Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

The Buckeye Prep Report would like to wish everybody a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ohio Welcomes New Under Armour Program

For as long as we can remember, 3 shoe company sponsored basketball programs have dominated the state of Ohio. Until recently, All-Ohio (Nike), King James (Nike) and the Ohio Basketball Club (Adidas) have been the only options in terms participation in elite basketball circuits. Things are about to get very interesting, as staring with the 2017 season, the Buckeye State will have a fresh new option when Quincy Simpson’s C2K Elite program hits the courts.

Simpson’s vision for his Commitment 2 Kids Elite program revolves around player development, athletically, academically and spiritually.  Having coached and trained many of the state’s elite players for several years, Simpson has always strived to run a program that emphasized more than just “rolling out the ball.”  Moreover, as he has done as head coach of the very successful Lima Senior High School program (LSH) and as the lead man for the 2016 King James Shooting Stars, Simpson wants to create a “family atmosphere” with his new program.  “Our teams will practice, develop, have academic sessions and will do community service. This will truly be a family, the same way my family is with LSH,” Simpson said.

According to Simpson, in year one, his program will be fully sponsored and will field teams in 3 grade divisions 2020 through 2018.  Each of the 3 teams will play in some capacity on the Under Armour Association (UAA), an elite circuit similar to Nike’s EYBL and Adidas’ Gauntlet. With the arrival of Simpson’s program, the UAA will give Ohio players another national stage in which to compete at an elite level, while also playing in front of college coaches and scouting services.  Simpson and his organizational team is already busy developing rosters, a schedule, website and social media accounts in preparation of the upcoming season.  In addition, Simpson has already secured commitments from many of the state’s elite players, coaches and established programs.  As an example, Chris Anthony, coach of the very successful 2020 Ohio Bulldogs program will bring his roster of studs, and will coach the U-15 team, while Steve Wright will coach the U-16 team and Simpson will coach the 2018 squad.

With 4 shoe company-sponsored programs in the state (yes, Drew Joyce will still be in the game in some capacity), the obvious question is can the state produce enough talent to field 4 elite level teams. We asked All-Ohio’s Jerry Watson this same question.  “We’ll have to see,” said Watson.  “People will have to project talent better [in order to find enough kids],” Watson said.  “They [Under Armour] are coming into a tough market.  We’ll have to gage their success after they go through the first season to see how they do,” Watson continued.  We posed the same questions to Nike’s John Stovall and he was a bit skeptical.  “It all depends.  You can field as many teams as you like; the questions is, can you field enough teams to be successful at the national circuit level,” questioned Stovall.

OBC’s Mike Duncan believes that state has enough talent for a 4th program. “I think there’s enough. To be honest, it’s all about coaching. If you can get good coaches and you practice [you can be successful],” said Duncan.  “If you can get 3 D-Is [division I players] and a couple of D-IIs, you can win,” continued Duncan. “We will have to see,” Duncan said.  We also spoke with Ken Taylor, coach of the 2019 King James team, who is also skeptical of Ohio’s ability to field 4 elite teams. “The population is just not there. We’re not Chicago or New York. Will the teams be watered down? With out a doubt,” Taylor said. Although he doubts there’s enough talent to go around, Taylor acknowledges that Under Armour’s presence in Ohio will “create more opportunities for Ohio kids to play with other top kids and to be seen.”

By most accounts, a new Under Armour program in the state is a win-win situation for Ohio basketball, and represents a tremendous opportunity to raise the profile of Ohio basketball.  Although there will be challenges for the fledging program, the sky is the limit for Simpson’s program.  Continue to follow Buckeye Prep for updates on the program’s progress.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

City Series Attracts Ohio’s Best

Cleveland 2023 Champs
Although we were unable to attend, from what we’ve heard, Jerry Watson’s Nike City Series attracted many of the state’s top players this past weekend for the series final.  For the 2nd consecutive year, Akron Grey won the 2022 division.  This year, the 8-person squad made up by Daniel Young Jr., Deon Horn, Jordan Huff, Bryce Cunningham, Jonah Dieterle, Aidan Cunningham, Rod Coffee and Emanuel Wilson finished the series 6-0, with wins over Toledo (67-36), Columbus (110-43), Cincinnati (63-53), Cleveland (forfeit), Dayton (80-40) and Toledo for a second time (79-56).  Akron was powered by the outstanding play of Young, Horn, Dieterle, Cunningham and Huff.  Deon Horn took home MVP honors, while Young, Deterle and Huff made the All-Tournament Team.

In the 2023 division, Cleveland claimed the title with wins over Cincinnati (+20), Toledo (52-47), Akron (25-10) and Columbus (53-31).  Cleveland’s lone loss came at the hands of Columbus (39-46) in the second game of a back to back. Jayvion Moore turned in a MVP performance, while Adias Molton II, Andre Wheeler, Cody Head, Daniel Farmer and Bedi Lori made the All-Tournament Team.

Finishing with a 5-1 record, Cincinnati took home the gold in the 8th grade division after avenging an earlier loss on Saturday with a win over Akron in the championship game. MVP honors went to Paul McMillian IV who was a 7th grader playing up in the 2021 division, while Cameron McKenzie, Malik Jackson and Kaden Warner were all selected to the All-Tournament Team.  Congratulations to all of the players who participated in what sounded like a very competitive event.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Henry Has Elite Talent

Christian Henry
The Windy City has always been known as a hotbed for hoops talent, and Christian Henry (5’9/PG/Chicago/2021) has a chance to be another star in a long line of talented players to come out of Chi-Town.  We first saw him earlier this year at the George Hill Invitational Tournament in Indianapolis as he was running the point for Mean Streets  What we saw in Henry was a dynamic PG who is crafty, with a tight handle.  He defends well and can hit the 3-ball if left open.  Henry also does a good job of creating space for his own shot as well as creating scoring opportunities for his teammates with his ability to drive and dish. 

When Henry participated in the fall session of the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, he was ranked as the #1 player on his team, which punched his ticket to the Top 20 All-Star game. Henry’s evaluation from his coach indicated that Henry was a “superior scorer with high energy and good court vision.”  In addition, his camp coach selected Henry as the “Top Prospect” on a loaded team.

This fall, Henry has consistently performed at a high level, with top 20 all-star game selections at both the NEO Elite Showcase and Middle School Hoops TV Camp.  Henry is not only a stud on the hardwood, he’s also getting it done in the classroom, as evidenced by his impressive 3.4 GPA at Vanderpoel Elementary Magnet School.  When he’s not hooping, Henry enjoys playing football, video games and relaxing with friends and family.  In terms of his long-term goals, Henry would love to attend Duke University, followed by a NBA career and/or a career in sports management.  We plan to continue tracking Henry’s progress over the upcoming year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Buckeye Prep Release 2024 Watch List

Jerry Easter Jr., John Mobley Jr., Javen Vaughn & Nino Nesbitt
It’s still very early, and we have only seen a fraction of the top 2024 players in the state, but we feel comfortable releasing our initial 2024 Watch List.  It’s only 26 players deep, but we believe we have discovered a solid list of elite players. Near the top of our list are guys like Jerry Easter Jr. (PG/Toledo) and John Mobley Jr. (PG/Columbus), both of whom have established well-deserved national reputations.  In addition, both Easter and Mobley have elite talent and skill sets well beyond their years.  Highly skilled, competitive and high basketball IQs are just a few of their attributes. 

Dayton’s Delmar Blanton and Javen “Tank” Vaughn have attended several of our events and have consistently logged in all-star caliber performances.  Both players are tough as nails and both play with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor.  We’ve also seen some good things out of Nino Nesbitt (PG/Columbus) and LeVelle Sharpe (CG/Akron), both of whom have also excelled at our elite showcases.  Of course this list will continue to grow as we have an opportunity to see evaluate these young players during the travel basketball season.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Buckeyes Ranked Nationally

Walker, Wilson, Pugh, Johnson, Peeples & Piere
Last week, dropped their updated rankings for the class of 2021, and 7 Ohio-based players received recognition.  Brent Walker (6’5/C/Huber Heights) debuted nationally for the first time and was the highest ranked Ohio player at #18.  Although Walker has not been a main stay on the national camp and showcase scene, his debut at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last March formally announced his arrival to a national audience. Running with Coach Marty Finta’s All-Ohio Red squad last season, Walker ability to score, rebound and defend gained him a big time reputation.  At last month’s Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Walker logged in another all-star performance on his way to MVP honors. Long considered Ohio’s top player, Lorain’s Seth Wilson (6’1/CG) appeared at #28 in the rankings.  Wilson had another fine year with NEO Shooting Stars and proved his game has continued to develop.  Wilson was dominant in the Ohio North vs South and Ohio vs Michigan All-Star Games as evidenced by his 2 MVP selections.

Although he had been considered one of the top players in the nation in the class of 2020, Jack Pugh has reclassed to 2021 and is currently ranked #31 by  Due to an injury, Pugh was absent from the grassroots scene for most of the spring and summer.  However, when he returned, he made an immediate impact and helped lead his Mid-Ohio Pumas team to some big wins against national competition.  Pugh will be attending school in California before returning to Ohio for the 2017 travel season.  Cleveland’s Meechie Johnson checks in at #53 on the list.  The dynamic PG logged in another standout performance at our fall showcase last month and received Top 5 recognition for his efforts.  Both an elite scorer and playmaker, Johnson has long been considered one of the top floor generals in the nation. Rounding out P2bball’s top 120 were Noah Peeples (#67), Raymelle Arnold (#69) and Ronnell “Tae” Perie (#71).  Congratulations to all the players who made the list!