Clark Kellogg Tip-Off

8 Dec

The 2013-2014 high school basketball season in Ohio is officially in full effect, as almost every team in the state has completed at least one game. On Saturday in Columbus, teams from around the state gathered for a four-game hoop-fest, named the Clark Kellogg Tip-Off Classic. The event, which just completed its second year, matched central Ohio’s finest with teams from around the state, with the results ending in a 2-2 split.

LePear Toles

LePear Toles

Some teams, most notably Columbus Northland and Pickerington Central, played their first game of the season at the Clark Kellogg Tip-Off Classic, while most of the other teams completed their second outing of the season. After the end of four contests, three of which were competitive games all the way into the fourth quarter, here’s a look at some of the top performers who stood out on Saturday in Columbus…..

  • Jae’sean Tate – ’14 Pickerington Central SF: As the consensus top 2014 prospect in the state of Ohio, Tate is supposed to dominate in events like this. And that’s exactly what he did. The Ohio State bound small forward was a force around the rim for Pickerington Central in their season opener, as they rolled past Toledo Rogers in a blowout. Tate accumulated 23 points on the afternoon, most of them coming in the paint on transition dunks, offensive rebounds or hard drives. With Toledo Rogers consistently allowing Tate to drive to his dominant left hand, the small forward showed his strong finishing ability, and also was as efficient as usual at getting to the foul line. Tate was arguably the top performer of the day on Saturday, and likely would’ve had significantly better stats had he seen more second half minutes if the game had been closer.
  • Connor Kern – ’14 Pickerington Central SF: While Tate was the star of the last three quarters for Pickerington Central, it was their other Division I bound senior, Arkansas State commit Connor Kern, who helped Pickerington Central build their lead. Kern scored 17 of his 19 points in the first period, highlighted by several crafty transition finishes. Known more as a spot-up shooter on the offensive end, Kern showed the ability to play up-tempo basketball on Saturday, earning almost all of his points either at the basket or the foul line. Lack of playing time in the second half of a blowout game limited what could have been an even bigger scoring night, but nevertheless, Kern was very impressive.
  • Antonio Woods – ’14 Cincinnati Summit PG: Ohio’s top pure point guard in the senior class, a multi-sport commit to Penn, Woods played an efficient floor game for Summit as they defeated Columbus Africentric in a close game. With this season’s Summit team down on talent from the last few years, Woods has had to take on more of a scoring role, and was able to put up 18 points against a very good Nubians team. Woods shot-making ability has improved, but it is his combination of speed and strength, while also being able to remain under control, that really stands out when he is matched against other high school guards.
  • Tremaine Hawkins – ’14 Dayton Thurgood Marshall SG: The strength of this year’s Thurgood Marshall team is their depth of scoring threats on the perimeter. This was very evident against Columbus Northland, as Hawkins, a 6’2 wing who played just a supporting role last season, scored 24 points, including 16 in the third quarter, to push Thurgood Marshall past the favored Northland Vikings. Hawkins showed the ability to score from different levels as he made shots off of the dribble, finished with touch in transition and confidently shot the ball from long distance. Along with fellow senior guards RaChaun Martin, Davion Ashe and Dwayne Chastain, as well as sophomore D.J. Hoskins, the Cougars have a full stable of horses that can take over a game with their speed and toughness. However, they only needed one of those guards to carry the scoring load on Saturday, and that played was the games MVP, Hawkins.
  • Nate Axelrod – ’14 Dublin Coffman PG: Despite being the smallest player on the floor at around 5’6, the senior point guard from Dublin Coffman showed the biggest heart in his team’s battle with Canton Timken on Saturday, as Axelrod scored 19 points in an overtime win for Coffman. Axelrod hit a pair of timely jumpers from behind the arc down the stretch and in overtime as Coffman slowly chipped away at a Timken lead to eventually take the game. In addition to his shooting ability, Axelrod was also efficient as a defender, where he drew multiple offensive fouls with some pesky on-ball defense, and as a passer, as he tallied a few assists on drive and kick passes.
  • Evan Davis – ’15 Cincinnati Summit SG: With the four games all being played at an above average pace, most of the scoring on Saturday was done around the rim. However, one shooter did stand out, as Summit junior Evan Davis knocked down five three-pointers for a 15 point outing, including hitting four of those five shots in the first half to stretch the Africentric defense. Playing with much greater confidence than he did a year ago, Davis has had multiple games in front of TDP this season where he has really shot the ball well, while also attacking the basket for pull-ups. As his confidence continues to grow, Davis could become one of the better-known pure shooters in southwest Ohio.
  • JaQuan Harrison – ’15 Columbus Africentric SG/SF: Harrison’s team couldn’t come up with a win on Saturday, however, the junior guard was highly impressive as he totaled 19 points. Harrison really showed good effort on the defensive end, guarding multiple positions on the ball, including Antonio Woods, and then playing the role of dominant shot-blocker in transition, as he rejected 5 shots on the day. While Africentric as a team struggled to make perimeter shots, Harrison earned most of his points around the rim on drives, offensive rebounds and a few in transition where he was able to take contact and still get the ball to go in.
  • LePear Toles – ’16 Canton Timken SG/SF: One of Ohio’s premier sophomores, in a class that TDP continues to rave about, Toles turned in a special performance on Saturday, looking like one of the best prospects in northeast Ohio in the process. The powerfully built 6’4 lefty wing scored 16 points in limited minutes due to foul trouble, but showed the competitive edge to keep his team ahead in a game that they ultimately lost in overtime once he fouled out. Toles got his points off of pull-up three-pointers, and on lefty drives to the rim, where he showed the handle, control and vision to be an efficient player. He’s still someone who probably has gotten the credit he deserves, and rest assured that he is one of the top sophomores to keep an eye out for in Ohio.
  • Derrick Daniels – ’16 Dayton Thurgood Marshall PF: We’ve raved about Daniels for a few months now, and the 6’8 sophomore continued his strong run on Saturday, tallying 17 points in a Thurgood Marshall win. Daniels starred the most on the defensive end, showing the ability to guard on the interior or perimeter, and having the toughness to keep Northland scorers out of the paint. On the offensive end, Daniels got most of his points off of positioning, as he found spots behind the Northland defense for Thurgood Marshall guards to feed him for dunks when the help defense broke down. As he continues to be both highly productive and efficient, look for Daniels to continue to make his name as one of the elite 2016’s in Ohio. 
  • Seth Towns – ’16 Columbus Northland SF/PF: Northland as a team got balanced offense from seniors Ty Hairston, Jaylen Tucker and Derrick McKeithten, but it was the play of their star sophomore that kept the Vikings close in their game with Thurgood Marshall. With Northland struggling to score, Towns was aggressive against smaller Thurgood Marshall defenders, repeatedly earning his way to the foul line for easy points, on the way to a 15-point night. Like many Northland players, his perimeter jumper wasn’t falling, but Towns showed his touch around the rim, and did a nice job of using his length to get his shot off instead of over-dribbling. 
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