Cleveland PBP Recap

7 Jan

Jaelyn Withers

Annually, the Play-by-Play Classic in Cleveland is a great place for scouts, college coaches and fans to watch and evaluate top talent from Northeast Ohio in showcase games between the best programs. This year’s event, held at Elyria Catholic, was no different, with 11 games between two days of play, featuring twenty teams from Northeast Ohio, as well as Pittsburgh based talent factories in Kennedy Catholic and First Love Christian Academy. Triple Double Prospects made the trip to watch 10/11 games over the two days; here’s a look at our top Ohio based performers from the Play-by-Play Classic….

Jaeylyn Withers – ’19 PF Cleveland Heights: This was our first chance to get a look at Withers, a 6’8 forward from North Carolina who transferred to Cleveland Heights for his senior year. Withers did not disappoint, as the Louisville signee – ranked by top services as one of the top-100 seniors in the country – finished with 27 points in ‘Heights blowout win over Canton McKinley. Arguably the most talented senior in the state of Ohio, Withers is a great athlete for his size who can handle and attack from the three-point line, and, even though he settles for them too much, can shoot the ball with ease from the three-point line. There have been questions from others regarding Withers’ motor, but he was physical and aggressive against McKinley, showing us that Louisville is getting a really promising prospect in Withers.

Devon Grant – ’19 PG Lorain: Even though his Lorain team came up short against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, Grant was sensational on Sunday afternoon, wearing his heart on his sleeve and finishing with 34 points (the high scorer on the day). Grant was electrifying in the first half for Lorain, hitting pull-up after pull-up from behind the three-point line, as the Miami (OH) signee was just simply in the zone. He’s not the biggest or most athletic guard, but Grant can make shots and he’s one of the absolute toughest, a big part of why Lorain is ranked among the top ten division one teams in Ohio right now.

John Hugley – ’20 C Cleveland Brush: When scouting big men the number one thing we want to see is progression from game-to-game, year-to-year; which is exactly what Hugley displayed on Sunday, showing more emotion and a better motor then we’ve seen in the past, as Brush secured a win over Garfield Heights. A big-bodied 6’8 post who is simply too strong for other high school players, Hugley controlled the paint on both ends, while also showing better conditioning in being able to keep up in a fairly fast-paced game. There aren’t a ton of true bigs in today’s game, but Hugley’s size and strength will allow him the opportunity to score over longer, more athletic bigs as he continues to become more and more skilled. One of the hottest names in Midwestern recruiting news right now, Hugley has offers from Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Xavier, Penn State and about a dozen mid-majors.

Luka Eller – ’20 PF Mentor Lake Catholic: The MVP for Lake Cath in their win over last year’s Ohio D1 State Runners-Up in Solon, the 6’8 junior forward finished with a game high 22 points on the night. Eller has great versatility as well above average athleticism for his size, as he showed the ability to face-up and attack, score around the basket and make shots from the perimeter. NCAA D1 mid-majors have already made it clear that Eller is a priority for them, as is fellow Lake Catholic junior Luke Frazier, as Eller has a rare case of size and skill that is exactly what college coaches look for in today’s game where big men stretch the floor with shooting and have to also be nimble enough to guard small-ball forwards. Already with 5 scholarship offers from NCAA D1’s, if Eller keeps making shots consistently, that list is only going to grow as Lake Catholic moves towards tournament play.

Devontae Blanton – ’20 SF/PF Cleveland St. Edward: As impressive as Akron STVSM was in their win over Lorain, no team did more to improve their stock in Northeast Ohio then St. Ed’s, who put together a total team effort in knocking off Pittsburgh powerhouse Kennedy Catholic. Although senior wing Demetrius Terry was also tremendous on Sunday, the junior forward Blanton was the heart and soul of Ed’s attack, using his strength, offensive IQ and improved ability to knock down perimeter shots to take advantage of Kennedy Catholic. Blanton even found some ways to score with what we call “old man moves” around the rim against West Virginia signee Oscar Tshiebwe, as Blanton’s pump-fakes, floaters and jab-steps were too much for the bigger athlete. With his versatility, as well as the overall team approach Ed’s plays with, we believe, based on yesterday’s game, that Coach Flannery’s team will yet again bet a major threat to make it to the State Tournament come March.

Meechie Johnson – ’21 PG Garfield Heights: Things might not be going Garfield Heights’ way this season on the court, as they lost handily to a very good Brush team; however, Meechie Johnson is still scoring the ball at will, as the sophomore finished with 21 points for the Bulldogs. A blur off the dribble, especially in transition, Johnson combines speed and skill to score at the rim with floaters or with pull-up three-pointers. He’s not a big guard, but Johnson’s speed and handle allow him to create separation, and he has a quick release jumper plus the confidence to score in bunches. One of the more competitive guards in Ohio’s 2021 class which is filled with scoring guards and wings, Johnson has serious playmaking ability on the offensive end.

EJ Farmer – ’21 SG Cleveland Lutheran East: Farmer certainly made the top play of the weekend, knocking down a buzzer-beater three-pointer in Lutheran East’s comeback win over Lakewood, but the sophomore was solid all game long, using his length, athleticism, handle and shot-making ability to create offense. One of Ohio’s most heralded sophomore wings, Farmer is a threat to score from anywhere in the half-court, as the lefty shoots a good ball from three but has the quickness and size at 6’4 to get to the rim and make plays. With Lutheran East being a threat to make it down to the Ohio State Tournament yet again, Farmer’s name will be heavily mentioned in the Cleveland area.

Seth Wilson – ’21 PG Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: Sophomore who is a tough, physical scoring guard who can really operate efficiently in the pick-and-roll, Wilson had to be ready for battle against Lorain on Sunday, as the Akron STVSM guard is a native of the Lorain area. Wilson was up to the task, scoring 14 points and showing that he can make perimeter shots or use his strong frame to drive to the rim. Wilson, who was a starter on STVSM’s State Champion team a year ago, is no stranger to big games, and further established himself as one of Ohio’s top 2021 guard prospects with his performance Sunday.

Chris Livingston – ’22 SG Akron Buchtel: Billed by some as one of the top-ten players in the entire country in the freshmen class, Livingston already has athletic abilities that surpass many top college players. A big wing guard at 6’5 who can jump out of the gym, has a strong frame and can run like a deer, Livingston is a physical specimen who is definitely the most talented player in Ohio’s 2022 class. Not just an athlete, Livingston was able to handle the ball against pressure in a loss to a very good First Love Christian Academy team, as well as knock down multiple three-pointers. With all the hype surrounding his name, Livingston has already received an early offer from Ohio State

Honorable Mention: Andre Harris (’19 Cleveland Brush), Demetrius Terry (’19 Cleveland St. Edward), CJ Charleston (’19 Cleveland Gilmour Academy), Curtis Houston (’19 Richmond Heights), Chris Painter (’19 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), Nigel Martin (’19 Cleveland Heights), Tommy Sala (’19 Lakewood), Luke Frazier (’20 Mentor Lake Catholic), Conner O’Toole (’20 Cleveland Gilmour Academy), Gblahan Adio (’20 Richmond Heights), Dayvon Adams (’20 Cleveland Lutheran East), Dakota Cochran (’20 Shaker Heights), Vernon Smith (’21 Akron Buchtel), Kobe Johnson (’21 Canton McKinley), Chris Drake (’21 Cleveland John Hay), Sonny Johnson Jr. (’22 Garfield Heights), Jonathon Effertz (’22 Cleveland St. Ignatius), Danny Young Jr. (’22 Shaker Heights), Elmore James (’22 Cleveland Brush)

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