Just two days after a Thanksgiving feast, Cincinnati high school hoops fans were treated to a basketball feast at Woodward High School, as Bulldogs head coach Paul McMillan hosted another edition of The Cincinnati HS Preview. TDP was in attendance for the final five games of the evening, although, unfortunately, the final game scheduled between Cincinnati Taft and Cincinnati Purcell Marian was unable to be played. In the four games where we were able to take in the action, here are the standout performers that caught our eye….
Terry Durham – ’18 SF Cincinnati Woodward: There’s no secret that expectations are high for Durham in his first year at Woodward, after transferring from Winton Woods over the summer. Known as a superb athlete with a grown man’s strength at the basket, Durham has been labeled as a tough kid who has let his emotions slow him down at times in the past. We saw no signs of that at all on Saturday, however, as the 6’3 forward was flat out dominant on both ends of the floor for a Bulldogs team that appears to be one of the state’s top D2 squads heading into the regular season next weekend. Durham blocked shots on the defensive end, rebounded on both ends, ran the floor with great effort and, to the crowd’s delight, finished dunk after dunk on the offensive end, including a two-handed of the backboard alley-oop in transition from a Will Coker pass. While his perimeter set is improving, the ability to consistently make shots should be what will separate Durham from having a good high school season to a great season; as the Bulldogs coaching staff is excited to see what Durham, Coker and senior wing Lonnie Berry Jr. can accomplish this season.
DJ Brewton – ’18 SG Mount Healthy: After some inconsistent play a year ago, Brewton appears ready for a breakout junior season with the Owls, as the 6’2 combo guard was electric in his team’s loss to Cincy Shroder on Saturday. Whether it was making pull-up jumpers, throwing no-look passes or finishing two big dunks in transition (one of which was a poster play that brought the crowd at Woodward to their feet), Brewton looked every bit like a high-end prospect for Mount Healthy. On a team that might struggle to score consistently against top defenses, look for the Owls to get the ball into Brewton’s hands and ask him to make plays for himself and teammates, as one of the top junior guards in the area at creating shots on the offensive end.
Sam Martin – ’17 PG Cincinnati Summit Country Day: A tough-minded guard in a Cincinnati senior class full of tough-minded guards, Martin, fresh off a second straight state soccer championship, wasted little time readjusting to basketball on Saturday night; as he again proved that he is among the region’s most crafty playmaking guards. Dribbling less but getting in the lane more, using some quick cuts in a new look Summit offense, Martin found some opportunities to score around the rim, while also creating some nifty assists for his teammates with well timed passes. A competitor who loves to pester opposing guards in the full-court, Martin is one of our favorite unsigned point guards in the state of Ohio, and a kid who we believe NCAA D2 schools should be all over as they close out their 2017 recruiting classes.
Will Coker – ’17 PG Cincinnati Woodward: After another stellar year on the football field, where he’s known as the Reggie Bush of the Cincinnati city league, Coker made his return felt upon stepping on the hardwood again, as the senior looks to build on what were already video-game like numbers a year ago. While this year’s Woodward team features more scoring options, Coker is still the conductor of the train, as the speedy 5’8 point guard is the one who will look to push tempo in transition, apply pressure in driving at the rim as often as possible and apply pressure of his own with full-court defense. While at times his speed can be a gift and a curse, there is no one in the state of Ohio who can stay with Coker when he’s pushing the ball in transition, something that will again lead to many, many fast break points for the Bulldogs all season long.
Marcus Barton – ’17 SG Cincinnati Aiken: Many have wondered if Barton will be able to keep Aiken in their normal place near the top of the CMAC standings, after graduation and transfers hit the Falcons hard last summer. Well, if Saturday night was a preview for the whole season, the answer would be, yes! Barton was unconscious from beyond the arc, playing with his usual swag and emotion, as the 5’9 sharpshooter proved yet again that he is pound-for-pound as good of a high school guard as anyone, despite his slender frame. While this year’s Aiken’s team doesn’t have great size, or experience other than Barton, we do know that The Swoop has an emotional leader in Barton, who is capable of putting up big time shooting numbers from long-range with his quick release.
Darweshi Hunter – ’18 SG Princeton: Leading the charge for an inexperienced Vikings team that recently undertook a coaching change, Hunter was the scoring catalyst for Princeton in their narrow loss to Woodward. Playing without Ohio State commit Darius Bazley (sitting first 11 games per OHSAA transfer rules) and junior forward Dominic Pierce, Hunter was more than able to carry the scoring load for a team that had to rely on several freshmen to play key minutes. After averaging double-figure scoring numbers a year ago, Hunter is still an above-average, albeit streaky, shooter from long range; but the 6’3 guard does appear to have improved his ability to create for himself off of the dribble and get in the lane to draw contact. Also a high effort player on both ends, expect Hunter to continue to make a name for himself in his second go-around in the GMC at the varsity level.
Others: TJ Walker (’17 Cincy Summit), Derrick Heard (’18 Cincy Shroder), Tremaine Smith (’19 Cincy Aiken), Mark Wise (’20 Deer Park), Alex Dahling (’17 Cincy Summit), Xavier Johnson (’17 Cincy Summit), Nekhi Smith (’20 Cincy Shroder)