Flyin’ to the Hoop

17 Jan

Torrey Patton

The 15th annual showing of Flyin’ to the Hoop at Kettering Trent Arena was another success, as top teams from Ohio and other states as far away as California made their way to the Dayton area for four days of action packed basketball. Yet again, the Ohio teams measured up well against out of state prep schools, with Pickerington Central giving Marietta Wheeler (GA) all they can handle, Huber Heights Wayne playing a loaded Huntington Prep (WV) team close for a half and Massillon Jackson putting a beat down on Our Savior New American (NY). Here’s a look at the top in-state performers from our seventh trip up to Flyin’ to the Hoop….

Torrey Patton – ’17 SG Trotwood Madison: The unsigned 6’2 senior guard had a scoring outburst against nationally renowned Prolific Prep (CA) on Monday, scoring 36 points in a game that Trotwood-Madison (arguably Ohio’s top team regardless of class) competed in for more than a half before foul trouble doomed the Rams. Patton is a strong-bodied guard with a polished skill-set who plays some point guard for TM, but is even better off the ball as a strong slasher who can make shots from distance as well. One of Ohio’s top unsigned guards, expect to see Patton’s name near the top of the GWOC in scoring for the remainder of the season.

Kyle Young – ’17 SF Massillon Jackson: Already a legit Mr. Basketball candidate heading into this weekend’s showdown with New York City powerhouse Our Savior New American, Young was sensational on Sunday, scoring 26 points in a win. Young, a Butler signee, is a knockdown shooter at 6’7 from deep with great size on the wing; however, he’s also a solid athlete who can finish in traffic or use his body to create open looks. Capable of spending time at other forward spot at the next level, Young should make an impact for the Bulldogs with his shooting stroke and raw size.

Jayvon Graves – ’17 SG Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: You always expect big things from the Akron STVSM boys at these events, and Graves was more than ready for the challenge, as the 6’2 senior wing guard tallied 27 points in a win over Pickerington North. A high wire act with both explosiveness and power, Graves was dominant on both ends of the floor, as he is nearly impossible to match up with at the high school level. The Buffalo signee can guard multiple positions, handle the ball and plays with a good motor; all the more reason why he was the target of top mid-major programs.

Keegan Saben – ’17 PG/SG Centerville: Another skilled and versatile guard like Patton, Saben was terrific for his disciplined Elks team this weekend, scoring 23 points and dishing out 5 assists in a win over a talented Cleveland Heights team. Saben has the ability to play either guard spot at 6’3, and is both capable of creating shots for himself or others off the dribble, as he relentlessly attacked the Cleveland Heights defense with strong drives to the rim and pull-up jumpers. One of Dayton’s top senior guards, Saben is committed to play at West Liberty (WV), one of the nation’s elite NCAA D2 programs.

Dane Goodwin – ’18 SG Upper Arlington: Everyone who had done their homework on Goodwin knew that the 6’4 Ohio State commit could make perimeter shots in bunches; however, before his game this weekend not everyone knew how skilled Goodwin’s overall floor game is, as the junior put on a clinic against Garfield Heights in posting 34 points and 13 rebounds. Goodwin’s point total matched the entire team total of his opponent, as the junior showed a fiery competitiveness on the bright state. A shooter who can also handle the ball, and is deceptively athletic, Goodwin will bring instant offense to Ohio State when he steps foot on the Buckeye campus for the ’18-’19 season.

Jerome Hunter – ’18 SF Pickerington North: Another Columbus junior capable of scoring in bunches, Hunter continued to make a case for the top spot in our Ohio Class of 2018 Rankings over the weekend, as he dominated the game with 27 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to Akron STVSM. Formerly a raw talent who we were waiting to put it all together, Hunter has now begun to play like a man on a mission; showcasing elite physical tools to go along with a refined skill-set for a 6’7 forward. With his athleticism, shooting stroke and ability to create off the bounce with power, Hunter has become one of the best scorers in Ohio HS basketball; part of the reason why schools like West Virginia, Purdue, Xavier, Florida and other high-major programs are aggressively recruiting the junior.

Darius Bazley – ’18 SF Cincinnati Princeton: A 6’8 forward with incredible upside, we were impressed with Bazley’s effort level, as the junior Ohio State commit really competed in his first outing with Princeton (after sitting 11 games per OHSAA transfer rules) in their loss to national powerhouse Marietta Wheeler (GA). While his Princeton team is very young, the Vikings showed long-term upside, particularly in Bazley who has legitimate guard skills at 6’8 and is fun to watch every time he catches the ball. Bazley is still figuring things out in terms of efficiency, but you just don’t see kids who have his combination of size, agility and skill, part of the reason why this future Buckeye is a top-50 prospect per all the major national recruiting publications.

Justin Ahrens – ’18 SF Versailles: A third Ohio State commit from the 2018 class, Ahrens was ready to play on Monday morning at FTTH, finishing with 26 points as his Versailles team defeated Tri-Village in the annual small school showdown game at Trent Arena. While we’ve seen Ahrens play plenty of times as a second or third scoring option on the AAU circuit, this was our first time really seeing him as a go-to scorer at the high school level; and the versatility of the 6’6 forward really showed, as Ahrens got buckets in the post, as a jump-shooter and by creating off of the dribble as his team’s primary ballhandler. A true jack-of-all-trades, we envision Ahrens as a key role piece down the road at Ohio State alongside guys like Goodwin and Bazley.

Jake Walter – ’18 C Covington Catholic/KY: While his school is technically located about 1.5 miles outside of the state of Ohio, we thought that we’d include this massive 2018 post prospect from the Greater Cincinnati area in our recap, as the 6’11 Walter produced a solid outing in Cov Cath’s win over Dayton Dunbar. It’s hard to beat Dunbar in Dayton, and that’s exactly what Walter’s squad did, even playing without star junior wing CJ Fredrick; as Walter produced double-figure rebounds and altered shots at the rim with his ability to clog space in the paint with his giant frame. Playing his first true season of high school hoops after being injured the last two years, Walter is in shape and ready to make an impact for the Colonels (arguably Kentucky’s top team), as he showed great hands, a lot of hustle and ability to rebound in traffic. Already with one mid-major offer to his name, Walter’s name is being mentioned by several mid-major programs of late, and he should see a steady rise in his recruitment in the spring.

Jeremiah Francis – ’19 PG Pickerington Central: The lone sophomore to make our top performer list, Francis’ competitive drive kept his Pickerington Central team going on Saturday, as the Tigers stayed in the game until the final minutes with an experienced and talented Marietta Wheeler (GA) team. By far Ohio’s most talented 2019 point guard, Francis was dynamic as a ballhandler and passer who has the strength to get in the lane and create for himself or others. Additionally, Francis continues to look more and more confident with his three-point shot, which gives yet another weapon on the offensive end of the floor. A legit floor general with a mature feel for the game and a sense of composure to his play, Francis already has high-major offers from West Virginia, Purdue and Nebraska on a list that we expect to continue to grow.

Honorable Mention: Danny Davis (’17 Springfield), Michael McKay (’17 Springfield), Braden Norris (’18 Hilliard Bradley), Isaiah Speelman (’18 Hilliard Bradley), Adrian Nelson (’18 Pickerington Central), L’Christian Smith (’18 Huber Heights Wayne), Darius Quisenberry (’18 Huber Heights Wayne), Jordan Mitchell (’19 Gahanna Lincoln), Jaylen Harris (’17 Cleveland Heights), Yahel Hill (’18 Cleveland Heights), Caleb McConnell (’18 Dayton Dunbar), Myles Belyeu (’18 Trotwood Madison), Amari Davis (’19 Trotwood Madison), Andre Gordon (’19 Sidney)

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