HS Preview

Basketball practice is about to get underway in Ohio, as the beginning of the high school season is approaching. Who will the top teams in the Greater Cincinnati area be this year? As we do every fall, Triple Double Prospects is here to answer that question to the best of our abilities. With our D1 and D2-D4 previews, here’s a look at who we believe the top teams and players in Southwest Ohio are.

Cincinnati D1 Preview

1. Moeller: One common theme with these TDP Cincinnati Previews, Moeller is our top ranked pre-season team. Nothing changes for the 2018-2019 season, as the Crusaders, the reigning Ohio D1 State Champions from 2017-2018 (and runners-up in 2016-2017) will be heavy favorites again locally. After battling their rival across the river, Covington Catholic (who finished last season as Kentucky State Champions) for Greater Cincinnati bragging rights as top area team last year, this year’s Crusaders team appears to have the most talent of anyone in the Queen City. It all starts with senior guard Deuce McBride, a West Virginia commit and our pick as the city’s pre-season Player of the Year; McBride should be the most dominant high school player in Cincinnati and will give Moeller a perimeter option they lacked last year when McBride missed all but the final two games with a foot injury. Joining McBride in the projected starting lineup, senior wing Alec Pfriem (Bellarmine commit) will be counted on to play a key part in the offense, after starting a year ago, as will junior wing Max Land, a big time athlete, and sophomore post Logan Duncomb, a potential breakout player locally. Rounding out the Moeller rotation, senior wing Michael Shipp and junior guard Jake Younkin both provide shooting, as this year’s Crusaders team will have more deep threats than last year’s group. Finally, don’t count out sophomore wing Will McCracken, who has the athletic ability to make an impact in the Big Moe rotation by season’s end. With talent, size, experience and depth, there was never a doubt who our pre-season number team would be.

2. Princeton: While this year’s Princeton team will look much different then last year’s on paper, there is still a considerable amount of talent at the Vikings disposal. GMC fans are going to become quite familiar with versatile and strong forward Tahj Harding, a senior who transferred in from Newport (KY), as Harding could contend for league player of the year honors due to his ability to score in traffic and rebound the basketball. On the perimeter Princeton has a stable of talented guards in juniors Kahlil Davis, Kaleb Crawford, Deairius Barker, sophomore Greg Johnson and senior Mario Freeman. Combine those guards with football talents Darrion Henry and Jaheim Thomas in the front-court, and this Vikings group is full of athleticism, strength, and versatility. Look for this junior class to breakout and establish themselves as some of the region’s top players, but also keep an eye on freshman wing Bowen Hardman, who could easily end up being one of Princeton’s most consistent scoring options by season’s end.

3. Winton Woods: Armed with the city’s most explosive scoring guard in senior Greg Tribble, Winton Woods will have a chance to finish their rebuilding process this season, starting the season near the top of our poll for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. Tribble should average 20 PPG in his final go-around with Winton Woods, while the Warriors have some improved talent to surround him with in junior forward Aaron Ward, junior wing Leroy Walker and sophomore wing Demari Martin. New Warriors’ coach Andre Tate will have weapons to work with, as his team has both the athleticism to apply full-court pressure and the skill to score in a fast-paced game. As Ward and Martin develop, this team could be very dangerous come March.

4. Lakota East: Another staple of our pre-season rankings, Lakota East is expected to contend for the GMC title again this season, as the Thunderhawks are again among the most talented and biggest teams in the league. 6’5 senior wing Bash Wieland (Bellarmine commit) and 6’6 junior post Alex Mangold will be the go-to guys, as both have the ability to knock down a long-range shot or create a shot for themselves; however, don’t miss the boat on talented sophomore guard Nate Johnson, who will be a well-known GMC player by March. Can East challenge Princeton in the GMC? Answer is yes.

5. Withrow: As with Winton Woods, Cincinnati basketball is better when Withrow has a good team; and that is just the case this year, as the Tiger’s rebuild mode might also reach completion. Coach O’Connell has size and athleticism in 6’11 senior Abba Lawal and versatile 6’5 senior wing Mike Hill Jr, as those two constitute two of the five the most talented players in the ECC. However, this team also has some perimeter talent, as we expect 6’5 junior wing Ivan Mason to breakout this year, while the coaching staff is high on junior guard Niles Whatley. ECC beware, Death Row is back!

6. Hamilton: Despite a coaching regime change, the Big Blue roster has a lot of returning talent, including senior guards Jaylen Robinson (Northern State commit) and D’Marco Howard, both of whom averaged over 17 PPG a season ago. Additionally, Robinson’s younger brother, 6’5 junior wing Trey Robinson, has also gathered college interest and could breakout as one of the GMC’s best. While we’re not too sure about the rest of the Hamilton roster, the Big Blue have three of the league’s most prolific scoring threats, and new Coach Kevin Higgins has plenty of GMC experience.

7. Walnut Hills: This won’t be the most talented Eagles team we’ve seen in recent history; however, you can never count Walnut Hills out in the ECC, as Coach Hill still has plenty of horses in the stable. The key piece to the team this year will be junior post Nick Smith, a back to the basket scorer who averaged double-figures a year ago. Joining Smith, Coach Hill will have some relative unknowns in some positions, but expect junior Michael Grant to be a solid scoring contributor, while the freshman class might have a couple of players who will see early minutes.

Also Considered: Mason, Oak Hills, LaSalle, St. Xavier, Middletown, West Clermont

Cincinnati D2-D4 Preview

1. Deer Park: Last year the Wildcats surprised the entire state to win the D3 State Championship and finish with an undefeated record. This year, Deer Park will not have the element of surprise; however, Coach Gentry does return enough talent to make another run to Columbus. Look for Deer Park to be Ohio’s top ranked D3 team early in the season, as Mark Wise, our D2-D4 Pre-Season Player of the Year, leads a group of four key returnees. Wise, a 6’2 junior combo guard who averaged 17 PPG last season will be the leading scorer, with senior forward Ibrahima Athie, senior post Joe Hocker and dynamic junior point guard Steve Gentry Jr all being potential all-CHL candidates. This year’s Deer Park team might not have the depth of last year’s; but expect Coach Gentry to again push the pace with a pressing style, and let Wise loose on another high scoring team. Deer Park will have a serious challenger in D3 in Purcell Marian, but, for now, they’re our pre-season favorite.

2. Purcell Marian: Another D3 team who will start the season as a top-five ranked team in the state, Purcell Marian returns almost their entire roster from a season ago, which ended in a double-overtime loss in the Regionals to Deer Park. The time is now for the Cavaliers, as a senior laden lineup of power forward AJ Garrett, versatile guard Alex Dotson, bruising wing Javonta Lyons and utility senior Bryan Warah are joined by a cast of supporting players who give Coach Kerr a lot of lineup versatility. The unquestioned favorite in the always competitive GCL Co-Ed division, we’re confident in Purcell’s ability to challenge Deer Park for a Regional and State Championship in 2018-2019, provided the Cavs shoot the ball consistently enough from the outside. Junior guard Jared Baldock will be counted on to help this department, on a Purcell roster that has some depth to it.

3. Taft: Our top ranked team in D2, this year’s Taft team is just that, a Taft team; as Coach Bradley’s crew is full of pesky guards who will play fast on both ends of the floor. Senior do-it-all forward Chris’seon “Grown Man” Stringer is the go-to guy (and CMAC pre-season player of the year) while senior point guard DeMarco Bradley Jr and junior forward Nekhi Smith will also be counted on to supply plenty of offense. Outside of those three, keep an eye on senior forward Dontae Mosley, as well as several inexperienced guards, who, year after year, always seem to fill the “next man in” role with the Senators. It’s close, but for now we’re giving Taft the slightest of edges over Hughes and Aiken in the city league.

4. Wyoming: Usually regarded as the team to beat in the CHL, we’ve got Wyoming ranked second in their league this year, and second, behind Taft, among D2 teams. The Cowboys have plenty of experience to work with in fourth year starting point guard Joey Edmonds (a Findlay commit and last season’s CHL player of the year) as well as third year starting forward Evan Prater, one of Ohio’s most talented juniors. Edmonds and Prater will no doubt put up monster numbers this year; however, we expect them to be joined by high-upside sophomore wing guard Isaiah Walker, who made great strides late last season. Can the rest of the Cowboys roster give them enough production to challenge Deer Park? We’re not sure, but if the answer is yes then this could be a fun season in the CHL.

5. Hughes: By far the most difficult team to project in the city, the Big Red graduated their entire starting lineup from a year ago, but also, on paper, have enough talent to contend for the CMAC crown again in 2018-2019. All eyes will likely be on freshman guard Paul McMillan IV, as he enters his first season as one of Cincinnati’s most talked about prospects; however, the Big Red also feature other talented guards to surround him with in veteran senior AB Harouna, underrated junior Kionte Thomas and sophomore to watch Camron McKenzie. They key to Hughes’ success this year could end up being the development of 6’8 bruiser Kenny Jackson, who showed significant strides in the right direction at our camp in September. If Hughes frontcourt can match their talent at the guard position, Coach Wyant might be in position to capture another city league title.

6. Aiken: The third CMAC team to make our list, The Swoop has the perimeter talent to finish higher in the league, as we love the upside of sophomore PG Jakada Stone to go with the proven scoring ability to senior guard D’arris Dean. Is this the year that 6’8 senior forward Tremaine Smith establishes himself as one of Cincinnati’s top players? If it is, expect the Falcons to be for real, as we’re also high on 6’4 wing guard Greg Stewart, a junior transfer from Saint Bernard. After surprising the city in last year’s Sectional Tournament, Aiken will enter this season as a known commodity in the city league.

Also Considered: Woodward, Middletown Bishop Fenwick, Gamble Montessori, Indian Hill, Madeira, North College Hill, McNicholas, Summit Country Day, Seven Hills

D1 Pre-Season All-City Team
Deuce McBride – 6’1 Senior PG/SG Moeller ***
Greg Tribble – 6’1 Senior PG/SG Winton Woods
Bash Wieland – 6’5 Senior SF Lakota East
Tahj Harding – 6’3 Senior SF/PF Princeton
Alec Pfriem – 6’4 Senior SF Moeller
Abba Lawal – 6’11 Senior C Withrow
Alex Mangold – 6’6 Junior PF Lakota East
Nick Smith – 6’6 Junior PF/C Walnut Hills

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

Honorable Mention: Jaylen Robinson (’19 PG Hamilton), D’Marco Howard (’19 PG/SG Hamilton), Nick Haddad (’19 PG/SG Turpin), Jay Tiemeyer (’19 SG West Clermont), DeAndre Hayes (’19 PG Oak Hills), Landen Long (’19 SG Mason), Mike Hill (’19 SF Withrow), Kahlil Davis (’20 PG Princeton), Kaleb Crawford (’20 PG/SG Princeton), Max Land (’20 SF Moeller), Aaron Ward (’20 SF/PF Winton Woods), Jackson Ames (’20 C West Clermont), Demari Martin (’21 SF Winton Woods), Logan Duncomb (’21 C Moeller)

D2-D4 Pre-Season All-City Team
Mark Wise – 6’2 Junior SG Deer Park ***
Joey Edmonds – 5’10 Senior PG Wyoming
Evan Prater – 6’5 Junior SF Wyoming
Alex Dotson – 6’4 Senior PG/SG Purcell Marian
Javonta Lyons – 6’1 Senior SG Purcell Marian
Chris’seon Stringer – 6’3 Senior SG/SF Taft
Ethan Conley – 6’4 Senior SF Franklin Monroe
CJ Napier – 6’5 Senior SF/PF Bishop Fenwick
Brice Hill – 6’5 Senior SF Seven Hills

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

Honorable Mention: DeMarco Bradley (’19 PG Taft), D’arris Dean (’19 SG Aiken), Ibrahima Athie (’19 SF Deer Park), AJ Garrett (’19 PF Purcell Marian), Deionte McBride (’19 SG Woodward), Tremaine Smith (’19 PF Aiken), Cameron Harris (’19 SF/PF North College Hill), Noah Pack (’19 C Georgetown), Steve Gentry Jr (’20 PG Deer Park), Nekhi Smith (’20 SF/PF Taft), Grant Whisman (’20 SF Middletown Madison), Curtis Harrison (’20 PF Seven Hills), Brandon Lanier (’20 PF Mt. Healthy), Jakada Stone (’21 PG Aiken), Isaiah Walker (’21 SG Wyoming), Kaden Warner (’21 PG Gamble Montessori), Brayden Sipple (’21 SF Blanchester), Skyler Schmidt (’21 PF Clermont Northeastern), AJ Braun (’21 PF Bishop Fenwick), Paul McMillan IV (’22 PG Hughes)

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