Ballin’ Under 1 Roof

12 Jul

Meechie Johnson

We’ve seen live basketball return via open gyms in the last few weeks; however, this weekend gave us something we haven’t had a chance to enjoy since mid-March, that being team basketball. The first true event of the travel season for us at Triple Double Prospects kicked off in Fort Wayne this weekend, as teams from Ohio and surrounding states participated in Ballin’ Under 1 Roof hosted by OH Hoops. With several top Ohio prospects in attendance, here are a few of the standouts…

Meechie Johnson – ’21 PG Garfield Heights: If memory serves us correctly, we had not had a chance to watch Meechie Johnson play a live basketball game since January of 2019 at Flyin’ to the Hoop, as the nationally ranked guard tore his ACL shortly after causing him to miss the entirety of his junior season. Despite playing some of his first true basketball in 18-months, Johnson looked superb for his Indy Heat EYBL team, as the 6’1 playmaker showcased his athleticism, passing ability, perimeter shooting and shiftiness with the ball which allows him to get into the paint. Having recently transferred back to Garfield Heights after spending his junior season at ISA Academy, Johnson should be considered a candidate for Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award as a senior; and, he’ll have the added bonus of not having to worry about the recruiting process, as Johnson has committed to Ohio State.

Ben Knostman – ’21 PG Tippecanoe: Scouts and college coaches have buzzed about Knostman as arguably Ohio’s top passer in the 2021 class for some time now; however, due to the location of his high school, he has stayed somewhat under the radar statewide. That has started to change this month though, as Knostman has picked up NCAA D1 offers, including one from Winthrop after Friday’s nights game, as he was the chief offensive catalyst for his Midwest Basketball Club team in both games we were able to view. A bigger point guard with a pass-first mentality and some flair to his game, Knostman shows a terrific feel for the offensive end, while also motivating teammates to run the floor extra hard due to his proclivity for finding the open man in transition. As his recruitment picks up, Knostman will be one of the most anticipated prospects to participate in Wednesday’s Dayton Elite Open Gym hosted by TDP and our partners, Miami Valley Hoop Vault.

Keyshawn Hall – ’21 SF Cleveland Rhodes: Since we first saw him in January at the Play-by-Play Classic we dubbed Hall as “Baby Melo” due to his big frame, shifty handle and hairstyle that reminds us of a Denver Nuggets version of Carmelo Anthony. In Fort Wayne there was no one more aggressive or intense then Hall, who battled from buzzer to buzzer in a hard fought loss to the Illinois Stars and five-star prospect Michael Foster. Hall is a big bodied 6’6 wing who can handle the ball on the perimeter and who has a knack for finishing inside, making him a certified scoring machine at the travel ball level. He’ll have to keep improving his conditioning and the consistency of his perimeter shot, but Hall really turned heads for his Team Cleveland squad with his scoring capabilities.

George Mangas – ’21 SF Lima Shawnee: Another potential Mr. Basketball candidate for next season, Mangas averaged over 30 PPG and led his team to an undefeated record in the shortened season this winter, making him one of our top priorities to get eyes on during travel circuit play. On his Northwest Ohio Basketball Club team, which is perennially filled with sleepers, Mangas was the most talented prospect, as the 6’4 wing showcased a quick release jumper from three, some flashy passing ability and a smooth feel for scoring around the basket with or without his back to the basket. Mangas has a mature and crafty offensive game and moves well without the ball, where, even though he often played a semi-post position, he can score in different ways and has the quick release to be a deadly shooter at the next level. Currently getting attention at the NCAA D1 and D2 levels, look for Mangas to be one of Ohio’s leading scorers again next season.

Omari Effiong – ’21 PG/SG Thomas Worthington: Another member of the loaded 2021 class at Thomas Worthington in the Columbus area, Effiong was not the leading scorer for his Ohio Hoopsters team in either game we evaluated; however, he was the prospect with the best motor. An athletic and strongly built combo guard with a great attitude to his game, Effiong was effective defensively, attacked the basket offensively and showed a lot of heart in battling against Indy Heat EYBL, a team which features five players committed to high-major NCAA D1’s already. Effiong’s athleticism and motor should compliment each other nicely next season, as we expect him to not only be Thomas Worthington’s top perimeter defender, but also a complimentary offensive piece alongside prospects such as Tyrese Hughey and Jalen Sullinger.

Honorable Mention: Tyrese Hughey (’21 Thomas Worthington), Josiah Mobley (’21 Whitehall), Tabari Howard (’21 Westerville South), Kalen Etzler (’21 Convoy Crestview), Nate Johnson (’21 Lakota East), Malcolm Curry (’21 Huber Heights Wayne), Trent Koning (’21 Cedarville), Jamal Sumlin (’22 Cleveland Rhodes), Kebba Njie (’22 Centerville), Dylan Hughes (’22 Rockford Parkway), Gabe Cupps (’23 Centerville)

Cincy Live-Stream Run

4 Jul
AJ Braun

AJ Braun

The Cincinnati Elite Open Run – Hosted by 275 Hoops and Triple Double Prospects – brought the majority of the top talent in Greater Cincinnati’s 2021 and 2022 classes to Dohn Prep Academy on Friday night, as over 100 colleges (including over 60 NCAA D1 programs) checked in on the competition via the YouTube steam (VIDEO LINK). With 40 players taking the court on Friday, it’s hard to narrow down a list of top performers; but here are some prospects who really stuck out in our eyes:

Kobe Rogers – ’21 SG Cincinnati St. Xavier: The top scorer on the day, Rogers, a 6’2 wing guard, was exceptional on Friday night, as he scored in different ways to pace his team. Rogers can make shots from three with his feet set, but it was his length and craftiness as a finisher that was most impressive. Rogers is a smooth athlete who can also handle the ball, and will be expected to be one of Cincinnati’s top scorers next season. He doesn’t hold any scholarship offers yet, but they’re coming soon!

AJ Braun – ’21 C Middletown Bishop Fenwick: A 6’9 post prospect on the verge of seeing his recruitment blow up, Braun entered the day with 6 NCAA D1 offers, including in-state Ohio University. Braun solidified his recruiting status on Friday, as he scored inside with powerful post moves with either hand, showed a good feel in the half-court and made an impact both defensively and with his shot-blocking. One of the more offensively skilled bigs in the area, Braun has drawn attention at a variety of NCAA D1’s who tuned in to watch him in the open run.

Nate Johnson – ’21 PG/SG Lakota East: Johnson also entered Friday’s run with a slew of NCAA D1 offers, including several in-state MAC schools, with many mid and high major schools tuning in specifically to watch his development. Johnson did not disappoint with his athleticism and playmaking ability, as the strong and hyper-athletic 6’3 combo guard finished multiple dunks, made passes off drives and showed an ability to shoot the ball with a more consistent stroke. One of the most physically talented guards in Ohio in the 2021 class, Johnson is going to be a prospect whom colleges really keep an eye on during live streamed AAU games this July.

Jackson Holt – ’21 SG Turpin: We knew going into the day that Holt was one of the most skilled guards in the event, and arguably the event’s top shooter. However, no one was sure how Holt would do playing against some of the top athletic wings in the city. Holt more than answered the bell Friday night, showing a composed and slippery handle to create space against even the quickest defenders. When Holt found room to shoot it from three the results were as anticipated, it went in! At worst case Holt is a shooting specialist at the next level, and he showed major upside today to be an all-around scorer; meaning we expect his phone to start ringing from college coaches very soon.

Jakada Stone – ’21 PG Cincinnati Aiken: Like we said on stream, Stone is a point guard we’ve raved about since his freshman season, as the 6’0 floor general is a smooth slasher who can make the right pass, score at the rim and is both quick and composed with the basketball. Friday night we saw some impact defensive plays from Stone, and he was able to take it the other way for a score or assist consistently. While his jumper didn’t fall much on Friday, Stone is also a capable shooter and a triple threat offensively who also defends and shows a competitive desire to win.

Aidan Noyes – ’21 SF Cincinnati Moeller: Noyes, a 6’7 wing, might not have been one of the leading scorers on Friday, but he was productive for his team and showed the upside that has led to him acquiring double-digit NCAA D1 offers (including multiple new additions after a strong showing at the Wildcat Select Open Run two weekends ago). A freaky athlete with great length, Noyes blocked and altered shots, rebounded above the rim and was able to finish plays on the offensive end with multiple jumps or long, reverse finishes. Besides being a great athlete, Noyes is also a very good three-point shooter, another reason why coaches are very excited about his long-term upside.

Aboubacar Cisse – ’22 SF Cincinnati West High: Another prospect we’ve been high on since the beginning of his freshman year, Cisse looked the part of a polished scorer on Friday night. A strong but mobile 6’4 wing who can score in different ways, Cisse is great at finishing around the rim with touch, can score in the in-between game or make shots with his feet set. In addition to all of that, Cisse showed progression as a ballhandler, as, at 6’4, he’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot at the college level. With Cisse it’s just a matter of time before coaches start to realize his upside, and between this event and what he does the rest of this month in AAU, we wouldn’t be shocked to see an offer come his way.

Chandler Starks – ’23 PF Covington Catholic (KY): We invited two 2023 prospects to attend, and both made the top performers list, as we start with Chandler Starks. A powerfully built 6’6 power forward with a versatile game, Starks was most impressive with his effort, as the rising sophomore out-worked older forwards for rebound after rebound. Besides rebounding, Starks was a very efficient and skilled finisher at the rim against even the best athletes, and showed an ability to step outside and shoot the ball from deep. Still baby faced despite his strong frame, as Starks continue to fine-tune his body he has as much upside as anyone in the area in the 2023 class.

Rayvon Griffith – ’23 SF Cincinnati Taft: The only other 2023 prospect in attendance besides Starks, Griffith also got a lot of things done on both ends via his motor, as the long and rangy 6’5 athlete blocked shots, finished dunks, rebounded and scored around the rim on a consistent basis. Playing more of a power forward role on a team of smaller players, Griffith was active on both ends, and, given his elite physical tools such as his quickness and leaping ability, Griffith continues to show upside as one of the nation’s more highly regarded 2023 prospects. Heading into the day, Griffith already held 4 NCAA D1 offers including Oklahoma State and Kent State.

Honorable Mention: Skyler Schmidt (’21 PF/C Clermont Northeastern), Will McCracken (’21 SG/SF Cincinnati Moeller), Julian Mackey (’21 PG/SG The Skills Factory/GA), Mark Wise (’21 PG/SG Dohn Prep Academy/OH), Davion Mace (’21 PF/C Dohn Prep Academy/OH), Zion Reynolds (’21 SG Cincinnati West High), Ben Southerland (’22 PF Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy), Logan Woods (’22 Cincinnati Christian)

270 Hoops ’21 Challenge

28 Jun
Desmond Watson

Desmond Watson

Live basketball was back today in Columbus, at least for a couple of hours, as Central Ohio’s top rising seniors came together for the 270 Hoops 2021 Challenge. With the action being broadcast on YouTube, this event served as a de facto live evaluation event for the participants, as dozens of NCAA D1 and non-D1 college coaches watched the stream. Triple Double Prospects was in the building for the duration of the event, as we noticed several standout performers….

Desmond Watson – ’21 SF Columbus DeSales: A junkyard dog wing who is quickly becoming one of the state’s most heavily recruited rising seniors, Watson was one of two dominant scorers on the day in leading his team to the championship. Known primarily as an athletic slasher who can finish in traffic, Watson showed today that he’s capable of making jumpers in rhythm as well, making him a tough matchup at any level. Given his defensive abilities, motor, athleticism and increased scoring skill-set, Watson is only going to add to an offer sheet which already includes double-digit NCAA D1’s such as Bowling Green, Miami (OH), Cleveland State and Ohio.

Keaton Norris – ’21 PG Hilliard Bradley: Despite the success that his older brother, Braden Norris, has had on the NCAA D1 level, the younger Norris brother has stayed somewhat under the radar statewide up until this point. That changed on Sunday, as the 6’0 sharpshooter lit up the competition, knocking down long range shot after long range shot in leading his team, along with Watson, to a championship. As well as Norris shoots the ball, he’s far from a specialist, as he also is a poised and crafty point guard who showed an ability to find teammates, make skip passes and make appropriate decisions in transition; making him a candidate to break into our next ranking update as one of Ohio’s top 2021 point guards.

TJ Pugh – ’21 SF Shelby: An athletic and powerful 6’6 wing, Pugh is the prototypical small town Ohio sleeper who emerges every recruiting cycle. He began generating some buzz last year, but really took steps on Sunday to place himself firmly in NCAA D1 recruiting circles, as Pugh showed tremendous physical tools which give him upside at the next level. A more than capable shot maker with a big and athletic frame, Pugh has versatility as a scorer while also having the size and mobility to guard different positions as well. While schools are just beginning to learn all of what Pugh can do on the court, expect to see his recruitment skyrocket in the coming months.

Quincy Clark – ’21 PG/SG Westerville Central: One of the players whom we weren’t very familiar with heading into the event, Clark was very impressive as a speedy scoring guard, as well as with his on-ball defense in pressuring the ball. He’s a combo guard at heart and one that likes to score, as Clark is both skilled and quick with the ball, allowing himself opportunities to create jumpers or to take it to the rim to score in either the half-court or transition. We don’t know much about where his recruitment stands right now; however, showings like this certainly will help his case with college coaches.

Honorable Mention: Tyrese Hughey (’21 PF Thomas Worthington), Jalen Sullinger (’21 PG Thomas Worthington), Maceo Williams (’21 C Gahanna Lincoln), Casey George (’21 PG Pickerington North), Eli Burke (’21 PG Columbus Africentric)

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)