Cincy Play-by-Play

7 Dec
Nekhi Smith

Nekhi Smith

Usually the annual Play-by-Play Classic, a staple of Ohio winter basketball events, don’t come to the Southwestern part of the Buckeye State until after the New Year. This weekend, however, fans in Cincinnati were given an early Christmas present; as Princeton HS hosted a Play-by-Play Classic doubleheader. In the first game, Cincinnati Moeller, arguably the team to beat in Ohio in D1, handily defeated Cincinnati Hughes by a score of 89-45; while the second game was much closer, with Cincinnati Taft holding off Deer Park by a final margin of 78-67. Here is a look at some of the standout individual performers from tonight’s double-header….

Deuce McBride – ’19 PG Cincinnati Moeller: Everyone says it, and we certainly believe it, a healthy McBride instantly becomes Ohio’s premiere wing defender, which is exactly what the West Virginia signee showed tonight, scoring 15 points with 5 rebounds and 2 assists, but making an even bigger impact on the other end of the floor. Finally looking fully healthy after missing all but two games last year with an injury, McBride looked even more mobile then when we saw him last week at the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, as his foot speed is critical to upholding his reputation as a high-motor player who can get to loose balls. Offensively he’s getting a new experience in playing on the ball the entire game, and we were impressed tonight as he did a good job blending setting up his teammates with creating looks for himself off the dribble. As McBride continues to prove to defenders that he can make perimeter shots, especially off of a quick rhythm dribble, he’ll become even more difficult to guard; as he will clearly be the catalyst on this Moeller’s team, as they attempt to repeat as Ohio D1 State Champions, before heading to play for Coach Huggins next season.

Alec Pfriem – ’19 SG/SF Cincinnati Moeller: We’ve long said that Pfriem’s offensive game is the perfect fit for Moeller’s system, and that reflected again tonight, as Pfriem scored, cut, passed and led his team with a game high 20 points on 9/12 shooting, to go along with 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. A high-IQ wing who can really pass and cut, Pfriem has a great feel for the offensive end of the floor, and he’s good at using his body to create contact at the rim or by knocking down the short shot with touch. A signee with NCAA D2 powerhouse Bellarmine out of Kentucky, Pfriem’s advanced feel for the game is going to make him a productive player at the college level who is ahead of the learning curve of your average college freshman.

Ibrahima Athie – ’19 SF Deer Park: An athletic 6’6 forward with a great motor, Athie is known more as a versatile defender and role player for Deer Park; however, tonight he provided the most offense on his team, as the senior wing finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Athie has the athleticism and length to be a factor on the defensive end, and it was his ability to get deflections, as well as run in transition, that led to many of his baskets; while he also showed more of a handle then we’ve seen in the past in attacking the rim off of the bounce. With versatility to play either forward spot in smaller lineups at the next level, Athie has the looking’s of a late bloomer forward who will attract more college attention as the year goes on.

Nekhi Smith – ’20 SF Cincinnati Taft: Smith had what can be considered a decent first half in Taft’s win over Deer Park, before exploding in the second half to finish with a game high 21 points. In the final two quarters we saw Smith attack the rim off the dribble, showing a skill-set where he can spin back and finish or use his power to bully defenders, as well as make mid-range jumpers and finish two athletic dunks as Taft made their final run to win the game. While Smith can make some jumpers from deep, he’s best when attacking the rim going to his left hand, and his ability to be consistently productive, with his talent as a 6’5 athletic, strong and versatile forward, will be key to Taft’s success this winter. Already with an NCAA D1 offer from Detroit, college coaches are going to love Smith’s versatility, skill-set and strong 6’5 frame; so, again, if his production is consistent, expect to hear more of his name.

Alex Williams – ’21 SF Cincinnati Moeller: After seeing Williams turn in a really solid outing last weekend in Hillsboro at the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, we were wondering if he could replicate that performance tonight against Hughes; the answer was a resounding yes, as Williams finished with 11 points off the bench for Moeller, as he looks like he’ll be a key role player this year for the Crusaders. Williams has a rare blend of mobility and size as a powerfully built 6’4 forward, who has the versatility to go inside or outside on both ends of the floor. While Williams’ best offense is using his power to attack the rim, he’s also a capable outside shooter, and a high motor player who can get involved in ways other than scoring. Moeller traditionally doesn’t play many sophomores major minutes, but if Williams keeps up this level of play he’s going to see a lot of time this season.

Paul McMillan IV – ’22 PG Cincinnati Hughes: Playing only his second varsity basketball game, and first against an opponent as strong as Moeller, McMillan was able to prove that he more than belonged on the court, tallying a team high 19 points on 7/19 shooting from the floor. McMillan gained valuable experience playing against Moeller’s defense, as the young point guard showed an ability to get into the lane and get the ball on the rim with a variety of floaters. His outside jumper didn’t fall today, but McMillan’s handle allows him to get shots off whenever he wants, while he also shows the point guard play and elusiveness in transition that go with being a really good player at the high school level. More then anything, McMillan’s composure and competitiveness were still in sync tonight, even when the margin got out of hand for Hughes.

Other Top Performers: Chris’Seon Stringer (’19 SG Taft), DeMarco Bradley Jr (’19 PG Taft), Joe Hocker (’19 C Deer Park), Muhammad Metz (’20 SG Taft), Romelo Carleon (’20 PG Taft), Max Land (’20 SF Moeller), Mark Wise (’20 SG Deer Park), Steve Gentry Jr (’20 PG Deer Park), Logan Duncomb (’21 C Moeller), Will McCracken (’21 SF Moeller), Camron McKenzie (’21 SG Hughes)

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