The State Tournament is always one of our most anticipated spring events for two reasons; first, it closes out the spring session of AAU ball, and second, there’s no better event for a team to be able to claim bragging rights over another for the next month. Heading into the July AAU period we’re now able to recognize three teams who claimed State Championships in their division in Cincinnati over the weekend.
In the 15u division, the Cincinnati Lakers won the title after a Terrance Landers pull-up jumper found its way through the net as time expired to break a tie and give the Lakers a two point win over heavily favored All-Ohio Red. The 16u division saw another upset occur, as All-Ohio Black used their terrific team chemistry to hold off All-Ohio Red in the title game. Finally, in the 17u division, All-Ohio Red took home the trophy in a game they were heavily favored in, defeating a resilient Shining Stars team.
Here’s a look at a few of the standout performers that Triple Double Prospects had a chance to evaluate at the tournament….
- Grant Benzinger – ’14 Cincinnati Moeller SG: Although his Shining Stars team finished a few points shy of first place in the title game, Benzinger would still be our easy selection for the MVP of the 17u division on the weekend. The 6’3 guard really had his jumper going from deep, connecting on big shot after big shot as Shining Star continued to rack up wins, and also showed us the ability to make plays off the dribble and quickly pull-up over defenders. Benzinger is a top notch competitor and underrated athlete who has improved in his attention to defense, and now that he can score in a variety of ways should continue to rack up more Division I offers. One of the hottest prospects in the state, Benzinger has been inquired about by several mid-major coaches to TDP, and is currently ranked as our #5 shooting guard prospect in the class of 2014.
- Carlas Jackson – ’14 Cincinnati Roger Bacon SG: Jackson had a huge scoring weekend as well for Shining Star in their run to the finals, playing “Robin” to Benzinger’s “Batman”. Jackson can score in a variety of ways, but seems most comfortable getting balance off the dribble and rising up for jumpers once the defense backs off of him. Also a solid three-point shooter, rim attacker and someone who can play the point guard position in spurts, Jackson projects as a utility guard at the next level who can provide a quick scoring burst. The final piece of his game is the defensive aspect, where the 6’2 rising senior provides excellent pressure on the ball and has a knack for creating turnovers. Jackson is being recruited almost exclusively at the Division I level, and could easily accumulate a few offers by the end of the July evaluation period.
- Jordan Smith – ’14 Dayton Dunbar PG/SG: Smith was someone that we had not evaluated a lot in the past, but the Dayton Nets combo guard really impressed us on Sunday in a matchup with Shining Stars when he showcased elite level speed and the ability to be a playmaker in the transition game. Smith should see a much bigger role on the Dunbar varsity squad next season, as he can handle the ball at the pace that the Wolverines like to play and is capable of being either a facilitator or a finisher. We still haven’t seen a ton of Smith yet, but he’s a player that we’ll have an eye on as he progresses in July.
- Herman Brunis – ’14 Cincinnati Fairfield PG/SG: Brunis continued his breakout spring with Team One as he led the undersized group to a quarterfinal run before falling to the Queen City Prophets in a close game. Brunis is an intense competitor with top level speed and above average athleticism that has become a prolific scorer on the circuit. He’s most comfortable at attacking the rim with a full head of speed off the bounce, but he’s also shown an improved ability to score in the mid-range game as well. If Brunis can convince college coaches that he’s capable of playing the point guard spot in addition to being a scoring threat, then he could continue to pick up more and more interest at the Division I level.
- DeJuan Sherman – ’15 Cincinnati West High PG: We didn’t get a chance to watch a ton of 16u basketball over the weekend, but when we did it was Sherman that stood out the most. The Queen City Prophets guard always plays with a fiery demeanor, and it was that intensity, leadership and scoring ability that caught our eye at Landmark Christian. Sherman is a scoring minded guard that can get in the lane and finish creatively, or knock down jumpers from long range with his feet set. At 5’10 he’s not going to be one of the bigger guards on the circuit, but his heart makes him an intriguing player in the Cincinnati city league next season.
- Terrance Landers – ’16 Dayton Dunbar SG/SF: Playing at an elite program like Dunbar, Landers had to wait his turn his freshman year; seeing only scarce playing time on the varsity level. Next year, however, that shouldn’t be an issue as the 6’3 wing had a breakout weekend in Cincinnati with the Lakers. Landers showcased an ability to score in a variety of ways, including a strong shooting touch; most notably his buzzer beater on Sunday afternoon to give the Lakers their third straight state title in the 2016 age group. Landers has excellent size for a wing his age and combines natural scoring with a strong rebounding mindset as well; when he gets his handle tightened up look for him to become one of the premiere prospects in the Dayton area in the rising sophomore class.
- Jeremy Larkin – ’16 Cincinnati LaSalle PG: The Cincinnati Lakers guard is known more as a football star, but he’s a very good basketball prospect as well. The 5’9 point guard provides excellent on-ball defense, has gotten better with the release on his jumpshot and rarely turns the ball over. Add in the fact that he’s always going to be the strongest guard, and usually the fastest on the floor, and Larkin becomes a nightmare for less physically mature opponents. He had a big first half in the title game, scoring over a dozen points in the first two periods, helping to keep the Lakers in the game when All-Ohio Red made runs to try and take the game over.
- Jamel Howard – ’16 Cincinnati Purcell Marian SF: “Mo-mo” had an excellent weekend in helping lead the Cincinnati Lakers to a 15u title. At 6’3 he’s still a bit of a tweener, with developing ball-skills at this point, but Howard has superior athleticism to just about any opponent that he’ll face on the circuit. He’s skilled at using that athleticism and strength to be a factor in the game in a variety of ways, and has also shown the mentality of a dominant rebounder. As his skill-set continues to catch up to his athleticism, Howard has as much potential as any rising sophomore in the city of Cincinnati.
- Rashad Ali-Shakir – ’16 Cincinnati Purcell Marian PG: The 6’1 point guard had a big season on the varsity team at Purcell this year, and has continued that success with a strong spring for the Ohio Prep Hoyas. In TDP’s first viewing of this team this spring, Ali-Shakir led a talented group of guards as he showcased an ability to run a team efficiently and be more than just a scoring point guard. He has good size for a young guard, a mature feel for the offensive end and can score at a high level when necessary, making him one of the 2016’s to watch in the Cincinnati area.
- Kobe Johnson – ’16 Middletown PG: In our first ever viewing of Johnson the 6’1 point guard from the Cincinnati Bulldogs was very impressive with his smooth handle and craftiness off of the dribble. Johnson has a long frame that looks like he should hit one more growth spurt, and excels at getting to the rim off the dribble, where he can finish or dish it off. He’ll have to add strength and show us that he can consistently shoot the ball, but Johnson looks like one of the better point guard prospects in Southwest Ohio in the rising sophomore class.
After a busy April and May spent evaluating Ohio’s top young talent from the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016, we at Triple Double Prospects are now ready to release our newest prospect rankings for each of those classes. Taking into account a combination of production and what we believe the future potential of each player to be, we’ve updated our rankings for the rising senior and junior classes, while also switching over from watch list to prospect rankings in the talented rising sophomore class.
As always, comments, questions and concerns can be directed to TripleDoubleProspects@gmail.com. Now, here are the updated rankings……
The Nike Super Sixteen, hosted by the All-Ohio red program in Columbus, over the past weekend gave Triple Double Prospects a chance to watch something that never disappoints; AAU rivalry games. Teams from all over Ohio traveled to the event, and with matchups between the host team All-Ohio Red and the King James Shooting Stars highlighting the action, several prospects stood out. But first, let’s take a look at the champions……
15u – King James defeated All-Ohio Red in the finals.
16u – King James defeated All-Ohio Red in the finals.
17u – All-Ohio Red defeated Millennium Fire in the finals.
Now, here are this weekend’s top performers:
- It basically goes without saying at this point that the All-Ohio Red 17u duo of Jae’sean Tate (Columbus Pickerington Central) and Javon Bess (Columbus Gahanna Lincoln) had another big weekend. But we’ll mention it anyways. Tate and Bess controlled the action at the seniors to be division by using their athleticism, motors and length to force turnovers, track down rebounds and turn defense into high-flying offense. Also for AOR on the weekend, volume scoring wing Eric James (Columbus Westerville Central) stepped up his play; making some key shots and leading Red on a big run as they blew open what had been a close game against the Ohio Phenoms on Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals.
- Jeff Larkin – ’14 PG Cincinnati LaSalle: The Ohio Phenoms guard had a big weekend in front of the scouts in attendance, showing that his name belongs on any list of Ohio’s top point guards. Larkin is a tough minded player who excels on the defensive end and is also one of the better shooting point guards in the class. As the AAU season continues to unfold you’ll likely see his name creep up in rankings sheets, while Division II colleges will surely love his combination of leadership, skill and toughness.
- Roderick Mills – ’14 PF Cincinnati St. Xavier: The versatile 6-7 inside-outside forward from the Queen City Prophets was aggressive as a scorer all weekend long, leading his team into the quarterfinals in our first viewing of QCP this spring. Mills has a great skill-set for his size and his ability to handle the ball in the open court can be valuable for his coaches when he’s playing aggressively. Mills is being recruited heavily at the mid-major level, and already holds several scholarship offers. Additionally for the prophets, guards Ronnie Rousseau (Cincinnati Winton Woods) and Kevin Daniels (Cincinnati Hughes) had big weekends in the scoring department, as they looked like two of the more impressive perimeter players at the event when it comes to attacking defenders with dribble moves.
- Jordan Dartis – ’15 PG/SG Newark: Dartis continued his big spring with the All-Ohio Red 16u team as he shot the lights out all weekend long. A strong bodied guard who can play either position, Dartis is becoming a consistently dangerous scoring threat this season as his jumper continues to fall more often than not. Also a very good defender, Dartis has proved time and time again in the last few weeks that he is worthy of the significant interest he is getting out of college coaches.
- Esa Ahmad – ’15 PF Cleveland Shaker Heights: Ahmad returned to the court for the AOR 16’s after missing the past couple of events due to an injury. The 6’7 forward was excellent in the pool play game against King James as he passed well out of double-teams, knocked down mid-range jumpers and was aggressive around the basket both as a rebounder and an interior scorer. It’s tough for opponents at the 16u level to match Ahmad’s great strength at this point, and he came out with an improved mindset over the weekend; choosing to score inside first then establishing his skilled wing game.
- Luke Kennard – ’15 SG Franklin: The 6’5 sophomore superstar from the King James 16u team always gets the most attention, but he usually deserves it. Over the weekend, Kennard was on a scoring rampage for King James, knocking down his signature quick-release jumper from all over the court. With his size at his advantage, Kennard is also very efficient off the dribble both as a scorer from different levels and as a proficient passer. With the possibility to going 0-2 against All-Ohio Red on the weekend in the second half of the title game, Kennard turned it up to another level, accounting for several of the key plays down the stretch in an emotional win.
- A.J. Harris – ’15 PG Dayton Dunbar: We’ve said for years that the 5’9 point guard from King James 16u is a big game player, again on the weekend he proved us right. After struggling mightily in the pool play matchup against All-Ohio Red, Harris came out like a man possessed in the title game; knocking down long jumpers, scoring at the rim through contact and firing in some of his bullet passes that have made him such a popular name among followers of high school hoops in Ohio. He might be undersized, but AJ has big heart when it matters, and it was his effort and leadership that ultimately helped King James fight of All-Ohio as they almost came back from a major deficit before falling 54-50.
- V.J. King – ’16 SG Akron STVSM: The 6’7 freshman phenom, who plays up an age group with the King James 16u team, was flat out special in spurts over the weekend; proving why national experts are calling him one of the ten best 2016 prospects in the entire nation. King continues to grow and has now become one of the better vertical athletes in his class in Ohio, leading to some major highlights above the rim. However, it’s not the athleticism of King that sets him apart from his competition; it’s his skill-set. With his size, King can play the one, two or three spots interchangeably and is equally comfortable being a slashing scorer as he is a ballhandling distributor. His jump-shot is coming along, and he’s learning the importance of valuing every possession. King had a monster first half for King James in the 16u title game, before playing the facilitator role in the second half; simply put, when he plays to his potential, this kid is going to be one of the best in recent memory to come through Ohio.
- The 15u title game was the best basketball game that we watched all weekend long, with King James and All-Ohio Red fighting from start to finish before LeBron’s boys eventually gutted out a close win. In the win, guards Xavier Simpson (Lima Central Catholic), Anthony Christian (Akron Hoban) and the super athletic Henry Baddley (Akron STVSM) impressed the most for the victors. AOR came up a little short in the title game, but their two stars, small forward Tervell Beck (Cleveland Central Catholic) and combo forward Willie Jackson (Cleveland Garfield Heights) both had big games.
The second session, and regular season finale, of Ohio’s Best Basketball League took place this past weekend in suburban Cleveland, providing some more great competition between some of Ohio’s top AAU programs.
Ty Hairston of Ohio Varsity
When the dust had settled, the regular season ended with the Ohio Phenoms capturing the 17u title with a record of 10-1, Ohio Basketball Club taking home the 16u championship at 11-0, and finally, Ohio Basketball Club also winning the title in 15u with a record of 10-0.
Second place finishers in the regular season included Ohio Varsity White at 17u with a 9-2 record, the Ohio Phenoms 16u team who finished 10-1, and an impressive young group in the Ohio Basketball Club 2017 team who finished 8-2 playing up an age group in the 15u division.
In addition to the great team play over the second weekend, there were also some strong performances from individual prospects. Here are some guys who stood out in Cleveland, and who will be counted on heavily in July when teams descend on Columbus for the O.B.B.L. Championships……
- Ty Hairston – ’14 SG Columbus Northland: As he led his Ohio Varsity team to a second place finish in the regular season, including an emphatic Sunday afternoon victory over the Ohio Phenoms, Hairston scorched the nets in Cleveland; knocking down shots from all over the court. He’s always been known as one of the top playmaking guards, and shooters, in the class of 2014 in Ohio; and there are few other guys you’d want competing for your team in a big game. Sometimes Hairston’s emotions can get the best of him, but when he’s locked in like he was in Cleveland he’s a tough prospect to defend.
- Tony Vuyancih – ’14 SG Cleveland St. Edwards: Vuyancih doesn’t get a whole lot of credit on his talented Ohio Basketball Club team. However, the 6’3 wing guard does a lot of things to help his team win, and has his coaches singing his praises. Vuyancih can shoot the ball on the perimeter, is a capable ballhandler and can facilitate offense; but more importantly it’s his motor and competitive edge that stand out when he battles bigger and more athletic wings for rebounds. As the summer unfolds, look for him to potentially be one of Northeast Ohio’s breakout players.
- Blake Simpson – ’14 PF/C Cincinnati LaSalle: The 6’7 Simpson isn’t a skill guy, but he has top notch power and explosiveness, both of which made him the Ohio Phenoms most reliable player as they captured the 17u regular season title. With some of the team’s guards sidelined by injury, Simpson was required to do a little more offensively than he normally does, and responded by posting up strong and finishing second chance points on the offensive glass. A good defender and volume rebounder, Simpson’s motor makes him a strong prospect, and if he can continue to develop his skill-set offensively then he’ll be one to keep close tabs on.
- Anthony Glover – ’14 PG/SG Toledo St. John’s: Glover doesn’t really have a true position as a point or shooting guard for his Hidden Gems Black team, but he can really score in bunches when he’s feeling it. A hyper aggressive shooter, Glover is a volume scorer who likes to pull-up in the mid-range area for high rising jumpers. Over the weekend he could’ve easily been the events top scorer, as that jumper was falling and he also showed good creativity in transition as a finisher at the rim.
- Davion Ashe – ’14 PG Dayton Thurgood Marshall: Ashe is a defensive minded point guard with quickness who is starting to make a name for himself with the Ohio Phenoms. He’s capable of being a scorer around the basket, floating it in from ten feet, or being a top distributor offensively, and has been showcasing that of late. He’s a tough minded guard who needs to get total control of his emotions, but has as much talent as many of the top ranked point guards in Ohio’s 2014 class.
- Geoff Beans – ’14 SF/PF Toledo Ottawa Hills: The 6’6 forward is a matchup nightmare with his shooting touch from deep, as he knocked down shot after shot from three late Saturday and all day long on Sunday. Beans can play on the wing and run offense with good vision for the game, but might be best as a skilled, while slightly undersized, power forward where he can dominate the pick and pop game with his shooting ability. His size and skill level make him the perfect fit for his AAU’s team name, Hidden Gems.
- Avery Williams – ’14 SF/PF Columbus Tri-Valley: The 6’5 forward is a newcomer to his Ohio Varsity team, but has made a huge impact in the OBBL by dominating the glass and becoming one of the more physically intimidating guys on the circuit. Williams has a man’s strength, can run and jump with the best and plays with a non-stop motor and physical toughness. His skill-set still needs to catch up with his size and athleticism, but he can impact the game defensively, score in the paint and is a consistently productive rebounding machine.
- Carlton Bragg – ’15 PF Cleveland VASJ: It’s hard to write anything new about the 6’9 Bragg, but it would be unfair to leave out the best player on the 16u champions, Ohio Basketball Club, and the best overall prospect (by far) in the OBBL. Bragg was simply special with his play in Cleveland, scoring in a variety of ways and punishing the rim with two handed dunks. As he becomes a superstar in the state Bragg seems to make more and more strides toward a commitment to playing hard every possession and controlling the game defensively, giving him the chance to be one of the nation’s elite prospects. Bragg’s coaches told TDP that Duke has recently reached out to them; joining Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Texas and many, many others.
- Jeremiah Roberts – ’15 SF Toledo Southview: The 6’6 forward from the Ohio Phenoms is quickly becoming one of the breakout 16u players on the circuit, and is a jack of all trades who can give coaches exactly what they’re looking for. Roberts is a long and still growing wing who is excellent as a rebounder on both ends, has nice touch on his jumper and excels at creating offense out of the high post area. He’s still working on becoming consistently aggressive, but his match of skill, size and more than anything, upside, will have college coaches drooling in July.
- John Miller – ’15 PF/C Columbus New Albany: The 6’8 sophomore post is a player who we had not seen before, but left the gym raving about on Sunday. Miller is a young post with good skill, a willingness to play physically and an understanding of how to use his body to create position and angles on the block. Additionally, the Ohio Hoopsters star runs the floor well, is a factor on the glass and is raw to the point that his upside is nowhere near tapped at this point. Look for Miller to potentially make a big splash into TDP’s 2015 prospect rankings when they are updated in the next two weeks.
Every year, the Spice Run-N-Slam event held in Fort Wayne (IN) is one of our best opportunities to evaluate the top young talent in Ohio. This year was no different, as Buckeye State AAU teams made up a good chunk of all teams that competed at the historic Spiece Fieldhouse. On the whole, Ohio teams did very well again this year. All-Ohio Red won the 17u division, with Northwest Ohio Basketball Club making the semifinal. King James took home second in the 15u division, running the table before taking a narrow loss to Indiana Elite in the finals.
Dakota Mathias committed to Purdue on Sunday after Spiece.
Then, teams like Ohio Basketball Club and All-Ohio Red both had impressive weekends in the 16u division, as both made the quarterfinals before falling to the Louisville Magic and Spiece Indy Heat, respectively. With almost all of the top in-state teams in attendance in Fort Wayne, here is a look at who stood out the most to Triple Double Prospects over the weekend….
- Dakota Mathias – ’14 SG Elida: After putting on an offensive clinic to lead NWOBC to the final four at Spiece, Mathias made more news on Sunday, as the 6’4 wing committed to Purdue. The third prospect in Ohio to pledge to a high major (and Big Ten school), Mathias joins Ohio State commitments Jae’sean Tate (Columbus Pickerington Central) and David Bell (Cleveland Garfield Heights). TDP first fell in love with Mathias’ game during his sophomore season at the Ohio State Championships where he led Elida in a thrilling final against Dayton Dunbar, before losing by two. Mathias has good size on the wing and is a prolific shooter who can also slide over and play the point. He had games this weekend of 34 and 28 in front of TDP, proving that Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter is getting one of Ohio’s finest 2014 prospects.
- Jarron Cumberland – ’16 SG Wilmington: TDP put an emphasis on the 15u division over the weekend, and Cumberland was the unquestioned top dog there. The pure scoring wing from Ohio Basketball Club put on a show in a rivalry tilt with King James, brining his team back from a twenty point deficit to tie it, before coming up just short as King James earned a win to advance. Cumberland scored 33 points in the Saturday night contest, filling it up from everywhere inside of half-court. Besides just his shooting stroke, Cumberland showed us a tighter handle then we had previously seen out of him, as he navigated through King James defenders in the full court before getting to the rim for finishes through contact. With his elite combination of skill and strength, Cumberland has definitely solidified himself as one of the best in Ohio in 2016, and could contend for the title of best wing scorer.
- Derek Funderburke – ’16 PF/C Cleveland St. Edward: The freshman from King James shows as much offensive promise as any big man in his class, as he put on a low post clinic against OBC and in two other games which TDP evaluated. At 6’9 and with good mobility, Funderburke is tough for opposing big men to cover as they’re usually outmatched in at least one area. He’s got good touch around the rim, can score in traffic and showed the versatility to step out and play the power forward spot. Like most big men, Funderburke is still a work in progress, but his upside is huge.
- Anthony Christian – ’16 SG Akron Hoban: Christian is a talented 6’2 slashing guard from King James that can play any of the three perimeter positions offensively. He’s a very gifted scorer whose natural instinct is to get to the rim as often as possible. While he’ll need to work on being aggressive and engaged every game out, Christian showed a polished all-around offensive game, and is really skilled at finishing around the basket in half-court or transition settings. With size, a decent jumper and good athleticism, Christian will have the chance to be one of Ohio’s better guards in 2016.
- Derrick Daniels – ’16 PF Dayton Thurgood Marshall: The 6’7 power forward from King James got a ton of pub on this website in the winter with his high school team, and for good reason. Daniels is an explosive athlete down low who is improving at an alarmingly quick rate. He rebounds with toughness, blocks shots and runs the floor like a deer, making it near impossible for opponents to match his motor and desire. Offensively, Daniels is starting to become more than just a finisher, showing the ability to pass it out of the high post and shoot the mid-range jumper with improving form. When his offense catches up completely to his defense you’ll see one of the more intriguing front-court prospects in the nation in 2016.
Jarron Cumberland went off for 33 points on Saturday night.
- Xavier Simpson – ’16 PG Lima Central Catholic: He might not be the quickest or the tallest point guard on the circuit, but the King James guard from Lima is definitely the most cerebral. A highly skilled prospect who can handle, pass and shoot it from deep, Simpson is a mature decision maker with an advanced feel for the game. He thrives in the change of pace game in the full-court, and is always looking to make the extra pass when he drives. Way ahead of his years in his leadership qualities, TDP was impressed with how vocal Simpson was with his teammates down the stretch against OBC.
- Carlton Bragg – ’15 PF Cleveland VASJ: Now that he’s made a name for himself on such a national level, you might expect the 6’9 sophomore from OBC to get a big head; well, quite the opposite is true. Bragg brought a lunch-pail and hard-hat effort to Fort Wayne, which is exactly what we wanted to see out of him defensively. Like he always does, Bragg was dominant offensively; scoring around the rim with his length, running the floor for dunks and showing an advanced wing skill-set, including a silky smooth jumper, for his size. But it was his effort defensively and on the boards that stuck out the most. Having just received an Indiana offer to accompany ones from Texas, Ohio State, Illinois and others, Bragg is right on the verge of being the most talked about prospect in the state of Ohio right now.
- Josh Williams – ’15 PG Akron Barberton: The 6’2 combo guard played with the King James (Love) team this weekend, although he also suits up with King James (Galemmo) as well. A talented combo guard that can score it from all three levels and excels at creating contact in the lane and finishing, Williams sees the floor better than just about all the 2015 guards in Ohio. He isn’t the quickest prospect on the court, but he knows how to get by people with his length and exceptional dribble move game, and showed a willingness to make the extra pass when the help came. As he learns to play with more tempo and give maximum effort on every possession, Williams can give any guard in the state a run for their money in the TDP prospect rankings.
- MaCio Teague – ’15 SG Cincinnati Summit: After somewhat of a slow transition to his All-Ohio Red team the 6’3 guard really found a rhythm over the weekend, shining in two games on Sunday. Known as a shooter with size, Teague was knocking in shots for AOR, but was even better attacking the rim off of the dribble. Teague has good length on the perimeter and the build to shield guys off from blocking his progress. A smart player who is an excellent passer on the wing, Teague will have to work on his quickness, but is extremely gifted as an all-around offensive player.
- Ryan Mikesell – ’15 SF Saint Henry: Mikesell is an intriguing offensive talent who can step inside or outside at 6’6, and has the all-around offensive skill-set to make college coaches salivate. He’s a smart player, who runs with All-Ohio Black, and was particularly impressive on Saturday against the Louisville Magic where he tallied twenty points on a variety of low post finishes, mid-range pull-up drives and three-point shots. His size and length will allow him to play the power forward spot in spurts, but Mikesell is a pure wing forward at heart, and should continue to see his name rise in the TDP rankings over the next few months as we become more familiar with his game.
- Montrell McCrae – ’15 C Cleveland MLK: We had heard a lot of hype about the VJ Sports 16u team, and their start player, McCrae, and both exceeded our expectations in two viewings on Sunday morning. McCrae has an excellent chance, at 6’8 and growing, to be the best defensive player in Ohio by his senior season; as he has the height, length and mobility to be an elite shot-blocker and shot-alter guy. He’s raw offensively, but McCrae runs the floor great and does a nice job of keeping his hands up on both ends, which allows him to get both hands on the rebounds. McCrae will likely be at a different high school next year, and should put his name firmly on the map as one of the elite juniors in Ohio, probably earning the tap of second best big man prospect in his class in the Cleveland area next to Carlton Bragg.
- Austin Adams – ’15 SF Oregon Cardinal Stitch: Adams is one of Ohio’s better unknowns in 2015, and also one of the better athletes. The Team Work wing was still feeling some effects from an ankle injury on the weekend, but was still impressive in his ability to get to the rim off of the dribble, and his explosion around the basket. Adams might still be adjusting to playing against the nation’s most elite competition on the top level AAU circuit, but he has the promise to be one of the best prospects in the Team Work program, and a guy we’ll have a close eye on in the coming events.
- All-Ohio Red 17u: The AOR senior-to-be team has gotten a lot of coverage on this site over the last few weeks, and then had their best event of the year to date this past weekend, defeating teams like Team Thad, Spiece Indy Heat, Louisville Magic, Team Work and a revenge date with the Illinois Wolves on their way to an 8-0 weekend and a championship. Red got a total team effort on the weekend, but it was Jae’sean Tate, Javon Bess, Vince Edwards, and Evan Bailey who set the tone the most with consistent high level play on the weekend. When mentioning AOR’s weekend, we can’t forget about the shooting of off the bench wing Eric James, who scorched the nets on Saturday and Sunday to help Red capture the title.
The second session of the Nike EYBL, the Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton (VA), was jam-packed with college coaches and elite players, giving Triple Double Prospects a chance to check out Ohio and Kentucky’s top prospects against the best of the best. After two sessions All-Ohio Red and the Kentucky Travelers both sit at 5-4 in the league, narrowly keeping their heads above water in quest for a spot into Nike’s premiere summer event, the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam in Augusta (GA) in the July evaluation period. At Boo Williams, several of our prospects turned in strong performances to impress college coaches, here’s a look at who starred…..
- Zach McCormick – ’14 PG/SG Cincinnati Turpin: McCormick was excellent all weekend long for the KY Travelers, showcasing his top level athleticism, confident swagger and shot making abilities in key wins. The 6’1 combo guard is one of the more prolific scorers in Ohio when he’s playing with aggression, and motivated by a little less than friendly trash talking on Saturday morning, McCormick showed that as he knocked down multiple long three pointers and attacked the rim off of crossovers. Mid-majors are all over McCormick, with offers on the table, but the junior also lists Virginia, Butler, West Virginia, Clemson, Auburn and Marshall as schools interested in him.
- Jeff Thomas – ’14 SF Norwalk: Thomas wasn’t quite as hot from the field as he was last weekend in Los Angeles, but the Ohio prospect who plays with the KY Travelers was still efficient. A long 6’6 wing who can put the ball on the deck, score from mid-range and is a good athlete who is getting stronger by the day, Thomas showed college coaches some production, but more importantly, great potential. Look from Thomas to be more aggressive as a scorer in later sessions of the EYBL, which could lead to even more high-major interest; as like McCormick, Thomas already lists a multitude of mid-major offers.
- Justin Johnson – ’14 PF Perry Central: The 6’6 KY Travelers post is an absolute warrior in the paint. When undersized big men compete as hard as Johnson does down low it’s hard not to root for them, and that’s exactly what TDP found ourselves doing as the event went on. For a workhorse type of player, Johnson also has a decent skill set in the paint, and has scoring potential at the college level. Currently he has ten or so Division I offers, with Marshall being the latest to extend one.
- Jae’sean Tate – ’14 SF Columbus Pickerington Central: Tate continues to be one of the toughest and highest motor players on the EYBL circuit. On Friday night he had a career game of 40 points, 18 rebounds and 8 steals against the Georgia Stars, and helped All-Ohio Red have a big 4-1 weekend to get back to where they need to be. Tate continues to show abilities to score in a variety of ways, meaning that it’s going to be hard for Ohio State head coach Thad Matta to not play the Columbus native when he gets to campus in the fall of 2014.
- Vince Edwards – ’14 SF/PF Middletown: The 6’7 combo forward found his groove on Sunday, having a huge shooting game as All-Ohio Red knocked off the previously undefeated Texas Titans, earning themselves a critical win to move up in the standings. Edwards has such an impressive skill-set for his size that he can really cause matchup problems on the perimeter or post up smaller defenders. When he’s active on the boards consistently, he’s a special prospect. He’s not officially down to just Michigan and Purdue, but they’re clearly his top two choices heading into the summer.s
- Javon Bess – ’14 SF Columbus Gahanna Lincoln: The 6’5 versatile wing played all three perimeter positions for All-Ohio Red over the weekend, earning him Monday offers from UNC-Greensboro and Western Kentucky. Bess played more of a distributing role over the weekend, but still showed that he is a long and sleek defender who can move his feet and his a threat to drive and score or pass offensively.
- Cameron Justice – ’15 SG Knott Central: Justice did what he was supposed to do for the KY Travelers, score the ball. The 6’3 guard is a special scoring talent with unlimited range and picturesque shooting touch. He’s still adding a level of consistency to his game against top competition, but this kid can really play and is only going to get better playing against prospects a year older.
- Ray Spaulding – ’15 PF Louisville Trinity: The 6’9 skinny sophomore was one of the breakout players over the weekend, as he possesses a rare combination of length, size and floor running ability. While Spaulding will have to get stronger, he showed signs of a willingness to mix it up in the paint on both ends, and it’s hard to knock his overall effort level. He’s not there yet, but keep an eye on this one’s progress.
- Braxton Beverly – ’16 PG Perry Central: In our first ever viewing of the freshman point guard, we came away surprised and impressed with his understanding of the game. Playing against prospects two years older than he is, Beverly showed poise and a level of competitiveness beyond his years as he made the game easier for his teammates offensively with his handle and passing ability. Definitely one of the premiere guards in the 2016 class in Kentucky, and probably regionally, Beverly will be one to watch in that class for the KY Travelers.
Note: Due to a scheduling conflict we were unable to attend any games for the Kentucky Hoop Dreams 15u team, but ’16 Taylor County combo guard Quentin Goodin continued to earn a reputation for being one of the nation’s top guards in the freshman class, as he apparently drew numerous college coaches to his games and scored at will against the other fifteen year olds. Goodin is already being tracked by Purdue, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisville, making him a top tier prospect in the Bluegrass State.
The Hoop Group Pitt Jamfest, held annually during the first of April’s live recruiting evaluation periods for Division I college coaches in Pittsburgh, is always a great place for Ohio and Kentucky prospects to make a name for themselves. Several Ohio and Kentucky teams participated in this year’s event, with programs like the Louisville Magic and Team Work making big runs against some of the nation’s most talented teams. Additionally, although TDP didn’t get to see due to focusing on national talent at the 17u division, several regional teams played extremely well at the 15u (rising sophomores) division. Team Work made the semifinals in that division, while the Cincinnati Lakers, Ohio Basketball Club and the Louisville Magic all advanced to the quarterfinals. Finally, in the 17u “Steel City Division” of the Pitt Jamfest, Columbus powerhouse Ohio Varsity captured the tournament title. Of prospects that TDP was able to check out, here are the guys who stood out in front of packed gyms of college coaches…….
- Gavin Skelly – ’14 Cleveland Westlake PF/C: Over fifty college coaches flocked into a gym on Saturday morning to check out one of Under Armour’s elite teams, Team Charlotte, and their slew of talented prospects, most of those coaches left the gym talking about the big guy from the other team, Team Work post man Gavin Skelly. An athletic interior player with endless energy the 6’8 Skelly was at times dominant against elite competition, showing the ability to score the ball in a variety of ways from mid range and in. Skelly is skilled enough to knock down mid-range jumpers, can attack slower footed big guys off of the dribble and has the physicality to get it in the bucket with his back to the basket. Also very good in transition, Skelly showed the ability to run the floor for dunks off of the pass or to even handle the ball some himself. Skelly told TDP that he has a ton of schools recruiting him right now, including Bucknell, Elon, Miami (Ohio), Ohio University, William & Mary and Marshall.
- Justin Bibbs – ’14 Montverde Academy (FL) SG: A Dayton native who just finished his first season of prep ball in Florida, Bibbs looked very much improved from last year in multiple viewings from TDP of his Ohio Basketball Club team. The 6’5 wing has good size at the guard position, has strength and athleticism and plays with great effort on both ends of the floor. The year at Montverde really helped Bibbs’ perimeter skills as he now is more comfortable handling the ball on the break, sees the floor better on drives and more than anything else he is able to consistently knock down mid to long range jumpers. Coaches from Cincinnati, Xavier, Dayton, Virginia and others checked out Bibbs over the weekend, and if he continues to add shot making to his arsenal of other skills the versatile wing will become one of the more heavily recruited players in Ohio’s rising senior class.
- Antonio Woods – ’14 Cincinnati Summit PG: The 6’0 point guard from Cincinnati is the best ballhandler in Ohio’s rising senior class, and showed excellent maturity in his floor game over the weekend as coaches from several mid majors watched on. Playing with Ohio Basketball Club, Woods showed poise under pressure against full court defenses, and the explosive speed to create plays in the open court. He’s not the tallest guard but his combination of speed and strength make him an excellent defender on the court. A pure point guard who prefers to play the role of set up man, Woods is going to continue to be recruited highly because he makes so many positive things happen on the court, while rarely making a mistake like turning the ball over.
- Quentin Snider – ’14 Louisville Ballard PG: Everyone is already familiar with the Louisville Cardinals commit, who is the best point guard in the state of Kentucky regardless of class. Playing over the weekend with his Louisville Magic squad, the top fifty recruit was again more than efficient as he dominated on the defensive end, forcing a ton of turnovers with his quickness, fast hands and energy. Offensively, Snider controlled the show as he usually does, but also showed an improved ability to knock down the mid-range jumper off of the dribble. Assistant coaches from Louisville checked out multiple Magic games, and they should be excited to eventually have the 6’0 point guard on campus in the fall of 2014.
- D’angelo Hunter – ’15 Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park SF: We had heard great things about the 6’7 sophomore from Louisville PRP, but this weekend after seeing him run multiple games with the Louisville Magic 16u squad we can say that Hunter has actually been under-hyped. A long and athletic combo forward who is making the transition to being a pure wing player, Hunter plays with great effort on the court and can affect the game positively in a number of ways with his versatility. He’s a good slasher who can find teammates when the help comes, gets toughness baskets and inside and is good in the transition game. Hunter still has a ways to go in his skill development but his size, mindset and talent are going to make him a heavily recruited prospect. After the game, Hunter told TDP that he is already being recruited by Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Wright State and has also begun to communicate some with Michigan State and Xavier.
Among other names that had college coaches buzzing amongst Ohio teams were Isaiah Walton (’14 Elyria PG/SG) of Hidden Gems Black, Nate Sheppard (’14 Dayton Jefferson SG) of the Ohio Hoopsters and Dakota Mathias (’14 Elida SG/SF) from Northwest Ohio Basketball Club. TDP didn’t get a chance to catch these teams in action over the weekend, but we’ll have more on all three of these prospects in the coming weeks on the circuit.
News and Notes:
- Damarion Geter – Dayton Dunbar PF: The 6’7 Geter committed to Longwood University over the weekend. Longwood is a Division I program out of Virginia that plays in the Big South Conference.
- Dorian Jordan – Cincinnati Princeton PG: The undersized but dynamic playmaker committed to Division II Kentucky State over the weekend.
- Tyler Herron – The 6’8 power forward from the class of 2014 has bounced around in and out of state at several schools in the last few years, but has found a home for now back in Cleveland. Herron is currently enrolled in school at Euclid HS in suburban Cleveland and is playing for the Ohio Basketball Club 17u team.
- Kevin Fischer – The 6’8 power forward from the class of 2015 has officially transferred back from Florida’s IMG Academy to his home district of Logan Hocking, which is southeast of the Columbus area. For the second straight year, Fischer is running with the Ohio Basketball Club organization.