Flyin’ to the Hoop ’20

21 Jan

Malaki Branham

The 18th annual Flyin’ to the Hoop showcase brought the majority of Ohio’s top talent to Trent Arena in Kettering this past long weekend, as Dayton area basketball fans celebrated Martin Luther King Day with the tradition of watching tomorrow’s college stars play some high school ball. While the Ohio teams posted some good and some not so good results against the out of state powerhouses, the top individual talent was on display as always. Here’s a look at some of the in-state talent who shined at FTTH….

Von Cameron Davis – ’20 PF Columbus Walnut Ridge: The Kent State signee and Mr. Basketball candidate is not the tallest forward you’ll find at 6’4; however, there aren’t many more productive players than VCD, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in a Walnut Ridge drubbing of Cincinnati Woodward. Cameron Davis was sensational in the mid, high and low post on the afternoon, catching the ball in spots where he can face-up and attacking the defense to draw fouls or finish at the rim. A volume rebounder and all-around tough guy on the court, scoring is something that Cameron Davis does exceptionally well at the high school level, but we believe it is his rebounding prowess (a skill known to translate to the next level) that will earn him his playing time with Kent State next season.

Malaki Branham – ’21 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: With Branham entering the game as Ohio’s top ranked junior, and a multitude of scholarship offers to his name, there wasn’t a whole lot that the Akron STVSM product could do to boost his stock. Somehow however, Branham was able to defy those odds, as the 6’4 junior wing guard exploded for 44 points and 11 rebounds in a win over defending state champion Trotwood Madison. What we liked most about Branham’s scoring performance was not just the point total, but the fact that he did so by attacking the rim. Trotwood is usually a team known for being the aggressor, but Branham and STVSM went right back at the Rams, as Branham barreled his way to the basket and used his fluid athleticism to score in traffic or on the break. Already ranked nationally among the top-50 prospects in 2021, performances like Branham’s on stages this big can lead to even larger national accolades.

Jalin Billingsley – ’21 PF Cleveland Lutheran East: One of the most talented prospects in the event, in or out of the state of Ohio, basketball fans in the Cleveland area have been waiting for Billingsley to put all the pieces of his vast talent together in a big setting. On Saturday, Billingsley did just that, as the 6’8 junior forward tallied 20 points and 5 rebounds in a win over a solid Kettering Alter team. Billingsley knocked down a pair of threes on the day, but it was his focus on going inside-outside that excited scouts, as Billingsley possesses an exceptional combination of size and mobility to go with a big frame. A skilled forward who is great in the high post, Billingsley has the upside to be a completely versatile offensive player from the power forward spot at the next level. Already holding offers from West Virginia, Dayton, VCU, Akron, Ohio, Youngstown State and Eastern Michigan, if Billingsley can keep being consistently productive with an even more consistent motor then his recruitment is going to skyrocket.

Paul McMillan IV – ’22 PG Cincinnati Woodward: There’s not really any denying that Saturday’s game was a poor one for Woodward HS, as they fell to Columbus Walnut Ridge by a significant margin. However, if there was one bright spot for the Bulldogs, it was the play of sophomore guard Paul McMillan IV who totaled 29 points on the afternoon. McMillan is having a monstrous season so far, averaging around 33 PPG, and was able to post the numbers he did against Walnut Ridge by doing what he does best, get to the foul line. McMillan excels at creating contact off the dribble, whether in transition, isolation, pick-and-roll or in Woodward’s set offense, the sophomore guard lives at the foul stripe. Also a crafty finisher who loves the floater and euro-step, McMillan has a mature offensive game and plays with a killer mentality; part of the reason why he’s not only our top ranked point guard in Ohio’s 2022 class, but also holds early scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Xavier, Ole Miss and Dayton.

Rayvon Griffith – ’23 SF Cincinnati Taft: Fans had to wait until Monday evening to get a glimpse of Griffith, a highly regarded prospect since middle school on social media. The wait proved well worth it, as Griffith’s Taft squad posted an impressive win over Dayton Thurgood Marshall in a fun, fast-paced contest. Griffith was the main catalyst for Taft on the day, finishing with 25 points and 16 rebounds on the evening. A big time athlete with a slashing game, Griffith showcased more of a polished skill-set then most realized he had, as the 6’6 freshman knocked down multiple long-range jumpers and showed an offensive IQ as a passer as well. That being said, at this stage in his development what Griffith does best is use his exceptional motor and athleticism to attack, as his ability to defend multiple positions, rebound in traffic and push the pace once he grabbed one of those rebounds was the biggest difference in the game. Earning praise from some national scouts as one of the better freshmen they’ve seen nationally so far this winter, look for Griffith to continue to generate plenty of hype heading into the travel circuit season.

Honorable Mention: John Hugley (’20 Cleveland Brush), Devontae Blanton (’20 Cleveland St. Edward), Kaveon Ross (’20 Columbus Walnut Ridge), Connor Maciag (’20 Pickerington Central), Sammy Anderson (’20 Trotwood Madison), Carl Blanton (’20 Trotwood Madison), Grant Huffman (’20 Cleveland St. Edward), Raheim Moss (’20 Spire Institute), Brandon Gibson (’20 Dayton Chaminade Julienne), Jakada Stone (’21 Cincinnati Aiken), Tyler Jackson (’21 Garfield Heights), Camron McKenzie (’21 Cincinnati Hughes), Andy Barba (’21 ISA Academy), Josh Thorbahn (’21 Ottoville), Garner Wallace (’21 Pickerington Central), Jerry Saunders (’21 Pickerington North), Anthony McComb (’21 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Ryan Suever (’21 Ottoville), Kebba Njie (’22 Centerville), Jacob Conner (’22 Kettering Alter), Keon Wright (’22 Kettering Fairmont), Bowen Hardman (’22 Cincinnati Princeton), Ramar Pryor (’22 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), Mekhi Elmore (’22 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Gabe Cupps (’23 Centerville), Lawrent Rice (’23 Huber Heights Wayne)

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