Two Ohio Duos Ready for Prep School Challenge

12 Sep

As basketball evolves at the youth level more and more elite players are choosing to attend a high profile prep school for either their senior season or a year of postgraduate play. Four of Ohio’s top young prospects are going that route this year. Class of 2011 standouts SG Aaron Thomas, who graduated from Cincinnati Withrow, and PG Semaj Christon, a Cincinnati Winton Woods grad, are both taking a post-grad year at the prestigious Brewster Academy in New Hampshire while PF Elijah Macon, who spent his first three years at Columbus Marion Franklin, and Evan Payne, combo guard originally from Cleveland’s Walsh Jesuit, are both ’12 prospects attending their senior year at the up and coming powerhouse Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

Aaron Thomas and Semaj Christon

The reasons for attending one of these prep schools often varies from focusing on academic improvement, to elite competition, or exposure. These are three of the reasons that drew Ohio’s four young men to prep school. “My parents thought it would be a great challenge for me, playing 40 games against all Division I talent. It has to make you better, the reason I transferred is to get better” says Payne, who last year at his Ohio Division II high school averaged over 24 points per game. As great as the competition is in games these players will all also benefit from going against other highly recruited Division I players in practice every day; “Not very many players have the chance to practice everyday against 5 other high majors. I’m just going to do what I need to do, be happy to be on such a good team, play my role, and get better” Thomas told us.

Elijah Macon

Brewster and Huntington Prep might be the two most talented teams in the country this year as both have rosters full of Division I talent, many of them being high major recruits. As they go around the nation to find competition Macon is observant of what awaits them, “We’re putting in hard work since day one because everybody is trying to give it to us. We can’t buy into the hype of Huntington Prep this or Huntington Prep that, we have to keep working or teams can beat us.”

While the talent pool is loaded at these schools expect all four Ohio prospects to have signifigant impacts. Christon, who is ranked in the top 75 nationally by several scouting services, was a late bloomer who came out of nowhere last season to become the hottest name in the Midwest. A pure PG with elite speed, handles, and court vision he should have plenty of opportunities to rack up assists this season. “My main goal is that I’m just trying to win. That and get at least 10 assists a game. I’ll get my points when they come but everybody here can put the ball in the basket. It’s my job to set us up to do that” said Christon. As a committed player, Semaj chose Xavier in July and plans to sign this fall, he will have his full focus on improvement where he would like to see gains in his strength, jumper, and leadership skills.

Evan Payne

Macon comes to Huntington as Ohio’s top 2012 recruit and is currently weighing offers from West Virginia, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Cincinnati, and Florida. A bruiser inside with great power and bounce Elijah is working hard on improving his wing skills. “I’m used to playing against bigger guys, I look at this as another opportunity to gain experience. It’s about me learning when to go outside and when to go inside. I can play the wing or post I just need to make the right decision for the situation.”

Payne might be the least heralded of this group so far but he has special talent. Another pure scorer who has PG skills and unbelievable leaping ability Payne is looking forward to working with Huntington Prep coaches on becoming a pure PG. Evan is currently being recruited heavily at the mid and high major levels with offers from USC, TCU, Boston, Central Michigan, Cleveland State, and Akron; while Penn State, Cincinnati, and Dayton are interested.

Regardless of the basketball this year away from home before college should prepare all four of these young men for the next stage of basketball, and their lives, as it is a unique opportunity to basically play in a college like atmosphere. The fact that they are going together with friends should help the transition process and all four look forward to interacting with their teammates. “I want to be known as a great teammate,” Thomas told TDP, “I’m going to improve my leadership skills at Brewster.”

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