Ahmad Trims His List

31 Aug

Roderick Caldwell

Roderick Caldwell

After some quiet time in the recruiting world from mid to late August, things have gotten back into full swing, as prospects being to make plans for campus visits and even make commitments. While the fall period is just getting underway, we’ve seen three Buckeye State players make commitments to Division II colleges, while others are on their way to Division I campuses for visits. Here’s the latest from around the state….

  • Esa Ahmad – ’15 Cleveland Shaker Heights PF: Ahmad continues to be one of the hottest names in the Midwest recruiting world heading into the fall, and his name has been all over headlines the past few days. First, the Cleveland senior cut his lengthy list down to just five schools, as Ohio State, Maryland, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Oregon made the cut for the forward. While Ohio State, Maryland and West Virginia have been considered the major front-runners in the Ahmad race for a while now, Wisconsin is a team that arrived late to the party, but must’ve piqued Ahmad’s interest to make the list. The Oregon Ducks are the surprise team on the list, and it will be interesting to see if they can lure Ahmad across the country for a visit. Ahmad then made more news over this weekend, when he took his first official visit, traveling to the University of Maryland to visit the Terrapins campus. Coach Mark Turgeon’s staff has worked really hard in their recruitment of Ahmad, and some rumors have placed Ahmad at Maryland with his close friend Kipper Nichols (Cleveland St. Edward), who the Terrapins have also offered. One of the other Big Ten programs on Ahmad’s list, Ohio State, is also beginning to make a hard push for Ahmad, as the Buckeyes are in greater need of a versatile forward with the decommitment of Mickey Mitchell, another nationally ranked forward who hails from the Dallas area. For as much as folks are going to follow Ahmad’s recruitment in the next couple of weeks, it will be equally interesting to track the development of his Shaker Heights team heading into the winter season, as the Cleveland area team got much stronger this month with the incoming transfer of former Cincinnati Fairfield post Justin Johnson, a high upside big-man who moved up to Northeast Ohio with his family to closer to his brother, Isaiah Johnson, who plays for the University of Akron.
  • Jalen Avery – ’15 Cincinnati Shroder PG: The recruitment of Avery continues to escalate this fall, as the senior from Cincinnati took his first visit to a high major school over the weekend when he traveled down to Knoxville for elite camp at the University of Tennessee. Along with the Volunteers, Avery is also hearing from fellow high major Maryland, who is also in the market for a pass-first point guard like Avery. While Avery has been all over Ohio in recent months, taking visits to Miami (OH), Wright State, Ohio University and Kent State, the recruitment of the point guard seems to be on the verge of attracting some of the bigger schools in and out of the Midwestern region.
  • Fairmont State, a well thought of Division II program out of West Virginia, has been active in recruiting Ohio since bringing on head coach Jerrod Calhoun, a Cleveland VASJ alum, a couple of years back. This past month, Calhoun has used his Ohio connections to his favor, as he recently secured two commitments from talented forwards. First, Fairmont State got a verbal pledge from Clinton Massie small forward Corey Saddler, a skilled and athletic wing forward who had a great 17u AAU season with Ohio Varsity. The, just days later, the Fighting Falcons scored another Ohio prospect in Dayton Ponitz forward Troy Cantrell, a big time athlete who spent the spring and summer with upstart program Ohio Elite. The combination of Saddler and Cantrell gives Calhoun two versatile pieces to use in the future at the forward spots, with Cantrell having the explosiveness to influence the game and Saddler being a hidden gem who can shoot it and has a polished skill set for a 6’6 player.
  • Mitch Loomis – ’15 Malvern PF/C: Like Saddler and Cantrell, Loomis also made his college decision in the last few days, making a Friday night commitment to Lake Erie, a Cleveland based Division II school. Loomis, a 6’8 stretch post player who can really shoot the ball, had another solid AAU season with Team Work, and received significant recruiting attention from Division II schools because of his ability to make plays in pick-and-pop situations. In the end, proximity could’ve been a major influence on Loomis’ recruitment, as Lake Erie sits less than one hundred miles from his Malvern home, which is near the Massillon area.
  • Khalil Iverson – ’15 Delaware Hayes SF/PF: Iverson took his first of the five NCAA permitted official visits this past weekend, heading from his central Ohio home to the northwestern part of the state to visit Bowling Green. New BGSU coach Chris Jans looks to have potentially made Iverson a priority in the 2015 class, as he was able to get the athletic forward to make the Falcons his first official visit. After showcasing his athleticism and college ready strength on the circuit with Ohio Varsity this past spring and summer, Iverson attracted offers from UNC-Ashville, Winthrop and BGSU, while also gathering some interest from other regional low and mid major programs at the Division I level. If Iverson can prove this high school season that he is capable of developing the necessary ball-skills to play the small forward position at the next level, he likely will accumulate event more MAC and Horizon league interest, should he decide to wait until after the season to make a commitment.
  • A couple of class of 2016 Ohio prospects also made recruiting news this weekend when AAU teammates Roderick Caldwell and Jalen Tate both received their first Division I offers. Caldwell, who recently transferred into Huber Heights Wayne in the Dayton suburbs to run the point guard position for a very talented team, received his offer from Miami (OH). The Redhawks had been monitoring Caldwell for some time now, and decided to extend scholarship offers to two point guards in the former, as well as Perry County (KY) lead guard Braxton Beverly. Tate, on the other hand, received his offer from Kent State, as the Golden Flashes seem to have a good feeling about the versatile wing from Pickerington Central. The Columbus area junior finished off strong in the AAU season with All-Ohio Red, even manning some of the point guard duties at times, as Caldwell sat out much of July with a wrist injury.
  • Couple of Kentucky commitments to keep an eye on: Both Boyle County combo guard Tyler Hagen and Newport Central Catholic post Andrew McDonald verballed to Northern Kentucky in the past few days. Hagen is a skilled scoring guard who had a very nice AAU season with KY Hoop Dreams, while McDonald, who ran with the KY Travelers, chose to stay local, as NKU sits only a couple of miles from his high school. Also, Louisville Manual wing Dwayne Sutton, who had a breakout spring with Travelers in the Nike EYBL, also made a Division I commitment, choosing UNC-Ashville over several other interested low and mid major programs.

3CH Showcase Recap

17 Aug

Anthony Christian

Anthony Christian

The first ever 3rd Coast Hoops Fall Showcase in Cleveland this past weekend, with around 75 of Northeast Ohio’s finest heading to Euclid High School for a full day of competition. There’s no arguing that the Cleveland area is home to the most athletic basketball prospects in the state of Ohio right now, and that was proven again at Euclid, as several high-flyers showed a great deal of promise in Saturday’s games. Here are some of the top performers that TDP watched at the 3rd Coast Hoops Fall Showcase….

  • Antwon Lillard – ’15 SG Cleveland Central Catholic: Lillard is a 6’5 wing who is always fun to watch because he simply plays so hard. The rising senior from Cleveland had a solid all-around day, scoring off the dribble at the rim, finishing in transition and making enough jumpers to keep the defense honest. Lillard is a jack-of-all-trades who has the length and athleticism to also be a pesky defender with his aggressive mindset. Lillard is being recruited by several D1 college programs, including St. Peter’s (NJ), Manhattan, Kent State and Cleveland State.
  • Tanner Castora – ’15 SG Strongsville: A hidden gem in NE Ohio, 3rd Coast Hoops’ Steve Newton promised that Castora would make a name for himself at their showcase; and he was absolutely right. The 6’1 combo guard from Strongsville put on an offensive show, whether it was making highlight passes through traffic, pulling up for jumpers off of the dribble or making the deep shot, Castora proved to be on of the most difficult players to guard at the event. He isn’t a name that is known by many outside of the Strongsville area, but that all could change for the rising senior, as he established himself as one of the best offensive guards in the Cleveland area with an excellent showing at Euclid.
  • Anthony Carmon – ’15 PG Cleveland East Tech: An exciting guard with a lot of explosiveness to his game, Carmon is a scoring guard who can play either position in the backcourt. Athletic enough to finish with a two-handed power dunk and skilled enough to make the three-point shot, Carmon is difficult to guard off the dribble, and returns as half of East Tech’s two-headed guard monster after leading his team to the State Semifinals a season ago. Carmon has quietly put his name on the map as one of Cleveland’s top senior guards, and his scoring numbers should easily reflect that this coming season in the city’s fast-paced city league competition.
  • Frankie Hughes – ’16 SG Cleveland Garfield Heights: Hughes picked up at Euclid right where he left off at the end of the AAU season; he dominated. The 6’5 wing guard out of Garfield Heights is well on his way to becoming one of the elite prospects in Ohio’s loaded 2016 class, as Hughes just gets better and better each viewing. He’s a pure scorer who can create off the dribble, finishes above the rim, really can shoot it from deep and most impressively, is a gifted passer as well. With his size, length and athleticism, Hughes has some physical tools that cannot be taught, and has developed the skill-set to match. The rising junior guard still needs to continue to add strength, but schools like Dayton, Cleveland State, Akron and Kent State have already made him a priority by offering scholarships.
  • Anthony Christian – ’16 SG Akron Hoban: After getting a little bit lost in the shuffle offensively at the end of the AAU season, Christian responded in a major way to any criticism that had been thrown his way, finishing the day as the second most efficient 2016 perimeter prospect in attendance behind Hughes. The rising junior from Akron looked focused in from start to finish and used his strength and athleticism to bully his way to the rim for layups. Christian also made enough jumpers to keep the defense honest, a part of his game that with consistency would make him almost impossible to guard. With a lot of natural scoring ability, Christian looks primed to take the next step as a junior, and add a consistent scoring approach to his game. Needless to say, college coaches have already taken an interest in him as well, with Kent State, Cleveland State and Tennessee-Martin having offered already.
  • Derek Funderburk – ’16 PF Cleveland St. Edward: As the biggest name in attendance, and the second tallest player at the event, the pressure was on Funderburk to put together a good showing at the 3rd Coast Hoops Showcase. When the day had ended, no one at the camp had shown close to as much promise as Funderburk, who played with great energy from the beginning of the day to the end. The 6’9 power forward rebounded in traffic, finished above the rim, made perimeter jumpers and most impressively handled the ball extremely well in the full-court. Of course, showcase basketball is very different from high school and the grind it out style that it takes to win a State Championship, like Funderburk did with St. Edward last year, but the rising junior forward still proved on Saturday that his potential is nearly unlimited as a skilled, athletic and very active forward; part of the reason why schools like Ohio State, Indiana, Xavier, Iowa and Penn State have already offered him scholarships.
  • Markell Johnson – ’17 PG Cleveland East Tech: There’s very little debate as to which prospect was most easily able to get to the rim on Saturday, it was the rising sophomore Johnson, who did so at will. Faced with other guards eager to prove that they’re better than the young Cleveland city league star, Johnson emphatically responded in a pair of games that we watched on Saturday evening, blowing by defenders for bucket after bucket inside. Johnson also looked active on the defensive end, where he was able to turn steals into some high-flying transition dunks on the other end. Johnson still has to continue to improve his decision making, but he’s by far Ohio’s most talented guard in the 2017 class, and is continuing to improve his all-around floor game.
  • Freshmen To Follow – A trio of freshmen from the Cleveland area also impressed on Saturday. Fans of Northeast Ohio basketball will probably one day become very familiar with Holy Name wing Dwayne Cohill Jr, and point guards Jordan Burge (Shaker Heights) and Yahel Hill (Cleveland Heights). Cohill is a talented wing scorer who looks to be a very versatile prospect, while Burge and Hill are pure point guards who can distribute or score. Look for all three to be potential impact guys on their varsity teams, and the trio will surely make TDP’s list of class of 2018 prospects to watch when we continue trying to identify the top freshmen in the Buckeye State. 

Other Top Performers: JaQuan Harrison (’15 SF Columbus Africentric), Kyle Nader (’15 SF Vermillon), Nolan Gerrity (’15 C Berea Midpark), Jahmere Howze (’15 PF Warrensville Heights), Brook Simms (’15 PG Cleveland John Adams), Montell McRae (’15 C Cleveland Central Catholic), Devon Andrews (’15 SF Cleveland Lorain), Yavari Hall (’16 SG Warrensville Heights), Malik Smith (’16 PF Cleveland Heights), Maurico Tate (’17 PG Cleveland Westlake)

Dartis, Hughes Staying Home

11 Aug
Jordan Dartis

Jordan Dartis

Two more Ohio class of 2015 prospects joined the list of committed players in the past twenty-four hours, as a pair of scoring guards committed to D1 college programs located within the borders of the Buckeye state.

First, on Sunday night, Youngstown Ursline combo guard Mark Hughes committed to Wright State and their head coach Billy Donlon. Then, Newark shooting guard Jordan Dartis made a verbal pledge to new Ohio University head coach Saul Phillips, the first in-state commitment for Phillips since he took over for Jimmy Christian this past spring.

In finishing up their recruiting journey, Hughes and Dartis couldn’t have taken too more different paths.

Both prospects were highly sought after by mid-major schools, as Dartis has been consistently ranked by Triple Double Prospects as the second best shooting guard in Ohio’s 2015 class, while Hughes skyrocketed up the rankings after a strong summer with his DB Hoops AAU team, and is now ranked among the top point guards in the class.

First with Hughes, the WSU Raiders are getting a scoring point guard who can really shoot the ball with range. Hughes is a gifted offensive player with a deliberate style to his game, and he has shown the ability to be a real playmaker in pick and roll situations. With a pretty good frame for a high school guard, the Youngstown product should be able to contribute on both ends in the competitive Horizon League.

Dartis, who hails from the outskirts of the greater Columbus area, is a strong combo guard who has spent most of his career playing off of the ball. He’s a streaky scorer who has shown the ability to knock down long-range shots, but is even better in creating shot attempts off of the bounce. Having proven himself time and time again over the course of three summers with his All-Ohio Red AAU team, the Newark product is definitely one of Ohio’s top rising senior prospects.

While Wright State and Ohio University get to celebrate the fact that they landed a quality in-state guard, many regional programs are disappointed to have missed out. Before making his decision, Dartis was also weighing either interest or offers from several MAC and Horizon league teams, as well as Minnesota and Kennesaw State. Hughes chose WSU over a couple of other D1 offers, including one from local program Youngstown State.

Wagner Headed to Iowa

10 Aug
Ahmad Wagner

Ahmad Wagner

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery hit a home run the last time he reached into Ohio to sign a player, securing a commitment from class of 2011 forward Aaron White, a player that many of the top Big Ten programs didn’t want. White has gone on to have three very good years for the Hawkeyes and now, McCaffery will try to do it again, this time with a much more prominent program intact, as his team got a verbal pledge from an Ohio rising senior on Sunday afternoon.

Huber Heights Wayne power forward Ahmad Wagner became the fourth class of 2015 prospect from the Buckeye State to commit to a Big Ten program when he chose the Hawkeyes.

After a tremendous junior season at Wayne, located in suburban Dayton, Wagner also was effective for his All-Ohio Red club team in the Nike EYBL, helping him earn even more interest from both mid and high major schools alike.

In the end, Wagner chose the Hawkeyes, one of the Big Ten’s up and coming programs, over other offers from Minnesota, Texas Tech and several MAC and other mid-major offers. Additionally, Wagner did not have offers, but had received varying levels of interest from schools like West Virginia, Butler and Stanford.

A hard-nosed forward who stands around 6’7 but plays much bigger, Wagner is a high-effort guy who really competes on the glass. As a prospect who also starred on the football field, Wagner has a college ready body with good strength and athleticism, which helps negate his lack of height inside at the high major level.

More skilled than he often gets credit for, Wagner is a good mid-range shooter, a strong finisher inside and has continued to improve his skill-set every year he’s been at Wayne under head coach Travis Trice.

Starting with Wagner and Dayton commit Xeyrius Williams, Huber Heights Wayne will be one of the favorites to win the D1 State Championship in Ohio, on a team that also features ’15 PG D’Mitrik Trice, ’16 PG Roderick Caldwell and ’16 wing Trey Landers.

With Williams and Wagner both off the board, attention in Huber Heights will shift to the 2016 kids, as well as Trice, who has several low and mid major offers.

The commitment of Wagner to Iowa gives Ohio a dozen prospects who have made early commitments to D1 colleges from the 2015 class, in a class that ultimately will see thirty-plus prospects sign at that level.

Moyer Commits to ‘Cuse

8 Aug
Matt Moyer

Matt Moyer

Another one of Ohio’s top 2016 prospects came off the board on Friday afternoon when Matt Moyer surprised recruiting analysts with his commitment to Syracuse.

Just when it seemed that Moyer’s name was as hot it could get, as the 6’8 forward out of Columbus Gahanna Lincoln was racking up high major offers at a crazy rate, the rising junior ended the process when he committed to the Orange.

This commitment might come as a surprise in terms of the timing, however, Moyer did give the ‘Cuse rave reviews after visiting their upstate New York campus this week for the Orange’s Elite Camp, where Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim offered the Columbus area forward a scholarship.

In making an early commitment to Syracuse, Moyer chose the Orange over other offers from Ohio State, Iowa, USC, Xavier, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Butler, Wake Forest, Florida, Tennessee and several others.

An athletic forward with great upside, Moyer was heavily hyped following some strong performances a year ago at Coach Vic’s Open Gym in Columbus. However, the Gahanna Lincoln forward did not have a particularly memorable sophomore season, as Michigan State signee Javon Bess commanded most of the attention. Moyer turned his game around 180-degrees in the AAU season, however, dominating in the spring and summer with his VCC Ohio Warriors team along with close friend, and Columbus Northland star forward, Seth Towns.

Moyer’s skill-set really intrigues college coaches as he projects as a true hybrid forward who can attack the rim, Moyer has the athleticism to really influence the game around the rim, and is still learning how to use his tools to control a game. As we said earlier in the week, Moyer will seriously contend for the top spot in Ohio’s 2016 rankings, with today’s commitment to Syracuse adding to his resume.

The style of play that Moyer likes to play is ideal for the Syracuse Orange, as the forward should fit in nicely in Jim Boeheim’s famous zone defense. Syracuse has a long history under Boeheim in developing elite forwards, and in two years when he arrives on campus, Moyer should have all of the opportunities that an ACC school like Syracuse offers to become a great player.

Moyer joins Medina center Jon Teske, who committed to Michigan on Thursday night, as the first Ohio prospects out of a loaded 2016 class to make a commitment to a high-major program.

Teske Chooses Michigan

7 Aug
Jon Teske

Jon Teske

For almost two years now Triple Double Prospects have been ranting and raving about the talent in Ohio’s class of 2016. That class, who is made up of prospects who will be high school juniors this coming season, is not only loaded in terms of quality at the top, but also in quantity of mid and high major division one prospects. Thursday night marked a special day for this class, as the first Ohio prospect came off the recruiting board.

Medina center Jon Teske was that player, as the Cleveland area junior committed to the Michigan Wolverines, announcing his decision publicly via his Twitter account around 8 PM.

After starring at Medina as a sophomore, Teske impressed college coaches this spring and summer with his Team Work AAU team, prompting Michigan head coach John Beilein to extend a scholarship offer, as well as the in-state school, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

In the end, Teske chose to play his college basketball in Ann Arbor, Michigan, choosing the Wolverines over rivals Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana and Notre Dame.

A skilled 6-foot-10 post with considerable offensive upside, Teske is a very good passer and finisher with his back to the basket who can step out and shoot the ball with range comfortably. He is still in need of adding considerable weight before he is ready to battle in the rigorous Big Ten every game, but the height and offensive feel for the game that Teske has is not something that coaches can teach. Also a hardworking player who is known as an above-average shot-blocker and good floor-runner, the Medina product has shown consistently that he has the athleticism for his size to be a threat in the Big Ten.

This skill-set makes him a hand-in-glove fit for Michigan, who has built a top-tier program around fundamentally sound players who will buy into playing an unselfish offensive style. Additionally, Michigan has also made their southern neighbors priorities in the recruiting game, as Beilein has signed stars like Trey Burke and Caris Levert out of the Buckeye State since taking over for the Big Blue.

While Teske is the first 2016 prospect out of Ohio to commit to a high major, he definitely won’t be the last, as he is part of a class that will likely send several prospects to the Big Ten or similar conferences. Currently ranked as Triple Double Prospects top ranked center in his class, look for Teske to emerge even further into the spotlight in his junior season, especially after the departure of former Medina star guard Craig Randall, who moved with his family to Arizona for his senior season.

Click the following link for some highlights showcasing some of Teske’s potential as an interior scorer and shot-blocker: VIDEO

Moyer Continues Ascension

7 Aug
RJ Jones

RJ Jones

School is going to start back up soon, meaning that the summer recruiting period is starting to come to a close. As the period wraps up, more and more Ohio prospects are taking visits to college campuses, as they attempt to find the right fit for the next level. With those visits come offers, and several Buckeye State prospects have attracted those offers this past week. Here’s the latest recruiting news from around the state…..

  • Matt Moyer – ’16 Columbus Gahanna Lincoln PF: The rising junior continued his meteoric rise to stardom this past week, picking up two elite high major offers in the process. Both the Ohio State Buckeyes and Syracuse Orange extended offers Moyer’s way, putting the Columbus area forward back on the national spotlight. The 2016 forward received his Syracuse offer after performing well in front of head coach Jim Boeheim at the Orange’s Elite Camp this week; while the Buckeyes offered a couple of days before, as they try and keep the local prospect in his home-state for his college years. Heading into the fall, Moyer is getting strong consideration for the top spot in our power forward rankings for the class of 2016, as it is currently pretty much neck-and-neck between him and Cleveland St. Edward product Derek Funderburk.
  • Jalen Avery – ’15 Cincinnati Shroder PG: The MAC recruiting picture cleared up a little bit this week when the Toledo Rockets added commitments from Indiana guards Jaelan Sanford and Chandler White, and for now it appears that Avery is the top priority of some of the in-state mid-majors. Avery picked up another offer on Thursday, earning a scholarship opportunity from new Ohio University head coach Saul Phillips while on an unofficial visit to the school’s Athens campus. The Bobcats join Kent State and Miami (OH) at the top of Avery’s list, while the Cincinnati city league guard is also considering Horizon League rival Wright State as well. One MAC coach told TDP this week that Avery, “would step into our league and be the best passer for four years, no questions asked,” adding to our report that the rising senior point guard is a commodity among mid-major recruiters.
  • David Dennis – ’15 Columbus Harvest Prep PG: The somewhat under the radar point guard from Columbus was the only Ohio player to actually accept a scholarship offer this past week, committing to Division II powerhouse West Liberty out of West Virginia. Dennis weighed several high profile Division II offers that he received in July, before eventually landing on West Liberty, who finished as runners-up last year after making it to the National Championship game. Dennis is a talented point guard with good size who is capable as a scorer or passer, and his ability to light up the scoreboard won’t go to waste at West Liberty, who is always among the highest scoring teams in the county.
  • Craig Randall – ’15 Phoenix Shadow Mountain (AZ) PG: While he no longer resides in Ohio, TDP still considers Randall, who starred for three years in Northeast Ohio (most recently at Medina) to be a Buckeye for life. This past weekend, the Phoenix area combo guard added his first Big Ten offer, receiving a scholarship from the Minnesota Gophers and their head coach Richard Pitino. A pure shooting lefty with a lot of offensive ability, Randall has accumulated mid and high major interest and offers these past few months, and could end up signing on either level. Always rated as one of Ohio’s top guards in a good 2015 class, expect for Randall to play both guard spots at the college level.
  • RJ Jones – ’15 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s PG: Jones made headlines on Thursday, as he made his return to Ohio, transferring from Huntington Prep (WV) to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, one of Ohio’s most storied programs. Before spending the second half of his junior season at Huntington Prep, Jones previously spent his first two and a half seasons at Cleveland Benedictine. Returning to Ohio, Jones immediately makes Akron SVSM one of the favorites again at the D2 level in Ohio, as he’ll join fellow point guard, and University of Akron commit, Josh Williams in the Irish backcourt.
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