While Triple Double Prospects always focuses our attention on the top high school talent in Ohio and Kentucky, once it gets to be summer it’s never too early to start identifying the top incoming freshmen that will be making their debut on the high school scene. This year’s group of rising freshmen from the Cincinnati area, the class of 2020, looks to be a strong group, as TDP got our first chance to evaluate some prospects from that class at Sunday’s All-Ohio End of Summer Middle School AAU Showcase at Cincinnati Woodward HS. Here’s a look at some top performers, whom we believe will be names that you’ll see in varsity box-scores in the near future….
Darrion Henry – ’20 PF Cincinnati Princeton: There are few things in basketball more difficult to defend then a dominating big man; and that’s exactly what Henry proved to be on Sunday at Woodward. We’ve heard for months now about the upside of this 6’5 post player, but we might have been under sold, as Henry clearly possesses the strength of a center with the nimble feet of a wing forward. With the athleticism to run the floor and finish with a dunk and the strength to rebound through contact, Henry showed a knack for finishing plays on the offensive side, as he should have all of the physical tools to be an instant impact at the varsity level. Right now, at 6’5, Henry is a very intriguing basketball player, if he grows to be in the 6’8 range, watch out!
Isaiah Kennedy – ’20 PG Huber Heights Wayne: Having earned the reputation among junior high AAU coaches as one of the best point guards in Ohio’s 2020 class, Kennedy was very impressive with his R4L Davis team, showcasing excellent vision as a passer, making pull-up jumpers after creating space with crossovers and having enough strength and athleticism to be a finisher as well. What also stood out about Kennedy was his knack for creating turnovers with his length as an on-ball defender as well. If he continues to hone his craft, Kennedy could be the next dominant guard on the long list of top prospects to have come out of the Huber Heights Wayne program this decade.
Mark Wise – ’20 SG Cincinnati Deer Park: Wise has been the talk of the Cincinnati middle school city league coaches for over a year now thanks to his athleticism and ability to score the ball at the basket, which is exactly what he showcase for R4L Davis, as the 6’2 guard showed exceptional length and a nose for getting to the rim and scoring in traffic. Wise’s coaches say that his jumper has already improved considerably in the last few months, making him a potential varsity starter as a freshman next season. With the frame to play the one through the three, look for Wise to make an immediate defensive impact, and continue to tighten his offensive skill-package in the next year.
Jaheim Thomas – ’20 PF Cincinnati Princeton: Another promising forward out of Princeton, Thomas, like Henry, has an excellent build, as he looks much more like a high school senior than a freshman. Another very good athlete at 6’4 who can play in transition or around the basket, Thomas might not have the polished offensive game of Henry, but his ability to block shots, run the floor and defend will be helpful to a young Princeton team in search of players with a strong motor like Thomas has.
Aaron Ward – ’20 PF Cincinnati Princeton: That’s right, a third freshman from Princeton with big time potential; and another one with some size, as the 6’5 Ward was equally as impressive as his teammate Thomas. Ward is a little bit more polished with his face-up jumper, and unlike Thomas and Henry is built a little more slender, making us believe that he’s the most likely of the three to add a few more inches to his frame. Ward showed a good motor getting up and down the floor, was active around the rim as a young big who is athletic enough to finish with a dunk with ease and also showed solid instincts as a shot-blocker. As you’d expect with any high-upside young big man, Ward is raw, but his talent is unquestioned.
Paul McMillan – ’22 PG/SG Cincinnati Woodward: We tried to focus our attention on the rising ninth graders, but TDP did stop over and watch highly publicized Paul McMillan of the All-Ohio Red 2022 team (rising seventh graders) for one game. McMillan, the son of Cincinnati Woodward head coach Paul McMillan and a player who has garnered national recognition from sites like Buckeye Prep and City League Hoops TV, did not disappoint in the slightest, as he showed off a true combo guard game and advanced skill-set, while also having more size at the guard position than any of his competition. With an intensity to his game that you don’t often see in young players, McMillan competed on both ends of the court, and appears to be a top prospect to watch as he ascends the middle school ranks at Woodward JR HS.
Jaden Sayles – ’17 PF/C Cincinnati Sycamore: An athletic 6’9 post who had a very strong July with OBC White, Sayles made his verbal commitment on Saturday afternoon to the Akron Zips. Choosing the MAC program over mid-major rivals such as Bowling Green, Toledo, Tennessee-Martin and Niagara; Sayles became the eighth member of Ohio’s 2017 class to commit to an NCAA D1 school, and the first in-state prospect from that class to commit to Akron. With length, the ability to run the floor and a frame that can pickup weight, Sayles could be the ideal rim defender at the mid-major level for the Zips, especially as the 6’9 rising senior showed tremendous strides during the final three live evaluation periods.