The 2013-2014 high school basketball season in Ohio is officially in full effect, as almost every team in the state has completed at least one game. On Saturday in Columbus, teams from around the state gathered for a four-game hoop-fest, named the Clark Kellogg Tip-Off Classic. The event, which just completed its second year, matched central Ohio’s finest with teams from around the state, with the results ending in a 2-2 split.
Some teams, most notably Columbus Northland and Pickerington Central, played their first game of the season at the Clark Kellogg Tip-Off Classic, while most of the other teams completed their second outing of the season. After the end of four contests, three of which were competitive games all the way into the fourth quarter, here’s a look at some of the top performers who stood out on Saturday in Columbus…..
- Jae’sean Tate – ’14 Pickerington Central SF: As the consensus top 2014 prospect in the state of Ohio, Tate is supposed to dominate in events like this. And that’s exactly what he did. The Ohio State bound small forward was a force around the rim for Pickerington Central in their season opener, as they rolled past Toledo Rogers in a blowout. Tate accumulated 23 points on the afternoon, most of them coming in the paint on transition dunks, offensive rebounds or hard drives. With Toledo Rogers consistently allowing Tate to drive to his dominant left hand, the small forward showed his strong finishing ability, and also was as efficient as usual at getting to the foul line. Tate was arguably the top performer of the day on Saturday, and likely would’ve had significantly better stats had he seen more second half minutes if the game had been closer.
- Connor Kern – ’14 Pickerington Central SF: While Tate was the star of the last three quarters for Pickerington Central, it was their other Division I bound senior, Arkansas State commit Connor Kern, who helped Pickerington Central build their lead. Kern scored 17 of his 19 points in the first period, highlighted by several crafty transition finishes. Known more as a spot-up shooter on the offensive end, Kern showed the ability to play up-tempo basketball on Saturday, earning almost all of his points either at the basket or the foul line. Lack of playing time in the second half of a blowout game limited what could have been an even bigger scoring night, but nevertheless, Kern was very impressive.
- Antonio Woods – ’14 Cincinnati Summit PG: Ohio’s top pure point guard in the senior class, a multi-sport commit to Penn, Woods played an efficient floor game for Summit as they defeated Columbus Africentric in a close game. With this season’s Summit team down on talent from the last few years, Woods has had to take on more of a scoring role, and was able to put up 18 points against a very good Nubians team. Woods shot-making ability has improved, but it is his combination of speed and strength, while also being able to remain under control, that really stands out when he is matched against other high school guards.
- Tremaine Hawkins – ’14 Dayton Thurgood Marshall SG: The strength of this year’s Thurgood Marshall team is their depth of scoring threats on the perimeter. This was very evident against Columbus Northland, as Hawkins, a 6’2 wing who played just a supporting role last season, scored 24 points, including 16 in the third quarter, to push Thurgood Marshall past the favored Northland Vikings. Hawkins showed the ability to score from different levels as he made shots off of the dribble, finished with touch in transition and confidently shot the ball from long distance. Along with fellow senior guards RaChaun Martin, Davion Ashe and Dwayne Chastain, as well as sophomore D.J. Hoskins, the Cougars have a full stable of horses that can take over a game with their speed and toughness. However, they only needed one of those guards to carry the scoring load on Saturday, and that played was the games MVP, Hawkins.
- Nate Axelrod – ’14 Dublin Coffman PG: Despite being the smallest player on the floor at around 5’6, the senior point guard from Dublin Coffman showed the biggest heart in his team’s battle with Canton Timken on Saturday, as Axelrod scored 19 points in an overtime win for Coffman. Axelrod hit a pair of timely jumpers from behind the arc down the stretch and in overtime as Coffman slowly chipped away at a Timken lead to eventually take the game. In addition to his shooting ability, Axelrod was also efficient as a defender, where he drew multiple offensive fouls with some pesky on-ball defense, and as a passer, as he tallied a few assists on drive and kick passes.
- Evan Davis – ’15 Cincinnati Summit SG: With the four games all being played at an above average pace, most of the scoring on Saturday was done around the rim. However, one shooter did stand out, as Summit junior Evan Davis knocked down five three-pointers for a 15 point outing, including hitting four of those five shots in the first half to stretch the Africentric defense. Playing with much greater confidence than he did a year ago, Davis has had multiple games in front of TDP this season where he has really shot the ball well, while also attacking the basket for pull-ups. As his confidence continues to grow, Davis could become one of the better-known pure shooters in southwest Ohio.
- JaQuan Harrison – ’15 Columbus Africentric SG/SF: Harrison’s team couldn’t come up with a win on Saturday, however, the junior guard was highly impressive as he totaled 19 points. Harrison really showed good effort on the defensive end, guarding multiple positions on the ball, including Antonio Woods, and then playing the role of dominant shot-blocker in transition, as he rejected 5 shots on the day. While Africentric as a team struggled to make perimeter shots, Harrison earned most of his points around the rim on drives, offensive rebounds and a few in transition where he was able to take contact and still get the ball to go in.
- LePear Toles – ’16 Canton Timken SG/SF: One of Ohio’s premier sophomores, in a class that TDP continues to rave about, Toles turned in a special performance on Saturday, looking like one of the best prospects in northeast Ohio in the process. The powerfully built 6’4 lefty wing scored 16 points in limited minutes due to foul trouble, but showed the competitive edge to keep his team ahead in a game that they ultimately lost in overtime once he fouled out. Toles got his points off of pull-up three-pointers, and on lefty drives to the rim, where he showed the handle, control and vision to be an efficient player. He’s still someone who probably has gotten the credit he deserves, and rest assured that he is one of the top sophomores to keep an eye out for in Ohio.
- Derrick Daniels – ’16 Dayton Thurgood Marshall PF: We’ve raved about Daniels for a few months now, and the 6’8 sophomore continued his strong run on Saturday, tallying 17 points in a Thurgood Marshall win. Daniels starred the most on the defensive end, showing the ability to guard on the interior or perimeter, and having the toughness to keep Northland scorers out of the paint. On the offensive end, Daniels got most of his points off of positioning, as he found spots behind the Northland defense for Thurgood Marshall guards to feed him for dunks when the help defense broke down. As he continues to be both highly productive and efficient, look for Daniels to continue to make his name as one of the elite 2016’s in Ohio.
- Seth Towns – ’16 Columbus Northland SF/PF: Northland as a team got balanced offense from seniors Ty Hairston, Jaylen Tucker and Derrick McKeithten, but it was the play of their star sophomore that kept the Vikings close in their game with Thurgood Marshall. With Northland struggling to score, Towns was aggressive against smaller Thurgood Marshall defenders, repeatedly earning his way to the foul line for easy points, on the way to a 15-point night. Like many Northland players, his perimeter jumper wasn’t falling, but Towns showed his touch around the rim, and did a nice job of using his length to get his shot off instead of over-dribbling.
Triple Double Prospects spent this past weekend on the highway, checking out top Ohio talent in Cincinnati, Toledo and Columbus over the course of three events. First, at the Queen City Superstars Preview we got an early look at the city league teams from Cincinnati. Second, in Toledo we saw some of Ohio’s best match up with Detroit’s in the Ohio vs Michigan Super Scrimmage. Finally, at the Columbus City League Preview, we saw some of the top high school competition in the central Ohio area.
’15 wing JaQuan Harrison
In preparation for the start of the high school regular season on Friday, here are some players who impressed this weekend……
- Dazhontae Bennett – ’14 SG Dayton Trotwood Madison: Bennett showed out in a major way on Friday night in Cincinnati, leading his Trotwood team to a one-point win over a talented Cincinnati Aiken squad. Bennett showcased his top-notch athletic ability with several dunks both in transition and traffic. Athleticism is the strong suit for the 6’0 senior, but he’s also a very good jump shooter from the three-point line and in, and although he isn’t a great ballhandler he can easily get to the rim at will at the high school level. Trotwood is likely going to surprise some people in the Dayton area this year, and they’re going to do so at the hands of Bennett, one of the top seniors in the area.
- Dwight Nared – ’14 PF/C Cincinnati Hughes: Nared continued his rapid ascension on Friday in Cincinnati, and then followed up with an equally strong performance on Saturday in Toledo. The 6’6 senior is a very good athlete with length who makes himself better by playing with a strong motor. Since the end of his junior season, Nared has improved considerably as both a defensive rebounder and a finisher on the low block, where he is starting to consistently make his right-handed hook shot.
- JaQuan Harrison – ’15 SG/SF Columbus Africentric: Harrison has always been a breath-taking athlete, but this fall the 6’2 junior wing has started to show improvements in his skill-set. Harrison is starting to use his athleticism effectively in the full-court, rebounding the ball offensively, taking it strong to the rim and really making noise as an on-ball defender in the half-court. With his physical tools, Harrison has the ability to become one of the breakout players in Ohio in his junior campaign, as he continues to improve his ball-handling and shooting. A definite Division I prospect, expect to hear Harrison’s name more and more in recruiting circles.
- Doug Taylor – ’15 C Columbus Northland: Taylor has always had potential but lacked consistency. However, if what he showed TDP on Saturday night in Columbus is something that he’ll be able to keep up, he’s going to have a huge year. The 6’8 junior has a great low-post frame with size, wide shoulders and enough explosiveness to finish in traffic. Taylor has become a more active rebounder, shows instincts as a shot-blocker and more than anything has a renewed sense of confidence. He might not get a ton of publicity on a Northland team loaded with talent, but Taylor is on his way to establishing himself as one of Columbus’ premier juniors.
- Elijah Pughsley – ’15 PG/SG Cincinnati Hughes: Pughsley’s shot was a little off when we last saw him in a fall showcase. However, this weekend the transfer from the Lima area was locked in, as he made several deep three-pointers (his patented shot) in events on Friday in Cincinnati and Saturday in Toledo. The 6’0 combo guard also showed his usual fiery demeanor, while also proving that at Hughes he has committed himself to working on his on-ball defense. We still want to see Pughsley make consistently good decisions with the ball when he plays the point, but he has the shot-making ability to have a huge junior year.
- Brandon Austin – ’15 PG Toledo Rogers: Following up with what we saw in the tail-end of last AAU season, Austin is on his way to becoming Ohio’s best point guard that you’ve never heard of. With a strong but compact 5’10 frame and good quickness, Austin is able to create separation with a tight handle for Rogers, similarly to how the team used Tony Kynard in their state runner-up run last season. Also like Kynard, Austin is a capable shot-maker from the three-point line and is constantly looking for the pull-up on a Rogers team that likes to get a shot off in the first ten seconds of a possession. A tough competitor who should only get better with varsity experience, look for Austin to make waves in the Northwest Ohio region this season as a junior.
- Shadrick Kimble – ’15 SG Columbus Brookhaven: Kimble is a prospect that TDP was not familiar with heading into the Columbus City League Preview on Saturday evening, but he impressed us enough to deserve a mention in this wright up. The 6’2 wing is a strong ballhandler who can make open shots with good consistency. Showing a willingness to attack the basket, as well as find open space to launch a three-pointer, Kimble picked up the scoring slack for Brookhaven as they played without injured senior Ronnie Williams. When Williams returns, look for Kimble to play Robin to Williams’ Batman on a pretty good Brookhaven team this year.
’15 C Doug Taylor
- Houston Smith – ’16 SF Columbus Africentric: Like his teammate, JaQuan Hairston, Smith is a game-changing athlete who is learning to play the game of basketball. We’ve been kind of up and down on his game this fall, but the 6’4 sophomore was tremendous on Saturday. Smith threw down tip-dunks, pushed the ball in the open floor, and showed more of an offensive IQ then we’re used to seeing from him. It seems that he’s much better in a more structured game then he is in showcase settings, and we’re impressed that Smith seems to really respond to coaching. With that athletic ability, he’ll be one of the sophomores to watch in Columbus.
- Malik Harrison – ’16 SF Columbus Walnut Ridge: The more we watch Harrison the more impressed we become with the things that the 6’4 sophomore can do on the court. Harrison is an exceptional athlete (also a high school quarterback) who plays with a motor, and is a little bit more skilled than we’ve previously given him credit for. In Ridge’s win over Centennial, Harrison was the best player on the court, attacking the basket, showing instincts as a passer and rebounding on both ends. He’s still not going to be a go-to scorer, but Harrison is an excellent secondary scorer who can produce points even when plays are not run for him.
- Derrick Daniels – ’16 PF Dayton Thurgood Marshall: We’ve been a member of the Daniels fan club all fall (and further back), and nothing is going to change headed into the winter. The 6’8 sophomore was just simply exceptional on Saturday in Toledo, competing hard against some very talented and physical big men from Detroit. Daniels was most impressive as a shot-blocker, where he altered shots of post players on the ball, and denied shots from the help side position when guards attacked the rim. The highlight of the day came when Daniels went up in transition and rejected the shot of an athletic 6’5 Detroit wing well above the rim. Offensively, Daniels didn’t get as many touches as he normally does, but finished efficiently around the rim with power and athleticism.
- Darnell Hoskins Jr – ’16 PG Dayton Thurgood Marshall: We initially thought that Hoskins would play more of a supporting role in his sophomore season on the TM varsity. However, based on what we saw on Saturday the son of head coach Darnell Hoskins Sr, will be a player that is counted on heavily for the Cougars. Hoskins can make shots from deep, a commodity at Thurgood, is a very good decision maker and has the quickness to play the style of defense that Thurgood is famous for. He’s still smaller in stature, but that’s worked out fine for other Thurgood guards, and we’re expecting Hoskins to be an impact sophomore in the Dayton area this season.
- Kameron Moore – ’16 PF Cincinnati Aiken: After struggling in the first half on Friday night against a smaller Trotwood team, Moore showed heart in the second half as he picked his play up and scored several key baskets to keep his team alive. A powerful and athletic 6’6 post player with toughness, Moore is starting to improve as a face-up player who can attack from fifteen feet and in. He’s not going to have the size of a traditional low-post guy, but his athleticism allows him to offensively rebound to score, and at 6’6 he can still play the center spot when needed at the high school level. The most talented sophomore in the Cincinnati city league, Aiken might go as far as their lone post threat can take them this season. If Moore plays well, Aiken is the likely favorite to take the league title.
- High schools fan in Ohio should also keep their eyes on a quartet of small guards from the senior class who should have big seasons. Cincinnati Aiken’s Correy Cavins, Dayton Meadowdale’s Xavier Gualette, Columbus Centennial’s Octavious Luke and Dayton Trotwood Madison’s Patwaun Hudson all impressed TDP over the weekend with their floor game and leadership ability. Despite a lack of size, all four of these class of 2014 guards are strong competitors, capable scorers and will be players who smaller colleges will be tracking throughout the season. Also impressing at the guard position were Dayton Thurgood Marshall seniors Davion Ashe and RaChaun Martin. Two quick defenders and transition drivers, look for Ashe and Martin to pick up where they left off last season in leading Thurgood Marshall to a deep tournament run. Additionally, another guard, Columbus Walnut Ridge’s Dymeire Finch also caught our eye with his play on Saturday. A more well known combo guard that is better as a scorer, Finch played very well on Saturday, and will likely lead a talented Walnut Ridge team into contention for their division in Columbus’ city league.
Saturday afternoon at the USA Sports Academy in Columbus, twenty-eight of the top boys varsity basketball teams from around the Buckeye State met for a scrimmage session that featured some excellent competition. Columbus area Division I programs like Pickerington Central, Gahanna Lincoln, Northland, New Albany and Reynoldsburg were joined by non-local teams like Cleveland Shaker Heights, Dayton Thurgood Marshall, Cincinnati Hughes, Mansfield Senior, Dayton Stivers, Middletown and several other talented teams to highlight the day.
In quick, twenty minute, scrimmages the teams were constantly getting matched up against other squads, giving scouts in attendance a chance to see some of Ohio’s best players match up with one another. While several seniors who have already chosen a college, including Jae’sean Tate (Ohio State), Javon Bess (Michigan State), Evan Bailey (College of Charleston), Vince Edwards (Purdue) and Rosel Hurley (Kent State), all stood out, some under the radar seniors, and underclassmen, impressed as well.
Here’s a look at ten of the top performers that Triple Double Prospects evaluated in Columbus on Saturday…..
- Derrick McKeithton – ’14 SG Columbus Northland: One of Ohio’s most talented seniors that flies under the radar, McKeithton is a versatile wing that can put up points in a hurry. The 6’2 shooting guard is highly athletic, plays with a motor, can knock down the open jumper and is a terror in transition. Some problems with attitude have limited McKeithton in the past, however, the senior guard showed up ready to compete and with a will to win on Saturday. With Northland likely to start the season as Ohio’s top ranked Division I team by the AP, look for McKeithton to be right at the top of the team’s scoring list along with senior guard Ty Hairston and sophomore Seth Towns.
- Robert Caldwell – ‘14 PG Dayton Stivers: Caldwell’s younger brother, 2016 point guard Roderick, has gotten a lot of good publicity from this site lately. However, it was “Ra-Ra” who did the most damage on Saturday for Stivers, scoring at will from all three levels. The scoring point guard is a lefty with a smooth three-point stroke with deep range, and he loves to shoot the pull-up off of the crossover. Caldwell isn’t the quickest, but he changes direction fluidly and shows great touch around the basket with an ability to finish left-handed floating layups.
- Avery Williams – ’14 PF Tri Valley: A powerfully built 6’5 combo forward, Williams is a flat out beast around the rim against high school competition. Playing on a varsity team that might be more talented than you would expect, Williams thrives at scoring on second chances, and also can get points in transition. He might lack ideal size for his natural position, which would be the face-up power forward, but he makes up for it nicely with raw strength, above average athleticism and both toughness and a motor.
- Dymeire Finch – ’14 PG Columbus Walnut Ridge: Finch has seen time at both guard spots throughout his career, but he seems to have adjusted nicely to running the show for Walnut Ridge in his senior year. The 6’1 combo guard is a good scorer who likes to play in attack mode, and is also a more than reliable jump-shooter. Finch has size and excellent length at the point guard position, and should be a factor on the defensive end of the floor as well this season. He’s not the flashiest of guards, but he’s going to be one of the better seniors in the Columbus area this year.
- Dwayne Chastain – ’14 SG Dayton Thurgood Marshall: The 6’0 Chastain has waited his turn at Thurgood Marshall, and now he’s ready to make a big impact in his senior year. Simply put, Chastain is one of the elite shooters in all of Ohio; showing both a quick release and uncanny accuracy from the three-point line throughout Saturday. By TDP’s count, Chastain started off by making seven out of his first nine three-point shots in two games we saw, before we admittedly lost count as he continued to knock in wide open shots. Playing alongside speedy senior ball handling guards RaChaun Martin and Davion Ashe, Chastain should be a specialist for the Cougars this year, and a big part of the team offense.
- John Miller – ’15 C Columbus New Albany: After making a name for himself on the 16u AAU circuit with the Ohio Hoopsters, the 6’8 Miller appears poised for a breakout year as a junior. Playing alongside some athletic forwards in brothers Chris and Bryson London, Miller is able to control the paint defensively and is also a strong floor-runner in his own right. Miller can score in the post nicely against high school competition, and also has the ability to step into the high post and pass it to cutters. He’s still a little bit unknown, and has some developing to do still, but Miller should emerge as one of Ohio’s top big men in 2015 and a potential Division I prospect.
- Seth Towns – ’16 SF Columbus Northland: Now that they’re sophomores, TDP expects the top prospects from the class of 2016 to stand out on the varsity level. Towns did that more so than any other sophomore on Saturday, playing as well as he ever has in front of our eyes. The 6’7 forward knocked down open three-pointers with consistency, showed some athleticism in the open court and did a much better job of producing points around the basket in the half-court setting. Towns’ offensive numbers might be somewhat inconsistent on a Northland team with so much scoring ability this season, however his ability to dominate games with an inside-outside scoring attack will be the key to the Vikings making a run at a Division I state title.
- Matt Moyer – ’16 PF Columbus Gahanna Lincoln: The 6’7 Moyer is one of the more raw forwards starting on an excellent varsity team as a sophomore, however, he’s also one of the most promising. Moyer has good size and length to go with wide shoulders, and is an excellent athlete as a two-foot jumper. The sophomore plays with good energy on the court, and has show a willingness to take over the game on the glass. Offensively he’s capable of doing a little bit of everything, but will probably be best served as a floor spacer that can find backdoor dunks and transition baskets off of assists from Javon Bess and senior Manny Powell. Playing alongside another talented sophomore in 6’8 center Nick Ward, look for Moyer and Ward to form one of Ohio’s most formidable one-two punches on a very good Gahanna Lincoln team.
- Malik Harrison – ’16 PF Columbus Walnut Ridge: Harrison is an intriguing athlete at 6’5 who can play inside or outside, as well as defend either forward position. A long and energetic forward that will rebound, defend, block shots from the weak-side and run the floor, Harrison was one of the more all-around productive forwards in attendance on Saturday, regardless of class Offensively, he’s capable of driving to score from the high post, can get second chance buckets and is also a reliable finisher in transition. With his size and athleticism, look for Harrison to pick up right where he left off last year as a major contributor for Walnut Ridge. Matched alongside another sophomore forward in Tarik Wight, look for Harrison and Wright to complement each other nicely as Harrison provides the athleticism and Wright the power and skill.
- Tyus Ferguson – ’16 PG Columbus Groveport Madison: Ferguson has the look of a much more seasoned guard on Saturday, really doing a nice job of creating off the bounce for his team. The 5’11 sophomore has a good top gear of speed in the open court, but also changes speeds nicely with hesitation dribbles. Capable as a finisher or passer around the rim, Ferguson could be just the playmaker that Groveport Madison is looking for as they try and reassert themselves as one of the top programs in the Columbus area again. If Ferguson can prove to be a consistent decision maker, the sophomore guard could quickly become one of the better young floor generals in Ohio.
- D.J. Tyree – ’16 PG Columbus Pickerington Central: Tyree also has the feel of a guard that has been around for a longer time. The 6’0 point guard is a good decision maker, defends the ball well in the full-court and is a capable shot-maker from the three-point line. Playing alongside athletic wings in Jalen Tate, Jae’sean Tate and junior Rodney Culver, as well as senior sharpshooter Connor Kern, look for Tyree to rack up assists at a high level in his sophomore campaign, before taking over as more of a scoring threat later in his career.
The finals of the fourth annual All-Ohio City Series brought the majority of Ohio’s finest to the gym at Columbus Reynoldsburg HS on Saturday and Sunday, as teams battled for in-state bragging rights. As it has been in the past, the competition was intense, giving Triple Double Prospects the opportunity to evaluate the participating players not only against top competition but also in a pressure situation with much at stake.
With most of the top players in the senior division (class of 2014) already off the board to Division I colleges, TDP spent the majority of our time watching the junior and sophomore divisions, better known as the classes of 2015 and 2016. By the time the day ended on Saturday, the following players are the ones who stood out to us….
- Jordan Dartis – ’15 Newark SG: One of Ohio’s top juniors, Dartis had a good showing on Saturday with the Columbus junior team. At a powerfully built 6’2 the combo guard is able to attack off of the dribble, shoot the ball from deep and can play the point in spells when his team needs him to. Dartis is also a strong defender and team player who plays with a certain control to his game on the offensive end. The junior listed Cleveland State, Dayton, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and West Virginia as colleges that have come by Newark to watch him workout so far this fall. As one of Ohio’s top shooting guards, and someone who also has some versatility, look for Dartis’ recruiting stock to continue to improve.
- Alex White – ’15 Cincinnati Lakota East PF: Before an injury held him out of the AAU circuit, White was poised to be one of the breakout players of last spring and summer. However, the 6’7 post was able to make his mark in Columbus over the weekend, scoring the ball in different ways in leading the Cincinnati junior team. White is a very good jump shooter out to the three-point line, although his strength is in the mid-range, can score with his back to the basket and also in transition. He might not be the physically strongest, but White is also both an excellent rebounder and athlete who uses that explosiveness to impact the game in different ways. White is currently being recruited by Wright State (offer), Ohio University, Miami (OH) and other mid-majors.
- Esa Ahmad – ’15 Cleveland Shaker Heights PF: As the most highly regarded junior in attendance at the event Ahmad was supposed to be special on Saturday. As he always does, the 6’7 versatile power forward delivered. Ahmad scored at will in games against Cincinnati and Dayton, using his strength to score over smaller forwards or his mobility to go around bigger players. He’s a skilled forward that pass, handle and shoot the basketball, and can really operate efficiently from the wing, mid-post or low block. Before Saturday’s games, Ahmad took a visit to Xavier’s midnight madness event on Friday night. Xavier has offered the Cleveland junior, as have Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Clemson, West Virginia, Dayton and Miami (FL).
- Devon Andrews – ’15 Cleveland Lorain SF: One of three Ohio juniors who have already chosen a college, the Kent State commit was productive on Saturday, using his superior athleticism to control the game. At 6’6 and with absolutely elite athleticism Andrews is tough to stop in transition based games, such as showcases. He’s skilled enough to handle the ball on the break, sees the floor as a passer and when he plays with passion has as much ability as almost any prospect in the 2015 class in Ohio. Andrews still needs to add consistency and a jumper to his game, but when his motor runs he’s certainly a fun prospect to watch.
- Ulmer Manzie – ’15 Columbus Africentric PF: The super athletic 6’7 junior from Columbus is an intriguing, but raw, prospect with good upside. Manzie is a high-energy guy with a terrific basketball frame that allows him to be both strong and explosive at his size. He likes contact, takes pride in defending the post and has proven to be a good area rebounder. While the junior still has work to do on his offensive game, he is comfortable around the rim with his right hand and can get a lot of effort baskets from floor-running or tip-ins. Manzie’s high school coach told us that they recently took visits to both Indiana State and Cleveland State.
- Luke Knapke – ’15 Marion Local C: Knapke is one of Ohio’s top junior big men who has gotten very little publicity anywhere, including this site. At a long 6’9 the center showed good agility in running the floor for the Dayton junior team, while also showing a comfort level with the basketball on the offensive end. Knapke has an above average skill-set for a low post player his age, and although he is thin he uses his length well to get shots up. Akron and Toledo have offered Knapke, while other mid-majors such as Miami (OH), Kent State and Wright State are showing interest in him.
- Tervell Beck – ’16 Cleveland Central Catholic SG/SF:
This fall has been all about Cleveland area sophomores. First it was Wille Jackson and Frankie Hughes, then it was Derek Funderburke and Omari Spellman. This time it was Tervell Beck. In our second viewing of Beck this fall (the first being an open gym at his school) the 6’6 wing exceptional in the wide-open style of game. Beck scored from all over, mostly off of the dribble at the basket, but also showed more consistency and touch on his jumper then we’ve ever seen from him in the past. If he can shoot the ball like that all season then he’ll quickly become one of the Midwest’s most highly recruited players, as the rest of his game is already exceptional. Beck is an elite athlete even from a national perspective, and combines a solid handle and good court vision with that explosiveness to make for a very promising prospect. Beck holds offers from Kent State, Toledo, Ball State, Cleveland State and Xavier, while Ohio State, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Penn State are showing interest as well.
- Ibi Watson – ’16 Athens SG/SF: A skilled and above average athlete, the 6’4 wing from Athens was very solid for the Columbus sophomore team on Saturday. Watson is a capable shooter who can also attack off the dribble, but it’s his versatility and length as a defender that really has us excited. The sophomore will have to continue to add strength, but he has the shooting ability combined with athleticism and a polished all-around game to be heavily recruited at the Division I level sooner than later. Watson stood out last AAU season with Team Work 15u, and should see his reputation really develop in his second year of high school.
- Seth Towns – ’16 Columbus Northland SF/PF: Another versatile forward, somewhat similar to Esa Ahmad, Towns is a scoring combo forward that can hurt you from all over the court. While he isn’t as strong as Ahmad, Towns has good length at 6’7, is an above average athlete and is more of a fluid ballhandler. He’s capable of pushing the ball on the break, can really shoot it with consistency all the way out to the three-point line, and is getting better at simply using his size to score over smaller players near the basket. Towns will have to prove that he is willing to play physically on a consistent basis, and continue to add strength, but he’s one of Ohio’s most promising sophomores. So far, Dayton, Xavier and Virginia Tech have offered Towns, while West Virginia, Ohio State and other high majors are showing interest.
- Roderick Caldwell – ’16 Dayton Stivers PG: At this point in their careers, it would be unfair to say that any other point guard in the 2016 class can come close to matching Caldwell’s scoring ability from the one spot. The 5’10 sophomore is skilled both as a ballhandler and shooter, and loves to use dribble moves to create space to launch a jumper. Caldwell is a point guard who will distribute, but he seems to be at his best in playing with an aggressive, scoring mindset. He doesn’t have great size, but Caldwell is deceptively quick, and with the respect you have to give him from twenty-feet and in, he’s tough to stay in front of.
- Xavier Simpson – ’16 Lima Central Catholic PG: While Caldwell is clearly 2016’s best scoring point guard, Northwest Ohio’s Xavier Simpson is by far the class’ best pure point guard. TDP was equally as impressed with Simpson in Columbus as we previously were at John Lucas Camp in Louisville earlier this month, where he showed both leadership and grit at the lead guard position. Simpson is slowly becoming a more consistent and confident jump-shooter, the only thing that you can really knock about the 5’10 guard’s game. The sophomore is a willing distributor, excellent defender and strong decision maker who keeps the game simple while also making his teammates better. Simpson is starting to generate interest from both mid and high major college programs, and his recruitment will likely skyrocket during his sophomore season.
- Terrence Landers – ’16 Dayton Dunbar SG/SF: Last time we saw Landers was at the AAU State Tournament in June, where he hit the championship winning buzzer beater for the Cincinnati Lakers. Landers picked up where he last left off in Columbus, dominating the game for the Dayton sophomores. The 6’4 wing is a very good athlete with a strong build and above average length that starts his work on the defensive end. A tough and active rebounder, Landers likes to push the ball himself after a rebound and can get to the rim easily in transition. His half-court offensive game is still developing, but he’s a solid mid-range shooter who is difficult to keep out of the lane with his combination of size, strength and athleticism. After playing a supporting role on the Dunbar varsity last year, look for Landers to breakout in his sophomore campaign.
- Andre Wesson – ’16 Columbus Westerville South PF: In our first viewing of Wesson, the Columbus sophomore was very impressive both in his energy level and versatility. The 6’6 forward is capable of playing the wing spot in spurts, has great strength for his size and is a dedicated rebounder on both ends of the floor. Wesson has all the tools to be a devastating low and mid-post scorer at the high school level, and has he continues to develop his all-around offensive skill-set could emerge as one of the more talented Columbus area 2016’s.
The All-Ohio City Series also featured some of the state’s most talented freshman prospects. TDP spent some time watching the 2017 division, as we continue to try and identify the most promising players in that class. Here are some prospects that stood out in games we saw on Saturday in the 9th grade bracket…. Markell Johnson (PG Cleveland East Tech), Correy Long (PG Cincinnati Hughes), Lonnie Berry Jr (SG/SF Cincinnati Colerain), Chase Munro (PF/C Lexington), Jarious Ward (SG Columbus Reynoldsburg), Kelvin Calhoun (PF Cleveland St. Edward’s).
The class of 2014 was supposed to be a down class in Ohio. Three years ago when they were freshman scouts, including this website, privately complained about a lack of talent, especially a lack of high major talent, in the class. We were wrong.
Heading into the fall signing period, which runs from November 13th-20th, Ohio is currently sitting with 28 prospects committed to Division I college programs, with at least another five still on the board. Of those 28, eight of them are committed to high major programs, with two more having turned down high major schools and an additional two available players still having a chance of ending up at that level.
Before we continue to excitedly talk about the star power at the top of the 2015 class in Ohio, and the promising group of prospects in the class of 2016, we should take time to appreciate just how good this senior class has become. Here’s a look at the top players who have been recruited at the highest level….
- Jae’sean Tate – Columbus Pickerington Central SF: Tate was the first player to commit to a high major program in the class, choosing the Ohio State Buckeyes before the start of his senior year. The 6’5 senior forward combines a mixture of strength, athleticism, toughness and a great motor into a package that makes him the top 2014 prospect in the state of Ohio, and the likely frontrunner for Mr. Basketball. A consensus top-100 player in the country, the Columbus native will have a chance to earn minutes at OSU based on his effort alone.
- David Bell – Cleveland Garfield Heights C: Bell was sort of a late bloomer, especially after missing his entire sophomore year with injury. The 6’10 post still has a ways to go in his development, but the Ohio State Buckeyes saw enough out of him to accept a commitment from the Cleveland center back in the winter. Bell is a solid athlete inside with length, and could become a defensive force as a shotblocker at the next level.
- Vince Edwards – Middletown SF/PF: Edwards is one of the most complete offensive threats in the entire state, as his combination of size (6’7) and skill makes him a tough matchup for any opposition. The Middletown native comes from a famous basketball family in the Cincinnati-Dayton area, and upheld the legacy by averaging a double-double over the course of his first three high school seasons. Earlier this fall, Edwards committed to the Purdue Boilermakers and coach Matt Painter, where he should provide them with a stretch forward that can shoot the ball from the perimeter or play out of the mid-post. Another consensus top-100 player nationally, Edwards has the ability to be an above average contributor in the Big Ten.
- Dakota Mathias – Elida SG: Like Edwards, Mathias also chose the Purdue Boilermakers, making his decision in May. The 6’4 combo guard went from unknown to heavily recruited in the span of just a few weeks early in the AAU season, as high major coaches were impressed not only by his lights-out shooting ability but also by his overall skill-set as a passer and ballhandler. Mathias isn’t going to wow you with athleticism, but his skill package is elite and he has a mature understanding of how to play the game to match a jumper that will come in handy in the Big Ten.
- Gavin Skelly – Cleveland Westlake PF: Skelly’s recruitment blew up in July after a great AAU season with Team Work. The versatile post out of the Cleveland area committed to Northwestern late in July, becoming only the second ever commitment for new Wildcats coach Chris Collins. Skelly is a skilled and athletic forward that can score the ball in different ways, rebounds with energy and has good size at 6’8. He could end up playing one of several different roles at Northwestern, but his combination of athleticism, effort, skill and IQ should help him see minutes.
- Javon Bess – Columbus Gahanna Lincoln SF: Bess is the most recent of the eight high major commitments to make a decision, choosing the Michigan State Spartans on October 21st. The 6’5 jack of all trades could conceivably play any of the three perimeter positions in the Big Ten for coach Tom Izzo as he combines great size with length, athleticism, toughness and a strong handle. Bess will have to continue to develop his jumper, but his defensive abilities will be heavily valued by the Spartans staff once he gets to East Lansing. Another player that blew up in July, after a summer with All-Ohio Red the Columbus native became the hottest prospect in Ohio.
- Jalen Hudson – Akron SVSM SG: While he may originally come from Virginia, Hudson has called Akron home for his last two seasons of high school basketball, and has really made an impact on the Ohio hoops landscape. The athletic 6’3 combo guard is a pure scorer with a good stroke from behind the arc who also has the physical tools to be a lockdown defender. Hudson committed to Virginia Tech this fall, and has expressed a desire to play both guard positions in college. With one of Ohio’s most talented cores around him at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, look for Hudson to contend for Mr. Basketball as he could easily be the top scorer for the Irish.
- Justin Bibbs – Montverde Academy (FL) SG: The Dayton native decided to spend his last two years in the Orlando area of Florida playing for one of the nation’s most elite prep schools in Montverde Academy. After a strong junior season sandwiched between two excellent AAU seasons, the final one being played with Ohio Basketball Club, Bibbs committed to Virginia Tech in September. Another versatile prospect, Bibbs could play some point guard or small forward for the Hokies, but will likely see the majority of his minutes at the two spot. The 6’5 guard can slash, pass, defend and has a college body; if he makes jumpers he could have a big career.
- Peyton Aldridge – Leavittsburg LaBrae SF/PF: Aldridge is the first of two players who spurned high major opportunities to go to a place that he loved, choosing instead to commit to Davidson. Even in a class of versatile players, Aldridge is the king of versatility as a complete inside-outside forward who stands 6’7. An athletic and tough competitor who can do a little bit of everything, landing a commitment from Aldridge was considered a home-run hit for Davidson coach Bob McKillop.
- Zach McCormick – Cincinnati Turpin PG/SG: McCormick has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and surprised some when he turned down an SEC offer and verbally committed to Miami (OH) in September. The super athletic 6’1 combo guard can play either spot at the college level, and has the ability to be a real scoring threat as he is one of Ohio’s most dangerous players off of the dribble. McCormick should be an immediate impact guy for the Redhawks as his athleticism in the backcourt is exactly what coach John Cooper looks for in recruiting.
In addition to the ten players mentioned, prospects like Evan Bailey (Massillon Jackson/College of Charleston), Eric James (Columbus Westerville Central/Duquesne), Rosel Hurley (Cleveland Shaker Heights/Kent State) and Jeff Thomas (Norwalk/Georgia State) all saw interest from some of the nation’s top schools before settling in at the mid-major level.
As we mentioned earlier, several Division I prospects are still available in Ohio’s 2014 class. TDP is expecting to see a total of at least 36 commitments by the end of the spring signing period, and with all of the available talent in the Buckeye State two prospects currently stand out above the rest….
- Satchel Pierce – Kiski School (PA) C: “Satch” was a late bloomer who burst onto the scene after his junior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in his native Akron, playing on the AAU scene with both Ohio Basketball Club and the Ohio Phenoms. After that summer on the circuit, the former class of 2013 prospect reclassified to the class of 2014 and decided to transfer to a prep school, setting on the Kiski School in Pittsburgh. Pierce is a wide-bodied true 7-footer with an emerging skill set and above average floor-running ability for his size. As he continues to improve his conditioning at Kiski, Pierce has become an even more attractive prospect for colleges, and is currently considering Marquette, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Texas Tech, Wichita State and New Mexico.
- Antonio Woods – Cincinnati Summit PG: Woods is the toughest recruitment in the state to read right now, as the 6’0 point guard has yet to decide if he’ll play basketball or football at the college level. As a quarterback who also could be used as a cornerback or a pure athlete on the football field, Woods has accumulated almost a dozen BCS level offers to date. On the basketball court he’s Ohio’s top pure point guard in his class, showing an understanding for the game and an ability to set up his teammates to match his excellent open court speed. Some basketball programs have been hesitant to recruit Woods, fearing that they’ll lose him to football, however, basketball offers for Woods include Toledo, Miami (OH), Kent State, Saint Joseph’s and Eastern Kentucky.
Triple Double Prospects got to stay in our city over the weekend and catch some serious basketball talent, as we took in the Queen City Superstars Showcase at Cincinnati Woodward High School. In the fifth year of the event the number of participants grew, and we got a chance to get another look at some of the best young players in the Cincinnati area as well as the top seniors. Former Woodward coach Lanis Timmons did an excellent job in creating a competitive atmosphere as each age group got a chance to play two games, with the top thirty players getting an additional game for the first ever all-star game.
TDP decided to focus our recap on the seniors and juniors who stood out against the competition, so here is a look at some of the top 2014 and 2015 Cincinnati prospects that performed well at the Queen City Superstars Showcase….
- Tyonte Robertson – ’14 Cincinnati Withrow PG: One of the few four-year alums of the event, Robertson starred over the weekend at Woodward. The 6’0 point guard made better decisions with the ball then we have seen him make in the past, shot the ball with much greater consistency and provided strong on-ball defense for his team. Robertson is one of the best in Ohio at breaking defenders down off of the dribble and has the vision to create assists or strength to score in traffic. If he can be a strong decision maker and efficient shooter in his senior season then he’ll move up even higher in our 2014 point guard rankings.
- Kevin Daniels – ’14 Cincinnati Hughes SG: Daniels always thrives in events like this where teams play at a fast tempo and he can attack in the open court. The 6’2 wing isn’t the most athletic or the fastest but he’s very creative off the dribble and is capable of scoring from all three levels. Specializing in hesitation moves, Daniels is a smooth finisher at the rim and is able to consistently knock down three-point shots with his feet set. A four-year varsity contributor, look for Daniels to be one of the standout players in the Cincinnati city league this season.
- Aaron Oden – ’14 Cincinnati Taft PG: We’ve known Oden for years as one of Ohio’s most athletic and talented point guards, but sometimes his results have been mixed. Over the weekend the 6’1 lead guard showed matured growth in his game, as he had two productive games in which he created tons of open shots for teammates in the drive and kick game. Oden is tough to contain in the full-court where his athleticism can take over, and also has the physical abilities to be a lockdown defender at the next level. To be a great player in the city league his senior year, Oden will have to prove that he can consistently make a jumper; if so, he’ll be tough to stay in front of.
- Kenny Kaufman – ’14 Cincinnati Taft PG: Kaufman stuck to the two things that he does best over the weekend. He shot the basketball well from behind the three-point line, and he played with great passion. One of Cincinnati’s toughest guards, the 5’8 Kaufman makes up for his lack of size with the fast pace that he plays at and his great shooting ability. A capable point guard who rarely turns the ball over, Kaufman is a solid all-around player who also has a good reputation as a defender. His size and lack of strength can fool some, but Kaufman has long been one of Cincinnati’s top players in 2014, and will likely be one of the city league’s leading scorers again.
- Dwight Nared – ’14 Cincinnati Hughes PF: The 6’6 Nared is quickly becoming the most under-recruited senior in the Cincinnati area, as he continues to improve his all-around game from season to season. After another strong summer with the Queen City Prophets, Nared looked more comfortable with the ball on the low block then he ever has, while still using his trademark athleticism and energy to be productive in other areas. Nared is a tremendous floor-runner who can elevate, has length and plays with a non-stop motor. He’s going to need to add strength to be a star at the next level, but he’s a power forward that more Division II college coaches need to take an interest in.
- Correy Cavins – ’14 Cincinnati Aiken PG: Cavins is another undersized but high scoring guard in the city league that plays with a lot of passion. The 5’9 combo guard is quiet but deadly as a scorer that loves to attack the rim with his full-court speed and ability to split defenders off of the dribble. Cavins is capable of scoring from deep with a consistent three-point shot, and is almost always in attack mode on the offensive end. Despite his size, he’s one of the league’s best defenders and has the athleticism and toughness to guard multiple positions as well. The leader on a talented Aiken team, Cavins will contest for league player of the year when it’s said and done.
- Vonny Irvin – ’15 Cincinnati Princeton PG: Over the weekend we tweeted that Irvin can be the best player in Cincinnati if he chooses to be, and that’s something that we stand behind. The point guard has grown to a legit 6’3, has breakaway speed and athleticism in the full-court and is one of the most gifted passing guards to come through Ohio in the last few years. What Irvin needs to do is be consistently productive, make good decisions and prove that he can hit the jump-shot. The talent is there for Irvin to breakout in his junior season, and even potentially compete to be the second ranked point guard in the 2015 class behind Dayton Dunbar’s A.J. Harris.
- Jalen Avery – ’15 Cincinnati Shroder PG: After spending time directly across the Ohio river in Covington, Kentucky, Avery is new to the city league, but is also a player that coaches and scouts in Cincinnati are very familiar with. The 6’1 junior is a powerfully built guard that can really pass the ball, especially in pick and roll situations. Avery isn’t the fastest guard but he plays in control at all times, is crafty in changing gears or directions and has the jump-shooting ability that forces the defense to play him tight. Avery will be interesting to follow in his first year at Shroder, where he’ll probably be forced to play more of a scoring role with some playmaking tied in.
- Lamont West – ’15 Cincinnati Withrow SF/PF: For well over a year that buzz has been out that West is one of the more talented prospects in Cincinnati in the class of 2015. At a long 6’7 and with top-notch athleticism, West is capable of dominating the game with his physical abilities; however, he also has the handle and shooting ability to play exclusively on the wing. The junior forward is going to have be much more consistent in his third year at Withrow, and still needs to add strength to his frame, but at 6’7 he’s potentially the most difficult player in the league to match up with because of his length, shooting ability and overall skill level. The coaching staff at Withrow is going to count on West to be a major contributor this year, if he can score inside enough to keep the defense honest then his outside game should make headlines in the city league.
Other Upperclassmen Standouts at the Queen City Superstars Showcase: DeJuan Jones (’14 Withrow PF), Derrick Long (’14 Hughes SF), Robert Smith (’14 Taft PF), Marcus Scott (’14 Taft SG), Jordan Bradley (’15 Princeton PG), DeJuan Sherman (’15 West High PG), George Brown (’15 Winton Woods C), Terrence Gholston (’15 Aiken SF), DJ Harris (’15 Aiken SG)
Jayden Sayles is one of Ohio’s top freshman prospects
In the last few weeks you’ve seen Triple Double Prospects update our rankings for the senior (2014), junior (2015) and sophomore (2016) classes. After putting a lot of time and consideration into those rankings, we at TDP feel that they are our best rankings yet. Now it is time to take on the next challenge. The first edition of our annual freshman watch list.
In this list, which includes over forty names already, we’ve identified the top ninth grade talent from the high school class of 2017 that we’ve seen in Ohio. Almost all of these players have been evaluated live by Triple Double Prospects, minus a select few that come highly recommended from some of Ohio’s brightest basketball minds.
If we’re missing one of the top 2017′s in the Buckeye State don’t worry, just drop us an email at TripleDoubleProspects@gmail.com and we’ll be sure to add that player to our list of prospects to watch out for during their freshman season. Also, remember that list will be updated constantly over the next six months, so keep checking back to see if additions have been made. Like our other class rankings, this list will be permanently linked at the top of this homepage.
Now, here’s a look at the list of Ohio’s top 2017 prospects to watch (listed alphabetically)……