This year’s All-Ohio Battle of the Cities (also known as the City Series) featured many of the top young prospects in Ohio, as well as established upperclassmen, as players from all across the state descended on Reynoldsburg HS to rep their hometown. TDP was on hand for both days of action again this year, as we again were able to add a great deal of names to our freshman watch list; here’s a look at the top performers that we saw in Columbus….
Jerome Hunter – ’18 Pickerington North SF/PF: When we saw Jerome Hunter on Sunday he was making just about every jumper that he put up; and, when Hunter is making those jumpers he becomes not just an elite prospect in Ohio, but one of the best in the nation. A true inside-outside forward with a versatile and athletic frame at 6’7, Hunter is a pure scorer who just continues to mature as a competitor every time that we see him. If Hunter can continue to play with the passion that we saw this weekend then his offer list (which already includes schools like Purdue, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, West Virginia, Xavier and Pittsburgh) will only continue to grow.
Cameron Brooks Harris – ’18 Zanesville SF/PF: Brooks-Harris is a name that has been getting more and more attention since last spring, when he put himself on the map with some strong performances on the circuit with Hidden Gems; as the 6’6 wing has become known as a versatile scoring threat with a lot of upside. Brooks-Harris is still raw with his physical frame, but he can shoot the ball from the outside and has the length and feet to play the role of an inside-outside scoring threat in any system. After transferring from Hebron Lakewood to Zanesville for this season, there’s a good chance that Brooks-Harris will be one of the top scorers in the Central Ohio region this winter.
Giovanni Santiago – ’18 Cincinnati Hughes PG: This is the first time you’re seeing Santiago’s name on this site, but we promise that it won’t be the last, as the Puerto Rican import took the first step towards establishing his name in Ohio this weekend with a series of strong performances. Santiago is quickly going to be known as one of the region’s top young point guards, as he has great vision as a passer, a creative style that makes teammates love playing with him as well as both the shooting stroke and quickness to be a big time offensive threat. Look for this lefty floor general to make an instant impact in his first season in the state, as he should compliment Hughes’ Correy Long nicely in the backcourt.
Isaiah Payton – ’18 Cincinnati Moeller PG: As we tweeted out on Sunday evening, it’s the start of the “Sleepy” Payton era at Moeller; as the junior point guard started varsity last year but is set to takeover as the team’s lead guard this season. Payton appeared more poised as a leader than he has in the past this weekend, also showing off a more reliable jumper to balance with his elite ability to get to the rim off the bounce. A speedy guard who changes gears and directions well, if Payton can continue to be an effective scorer and playmaker in the half-court to balance his transition game then he’ll be one of the most talked about 2018 guards in Ohio.
Samari Curtis – ’19 Xenia SG: Curtis proved one thing this weekend; he is a scoring machine! The 6’3 wing guard from the Dayton area was dynamic both days, as he scored at will from all three levels in the half-court. A streaky, but capable, jump shooter, Curtis is at his best attacking the rim with his solid frame and both creativity and touch around the basket. We’ve been high on Curtis for well over a year now, as we believe he’ll prove to the rest of the state this season that he is absolutely on par with other top Dayton area 2019 guards such as Andre Gordon and Amari Davis.
Brandon Rush – ’19 Warrensville Heights PG: A talented point guard who we first saw at this event a year ago, Rush has improved both his game and his stature in the last year; as he now stands a legit 6’0 heading into his sophomore season. Already known as a steady playmaker who can create off of the dribble, Rush also showed improved faith in his perimeter jumper, as well as more of a vocal presence in leading his Cleveland sophomore team. With Warrensville Heights having lost some talent to graduation last year, look for Rush to establish himself as the man this season as a sophomore.
Taevon Pierre-Louis – ’19 Lorain SF: A bruising athlete with a ton of competitive passion, Pierre-Louis was dominant on both Saturday and Sunday for the Cleveland sophomore team. While his ball-skills are still developing, Pierre-Louis’ game is somewhat reminiscent of Lorain teammate Naz Bohannon, as both are able to impact the game with physicality around the rim and are also versatile enough to be elite defenders. Look for Pierre-Louis to make a big splash this season at Lorain, as few high school teams boast the frontline to contain both Bohanon and him.
Garvin Clarke – ’20 Euclid PG: Probably the most physically talented 2020 floor general that we saw at the event, which is saying something as there were several, Clarke has a competitive demeanor and a lot of talent at his disposal. A shifty playmaker with speed and athleticism in the open floor, Clarke did a nice job of blending passing and scoring together for his Cleveland squad, which is something that he’ll be asked to do from day one with the Euclid varsity. We certainly haven’t seen all of the top 2020 guards yet, but we’re confident that Clarke will project as one of Ohio’s finest.
Marcus Johnson – ’20 Columbus South SG: A big time athlete who is going to be a problem as he continues to develop his basketball skill-set, Johnson has the upside to be one of the top 2020 players in the state of Ohio. Already capable of dominating the game in full-court settings, Johnson is a transition scorer who can slash from the wing; while also showing the motor and competitive spirit that we want to see in a young player. Remember this name, as Johnson is going to be talked about on this site a lot for years to come.
Others: Caleb McConnell (’18 Dayton Dunbar), Mason McMurray (’18 Stow), Tre Baumgartner (’18 Columbus Africentric), DiShon Daniels (’18 Walnut Hills), Kameron Gibson (’18 Walnut Hills), Myles Belyeu (’18 Trotwood-Madison), Alfonso Hale (’18 Maple Heights), Ben Forte (’19 Reynoldsburg), Josh Corbin (’19 Gahanna Lincoln), Jordan Mitchell (’19 Gahanna Lincoln), Jahvon Garcia (’19 Pickerington Central), Greg Tribble (’19 Winton Woods), Kemondre Muhammad (’19 Warren Harding), Davin Ziegler (’19 Cleveland Benedictine), Taylor Currie (’19 Clarkston/MI), Jay Younkin (’20 Cincy Moeller), Blake Lloyd (’20 Cincy Moeller), Dominiq Penn (’20 Dublin Coffman), Chris Mayfield (’20 Hilliard Bradley), Max Mollmon (’20 Upper Arlington)
Miryne Thomas – ’17 Cleveland Central Catholic PF: A late bloomer onto the scene who had a breakout summer with King James in the Nike EYBL, Thomas made a commitment to D1 Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday night. With size, length, athleticism and upside, Thomas is becoming a pick and pop or hybrid forward who can shoot the ball but play with enough energy to have an impact on the glass. He’ll have to continue to add weight to his frame, but Thomas is an intriguing forward to keep an eye on.
Matt King – ’17 Mason SG/SF: After a month long recruiting war among some of the top regional D2 schools, King decided to stay close to home for his college ball, committing to Columbus program Ohio Dominican on Sunday evening. A skilled 6’5 forward with a versatile game who is known as an elite defender and cerebral offensive player, King can handle, pass and shoot the ball on the offensive end. Look for King to make an early impact for ODU, as he has the versatility to defend guards, wings and even some forwards.
Keegan Saben – ’17 Centerville SG: One of the most talented combo guards in the state, Saben committed to West Liberty last week, making him the first Ohio commitment of the year for WLU (a top-ten nationally recognized program known for recruiting Ohio players). Saben’s ability to play the point guard spot as a strong 6’3 guard should be intriguing for West Liberty, but Saben also possesses the shooting ability and strength to play off of the ball as well. After leading Centerville to a District Title last year in his first year with the Elks, expect Saben to be one of the top players in Dayton this season.