Vest to Wright State

18 Sep
Xavier Simpson

Xavier Simpson

The fall recruiting period has been in full swing for a while now, and college coaches are continuing to make visits to the Buckeye State to evaluate current recruiting targets or to try and identify new ones. Players from the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 have been receiving these visits in the last couple of weeks, while one the top shooting guards in the class of 2015 also decided to end his recruitment on Wednesday night. Here is the latest news and other rumblings from around Ohio……

  • Alan Vest – ’15 Dayton Chaminade Julienne SG: Vest committed to Wright State on Wednesday night, choosing to stay in his hometown of Dayton to play college basketball for the Raiders under head coach Billy Donlon. While Vest represents the latest commitment for Wright State as the Raiders continue to put a higher emphasis on keeping top in-state talent in their state at the upper-tier Horizon League program, Vest is a prospect who didn’t need too much swaying to make a commitment. The younger brother of former Raider wing Matt Vest, who was a senior under Donlon last year, the younger Vest had a serious family connection to the Wright State program. In the end, that connection was enough to keep Vest, a 6’3 shooting guard who really burst onto the scene in his junior year at Dayton CJ and then in the July AAU season with Shining Stars, at home. Vest will bring a diverse skill-set that includes a good feel for finding teammates with passes on drives and long-range shooting to Wright State when he enrolls next year. Vest is the second Ohio prospect to join Wright State’s 2015 class, joining Youngstown Ursline guard Mark Hughes.
  • Carlton Bragg – ’15 Cleveland VASJ PF: Bragg continues to draw national media attention in the recruiting world over the last couple of days, as his family has played host to some of the superstars of college coaching for in-home visits with his five finalists in Bragg’s home in Cleveland. In the past few days Bragg has hosted both Kansas head coach Bill Self and Kentucky head coach John Calipari to allow them to give their best recruiting pitch, with Illinois head coach John Groce scheduled to come in soon. Those three schools are considered the likely frontrunners for Bragg, who also lists Arizona and UCLA on his final list of five schools.
  • Xavier Simpson – ’16 Lima Senior PG: Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue, Xavier, Butler and Michigan State are among the schools that have visited the Lima Senior point guard already this fall, and the period is far from over. After a standout AAU season with King James, following a State Championship run at Lima Central Catholic, Simpson has established himself as one of the elite point guards in the Midwest, and high-major coaches have certainly heard the news. It will be interesting to follow Lima Senior this coming year, as new head coach Quincey Simpson has a plethora of talented guards to surround his son with, including Western Carolina commit Elijah Pughsley.
  • Micah Potter – ’16 Mentor PF/C: After being labeled by this site as the breakout player in Ohio’s 2016 class during the July AAU period, the 6’9 post from the Cleveland area has seen his recruitment skyrocket. Most recently, Mentor high school has played host to schools like West Virginia, Xavier, Butler and Davidson, with Potter scheduled to unofficially visit the Mountaineers and head coach Bob Huggins later this month. College coaches always put an emphasize on skilled and tough big guys, and while Potter isn’t a high-flying post, he brings a tremendous amount of positives to the floor and still is showing signs that he will continue to improve.
  • James Manns – ’16 Columbus Walnut Ridge SF: It’s been a busy fall for Manns as the 6’6 (or taller) combo forward from Columbus made the transfer across town from Marion-Franklin to Walnut Ridge. Now, the junior has earned his first Division I scholarship offer, as Stony Brook pulled the trigger earlier this week on the skilled and athletic forward. Manns has received significant interest at the Division I level from MAC and low-major teams, but this represents the first offer, a list that could grow quickly if Manns can perform well in a Walnut Ridge uniform.
  • Don’t forget about Ohio’s 2017 class or current sophomores just because the 2016 class is so deep and talented. Several 2017 prospects have received new recruiting interest this September including the state’s top prospect, Columbus Westerville South center Kaleb Wesson, the top guard, Cleveland East Tech combo guard Markell Johnson and a promising forward in Warren Harding’s Derek Culver. First, Wesson has hosted Ohio State and Dayton, plus a few others at his school; while Johnson has received significant new interest from West Virginia, the top Big XII team in terms of recruiting Ohio prospects. Finally, Culver has really drawn the interest of coaches, as schools like Purdue, Xavier, Illinois, West Virginia and Dayton have all expressed interest already.
  • Players from all over Ohio, particularly the Central Ohio area, should make sure and get registered early for the annual Hidden Gems Fall Showcase, an exposure event that should draw over 40 college coaches to Columbus. More information can be found by going to this link: LINK

Five Seniors Commit, Buckeye Prep a Success Again

14 Sep
Doug Taylor

Doug Taylor

It was a busy weekend in Ohio prep hoops as several top seniors took official visits and others made their college decisions. Additionally, Rob Taylor’s annual camp, the Buckeye Prep Report Fall Showcase, drew over five-hundred kids from all over the region. While this year’s camp focused more on some of the top middle school prospects in the region, TDP was on hand to check out the high school prospects from the Buckeye State that made their way to Otterbein University in Columbus for the well-known showcase. Here is a recap of some of the latest recruiting news, as well as a couple of standouts from Buckeye Prep….

  • Doug Taylor – ’15 Columbus Northland C: After a huge junior season propelled Taylor from a somewhat known post to a heavily recruited prospect, the 6’8 center ended his recruitment quietly this week, committing to Ohio University out of the MAC. While it took a couple of days for most scouts and media to realize that Taylor had pulled the trigger, TDP has confirmed through a source close to OU that Taylor has indeed pulled the trigger. With the addition of Taylor to their class, new OU coach Saul Phillips now has commitments from two of Central Ohio’s top seniors, as Taylor joins Newark guard Jordan Dartis as Bobcat pledges. Taylor also heavily considered offers from Tulane, Miami (OH) and other interest before making the call to the Bobcats out of Athens, Ohio.
  • Noah Bramlage – ’15 Ottawa Glandorf PF: Bramlage, a 6’7 power forward with a good skill-set, came to his final decision this Saturday after considering around twenty college offers. In the end, academic standing played a huge part in Bramlage’s decision as he chose to continue his career at Princeton University of out the Ivy League, with the decision coming just hours after finishing his official visit to the Princeton campus in New Jersey. Bramlage also heavily considered Harvard and William & Mary in the end, as he focused his decision on finding a Division I school with a good basketball history as well as great academics.
  • Dylan Lowry – ’15 Cincinnati Lakota East PG: Lowry ended his recruitment on Sunday, committing to Division II Hillsdale College out of Michigan, one of the GLIAC’s top programs for both basketball and academics. The 6’0 combo guard is a feisty competitor with a very good feel for the game and shooting touch who was heavily committed at the D2 and low-major D1 levels. Lowry will join his older brother, Stedman Lowry at Hillsdale, as Stedman will be a redshirt freshman this coming season for Hillsdale.
  • David Dunnigan - ’15 Parma PF/C: After a great July playing on the AAU scene with DB Hoops, the 6’8 Dunnigan picked up several D2 offers. However, you only get to choose one school, and Dunnigan did so on Sunday, making a verbal pledge to Cleveland area Division II program Lake Erie College. Dunnigan is the second Ohio front-court player in Lake Erie’s 2015 class, as he joins Malvern power forward Mitch Loomis, another 6’8 prospect.
  • Jacob Sawman – ’15 Marlington C: One of Ohio’s potential hidden gems in the senior class, the 6’10 Sawman came off the board this week when he made a commitment to Division II program Notre Dame College, located in the Cleveland area. Sawman made a name for himself on the AAU scene, running mainly with DB Hoops, and is a high upside big man with excellent size.


  • Seth Goodson – ’18 Columbus Gahanna Lincoln SG: Goodson has created hype in Columbus as being one of the areas top freshmen, and he certainly looked the part at Buckeye Prep this past weekend. Goodson is a quick 6’2 shooting guard who can get to the rim off the dribble and is also able to create mid-range shots at will. As a gifted scorer and wing who is physically ready to compete at the varsity level, look for Goodson to be a freshman who makes an impact in Columbus area hoops this season.
  • Cory Davis – ’18 Cincinnati Walnut Hills SF: Davis, who is expected to be an impact guy on the varsity team at Walnut Hills this season, is a lanky 6’4 wing who is very skilled for his size and age. A good athlete who can make plays off of the dribble, Davis is a promising young prospect who showed a smooth ability to handle the ball in the full-court and good scoring instincts at Buckeye Prep.
  • Dondre Palmer – ’18 Columbus Pickerington North SF: A freshman that we had never heard of before out of Columbus, Palmer was extremely impressive as a 6’4 combo forward who will likely transition to becoming a true small forward in the next year or two. He’s a good athlete and high motor guy who can finish around the rim, but is also a decent ballhandler in the full-court who is good at using his length to extend by the defenders. Palmer is a little more raw than some of the other top freshman, but he has an excellent ceiling and should be a contributor at Pickerington North.
  • Isaiah Speelman – ’18 Hilliard Bradley PF: Speelman is an athletic power forward with size and length at around 6’5 who can score inside with touch. While his lack of strength could be an issue at the varsity level, Speelman’s ability to go get the ball at or above the rim should give opponents fits for four years, and he also showed enough of a skill-set to make it look like he’ll eventually become a true inside-outside versatile forward.
  • Shawn Christian – ’17 Cleveland Garfield Heights SG: The only sophomore to make the list of top players that we evaluated in our afternoon at Buckeye Prep, the Garfield Heights sophomore combo guard was impressive in his shooting and scoring abilities. Christian is a powerfully built natural shooting guard who handles it well enough to play the point guard spot in spurts. However, the 6’0 guard is more comfortable off the ball and will likely be a strong complimentary piece at Garfield Heights this year, after having a solid 15u AAU season with All-Ohio Red last summer.
  • Other Buckeye Prep standouts: Dwayne Cohill Jr (’18 Cleveland Holy Name), Coryon Rice (’18 Cleveland Stow), Charles Gayflor (’18 Columbus Mifflin), Austin Bennett (’17 Columbus Westerville North), Amani Redus (’17 Cleveland Shaker Heights), Braun Hartfield (’16 Willoughby South)

Ahmad to West Virginia

10 Sep

Esa Ahmad

Esa Ahmad

One of the Midwest’s top available seniors came off of the recruiting board on Wednesday, midway through the first week that college coaches are allowed to visit high schools for their fall recruiting period. Along with that commitment, many of Ohio’s top seniors received visits from college coaches this week already, with more scheduled to come in soon. Here are some of the top stories going around the news wire in the Buckeye State….

  • Esa Ahmad – ’15 Cleveland Shaker Heights PF: West Virginia swooped into the Buckeye State on Wednesday and hit the recruiting home-run of the year for Mountaineer’s fans, landing Cleveland area star Esa Ahmad. A top-50 recruit nationally, Ahmad chose WVU and head coach Bob Huggins somewhat unexpectedly early, as his family was still scheduled to make trips to Wisconsin and Oregon, as well as hear more from Maryland and Ohio State. This latest commitment shows that Huggins has continued to prioritize high-motor Ohio forwards who can score, as Ahmad will likely see early time in the Big XII as a rebounder and versatile scorer. With Ahmad now off the board, attention in Ohio will likely shift more heavily to Carlton Bragg, another Cleveland forward who is highly regarded nationally.
  • Isaac White – ’15 Ashland PG: One of the most solid floor generals in Ohio’s 2015 class, White came off the recruiting board on Wednesday as well, when the Ashland guard committed to Division II program Malone, an in-state school. After three years running the floor for Team Work on the AAU circuit, White had attracted Division II interest from a number of Ohio and West Virginia schools before deciding that Malone was the best fit for him.
  • MaCio Teague – ’15 Cincinnati Walnut Hills SG: Teague is continuing to attract both Division I programs and high academic institutions, as the Cincinnati Walnut Hills senior has received visits from Bryant and Yale this week. Additionally, Teague, who is one of Ohio’s top shooters, is scheduled to take an official visit to Yale before the end of this month.
  • Jalen Avery – ’15 Cincinnati Shroder PG: The top guard in the Cincinnati area played host to several schools this week as Kent State and Ohio University came in on Wednesday, and Maryland is expected in on Thursday. After working out for the two MAC schools at his high school on Wednesday afternoon, Avery also allowed Kent State coach Rob Senderoff to conduct an in-home visit with his family, and also plans on taking his official visit to Kent State this week.
  • Ohio State was busy checking out in-state kids this week, as multiple coaches made appearances in Cleveland and Columbus. Head coach Thad Matta was at Cleveland St. Edward looking at 2016 power forward Derek Funderburk (who has an OSU offer) as well as 2015 forward Kipper Nichols. With Esa Ahmad off the board to West Virginia, look for Nichols to potentially emerge as an OSU target.
  • Ashon Riggins – ’16 Hamilton PG/SG: A combo athlete who stars on both the basketball court and the football field, Riggins received a major boost to his recruiting stock this week when the combo guard received visits from both Wright State and Belmont. Speaking of Belmont, they also made another stop in the greater Cincinnati area, crossing the river to Newport (KY) to check out 2016 combo guard Ethan Snapp.
  • Jarron Cumberland – ’16 Wilmington SG: It was a busy week in Wilmington as Cincinnati, Iowa State and Butler all stopped by the local high school to check out Ohio’s top 2016 shooting guard. While these three schools have yet to offer a scholarship, these visits prove that Cumberland is a top target of several high-majors in the 2016 class.
  • Cleveland State offered two juniors out of Cleveland Garfield Heights this week when they extended scholarship opportunities to both Willie Jackson and Frankie Hughes. Jackson is a 6’5 combo forward with great athleticism and physical abilities, while Hughes is a skilled shooter with size and athleticism, both of whom have drawn tons of interest from mid and high major schools.

Pughsley Commits to WCU

7 Sep

Elijah Pughsley

Elijah Pughsley

College coaches are back on the road this coming week, as schools from all across the region will be visiting Ohio high schools to watch some of their recruiting targets workout and go through open gym sessions. Heading into what surely will be a busy fall recruiting period, here are some of the latest headlines from the days leading up to the mayhem….

  • Carlton Bragg – ’15 Cleveland VASJ PF: The top-15 nationally ranked recruit, and top ranked senior in Ohio, Bragg announced his highly anticipated five finalists in his recruitment last week. Only Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA remain on the 6’9 forward’s list, as Bragg cut more than twenty schools off of his list. While the five who made the cut all seemed to make sense, fans of both Ohio State (the only in-state school with a legitimate chance at Bragg) and West Virginia (one of the first high-majors to get involved with his recruitment) will surely be disappointed not to be among the finalists. Bragg has said for several months that Kansas, Kentucky and Illinois are in good standing with him, and the power forward plans to take visits to all three campuses in the next couple of months. Arizona and UCLA are the latest to get involved with Bragg, after spending lots of time tracking him this July with Ohio Basketball Club. While Bragg’s recruitment is a little easier to decipher now that he is down to just five schools, don’t expect a decision soon, as Bragg’s advisor, Michael Graves, told TDP that the Cleveland senior will not make a decision until the spring.
  • Esa Ahmad – ’15 Cleveland Shaker Heights PF: After taking his first official visit to Maryland recently, Cleveland’s second most highly touted senior prospect took his second official visit of the fall this past weekend. Ahmad traveled with his family to Morgantown, WV to take in the campus of West Virginia University and meet with Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins. While WVU was once considered the favorite for Ahmad, the Mountaineers are just one of Ahmad’s five finalists, joining Maryland, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Oregon. With West Virginia being one of the first to make a hard push at Ahmad, Coach Huggins and his staff have built a strong relationship that will give them a great chance of competing with the rest of the four finalists, most notably Ohio State and Maryland, to land the versatile forward. The in-state Ohio State Buckeyes will be next to make a strong push for Ahmad, as they’ll host the Cleveland senior this coming weekend for Ahmad’s next official visit, which will be his third of the five that the NCAA allows.
  • Elijah Pughsley – ’15 Lima Senior PG/SG: After a red hot shooting performance with the Queen City Prophets led to Pughsley being courted by several low and mid-major division one programs in the past month and a half, the senior guard from Lima became the latest Ohio prospect to come off the board this weekend. While on campus at Western Carolina for his first official visit, Pughsley went ahead and committed to the Catamounts. One of Ohio’s top shooters, scorers and competitors, Pughsley held offers from North Carolina Central, Maine and a couple of others, before deciding that Western Carolina was the place where he wanted to continue his career. Playing alongside one of Ohio’s top setup men in ’16 point guard Xavier Simpson, look for Pughsley to light up the scoreboard from three in his only season at Lima Senior, where he just transferred into from Cincinnati Hughes.
  • Nick Ward – ’16 Columbus Gahanna Lincoln C: Just days after making it onto the prestigious list of the top-150 juniors in the country by’s Eric Bossi, the 6’8 center from Columbus picked up another major Big Ten offer over the weekend. Ward’s latest offer comes from the Wisconsin Badgers and head coach Bo Ryan, one of college basketball’s most respected coaches and someone who is well known for trying to tap into the Buckeye state to snag top prospects. Ward also has offers from Michigan Sate, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State, Iowa, Xavier, Purdue and Miami (FL) after entering the April period of the AAU season with All-Ohio Red with no offers to his name. Perhaps the one 2016 prospect in Ohio’s loaded class who helped his stock more than anyone else in the AAU season, expect several high-majors to flock to Columbus this coming month to check out Ward at open gyms.
  • Seth Fuller – ’16 Dublin Coffman PG: After leading his Team Work 16u squad to a second consecutive strong summer, providing the interior passes to highly regarded posts Jon Teske (Medina) and Micah Potter (Mentor), Fuller earned his first college offer this past week. Stony Brook became the first to offer a scholarship to the Columbus area junior point guard, as Fuller will likely be highly recruited at the division one level by low majors, particularly high academic schools.
  • Prep Spotlight Showcase: The annual showcase hosted by Prep Spotlight’s John Stovall will be held at Garfield Heights HS on September 18th. The cost is only $30 and Stovall is expecting over thirty college coaches to attend. For more info, or to register, email Sonny Johnson at 
  • Tier1 Sports Fall League: Quincy Simpsons’ high school fall league will run from September 20th through October 25th in Lima, while Tier1 Sports will also host a middle school showcase on September 19th. Visit for all the info.

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.


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