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)