Flyin’ to the Hoop

22 Jan

CJ Anthony

As readers of this site will surely know, Flyin’ to the Hoop is an annual staple of the Ohio high school basketball season. This year history stood tall, as neither snow nor the circus that surrounds LaVar Ball and Spire Academy could stop FTTH from going on in Kettering from Friday-Monday at Trent Arena. Highlights from the weekend included some high profile prep team battles, the host school Kettering Fairmont taking down a Canadian prep school, an epic ending to the Garfield Heights/Huber Heights Wayne game, and, of course, some top individual performances by Ohio’s top prospects. Here’s a look at some of the standout performers from Flyin’ to the Hoop….

Samari Curtis – ’19 SG Xenia: Some are going to argue that Curtis took too many shots, and that his team did not win their game (albeit against tough competition in First Love Christian Academy/PA), but scoring 44 points is impressive no matter what the circumstances are; and that’s exactly what Curtis did on Saturday morning, as fans who braved the elements go to watch Curtis erupt offensively. The Cincinnati signee got to the rim at will off the dribble, getting to the foul line or scoring at the rim with his combination of athleticism and strength as a 6’3 scoring combo guard. Curtis’ jumper can be streaky, but when he’s hitting that shot there isn’t much opponents can do, as he’s so quick with his dribble that he can create a shot for himself whenever he wants. One of Ohio’s most dynamic guards and personalities, Curtis’ career will be interesting to follow next year with the Bearcats.

Javohn Garcia – ’19 PG Pickerington Central: The top unsigned point guard in all of Ohio, Garcia led his loaded Pickerington Central team into a statement win by a large margin over Trotwood-Madison in the FTTH finale, as Garcia showed that he has a combination of tools at his disposal. A big time athlete as a 6’3 guard, Garcia looked a step faster then everyone else (impressive as Trotwood’s kids aren’t exactly athletic slouches), as he got to the rim in transition, blew by defenders and finished plays off with assists, and made a defensive impact with blocks and rebounds. Garcia’s 32-point game was enough to earn a new scholarship offer, as the Toledo Rockets extended an offer Garcia’s way on Tuesday morning. If Garcia continues to play at this level, don’t be surprised if Pickerington Central makes a push at a third straight State Tournament appearance.

Javin Etzler – ’19 PF Convoy Crestview: Coming out Northwest Ohio, Etzler is a 6’7 forward who has signed with Miami (OH) known for his ability to shoot the basketball. Shooting the ball is exactly what Etzler did in a win over Minster, as the senior forward knocked down shot after shot, showing fans that he could put the ball on the floor after a shot-fake, find a spot-up shot or come off a screen, making a case for himself as Ohio’s top shooter in the 2019 class. With Etzler and his brother, 2021 Kalen Etzler (arguably Ohio’s top sophomore prospect), combining for 43 points it’s hard not to like Crestview’s chances as the State Tournament approaches.

Ryan Hall – ’19 SG Kettering Fairmont: A bouncy 6’4 wing with some swag to his game, Hall started the event off in style on Friday night, going for 28 points, including a 22 point first half, against heavily favored Crestwood Prep (CAN), leading Fairmont in the upset win. Hall is known most as a lefty slasher, but he made a couple of jumpers once he got into rhythm, and his ability to drive the ball at his size, and with his great leaping ability, was very intriguing to some of the college coaches in attendance. Hall’s league, the GWOC, is full of high scorers, but don’t forget about this unsigned senior wing guard.

Greg Tribble – ’19 PG Huntington Prep (WV): After leaving Cincinnati Winton Woods to attend Huntington Prep (WV) in the fall, Tribble made sure that SW Ohio fans still remembered who he was, totaling 16 points in Huntington Prep’s matchup with #2 nationally ranked IMG Academy (FL). Even though H-Prep came up short, Tribble, a 6’1 senior point guard, proved that he can match up with even the nation’s most athletic players, as Tribble possesses quickness and explosive leaping ability found by only a select few prospects in the Buckeye State. Playing on a team full of talented perimeter players, we were impressed with Tribble’s aggressive approach, as he also played major minutes in his team’s second game at FTTH, a win over Bella Vista Prep (AZ).

CJ Anthony – ’20 PG Columbus Harvest Prep: While some thought that maybe Harvest Prep’s game against Middletown Madison was going to be an afterthought, junior point guard CJ Anthony made sure a lasting impression was made, dominating the matchup en route to a 32 points performance. Simply put, Anthony did it all; whether it was knocking down shots, getting in the lane and making plays or locking up defensively. Anthony, a 5’11 strong and tough guard, also showed some athleticism we didn’t know he had, particularly when he finished a two-foot dunk in transition and then sprinted all the way back to take a charge on the other end. Anthony already holds a pair of NCAA D1 offers, and his progress will certainly be reflected in our next online rankings update.

Meechie Johnson – ’21 PG Garfield Heights: After his school had taken a few tough losses at this event over the previous couple of seasons, Johnson’s late game heroics sent his uncle, Coach Sonny Johnson back to Cleveland with a win (as well as a famous FTTH strawberry smoothie). Johnson scored 8 points in the final 90-seconds of the game, and had an assist to his cousin, 2022 Sonny Johnson Jr, to top it off. Over the last ten seconds of the game, Johnson used his great quickness and tight handle to create space to launch a game-tying three pointer, and then ended up getting a steal at the other end and taking it in for what became the game winning layup. Arguably Ohio’s top sophomore guard prospect, Johnson finished the evening with 26 points, created a memorable FTTH moment and, most importantly, booked a win for his team!

Ohio’s 2022 Class: A lot has been said about Ohio’s class of 2022, as this year’s crop of freshmen has already seen several prospects ascend to the ranks of team leaders. With a few of the Buckeye State’s elite youngsters taking the floor at Trent Arena, the class furthered their assertion that this group deserves the hype, with the following performances. Akron Buchtel 6’5 wing Chris Livingston finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in a heartbreaking loss to Dayton Chaminade Julienne, Cincinnati Hughes 6’1 guard Paul McMillan IV scored 24 points in a win over Cleveland Heights, Garfield Heights point guard Sonny Johnson Jr scored 14 points in the previously mentioned win over Wayne, and, finally, Dayton Thurgood Marshall guard Mekhi Elmore totaled 16 points in his team’s victory against Pace Academy (GA)

Honorable Mention: Kellen Bochenek (’19 Kettering Fairmont), DJ Brewton (’19 Cincinnati Dohn Prep), Darweshi Hunter (’19 Cincinnati Dohn Prep), Jason Sneed (’19 Centerville), Bobby Cole (’19 Huber Heights Wayne), Amari Davis (’19 Trotwood Madison), Milton Gage (’19 Dayton Chaminade Julienne), Raheim Moss (’19 Springfield), Nathan Bruns (’19 Marion Local), Ronnie Hampton (’19 Huber Heights Wayne), Rayshawn Brown (’19 Cincinnati Winton Woods), Nigel Martin (’19 Cleveland Heights), Mo Njie (’20 Centerville), Zach Loveday (’20 Huntington Prep), Nekhi Smith (’20 Cincinnati Taft), Jalan Minney (’20 Springfield), Grant Whisman (’20 Middletown Madison), Trevon Ellis (’20 Dayton Stivers), Kalen Etzler (’21 Convoy Crestview), Anthony Macomb (’21 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Camron McKenzie (’21 Cincinnati Hughes), Demari Martin (’21 Cincinnati Winton Woods), Garner Wallace (’21 Pickerington Central)


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