AAU State Tournament Recap

3 Jun

The State Tournament is always one of our most anticipated spring events for two reasons; first, it closes out the spring session of AAU ball, and second, there’s no better event for a team to be able to claim bragging rights over another for the next month. Heading into the July AAU period we’re now able to recognize three teams who claimed State Championships in their division in Cincinnati over the weekend.

Grant Benzinger

Grant Benzinger

In the 15u division, the Cincinnati Lakers won the title after a Terrance Landers pull-up jumper found its way through the net as time expired to break a tie and give the Lakers a two point win over heavily favored All-Ohio Red. The 16u division saw another upset occur, as All-Ohio Black used their terrific team chemistry to hold off All-Ohio Red in the title game. Finally, in the 17u division, All-Ohio Red took home the trophy in a game they were heavily favored in, defeating a resilient Shining Stars team.

Here’s a look at a few of the standout performers that Triple Double Prospects had a chance to evaluate at the tournament….

  • Grant Benzinger – ’14 Cincinnati Moeller SG: Although his Shining Stars team finished a few points shy of first place in the title game, Benzinger would still be our easy selection for the MVP of the 17u division on the weekend. The 6’3 guard really had his jumper going from deep, connecting on big shot after big shot as Shining Star continued to rack up wins, and also showed us the ability to make plays off the dribble and quickly pull-up over defenders. Benzinger is a top notch competitor and underrated athlete who has improved in his attention to defense, and now that he can score in a variety of ways should continue to rack up more Division I offers. One of the hottest prospects in the state, Benzinger has been inquired about by several mid-major coaches to TDP, and is currently ranked as our #5 shooting guard prospect in the class of 2014.
  • Carlas Jackson – ’14 Cincinnati Roger Bacon SG: Jackson had a huge scoring weekend as well for Shining Star in their run to the finals, playing “Robin” to Benzinger’s “Batman”. Jackson can score in a variety of ways, but seems most comfortable getting balance off the dribble and rising up for jumpers once the defense backs off of him. Also a solid three-point shooter, rim attacker and someone who can play the point guard position in spurts, Jackson projects as a utility guard at the next level who can provide a quick scoring burst. The final piece of his game is the defensive aspect, where the 6’2 rising senior provides excellent pressure on the ball and has a knack for creating turnovers. Jackson is being recruited almost exclusively at the Division I level, and could easily accumulate a few offers by the end of the July evaluation period.
  • Jordan Smith – ’14 Dayton Dunbar PG/SG: Smith was someone that we had not evaluated a lot in the past, but the Dayton Nets combo guard really impressed us on Sunday in a matchup with Shining Stars when he showcased elite level speed and the ability to be a playmaker in the transition game. Smith should see a much bigger role on the Dunbar varsity squad next season, as he can handle the ball at the pace that the Wolverines like to play and is capable of being either a facilitator or a finisher. We still haven’t seen a ton of Smith yet, but he’s a player that we’ll have an eye on as he progresses in July.
  • Herman Brunis – ’14 Cincinnati Fairfield PG/SG: Brunis continued his breakout spring with Team One as he led the undersized group to a quarterfinal run before falling to the Queen City Prophets in a close game. Brunis is an intense competitor with top level speed and above average athleticism that has become a prolific scorer on the circuit. He’s most comfortable at attacking the rim with a full head of speed off the bounce, but he’s also shown an improved ability to score in the mid-range game as well. If Brunis can convince college coaches that he’s capable of playing the point guard spot in addition to being a scoring threat, then he could continue to pick up more and more interest at the Division I level.
  • DeJuan Sherman – ’15 Cincinnati West High PG: We didn’t get a chance to watch a ton of 16u basketball over the weekend, but when we did it was Sherman that stood out the most. The Queen City Prophets guard always plays with a fiery demeanor, and it was that intensity, leadership and scoring ability that caught our eye at Landmark Christian. Sherman is a scoring minded guard that can get in the lane and finish creatively, or knock down jumpers from long range with his feet set. At 5’10 he’s not going to be one of the bigger guards on the circuit, but his heart makes him an intriguing player in the Cincinnati city league next season.
  • Terrance Landers – ’16 Dayton Dunbar SG/SF: Playing at an elite program like Dunbar, Landers had to wait his turn his freshman year; seeing only scarce playing time on the varsity level. Next year, however, that shouldn’t be an issue as the 6’3 wing had a breakout weekend in Cincinnati with the Lakers. Landers showcased an ability to score in a variety of ways, including a strong shooting touch; most notably his buzzer beater on Sunday afternoon to give the Lakers their third straight state title in the 2016 age group. Landers has excellent size for a wing his age and combines natural scoring with a strong rebounding mindset as well; when he gets his handle tightened up look for him to become one of the premiere prospects in the Dayton area in the rising sophomore class.

    Terrance Landers

  • Jeremy Larkin – ’16 Cincinnati LaSalle PG: The Cincinnati Lakers guard is known more as a football star, but he’s a very good basketball prospect as well. The 5’9 point guard provides excellent on-ball defense, has gotten better with the release on his jumpshot and rarely turns the ball over. Add in the fact that he’s always going to be the strongest guard, and usually the fastest on the floor, and Larkin becomes a nightmare for less physically mature opponents. He had a big first half in the title game, scoring over a dozen points in the first two periods, helping to keep the Lakers in the game when All-Ohio Red made runs to try and take the game over.
  • Jamel Howard – ’16 Cincinnati Purcell Marian SF: “Mo-mo” had an excellent weekend in helping lead the Cincinnati Lakers to a 15u title. At 6’3 he’s still a bit of a tweener, with developing ball-skills at this point, but Howard has superior athleticism to just about any opponent that he’ll face on the circuit. He’s skilled at using that athleticism and strength to be a factor in the game in a variety of ways, and has also shown the mentality of a dominant rebounder. As his skill-set continues to catch up to his athleticism, Howard has as much potential as any rising sophomore in the city of Cincinnati.
  • Rashad Ali-Shakir – ’16 Cincinnati Purcell Marian PG: The 6’1 point guard had a big season on the varsity team at Purcell this year, and has continued that success with a strong spring for the Ohio Prep Hoyas. In TDP’s first viewing of this team this spring, Ali-Shakir led a talented group of guards as he showcased an ability to run a team efficiently and be more than just a scoring point guard. He has good size for a young guard, a mature feel for the offensive end and can score at a high level when necessary, making him one of the 2016’s to watch in the Cincinnati area.
  • Kobe Johnson – ’16 Middletown PG: In our first ever viewing of Johnson the 6’1 point guard from the Cincinnati Bulldogs was very impressive with his smooth handle and craftiness off of the dribble. Johnson has a long frame that looks like he should hit one more growth spurt, and excels at getting to the rim off the dribble, where he can finish or dish it off. He’ll have to add strength and show us that he can consistently shoot the ball, but Johnson looks like one of the better point guard prospects in Southwest Ohio in the rising sophomore class.
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