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Cleveland PBP

6 Jan

Ramar Pryor

After spending the month of December watching the top teams and players from Southwest Ohio, we at Triple Double Prospects always look forward to the first weekend in January, where we get to travel to Cleveland for the Play-by-Play Classic to get a look at some of Northeast Ohio’s premiere talent. This year the event was played at Euclid High School, with seven games featuring all NE Ohio teams, with the exception of First Love Christian Academy (PA). Talent packed as always, here’s a rundown of our top individual performers from Sunday…

John Hugley – ’20 C Lyndhurst Brush: An early candidate for Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award, Hugley was simply dominant in Brush’s matchup with Cleveland Heights; and, even though Brush lost a close game, his performance was both the most effective and entertaining of the day. The Pittsburgh signee was a man amongst boys around the rim, finishing with 32 points with many of them being paint finishes. However, despite his 6’9 frame and thick build, Hugley also showed plenty of skill, knocking down multiple perimeter shots and scoring with touch from ten-feet and in. His motor is running at a better pace then it ever has before, and Hugley has really begun to take on an alpha-male like demeanor; if this continues then we expect him to be the most productive player in Ohio for the rest of the winter.

Devontae Blanton – ’20 SF/PF Cleveland St. Edward: An unsigned senior who has been on the NCAA D1 radar for some time now, Blanton has been hampered with injuries pretty much since last March. Sunday was our first chance since then to see Blanton at full health, as the 6’5 forward out-worked his opponent in Ed’s win over First Love Christian (PA). Blanton finished with 23 points on the afternoon to lead his Ed’s team, as the senior showed touch as an open shooter as well as the toughness to get inside and score at the rim. Arguably the most dominant inside-outside forward in an Ohio senior class full of this type of player, Blanton makes winning plays for his team and has a mature style where he doesn’t try to over-do things on the offensive end. Blanton might not be the most explosive player on the court in most games, but we fully expect him to sign an NCAA D1 letter of intent before he graduates.

Garvin Clarke – ’20 PG Cleveland Heights: Clarke didn’t produce overwhelming stats in Cleveland Heights win over Brush, but he played exceptionally well down the stretch of the game, and we love the way he controls the pace of the high school game. A pure point guard who wants the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter, Clarke is a pass first guard with some shiftiness with the ball, but he also made some key shots, including a buzzer beater to end the third quarter and give his team massive momentum, as the senior finished with 15 points. Already signed with Akron for next season, Clarke is as good of a point guard as we have in Ohio high school basketball right now, and is one of the few throwback true point guards on the circuit right now.

Ramar Pryor – ’22 SG Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s: There was some tension early in the Akron STVSM win over Lorain, as Lorain’s leading scorer on the season played his last two seasons at St. V’s; however, despite all the hype around some of the older, more heralded players in this matchup, it was the sophomore Ramar Pryor who stole the show. Pryor came out with a vengeance from the opening tip, knocking down shots from three, finishing above the rim in transition and showing both athleticism and a motor, as he scored 24 of his game-high 31 points in the first half. Going into the game we knew Pryor was as athletic as any player in Ohio’s 2022 class, but we did not realize that he’s also a skilled all-around basketball player, capable of making shots with confidence from behind the arc. If Pryor can continue to score at this pace, not only will Akron STVSM continue to be major favorites in Ohio Division II, but he could see his recruitment grow to rival that of teammates Malaki Branham and Sencire Harris.

Jamal Sumlin – ’22 PG Cleveland Rhodes: Heading into Sunday’s action we had heard rumblings of Sumlin’s talent but had not seen the young guard yet, except for a flash on social media from 3rdCoastHoops. In a competitive game with Shaker Heights, Sumlin lived up the hype as one of the top young guards in Cleveland, as the 6’0 floor general was flashy as a passer, looking for lobs to 6’7 super-athlete Amarion Dickerson. Perhaps the most talented and skilled player on a very good (and fun to watch) young team out of Cleveland’s City League, Sumlin showed he can make shots, he’s shifty with the ball and has vision; enough for us to consider him a candidate for our next player rankings update among Ohio’s 2022 point guards.

Honorable Mention: Connor O’Toole (’20 Cleveland Gilmour Academy), Hunter Drenth (’20 Richfield Revere), Gbolahan Adio (’20 Richmond Heights), Anthony Maxie (’20 Richmond Heights), Grant Huffman (’20 Cleveland St. Edward), Tyreek Crump (’20 Brush), Manny Hill (’20 Cleveland Heights), EJ Farmer (’21 Cleveland Heights), Tyshawn Smiley (’21 Cleveland Glenville), Seth Wilson (’21 Lorain), Amarion Dickerson (’21 Cleveland Rhodes), Keyshawn Hall (’21 Cleveland Rhodes), Malaki Branham (’21 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s), Sonny Johnson Jr (’22 Garfield Heights), Tavian Tatum (’22 Garfield Heights), Aaron Whitehead (’20 Lorain), Michael Bova (’22 Cleveland St. Edward), Danny Young Jr (’22 Shaker Heights), Jaiden Cox-Holloway (’22 Euclid)

SW 2023’s Making a Splash

31 Dec

Lawrent Rice

In the last couple of weeks we’ve written about Southwest Ohio’s top unsigned seniors, the top juniors and the breakout sophomores. So, what else is left but to profile the area’s standout freshmen from the first month of the 2019-2020 season. After entering the season with a lot of hype, the class of 2023 has been productive so far, with these eight players listed being among those who have made immediate and significant impacts with their varsity squads. Here’s a look at the top freshmen in the area so far this winter…

Rayvon Griffith – 6’5 SG/SF Cincinnati Taft: The most highly heralded of the area freshmen based on his success at the junior high level on the travel circuit, as well as both YouTube and social media, Griffith is off to a hot start at Cincinnati Taft, even with his Senators team having played a brutal schedule. So far this season, Griffith is averaging over 17 PPG as well as 6 rebounds for Taft, with the 6’5 wing guard starting to prove to naysayers that he can make some outside shots when he’s in rhythm and his feet are set. Even when he’s making shots, what Griffith does best is play aggressively, as he has elite physical tools and athleticism, with a motor that allows him to be an impact defender and slasher, who can pass, score at the rim or draw fouls. Griffith’s best basketball is still going to be played way in the future, but against teams like Huntington Prep, Cincinnati Hughes and Lakota East, Griffith has made it clear that he’s worthy of the hype.

Lawrent Rice – 6’2 PG/SG Huber Heights Wayne: We had a chance to see Rice in Wayne’s win at Centerville earlier in the month and wow, what a performance, as the young guard was dynamic on the offensive end of the floor. A smooth and long combo guard who can shoot the three, passes it really well and doesn’t force the issue, Rice is averaging 10 PPG, 4 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals for a Wayne team who is young, but also off to a great start. Still physically raw and skinny, Rice is a cerebral guard who is not afraid to take the big shot, is fluidly athletic with and without the basketball and who has talent beyond his years as a lead guard; we understand it is very, very early in the process, but we believe Rice’s name will absolutely be in the mix for Ohio’s top 2023 point guard.

Dayjuan Anderson – 6’0 SG Dayton Ponitz: For the sake of full disclosure, Anderson is the only prospect listed who we unfortunately have not gotten a chance to see yet in a varsity game. However, this young man comes highly recommended from 270 Hoops’ Zach Fleer and NEO Spotlight’s TJ Peatross, which is more than enough to satisfy us. Anderson is apparently a big time shooter, with the numbers to back it up, as he averages just over 15 PPG for Ponitz, a program trying to rebuild in the Dayton city league.

Gabe Cupps – 5’11 PG Centerville: Like Griffith, Cupps entered his first high school season with a media circus following him, much of that coming as a result of his viral H-O-R-S-E showdown with LeBron James last summer. Despite having to steer the ship on an exceptionally young (but talent rich) Centerville team, and despite playing one of the tougher schedules in the state of Ohio so far, Cupps has been more than efficient for Centerville, averaging 10 PPG and shooting a sizzling 44% from three-point range. He might be known primarily as a shooter, but Cupps does much more than that, as he’s a heady young guard with a mature floor game and a competitive drive; yes, he’s on the smaller side physically, but Cupps has big game for a young guard.

Chandler Starks – 6’6 PF Covington Catholic (KY): While he might go to school across the Ohio river in Kentucky, Starks is and always has been a Cincinnati resident, having played his junior high ball in the Anderson school system. Due to his residency, and his game, Starks earns a spot on this list, having posted early averages of 6 points and 6 rebounds for a Covington Catholic team who has faced off against teams such as Oak Hill Academy (VA), Cincinnati LaSalle and Lexington Catholic (KY). A skilled forward who can score at the rim or with the jumper, coaches have to be pleased with Starks physicality on the backboards this early in his career, especially considering he’s just starting to fill into his massive frame.

Deshawne Crim – 6’0 SG Fairfield: Since he began suiting up with the varsity team last summer on the team camp scene, local coaches, especially those in the GMC, have raved about the maturity of Crim’s game. The start of the season has proven those coaches right, as Crim is averaging 11 PPG, good for second on the team. A strong combo guard who can get his pull-up off in tight spaces, Crim is a reliable shooter and competitive player who has a knack for making big shots. His Fairfield team has had some up and down moments so far, but expect the Indians to improve partly due to a deep freshmen class that has area coaches talking.

Kanye Moreland – 6’0 SG Cincinnati Woodward: Moreland might not have the flashy offensive statistics of fellow Woodward guards Paul McMillan IV and Montev Ware, but make no mistake about it, Moreland is an integral piece to the Bulldogs season who has show great maturity early on. Moreland is currently averaging 8 PPG for Woodward, while proving he isn’t afraid to step up and take the big open shot in the fourth quarter when teams double McMillan. While he is a capable scorer, Moreland has embraced a defensive role, as he’s a more physically mature guard then most on this list and has shown great maturity in being a freshmen who already understands basketball is more then just scoring.

Evan Isparo – 5’10 PG New Richmond: When we profiled the junior class we mentioned with Clermont Northeastern’s Skyler Schmidt and Blanchester’s Brayden Sipple that it can be easy to forget about the talent in the SBAAC. Despite the somewhat rural local and the small school nature of the league, young Evan Isparo is making headlines in Greater Cincinnati, as the freshman point guard is averaging over 18 PPG as well as 5 assists to lead his New Richmond team. A small but feisty guard with a knack for making flashy plays off the dribble, Isparo might have already, in just December, established himself as the premiere point guard in that league. Much like Sipple and Schmidt at their respective schools, as he gets older, we expect Isparo to put up monster numbers for his team.

SW 2022’s on the Rise

30 Dec

Bowen Hardman

Two weeks ago, in our last two articles, we at Triple Double Prospects profiled the unsigned seniors and top juniors from Southwest Ohio who are off to hot starts in the 2019-2020 season. While we remain excited about the talent on that list, we might be even more excited about the young talent in the area. With several players from the sophomore class (the class of 2022) beginning to make a name for themselves – or in a few cases solidifying themselves after making a name as freshmen – it’s time for TDP to profile the sophomores who’ve started their season with a bang during the month of December…

Paul McMillan IV – 6’1 PG Cincinnati Woodward: One of the few players on this list who not only was on the community’s radar as a freshman, but who has been on the radar since his junior high days, McMillan can’t play in a game in the Cincinnati city league without immense pressure to turn in a near perfect performance. So far this season, and, as he was last season, McMillan has been able to meet even the loftiest expectations, as he’s currently averaging over 30 PPG for a Woodward team who has already played several high level opponents. A pure bucket-getter with a scorer’s mentality and killer competitiveness, McMillan is a polished guard who is at his best attacking off the dribble, where he can really score with tough floaters, runners, layups and pull-up jumpers. Already with scholarship offers from Xavier, Cincinnati, Dayton and Ole Miss, McMillan is at or near the top of the wish list for some of college basketball’s top programs.

Kollin Tolbert – 6’1 PG Mount Healthy: Tolbert had a productive freshmen year at Mount Healthy, averaging just over 8 PPG; however, as a sophomore he’s come into his own, scoring at a clip of 23 PPG, which as of today leads the Southwest Ohio Conference. Another skilled guard with good size and a smooth game, Tolbert is a capable shooter who is knocking down the three at 45%, while also averaging 10 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Like McMillan, Tolbert is a high-IQ guard, something his Owls team will count on with games against Hamilton, Walnut Hills, Aiken, Wyoming and West High all looming.

Bowen Hardman – 6’4 SG Cincinnati Princeton: With all of the hype that is often directed at the talent laden senior class of 2020 at Princeton, you’d be foolish to overlook the presence of Hardman, a sophomore who already holds NCAA D1 offers from Cincinnati, Ohio State and Xavier. Through their first seven games, Hardman is currently second in scoring for Princeton at 13 PPG, even more impressive considering he’s averaging just eight field goal attempts per game. An efficient scorer who can shoot it from three or use his dribble to create a shot, Hardman is knocking down the three at 45% and shooting well over 50% from the field on the year, as he’s been Princeton’s go-to shooting threat coming off of screens.

Aboubacar Cisse – 6’4 SF Cincinnati West High: Cisse was a fixture on the varsity last season, starting most games and averaging double-figures, but, like many of the others on this list, he’s taken things up a notch as a sophomore. Through the first month of the season the powerfully built sophomore wing forward is averaging 19 PPG and just under 7 rebounds per game, shooting an impressive 51% from the field. Cisse has added a more reliable shooting stroke to his game this year, but he’s also great at getting into the lane and using his strong frame to finish through contact. If he continues at his current progression, Cisse could easily be the next player on this list to earn an NCAA D1 scholarship offer.

Andrew Harp – 6’5 SF Cincinnati Elder: While he was a key wide receiver on Elder’s state runners-up football team this fall, Harp is no slouch on the hardwood either. The top prospect in an Elder sophomore class that has the Greater Catholic League buzzing, Harp is averaging 12 PPG so far this season for the Panthers, and is shooting over 41% from three-point range on a team that is deceptively dangerous on the offensive end with a lot of young shooters. Harp is a big wing with a mature skill-set who thrives in Elder’s half-court style of play, as he fits the mold of a typical high-end GCL wing scorer; as he continues to get into basketball shape after a long football season, look for Harp to continue to put up numbers.

Shawn Phillips – 6’10 C Dayton Belmont: Phillips has dealt with injuries to start this season, and his Belmont team does not get the same love that some of the teams of the other prospects on this list; but, it would be highly negligent of us to ignore Phillips on this list, as he is arguably the most talented prospect who appears. A physically gifted big who can defend the rim but who also shows rare offensive talent, Phillips has spent the last few months in the recruiting cycle, with offers from Ohio State, Xavier, Auburn, DePaul and Ohio, while the 6’10 sophomore has also visited or been visited by Kentucky, Indiana, Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Rich Rolf – 6’7 PF Centerville: Rolf was expected to be a key part of the varsity team last season at Centerville, but unfortunately missed the entire season with injury. Through the early part of this season, Rolf has hit the floor running, averaging 10 PPG and 5 rebounds on a very talented young Centerville squad. A skilled and savvy forward with a long, thin frame who likes to operate from 15-feet and in, Rolf has a good offensive feel for scoring the ball, and is skilled and patient with shot-fakes, while not being afraid to play a physical style. This year the Centerville frontline is still most notably anchored by 2020 Mo Njie, but rest assured, Rolf’s time is coming.

Logan Woods – 6’3 SG Cincinnati Christian: When you’re the son of the school’s varsity coach you’re going to be expected to be a big part of the team, which is precisely what Woods has accomplished in his brief career at Cincinnati Christian (a school who plays in Ohio’s smallest division in D4). Woods first entered our radar last year when he averaged double-figures and led his team to the District Finals; but, the lanky sophomore guard has seemingly improved this season, averaging 15 PPG to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists through the early part of this season. Capable of playing as a big distributing guard or a wing scorer who can make shots or attack with the dribble, college coaches aren’t sleeping on this small school gem, as Miami (OH) has already offered, with other NCAA D1’s like Belmont expressing heavy interest.

Adam Duvall – 6’6 PF Beavercreek: Duvall has been one of the top-five scorers in the GWOC throughout the month of December, averaging 15 PPG as well as 7 rebounds for Beavercreek, but what is even more notable is that, after winning just 8 games a season ago, his Beavercreek squad has already won 5 contests this month. A big and strong power forward who can knock down long-range shots, Duvall might be overlooked by some folks statewide, as he did travel the circuit with an out-of-state team last summer, but he’s clearly one of Ohio’s top young power forwards, and we expect his point totals to continue to grow.

Evan Mahaffey – 6’5 SF Cincinnati Moeller: The last two players on this list are exceptionally talented young prospects who might not be averaging major numbers, but who are playing roles on two of Ohio’s most talented teams. Mahaffey is first up, as he’s averaging 2 PPG off the bench for Moeller, as the long and mobile 6’5 wing adjusts to life with the Crusaders since transferring over from Cincinnati Northwest. The son of well known former high school coach Jamie Mahaffey, Evan is a slashing guard who can really pass the ball and who has the physical upside to be a very good player. We expect a big jump next season from Mahaffey, who already holds an offer from Miami (OH) and who likely will hold significantly more offers at or above that level before all is said and done.

Kebba Njie – 6’7 PF Centerville: The younger brother of 2020 Mo Njie, Kebba is averaging just over 3 PPG off the bench for Centerville through their first seven games, as the young power forward is getting his first taste of varsity action. Slow walking his older brother onto the varsity scene ended up paying major dividends for Centerville, so we expect the same for Kebba, as he plays significant minutes but, like Rich Rolf, gets to learn from Mo Njie on a day-to-day basis. More nimble and skilled then his big brother, Njie is a high energy forward who can score around the rim and who is also athletic with a great frame. Time will tell if Kebba will be the great shot-blocker that Mo has become, but fortunately for Kebba, time is on his side.

Honorable Mention: Mekhi Elmore (’22 PG Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Robbie Cass (’22 PG Cincinnati Aiken), Sellers Little (’22 PG Trotwood-Madison), Andre Simmons (’22 PG Cincinnati Purcell Marian), Kobe Peck (’22 PG Lakota East), Sean Keller (’22 PG Cincinnati Elder), Cameron Smith (’22 SG Centerville), Owen Murray (’22 SG Cincinnati Walnut Hills), Elijah Brown (’22 PF Huber Heights Wayne), Ty Thornton (’22 PF Indian Hill), Chance Davis (’22 PF Cincinnati Aiken), Jacob Conner (’22 PF Kettering Alter), Ben Southerland (’22 PF CHCA)

SW’s 2021 Class Shaping Up

18 Dec

Isaiah Walker

In our last article we profiled the top unsigned seniors in Southwest Ohio, and, for as much talent as was featured in that piece, the class of 2021 in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton area might be even deeper. With several players holding early scholarship offers, but no one being committed to a school yet, here’s a look at the top college prospects in the region who are off to a great start in their junior season….

Nate Johnson – 6’3 PG/SG Lakota East: Johnson has been the breakout star of not only the Greater Cincinnati area in his 2021 class, but possibly of the entire state through the early point of the season, having put up over 24 PPG, including outstanding showings of 28 points against Cincinnati Taft and 34 points against Cincinnati Princeton. Leading a Lakota East missing a few key pieces with injuries to a 5-0 start, Johnson has been sensational, not only as a scorer but as an all-around player. A big time athlete with a strong frame and explosive leaping ability, Johnson is also an adept passer who wants to find open teammates; however, so far this season he’s also proven that he can shoot the ball, as he’s currently shooting over 65% from the field and has been reliable in the mid-range with his pull-up. Johnson’s progression reminds us of ’19 Cincinnati Moeller guard Deuce McBride (currently playing a major role for West Virginia in his freshman season), as Johnson is an all-around guard who can score and pass, but who also has great athletic tools to use on the defensive end. College coaches agree with Johnson’ progression, as the 6’3 junior holds several mid-major offers, but has seen increased high-major attention in the last few weeks, including taking new unofficial visits to both Xavier and Cincinnati.

Logan Duncomb – 6’9 C Cincinnati Moeller: By far the most heavily recruited player on this list up to this point, Duncomb already holds early scholarship offers from Indiana, Ohio State, Xavier, Wisconsin, Iowa and Cincinnati, and that list is going to continue to grow, as the 6’9 post is putting up solid numbers at 13 PPG and 10 RPG through Moeller’s first three games of the season. A true post player with a long wingspan, Duncomb is an exceptional perimeter defender who, even though he isn’t a dynamic athlete, can positionally defend and influence shots at the rim, while being a volume rebounder. Offensively, Duncomb can hit the mid-range shot but is best around the rim with his hook-shot or spin-back hook-shot, as he likes to catch the ball with his back to the basket. As he still has a raw frame, Duncomb is only going to get better as he continues to get more coordinated and stronger, making him one of Ohio’s most high-upside 2021 prospects given his combination of size, experience and skill.

Anthony McComb – 6’2 SG Dayton Thurgood Marshall: We said it back in the fall at our open gym series, we just cannot for the life of us understand why none of the in-state mid-major schools have offered McComb! In our opinion, the fact that McComb is currently offer-less makes him Ohio’s biggest sleeper in 2021, as there just aren’t many players with his combination of size, athleticism, skill and most notably, grit. A terrorizing wing defender who has the frame and athleticism to guard all three-perimeter positions, McComb is a high motor player who makes winning plays not associated with scoring. Offensively he’s a pull-up shooter in the mid-range who can create off the dribble, but is also exceptionally unselfish as a slashing guard who likes to find teammates as well. McComb is as solid of an all-around guard as there is in the class, and we’d be willing to bet the farm that schools coming flocking in to Thurgood Marshall before the end of McComb’s career.

Isaiah Walker – 6’5 SG Wyoming: We expected this season to be the turning point for Walker, as, due to graduation, the offense at Wyoming runs through Walker this year. Even with Evan Prater, arguably Cincinnati’s top senior hooper, next to him, Walker is putting up 21 PPG this season, a big increase from last year’s 13 PPG. Walker, at 6’5, has become a reliable three-point shooter in his junior season, adding another skill to his previous repertoire, which consisted more of being a slashing scoring wing. A long and smooth athlete who can handle the ball, Walker has a good feel for the offensive game, and all the physical measurables that will college coaches want to see. While Walker does boast two early NCAA D1 scholarship offers from Youngstown State and Western Carolina, we expect that list to grow significantly between now and signing day a year from now.

Aidan Noyes – 6’6 SF Cincinnati Moeller: The second of four Moeller players to make this list, some might be surprised to see Noyes’ name here, as he averages a modest 7 PPG in the early part of the season; however, college coaches love Noyes’ upside. A lanky 6’6 athlete with deceptive bounce at the basket, Noyes is a shooter who can run and jump, which makes him the prototypical NCAA D1 wing in today’s game. After playing on the junior varsity team a season ago, Noyes is starting to find his niche with Moeller’s varsity this year, and we expect his scoring to go up some as the season goes, on a Moeller team that has a plethora of scoring options. With an offer list that already includes Bowling Green, Akron, Miami (OH) and Northern Kentucky, it’s safe to say that college coaches are fully onboard with the long-term upside of Noyes as an athletic scoring wing.

Alex Williams – 6’4 PF Cincinnati Moeller: Another Moeller player to make this list, Williams was a starter on last year’s State Championship team, and probably will be the team’s first scoring option over the next two seasons. Currently second on Moeller’s team at over 17 PPG through three contests, Williams is a power forward with a small forward skill-set. Capable of shooting it from the perimeter but best around the basket, what Williams lacks in height, he makes up for in strength and heart, as he’s a warrior down low who can will the ball in the rim with multiple efforts and the power to bully opponents. Williams also is light on his feet for his size, giving him the versatility to attack against bigger forwards when he’s matched with at true big. Youngstown State, Kent State and Robert Morris have already offered Williams, and that list could grow as, even though he lacks great height, Williams is expected to be among the top high school forwards in the state this season.

Will McCracken – 6’4 SF Cincinnati Moeller: Yes, one more Moeller wing forward is on the list, as McCracken fits a similar role to Noyes, where his scoring numbers might not reflect just how good of a prospect he is. A rangy athlete on the wing who can play in transition or the half-court, McCracken is an ideal glue guy who makes hustle plays, rebounds and defends for Moeller; however, he’s plenty capable of being a scorer as well when the opportunity presents itself. McCracken shoots a good ball from the perimeter, and, with his athleticism, has slashing ability, as he’s currently averaging 6 PPG on 59% shooting for the Crusaders. With McCracken already holding scholarship offers from Ohio, Akron, Robert Morris and Western Carolina, we believe college coaches are already sold on the overall role McCracken can bring to the table, as well as his experience and buy-in at playing that role.

Jakada Stone – 6’0 PG Cincinnati Aiken: There might be some more naturally talented scoring point guards in Ohio’s 2021 class, but we believe an argument could be made that there is not a better pure passing point guard in Ohio’s junior class then Stone, a third year starter for a successful Aiken program. A shifty athlete who can explode with burst in transition or in the ball-screen game, Stone is a bulldog with a tough mentality and competitive spirit. He’s capable as a scorer as well as excelling as a passer, with current averages of over 26 PPG, 4.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. With Stone adding a more consistent three-point shot this year, there really are no weak points in his game, as we expect him to become a household name among hoop-heads in Ohio by the end of Aiken’s showcase games at events such as Flyin’ to the Hoop.

AJ Braun – 6’8 C Middletown Bishop Fenwick: Through three games this season, Braun is on an absolute offensive tear, averaging over 21 PPG and 8 RPG, while shooting over 70% from the field! Even though the expectations weren’t super high for his Fenwick team heading into the season, Braun has been the primary catalyst in keeping the Falcons in games, as the 6’8 post has a skilled all-around offensive game where he can shoot it from three or play in the post. We wrote in the fall that Braun has appeared more coordinated and confident in open gym settings, as, once his body catches up to his offensive game and feel, Braun has considerable upside as a scoring post who can also put up solid rebounding numbers. Ohio offered Braun a scholarship over the summer, as we expect his list to grow as more schools see the 6’8 big out of the Middletown area.

Brayden Sipple – 6’3 SG Blanchester: It’s easy to forget about Blanchester’s Brayden Sipple, located way out east of Cincinnati; however, that’s going to change soon, as Sipple is among Ohio’s leading scorers through five games, averaging an unbelievable 37.4 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 3.2 assists and 2.2 blocks per game, all while shooting 62% from the field, 35% from three and 90% from the foul line. So, it’s safe to say that no one has been more dominant than Sipple so far this season, as the junior wing is an athletic and explosive slasher who can make shots in bunches and who plays the do-it-all role as Blanchester’s Mr. Everything. After a strong season on the travel circuit over the summer, Sipple has both NCAA D1 and D2 offers and interest, as we’re going to be very interested to see which coaches make the trek out Blanchester to get their eyes on Sipple as his incredible offensive run continues.

Camron McKenzie – 6’1 SG Cincinnati Hughes: After averaging 16 PPG as Hughes’ second scorer a year ago, folks certainly wondered aloud as to what McKenzie would do this season in the number one scoring role for the Big Red. Through four contests, not only has McKenzie proved even the stingiest naysayer wrong, having averaged 23 PPG, but Hughes is 4-0, with huge league rivalry wins over both Cincinnati Taft and Cincinnati Woodward on their resume. McKenzie is not as naturally athletic as some of the players on this list, but he is a 100% pure hooper, as the junior combo guard can shoot it from three or attack off the bounce, where he’s strong at taking contact and finishing the play anyways. A tough but quiet guard who still hasn’t gotten his due in the city, let alone the state, McKenzie is a name to follow as the season unfolds in Cincinnati.

Skyler Schmidt – 6’7 PF/C Clermont Northeastern: A junkyard dog who had a breakout season on the travel circuit with the Nike EYBL’s NEO Tru Game, Schmidt has started off his junior season with a bang, becoming arguably Greater Cincinnati’s top rebounder. A capable scorer averaging around 24 PPG so far this season, it’s easy to forget about Schmidt out CNE, but he’s got the numbers and the game to garner more attention as the season goes on. With interest coming from both the NCAA D1 and D2 levels, this spring/summer travel season will be huge for Schmidt’s recruitment. 

Honorable Mention: Kodee Holloway (PG/SG Finneytown), Chanze Amerson (PG Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Montev Ware (PG Cincinnati Woodward), Zion Reynolds (SG Cincinnati West High), Patrick Ivory (SF Dayton Northmont), Ani Elliott (C Deer Park), Donovan Stocks (SF Covington Catholic/KY)

SW Ohio Unsigned Seniors

17 Dec

Mo Njie

Even though several of Southwest Ohio’s top seniors are already off the recruiting board, having committed to play basketball (or in some cases football) at an NCAA D1, D2 or NAIA program, the region is still full of unsigned talent in the senior class of 2020. In today’s article, we’re taking a look at who those players are, in our rundown of Southwest Ohio’s top unsigned seniors…

Mo Njie – 6’9 C Centerville: Our Twitter account was full of praises of Njie last weekend, when we watched the mobile shot-blocker put together an impressive two-way performance in a close loss to Huber Heights Wayne. Njie tops this list based on his ability to impact the game defensively, as he’s an active rim protector who has become adept at going straight up to avoid fouling. Playing a bigger offensive role then he did a year ago, Njie plays a simple style in which he tries to pin his defender and explode up for drop-step dunks in traffic. Njie currently holds six NCAA D1 offers, the most of anyone on this list.

Nekhi Smith – 6’5 PF Cincinnati Taft: An inside-outside forward who has been hampered early this season by a knee injury, Smith has appeared in the majority of Taft’s games, despite not being 100% healthy. A strong-bodied forward who averaged 20 PPG and 12 RPG last season when healthy, Smith can score from 17-feet and in, and is particularly good around the rim at using his strength, athleticism and touch to create mismatches. This season Smith has been trying to stretch the defense with his three-point shot as he could be expected to play some on the wing at the college level at 6’5. Heading into the New Year, Smith presently holds one NCAA D1 offer from Detroit.

Mark Wise – 6’3 PG/SG Cincinnati Deer Park: Like Smith, Wise has been banged up to start the season, and has had his minutes limited as he regains strength from a foot injury. When fully healthy Wise is one of Cincinnati’s best, as the combo guard is already Deer Park’s all-time leading scorer, having averaged 18 PPG last season. Wise is a strong guard who can play on or off the ball and is also known as an above average perimeter defender. As he proves to college coaches that he can shoot the ball consistently from the outside, Wise could add to his offer list, which currently includes Florida Atlantic and Detroit.

Deairius Barker-Randle – 6’0 PG Cincinnati Princeton: One of the GMC’s best players since transferring into Princeton as a junior, Randle is a big time shooter who has improved greatly as a primary ballhandler and distributor over the last year. A budding athlete who has added strength to his frame, and, as a result is significantly more explosive, Randle is currently averaging over 15 PPG for Princeton. While he’s proven he can play the traditional point guard role, what Randle does best is play the new school point guard role by scoring it from the outside and trying to attack the lane to draw fouls when the opportunity presents itself. Currently holding a few NCAA D2 and NAIA offers, we expect Randle’s offer list to explode to include all the top regional NCAA D2 schools before the end of the high school season.

Curtis Harrison – 6’7 PF Cincinnati Seven Hills: Harrison has been off to a dominant start to his final high school season, averaging over 25 PPG and over 7 RPG in his first five contests, proving to college coaches that this late bloomer is starting to match his potential with on-court production. A strong 6’7 forward with an elite frame, Harrison is not only athletic, but he’s just starting to scratch the surface of his physical potential. While he’s still best utilized around the rim, Harrison has also made 11 three-pointers on the season at a 38% clip, further proof that his best basketball has not been played yet. As of now, Harrison lists a D1 offer from Buffalo as well as multiple D2 offers, and we’ll be interested to see if any other schools jump in late on Harrison, who sometimes can be overlooked playing in Ohio’s smallest high school division.

Leroy Walker – 6’4 SF Cincinnati Taft: As good of an athlete as you’ll find anywhere in Ohio, and likely one of the bounciest players in the country, Walker has been a spark-plug for Taft in his first season in the Cincinnati City League. Known primarily as a dunker, Walker has proven that he can play skilled basketball too, shooting the ball with consistency from the three-point line and playing more controlled in attacking the basket in Taft’s fast-paced style. A high motor player with good positional size, as Walker continues to improve his skill-set his upside becomes enormous based on his physical gifts, most notably that explosiveness we alluded to earlier. As the youngest student in the entire Taft senior class, Walker is still considering his options for next year, with prep school and JUCO both being on the table for now.

Honorable Mention: Kaleb Crawford (PG Princeton), Kionte Thomas (PG Cincinnati Hughes), Steve Gentry Jr (PG Deer Park), Kaden Fuhrmann (SG Lakota East), Carl Blanton (SG Trotwood Madison), Greg Stewart (SG Cincinnati Aiken), Trevon Ellis (SG Dayton Stivers), Ed Abernathy (SG Cincinnati Walnut Hills), Brady Uhl (SG Kettering Alter), Demetrius Watkins (SG Cincinnati West High), Julian Mackey (SG Lakota West), Mitchell Greer (SG Mason), Aaron Ward (PF Cincinnati Winton Woods), Anthony Felder (PF Cincinnati Hughes), Kyle Cardenas (PF Cincinnati Shroder), Davion Mace (C Cincinnati Woodward), Nic Smith (C Cincinnati Walnut Hills), Conor Stolly (C Kettering Alter)

OVHC Recap

1 Dec

Nate Johnson

With an 11-game slate over the course of two days, the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic drew some of the top talent from Southwest Ohio, as well as other parts of the Buckeye State and Indiana, to Mason Arena on Friday and Saturday. As the event was the season opener for almost all of the participating teams, we got a chance to get an early look at the rosters of some of the area’s top programs. As always with showcase events, there were plenty of great individual performances; here’s a recap of some of the most memorable….

Tre Coleman – ’20 SF/PF Jeffersonville (IN): It’s rare for Triple Double Prospects to mention a non-Ohio prospect in these reports, but, Coleman was so dominant that our report would lose a lot of credibility if we didn’t lead off by talking about his performance. Leading an extremely impressive Jeffersonville team (considered a top-5 team in Indiana by most) to a 57-53 win over a very good Cincinnati Woodward square, Coleman scored 20 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, blocked 3 shots and recorded 4 steals, good enough to earn MVP honors. The Nevada signee was a load on the low-block, as very few in high school basketball can match his combination of raw power at a chiseled 6’5 and athleticism as a nimble face-up forward. When Coleman’s motor is running at the pace that he played with on Saturday he’s going to be one of the elite high school players in his home state, and could make Nevada coach Steve Alford a very happy man next year.

Matt Allocco – ’20 PG/SG Hilliard Bradley: One of Ohio’s most pure winners, playing on a team known for winning a lot of games, Allocco was the catalyst for his Bradley team in the second half, fueling his squad en route to a 53-45 win over Hamilton Southeastern (IN). Allocco poured in a game high 23 points, with many of those buckets coming off strong takes to the basket through contact. In the last year Allocco has become more explosive in changing gears to the rim, and at 6’3 he’s able to score over most high school defenders in the paint. The Princeton signee is both a capable scorer and ballhandler, as he excels at making reads as a playmaker in Bradley’s offensive continuity, and also showed great effort as a defender as well. With Allocco at the helm, expect to continue to hear big things from his Bradley team as the season progresses.

Max Land – ’20 SG/SF Cincinnati Moeller: As a starter on Moeller’s State Championship team last year Land played more of a complimentary role; that is going to change this season, as the senior wing opened up the season in style, exploding for 25 points on 9/11 shooting to go along with 6 rebound and 3 assists in a win over Cleveland Lutheran East, 79-56. The lone senior who played significant minutes a year ago, we expected Land to be called upon to be the leader of this team, but his offensive outburst was certainly a pleasant surprise; as Land has the raw athleticism, power and finishing ability to be a devastating slasher for Moeller this season. Already signed at the NCAA D1 level with St. Francis (PA), Land’s two-end impact with his elite athleticism has Moeller positioned to be very early favorites for another State Title.

Kionte Thomas – ’20 PG Cincinnati Hughes: Like Land at Moeller, Thomas was a key role player and starter on a very good team last year, but not necessarily a scorer. However, on Saturday the unsigned senior proved that he’s going to be a scoring force to be reckoned with this season, as he tallied 23 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in a 67-53 win over London. Thomas was knocking down shots from behind the three point line, creating dribble pull-up jumpers, finishing in transition and threw down one big driving dunk, as the 6’0 point guard seemingly got whatever offensive looks he desired as the night wore down. On a new-look Hughes team this season look for Thomas, along with junior Camron McKenzie, to put up big offensive numbers as City League play begins.

Aaron Ward – ’20 PF Cincinnati Winton Woods: While Ward’s Winton Woods team did suffer a 62-57 overtime loss to Cincinnati Roger Bacon on Friday, you can’t say it was due to a lack of effort on Ward’s behalf, as the senior forward posted a ridiculous stat line of 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals. On a team down a key body from a scoring perspective, and low on guards to begin with, Ward had to play the Superman role for Winton Woods, often securing the defensive rebound, running the show as de-facto point guard and then scoring the ball himself. At 6’6 and with great athletic tools, Ward is a versatile face-up forward who can attack the rim and finish with length and bounce; however, he also showed improvement from a year ago with his motor, free throw stroke (8/13 on the game) and overall offensive IQ. Winton Woods will improve as they get healthier, but we still expect Ward to be the man for the Warriors this season.

Nate Johnson – ’21 PG/SG Lakota East: One of the two completely dominant forces in the event (along with Tre Coleman), Johnson was fantastic on Friday evening, leading his team to a 75-65 win over Cincinnati Taft behind a 28 points on 10/13 shooting, to go along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steal performance. As Johnson continues to become more confident, he has a chance to prove that he’s a top-ten talent in Ohio’s 2021 class, as the 6’3 combo guard is an elite athlete with a college ready frame, who can handle the ball, makes instinctive passes, defends and can finish at the rim. Lakota East is considered one of Ohio’s top teams heading into the season, and the progression of Johnson will go a long way towards their eventual win total. With his overall athletic talent combined with an improving basketball acumen, Johnson’s offer list should also grow; as it currently includes Kent State, Miami (OH), Youngstown State and Ohio University.

Mekhi Elmore – ’22 PG/SG Dayton Thurgood Marshall: Elmore isn’t Ohio’s most physically gifted guard, but he’s a skilled and savvy hooper who knows how to put the ball in the basket. The sophomore combo guard shot the lights out on Saturday, tallying 21 points including shooting 4/7 from behind the arc, as he helped lead his team to a 74-60 win over Worthington Christian. Elmore excels in half-court offense where he is threat to shoot it from deep, but he’s also a slippery handler in transition who can finish in traffic as well. A competitive guard who keeps his emotions on an even-keel, Elmore will be one of the top scorers in the Dayton City League yet again for a Thurgood Marshall team with State Tournament aspirations.

Honorable Mention: Alex Mangold (’20 Lakota East), Nekhi Smith (’20 Cincinnati Taft), Jack Cooper (’20 Mason), Markeece Brown (’20 Licking Heights), Derrick Hardin (’20 Worthington Christian), Cole Metzler (’20 Canal Winchester), Mabor Majak (’20 Hamilton Southeastern/IN), Josiah McGee (’20 Cincinnati Roger Bacon), Anthony McComb (’21 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Trey Woodyard (’21 London), Camron McKenzie (’21 Cincinnati Hughes), Chanze Amerson (’21 Dayton Thurgood Marshall), Logan Duncomb (’21 Cincinnati Moeller), Alex Williams (’21 Cincinnati Moeller), Marjoni Tate (’21 Cincinnati Roger Bacon), Matt Butcher (’21 Wilmington), Jackson Holt (’21 Turpin), Keaton Norris (’21 Hilliard Bradley), AJ Mirgon (’21 Hilliard Bradley), Clayton Thomas (’21 Proctorville Fairland), Sirr Hughes (’21 Cleveland Lutheran East), Jalin Billingsley (’21 Cleveland Lutheran East), Paul McMillan IV (’22 Cincinnati Woodward), Peter Suder (’22 Carmel/IN), Will Loving-Watts (’22 Jeffersonville/IN)

’19-’20 Cincy HS Preview

23 Oct

D1 Pre-Season POY: Alex Williams

Another high school basketball season is closing in fast, and, as always, Triple Double Prospects is here to bring readers a preview of what to expect in the Greater Cincinnati area throughout the 2019-2020 season. Perennial powers Moeller and Taft headline our divisional power rankings, while the pre-season all-city teams have plenty of new faces for fans to get familiar with. When it comes to top teams, as well as top individual performers, here’s how we see the early parts of the season playing out in the Queen City….

***UPDATED 11/24/19***

Cincinnati D1 Preview

1. Moeller: Surprise, surprise, another year and Moeller checks in atop our pre-season D1 power rankings. The back-to-back defending Ohio D1 State Champions again graduated several key pieces from last year’s undefeated team; however, as per usual, Big Moe has reloaded with several class of 2021 prospects ready for bigger roles this season. Returning from last year, Coach Kremer will be led by junior forward Alex Williams, a double-double machine and our pick for pre-season player of the year in Cincinnati in D1, along with senior wing Max Land and junior post Logan Duncomb (who holds several high-major NCAA D1 offers). Land should provide scoring from the wing as well as defensive versatility, while Duncomb can control the paint on both ends, as this duo both played starting roles for the Crusaders a year ago. Junior wing Will McCracken also saw plenty of minutes a year ago, and should step into a larger role as a transition scorer, athlete and capable shooter this year; while Moeller fans are excited to see the varsity debut of junior wing Aidan Noyes, a 6’5 hyper-athletic forward who can also shoot the ball with range. Rounding out the Moeller rotation will be sophomore forward Evan Mahaffey (a transfer from Northwest HS), as well as junior point guards Elijah Jackson and Aidan Turner, as well as senior guard Michael Curran. Overall, this isn’t the most experienced team Coach Kremer has had at Moeller, but the depth, raw talent, size and athleticism that the Crusaders have makes them the best team on paper in Cincinnati, and maybe even Ohio.

2. Princeton: The Vikings might not have the size of Moeller, but they can match the Crusaders in terms of quality perimeter play, depth and athleticism, while also returning basically their entire varsity team from a year ago. The three-headed class of 2020 monster returns in the backcourt for Princeton, as senior guards Deairius Barker-Randle, Kahlil Davis and Kaleb Crawford are back for their final go-round, while junior guard Greg Johnson and sophomore guard Bowen Hardman also return from key roles last season. Barker-Randle was the breakout player in the GMC last year, establishing himself as a dangerous scorer, while Davis and Crawford bring athleticism, defense and playmaking to the table. Johnson and Hardman will find plenty of minutes in their own right, as Hardman has already earned several NCAA D1 offers, and Johnson’s athleticism and passing ability make him a shoe-in for a major role. In the frontcourt Princeton continues to show depth, as 6’5 senior Jaheim Thomas returns, alongside senior forward Micah Thomas and 6’5 senior Sterling Berkhalter. Besides the fact that this team is ultra-talented on paper, one other thing is a certainty; this is going to be a fun Vikings team to watch, as they will likely lead the GMC in scoring and pace.

3. Lakota East: It’s basically a coin flip between East and Princeton for the pre-season favorite in the GMC. We’re giving the slight edge to Princeton due to depth, but don’t be surprised if the Thunderhawks come away as ultimate winners, as Coach Adkins team is also blessed with top tier talent. Despite having two very good seniors, the talk at East is going to be all about junior combo guard Nate Johnson, an elite athlete and one of Ohio’s premiere junior prospects, who came into his own late last season and received a plethora of NCAA D1 scholarships this summer. Johnson will be counted on to take major steps forward this season, but he’ll get plenty of help from 6’7 senior post Alex Mangold (who missed most of last season with injury) and 6’3 senior wing Kaden Fuhrmann, a bouncy athlete who can shoot it from three. If Johnson isn’t the pre-season favorite for GMC Player of the Year then Mangold might be, as the powerful 6’7 power forward can rebound, score in traffic and step out and knock down shots. East will have to prove that they have the role players to match the depth of teams like Princeton and Moeller, but we expect this team to be very, very good.

4. Walnut Hills: There will be some who are surprised to see the Eagles ranked this high pre-season, but we’re high on the upside of Coach Ricardo Hill’s team this year. First of all, Walnut Hills returns 6’6 Mr. Everything on the interior in senior center Nic Smith, who averaged a double-double last year. Smith’s presence as a scorer and paint eater alone makes the Eagles formidable, but we’re not even sure if Smith will lead this team in scoring with the recent emergence of senior guard Ed Abernathy. After missing all of last season with a torn ACL, Abernathy has been dominant in our open gyms this fall, as the 6’2 senior can make shots and create his own look at will. While Smith and Abernathy will put up the big numbers, don’t forget about senior wing Michael Grant, one of the city’s most reliable role players who can distribute, defend multiple positions and who finds ways to quietly put up points of his own. The rest of the varsity roster is younger and less experienced, but with three talented seniors and some promising underclassmen, look for Walnut Hills to lead the pack in the ECC this winter.

5. Mason: We’re not going to make our usual mistake of forgetting to include Coach Richards’ Comets team in our pre-season rankings, as, even though Mason again doesn’t have any well known superstars, they have a balanced, disciplined and experienced roster capable of competing at or near the top of the GMC. Seniors Mitchell Greer, a 6’4 wing with shooting range, and Jack Cooper, a 6’7 face-up power forward, both return after each averaging around 7 PPG last season, with Greer in particular coming on strong during last season’s playoff run. The only other major contributor returning is 6’4 junior Matthew Smith, one of the few players to crack Coach Richards’ rotation as an underclassmen last season; Smith won’t score as much as Greer and Cooper, but he brings athleticism and defensive upside to a team that will likely be among the GMC’s best on that end of the floor. The Comets aren’t as good on paper as Lakota East or Princeton, but their system produces wins every season, and this winter is unlikely to be any different in the league.

6. LaSalle: The Lancers were just a year away when we saw them last season, as a trio of juniors, now seniors, showed promise and a willingness to buyin to what Coach Goedde was preaching. All three are back for their final campaigns, with point guard Jaylen Lemons and wing Derek Eddings getting the bulk of the attention. Lemons is a small but quick point guard who can shoot the ball, while Eddings is a smooth and talented wing whom Lancer fans are hoping will break out of his shell this season. The third scorer will likely be senior Jeff Queen, who showed strong slashing skills when we saw LaSalle last year; however, coaches have also been whispering about junior guard Justin Lovette, who could be a potential breakout name in the GCL as well.

7. West High: While the coaching carousel continues at West High, the good news is that the kids in the program will be led by a familiar face this season, with former assistant Bryce Stokes taking over the head seat. Fortunately for Coach Stokes, the cupboard is far from bare, as the Mustangs return three major contributors from last season. Senior guard Demetrius Watkins put up around 14 PPG last season and is one of the most proven scorers in the CMAC, while we expect junior wing Zion Reynolds to produce a major jump in scoring this year with his shot-making ability and combination of finesse and size. The key to this team, however, will be 6’4 forward Aboucar Cisse, a powerfully built wing who can drive the ball to the rim and draw contact, as the sophomore averaged around 12 PPG in a starting role last year as a freshman. The Mustangs have to fill some plugs in the other spots in their lineup, but don’t sleep on their chances to compete in the CMAC, and to represent the city league proudly in the D1 rankings.

8. Turpin: The Spartans deserve a place on this list after being overlooked by us last pre-season, before going on to post an 18-6 record. Point guard is a question after graduating their emotional leader; however, Coach Slonim returns two of his three leading scorers from last season, including junior Jackson Holt, who averaged north of 15 PPG last season in his sophomore campaign. Holt is a 6’3 wing with elite shooting ability who should average over 20 PPG this season; where he’ll hopefully be balanced out by late blooming senior center Owen Spencer, a 6’8 stretch shooter who has come into his own of late. Outside of Holt and Spencer the Spartans will have to find the right role players to help put points on the board, but they’re a dangerous shooting team, have a dynamic one-two combination and are one of Cincinnati’s best teams.

Honorable Mention: Winton Woods, Hamilton, Oak Hills, Saint Xavier, West Clermont, Elder


D2-D4 Pre-Season POY: Paul McMillan IV

Cincinnati D2-D4 Preview

1. Taft: There were several big storylines to follow this summer over at Taft. First, the Senators have moved down to D3 (from D2) and will be among the favorites to contend for a state title. Second, former Senators coach Mark Mitchell has returned to the sidelines; and, third and perhaps most notably, Taft has reloaded with some talented new players. There is still some argument as to who the pre-season favorite is in the CMAC; however, the size, experience and depth of Taft make them our top ranked team for now. Before we talk about the new faces, the Senators return an all-league force in double-double machine Nekhi Smith, a 2020 forward, along with two solid senior guards in Roemello Carleon and Muhammad Metz. Smith is a potential CMAC Player of the Year candidate, while Carleon brings production on both ends as a guard, and Metz is one of the city’s premiere shooters. The two most notable new faces for Taft are senior wing Leroy Walker (Winton Woods transfer) and freshman wing Rayvon Griffith. Walker and Griffith’s athleticism could make this team a very entertaining one to follow, as the two could easily be considered the premiere athletic tandem in all of Ohio basketball. With Woodward and Aiken also expected to be very good, don’t pencil in Taft for a CMAC title, but mark the Senators as slight favorites.

2. Woodward: If Taft isn’t the team that ultimately takes the CMAC, then expect Woodward to be next in line, as the Bulldogs picked up the biggest offseason acquisition in Cincinnati in sophomore point guard Paul McMillan IV. After averaging over 25 PPG last season, and being named TDP Player of the Year for Cincinnati D2-D4, McMillan heads over to Woodward to lead a team with some sleeper talent on the roster. Of course, McMillan will be the primary scorer at Woodward, but expect two others to score plenty themselves in senior post Davion Mace, a high level athlete with a strong physique, and junior point guard Montev Ware, a competitive guard who was the second leading scorer for West High last season. Junior guard Aaron Davis, senior post Will Burns and freshman guard Kanye Moreland will also be key contributors for Coach Redden’s team, as we’ll be interested to see who steps up to make perimeter shots when teams inevitably throw double-teams at McMillan.

3. Aiken: Last year Taft and Hughes were the talk of the CMAC, while Aiken quietly ended up finishing tied for first place in the league with their two rivals, and was the last CMAC team standing in the playoffs, where the Falcons advanced to the regional semifinals. This year’s team has just as much upside, as we’re trying to remind ourselves not to count the Swoop out in the CMAC race. Junior point guard Jakada Stone is back for his third year at the helm for Aiken, and is also a no-brainer selection for our first-team all-city pre-season honors in D2-D4. Alongside Stone, one of the city’s elite point guards, Aiken will have additional offensive fire power in sophomore guard Robbie Cass, a big time shooter, and under the radar senior wing Greg Stewart, a potential 20 PPG player who missed most of last season due to OHSAA transfer rules. The Falcons won’t lead the league in dunks on a guard oriented roster, but Stone, Cass and Stewart combine to form an impressive big three, and, if sophomore wing LeBraun Berry and sophomore forward Chance Davis are ready to make impacts, this team could be deceptively good in D2.

4. Wyoming: The first non-CMAC team to appear on this list, the Cowboys made a coaching change this year, with Coach Tim Edmonds handing the reigns over to Matt Rooks (back for his second stint as Wyoming head coach). Even with the change in leadership, we still think the Cowboys are favorites yet again in the CHL. There is some roster turnover to deal with, including the graduation of a four-year starter at point guard; but Wyoming boasts the most talent in the CHL on paper with the combo of senior wing Evan Prater and junior wing Isaiah Walker. Prater might be committed to play football at Cincinnati next fall, but the versatile senior will be on the court this winter, where he is arguably the best senior in the metro area; while Walker, a 6’5 smooth wing player, should improve on his 13 PPG average last season as a sophomore. We don’t know a ton about the rest of the Cowboys roster, but between the size, athleticism and skill of the Prater-Walker duo alone, teams will have their hands full with this Wyoming team.

5. Deer Park: Despite a lot of turnover in the personnel department, two starters still remain from the 2018 State Championship team, and additional talent has transferred in to Deer Park, making the Wildcats a more then formidable opponent this season. Senior guards Mark Wise and Steve Gentry Jr are the lone holdovers from 2018, and will be the face of the team this season. Wise is already Deer Park’s all-time leading scorer and should lead the Wildcats again as a power guard, while Gentry, as the small but speedy guard, will likely take on more of a scoring role this winter. Joining Wise and Gentry will be senior wing Deshaun McEntire, a role player on both the 2018 and 2019 teams, as well as trio of new additions in junior guard Tre Munson (Roger Bacon transfer), senior wing G’Marrion Jones (Taylor transfer) and athletic 6’5 junior power forward Ani Elliott (Springfield transfer). With more raw athleticism and depth of talent then anyone in the CHL, don’t be surprised if Deer Park gives their rivals Wyoming a run for their money in the league. .

6. Gamble Montessori: Moving up from D4 to D3 for the first time in school history, expect Coach Allen’s team to make some noise this winter, as his Gators team is loaded with both talent and athleticism. Yes, junior point guard Kaden Warner might have transferred out-of-state, but Gamble still has plenty of horses, most notably senior power forward Michael McCants, a man-child on the interior with a great motor. Joining McCants in the front-court is junior wing forward Xavier Smith, one of the most talented players in Cincinnati that you probably haven’t heard of. Smith and McCants will likely lead the scoring effort, but junior point guard Dre Kindell and senior post TJ Grove are two transfers to keep an eye on who will be mainstays in the Gamble lineup.

7. Cincinnati Christian: Not only did the Cougars make a surprise run to last season’s D4 District Finals, but they did so with a young nucleus, giving CCS fans plenty to be excited about this season. Returning for Cincy Christian will be a young starting backcourt in sophomore guard Logan Woods (the son of head coach Carl Woods) as well as junior point guard KJ Swain. Woods has earned early college offers with his ability to score the ball in different ways, while Swain is a speedy guard who can distribute or make shots. Joining the team this year is 6’6 forward Kai Vance, a former member of the homeschool based Cincinnati Trailblazers; a junior this season, Vance will bring athleticism and versatility to the table for CCS. Traditionally, the small town teams control the SW Region in D4, but we believe CCS is the best D4 team in Cincinnati.

Honorable Mention: Roger Bacon, Hughes, CHCA, Bishop Fenwick, McNicholas

Bonus Preview: Northern Kentucky

Covington Catholic: With the purpose of this preview being to cover the Greater Cincinnati area, we feel it’s only right to give some coverage to the top team in the Northern Kentucky section of Greater Cincinnati, the Covington Catholic Colonels. Having won two KYHSAA State Championships since 2014, CovCath will be among the top ranked teams in the state of Kentucky again this season. While the roster is full of new faces, senior point guard Grant Disken returns to lead the show, as he’s already proven to be among the best players in Greater Cincinnati. Alongside Disken, look for two wings in sophomore Collin McHale (one of the top young prospects in the city) and transfer sophomore Walker Horn (the son of new NKU head coach Darin Horn) to make immediate impacts on the perimeter. The frontcourt will be inexperienced, but there’s plenty of talent there, as freshman post Chandler Starks enters CovCath with a lot of hype behind his name. Alongside Starks, look for the Colonels to also rely on 7’1 transfer Noah Hupmann (Evansville, IN) as well as junior Donovan Stocks. If the young players can find a rhythm together, expect this team to be as good as any in Ohio or Kentucky.

D1 Pre-Season All-City 1st Team
Alex Williams – 6’4 Junior SF/PF Moeller ***
Logan Duncomb – 6’9 Junior C Moeller
Trey Robinson – 6’7 Senior SF Hamilton
Nate Johnson – 6’3 Junior PG/SG Lakota East
Deairius Barker-Randle – 6’0 Senior PG Princeton

*** Pre-Season Player of the Year ***

D1 Pre-Season All-City 2nd Team
Max Land – 6’4 Senior SG/SF Moeller
Kaden Fuhrmann – 6’3 Senior SG Lakota East
Alex Mangold – 6’7 Senior PF/C Lakota East
Jackson Ames – 6’10 Senior C West Clermont
Kaleb Crawford – 6’2 Senior PG/SG Princeton
Ed Abernathy – 6’2 Senior SG Walnut Hills
Aidan Noyes – 6’5 Junior SF Moeller
Will McCracken – 6’5 Junior SF Moeller
Jackson Holt – 6’3 Junior SG Turpin
Bowen Hardman – 6’4 Sophomore SG Princeton

Honorable Mention: Will Cluxton (’20 PG Elder), Carter Combs (’20 SG Lakota West), Jack Cooper (’20 PF Mason), Kahlil Davis (’20 PG Princeton), Kelen Dietrich (’20 SG Oak Hills), Derek Eddings (’20 SF LaSalle), Michael Grant (’20 SG Walnut Hills), Mitchell Greer (’20 SG Mason), Danny Greive (’20 SF St. Xavier), Brandon Lanier (’20 PF Mount Healthy), Jaylen Lemons (’20 PG LaSalle), Ivan Mason (’20 SF Withrow), Zavian Ricks (’20 PG Fairfield), Nic Smith (’20 C Walnut Hills), Owen Spencer (’20 C Turpin), Hank Thomas (’20 PF St. Xavier), Jaheim Thomas (’20 PF Princeton), Aaron Ward (’20 PF Winton Woods), Demetrius Watkins (’20 SG West High), Greg Johnson (’21 PG Princeton), Julian Mackey (’21 SG Lakota West), Demari Martin (’21 SF Winton Woods), Zion Reynolds (’21 SF West High), Rob Thompson (’21 SG Middletown), Aboucar Cisse (’22 SF West High), Evan Mahaffey (’22 SF Moeller), Deshawne Crim (’23 SG Fairfield)

D2-D4 Pre-Season All-City 1st Team
Paul McMillan IV – 6’1 Sophomore PG Woodward ***
Evan Prater – 6’5 Senior SF Wyoming
Mark Wise – 6’3 Senior PG/SG Deer Park
Nekhi Smith – 6’6 Senior PF Taft
Jakada Stone – 6’0 Junior PG Aiken

***Pre-Season Player of the Year***

D2-D4 Pre-Season All-City 2nd Team
Steve Gentry Jr – 5’11 Senior PG Deer Park
Grant Whisman – 6’7 Senior SF/PF Middletown Madison
Michael McCants – 6’5 Senior PF Gamble Montessori
AJ Braun – 6’8 Junior PF/C Bishop Fenwick
Isaiah Walker – 6’5 Junior SG/SF Wyoming
Skyler Schmidt – 6’7 Junior C Clermont Northeastern
Camron McKenzie – 6’0 Junior SG Hughes
Brayden Sipple – 6’4 Junior SG Blanchester
Logan Woods – 6’3 Sophomore SG Cincinnati Christian
Rayvon Griffith – 6’5 Freshman SF Taft

*** Pre-Season Player of the Year ***

Honorable Mention: Matthew Adkins (’20 SG Country Day), Jared Baldock (’20 SG Purcell Marian), Evan Brunot (’20 SF McNicholas), Kyle Cardenas (’20 PF Shroder), Sean Ealy (’20 SG Clark Montessori), Anthony Felder (’20 PF Hughes), Curtis Harrison (’20 PF Seven Hills), Davion Mace (’20 C Woodward), Josiah McGee (’20 SF Roger Bacon), Greg Stewart (’20 SG Aiken), Kionte Thomas (’20 PG Hughes), Leroy Walker (’20 SF Taft), Deanza Duncan (’21 PG New Miami), Gates Flynn (’21 SG Summit), Kodee Holloway (’21 PG/SG Finneytown), Tre Munson (’21 PG/SG Deer Park), Jordan Robinette (’21 PG New Miami), Xavier Smith (’21 SF Gamble Montessori), KJ Swain (’21 PG Cincinnati Christian), Marjoni Tate (’21 PG Roger Bacon), Montev Ware (’21 PG Woodward), Robbie Cass (’22 PG Aiken)