Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bickley Among Ohio’s Best

Mari Bickley 5'9" SG 2023 Akron
Although we have only been covering girls basketball a very short time, we are already starting to discover where Ohio's  top players  are located.  Whenever we ask about the top girls, Mari Bickley’s (5’9”/CG/2023/Akron) name continues to surface.  According to some, Bickley could be the top 7th grade girl in the state, and is most assuredly one of the best guards in northeast Ohio.

Right now, as her team’s leading scorer, Bickley has her Tallmadge Middle School team undefeated.  In the spring and summer, Bickley runs with SMAC and 77 South, and in order to find competition, Bickley’s team has to play up 1 and 2 grade divisions.  When she plays against older and strong players, Bickley often excels.  In addition to being a good athlete, Bickley is getting it done in the classroom as well, where she gets straight As and is currently carrying an impressive 4.0 GPA.

Although she’s blessed with good size, in terms of her skill set, Bickley has all the tools, including a tight handle, ability to shoot the rock, court vision and passing skills. Also, Bickley is a legitimate threat to hit the long ball, and in fact, has had multiple games where she has hit 4 and 5 treys in a game. Although she's more than equipped to score the rock, Bickley has a “pass-first” approach and loves to see her teammates excel.

As is the case with a couple of other elite players in the state, Bickley has been garnering media attention from the likes of Future Stars, Passthaball.com and Straight out of Ohio Girls Hoopz, and she is already getting attention from college coaches.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been told she already holds a scholarship offer from the University of Akron, and is also garnering interest for a host of other schools including Michigan State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Memphis, Ball State and others!  We look forward to catching Bickley in action at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase and the prestigious Ohio North vs South all-star game.

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Information Page

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase Now Accepting Registrations

Below is an email that went out to some of the people on our bulk email list this morning.  Others should receive the email early this week.  We are nearing the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase (March 10th) and are now accepting registrations!  We will be accepting both boys and girls this year and we have already received a great response from girls wanting to participate in this event.  For our spring event, anybody who is interested in attending may do so, and the registration link is below.

We will be using this event to extend invitations to the Midwest Regional UA Next Combine Series in Chicago, IL this summer.  In addition, this will be the first event players can be evaluated for our individual rankings and participation in the prestigious Ohio North vs South and Ohio vs Michigan All-Star Games in September.  As always, this event will offer elite competition and maximum exposure! Look for additional information in the near future.

Registration Link
Information Page


We are now just about 4 weeks away from the spring session of Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase, and I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the event format and schedule. As a reminder, the event is scheduled for March 10th at Otterbein University located at 1 South Grove St. Westerville, Ohio 43081.  On that Saturday, registration will open by 7:30am and run through about 9:00am. We will open with opening remarks and the showcase games are scheduled to begin around 9:00-9:30am (tentative).

I plan to have an initial draft of the rosters, team assignments and schedule posted on our website (www.buckeyeprep.blogspot.com) at least 1 week prior to the event.  The only names that will appear on the rosters will be those players who have registration and paid the registration fee. Although I will post a tentative participant list on the website, that list will not be official, so if your son/player’s name is listed there but you have not registered or paid the fee, they will not have a spot in the event.  For those coaches who are bringing multiple players, we need each of them to be registered. In addition, I have to place the jersey order at least 2 weeks prior to the event and I cannot order a jersey if  the player has not registered and paid the fee. Therefore, you must act quickly if you want to get your son/player registered. Additionally, it’s very important that you continue to visit our website on a regular basis so you can follow any updates that may be posted.  There will be slight changes up until the day of the event so please follow the website for updates!

Also, I know a number of you have paid the registration fee via Pay Pal, but have not yet sent in your registration forms.  If that’s the case, I need you to do so as soon as possible so we can match the forms I received with your son/player’s name and get them on my official participant list. If you have/or will pay your fee via Pay Pal, please make sure you bring the receipt with you when you register your son/player. Below is a registration link that should be used to register your son/player.

Finally, I’m still in need of a few more coaches for this session.  In addition to the satisfaction of working with young people, coaches receive free admission to the event ($20 value), a t-shirt and access to the media/coaches lounge where they can relax and enjoy complimentary food and drink the entire day.  Also, as a reminder, any player who has participated in past events, have been featured on our website or is ranked nationally on statewide is invited to all Buckeye Prep events.  If you know of any player(s) who meets these criteria, please have them contact me at taylorobe@aol.com or 614-203-2929 for an invitation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the event, please feel free to email or call me at the number listed above.

Rob Taylor

Parker Bernard Tourney -The Back Story

Parker Bernard was an 11-year old athlete and student that attended Bellbrook Middle School.  Parker passed away on February 10, 2012 due to complications following surgery to have a brain tumor removed.  Parker was and will continue to be remembered as a boy with bright blue eyes, an ever-present smile and a contagious laugh.  Parker was not only an excellent student but also a passionate athlete.

Several legacies have evolved with the passing of Parker.  Since 2012 a basketball tournament has been held in his honor.  The first year 25 teams participated in the tournament and every year the attendance has grown and in 2017, 108 boys and girls teams played in the tournament.  Some of the teams that participate include Dayton Metro, South Dayton Knights, TNBA, Dayton SWISH, Beavercreek Stars, Gem City Kings, Dayton Airmen, Miamisburg, Centerville Black, WTNO, Lake Erie Defenders, Dayton Wolves, Ohio Hoopstars, Cincy Cavs, All Ohio, OT Elite Rebels, Next Level Prep, Ohio Stars and many more.

In 2012 the Parker Bernard Scholarship was established at the Bellbrook High School to be awarded to graduating seniors attending college, to date 18 students have received a scholarship in his honor.  An endowed scholarship has also been created and is awarded annually in his honor at the University of Dayton, these scholarships are funded by the Parker Bernard Basketball Tournament.

The other legacy that Parker left was through his organ donation.  It was an honor to be able to donate Parker’s organs so that others could benefit.  Parker donated his heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and cornea’s.  Because of these donations 7 people were given a chance for a healthier life. At the young age of 11, Parker has become a hero and inspiration to those that knew and loved him.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blue Chips off to Quick Start

It’s only January, but the 2024 North Coast Blue Chips already have three of four championships under their belts.  Coach Paul Syroka’s squad has only one loss and a runner-up finish in the four tournaments his team has participated in so far this young season.  Those results are even more impressive given the fact that the team often plays up against older teams!  The Blue Chip’s success is predicated on a fast-paced style of play and a roster full of skilled players with high basketball IQs, according to Syroka.

The Blue Chip’s roster is a virtual who’s who of nationally ranked players and their starting five alone includes players like: Jerry Easter Jr. (5’8”/CG/2024/Toledo), John Mobley Jr. (5’0”/PG/2024/Columbus, OH), Jonas Nicholas (6’1”/C/2024/Akron, OH), Xavier Bowman (5’11”/CG/2024/Lansing, MI) and Elvis Syroka (5’0”/CG/2024/Sylvania, OH).  Also on that loaded roster are Grant Hayword (5’11”/PF/2024/Indianapolis, IN), Amari Pickens (5’1”/SG/2024/PA), Sabion Cain (5’9”/WF/2024/Indianapolis, IN), and James Evans (6’1”/C/2024/Kansas).  In terms of our Ohio rankings, Nichols, Easter and Mobley are in our top three.

Coach Syroka’s goals are about the same as they were last season and are player development centered. “I just want to keep teaching, letting them grow and have fun,” said Syroka. “I also want to teach them how to play as a team.  We have a lot of individual talent so it can sometimes be difficult to get them to play like a team,” continued Syroka. Next up for Syroka is a tournament out in Portland, OR, but you can catch the Blue Chips in action in Columbus at the Buckeye Prep Invitational, which is set for April 13th-15th.  In all likelihood, the Blue Chips should grab the #1 spot in our Buckeye Prep Power Rankings when they are released in a few weeks. We intend to keep close tabs on this talented squad this spring and summer.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Humphrey Continues to Dominate the Class

Shelby Humphrey 5'10" Post 2023 Cincinnati
Although the Buckeye Prep Report has traditionally only covered boys basketball, there have been a handful of girls who have been talented enough to compete with the boys and garner our attention. A few weeks ago we profiled KK Bransford, who was one of those girls who made some noise at one of our events. Well, add Shelby Humphrey (5’10”/C/2023/Cincinnati) to the short list of girls whom we have seen excel against the boys.  We last saw Humphrey at the Buckeye Prep Winter Showcase in Cincinnati a couple of years ago, and if we recall correctly, she more than held her on against a group of very talented boys. In fact, as a 4th grader, Humphrey was named one of the “Top Performers” at the event and was selected for the all-star team.  In addition, Humphrey made a splash as a 5th grader at the last Buckeye Prep event she attended in Columbus.

Since we saw her at one of our events, it’s clear Humphrey has continued to grow and develop.  Not only has she grown, her skill set has improved as well, and with combination, she is presently able to play multiple positions.  She is equally capable of playing with her back to the basket or stepping away from the cup, facing up and knocking down jump shots. In addition, she is more aggressive to the cup and can also find open teammates with her advanced passing skills.  Although she can more than dominate a game offensively, Humphry is a good teammate and understands how to play the game.

Since January, Humphrey has been running with the JV and varsity squads at Holmes High School in Covington, KY., where she is averaging 14 minutes per game with the varsity team after only 2 games.  Much like she did with her All-Ohio 2023 travel team last summer, Humphrey has already demonstrated the ability to score the ball at the varsity level.  She’s not on a scrub HS team either, as Holmes was runner-up in Kentucky state tournament last season and is currently loaded with talent.  Look for Humphrey to return to school ball in the Buckeye State next season.

Humphrey’s talent has not gone un-noticed, as she has been recognized as having D-I talent from the likes of Blue Star Media and others.  Also, at a U.S. Junior Nationals event last year, Humphrey was selected to the event's all-star team. Moreover, we project Humphrey as top 5 player in the state in the class of 2023. Also, because we think so highly of Humphrey’s game, she has already been extended an invitation to the prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star Game set for early March.

Humphrey will return to All-Ohio 2023 this summer and will help the team build on their impressive 37-6 overall record.  Coach Ramone Humphrey’s starting 5 is extremely talented, and may consist of Humphrey, Trinity Ralston (5’6”/PG/2023/Louisville), Gracie Barns (5’5”/PG/2023/Cincinnati), Mari Bickley (5’8”/CG/2023/Akron) and Jakayla Thompson (5’6”/WF/2023/Louisville).  Although All-Ohio’s 2018 campaign is scheduled to tip off at the EGB event in mid-February, you can catch many of the above players at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase on March 10th.  We can’t wait to get a closer look at Humphrey and her teammates in a few weeks!

Walters Returns to Bench with Marshall Warriors

Over the past several 20 years, Malcom Walters has established himself as one of the best middle school coaches in not only Ohio, but nationally as well.  Now that his ultra-talented 2020 King James Shooting Stars team has run its course, and over 80% of his players are positioned to play college basketball at various levels, Walters will drop back down for a third time to coach the 6th grade/2024 Marshall Warriors.  Walters will relied on his experience as a former D-I athlete, Hall of Famer and assistant coach at Orange High School in hopes of duplicating the success he had with the King James organization and to help prepare his new crop of players to play ball at the next level. We are excited to have Coach Walters in middle school basketball and we look forward to seeing his new team at our April 13th-15th Buckeye Prep Invitational Tournament!

Buckeye Prep Invitational Information Page

NEO Youth Elite Showcase Returns

Friday, January 19, 2018

BEES MLK Day Tournament Recap

This past weekend, Eddie Norris held his annual BEES MLK Day Tournament in Toledo,OH and teams from various areas throughout Northeast Ohio and Michigan were in the house.  In the 5th/6th grade division, the 313 Hot Boys outlasted the Glenwood Bulldogs in the Final 4 game, on their way to hooking up with G7, who beat Ohio Logistics in a nail bitter in the second semi-final game. The championship game featured some heavy talent as G7 was led by nationally ranked Jerry Easter Jr..  Easter got help from Conye Gaston and Ka'Veon Jones. The 313 Hot Boys were led by Derrick (D Millz) Miller, one of the top ranked players in Michigan. Also, 313 got a lot of good play from James Weaver, Stevie Elam, Devin White Jr., and Big Man Chandler Allen

The crowd was heavily into this game right from the start, in fact, you might have thought it was Ohio State vs Michigan game the way the cheering erupted on every made basket for both teams. It was back and forth, but 313 prevailed in the end to become the MLK Day 5/6 Grade Champions. Easter Jr. would finish with a game-high 32, while Derrick Miller the game’s MVP led 313 with 20+ points and double digit rebounds. 
The All-Tournament Team consisted of: Miller (MVP), Allen, Weaver and Elam from 313, Gaston and Easter Jr. from G7.  Other Top Performers in the 5th/6th grade division included: DJ Barnett – Glenwood; Antione West – Glenwood; Quin Schroeder- Ohio Logistics; Colin White - Ohio Logistics; Montrese “Dooder” Harris – MLK; Micah Bays – Thunder; and Coby Clark – Thunder.

The Glenwood 7/8 Team met St. Francis Red in the 7th/8th Grade Championship game. Glenwood had defeated SFS Red in Pool Play, but SFS would circle the wagons and defeat Jones Leadership Academy in the Final 4 to set up a rematch with Glenwood. Glenwood could be nicknamed the “Monstars” after the 1996 movie featuring Michael Jordan. At one point, 4 of their players on the court stud 6’2” or over. The SFS Red team would not be intimidated, and were led by super strong combo guard Steven McCoy and Jacob Ochoa a good sized scoring Wing.

McCoy & Ochoa both made the All Tournament Team along with ultra quick guard Justin Toler. Glenwood was led by their Big 3 of Mahlon Barbour, Juleon “Day Day” Carter, and Keivon Mack. They also got help from their strong and athletic point guard Darrion Hunt. Carter took home MVP honors. Other Top Performers in the 7th/8th grade division included: Marvelous Walton - Bennett Academy; Cobe Gaston - G7; Ja’Den Adams - G7; Tony Gilmer Jr. - G7; Rayshawn Grier – GESU; Jalen Hamilton – Jones; and KeVon Jones – Jones.  We look forward to seeing thses standout players at our March 10th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase (all are invited)!  Congratulations to Eddie, his lovely wife Willa and the entire BEES staff for a nice event!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Shaker Heights’ Season Culminates in Championship

Shaker Heights Middle School 6th Grade Team-League Champions
Congratulations to Coach Jeremy Hill and the Shaker Middle School 7th Grade Basketball Team. The team compiled a 17-0 record on the season, and concluded with a GCC Conference Tournament Championship win over 3rd seeded Solon 51-30. The team was lead all season by the their "big three" Cody Head, Xavier Peterson, and Kellon Smith, all Buckeye Prep Showcase participants. The team also received contributions from defensive specialist Edward Robinson and sharp shooter Adam Sopenski.

Due to the average margin of victory being 20 plus points all of the players saw significant minutes over the course of the season. The growth and development of the bench will serve the Shaker Basketball program well going into the future. Those boys who grew and developed over the season included: Carmellis Proctor, Randy Morrison, Nolan James, Trey Guice, Imanu Lewis, Kylan Marshall, Sherrod Edwards, and Jayse Thomas. Job well done by all! Rest up quickly and then get back to work. Spring AAU will be here before you know it.  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blue Chips win Another Early Season Tourney

2022 DV45 2018 Gym Rats MLK Classic Champions
Although the 2018 travel basketball season is barely under way, Coach Paul Soroka’s 2024 North Coast Blue Chips squad is already in midseason form.  As evidence, this past weekend the Blue Chips returned to Spiece Fieldhouse in Fort Wayne, IN. and ran through the competition on their way to the 2018 Gym Rats MLK Classic championship.

In pool play, the Blue Chips took down Progeny 2024-Select (59-36) and Bates Fundamental 2024 (64-42).  During Sunday bracket play, the Chips got by Motor City Bad Boys (59-27), MWA Elite 2024 (49-9), MWA Elite National (52-48) and Progeny 2024-Select (54-39).

2024 North Coast Blue Chips
While we’re talking about the North Coast Blue Chips we should mention that the 3rd and 4th grade teams took home gold as well.  The 4th graders got by Quest (39-11), The Family (49-31), C2K Elite (37-13), MWA Elite 2026 (51-45) and Team Teague (65-68), while the 3rd grade team mowed down Gym Rats 2027 (40-3), GR Phoenix (38-8), Team Teague (47-16) and Sky’s The Limit (38-10) on their way to the gold.

We would also like to give a shout out to Coach Ted Docks’ 8th grade DV45 team that finished 5-0 on their trek to the 8th grade title at the same event.  Docks’ team cruised to the title with wins over Tipping Point/IE 2022 (42-22), Team Focus 2022 (54-31), MBA-Black (43-23), Michigan Roadrunners (48-23) and Indy Heat 2022-Black (64-55).  So far this year, DV45 is 2 for 2 in tournament championships.  Congrats to Coach Docks and his team for a great start to the 2018 season!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tri-Village Duo Dominates Competition

Morgan Hunt & Rylee Sagester
Any team fortunate enough have both an elite guard and an elite post player has the chance to put together a championship caliber season.  Such is the case with the Tri-Village Patriots who are currently undefeated and sitting at a perfect 10-0.  The Patriots are blowing out the competition and are averaging 65 points per game.  In most cases, the Patriots starters are only able to play 3 quarters of a game because of the lopsided scores.

The Patriots are so dominating because their roster includes 2 of the top 7th graders in the state. In the backcourt the Patriots have Rylee Sagester (5’5”/PG/2023/Tri-Village) and in the frontcourt they have Morgan Hunt (5’9”/Post/2023/Tri-Village).  Sagester, a highly skilled floor general with a high basketball IQ, leads the team in scoring, averaging 24 points per game.  In addition to her ball handling skills and ability to run a team, Sagester is a threat to knock down the deep ball as evidenced by the fact she has already hit 38 treys in only10 games, and in most of those games she only played 3 quarters.  It should also be noted that 2 years ago, as a 5th grader, Sagester finished as the national runner up in the Elks Hoops Shoot in Chicago, where she made 23 of 25 free throws in regulation. Sagester’s talent has not gone unnoticed, as at least a couple of college programs already have her on their radar and have brought her in on unofficial visits!

According Josh Sagaster, assistant coach for the Dayton Lady Hoopsters, Hunt is a skilled big who is very aggressive, possesses good size and great hands and feet, and can also shoot it accurately out to 15 feet.  Moreover, Hunt finishes around the basket at a high rate using both hands, and in terms of her skill set, Hunt can face up, shot fake then drive around defenders to the cup and finish.  Sagester and Hunt have played together on various teams since about the 3rd grade and now they represent arguably the best 1-2 punch in the state for the Dayton Lady Hoopsters.  With respect to Hunt’s long-term potential, her level of play will depend largely on her continued growth and development.  From what we understand, Hunt’s parents have good size, which could suggest she has a lot more room to grow.

We look forward to catching both Sagester and Hunt in action at our March 10th Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.  In addition, there’s a good chance one or both of them could get an invitation to participate in the prestigious Ohio North vs South All-Star game.  We would like to wish the Patriots good luck with the remainder of their season!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Mattes Among the Best Nationally

Margo Mattes 5'8" WF 2023 Cincinnati
As the best player on a loaded and nationally ranked Cincy Pride team, Margo Mattes (5’8”/WF/2023/Cincinnati) is easily one of the top 7th graders in the country.  According to Coach Anthony Stanley, his Cincy Pride squad finished 4th at the AAU Nationals at the Boo Williams complex in Virginia Beach, VA this past season, and Mattes was a huge part of that success. Also, as the team’s leading scorer and best defender, Mattes was clearly one of the best players in the entire event according to Stanley.

In terms of her game, Stanley could not be more impressed with Mattes.  “She’s very smooth, is a very good ball handler and shooter, and she can defend multiple positions.  Margo is very athletic and she impacts the game on both ends of the court,” Stanley said. “Margo was a Jr. Olympic swimmer before she started playing basketball; she’s the real deal,” according to Coach Stanley.  “She’s [Mattes] is also very coachable and her work ethic alone makes her one of the leaders on our team,” continued Stanley.

This winter, Mattes is running with her All Saints Middle School team where she’s averaging 20+points per game and has her team undefeated.  Coach Stanley is also confident about Mattes’ upside potential and projects she will play ball at the next level.  “Margo is a high major D-I prospect.  I’ve seen a lot of girls play, even in high school, and Margo is better than all of them,” Stanley proclaimed.  Apparently, Mattes is a good student as well and is currently carrying an A average.

A little research reflects that Mattes is far from an unknown, as she has logged in standout performances at elite showcases and tournaments and has been featured on media outlets such as ProspectsNation.com and Blue Star Media. In addition, Mattes' name appeared on an AAU “Watch List” based on her performance at the 6th grade D-I Nationals last year. Also, this is how Mattes was described Lady Ballers Insiders:

“Margo Mattes 5’8” 2023 G/F Cincy Pride: A wing player with point guard handles, Margo is a valuable member of the three-peat State Champion Cincy Pride.  She is a special all-around player, excelling on offense and defense.  Mattes is a matchup nightmare for opponents.  She drives around bigger, slower players and uses her solid frame to go through smaller defenders.  Her ability to knock down shots from anywhere on the court makes her an even more dangerous weapon.  All of these skills along with the ability to rebound out of her area and lock down opposing scorers contribute to the recipe for team success that the Cincy Pride continue to enjoy.”

Mattes is surrounded by talent on her Cincy Pride team including: Zy’aire Miller (5’5”/WF/2023/Cincinnati), Taylor Stanley (5’5”/PG/2023/Cincinnati) and Raeven Raye-Redmond, and Stanley projects each of these 3 players as D-I prospects as well.  When we release our statewide rankings in a few weeks look for Mattes name near the top in her class.  We also look forward to catching Mattes and teammates in action at our Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase scheduled for March 10th!