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Sectional Tourney

1 Mar

Julian Mackey

The Sectional Tournament in Southwest Ohio is always a busy time for us at Triple Double Prospects. Not only is it often our last time to see some of the area’s top unsigned seniors, but it’s also a quality evaluation point for some of the top young players in the Greater Cincinnati area, as these prospects are often experiencing one of their first “win or go home” situations. We had the chance to attend several games over the course of the Sectional Tournament; here are top performers among games we attended…

Julian Mackey – ’20 SG Lakota West: After leading the GMC in scoring and being named to the TDP 1st Team All-Cincinnati this winter, we had high expectations for Mackey heading into West’s semifinal game against Mason. Mackey answered the bell, as the 6’1 scoring combo guard tallied 34 points, with 20 of them coming in the fourth quarter to close out a back and forth, high scoring contest. Mackey is a volume scorer who can create his jumper just about whenever he wants to off the dribble, but is also elusive with the basketball, as he recorded 21 free throw attempts, making 15 of them. He takes a lot of shots, but Mackey has unwavering confidence, and is perhaps the biggest reason for the West resurgence this season, as the Firebirds have advanced to next weekend’s District Tournament. An unsigned senior, Mackey is entertaining prep school as well as growing NCAA D2 interest.

Nic Smith – ’20 C Cincinnati Walnut Hills: Smith capped off a great career at Walnut Hills on Friday night, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds, doing everything he could to keep his team in the game in a close loss to Cincinnati LaSalle. A 6’6 power post with an efficient ability to score going to his left hand, LaSalle had no answer for Smith early in the game, as the senior not only physically battled down low, but caused several LaSalle players to find their way into foul trouble. A throwback center with nimble feet for his size and the wide body to post up bigger players, Smith is being recruited at both the NCAA D2 and D3 level, and is one of the top unsigned players in the area with a four-year body of work at the varsity level, including being named the ECC player of the year this season.

Aaron Ward – ’20 PF Cincinnati Winton Woods: Facing his old team, as Ward transferred from Princeton to Winton Woods following his sophomore season, the 6’6 senior fought to try and extend his final season with the Warriors, finishing with 26 points and 7 rebounds in a game Winton Woods was in until the final moments. A versatile slasher who has to curry much of the offensive burden for his team, Ward was able to drive into the lane and create contact to the get to the lane, scored on second chance points and even knocked down a few jumpers from deep on the night. Known from the travel circuit primarily as an offensive role player and athletic, energy providing forward who can defend and rebound, Ward proved he can score this season at Winton Woods, boosting his recruiting stock down the stretch.

AJ Braun – ’21 PF/C Middletown Bishop Fenwick: Braun produced the most impressive performance of the playoffs (of games we’ve seen) to date, finishing with 27 points, 13 rebound and 7 blocks as his Fenwick team pulled off the upset over previously 21-1 Blanchester. A versatile prospect offensively who can shoot it out to three or score down low with his size at 6’8 and good feet and touch around the basket, Braun has a ton of upside as a big who fits what college coaches want in 2020, as he stretches the floor with his skill-set and size. While he hasn’t been known as a volume shot-blocker on the circuit, Braun looked the part of a focused defender against Blanchester, and, if he’s able to produce defensively at that level, he’s going to add to his list of NCAA D1 offers over the next year; a list which already includes Ohio University and Lehigh.

Brayden Sipple – ’21 SG Blanchester: Sipple finished a legendary junior season against Bishop Fenwick, as the 6’3 wing guard totaled 28 points and 10 rebounds; and, while the playoffs did not go as anticipated for Blanchester, Sipple’s dominant play over the course of the season carried his team to a final record of 21-2 as the junior averaged 34 PPG and was named Co-Player of the Year in Divisions II-IV by this site. An athletic do-it-all slashing guard who can get to the rim at will, Sipple made great strides as a shot-maker this year, while also showing the athletic upside to be an above average defender and rebounder at the next level. Despite averaging 34 PPG, Sipple is sometimes too unselfish with the basketball as a passer; expect him to show college coaches that he can score or distribute this spring, as Sipple has caught the eye of several NCAA D1 programs over the last couple of weeks, having taken several unofficial visits, including one to Toledo this weekend.

Justin Lovette – ’21 PG Cincinnati LaSalle: A supreme athlete on a team with five players capable of being the team’s leading scorer on any particular night, Friday night against Walnut Hills belonged to Lovette, as the 6’1 junior point guard finished with a game-high 18 points, as well as several assists, as his Lancer team advanced to the District Finals. There’s no question that Lovette’s greatest asset is his athleticism, as he can make plays for himself or teammates in the open floor, but also is so explosive with his first step in the half-court that teams cannot contain him on ball reversals. The junior guard is going to have to continue to improve his shooting stroke from behind the line, but he’s established himself as one of Cincinnati’s best high school guards this season, and should see a huge jump in his scoring numbers heading into his final season.

Max Stepaniak – ’21 PF/C Hamilton Ross: We’d seen Stepaniak in the past at our open gym sessions, but never in a varsity game until his opening round matchup against New Richmond, where the 6’7 junior power forward posted an impressive outing, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Stepaniak looked the part of a future college face-up post, as he stepped out and knocked down a pair of jumpers, but also looked surprisingly athletic in the paint, scoring above the rim with two-handed dunks on two separate occasions. A solid floor-runner with size and mobility, Stepaniak is going to burst onto the scene this spring as a prospect who will intrigue college coaches at multiple levels, especially if he can continue to shoot it well from the mid-range and three-point line.

Bowen Hardman – ’22 SG Cincinnati Princeton: With his Princeton team trailing early against Winton Woods, and struggling to score against the Warriors’ zone defense, Hardman stepped up to the plate. The 6’4 sophomore wing totaled 20 points on the night, going 5/7 from behind the three point line, as Hardman only did more to solidify himself as one of the top scorers and shooters in the entire state of Ohio in the 2022 class. The most heavily recruited player listed on this report to date, Hardman holds early scholarship offers from Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier and Ohio University. While he was just one of several scoring-minded guards on this year’s Princeton team, a squad which was defeated in the Sectional Final by Lakota West, look for Hardman, who averaged 12 PPG as a sophomore, to nearly double that output next season.

Deshawne Crim – ’23 SG Fairfield: The future of Fairfield basketball who finished the season averaging just over 10 PPG (good for second on the team), we were impressed with what we saw from Crim in our first high school viewing of the young prospect, as the 6’1 wing guard tallied 14 points in a loss to Hamilton. A scoring minded guard but also a very good passer on his drives, Crim is a poised and confident young guard who showed the ability to knock down shots, going 3/7 from three on the day. Folks in the GMC have whispered all year about the freshman class at Fairfield, with Crim expected to be the face of the program heading into next season.

Honorable Mention: Mitchell Greer (’20 Mason), Deairius Barker-Randle (’20 Cincinnati Princeton), Derek Eddings (’20 Cincinnati LaSalle), Jaylen Lemons (’20 Cincinnati LaSalle), Dan Leurs (’20 Middletown Bishop Fenwick), Matthew Smith (’21 Mason), Ayden Schneider (’21 Cincinnati LaSalle), Owen Murray (’22 Cincinnati Walnut Hills), Evan Isparo (’23 New Richmond)

’19-’20 All-Cincinnati Teams

10 Feb

D1 POY: Logan Duncomb

With the tournament drawing taking place this past weekend, the regular season for Ohio high school basketball is essentially over. By the end of next week, teams will begin looking towards the Sectional Tournament and beyond, with the top teams dreaming of playing at the Schottenstein Center in late March for a chance at a State Title. As we do every year, the end of the regular season means it’s time for Triple Double Prospects to release our All-Cincinnati Teams; which, as always, are separated based on OHSAA divisional assignments.

In Division I, the Player of the Year award could’ve gone to multiple players, with three Moeller teammates all competing against each other for the honor. Ultimately, we thought the consistency and two-end impact of Logan Duncomb was just too much to be denied the award, as the 6’9 junior earned the title on a first-team full of talented prospects.

In Divisions II-IV, last year’s winner, Paul McMillan IV, repeats at Player of the Year; however, McMillan will be sharing the honor this year with Blanchester’s Brayden Sipple, as both prospects averaged well over 30 PPG during the regular season. Additionally on the Division II-IV first team, notice that all players listed are underclassmen, meaning the well of talent in Cincinnati basketball will be strong again next season.

Without further delay, here are Triple Double Prospects annual All-Cincinnati Teams….

D1 All-Cincinnati 1st Team
Logan Duncomb – ’21 C Moeller ***
Nate Johnson – ’21 PG/SG Lakota East
Max Land – ’20 SG Moeller
Alex Williams – ’21 PF Moeller
Trey Robinson – ’20 SF Hamilton
Julian Mackey – ’20 SG Lakota West

***Player of the Year***

D1 All-Cincinnati 2nd Team
Hank Thomas – ’20 PF Saint Xavier
Deairius Barker-Randle – ’20 PG Princeton
Nic Smith – ’20 C Walnut Hills
Alex Mangold – ’20 PF Lakota East
Will McCracken – ’21 SF Moeller
Bowen Hardman – ’22 SG Princeton

D1 Honorable Mention: Jackson Ames (’20 West Clermont), Adonis Caneris (’21 Oak Hills), Dominic Cantrella (’21 Turpin), Aboubacar Cisse (’22 West High), Carter Combs (’20 Lakota West), Jack Cooper (’20 Mason), Deshawne Crim (’23 Fairfield), Kahlil Davis (’20 Princeton), Kelen Dietrich (’20 Oak Hills), Derek Eddings (’20 LaSalle), Kaden Fuhrmann (’20 Lakota East), Mitchell Greer (’20 Mason), Andrew Harp (’22 Elder), Jackson Holt (’21 Turpin), David Larkins (’21 Elder), Jaylen Lemons (’20 LaSalle), Justin Lovette (’21 LaSalle), Owen Murray (’22 Walnut Hills), Jeff Queen (’20 LaSalle), Zavian Ricks (’20 Fairfield), Kobe Rogers (’21 St. Xavier), Ayden Schneider (’21 LaSalle), Owen Spencer (’20 Turpin), Kollin Tolbert (’22 Mount Healthy), Aaron Ward (’20 Winton Woods), Demetrius Watkins (’20 West High)

D2-D4 All-Cincinnati 1st Team
Paul McMillan IV – ’22 PG Woodward ***
Brayden Sipple – ’21 SG Blanchester ***
Camron McKenzie – ’21 SG Hughes
Isaiah Walker – ’21 SF Wyoming
Rayvon Griffith – ’23 SF Taft
Jakada Stone – ’21 PG Aiken

***Co-Players of the Year***

D2-D4 All-Cincinnati 2nd Team
Skyler Schmidt – ’21 C Clermont Northeastern
Steve Gentry Jr – ’20 PG Deer Park
Curtis Harrison – ’20 PF Seven Hills
Grant Whisman – ’20 PF Middletown Madison
AJ Braun – ’20 C Bishop Fenwick
Evan Prater – ’20 SF Wyoming
Kionte Thomas – ’20 PG Hughes
Kodee Holloway – ’21 PG Finneytown

D2-D4 Honorable Mention: Danny Austing (’22 Taylor), Jared Baldock (’20 Purcell Marian), Evan Brunot (’20 McNicholas), Kyle Cardenas (’20 Shroder), Roemello Carleon (’20 Taft), Robbie Cass (’22 Aiken), Damien Crayton (’21 Wyoming), Deanza Duncan (’21 New Miami), Sean Ealy (’20 Clark Montessori), Ani Elliott (’21 Deer Park), Anthony Felder (’20 Hughes), Cole Fisher (’20 CHCA), Evan Isparo (’23 New Richmond), Max Megowen (’21 Mariemont), Tre Munson (’21 Deer Park), Nekhi Smith (’20 Taft), Xavier Smith (’21 Gamble Montessori), Greg Stewart (’20 Aiken), Leroy Walker (’20 Taft), Montev Ware (’21 Woodward), Logan Woods (’22 Cincinnati Christian)

Rankings Update

4 Feb

The month of January is always a great time for scouting services, such as this one, to get a look at the top talent in the state of Ohio, via events such as Flyin’ to the Hoop, the Play-by-Play Classics and other showcases. One of the goals for us in attending these showcases is to move towards updating our prospect rankings for each of Ohio’s four classes. 

In today’s update of these prospect rankings, many things stayed the same (particularly in the senior and junior classes of 2020 and 2021). However, changeups were prevalent in the class of 2022, as new names often pop up during their sophomore year; while at the same time we’re excited to release our first watch list for the class of 2023. 

For a look at our rankings, click on the link below, or on the rankings tab at the top of the page.


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)

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)