Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Buckeyes Garner National Attention

J. Francis, J. Mitchell, A. Gordon, C. Stringer & A. Davis
Regardless of where you stand on the relevance and wisdom of ranking middle school-aged players, it has become common practice for national media outlets to begin identifying elite players at a very young age. Traditionally, players begin to receive recognition though a variety of ways.  Primarily, young kids are discovered by playing on elite level teams and in the most competitive tournaments.  In addition, participation in elite camps and showcases where national media is present can help put a player “on the map.” Although sometimes costly and time consuming, participation in elite events is often the ticket to a player appearing in national rankings.

This fall, several media outlets (i.e., Prolific Performance, NYBL, Basketball Spotlight, Coast-to-Coast, (2020 Ballers, etc.) have released national player rankings, and the state of Ohio is well represented any many of their rankings.  The class of 2019 boasts the most players (7) in various top 100 player lists. Consistently, the highest ranked player in the class is Jeremiah Francis (6’1 PG Columbus) who by many accounts, is one of the top 2 point guards in the class and a consensus top 10 player nationally.  Right behind him in most rankings is Gahanna’s Jordan Mitchell (6’5 WF) who has consistently been ranked in/or near the top 10-15 by most scouting services.

After a year of running with All-Ohio Red in the NYBL, Sydney’s Andre Gordon (5’10 WF) has burst onto the national scene. His play during the NYBL season and his outstanding performance at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase has solidified his place among the nation’s elite.  Any discussion about players whose stock is on the rise has to include Dayton’s Amari Davis (5’11 WF). Not only did Davis make a name for himself in the ultra-competitive NYBL, his play at several elite showcases confirmed that he should be mentioned among the best. In addition, Cincinnati’s Chris’Sean Stringer (5’11 PF) has been a consistent top 100 performer and as evidence, Stringer capped off a great NYBL season with a MVP performance at the NYBL Finals in Columbus in June. Rounding out Ohio’s top 8th graders include Gerard Reynolds (6’0 PF Columbus) and Chris Payne (6’0 PF Cincinnati).

I. Kennedy, C. Mott, S. Wilson, M. Johnson & N. Peeples
Ohio’s class of 2020 is also well represented on the national scene. With Shemar Morrow moving out of state, the top spot in Ohio is now up for grabs. Plain City’s Jack Pugh (5’10 PF) and Matt Allocco (5’3 PG Upper Arlington) are often mentioned in top 100 conversations, as are Zeb Jackson Jr. (5’2 PG Toledo), Willeon Yates (5’3 PG Springboro) and Grant Huffman.  Isaiah Kennedy (5’7 PG) has recently emerged on the national scene and is now considered elite. Having recently received MVP honors at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase a few weeks ago, as well as a solid showing at other national events, Kennedy’s stock is clearly on the rise. Also new to the national scene are Chance Mott and Taveon Pierre-Louise, Sammy Anderson, Ketaan Wyatt Jr., and Devontae Blanton. Mott capped off a solid NYBL season running with the Mansfield Cavs with a standout performance at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and Pierre-Louise was also a standout on that Mansfield Cavs team.

Although smaller in numbers, Ohio’s class of 2021 has a few representatives.  Seth Wilson is the consensus number 1 player in the Buckeye state, but nationally, some consider him as the top guy as well.  In any account, Wilson is solidly in the top 5-10 nationally. Most recently, Wilson’s talents were on display at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase were he re-established his place nationally. Cleveland’s Meechie Johnson is fast making a name for himself nationally as well. A dynamic guard with a significant skill set, Johnson is moving up the rankings in breakneck speed. Jaden Hameed and Noah Peeples have both moved into the national debate through their stellar play with All-Ohio Red and impressive performances at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  Finally, add Columbus’ Travonne Jackson to the list of fast risers.

Sean Jones, Sonny Johnson Jr. Derrick James & John Mobley Jr.
If you don’t like middle school rankings, I’m sure you are less than impressed with 4th, 5th and 6th grade lists. With that said, Ohio has some quality young guys who are already demanding attention nationally.  In the class of 2022, Cleveland’s Sonny Johnson Jr, Sean Jones, Derrick James and Josiah Harris are already on national radars.  These kids are playing with elite teams and are getting it done at national camps and showcases.  Consequently, they are already firmly on the national map. Lebraun James Jr. is the lone representative in Ohio’s class of 2023 so far, but 2024 is already looking good with guys John Mobley Jr., Jerry Easter Jr., Isaiah Marshall and Kent Hairston demanding attention. Mobley has been mentioned as the #1 player in the class by some media, and from what this writer has observed over the past couple of years, the title is well deserved.  I love this kid’s game and confidence.  Mobley, Easter and Marshall all played up a couple of grades against elite 5th graders at the recent Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and more than held their own!

Although the Buckeye state is clearly on the national map, there are other players who are talented enough to be considered for placement on some of these lists and over time, as they receive more national exposure, they will assume their place among the nation’s elite. Congratulations on all of the above players for reaping the Buckeye State!

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