|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.