This year’s Ohio State Basketball Tournament ended in a sweep for the Northeastern part of the state, as NEO captured all four State Championships at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State this weekend. Massillon Jackson defeated Cincinnati Moeller in a D1 thriller, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s topped Wauseon at the D2 level, Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joe’s beat Cincinnati Roger Bacon for the D3 crown and Cleveland Lutheran East finished off Columbus Wellington School in D4; meaning that the Cleveland-Akron region has bragging rights until the start of next season. Here’s look at the top individual performances from this year’s State Tournament….
Kyle Young – ’17 SF Massillon Jackson: One of the highest ranked prospects in Ohio’s 2017 class since his senior season, Young capped his career in fashion, hitting the game winning free throw to defeat Cincinnati Moeller as Young’s Polar Bears won the D1 State Championship. A versatile 6’7 scoring forward, Young was spectacular against Cleveland St. Edward in the semifinals, and while he struggled from the field against Moeller, the Butler signee was able to secure the win with his final basket. Skilled both as an interior scorer or long-range shooter, Young’s combination of skill-set, size and athleticism should make him an early rotation player at Butler next season.
Jayvon Graves – ’17 SG Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: Graves wasn’t good in STVSM’s semifinal win over Trotwood Madison and title game win over Wauseon, he was GREAT. Besides hitting a buzzer beater to win the semifinal game, the freakishly athletic 6’2 wing guard scored at will in the lane, using his strength, explosiveness and toughness to create opportunities to baskets, many of which came after defensive rebounds or steals that he created. The Buffalo signee isn’t just one of Ohio’s premiere athletes in 2017, Graves is also one of the best all-around players and competitors in the class, evidenced by his ability to create turnovers defensively, handle the ball in the open court and knock down enough perimeter jumpers that defenses have to respect him enough that he can open up his own driving lanes.
Torrey Patton – ’17 SG Trotwood Madison: Patton’s Rams might not have come up with the win that they so desperately wanted in the semifinals against STVSM, but the 6’3 senior guard was still able to put on a show for the crowd, torching the nets for a game-high 34 points. Patton knocked down jumper after jumper from deep, showing lethal range when he has his feet set, but also was able to take defenders off of the dribble and use his strong build and patient style to score at the basket. What makes Patton’s scoring that much more impressive is that the unsigned senior did all of this while having to assume point guard duties for his team, and dragging in double-figure rebounds as well. Looking at his body of work in big games this year, it’s clear that Patton’s name belongs in the conversation of best 2017 high school scoring guards in Ohio.
Austin Rotroff – ’18 C Wauseon: An under-the-radar prospect heading into the season, Rotroff created a buzz with strong play all season, and then cemented his name in the next edition of our prospect rankings with his two performances in Columbus. Both in a semifinal win over Columbus Eastmoor Academy and a finals defeat at the hands of Akron STVSM, Rotroff was extremely efficient; showing an active motor, legit size at 6’9 and physical promise as a big who can move his feet. Rotroff isn’t just a big shot-blocker either, as the junior showed the ability to score over his left shoulder with the hook-shot, make free throws and generally carve out space on the interior. As he enters the travel circuit for the first time this spring, look for Rotroff’s name to be one that is mentioned often in NCAA D1 recruiting chatter.
Miles McBride – ’19 PG/SG Cincinnati Moeller: The first of three seniors who stepped up to the plate at OSU, McBride was aggressive and efficient for Moeller in both of their games, a semifinal win over Pickerington Central and a title game loss to Massillon Jackson, as the 6’1 combo guard proved that he is without any question one of the elite 2019 guards in the state of Ohio. With a great build and plenty of athleticism, McBride is a versatile defender as a combo guard who can defend any perimeter position, and who uses steals and rebounding to create offensive opportunities. An off the dribble scorer who can make shots in rhythm or finish with either power or finesse at the rim, expect to hear plenty more about “Deuce” in the coming years, both in a Moeller uniform and on the travel circuit.
Alonzo Gaffney – ’19 PF Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joe’s: One of Ohio’s most talented prospects regardless of class, Gaffney proved what a difference a year can make, as he stood out in both VASJ wins on the weekend. A walking double-double machine with legit size at 6’8, top-notch athleticism and the ability to run the floor better than most guards, Gaffney was electric in playing above the rim on both ends of the floor as a shot-blocker and alley-oop finisher. His motor is running at a higher rate, he’s getting stronger and his production is improving quickly; all of which is making us continue to believe that Gaffney is a no-brainer for a top-five spot in our 2019 state rankings.
Jeremiah Francis – ’19 PG Pickerington Central: As far as first halves go you can’t ask for much more than what Francis produced in his Tiger’s semifinal loss to Moeller; as the 6’0 sophomore knocked down shots, dominated with physicality and showed poise as a floor general in controlling the tempo. Always known as a savvy and tough lead guard with a great frame, Francis has continued to show more and more confidence as a perimeter shooter this season, making him without a doubt Ohio’s top 2019 guard now that he has a consistent tool to score from outside of the paint. With his ability to defend the ball as well as make teammates better with his passing, Francis is just about as good as it gets as a sophomore point guard; a big part of the reason why he already holds multiple high-major offers, including Ohio State, Purdue and West Virginia.
Honorable Mention: Logan Hill (’17 Massillon Jackson), Jaret Pallotta (’18 Massillon Jackson), Kyle Nicolas (’17 Massillon Jackson), Keegan McDowell (’17 Cincinnati Moeller), Jeremiah Davenport (’18 Cincinnati Moeller), Sterling Manley (’17 Pickerington Central), Tommy Schmock (’17 Cleveland St. Edward), Jon Williams (’17 Akron STVSM), Kollin Van Horn (’18 Proctorville Fairland), Justin Johnson (’17 Cincinnati Roger Bacon), Alec Pfriem (’19 Cincinnati Roger Bacon), Gene Higgins (’18 Cleveland VASJ), William Butler (’17 Cleveland VASJ), Dustin Harder (’17 Columbus Wellington), Jordan Burge (’18 Cleveland Lutheran East)