Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Basketball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp Recap-Part I

R. Conway, D. Morton, J. Bradley, E. Fisher & S. Bogues
As we suspected late Friday night, the level of talent that attended Bill Francis’ All-American Middle School American games carried over to Mike Melton’s Basketball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp in District Heights, MD on Saturday and Sunday.  Also as expected, many of the stars from the All-American game ended up being standout performers at the camp.  One such player was Ryan Conway (6’0/combo guard/2021/MD), who totally dominated on Saturday.  As he has done at many elite events over the past couple of years (see video), Conway scored the rock at a high level.  With his size, strength and ball skills, Conway easily gets to and finishes at the cup.  That’s not all, as Conway can also stroke it from deep or stop on a dime for the mid-range pull-up Jumper.  For his efforts, Conway was named 2021 Camp MVP. 

He did not receive MVP honors on Sunday, but the same standout performance that led to Dee Morton’s (6’0/WF/2022/GA) MVP selection on Friday was on full display on Saturday and Sunday. Morton’s football-ready size, frame and strength, coupled with an elite skill set makes him a monster to defend.  Too big and strong for many guards, Morton is adept at powering his way to basket where he is absorbs contact and finishes.  We’re not sure if he currently appears on any national lists, but he should! We have to give props to Jaden Bradley (5’11/PG/2020/NC), the 2022 Camp MVP, who did his thing as well. Bradley has good length, athleticism, is super smooth and can also shoot it from beyond the arc.  As we watched him play this past weekend, Bradley made it look easy. We have already featured Elijah Fisher (6’1/PF/2023/CN) in an earlier article, but his dominant performance over the weekend deserves a second mention.  The kid has the talent to be really special one day!

E. Bates, C. Whitt, C. Livingston, D. Harris & C. Furst
Speaking of young talented prospects, Smaritine “Fatman” Bogues (5’0/PG/2023/MD) is still one of the top young guards in the country in his class.  Because he has shed some of the baby fat since the last time we saw him, we almost didn’t recognize him, but as he carved up the defense, ran his team like a general and still managed to score, we eventually figured out who he was. We’ve seen Bogues at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcases in the past, so we know the kid can go, but it’s clear from what we saw this past weekend that Bogues has not fallen off. Bogues still has the rock on a string, is quick and is tough as nails. Bogues is a dynamic PG who is highly skilled with an elite motor.

In terms of potential, we’re not sure anyone has more upside than Emoni Bates (6’5/WF/2022/MI). If the kid does not grow another inch, but adds bulk to his thin frame, he has a chance to be special. Quite often we mention young players as simple prospects with future potential; however, Bates can be productive as well.  For his size and current skill set, Bates projects as a future star. In terms of guards, one of the best in the class of 2021 is Carter Whitt (5’9/PG/2021/NC).  Whitt has consistently excelled at elite events across the country. In fact, he logged in standout performances at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and Middle School Hoops TV events last year, and he did it again this past weekend.  Whitt has an elite skill set and a high basketball IQ.  Not only does he know what he’s doing, he does it with a little flair, the likes of former NBA standout Jason Williams (see video).  Whitt can create his own shot, or breakdown the defense and create an easy bucket for a teammate.  He also has great court vision and is a willing passer.

We also were happy to see Ohio’s own Chris Livingston (5’10/WF/2022/OH) do his thing in DC.  Livingston, one of the top players in the country, demonstrated why so many people are impressed with his game. What we link most about Livingston’s game is his non-stop motor and energy level on both sides of the ball.  Of course he can score the ball, mostly on drives to the cup, but he defends at an elite level and plays hard.  Livingston has good length, long arms and the body type that suggest he has a lot more growing to do.  We would not be surprised to see Livingston at a high-major college program in a few years. While we are on the topic of Ohio kids with national reputations, we have to point out that Noah Peeples (5’10/PF/2021/OH) followed up his MVP performance on Friday with an impressive outing at the camp.  At the end of the day, Peeples is a workhorse who does his damage around the basket.  Strong and determined, Peeples craves contact and converts.  Stay tuned for Part two of our event coverage.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Phenom Alert-2023 Elijah Fisher Explodes on National Scene

Elijah Fisher
There is a ton of talent at this year’s Future Phenom Camp, so of courser it could be hard for some players to standout from the crowd.  However, that’ s not the problem for Elijah Fisher (6’1/PF/2023/CN).  The Canadian product showed flashes of greatness in Bill Francis’ Middle School All-American Game when he grabbed MVP honors on Friday, but the things he’s doing to the competition early Sunday morning has the crowd buzzing and talking #1 player in the class.

Why can Fisher be the top player in his class you ask?  He has the size, athleticism, and ability to score, defend and rebound all at an elite level. He is coordinated, has full control of his body, and can handle the rock and defend smaller guards.  With his combination of size and strength and toughness, Fisher is almost unstoppable to the rack. He has big feet long arms and appears to have plenty of room to grow. He runs the floor like a deer, is fluid and finishes near the rim at a high rate.  Fisher also understands the advantages of his size, as he instinctively posts smaller defenders and pushes the rock 94 feet in transition after the rebound. There was no official score kept in his opening game on Sunday, but if Fisher did not drop 30 we would be very surprised. From what we saw this morning, Fisher could be very effective competing up in the class of 2022.  Ro Russell has another phenom in his stable. You heard it here first folks, Elijah Fisher is coming for the # 1 spot!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Middle School All-American Game Loaded With Talent

Fisher, Ayiss-Etoh, Key, Alexander, Conway & Peeples
On Friday, Bill Francis rolled out the 2016 edition of his very popular Middle School All-American Camp at St. Johns College High School in Chevy Chase, MD, and as suspected, the event was absolutely brimming over with local and national talent. Year 3 of the event featured 4 all-star games in grades 6th-9th (2023-2020).  The opening game of the night featured 6th graders, and saw Team LeBron James down Team Magic 84-77. The story of the opening game was the dominance of Elijah Fisher (WF/2023/Canada), who exploded for a game-high 22 points and 8 rebounds.  Fisher’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, and officially announced his arrival on the national scene.  Fisher is long, athletic, and skilled and is a problem both offensively and defensively. To be honest, Fisher has as much upside as anybody we saw all night, and that included some really good freshmen! For his production, Fisher took home MVP honors for Team LBJ. Also playing well for Team LBJ were Christian Bliss (WF/New Jersey), who finished with 16 points, followed by Gavin Gillus  (G/2023/Virginia) and Wesley Yates (WF/2023/Texas), both of whom finished with 9 points.  We also liked what we saw with Derik Queen (C/2023/MD), Jaylen Lyn (G/2023/New York). On the other side of the court was Franklin Ayissi-Etoh (WF/2023/Maryland), who led Team Magic with a team-high11 points and a game-high 11 boards.  Much Like Fisher, Ayissi-Etoh has good size, a strong frame and is ok with getting physical in the paint.  Behind him is scoring were Aden Holloway (WF/2023/NC) and Jahkary Towns (PG/2023/MI), both of whom added 10 points.

Freeman, Gillus, Holloway & Towns
Game two featured a 2022 match-up between Team Isaiah Thomas and Team Derek Rose, with Zeke’s squad grabbing the 89-83 W on the strength of a 16-point, 7-rebound outburst from big Derrick Key (C/2020/Washington D.C.).  Key has a nice combination of size, athleticism, and motor. He’s a beast inside offensively, but he can also step away and hit the mid-range jumper and protect the rim from would be shooters. Also putting in work for Team Isaiah Thomas was Dee Morton (6’0/WF/2022/GA), who burst out of the gate with 3 treys.  Just when you thought he’s only a three-point threat, Morton used his big frame to slash to the cup and finish with contact. We also liked what we saw from Chris Livingston (WF/2022/OH) and Jaden Johnson (G/2022/MD), who both finished with 12 points. We loved Livingston’s energy and the ability to get to the rim with athletic drives and finishes.

Livingston, Morton, Bates, Walker & Hamlin
For Team D Rose, Jarace Walker (G/2022/PA) led all scorers with 13 points in 22 minutes of play. Behind him in scoring were Carlos Alexander (combo guard/2022/MD) who finished with 12 points on his way to MVP honors and Emoni Bates (6’5/WF/2022/MI) who added 11 points. Alexander is a quick and crafty PG with a tight handle, ability to create space and make plays for his teammates.  Also, Alexander’s crossover is deadly!  Bates started a little slow, but came on late to show flashes of why so many people consider him one of the top players in his class. Antonio Hamlin (WF/2022/MD) was very active and bouncy to the tune of a game-high 11 rebounds.

The 3rd game of the slate featured a slugfest between Team Michael Jordan and Team Kobe Bryant. Team Kobe got the 77-73 win with major contributions from MVP Ryan Conway (combo guard/2021/MD), who dropped a game-high 29 points on 11 of 15 field goals.   Conway also handed out a team-high 4 assists and was second in rebounds with 10. Conway is a multi-level scoring machine who get’s it done both to the cup and with perimeter jumpers. Carter Whitt (6’0/ combo guard/2021/NC) was spectacular as well and is clearly one of the most skilled guards in his class. Whitt finished with 15 points on 11 of 15 field goals in 23 minutes of play. Finally,  Donnel Harris (6’8/C/2021/FL) finished with 10 points.

Whitt, Harris, Bradbeyy, Reyna & Nelsons
Ohio’s Noah Peeples (6’2PF/2021/OH) got the MVP nod after leading Team MJ with 13 points and 6 rebounds.  Peeples is a bit undersized for his post position, but his strength, motor and determination more than compensates. Jalen Bradberry (5’11/PG/2021/New York) had some bright moments, scored 11 points and showed he can knock down clutch jumpers if left open. Both Juan Reyna (6’1/G/2021/TX) and Matthew Nelsons (6’4/WF/2021/CN) finished with double digit scoring (10), while Nelson and Ahmed Harrison (6’2/G/2021/MD) grabbed 7 rebounds. All-in all, it was a great day of basketball and a nice lead into the Basketball Spotlight Camp that is set for Saturday morning.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Buckeye Prep Hands Out Post-Season Awards

Because we feel that hard work and dedication should be recognized, for the first time ever, the Buckeye Prep Report will recognize athletic and academic excellence via post-season awards for the top players, coaches and teams.  Selction for these awards are based on 2016 performances. Specifically, an awards ceremony will be conducted on day one of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, recognizing Player, Coach and Teams of the Year in grades 5th-8th (2023-2020).  In addition, awards will be extended to First Team All-Ohio and All-Academic selectees.  At the conclusion of the awards ceremony complete lists of awards recipients will be published at the event and on the Buckeye Prep website.  Although only “First Team” selectees will receive plaques, many other players will be recognized for standout performance on the court and in the classrooms.  For the most part, the awards are limited to Ohio residents with only a few exceptions. Congratulations in advance to our awards recipients!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Buckeye Prep All-Star Game Rosters Released

Over the past several years, the slate of Buckeye Prep Ohio North vs South All-Star Games have become one of the most prestigious events in the state.  For only the 3rd time, the state’s top 20 players in each of 4 classes (2023-2020) will be divided into teams representing the north and south regions of the state.  Players residing in cities north of Columbus (i.e., Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Canton, Mansfield, etc.) will represent the Team North, while players residing from Columbus south (i.e., Cincinnati, Dayton, etc.)  will represent Team South.  This is truly the ultimate intrastate rivalry that will answer the age old question of where the best basketball is played in the state! 

In terms of interstate rivalries, the event will also include a freshman Ohio vs Michigan game as well as an 8th grade Ohio vs Kentucky game.  These 2 games will feature the top 10-12 players from each of the respective states. These elite games will provide an incredible platform for each state’s top players to both compete at a high level against the best Ohio and the region has to offer, while also providing them with a high level of media exposure.  Selection to these games is an honor, is very comptitive as well as an acknowledgement of a player’s reputation to date.

In terms of the selection process, we sought to attract as close to the top 10-20 players as we could find based on performances at Buckeye Prep and other elite events around the state, region and country, as well as our individual player rankings. With only a few spots available based on region and position, participation in the games is a very tough ticket! Below is a link to the all-star games rosters and tentative schedule. Each player listed has verbally committed to the event; however, if registration forms and fees are not received by August 29th, the spots will be opened up invitations will be extended to fill the vacant spots.  Because uniforms need to be ordered and plans need to be confirmed, the only real commitment is a financial commitment!

These games will be held in conjunction with the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and because every player participating in the all-star games will also be participating in the elite showcase, the overall level of competition will be extremely high. In addition to the top 20 players from Ohio, other nationally ranked players will also be participating in the event.  All I can say is get your popcorn ready; these games are going to be HOT!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stars Shine at UA Next Experience

Jaden Springer and Cashius McNeilly MVPs
With the beautiful Manhattan skyline in the background, 25 of the nation’s top freshman put their talent on display in front of New York City fans and media at Under Armour’s UA Next Experience All-Star Game on Saturday.  Despite the fact that both rosters were loaded with elite talent, there were a few players’ who’s standout performances separated them from their peers. In terms of the final outcome, a Cashius McNeilly-led Team Select defeated Team Pursuit 79-68.  McNeilly (6’4/Toronto, CA) shot 6 of 10 field goals to lead all scorers with 15 points in 13 minutes of play. Behind McNeilly in scoring was big Hunter Dickerson (7’0/Hyattsville, MD) who dropped 14 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. Noah Taitz (6/2/Henderson, NV) came on late in the second half to score an efficient 12 points on 5 of 6 shots. AJ Hoggard (6’2/Radnor, PA) just missed scoring in double figures, finishing with 9 points on 4 of 7 field goals and a game-high 5 assists. Elijah Taylor (6’7/Philadelphia, PA) only scored 4 points, but he hauled in 7 rebounds.

T. Williams, H. Dickson, AJ Hoggard & L.Ware
 Team Pursuit was led in scoring by Terrence Williams (6’7/Clinton, MD), who finished with a team-high 13 points on 6-8 field goals in 16 minutes of play.  Behind him in scoring was Jaden Springer (6’3/Charlotte, NC), with 8 points and a game-high 9 rebounds.  Jeremy Roach (6’2/Leesburg, VA) was the only other player to finish in double figures with 12 points on 6 of 9 field goals.  Lance Ware (6’8/Burlington, NJ) logged in 15 minutes, finishing with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Akeem Odusipe (6’9/Knoxville, TN), and athletic freak, was the second leading rebounder with 8. For their efforts, McNeilly and Springer both received MVP honors.  The UA Next Experience was a fitting end to the 2016 travel season and Under Armour’s slate of events.  Moreover, by most accounts, the debut of the UA Next Combine Series platform was a total success and will be even more highly anticipated in 2017! Below is a link to Saturday’s photo gallery.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

UA Next Experience Day I Activities

The inaugural UA Next Combine Series’ culminating event is set for this weekend in New York.  On Friday, the 26 fortunate selectees convened in New York to participate in the UA Next Experience.  We are in the Big Apple to capture the action so our readers can get some insight into the event.  Friday’s activities included practice at the famed Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. During the 2-hour long session, players participated in skills and drills, learned a basic offense and scrimmaged for about 20 minutes.  Later that evening, the high school guys took the main court on Pier 2 in Brooklyn for 3-point and slam-dunk contests.  Below is a link to a photo gallery, which depicts the images of day’s events. Tomorrow we will publish a recap of the big games and provide our readers with more images.  If day II is anything like the first day, we are really in for a treat!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

UA Next Experience Rosters Released

Toles, Hoggard Hall, Khalid, ManniĆ³n & Beasley
The inaugural season of the UA Next Combine Series concluded in the Bay Area, CA in June and will culminate in the UA Next Experience at Under Armour’s Elite 24 Game in Brooklyn NY this coming weekend.  Over the course of the 6-combine series, approximately 240 elite rising freshmen competed for one of the 25 coveted spots in what amounts to the rising freshman Elite 24 Game. Of the 25 players participating in this prestigious event, 14 of them attended one of the 6 regional combines this past spring and summer.  The balance of the roster spots were filled by well-known and nationally ranked players from around the country.

The 14 combine participants includes: Robby Beasley (CA), Naseem Khalid ((FL), Jordan Toles (MD), Trey Hall (CT), Andrew King (PA), Elijah Taylor (PA), Noah Farrakahn (NJ), Nico Mannion (AZ), AJ Hoggard (PA), Micah Peavy (TX), Noah Taitz (NV), RJ Hampton (TX), Che Evans Jr. (MD) and Akeem Odusipe (TN). The remainder of the invitees include: Jaden Springer (NC), Jalen Suggs (MN), Terrence Williams (MD), Jyare Davis (DE), Greg Brown (TX), Cahsius Mcneily (CN), Jabri Abdur-Rahin (NJ), Jamal Mashburn Jr. (FL), Jeremy Roach (VA), Lance Ware (NJ), Hunter Dickerson (MD) and Jason Harris (AZ).  With all of the 2020 talent amassed for this event, you know the action will be fierce!  Congratulations to all of the players who received invitations this this premium event. Stay tuned for an event recap and photo Gallery.

Ohio 2024 Class is PG Rich

Easter, Mobley, Arnold, Campbell-Finch, Vaughn & Nesbit
We’ve only just begun to take a serious look at Ohio’s class of 2024, and we won’t release our initial 2024 Watch List until after the September 17th & 18th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, but already the point guard group appears very strong. Watching several of the state’s top floor generals compete at the Coast 2 Coast Preps League Finals this past weekend finally convinced us the state is absolutely loaded with PG talent. Skilled, dynamic with high basketball IQs best describes what we’ve seen all summer with Ohio’s elite point guards.  Near the top of the list are Jerry Easter Jr. (Toledo) and John Mobley Jr. (Columbus), two of the most recognized players in the country. Both Easter and Mobley boast of an elite skill set that includes an incredible handle, court vision and the ability to shoot from deep.  The debate continues about who get’s the top spot, but you can’t argue that they are both very talented. It should be noted, since both players will be participating in the upcoming Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, we will take a close look at both PGs and make the call relative to the top spot. Stay tuned.

Easter and Mobley may get the lion’s share of the ink, but guys like Jaiden Arnold (Cincinnati), Isaiah Campbell-Finch (Columbus), Javen “Tank” Vaughn (Dayton), Nino Nesbit (Columbus) and Juwan Turner (Columbus) are all extremely talented and worthy of national attention.  The big difference between Easter and Mobley at this point and the rest of the top guards in the state is the amount of exposure.  We’ve seen a lot of Vaughn recently and have been really impressed with his toughness and grittiness; they don’t call him “Tank” for nothing; the kid is a bulldog! We’ve seen very little of Arnold, but the things he did in Louisville this past weekend was nothing short of amazing. Arnold has the ball on a string, and excels an breaking down his defender with his elite handle and getting into the paint for a score or dish.  We have also caught Campbell-Finch a couple of times this summer and are convinced he has special talent.  He’s not as flashy as some, but boy is he skilled and smart with the rock! We’ve highlighted about 7 PGs, but there are other guys waiting for their moment to shine. Jalen Hightower (Copley), Koy Beasley (Cincinnati), Kent Hairston (Columbus), Matt Ellis (Cleveland), Andre Miller (Lyndhurst), Reginald Person (Dayton), and Isaiah Marshall are all talented and worth tracking.  We hope to get a better look at these elite floor generals in a few weeks at our elite showcase!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Coast 2 Coast Preps League Finals Day 2 Report

J. Anderson, J. Hunter, D. King, S. Baemon & T. Perry
Although day two of the Coast 2 Coast Preps League Finals in Louisville, KY. was all about the pursuit of team championships, we sought to identify the top players of the day.  Below is a list of the standout performers we saw on Sunday.

Standout Performers:

Dakota Cochran (5’11/WF/2024/Shaker heights, OH), Montorie Foster Jr. (5’11/PG/2020/Warrensville, OH), Fred Hurt (5’4/WF/2024/New Orleans, LA), Ty Virgil (5’0/SG/2024/Sacramento, CA), Travis Perry (5’5/SG/2024, Princeton, KY), Jerome Williams (4’9/PG/2024/Minneapolis, MN), Shemmar Baemon (5’1/PG/2024/Milwaukie, WI), Hubert Carliste (5’4/WF/2024/ New Orleans, LA), Demari Larkins (4’7/PG/2024, Minneapolis, MN), Drew Ward (4’11/PG/2024/Sidell, LA), Damone King (5’0/combo guard/2024/Louisville, KY), Allen Gee (5’6/PG/202/Detroit, MI), Jayshawn Moore (6’4/WF/202/Detroit, MI), Darrius Tilghmon (6’0/WF/2021/Baltimore, MD), Christian Moore (5’9/P/SG/2021/Suffolk, VA), Allen Udemadu (6’8/C/2020/Nashville, TN), Joshuh Rubio (6’7/C/2020/Charlotte, NC), Noah Peeples (5’11/PF/2021/Akron, OH), Trey Coleman (6’4/WF/2020/Jeffersonville, KY), Julian Hunter (6’2/W/PF/2020/New Albany, IN), Trey Hourigan (6’5/C/2020/New Albany, IN), Langston Boyd (5’1/PG/2024/Charlotte, NC), Austin Swartz (5’2/SG/2024/Charlotte, NC), Johseem Felton (5’6/PG/2024/Charlotte, NC), David Castillo (SG/2024/Bartesville, OK), Corey Floyd (6’3/WF/2020/Cleveland, OH), Chris Ford (6’2/PF/2021/Charlotte, NC), Taylor Bell (5’11/WF/2021/Raleigh, NC), Jarius Northam (5’6/P/SG/2021/Durham, NC), Jamel Lewis (6’1/PF/C/2021/Buffalo, NY), Brinton Wright (6’5/C/2021/Perrys GA), Devin Longstreet (5’2/PG/2021/Ellenwood, GA), Landry Ballard (PG/2024/Oklahoma City, OK), Joe Anderson (5’11/PG/2020/Maryville, TN) and DJ Steward (6’0/SG/2020/Chicago, IL).

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Coast 2 Coast Preps League Finals Day I Report

Griffith, Lockett, Campbell-Finch, Easter & Doeir
It may me mid-August, but many teams are still grinding it out for one last weekend.  We had the opportunity to spend some time at the Coast 2 Coast Preps’ League Finals in Louisville Kentucky yesterday to get one last look at some top teams and players I the country.  We posted up at the Mid-American Sports Center and watched several 2024 and 2023 teams in action.  Below is a list of the top performers we saw on day I.

Standout Performers:

Chris Lockett (5'7/SG/2023/New Orleans, LA), Jalen Griffith (5'2/PG/2024/Chicago, IL), DaJuan Wagner (5'2/SG/2023), Jadyn Harris (5'7/C/2024/Baton Rough, LA), Jaiden Arnold (4'9/PG/2022/Cincinnati, OH), Delmarr Blanton (5'2/SG/2024/Dayton, OH), Josh Holloway (5'0/PG/Memphis, TN), Curtis Givens (5'0/SG/Birmingham, AL), Cory Skillman (5'6/PG/2023/New York), Amire Robinson (5'9/PF/Naperville, IL), Kyler Vanverjagt (5'5/SG/2023/Grand Rapids, MI), Isaiah Campbell-Finch(PG/2024/Columbus, OH), Peyton Blankenship (4'10/SG/2024/Columbus, OH), Jerry Easter (5'2/PG/2024/Toledo, OH), Christian Doeir (4'10/P/SG/2024/Louisville, KY), Jackson Wors (5'3/C/New Powell, IN), Brenton Moore (5'0/PF/Louisville, KY), Jobe Bryant (4'8/PG/Park Hills, MI), Julian Bunton (5'1/combo guard/2024/ Louisville, KY), Cortez Freeman (SG/Columbus, OH), Nazir Robinson (4'5/PG/New York/2023), King Keary (5'0/PG/2024/Nashville, TN), Juwan Turner (4'8/PG/2023/Columbus, OH), Tyler McKenley (5'6/C/2024/ Cincinnati, OH), Jonas Nichols ( 5'7/C/2023/Akron, OH), Elijah Ryans (5'1/PG/ 2024/Grand Rapids, MI),  Kohen Rowbatham (5'2/SG/2024/Slidell, LA), Najae Williams (4'10/PG/2024/New Orleans, LA), Juan Crawford (5'2/WF/2024/Dayton, OH), Dustin Whittaker (6’4/SG/2020/Chicago, IL), DJ Steward (6’0/SG/Chicago, IL), Dre’Sean Roberts (5’0/PG/2023/Piqua, OH), Aaron Long (5’6/WF/2022/Chicago, IL) John Mobley, Jr. (PG/2020/Columbus, OH) and Mardrecus Morland (5’2/combo guard/Birmingham, AL).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bates Commits to Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase

Emoni Bates-2022
A few days ago we announced that Zion Harmon, the nation’s #1 player in the class of 2021, was returning to the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase; today, Emoni Bates, who many feel is the # 1 player in the class of 2022 will be making his debut at the storied event on September 17th.  At 6’5, versatile and highly skilled, Bates has been compared to a young Kevin Durant.  The work he put in with the Toledo Wildcats this past season was not only impressive, it has vaulted Bates to the top of the national rankings. With his length, ball skills, IQ and court vision, Bates can play every position on the court.  When you talk about upside, Bates is a sure fire high-major prospect with continued growth and development.  When we saw the Ypsilanti, MI product at our Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament last April, he dominated the competition and looked like a future pro in the process.  If you haven’t seen Bates in action, you’re missing something special!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Huffman & Loveday Impress at National Camp

Grant Huffman & Zach Loveday
Widely considered one of the top rising freshmen camps in the country, invitations to the CP3 Rising Stars Camp are highly sought after.  This past weekend in Lewisville, NC, over 200 freshmen participated in the elite event.  Although it’s unclear exactly how many Ohio kids made the trip, we know that at least 2 Buckeyes rode standout performances to all-star game selections.  Not only did Grant Huffman’s (6’2/SG/2020/Aurora) performance garner a lot of media attention, event organizers selected him for their Top 20 All-Star Game. Hufman’s bid to the premier game only strengthened his considerable national reputation as one of the top shooting guards in the nation.

Joining Huffman as an all-star was Zach Loveday (6’10/C/2020/Gallia County), who was selected for the event’s Top 40 game. Lovedays elite length at an early age is very intriguing, and his upside could be unlimited. Both Huffman and Loveday have been household names in Ohio and nationally, and both players project as early varsity starters and D-I prospects.  Also attending and just missing out on an all-star nod was Nicholas Walters (5’9/combo guard/2020/Orange). Because Walters plays on a loaded NEO team, his talent is often over shadowed and overlooked. You can catch Huffman and Loveday in action on September 17th when they will compete on opposite teams as Ohio’s top 20 players square off in the prestigious Buckeye Prep Ohio North vs South All-Star Game!  Congratulations to all of the above players for repping the Buckeye State!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Zion Harmon Commits to Elite Showcase

Zion “The Lyon” Harmon, arguably the top player in the class of 2021, has committed to return to the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase September 17th & 18th. Since Harmon’s debut at the first Buckeye Prep event over 13 years ago (attended with his older brother), Harmon has established himself as one of the most talented players in his class.  Recently, Harmon exploded on to the national high school basketball scene with his outstanding play for We All Can Go at Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).  According to organizers, Harmon is the youngest player to ever play in the elite league. Not only has Hamon made a significant impact in middle school basketball, Harmon has already had a taste of high school ball at the varsity level, as last season Harmon hooped with Lighthouse Christian Academy in Antioch, TN.  This upcoming season Harmon will take his talents to Bowling Green (Kentucky) High School.  Harmon has been a consistent participant and perennial all star at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and we are happy for his return to the elite event!    

Friday, August 5, 2016

North Coast Blue Chips Win Classic Bracket at AAU Nationals

2022 North Coast Blue Chips-2016 D-1 AAU Nationals Classic Bracket Champions
Known as All-Ohio Blue for most of the season, the 2022 North Coast Blue Chips rebounded from an early stumble in pool play to win the Classic Bracket at the AAU Nationals in Cocoa Beach, FL. last week.  After going down to Nightrydas Elite in pool play (finished 3rd due to point differential), the Blue Chips mounted a ferocious 4-0 run that included wins over Impact Basketball (84-54), Broward Sharks (60-39), West Coast All-Stars (60-39) and Oakland Elite (50-40) in the championship game.  For the record, the Blue Chips defeated the Ohio Shooting Stars (64-45) and Grind Mode (52-51) to finish 2-1 in pool play.

As proof of their dominance, the Blue Chips cruised through the Classic Bracket with an average margin of victory of 18 points per game.  Although there were several standouts for the Blue Chips over the course of the event, including Sincire Harris, Adam Duvall, AJ Leen, Shawn Thigpen and Raymond Green III; Trey Dennis is credited for doing the heavy lifting, as he was the team’s leading scorer and leader throughout the week.  In fact, in the championship game, Dennis’ gaudy stat line consisted of 16 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists.  It should be noted that after battling an illness for the first 3 games, Sincere Harris exploded for 32 points against the Broward Sharks. The old saying goes, no one wants to be in the Classic Bracket, but if you end up there you had better win it.  Well, the North Coast Blue Chips did just that!  Congratulations to the players, coaches and parents for their success.  As a side note, Sincere Harris and Trey Dennis will square off against each other in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game September 17th.  You don’t want to miss that matchup!

We have to give a shout out to the Coach Dushawn Hill and his U-12 Cleveland Heights Academy Court Leaders for winning the AAU D-II AAU Nationals in Hampton, VA recently. The Court Leaders finished 7-0 at the event thanks to standout performances from Elmore James IV, Dushawn Hill Jr., Davon Smith-Johnson and Jaylon Clark. Congratulations to the organization for spotlighting Buckeye Basketball!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ohio Teams Excel at AAU Nationals

Ohio Buldogs-9th Place U-14 AAU Nationals
For several years now, Ohio’s reputation as a basketball hotbed has been solidified.  Case in point, last week at the U-14 AAU Nationals in Orlando, FL, 3 Ohio-based teams made impressive runs at a national title.  Chris Anthony’s Ohio Bulldogs and Coach Justin Ferguson’s Rebels faced off several times this season in local tournaments (finished 2-2), but little did they know they would eventually face off one last time in a placement game at the AAU Nationals.  Last Saturday, the 2 teams hooked up in the 9th/10th place game, virtually guaranteeing that Ohio would have two top 10 national teams by the end of the day. The Bulldogs would get the 56-43 win and place 9th, while the Rebels would cap an impressive season with a 10th place finish at the Nationals. 

“The team played hard, executed, and played as good as they have all season,” said Anthony. “They [Bulldogs] came together, played as a group, and I’m so proud of them,” continued Anthony.  According to Anthony, Von Cameron Davis was the driving force behind the Bulldogs’ success. “He [Davis] dominated.  He had two 30-point games and a buzzer beater. He led the team in rebounding; he did everything,” offered Anthony. Coach Anthony was also impressed with the play of Quan Magwood, CJ Anthony, Marcus Johnson and Dominiq Penn. For the season, the Bulldogs compiled an impressive 62-9 overall record!

The Rebels-10th Place Finish U-14 AAU Nationals
According to Coach Ferguson, Garvin Clarke, Nick Ferguson and Dakota Cochran were the mainstays for the weeklong tournament. Although they did not place, Coach Eddie Norrils’ Team Toledo squad would also represent the Buckeye State well with a Sweet Sixteen run at the same nationals. It’s important to note that all 3 coaches commented on the fact that the players, parents and coaching staffs of each of the teams showed a tremendous amount of statewide unity and support for each other during the weeklong event. Congrats to all of the players, coaches and players for reppin Ohio Basketball!

Monday, August 1, 2016

All-Ohio End of Summer Middle School Showdown Day 1 Report

McMillian, Schmidt, Smith, Disken & Stone
Although it was late July, when most teams have shut down their seasons, there was still competitive basketball to be found on day 1 of the All-Ohio End of Summer Middle School Showdown at Woodward High School in Cincinnati on Saturday. We made the trek down I-71 to catch once last glimpse of some of the state’s top teams and players.  One of the best teams we saw all day was Paul McMillian’s 2022 All-Ohio Red squad, and one of the best players we saw all day was Paul McMillian Jr. (5’10/PG/2022/Cincinnati).  McMillian, arguably one of the top 2-3 players in the state in his class, was up to his old tricks, slashing to basket, scoring in transition and knocking down jumpers when left open.  McMillian has good size for his position, is versatile, highly skilled, is a 3-level scorer, and is almost unstoppable to the cup. He rarely over drills, only need a couple of dribble moves to find a lane to the cup.  In the 2 games we watched, McMillian scored an average of 18 points. Look for McMillian at a NCAA D-I college program in a few years.  McMillian’s team has several quality pieces including Myles Cameron (5’9/WF/2022/Lima), Isaiah Wilkens (5’5/SG/2022/Columbus) and Kahlil Luster (4’5/PG/2022/Lima), all of whom logged in standout performances on Saturday.

We also liked what we saw with the 2021 Cincinnati Royals.  The Royals team is well built, with solid guard play, scoring and athletic wings, size in the post, a deep bench and team-oriented play. The Royals are anchored in the post by Skyler Schmidt (6’5/C/2021/Goshan), who is one of the best big men in the state. Although Schmidt is a big, he moves well, has good footwork, is deceptively athletic, and his soft touch around the rim allows him to finish at a high rate. We think Schmidt projects well going forward. Some of the other studs on that loaded team include Zyon Tulls (6’6/WF/2021/Cincinnati), Kelvin Turner (5’7/P/SG/2021/Cincinnati) and Aiden Turner (5’7/PG/2021/Springboro). We were intrigued with Tulls’ length and ability to score the ball.  We had not seen him prior to Saturday, but plan to track his progress over the next couple of years.

Hale-Frater, Davis, Bransford,Hill & Moore
We got another look at Orlando Berry’s All-Ohio Purple squad on Saturday, and as was the case the last time we saw them in Columbus a few weeks ago, and true to all Orlando Berry-coached squads, this team played hard! In fact, we’re not sure any team in the country applies the type of defensive pressure Purple does. Although they were missing their best player in Montev Ware, Purple dominated in the game we watched. Stepping up for All-Ohio Purple were Jakada Stone (5’7/SG/2021/Cincinnati), who caught fire from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 15 points.  Right behind him in scoring was Marjoni Tate (5’7/WF/2021/Cincinnati), who used his strength and small but powerful frame to bully his way to the basket to the tune of 12 points.  Probably the best prospect on the team is one of the youngest players on the team in Jordan Hale-Frater (6’0/C/2022/Cincinnati).  Hale-Frater has a massive frame for his age, and can both score the ball in the low post as well as protect the rim; much like Adolphis Washington did for Berry a few years ago.  He’s a force playing up with Berry’s 2021 team, but when he suits up for a 2022 team watch out!  We can’t wait to see what Hale-Frater does when he laces them of for the South squad in the Ohio North vs South All-Star Game next month.

Coach Cliff Green’s 2021 Team Pitbull squad has a few players worth tracking as well, including BJ Bransford (5’11/combo guard/2021/Cincinnati), Kionte Thomas (5’9/PG/2021/Cincinnati), Jared Baldock (5’9/SG/2021/Cincinnati) and Brandon Lanier (6’2/C/2021/Cincinnati).  We’re most familiar with Bransford, who has logged in standout performances at our elite showcases in the past, and his play on Saturday confirmed he has continued to develop.  What was most impressive about Bransford’s play was his motor, energy and his defense both on and off the ball. Although defense was the highlight of his game on saturday, Bransford’s length, ball skills and athleticism makes him a scoring threat as well. In terms of well-built teams, we have to mention Coach Guy Goodwin’s 2021 Ohio Kentucky United (OKU) squad. Missing 3 of their leading scores, Goodwin’s team took R4L into overtime, and then drained a trey to win the highly contested contest. Coming up big for OKU was Grant Disken (5’7/PG/2021/KY), who exploded for a game-high 19 points, most of which were from 3-pointers, including the game winner with time running out. Like several of the ONU players, Diskens is tough, scrappy and skilled. Also fitting that description is Jay Jackson (5’11/SG/2021/Ft Mitchell) and Mason Rusch (5’7/PG/2021/KY). In the post is Robert Medalion (6’5/C/2021/Cincinnati) who is big, powerful, embraces contact and runs the floor well.  We also like Michael Spencer (6’0/WF/2021/Union, KY), who has good size, is athletic and has a solid skill set. Spencer’s combination of size and skill make him a good looking prospect going forward.

Cameron, Wilkens, Tull, Walker & Madalion
Coach Carlos Davis’ R4L team lost a close one to ONU, but the roster is full of promising prospects. No one played better for Davis than Nic Smith (6’3/PFC/2020/Cincinnati), who displayed a developing skill set, a nice touch around the rim, body control and improved footwork. In addition, Smith ran the floor well, did a good job of rebounding, dribbling and outletting the ball. If Smith can continue to grow, his place among the state’s big men will be solidified. Other prospects on that team include Jordan Howard (6’2/SG/202/Springfield), Marcus Wise (6’0/SG/2020) and Willieon Yates (5’8/PG/2021/Dayton). Wise burst on to the state-wide scene earlier this summer with a standout performance at the Buckeye Prep Elite 60 Midwest Showdown in June, but his game remains underappreciated due to a lack of consistent exposure. Look for Wise to make an early contribution to a high school program this winter. Yates is one of the fastest PGs in Ohio, and his quickness and ball skills allow him to create separation and get into the paint.  Although he can score the rock, he can also make a play for a teammate.  Also running for R4L last weekend was Beavercreek’s Isaiah Kennedy, who has played for NEO Shooting Stars the past several seasons. We did not see much form Kennedy on Saturday, but his statewide and national reputation have been well-earned and confirmed.

The 2021 Ohio Hoopsters has several nice players on the roster including AJ Glover (6’0/P/SG/2021/Reynoldsburg), DJ Moore (5’9/PG/2022/Westerville) and Kobe Bufford (6’1/WF/2021/Dublin). We’ve seen Glover twice this season and on both occasions he has balled out.  Because he has been a bit under exposed the last couple of seasons, his talent has not gotten the credit it deserves. Glover has good length; he’s athletic, has a great motor, and is a great defender. We didn’t see him take a lot of jump shots (he can shoot the 3-ball), but Glover can get to and finish at the rim with the best of them. His stock should rise as his exposure increases and his game continues to develop.  We will be interested to see what he does at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase next month.  We were also impressed with Moore, who is a 7th grader playing up for the Hoopsters, and proved he can score the rock.  We also think Buford has good long-term potential, but much like Glover, we just don’t see him much. There were several other quality players at the event including: Corajae Hill (5’4/SG/2021/Cincinnati), Dustin Davis (5’5/PG/2021/Cincinnati), Bryce Walker (5’11/WF/2021/Dayton), Cameron Fancher (5’11/combo guard/2021/Huber Heights): and Anbre Simmons (4’9/PG/2023/Cincinnati).  Although we were able to spend only a few hours at Paul McMillian’s event on Saturday, we were able to evaluate several players for the first time, many of whom will be attending our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase September 17th and 18th in Columbus.