Monday, December 29, 2014

John Stovall's Ohio High School Team Rankings

Below are Ohio high school team rankings developed by John Stovall.  Enjoy!

Division 1

1.     Huber Heights Wayne - no one compares to them....on paper

2.    Westerville South - deep, athletic and skilled

3.    Gahanna Lincoln - Big and talented. Will go as far as the backcourt can take them

4.    Lakewood St. Edward - Great frontcourt. Backcourt??

5.    Garfield Heights - A year away....who says!?

6.    Shaker Heights - They have the most unguardable player in Ohio. Don't believe me, ask any coach that has                                               played them.

7.    Columbus Northland - Talented. Good size and skill

8.    Massillon Jackson - Another young team with a lot of great pieces.

9.    West Chester Lakota East - Huge. They can shoot and rebound.

10.  Dublin Coffman - Solid squad that simply wins

11.  Wilmington - The Cumberlands!

12.  New Albany - A lot like Coffman. They are good and will not beat themselves.

13.  Warren Harding - Nice size and talent. Consistency will be the key.

14.  Toledo St. John - Solid squad, coached by a legend. When he has talent they are very good.

15.  Pickerington Central - Talented squad trying to figure it out. Once they figure out their roles they will be scary. Long and athletic.

16.  Cincinnati Moeller - Good squad. Move them up 5 to 10 spots if Fowler returns.

17.  Lima Senior - Tough and athletic team. Will improve after the first 11 games. Will be hard to beat come tournament time.

18.  Columbus Mifflin - Tough and disciplined team. Defense is the key. Scoring will define them.

19.  Cleveland St. Ignatius - Another tough team. May be a year away.

20.  Cleveland East Tech - They can score. Can they guard?

Division 2

1.    Akron SVSM - Team full of guards that is hard to guard

2.    Dayton Dunbar - One of the best programs in the state. They churn out top 5 squads every year.

3.    Cleveland Central Catholic - part of the 3 headed monster in D2

4.    Columbus Walnut Ridge - Talented squad of Juniors

5.    Franklin - Luke Kennard....nuff said

6.    Dayton Ponitz - Solid senior laden squad. Tough.

7.    Dayton Thurgood Marshall - Good squad that will improve after the first 11 games. Tough out come tournament time.

8.    Kettering Alter - Once they recover from Football this will be a very tough squad.

9.    Toledo Scott - Them or Defiance are the best 2 in Northwest Ohio in D2.

10,  Columbus DeSales - Will be pretty good once Sanchez returns

Division 3

1.    Cleveland VASJ - Best team in D3 on paper hands down. Arguably the best team in the state.

2.    Lima Central Catholic - A D3 championship could be in the making. VASJ has almost everyone back. LCC lost their top 2 scorers.

3.    Warrensville - Hall, Peters and Howze are tough to stop in D3

4.    Youngstown Ursuline - Great team in the Northeast corner of the state.

5.    Dayton Chaminade-Julienne - Tough, well coached bunch with inside/outside threats

6.    Cincinnati Shroder - Has the best PG in D3

7.    Dayton Stivers - Solid talent. Need consistency.

8.    Cincinnati Roger Bacon - Young squad could put it all together come tournament time.

9.    Versailles - Any team with Ahrens has a chance in D3.

10.  Ottawa Glandorf - See above and insert Bramlage for Ahrens.

Division 4

1.    Columbus Africentric - No one else in D4 has 3 Division 1 college talents.

2.    Canal Winchester Harvest Prep - Dennis is an absolute stud in D4

3.    Cincinnati Aiken - Was #1 before Cameron Moore left. Still very good

4.    New Madison Tri Village - Mr. Inside (Cook) and Mr. Outside (Linkous)

5.    Maria Stein Marion Local - Huge for a D4 team. Shoot, they are huge for a D1 team

6.    Spencerville - No one know but these guys are good.

7.    Louisville Aquinas - Last year's final 4 team could be back.

8.    Peebles - Justice may be served.

9.    Malvern - Nice in the middle with Loomis

10.  Plymouth - Edminston and Beebe lead.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Aman Possess an Old School Game

Tariq Aman-2019 PG Texas
In an age where point guards are often more concerned with leading their team in scoring rather than distributing to teammates, true PGs seem to be a dying breed. Tariq Aman (5’8/PG/TX) is a throw back of sorts based on his pass first approach to the game.  This past September at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, Aman stood out from the pack with his vision and his willingness and ability to find open teammates. For his efforts, Aman was selected to the 2019 Top 60 All-Star game, and if that was not enough, Aman performed so well he was honored with a prestigious Top 5 Award, and was ranked among the top 40 in a very competitive 8th grade division.  In his evaluation of the young guard, Aman's showcase coach submitted the following evaluation: “High IQ, a great decision maker, handles, true PG and high productivity.”

As the starting floor general for Team Business (3-D Sports) Aman’s high IQ allows him to serve as a coach on the floor.  Head Coach Kevin Butler is one of Aman’s biggest fans, and offered the following assessment: "Tariq is a hard working young man who is very coachable and teachable.  He wants to get better and does things on his own to improve his game.  He's 100% self motivated and is like a sponge.  Tariq is a highly skilled point guard for his age group.  He has high school varsity level skills as an 8th grader.  His basketball IQ is off the charts and understands the game the right way.  He will help any coach win games,” Butler said.  Other key pieces to Aman’s Team Bizness squad include guards Maxwell Abmas and Byron Schoby, and big men Jaylen Thomas and Reuben Mupandasekwa.

Aman has been playing basketball since the 5th grade and the people most familiar with his game describe him as a hard worker who “wants to include his teammates and make them better.  "Team" is a word he takes to heart and believes that no one player makes the team; it's a collaborative effort.”  Moreover, those same observers have compared his game to NBA point guard, Kenny Anderson.  Some of the point guards Aman admires and studies are Pistol Pete Maravich, Magic Johnson, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and, of course, Stephen Curry.  Aman’s father describes his game as a "cross between a Chris Paul and Tony Parker.  Both of these point guards like to involve their teammates and that is Tariq in a nutshell,” said the elder Aman.

Aman’s success has translated to middle school ball as well as evidenced by his MVP selection last season for his 7th grade team in the Carrollton Farmers Branch School District.  Additionally, this year, Aman is the starting PG for his undefeated Barbara Bush Middle School team in Irving, TX. In addition to the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, the Texas product has attended several elite camps (i.e., Lucas, Jr. Phenom etc) around the country where he has consistently excelled at a high level.  In fact, a perianal all-star at such events, Aman’s reputation both in Texas and nationally is growing. When his Team Bizness squad debuts in the National YouthBasketball League (NYBL) in March Aman will be offered the opportunity to compete against the best guards in the nation, and will be presented with the chance to further develop his game. He's not yet cracked national top 100 lists, but with continued development and exposure, it's only a matter of time until Aman is in those discussions!

Friday, December 19, 2014

BMore’s Finest Poised for a Big Year

 Baltimore's Finest-2021
Any discussion about elite 2021 teams has to include Baltimore's Finest. I had the pleasure of interviewing Coach Donnell “Mookie” Dobbins, who in the past three years has built a reputation as one of the most prolific grassroots basketball coaches in the country.  Dobbins is the Grassroots Coordinator and head coach of the 3rd and 6th grade teams for the Under Armour sponsored BMore’s Finest program.  As most basketball fans know, BMore’s Finest has established itself as one of the premier programs in the DC/MD/VA area, and the DMV is celebrated as one of the most talented and competitive regions in the nation.

Coach Mookie was humble when I inquired about his 3rd grade squad who are currently ranked #5 nationally after a superb showing in the 2nd grade National Championship Tournament.   However when I mentioned his 6th Grade mob, his eyes lit up like Time Square on New Years Eve.  According to Dobbins, “These boys are a special group of kids.”  The 6th grade Bmore’s Finest team placed 12th in the 5th Grade National Championship Tournament last season, but with the new aged-based AAU rule changes, they could be a front runner to win the national title in 2015.   The team doesn’t lose any players from its 2014 loaded roster, a roster that included 6 nationally ranked players.  In fact, half the roster will not return 12 years old until mid 2015!

During the 2013-2014 campaign, this squad successfully swept the nation collecting championships including the All-Ohio Red Nike Cup (OH), defeating nationally ranked All Ohio Red, AGAME Super Shootout (PA) and the Rumble in the Bronx (NYC).  Dobbins attributes the team's overall success to its depth.  The 6th grade BMore’s Finest team is amazingly assembled with quick, athletic, small guards like Karell Booker, Ahmad Harrison and Chase McWhite; a pair of three-point snipers in Bryce Lindsay and Chris Winborne and twin towers Malik Missouri and Julian Reese. With the addition of Christian Moore, by way of the Tidewater Wildcats (VA), this may be one of the most potent teams in the country next season.  The team is often identified by its tenacious ball pressure. Dobbins' defensive philosophy mandates that whoever is in front gets the ball, and always look for the next pass.  It’s very rare to find a group of young kids that understands the importance of making the extra pass, especially when individual scoring is at the forefront of youth sports.

When asked about his key player, Dobbins mentioned Ahmad Harrison and accredited such high praise to Harrison because of his competitive nature and versatility.  According to Dobbins, Harrison habitually assumes responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best player, while playing all five positions offensively.  In addition, Dobbins pointed out that the awkward multi-positioned point forward has tremendous upside and will continue to leave his imprint on the circuit if he maintains the selfless attitude he has exhibited up to this point in his young career. “The sky’s the limit for this team in its entirety; I expect every member of this team to earn a college scholarship and excel both academically and athletically,” said Dobbins.

When asked is there any other place he’d rather be besides coaching, Dobbins replied, “If you would’ve asked me this very same question about 5-6 years ago I would undoubtedly requested another shot at my own professional basketball career, but in this juncture of my life, aside from my children, nothing is more gratifying then being able to positively influence this group of young men and help them develop on and off the court.”  Their team chemistry and brotherly bond are great to watch.  If they are coming to a city near you this season, I advise you to get your popcorn ready.  You can catch Bmore's Finest in action in March when the season three of NYBL tips off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Illinois' Lance Jones Demands Attention

Lance Jones Jr-2019
One of the things we enjoy the most is seeing talent for the first time. Although Lance Jones (5’9/SG/IL) has established himself as one of the top players in the country, we have only recently been able to evaluate his talent. The Evanston, Illinois product came to our attention after he logged in a standout performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September. During his stay in Columbus, Jones impressed us with his skill set, ability to shoot the rock from deep, and his elite motor.  In fact, Jones was so impressive, he was ranked among the top 20 in the 2019 division, which was absolutely loaded with nationally ranked players. As further reward for his outstanding play, Jones was selected to the prestigious showcase all-star team (DNP), and was named “Most Skilled” and "Mr. Hustle” by his coach.

Last season, Jones ran with the We All-Can Go All-Stars, but in 2015 he will stick closer to home and play with the Waukegan, Ill-based Future Elite. According to Coach Andre White Sr., Jones has an all around game, a high basketball IQ. He also describes Jones as quick, strong, with the ability to "attack the rack like a man." Andre White Jr, (5'7/PG/IL) a crafty PG with the ability to break down the defense and drive, dish or score, will join Jones in the backcourt. White is also ranked among the top guards in the talent rich state of Illinois.  Joining Jones and White on the team is Bryant Brown (6'3/PF/IL) who also attended the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September and played his way into the all-star game. Jones is more than just a basketball player as he is an honor roll student and appears to be a good kid from a good family. As he competes on the big stage, Jones will continue to draw attention from national media outlets.  In fact, the NYBL currently ranks Jones #79 overall and #16 among point guards. Jones is also tops in his home state of Illinois, as he is ranked in the top 5 overall and as one of the top 2-3 guards.

Recently, Jones duplicated his outstanding performance from Columbus with another great outing at Ricky Moore’s Illinois Top Prospect Camp.  At the invitation only event, which attracted about 80 elite middle school players, Jones’ play garnered him Co-MYP honors along with Chicago’s Markese Jacobs (5’11/PG/Chicago).  According to Jr. Hoops Elite’s Ricky Moore, Jones’ ability to shoot from deep sets him apart from others in his class.  "When I say deep, I mean really deep," stated Moore. Moore also described Jones as a “pure scorer.” When Jones’ Future Elite squad makes its debut in the NYBL in March, Jones will get another opportunity to compete against the best players in the nation and to raise his stock even higher.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dayton Duo Represent Talent Rich Area

Amari Davis and Sam Anderson Jr.
It should come as know surprise that the Dayton, Ohio area has always been a hotbed for hoops talent. For different reasons, the Gem City’s Amari Davis (6’0/WF/Trotwood/2019) and Sam Anderson Jr. (5’7/P/SG/Trotwood/2020) have yet to receive their much-deserved recognition. For Davis, All-Ohio Red’s loaded roster is to blame for Davis flying under the radar.  Always athletic, Davis has continued to develop his skill set. In addition, his play during the 2014 NYBL season and at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase clearly demonstrates his long-term potential.  In fact, during session #1 in Washington D.C. in March, Davis’ standout performance was met with rave reviews.

Davis has a knack for scoring but he can also defend at a high level.  Already this middle school season Davis is putting up big numbers for Trotwood Middle School and is averaging over 33 points after 2 games.  Although he is ranked 82nd overall and 25th among shooting guards by the NYBL and is ranked in the top 10 in the state by Buckeye Prep, Davis remains undervalued. You heard it hear first, Davis could be playing high major ball in a few years!

Sam Anderson Jr. is clearly a victim of under exposure.  Because he has not yet embraced the elite camp and showcase circuit, and his OBC/Dayton Swish squad does not play a national tournament schedule, the dynamic guard remains a hidden gem.  The last time we saw him he was leading his team to an upset victory over a very talented Mid Ohio Pumas team as well as a runner up finish at the Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament. Although his Dayton-area team would lose to the eventual tournament champions, Team Teague, Davis balled out on his way to All-Tournament Team honors. 

Anderson is quick, has an elite handle and excels at getting into the paint and scoring. As we see more of Anderson, we expect his statewide and national ranking to rise.  Before we close, we have to mention a few other Dayton-area guys who deserve some attention.  Willieon Yates (5'4/PG/Miamisburg), Savon O’Neal (5'1/PG/Miamisburg), Carter Mims (4'10/PG/Dayton), Keyshawn Hughley (5'7/WF/Dayton) and Keon’ite Hughley (5'4/P/SG/Dayton) are all talented, are all top 30 ranked statewide, and all have the potential to emerge going forward.  In the next few weeks, we will continue to feature players and teams that are under the radar.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mid-Ohio Pumas Load up for 2015

Mid Ohio Pumas (not all players pictured)
When the Mid-Ohio Pumas take the court early next year they will do so with an upgraded roster.  Already one of the top 2020 teams in the country last season, the Columbus, Ohio based squad will be loaded with talent. Coach Dave Mirgon’s team is not flashy and may not scare anybody getting off the bus; however, his team is well coached, fundamentally sound, plays hard and is difficult to beat. “We play team basketball. We are balanced in scoring and work very hard to out execute our opponents,” Mirgon said. “We have several coaches sons who grew up in the gym and know how to play the game.  We have high IQ guys,” continued Mirgon.

Last season the Pumas accumulated an impressive 72-5 record. Those 5 losses came to elite teams like George Hill, We All Can Go (WACG) and Team Teague.  The Puma’s list of tournament championships is extensive, including the following titles Ohio AAU State Qualifier; Ft Wayne Tip Off Classic; Dayton Metro; Ft. Wayne MLK Classic; Midwest Classic; New Albany Classic; Hilliard Classic; OYB Championship; and Tri Village Classic.  In addition to their titles, the Pumas just missed on a couple of other tournaments, including runner-up finishes at the Bearcat Classic and  WACG tournament in Nashville and a 3rd place finish at the Buckeye Prep Invitational.

The Pumas return with a team that has played together for 5 years. Returning for the Pumas are: Jack Pugh (6’1/WF/Plain City); Matt Allocco (5’4/PG/Hilliard); Jack Santa Emma (5’4/PG/Plan City); Cameron McReary (5’11/WF/Bucyrus); Chris Mayfield (6’0/PF/Delaware); Noah Platfoot (5’6/SG/Hilliard); and AJ Mirgon (5’4/SG/Hilliard/2021). Although the Puma name brand may not be a household name, 3 players on the roster are already ranked nationally (Pugh, Allocco & Mott). Although not all are nationally recognized at this point, many are still ranked among the elite in Ohio (Ohio 2020 Rankings). For the 2015 season, the Pumas have added size to their frontcourt with the addition of Jason Morton (6’7/C/Cincinnati) and Chance Mott (6’4/PF/Mansfield).  Mott was a standout for the Mansfiels Cavs in the NYBL last year, while Morton ran with the George Hill Rising Stars.

Jack Pugh, Matt Allocco & Chance Mott
Along with adding one of the best floor generals in the country in Matt Allocco, the Pumas also add his father as to the bench.  This is relevant because Greg Allocco is a well respected high school coach in the area.  Also in the program is coach Tony Staib, the head coach at Gahanna Lincoln High School, another storied program. The fact that the Pumas enjoy high level coaching could make them a very tough out this coming season. In the NYBL, the Pumas will most resemble San Diego Select in terms of how they play and approach the game. In addition, Mirgon compares his team to one of top teams in the NBA. “We are the youth version of the Spurs,” offered Mirgon.

When the (NYBL) tips off in March, the Pumas will likely establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Migron is confident his team can compete against the nation’s best. “I know we can play with the best teams. Adding [Matt] Allocco and [Chance] Mott…I feel pretty good,” Mirgon said. “I expect the 7th grade team to be a top 5 team in the NYBL,” continued Mirgon. “We are never going to walk on the court with the top teams in the country and win the athlete match-up, but don’t get me wrong, we can get up and down the court and we have athletes, and we still pride ourselves on execution, Mirgon said.  Not only will the 2020 Pumas be battling against the best when the NYBL tips off early next season, but their 2021 team is also shaping up nicely and is ready to compete nationally.   Some of the standout on that team includes: Jack Sawyer; Casey George; AJ Mirgon; Kobe Buford; Garner Wallace; and Lorenzo Styles.  Look of the Mid Ohio puma organization to make some noise nationally in 2015!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bradley and Tribble Under Appreciated

DeMarco Bradley Jr. & Greg Tribble Jr.
For several years now, All-Ohio Red (2019) has been one of the best teams in the country. Names often synonymous with that success have been guys like Jerimiah Francis, Jordan Mitchell and Chris'sen Stringer. Not often mentioned is the role that All-Oho's backup players perform.  DeMarco Bradley Jr. (5'5/PG/Cincinnati) and Greg Tribble Jr. (5'5/PG/Cincinnati) are a couple of those role players that are often overlooked and under appreciated.  The diminutive guard duo has enjoyed a great deal of success over the past several years, and as the backcourt for the now defunct All-Ohio Purple, Bradley and Tribble had their hands on the controls of one the elite teams in the class.

In September, Bradley's performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase did not go unnoticed by the media.  During the event, Bradley displayed toughness, quickness, a solid handle and the willingness to distribute the ball. In addition, he plays hard, rarely coughs of the rock and his on-ball defense is relentless. As a reward for his performance at the showcase, Bradley was selected to the Top 60 All-Star Game. As a backup, when inserted into games this past NYBL season, Bradley brought stability and helped All-Ohio Red maintain their signature defensive pressure. As a coach's son, Bradley is expected to make good decisions and to hold down the fort until that starters return, and he routinely gets that done. He may be a backup on his current squad, but Bradley has enough talent to be a starter on a number of other teams.

Many of the same attributes attributed to Bradley can be said about Greg Tribble Jr.  Much like Bradley, the undersized PG is super quick, has a superb handle, and can really bring the heat defensively. Tribble seems to attack the cup a little bit more than Bradley and is very adept at scoring the ball.  Tribble also can knock down the perimeter shot if left open. Tribble also logged in a standout performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in September as evidenced by his Top 30 All-Star Game selection and top 20 ranking.  While playing against the best players at the event, Tribble excelled and proved he could compete against the best if given the opportunity. Also, Bradley and Tribble were both tabbed to participate in the NYBL Top 60 All-Star Game. With continued growth and development, both Bradley and Tribble have the potential to play college ball at some level.  It's way too early to predict high major D-I potential, but a solid basketball career is a reality for both Bradley and Tribble.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

San Diego Select Prepares to Head East

San Diego Select 2020-Already 17-0 this Season
In an age where super teams rule the circuit, San Diego Select 2020, with a roster of players who all reside in the city, has established itself as one of the top 7th grade teams in the country. Exhibit #1, San Diego Select is currently the 4th ranked team on the west coast according to West Coast Elite 25. Also, this past June, San Diego was 1 win away from playing in the 9th/11th place game after falling to Rip City 48-46 in the second round consolation bracket.  In addition, AAU’s Power Rankings currently rank San Diego 11th nationally. 

Exhibit #2, San Diego finished 74-6 last season with 6 tournament championships, including a title at the Aces Coca Cola Nationals in June, and a final 4 finish at the Gym Rats Presidents Day tourney in Portland, OR.  Exhibit #3, San Diego is already 17-0 this season with 2 tournament championships. Additionally,  a majority of the teams they have beaten so far this season were 8th grade teams. Finally, last season, San Diego participated in the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) as a fill-in team in session #2 in Atlanta, GA, and over the course of the weekend, competed at a high level and finished the weekend 5-0 against a rugged South Division.

Coach Steve Wade’s team is well coached and well constructed, with a prototypical PG, a scoring wing and two rim protectors and rebounding machines. According to Wade, his team is founded on the concept of developing first and winning second. “We have a hand selected group of kids that have been together for 2 years. We practice a lot and we believe in 80% development and 20% winning. We are team first and I’m proud of the,” offered Wade.

Alex Wade, Thomas Notarainni, Chibuzo Agob & Obinna Anyanwu
Wade has a core of 6-8 players that he really feels good about. Anchoring the paint are twin towers Chibuzo Agob (6’3/PF/CA) and Obinna Anyanwu (6’3/C/CA).  Both Agbo and Anyanwu are big, strong, athletic and aggressive, and provide San Diego with interior scoring, rebounding and rim protection. The coach’s son, Alex Wade (5’0/PG/CA), is a pure PG with a high basketball IQ and ability to get into the paint and find open teammates. He's diminutive, but Wade is quick, smart and knows how to run a team. Thomas Notarainni (6’0/WF/CA) is a scoring wing that can either drive to the cup or shoot from long range.  Highly skilled with a scorer’s mentality, Notarainni can really light up the scoreboard when he gets hot.  According to Wade, Notaraini has made a big jump in his development over the past several months and is poised for a breakout season. His playmaking ability has really increased," Wade said.

Wade is also really excited about the development of Benon “BJ” Riley (5’9/P/SG/CA), who is a returner from last year’s team. “BJ has really broke out. He has really developed, is more athletic and will be a big combo guard for us, this season” Wade said. Also returning is Kobe Sanders (5’5/SG/CA) who has continued to develop as a knock down 3-point shooter.  "Kobe has a high IQ and really knocked down some big shots for us last season,” said Wade.  New to the squad is Jack Rottler (6’2/WF/Orange County), who Wade feels will help with the team’s depth. The rest of the San Diego Select roster includes: DJ Carter-Holenger (6’2/SG/CA); Brandon Angel (5’8/SG/CA); and Ziarire Williams (5’9/SG/CA).

San Diego could have an opportunity to avenge its loss to Rip City this upcoming season, as both teams will be participating in the NYBL when the season tips off in March. Judging from their success in session # 2 last season, Select has a great chance to not only compete in the ultracompetitive NYBL, but also contend for a NYBL national championship.  Coach Wade has high expectations for the NYBL this season. “The expectation going into it [NYBL] will be to win it. We will be a top 4 team,” said Wade. Although Wade’s ultimate goal is a NYBL National Championship, his goals also include a deep run at the AAU Nationals next year. “It’s [playing in the NYBL] about getting better,” Wade said. "We can’t find anything like this [competition] at AAU. We are looking to get battle tested [in the NYBL]. We will be the youngest team in the NYBL, and our kids will execute and play hard,” continued Wade. There are only a few more months until Wade’s team can begin working on their goals, and we plan to be there to cover the action.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Goodwin Commits to Ohio State

Dane Goodwin Displays MVP Trophy
It's still very early, but the  Ohio State University coaching staff saw enough to extend a scholarship offer to a local freshmen before he ever took the floor for a varsity game. Today, Dane Goodwin (6'4/WF/Upper Arlington) accepted Ohio State's offer and plans to become a Buckeye in a couple of years. Over the past few seasons, Goodwin was the engine that drove a very talented Excel squad that proved to be one of the best 2018 teams in the country. Fundamentally sound, with a great stroke and high basketball IQ, Goodwin's stock went though the roof late last season on the travel circuit. Ohio State was not the only big time program to take a look at Goodwin, as programs like Dayton, Notre Dame and Wisconsin all had Goodwin on their radars.

The son a Damon Goodwin, the head coach at D-III Capital University, Goodwin is the prototypical coaches son.  He not only excels in team-orented situations, but Goodwin developed the ability to thrive in individual events as well  Case in point, 2 years ago Goodwin played his way to MVP honors during Buckeye Prep Report's Ohio North vs South all-star game.  In that game, Goodwin's full range of talents were on full display. You can catch Goodwin in action this summer when he and his teammates suit up for the 2018 Buckeye Prep squad.  Congratulations to Dane and his family.

SWO Elite Continues to Build for 2015 Season

2019 SWO Elite (Some Players not Pictured)
Like just about everything else in our society, name recognition in youth basketball carries a lot of weight. We all know the big-name basketball programs in the state (i.e., All Ohio, OBC, King James, etc), however, there are a number a very competitive teams out there with great talent and great coaching that receive little fan fare. Southwest Ohio Elite (SWO Elite) is one such team. Last season, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based team quietly finished with an impressive 40-3 record, including 4 tournament championships and an elite 8 finish at the Buckeye Prep Invitational tournament, where they lost to the eventual tournament champion, Team Teague.  Moreover, their only 3 losses were to powerhouse teams like Team Teague, All-Ohio and SMAC Showtime.

Also impressive was the fact that SWO Elite was frequently without some of their top players who split their time between basketball and baseball.  Although SWO Elite is built on a foundation of team-oriented play, Coach Jay Younkin’s team is powered by a trio of players including: Alec Pfriem (6’3/SG/West Chester), Joey Edmonds (5’6/PG/Wyoming) and Chase Harding (6’0/SG/Mason).  Jack Davin (6’2/WF/West Chester) and Josh Burkhardt (6’4/WF/Hyde Park) round out the starting 5 for this team.

Although rarely seen on the national circuit (baseball), Edmonds is an elite PG who is talented enough for national recognition. In addition, he has mostly flown under the radar, but Pfriem could be among the top 30 players in the state right now. Pfriem is a long shooting guard who continues to grow and may get to 6’5 by the time he stops growing. Chase Harding is another stud that has also been under appreciated up to this point. The rest of the SWO Elite roster includes: Jake Younkin (5’6/SG/Loveland/2020); Brice Hill (6’1/WF/Kenwood); TJ Deere (6’3/WF/Anderson); Nick Thelen (6’4/WF/Edgewood, KY); Luke Pellot (6’5/PF/Mason); and Patrick Hodar (5’7/PG/Loveland).  If the team was not already talented enough, Younkin hinted that he might add a couple more studs by the time the season tips off in March.

They may not look imposing when taking the court, but this team can play! What makes SWO Elite such a threat is their length and their ability to shoot the ball. “We play long and fast, with shooters at all positions,” said Younkin. Although they are a virtual unknown nationally, SWO Elite could finish in the upper half of the National Youth Basketball (NYBL) next season and upset some of the better-known teams. “We are looking forward to seeing where we stack up next spring. “I think we will be pretty competitive because of our length.  We will give everybody fits with our length,” offered Younkin. In terms of the state of Ohio, Younkin strongly believes his squad could be the second best team in the state. “We are bigger and stronger than we were last year. If we aren’t #2 we are #2A,” Younkin said. In less than 4 months Younkin’s team will come face to face with the nation’s elite in the NYBL and will have the opportunity to gain national respect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kentucky's Spencer is the Real Deal

Korbin Spencer-2019
Although talent is the number one factor in terms of playing basketball at the next level, playing hard is right behind that in importance. Korbin Spencer (6'0/WF/KY) possess both attributes.  Through his stelar play on the AAU circuit and at elite camps and showcases this past season, the Sandy Hook, Kentucky product has established himself as one of the top players in a loaded 2019 class.  In fact, the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) has him ranked 46th overall and 12th among the top wing forwards in the nation.

Spencer is an elite scorer who can score at all three levels. He's most adept at slashing to cup and finishing, but he can also knock down midrange and 3 point shots. He does not have a lot of length at this point, but he's strong and aggressive. As good a score as he is, Spencer is an even better defender. Spencer is a defensive hawk, and his on ball defensive is as good as we've seen.  Not only can he score and defend, Spencer has a high motor, and he plays hard the entire game.  If there is a 50/50 ball, it's a good bet Spencer will get on the floor or dive in the stands to secure possession of the rock. Finally, Spencer has great vision and easily finds open teammates with his excellent passing skills.

This past season, Spencer was a standout on a very talented Team Teague squad. In May, Spencer's team served as a fill-in team for session #3 of the NYBL in Louisville, Ky, and he was a big reason for the team's surprising success. Spencer's toughness and workman-like approach drew raves from many in attendance. Spencer followed up a great travel season with standout performances at the Future Phenom Camp in Washington D.C., and a few weeks later at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in Columbus, OH.  As further evidence of his work ethic on the court, at the showcase in Columbus, Spencer was selected as "Mr. Hustle." Spencer and his Indiana-based Team Teague will be a full-time member of the NYBL next season, where he will compete against the nation's best on a regular basis.

While we are talking Team Teague and Kentucky standouts, we would be remiss if we did not give a shout out to Michael Moreno (6'5/PF/KY). Like Spencer, Moreno can put up big numbers.  He does his damage a little closer to the bucket, but Moreno is a big time talent as well.  Moreno is ranked 52nd over all and 4th amongst power forwards.  With Spencer and Moreno, Team Teague has the talent to be a force in the NYBL next season.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The NGA Stars Look to Gain Respect

NGA Stars-2019
As far as 2019 west coast teams are concerned, the West Coast Stars (formally City Stars) and the i10 Celtics are the big dogs on the block.  With a star-studded roster that includes super guard Earnest “EJ” Jackson (5’7/PG/CA), Jaden McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA), Jovan McClanahan (5’8/WG/CA), the West Coast Stars are the undisputed kings of the west, while the i10 Celtics with Jovan Blackshire (5’8/PG/AZ) and Jalen House (5’8/WG/AZ) are right behind them in terms of national notoriety. With plans to participate in the 2015 season of the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL), Coach Rossi Valentine's NGA Stars, currently ranked as the third best team on the west coast by West Coast Elite 25 (WCE25), are preparing for their national debut when the NYBL tips off in March.

Unlike some of the top west coast teams that have picked up players from surrounding states, the NGA Star’s roster is composed of players that live in the Los Angeles area. This past season, the NGA Star’s biggest accomplishments included championships in the WCE25 Kick Off Tourney in April; a 1st place finish at WCE25’s Championship Series finale in July; a runner up finish at the WCE25 Phoenix Rising Tourney (lost to #12th ranked Roadrunner Dynasty); and an elite eight finish at the Coca Cola Nationals (lost to the i10 Celtics by 10 points).

Although some may question their lofty rankings, and plan to withhold respect until the Stars go head-to-head with some of the west coast’s other elite teams, the NGA Stars have, in fact, defeated a number of ranked teams (west coast). “We have not played the Stars, but we have beat a lot of teams on the list [WCE25 rankings],” noted Valentine.  We lost to the [i10] Celtics by 10 points, and they later beat the Stars by 10 points,” added Valentine. “We beat the RC Bulls and they beat Earl Watson Elite. We also beat Utah [Elite],” Valentine said.  The Star's resume against other ranked west coast teams is as follows: Beat #23rd ranked Earl Watson Black by 30 points; Beats #17th ranked Junior Hoops by 25 points; beat #13th ranked Utah Basketball Club by 20 points; beat #11 ranked San Diego Game Point by 30 points; beat #8th ranked Riverside Matrix 3 times in a row (the last game was by 20 points); and beat #6th ranked RC Bulls by 20 points. Based on the above resume, it would appear the Stars have played some very talented teams.

Amitai Afenjar Battles with Chandler Lawson
According to Coach Valentine  although his squad employs a total team approach towards the game, and is not dominated by 1 or 2 superstar players, he acknowledges his team is powered by his starting five of: Amital Afenjar (6’4/WF/CA); Jeremy Davis (5’7/PG/CA); L Simpson (6’0/F/CA); Nick Answorth (6’1/WF/CA); and Spencer Hubbard (5’1/PG/CA). According to Valentine, Afennjar is super athletic, fast and can jump, while Davis, the teams starting PG, is described as quick, can get in the lane, can handle, and can shoot. L Simpson is also athletic, can jump, handles the rock well and can shoot. “We are a super athletic team,” said Valentine. The rest of NGA Star’s roster includes: Michael Carter (5’9/SG/WF); Samuel Ingram (5’10/WF/CA); and Justin Korn (5’8/P/SG/CA).

Valentine describes his team as “up-tempo, very fast, athletic and a strong pressing team.” Moreover, Valentine is confident of his team’s ability to compete in the NYBL next season. “We can compete and we will compete [in the NYBL] at a high level,” said Valentine.  “Our guys are on the same level as those other guys; you guys [national media] just don’t know it,” continued Valentine.  “We aren’t running from nobody,” offered Valentine.   Valentine feels his players don’t get the respect they deserve on the west coast. “There’s a lot of politics out here,” opined Valentine  “Our guys go to theses camps and get at guys [ranked players] but don’t get recognized,” offered Valentine.  When the NYBL tips off in March 2015, the Stars will get their opportunity to show the nation what they can do. Valentine's  final text message illustrates his goals. "We ready! We want to play the top teams. Period!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Green Excels in High School Varsity Game

Michael Green
According to Middle School Hoops, South Carolina's Michael Green (5'11/SG/2019) recently knocked down 7 treys (33 points) in a high school varsity game. Many know Green as "the shooter" for Keyford Langley's Team CP3 squad that dominated the NYBL for 2 years.  Green has always been known as a knock down shooter that stretches the defense with his ability to score from beyond the arc, but his play last season reflected growth in his game that included the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rack.  For 2 seasons, Green was one of the best 3-point shooters in the NYBL.  In addition, at the NYBL All-star Weekend 2 years ago, Green shot his way to MVP honors.  Like several other notables (i.e., Tyger Campbell & Marquise Walker), Green has the skill and ability to play high school level basketball as an 8th grader.  In terms of his national ranking, the NYBL has him ranked 41st overall, and as the 11th best shooting guard in his class.  From what we can tell from this point, Green's talent will translate nicely at the next level.