG Columbus) at #7 and Gerard Reynolds (6’0” PF Columbus) at #29. All three players have consistently been recognized as top 50 players by national media outlets, and all of them proved their talent during the inaugural season of the National Youth Basketball League(NYBL), as they lead their Ohio Select team to the championship. It should be noted that once again, the NYBL had a significant number of its players on the list, which only highlights the high level of competition in the league! In addition, based on the fact that all of the national lists that have been published  to date are loaded with NYBL players, it’s clear that the exposure generated by the league is getting kids recognized at a high rate!

EJ-Williams-Ranked #55 Nationally
Ohio only had 1 representative on Prospect Central’s 2018 list, and that honor goes to Middletown’s EJ Williams (6’9 C) at #55. Williams has been a fixture at Buckeye Prep events for many years, so we know his talent very well.  Not only is he BIG, but Williams has continued develop his skill set and is absolutely dominate in the post. An absolute rebounding machine; Williams also scores at will if he catches the rock anywhere near the basket. In addition, it’s our understanding that Williams is already receiving serious interest from D-I colleges. Congratulations to all of the above-named players for representing the Buckeye State well, as their national success further solidifies that Ohio is more than a “football state.”

Rolled Ankle Injury in Adolescent Basketball Players

Below is the latest article in a series of exclusive articles written by Dr. Kenneth Ransom for the Buckeye Prep Report. The series of articles represent both Buckeye Prep and Dr Ransom’s commitment to youth basketball. Enjoy!

Rolled Ankle Injury in Adolescent Basketball Players

The inversion ankle sprain is the most common traumatic injury in basketball players and the injury occurs more frequently in basketball than any other sport (7.74 per 10,000 high school basketball athlete exposures).  A sprain is defined as the stretching or tearing of a ligament.  There are three ligaments that attach the fibula to the foot that can be stretched or torn when the ankle is turned in, or inverted. (Fig 1)  This injury usually occurs when the player is landing from a rebound or making a sharp lateral cut. Besides pain, especially with weight baring, there is frequently swelling and even bruising depending on the severity of the ligamentous damage. Grade I, stretch with minimal swelling and no bruising; Grade II a partial tear with swelling and minimal bruising; Grade II is a complete tear with extensive swelling and bruising.

The injury that adolescents suffer may be different than what happens in young adults. Since the bones are still growing and the growth plates have not fused in boys up to 15 or 16 years of age, they are weaker than the surrounding ligaments especially in the area of a growth plate. So when an adolescent basketball player rolls his ankle he is more likely to injure the bone where the ligament attaches than the ligament itself.  Of more concern is the possibility of damaging or even fracturing the growth plate, which is actually the weakest portion of the bone. (Fig 2)  Injury or fracture of the growth plate can result in abnormal growth if the injury is not recognized and properly treated.  Swelling and bruising of the ankle after an inversion injury in an adolescent athlete should be evaluated by a physician and possibly x-rayed or undergo an MRI to make sure that there is not a fracture.

Minor ankle inversion injuries with little or no swelling and no bruising can be treated with rest, ice and elevation for the first 24 hours to minimize the swelling.  Anti-inflammatory medication can also be given to reduce the pain and inflammation.  In 48 hours the player usually can start passive range of motion exercises but only weight bare to pain tolerance. If the ankle hurts to walk on, crutches or additional time at rest may be necessary. Activity is increased as the soreness subsides but “if it hurts don’t do it”. Stretching and movement of the ankle within 48 to 72 hours is important therapy to prevent the joint from getting stiff and weak which can prolong recovery. Typically 5 to 7 days of rest and therapy are needed with a minor injury before the player can resume some basketball play. It is very important not to re-injure the ankle so activity that produces inversion forces on the ankle should be initially avoided. 

A program of continued stretching and exercising the ankle and lower leg is an important part of rehabilitation and continued maintenance following an ankle injury. There may also be some benefit of wearing an ankle brace or taping the ankle for additional support when playing.  The highest risk factor for suffering an ankle sprain is having had a previous ankle sprain.  In one study 75 % of high school basketball players that sustained an ankle injury had had a previous ankle injury versus only 33% that had not had a previous injury. Repetitive ankle injuries can result in a chronic problem and hinder the player’s ability to progress in the sport.

When should the player be seen by a physician? Anytime there is swelling and associated bruising, especially in the adolescent.  Not only is initial treatment important to promote proper healing but continues rehabilitation and maintenance therapy is necessary to prevent further recurrent injuries and possible long term pain and disability. In addition, players that routinely stretch out and exercise their leg muscles have a decreased risk of sustaining an injury even if they roll an ankle.  And finally, good nutrition with plenty of carbohydrates, protein, calcium and vitamin D makes the bones and soft tissues stronger and less susceptible to injury, especially in adolescent athletes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tier 1 Sports MS Showcase Recap

On Saturday, I headed north to Lima, Ohio to cover Quincy Simpson’s Tier 1 Sports Middle School Showcase. By the time I got to Lima Central Catholic High School, the roughly 160 kids in attendance were still participating in skill and drill sessions. According to some of the parents I talked to, the skills portion of the showcase was top notch. Later in the afternoon, the games began, with each team playing 3 games. The format did not include all-star games. In addition to the Buckeye Prep Report, there were several other scouting services in the house including: Ty Kish, Ethan Knopp, Straight A Athletics and Zack Fleer.

Andre Gordon-2019 Sidney

Although the showcase featured kids in grades 4th thought 8th, for the most part, I concentrated on the younger guys. The best kid I say all day was Andre Gordon (2019) a 5’10 PG from Sidney. I’ve seen Gordon before, and have always been impressed with his game, but on Saturday, he was even better than I remembered. A bigger guard who is skilled, handles the ball very well, and does a great job of attacking the cup and finishing. I hear he is a fantastic football player and well, and his athletic and strong play is translates well to the hardwood as well. He is still flying under the radar right now, but once people really get a chance to see him play, he will take his rightful place among the top 2019 floor generals in the state. Trotwood’s Amari Davis (6’0 WF) was having his way in the 7th grade division. Davis has good length and can score in bunches. Davis is often over shadowed by all of the talent on All-Ohio Red’s 2019 team, but he can ball with the best of them.

Zeb Jackson-2022-PG Toledo

I really enjoyed watching some of the younger kids at the event. In the 6th grade division, Toledo’s Zeb Jackson Jr. was very impressive. The 4’11 PG has the ball on the string, excels at beating his defender off the bounce, and either getting to the rack or dropping a sweet dime to an open teammate. Oh yea, he has some flash to his game, but he’s still productive while giving his team a chance to win. I've had my eye on Jackson for several years, and he is still developing and is still one of the top lead guards in the class of 2021. I also liked Isaiah Kennedy, a 5’3 guard from Beavercreek. A big boded guard who is more about muscling his way to the basket right now than tricking his defender with dribble moves. But make no mistake, Kennedy can handle the rock, and he can shoot it as well. With his play at the fall Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases in September as well as Saturday’s event, it’s safe to say that Kennedy is among the state’s best. Some of the other standouts included: Joey Holifield (5’5 WF Toledo), Tahleik Walker (5’0 PG Columbus) and Kole Whitney (4’10 PG Sandy Hook, KY). I can’t forget about Tavion Harris (5’6 PG Mansfield). Quality player who can score.

Grayson Green-2018 Cleveland Heights

The 8th grade division had some gems as well, and one of the best was Trotwood’s Devon Baker, a 5-10 PG with size, athleticism and a solid jump shot. I had not seen Baker previously, but I plan to keep an eye on him going forward. Also, Cleveland Heights’ Grayson Green (6’0 WF) has been on my radar for a couple years now, and he just keeps getting better every time I see him play. Not only does his physical play standout in his play with King James, but you can see his talent in showcase-type events as well. Green does most of his damage in the paint where he is big and physical enough to bang and finish with contact. Green is an all-around good looking prospect. I also like Tyler Slash, a 5’5 PG from Roanoke, VA. Slash has a tight handle, great vision and is an excellent passer. In addition, Teas Valley’s Garret Tipton did several nice things on Saturday, and although I did not see him play, a scouting colleague told me that Diego Gray 5’11 SG/WF Oklahoma City, OK) had a big day as well. Explosive and strong was how Gray was described. I’m sorry I missed him! Also, I did not get a chance to see Keion Brooks (2019 PG Indiana), but someone I respected said he played well on Saturday.

Derrick James-4th Grade PG

When I say young guys, the event had some really good kids starting from the second grade. We don’t often write about kids below the 6th grade, but I have to mention a few kids who really caught my eye. Look out for Derrick James, a dynamic little PG with a game beyond his years! This kid can really handle that rock! I watched him put a couple of moves on his defender and was amazed with his skill set. I also like Sean Jones (4th grader), John Mobley Jr. (2nd grade) and Fred Wilkes (6th grade).

Other players to watch: Darius Quiszenberry (8th), Devin Meyers (7th), Josiah Hutchins (7th), Parker Vanarsdalen (7th), Caleb Rogers (7th), Ian Bull (7th), Soul Hines (7th), Jordan Moore (6th), Ketaan Wyatt Jr. (6th), Dai’Sean Saka (6’1 C Toledo), Khalil Luster (4th), Deuce Blake, Eearion Brooks and Reece Badgett.

All in all, it was a quality event, but of course I would expect nothing less from Coach Q!

Photo Gallery

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Buckeyes Crack NYBL Top 100

Jeremiah Francis-#1 PG

Late last night, the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) dropped their list of the top 135 7th graders (2019) in the country. The list highlights the top 100 players in the class, including a 35-player “Watch List.” In addition, the NYBL list ranks the players by position. To date, the NYBL list is the most extensive, as the league seeks to become the primary authority on the talent in the class.

Among the list of 135 players, 10 Buckeyes made the cut. The highest ranked Ohio kid is the #6th ranked Jeremiah Francis (5’11 PG Pickerington) who the NYBL also ranks as the #1 PG in the class. Francis had a breakout season in the NYBL and raised his stock with an improved shot and ability to get to the rack and finish. Right behind Francis is the #10 ranked Jordan Mitchell (6’2 WF Gahanna). Like Francis, Mitchell solidified his himself as a top 10 player with an impressive showing during the NYBL. Mitchell also had a big time weekend at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.
Jordan Mitchell-Ranked #10

The third Buckeye on the list was Gerard Reynolds (6’0 C Columbus). Reynolds got out of the gate quickly at NYBL’s session #1 in Washington DC, where his outstanding play garnered him “Session MVP” honors. Although undersized for his position, Gerard was simply too strong in the post for most of his defenders. Strong with good feet and hands best describes Reynolds’ game. Cincinnati’s Chris’Seon Stringer (5’11 PF) checks in at #64 overall and the #12 power forward. “Grown Man” is what they call him and his play during the NYBL and the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase backed up his nick name. Stringer is only a jump shot away from being special. Strong to the cup and athletic is Stringer’s calling card.

Alfonse Hale-Clevelenad PG

Cleveland’s Alfones Hale (5’6 PG), Chris Payne (6’0 PF Cincinnati), and Joey Edmonds (5’5 PG Cincinnati) round out the Buckeyes in top 100. Included in the NYBL’s Watch List are Cleveland’s Josiah Hitchens (5’9 WF), Justin Smith (6’0 PF Cleveland) and Payton Harris (6’0 PF Springfield). Look for the above players to continue to shine during season two of the NYBL set to tip off in Washington DC in March of 2014. Congratulations to all of the above mentioned players for representing the Buckeye State in the National Youth Basketball League!

NYBLTop 100 List

Sunday, October 6, 2013

NYBL Release 2014 Sesssion Dates, Locations and new Website

Season #2 of National Youth Basketball League Promises More Competition & Exposure

Columbus, Ohio (October 6, 2014) – Season #2 of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) promises even more competition and exposure, as the league will expand from 3 sessions and one 24-team division, to 4 sessions and up to 100 teams in 3 grade divisions. Beginning in Washington DC on March 22, 2014, the league plans to host 40 seventh grade teams (2019), 32-40 sixth grade teams (2020) and 20 fifth grade teams (2021). In terms of the competitiveness of the league last season, of the 8 teams that advanced to Elite 8 at the 6th grade AAU Nationals in Jully, 7 of those teams participated in the NYBL this year, including both teams in the tournament finals and the reigning Nationals Champions!

As was the case in the inaugural season, the level of exposure generated by the NYBL will be unprecedented, as the league will partner with more of the major media outlets the traditionally cover middle school basketball. Not only will media outlets such as Basketball Spotlight, Dunk Dog, Buckeye Prep Report, Middle School Hoops and the Hoops Report be covering every move the NYBL makes, but the league’s new official website will be offering more coverage including session-by-session recaps, top performer lists, player and team profiles, special feature stories as well as national individual and team rankings. In fact, the NYBL will soon publish its list of the top 100 players in the class of 2019 on its official website.

In terms of the format, the same basic principles will be in place for season #2. Each of the teams in their respective divisions will be divided into four, 5-10 team divisions (depending on the division), and during each of 4 sessions, each team will play a total of 5 games (3 games on Saturday and 2 games on Sunday) against teams from an opposing division. Team standings, individual player stats, team and individual player profiles and photo galleries will be posted on the NYBL’s new website (, and at the conclusion of the first 3 sessions, the NYBL will culminate in a national championship in Columbus, Ohio the weekend of June 7th & 8th 2014. Because the league will feature most of the nation’s top teams in each grade division, session #4 will be considered a true “National Championship!”

New in 2014, the NYBL will host a stand-alone “NYBL All-Star Weekend,” which will include 2 all-star games per class (Top 20 & Top 40), a skills & drills camp and activities for coaches and parents. Every player who participates in the league will be invited to participate in the event. The “NYBL All-Star Weekend” is tentatively scheduled for Washington DC in August 2014. Stay tuned for more details. Below is a complete list of the session dates and locations:

2014 NYBL Session Dates & Locations:

Session #1                             March 22 – March 23, 2014                            Washington DC
Session #2                             May 3 – May 4, 2014                                        Atlanta, Georgia
Session #3                             May 17 – May 18, 2014                                    Louisville, Kentucky
Session #4                             June 7 – June 8, 2014,                                       Columbus, Ohio
All-Star Weekend               August 15 – August 17, 2014                           Washington DC

Tier 1 Sports Camp Emphasizes Skill Development

Coach Quincy Simpson will be hosting his Tier 1 Sports Camp on October 19, 2013 in Lima, Ohio. Click on the link below to view information about the event.

Ohio Hoopsters Fall League Boasts Talent

Jerome Hunter-2018 Monroe MS

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to check out some of the action at the Ohio Hoopsters’s Fall basketball League at New Covenant Church in Columbus.  For three years now, Lamont Tillman and Tony Lavender have hosted the fall league, and in each of those years the league has experienced significant growth. This year, the 8-week league has 44 teams and about 450 kids in grades 3rd-12th. According to Tillman, “the league has continued to grow because 90% of the top kids in 8th grade and below in the city are in the league, and the top kids want to play against the top kids.”

Although I did not get a chance to spend a lot of time in the gym on Saturday, while I was there a few kids caught my eye. I checked out a very competive 7th/8th grade game between the Cavs and the Rockets.  The Cavs boasted a stacked roster that included Pickerington’s Jeremiah Francis and Gahanna’s Gerard Reynolds, both of whom were dominate in the game, while pacing their squad to the win. As he did this summer in the NYBL, Francis scored in bunches with strong drives to the cup while Reynolds was beast in the paint and finished often around the bucket.
Jeremiah Francis-2019 Pickerington

Although Reynolds and Francis are the headlines, they are surrounded with talent with 2018’s Jerome Hunter (6’2 WF/PF Monroe MS) and 2019’s N’Keeley Elmore (4’8 PG), both 8th graders. I’ve seen the speedy Elmore before, but Saturday was the first opportunity I had to see Hunter, who has only been in Columbus for about 2 years.  Hunter may still be flying under the radar for now, but that will soon change as Hunter as significant upside potential! From what I saw this weekend, Hunter has good length, is very skilled and has a great motor. Hhe also has a nice looking shot, can execute on the pick and pop, has a solid midrange game and a high IQ.  That’s not all; he can guard multiple positions, blocks a lot of shots and runs the floor very well for his size. I plan to keep an eye on this kid; he could be a good one going forward if he continues to develop!

Antonio Green-5'3 PG Columbus City Prep

I was also impressed with Coach Leon Towns’ Rocket team which featured a highly skilled Antonio Green (5’3 PG Columbus City Prep). I was truly impressed with Green’s feel for the game and high IQ. He was also very poised, and did a great job getting his teammates involved. He rarely turned the ball over, found open guys and also scored the ball. Green has the ball on a string and is equipped with several quality dribble moves he uses to gain separation from his defender. Green has nice little floater and a nasty step back shot. He did a great job working off screens, and when his defender went under the screen, he read it correctly and knocked down the jumper consistently. Green is really fun to watch, and should have his way with opposing guards during the upcoming middle school season.

Jejuan Weatherspoon-6'0 SG/WF Columbus

In addition to Green, the Rockets have a good one with 2018’s Jejuan Weatherspoon (6’0 SG/WF Sherwood MS). If that name sounds familiar it should, as Jejuan is the younger brother of Toledo’s JD Weatherspoon. He may not be as explosive as his older brother at this point in his development, but Weatherspoon is very athletic, has a solid handle and displayed a nice looking shot. Weatherspoon was also very aggressive and was good at attacking the basket. As was the case with his brother, look for Weatherspoon to continue to develop his skill set and to make his own name in central Ohio basketball.  Hopefully I will get another opportunity to catch more of the action at the Hoopster’s fall league.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Rankings

Omari Spellman (2015) Had Another Great Camp

The 2013 Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase was the biggest and most competitive event to date, as over 400 elite 6th-12th graders converged on Central Crossing High School in suburban Columbus, Ohio intent on showcasing their talent to scouting services and college coaches. Not only did the players hail from several areas of the country, the event attracted international talent with the participation of a Canadian all-star team. Day one of the event featured a series of all-star games including interstate and international rivalry match-ups between Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Canada. Also included in the Saturday games were intrastate battles between northern and southern Ohio in grades 9th-12th.

Derek Funderburk (2016) Shined

Saturday’s lineup also included 2 National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) all-star games featuring the top 40 players from the inaugural season of the elite league. Additionally, a couple of unique features of the showcase included a 2 hour recruiting seminar put on by Deon Johnson on Saturday, and a Sunday presentation by the NCAA’s Jeremy McCool. Both segments provided parents, coaches and players with invaluable information designed to assist them in obtaining their goals of a college scholarship. Early Saturday evening the showcase games tipped off and the level of competition remained high. The showcase resumed on Sunday morning and culminated in final all-star games in each of the 5 divisions late Sunday afternoon.
Coulter Dotson (2018) Was Impressive

Because the many standout performances during the weekend have been well documented by the numerous scouting services that attended the event, we will conclude our event coverage with are final showcase rankings. Below is a link to those rankings.  In terms of our approach, the rankings were compiled using the team evaluation/ranking sheets which were completed by the player’s respective coaches. Basically players ranked either 1st or 2nd on their teams were ranked in the top 20, while players ranked 3rd or 4th were ranked in the top 40.  There were a few exceptions depending on the number of teams in a division, and where there were fewer teams in a division,  some 3rd ranked players made the top 20 and some 5th ranked players cracked the top 40.

Zion Harmon (2021) Made Some Noise

In addition to the top 20 and top 40 rankings, coaches were asked to select players for specialty awards such as “Top Prospect,” “Most Skilled,” “Best Defender,” and other attributes. Our system is not fail proof, but for the most part, the system accurately identified most of the players who performed well over the weekend. Finally, in order to better define the top players, the names highlighted in red denotes top 10 performers. Again, these rankings are based on the team rankings as seen by the coaches. In closing, congratulations to all of the players that appear in the rankings; with so much talent in the gym, to be singled out in these rankings is a huge accomplishment. See you at our fall showcase on March 2, 2014!