Thursday at Garfield Heights High School. The Showcase will consist of
about 120 kids including North Ridgeville's Drew McGhee, Glenville's Randall Holt, Garfield Heights' Robert “Scooter” Johnson and Anthony Wells of Shaker heights. Over 60 college coaches are expected to be in attendance.
Sonny Johnson, a former collegiate player at Cleveland State and Ohio University along with being Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 1998, has been working alongside Inside Prep Sports’ Chas Wolfe to put together what hopes to be one of the finest events Ohio has to offer.
When did this get started and what is it all about you may ask.
“Sonny started doing this about three years ago,” commented Wolfe. “It started as an opportunity for Cleveland kids to get a lot more exposure. However, with national names trickling in like Delvon Roe, Dallas Lauderdale, and David Lighty the event began to get bigger and bigger. We feel it’s the premier workout in July. Sonny also has run one in September (Back to School), which draws about 130 student athletes. For 25 dollars, five or six major scouting services, and 60 colleges in attendance why wouldn’t you want to come if you are a player.”
These showcases don’t get put together over night, and this one is no different. Johnson and Wolfe have spent hours with this ordeal.
“I would say for the last two months we have been everywhere trying to get this out there,” Wolfe relayed. “I personally have been all over the state. My role is to get the players. Sonny is a high school coach, so his role was a little different. He was in charge of getting the coaches. This is an event if its run right could turn into an all day event instead of just a four-hour session (11-3). We feel this is going to get bigger and bigger and once it’s certified could compete with some of the non shoe camps.”
The showcase, as mentioned before, was started to gain more exposure for the Cleveland area kids. This was clearly Sonny’s goal from the start and still is to this day, but it has grown into a statewide event.
“This is a great day for the Cleveland area kids,” Wolfe said. “Obviously, economics aren’t that great in Cleveland, which is making it harder and harder for North East Ohio kids to gain exposure. This gives them a chance to display their skills in front of major college coaches and see how they stack up against some of Ohio’s finest. This is an opportunity for kids to put it out there, and a lot of them are taking advantage of what we are offering. This is a chance to show where you are in July for the upcoming season.”
How does the showcase work?
“This is an opportunity for Paul Honigford (Garaway) to go against Jared Sullinger (Northland) and Sullinger to go against Drew McGhee,” Wolfe stated. “You don’t just play against kids from your grade like most camps. This is an opportunity to show off against kids of different age groups. We will have three courts running at the same time and games will be to eight. There won’t be much down time with the players continuously rotating to different courts. Each team will have color coded uniforms with numbers on the back.”
Not only will the players be showcasing their skills for college coaches it’s a chance to get put out in the recruiting world in general with the likes of Ohio High Magazine/JJHuddle in attendance.
“We have a lot players still calling, but just ran out of space,” said the co-leader. “It would be nice to make it 150 and work with 75 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon, but we will take care of what we are doing now.”
Wolfe is working with one of the best young high school coaches the state has to offfer in Garfield Heights’ William “Sonny” Johnson. The former Bulldog star, who averaged 34 points per game and 17.6 rebounds per night his senior year, is scrutinized by many but judgement is often passed by those who don’t know the first thing that Johnson is trying to accomplish.
“Sonny preaches academics, academics, and academics,” Wolfed relayed. “He draws a bad rap from some, but the stats and tapes don’t lie and Sonny’s players get the job done. When you are succeeding people are always going to be jealous, but the bottom line is his kids are of good character and go to college. Sonny has had quite a few offers to be an assistant coach in the Mid American Conference, but has turned them all down because his goal from day one was to help the kids from Cleveland and give them opportunities they could only dream about. He started a plan, and he will finish it. It’s the Sonny Johnson way.”
This year’s showcase will not be short on talent by any stretch of the imagination and a handful of Cleveland kids will be part of the headlines.
Drew McGhee of North Ridgeville High School, a 6-foot-10 center, may be the biggest attraction from the Cleveland area. The 2009 product, which plays for CBIZ on the AAU circuit, has gained a lot of steam this spring and summer. He is a little lean yet, but the MAC schools are all over him as well as Butler. There hasn’t been one player in Ohio come on the radar like McGhee in the last three months.
Randall Holt is another kid looking to make a move in his recruiting status. The 5-foot-10-point guard at Cleveland Glenville has already been offered by Cleveland State. Holt is transferring over from Bedford. Holt is also a member of the Class of 2009.
Robert “Scooter” Johnson will be playing this season for Sonny. The wing forward, at 6-foot-6, is being recruited by Akron, Cleveland, State, Western Michigan, Oakland, and host of others. Scooter along with Holt transferred out of Bedford.
Anthony Wells of Shaker Heights is another one of the top kids from NEO. The 6-foot-2-point guard has already committed to Cleveland State.
Although very young, James Price of Lakewood St. Edwards will be a major force in the Cleveland area for years to come. The 6-foot-10 center is ranked as the second best prospect in the “loaded” 2011 class.
Fellow top five 2011 player Paul Honigford (#4 will join Price by Hoop Scoop) out of Sugarcreek Garaway and Jehvon Clark out of Canton Timken. Honigford is 6-foot-8 and has an ever improving all around game. Clark is a 5-foot-10 two guard on a talent laden Timken squad.
If Price is considered the top 2011 prospect in the Cleveland area than unheralded Anton Grady (6’6) isn’t too far behind. The power forward from Cleveland Central Catholic will be a household name by the end of next year.
Others from the ultra talented 2011 class are Traevon Jackson (6’2/Westerville South), Eddie “Cheatum” Norrils (5’10/Toledo St. John’s), Trey Burke (5’10/Northland), Chauncey Orr (6’3/Bowling Green), Nick Robertson (6’4/Nordonia), Nate Anderson (6’7/Teays Valley), Jakarr Sampson (6’6/Solon), Will Weeks (6’4/Garfield Heights), Chester McFadden (6’2/Holland Springfield), Delbert Love (5’10/Lakewood St. Edwards), Desmond Rorie (6’8/Canton Timken), Aaron White (6’5/Strongsville), Nyles Evans (5’10/North Canton Hoover), Trey Lewis (5’7/Garfield Heights), Rakim Reed (6’4/Canton Timken), and Ricky Johnson (5’11/Akron SVSM).
The camp will certainly have its fair share of heavy hitters from Cleveland, but the kid batting cleanup will certainly be Columbus Northland’s Jared Sullinger. The 6-foot-8 “beast” is rated as the number two prospect in America for the Class of 2010 behind Tristan Thompson. Sullinger has committed to Ohio State. The son of Coach Satch Sullinger is the best player in all of Ohio. He can score in traffic; rebound with anyone, displays incredible hands, is deceivingly athletic, and can shoot from about 22-feet on in.
Sullinger will be joined by fellow Northland teammate J.D. Weatherspoon (2010). The 6-foot-6 athletic freak has really moved up the charts with his play on the AAU circuit for the top ranked All Ohio Red’s 16U squad.
Another member of the coveted All Ohio Red squad will be on hand in Aaron Craft (6’2/Findlay Liberty-Benton). He is the general for the top ranked 16U team in America and has offers from Miami (OH) and Bowling Green. His stock is on the rise.
Other 2010 Central Ohio kids on display will be: Jordan Devoll (6’2/Westerville Central), Craig Sealy (6’5/Columbus Brookhaven), Kevin Gray (5’11/Reynoldsburg), and Zach Joseph (5’10/Worthington Christian).
2010’s from Cleveland: Aaron Ashley (6’4/Cleveland Heights), Nate Tait (5’11/Brush), and Nick Harney (6’5/Glenville).
Other 2010’s in attendance: Anton Hutchins (6’3/Lima Senior), Jeremiah Dixon (5’10/Columbus East), Courtney Avery (5’10/Lexington), Greg Gainey (6’5/Trotwood-Madison), Logan Hauserman (6’7/Logan Elm), Josh Egner (6’6/Massillon Jackson), Mark Henniger (6’8/Massillon Jackson), Michael Shull (5’9/Massillon Jackson), Storm Sanders (5’10/Canton Glen Oak), Jimmy Darnley (6’4/Canton Glen Oak), Niko Fatimus (6’1/Poland), Ben Donlow (6’4/Poland), David Baker (6’6/Poland), Darryl Baldwin (6’5/Solon) and Dan Wise (6’6/Clayton Northmont).
Obviously, the class of 2009 is a little weaker than others, but it’s one that Cleveland has established itself well in with McGhee, Johnson, Wells, Holt, Carl Jones, Desmar Jackson, Reggie Keely (6’7/Cleveland Heights), and Mario Hines (6’7/Garfield Heights). Cleveland owns eight of the top 20 spots and 15 of the top 50 spots as presented in Hoop Scoop. However, Jones and Jackson will not be in attendance.
Other kids from 2009 in attendance: Jared Porrini (6’3/Canton Timken), D.J. Cunningham (6’9/Waterford), Andre Paulk (6’2/leaving Kent Roosevelt-most athletic kid in the 2009 class), C.J. McCollum (5’11/Canton Glen Oak), Lamar McKnight (6’5/Beford Chanel), Jamel Harris (6’9/Euclid), Robert Wilson (6’3/Streetsboro), Cameron Howard (6’8/Canton Timken), Keene Cockburn (6’5/North Ridgeville), Fred Chatman (6’7/Cleveland JFK), Bryce Barnes (6’1/Grove City Central Crossing), Tanner Furno (6’7/Columbus Whetstone), Jerod Hood (6’8/Upper Arlington), Jake Mayes (Tallmadge), and C.J Oldom (Solon).
The Eastern District, usually weaker than all districts, does have a couple kids being invited. Along with the prized Honigford, Malvern’s Tyler Tucci (6’2/2009) and Buckeye Local’s Joe Rine (6’6/2010) will be in action. The latter is a kid that may really turn some heads.
The babies of the group, the Class of 2012, will also be on display. The incoming freshmen are stock piled with talent according to many scouts. The biggest one of them all will be at Garfield Heights this Thursday in Dublin’s Kyle Molock (6’3). He is considered by many as the top prospect in this class and will be attending Coffman High School.
Channing Doerman (6’1) out of Westerville, who is ranked in the top five, is signed up. Malik Ruffin, who will be at Timken this fall, is another top 20 player attend the workout.
Other 2012’s include: Jermaine Davis (6’6,250/Garfield Heights), D.J. Hall (6’4/Garfield Heights), T’eon Lipkin (5’9/Canton McKinley), Damier House (6’1/Canton Timken), Winston Grays (5’5/Benedictine), Luke Hebner (5’10/Benedictine), Elijah Macon (6’8/Columbus), Desmond Ridenour (5’9/Benedictine), Tyree Gatier (5’1/Cleveland Heights), Ryan Renfro (6’6/Lake), and Malik London (6’7/Chillicothe.).
Also, a few players from Michigan will be participating