Brawl for the Ball

19 Jul

Jamiya Neal

Summer basketball is starting to feel normal again, as we at Triple Double Prospects headed back up to Fort Wayne for the second straight weekend, this time checking out the Brawl for the Ball presented by the Grand Rapids Storm. With the action being equally as competitive as last weekend, several Ohio prospects performed well, in an event live-streamed to college coaches via Baller TV….

Jamiya Neal – ’21 SF Toledo Rogers: We’ve covered Neal over the years with All-Ohio Red, where he was a key piece to their rotation in a versatile role; however, playing with Hopson Elite this summer, Neal is asked to be primary offensive weapon, and he was up to that task in Fort Wayne with a great performance across two viewings. A 6’6 wing with a versatile skill-set and excellent athleticism, Neal was able to slash his way to the rim at will for Hopson Elite, showing the ability to finish with his length and athleticism, or make the right pass when the defense helped. With that length, Neal is also a capable defender who can create a steal and push it the other way for a bucket. As he continues to improve the consistency of his outside shot, Neal is without question one of Ohio’s most talented 2021’s; which is part of the reason why schools like Akron, Toledo, Miami (OH), Kent State and Northern Kentucky have already offered him scholarships.

Desmond Watson – ’21 SG/SF Columbus DeSales: The last time we profiled Watson was after his standout performance at the 270 Hoops 2021 Challenge; in Fort Wayne, Watson picked up where he left off, this time showcasing that ability to score around the rim against athletes of his caliber. In a showcase matchup against Indy Heat EYBL, Watson led his C2K Elite team, attacking the rim off the dribble to score or draw fouls. Not only a dominant athlete but also a tough competitor with a big, strong frame, Watson has all the physical tools to be a dynamic defender at the next level, as he was forced to matchup with future Big Ten wings in both the game with Indy Heat as well as Grand Rapids Storm’s Kobe Bufkin. No stranger to the recruiting scene, Watson holds mid-major offers from schools like Bowling Green, Miami (OH) and Cleveland State.

Maceo Williams – ’21 PF/C Gahanna Lincoln: Another player who shined recently at the 270 Hoops 2021 Challenge, Williams is a big, physical post player with soft touch around the rim, and particularly in the mid-range with his jumper. While his body might be built more like your stereotypical bruiser center, Williams ability to stretch the floor with his shooting is one of the things that college coaches like most about him. Somewhat of a sleeper statewide in the 2021 class, Williams was tremendous on Friday morning for his Nova Village team, showing the ability to rebound in traffic as well as score against a physically talented MBA Select team.

Cli’ron Hornbeak – ’21 C Toledo St. Francis: While Jamiya Neal was the prospect on Hopson Elite whom we were most familiar with heading into the weekend, Hornbeak might have been his team’s biggest stockriser in Fort Wayne. The 6’9 post is one of the state’s most well put together 2021 prospects, and should burst onto the recruiting scene based on his play, as Hornbeak looked the part of a future NCAA D1 college center. Hornbeak has good feet for his size, understands how to play offensively and showed an ability to finish with power through contact. He doesn’t have any NCAA D1 offers yet, but plenty of schools began talking more and more about him as the weekend went on.

DJ Moore – ’22 PG/SG Worthington Christian: Whenever we’ve had a chance to see Moore’s team play he’s usually been sidelined with injuries; so, fortunately for all parties, when Moore took the court this weekend with his Nova Village team we were excited to see his progress on the floor. The results were certainly positive, as Moore, a 6’3 combo guard, showed a great pace and feel for the offensive end, leading his team as a bigger pass-first guard who can also score when called upon. As a scorer, you could actually argue that Moore is too unselfish, as, when he was aggressive attacking the rim, Moore made some high level plays to finish, and also showed the ability to make jumpers in rhythm off the dribble. With size, mobility and an offensive IQ, Moore is going to continue to be one of Ohio’s most highly recruited 2022 prospects, having already attracted offers from Miami (OH) and Ohio.

Roderick Coffee – ’22 PG/SG Painesville Harvey: Similar to Moore in that he’s a big, steady, pass-first type of combo guard, Coffee was the top performer we saw when we evaluated his C2K Elite team. Coffee, again like Moore, didn’t always look for his perimeter shot; however, when he did, his ball went in, and he has the frame to absorb contact and get to line or finish at the rim as well. A very composed guard with the size and mobility to be a productive defender against both guard positions, Coffee is someone folks in Northeast Ohio rave about, and that attention has already led to scholarship offers from Tennessee-Martin, Youngstown State and Arkansas-Little Rock.

Rayvon Griffith – ’23 SG/SF Cincinnati Taft: Griffith, a 6’6 wing, looked like the most talented player on his Bates Fundamental team, a squad which ended up finishing off the weekend as the event’s 15u champions. This might not sound like the world’s greatest accolade; however, it’s important to note that the Bates Fundamental team was not only the most talented team in their age group, but also in the entire event, boasting a roster full of prospect who we expect to be recruited at the NCAA D1 level. What separates Griffith from the pack is his combination of motor and athleticism, as the rising sophomore lives on the offensive boards, finishes in transition and is active as a rebounder and defender as well. While parts of his perimeter game are still developing, Griffith showed improvements with his jumper, knocking down shots at a consistent clip from the mid-range and high post against zone defenses. As his jumper and handle continue to improve, Griffith will have a chance to make an argument as Ohio’s most talented prospect in his 2023 class. Heading into the tournament, Griffith already held scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Kent State, Grambling State and Alabama A&M.

Chico Johnson – ’23 PG/SG Toledo Central Catholic: Folks in the Toledo area are a buzz regarding the 2023 talent in their area, particular at the guard position; and, as we were able to see several of these prospects in person in Fort Wayne, Chico Johnson was the top performer. A quick and aggressive combo guard at 6’2-6’3, Johnson looked like one of the most talented 2023 prospects in the state of Ohio with his C2K Elite team; showing the ability to create off the dribble, finish at the rim and make jump-shots, all while running the show as the lead guard for his squad. Johnson also showcased maturity on the floor, playing with a competitive desire to his game that you don’t often see from such young prospects. We’ll need more time to evaluate the 2023 class, as the lack of a true AAU season hurt us in understanding where the pieces fall in this class, but regardless, Johnson looks like a name to track out of Northwest Ohio.

Honorable Mention: Alex Williams (’21 Cincinnati Moeller), Tyrese Hughey (’21 Thomas Worthington), Jalen Sullinger (’21 Thomas Worthington), Meechie Johnson (’21 Garfield Heights), Keaton Norris (’21 Hilliard Bradley), Tasos Cook (’21 Westerville Central), Jarius Jones (’21 Gahanna Lincoln), Javan Simmons (’22 Gahanna Lincoln), Marlon Barnes (’23 Cleveland Brush), Chandler Starks (’23 Covington Catholic/KY), Gabe Cupps (’23 Centerville), CJ Hornbeak (’23 Toledo St. John’s)

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