Flyin’ to the Hoop Recap

19 Jan
Seth Towns

Seth Towns

The fourteenth annual edition of Flyin’ to the Hoop at Kettering Fairmont HS in suburban Dayton was a 23-game marathon over the course of four days of play; as most of Ohio’s top 2016 talent took the court to play either other top in-state teams or out-of-state academies. For yet another year, Ohio’s top talent more than held their own, as the state’s great senior class added to their legacy with many gutsy and impressive performances. Here’s a look at some of the top performers that stood out to us over the course of the long weekend…

Seth Towns – ’16 SF Columbus Northland: It wasn’t the fact that Towns scored forty in his Northland squad’s victory over Greenville that impressed us; it was the fact that Towns made it look so easy. A true three-level scorer, the Harvard commit did a little bit of everything offensively for his Vikings; hitting three-point shots, finishing dunks in transition and making crafty drives to the rim off the dribble. In multiple viewings this season we’ve been extremely impressed with Towns’ improved assertiveness, as he’s been one of the top scorers, and most efficient, scorers in the senior class; all the more reason that the Harvard staff can’t wait to get their hands on the 6’7 senior wing forward. 

Ibi Watson – ’16 SG Pickerington Central: While his team might not have won on Monday evening, no one could question the effort of the Pick-Town boys, especially Watson who finished with 26 points in the loss. Playing against some elite talent in Advanced Prep Institute out of Dallas, the Michigan signee was confident and aggressive, scoring the ball both in transition with his length and athleticism, or from the three-point line with his always smooth release. Just one weapon on a really talented Pick Central team that is starting to put it all together, we were also very impressed with ’19 PG Jeremiah Francis, who showed poise, toughness and some serious talent while playing against the nation’s most highly regarded point guard prospect.

Willie Jackson – ’16 SF/PF Garfield Heights: In a heartbreaking loss to Huntington Prep the boys from G’Heights showed tremendous resolve, coming up just short down the stretch against the nationally known prep academy; however, Jackson put on a show in the game, dominating the glass and finding ways to score inside against Michigan State signee Miles Bridges. While he got plenty of help from fellow senior Frankie Hughes, it was Jackson, a Missouri signee, who proved to be the heart and soul of the Bulldogs. Playing in his fourth straight FTTH event, Jackson made a lasting memory to add to his legacy in his final outing at Trent Arena. 

Henry Baddley – ’16 SF Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: The word is out on Baddley; this kid might just be the most improved senior in Ohio, and a huge recruiting steal for the Butler Bulldogs. The 6’5 forward continues to have a HUGE senior season at Akron STVSM, as he’s making jumper after jumper and scoring in different ways for his Irish squad. After being called just an athlete for the first three years of his career, Baddley obviously committed himself to skill work, as the quiet but aggressive scorer has established himself as a legitimate contender for first-team all-state honors. 

Nick Ward – ’16 PF/C Gahanna Lincoln: While his Lions’ squad isn’t known this year for their depth, they sure do have a horse inside with Ward, a 6’9 Michigan State signee with great strength and toughness. Playing against another tough kid in Dayton Dunbar’s Terrence Landers, Ward was a warrior inside in establishing position around the rim, as he tallied 26 points on interior finishes, hook shots, dunks and made free-throws. Clearly the most dominant interior player in the state, Ward is going to have a chance to earn minutes early for the Spartans, as he’s the latest Central Ohio prospect to sign to head to Lansing, MI, for his college ball.

Jarron Cumberland – ’16 SG/SF Wilmington: The undefeated Hurricanes might have been trailing Columbus Walnut Ridge by 17 points heading into halftime, but Cumberland didn’t’ panic. The 6’4 Cincinnati signee dominated the Scots with his scoring, showing his usual tough demeanor and aggressive style in finishing with 24 points in his FTTH finale. Along with ’18 PG Dylan Beaugard, Cumberland refused to allow his team to lose, whether it was coming up with rebounds, scoring inside, making jumpers or even finding teammates when he was double-teamed. Heading into the later part of his senior year, Cumberland is a legitimate Mr. Basketball candidate.

Kobie Johnson – ’16 PG Middletown: It hasn’t been a great start to the season for the Middies, but their senior combo guard has a special moment on Monday afternoon, tallying a season high 32 points in a narrow loss to Dublin Jerome. From start to finish the 6’1 guard was on fire from three-point range, as he used his excellent quickness and shifty handle to open up shots from both mid and long-range, consistently coming up with net on the release. Inconceivably, Johnson has little to no NCAA D1 interest at this point, but there’s no doubt in our mind that not only is he one of Ohio’s best scorers still on the board, but he’s also one of the most athletic players still available in a very good 2016 senior class in Ohio.

Kyle Young – ’17 SF Massillon Jackson: With West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins joined by assistants coaches from Maryland and Butler on hand to watch him play against Springfield on Sunday, Young was quite impressive, scoring 18 points in a convincing Jackson win. Whether it was using his size and strength to score around the rim, his athleticism to throw it down in transition or showing his typical range on his jumper; Young is one of Ohio’s premiere talents in 2017, a huge part of the reason that so many colleges are taking notice of him. With Young’s help, expect Massillon Jackson not only to be a tough out in March, but maybe even make a state final four run.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Mitchell (’19 Gahanna Lincoln), Torrey Patten (’17 Trotwood-Madison), Dominic Lavarie (’17 Kettering Alter), Clay Guillozet (’16 Greenville), Rodrick Caldwell (’16 Huber Heights Wayne), Trey Landers (’16 Huber Heights Wayne), D’Mitrik Trice (’16 IMG Academy/FL), Evan Kuhlman (’17 Lakota East), Danny Davis (’17 Springfield), Jayvon Graves (’17 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), Elijah Fulton (’16 Cincinnati Roger Bacon), Terrence Landers (’16 Dayton Dunbar), Braden Norris (’18 Hilliard Bradley), Jalen Tate (’16 Pickerington Central), Mason Baich (’16 Dublin Jerome), Xavier Simpson (’16 Lima Senior), Marquavious Wilson (’16 Lima Senior), Isaiah Speelman (’18 Hilliard Bradley), Caleb McConnell (’18 Dayton Dunbar), Logan Hill (’17 Massillon Jackson), Azende Johnson (’16 Columbus Walnut Ridge), Christian Montague (’17 Dayton Chaminade Julienne), Zach Montes (’16 Pickerington North), Sterling Manley (’17 Pickerington Central), Evan Clayborne (’16 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Colton Irion (’16 Dublin Jerome), Dylan Beaugard (’18 Wilmington)

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