Saturday, November 16, 2013

Middle School Preview Marks Tip Off of Basketball Season

Bwerwick vs Westeville Genoa
For the last 8 years, one of the sure signs that the Columbus City League middle school season is just around the corner is the tip off of the annual Africentric Early College Middle School Boys Basketball Preview.  Friday night, approximately 300 fans packed the Africentric High School gym to see 10 Columbus-area middle schools debut their 2013/2014 squads. Africentric Head Coach Mike Bates inherited the event from a rival high school, and has continued to provide a competitive forum for Columbus middle school basketball.  In terms of the format, 10 teams participated in the event, which included two, 6-minute halves. The following were the matchups on Friday:   Starling vs Indianola K-8; KIPP Academy vs. Boys City Preps; Johnson Park vs. Westerville Genoa (7th); Berwick K-8 vs. Westerville Genoa (8th); and Africentric  vs. Columbus Arts & Tech.

The opening game featured a matchup between Starling and Indianola. Indianola would take an 11-8 lead into the break and would go on to collect the win.  Although there was no elite talent on either team, Indianola’s Ricardo Volley (5’4 PG), an 8th grader, led all scorers with 8 points.

Ty Wiley Excited the Crowd
Game #2 pitted KIPP Academy against Boys City Prep. Very early, Boys City Preps was clearly the team to beat based on their length, plus the fact their roster included one of the top 8th grade point guards in the state in Ty Wiley (5’7 PG).   The more talented Boys City Preps led at halftime 13-7 and by the time the horn sounded on the game, Preps had secured the 25-14 win.  His shot was off and he only scored 3 points, but Wiley was clearly the most talented player on the court. On a couple occasions Wiley excited the crowd with his tight handle, dribble moves and his ability to drop dimes to open teammates. Although Wiley was the only elite player in the game, there were several other prospects that could emerge down the road. Keep an eye on Stanley Williams (6’3 C). Williams led with a game-high 6 points, and is more potential than production right now, but at 6’3 in the 8th grade, he could end up being a good one in a couple years. Dennis Peterson (6’0 WF), Na’elle Simmons (6’0 C 7th grader), Jordan Barrett (5’11 WF), Tyrique Tribble (5’10 WF) and Antonio Green (5’3 PG) could all turn out to be quality players going forward.

In the third game of the night, Johnson Park blew by Westerville Genoa 30-5.  There is not much to say about this one as the game was never in doubt. A couple of players to watch include: Chernor Bah (6’1 C) and Keon Dooley (5’6 PG/SG). Bah finished with 7 points and Dooley added 5.

Jeremiah Francis-5'11 PG
The 4th game on the slate was a Berwick Alterative vs Westerville Genoa matchup. Although Westerville was surprisingly competitive early, Berwick would lead at the break 14-8, and would later extend the lead to 26-12 as time ran out. Berwick was led by Jeremiah Francis (5’11 PG), arguably the top floor general in the state in the class of 2019.  Francis did not disappoint as he hit floaters, dropped dimes and bullied his way to a game-high 9 points. Every time I attend an event I hope to discover fresh new talent that I can introduce to our readers. Well, Westerville’s Solomon Pierre-Louis (6’1 WF) is a name to remember! Pierre-Louis has significant upside potential with his size, skill set and athleticism. The kid has good length, can play multiple positions, pushes the ball on the break and passes well for his size. He was really more of a point forward on Friday. I’m not sure anybody know about this kid, but I trust that AAU coaches will be blowing up his phone soon. Also keep an eye out for Isaiah Hairston (6’1 WF). The brother of Northland’s Ty Hairston, Isaiah has more length at this point and could develop into something special with continued growth and development.

Solomon Pierre-Louis-6'1 WF Westerville
The finale was not much of a game, as Columbus Arts & Tech trounced Africentric 24-7. The only notable aspect of this game was the play of Jabohe Garcia (5’10 SG). Garcia, only a 7th grader, could be a good prospect in the future. Blessed with good length for his position, ball skills and vision, Garcia has a ton of potential.  

Although there was not a ton of individual talent or many household names at this event, there were a number of intriguing prospects who could emerge as players in a couple of years. Many of the kids I featured in this recap are very raw, but with these types of players, once they get to high school, they often turn out to be solid college prospects. Congratulations to Coach Mike Bates and his staff for hosting a nice event.

Pictured Below: Jabohe Garcia, Ricardo Volley & Chernor Bah

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