Newark made an impromptu run to the Division I state championship a
year ago. The Wildcats capped a 24-4 season with a 65-52 win over
perennial powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward to claim the coveted title. This season, D-I looks loaded – and up for grabs – again.
Newark made an impromptu run to the Division I state championship a year ago. The Wildcats capped a 24-4 season with a 65-52 win over perennial powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward to claim the coveted title.
Coach Jeff Quackenbush will return three starters from that championship squad and Newark figures again to be in the mix in the big-school division.
The state of Ohio boasts several of the nation’s top boys basketball prospects. They will be on display in Division I. Columbus Northland’s Jared Sullinger is considered one of the top five players in the country in the Class of 2010, while Cincinnati Aiken’s Chane Behanan is one of the very best nationally in the Class of 2011.
Sullinger has already committed to Ohio State, while Behanan is ticketed to Cincinnati. Their respective teams could also figure in the race for the state title this season.
Also in that mix will be schools like Cincinnati Princeton, Middletown, Garfield Heights, Cleveland Heights and Warren Harding.
TOP PLAYERS: WHO YOU WANT TO SEE
* Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Jr., F/C, Columbus Northland – The son of Northland coach Satch Sullinger and younger brother to ex-Buckeye J.J and Kent State forward Julian, Jared is considered one of the nation’s top five players in the Class of 2010. He is already is committed to Ohio State. He averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds a game last year. He was a third-team All-Ohio pick as a sophomore.
* Bill Edwards, 6-7, Sr., F, Middletown – Averaged 17.5 ppg and was a first-team All-Southwest District pick as a junior. Father of the same name was a star at Wright State.
* Matt Kavanaugh, 6-10, Sr., C, Centerville – Kavanaugh averaged 20.3 ppg as a junior and earned second-team All-Ohio honors. He has already verbaled to Dayton.
* Luke Kraus, 6-1, Sr., G, Findlay – Kraus averaged 21.3 ppg in earning third-team All-Ohio kudos as a junior.
* Sheldon Brogdon, 6-1, Sr., G, Warren Harding – Brogdon earned third-team All-Ohio honors last year after averaging 19.5 ppg.
* Desmar Jackson, 6-4, Sr., G, Warren Harding – Jackson was a second-team all-district pick as a junior. He averaged 14.1 ppg last year.
* C.J. McCollum, 5-11, Sr., G, Canton GlenOak – McCollum earned third-team All-Ohio honors as a junior. He averaged 25.1 ppg last year.
* Jon Smith, 6-7, Sr., F, Grove City – Smith, a St. Louis verbal, averaged 16.7 ppg as a junior.
* Tanner Furno, 6-8, Sr., F, Columbus Whetstone – Furno averaged 14.9 ppg as a junior.
* Bobby Capobianco, 6-8, Sr., F, Loveland – Capobianco was a second-team all-district pick last year as he averaged 21.2 ppg as a junior. He has committed to Indiana.
* Orlando Williams, 6-4, Sr., G, Cincinnati Princeton – Williams was a second-team all-district pick, averaging 13.3 ppg as a junior. He will play college basketball at Miami (Ohio).
* Jordan Sibert, 6-4, Jr., G, Cincinnati Princeton – Sibert averaged 11.6 ppg last year as a sophomore. He is considered a national top-50 prospect in the 2010 class and has already verbaled to Ohio State.
* Chane Behanan, 6-6, So., PF, Cincinnati Aiken – Behanan is considered one of the nation’s top prospects in the Class of 2011 and also tops that list for that year in Ohio. He earned second-team all-district honors last year after averaging 20.2 ppg. Behanan has already committed to Cincinnati.
* Carl Jones, 5-11, Sr., G, Garfield Heights – Earned first-team all-district honors after averaging 25.7 ppg as a junior. He is committed to St. Joseph’s.
* Anthony Wells, 6-1, Sr., G, Shaker Heights – Was a second-team all-district pick last year after averaging 23.4 ppg
TEAMS TO WATCH
As noted, Quackenbush will welcome back three senior starters from the team that rolled to the state title last year. They are 5-9 point guard Cody Dennison, 6-2 forward Rahlin Watson and 6-9 center Dane Kopp. They each averaged right around 10 points a game last year. Dennison and Kopp will be back for their third season as starters.
“We’ve got guys who have gotten a lot of experience and had some success,” said Quackenbush, who is back for his 10th year as the Newark head coach. “Any coach who wins the state is concerned with how hard those guys coming back will work. But these guys worked hard in the summer and so far during this fall they have been great. I think they want to be successful again this year. “I think they want to make their own mark as seniors. Those three played a lot as juniors and sophomores. We treated them as seniors almost last year.” Newark lost 6-4 starter Greg Avery, who averaged 19 points a game. He is playing college ball at Western Carolina. But Quackenbush will look to 6-3 forward Shaun O’Keefe and 6-1 power forward Taylor Huffman to pick up the slack. Newark will play in a reconfigured Ohio Capital Conference division this season. A regional final rematch with Westerville South (Newark won 62-57) is on the books in the nonconference schedule.
Northland has been one of the most impressive teams in Ohio over the last two years, posting back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. But Northland failed to make it out of the district level either of the last two years. “(The state title) is our goal, but you still have to take it one game at a time,” said coach Satch Sullinger. “Over the last two years, we’ve been 45-2. But each year, we lost the last game of the season. Our goal this year is to not necessarily run the table, but we do want to win the last game of the season. If we’ve done that, it means we’ve won a state championship. “We went 45-2 with mostly freshmen and sophomores. Now they are juniors and seniors. I think these kids have that maturity.” Sullinger has his son, Ohio State verbal Jared Sullinger, to depend on. “Jared sees the game two passes ahead,” Satch Sullinger said. “He has been around the game for so long he has a great knack for it and can anticipate what is coming.” Sullinger also has 6-6 senior forward Javon Cornley and 6-6 junior wing J.D. Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon averaged 13 points a game last year, while Cornley chipped in seven points a game. Cornley is verbaled to play college football at Indiana.
Northland lost stellar guard Devon Moore to graduation. He is playing college ball at James Madison. In his place at the point will be 5-9 sophomore Trey Burke, who already has scholarship offers from the likes of Xavier and Dayton. Northland is favored to win a third straight Columbus City League title, although Brookhaven and Beechcroft will also provide a challenge. Northland will also play marquee games against Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, San Diego (Calif.) Senior and Cincinnati Aiken.
Leon Ellison takes over as the new head coach at Aiken. Standout 6-6 power forward Chane Behanan is the clear leader even though he will be just a sophomore. He will be joined in the lineup by 6-4 senior wing forward Darren Goodson and 6-1 senior point guard Cortez Howell. Goodson and Howell are ticketed to attend Bowling Green.
The Vikings advanced to the regionals before falling to Cincinnati St. Xavier 70-56 in a regional semi to end the year 18-6. Orlando Williams has made a verbal commitment to play college ball at Ohio U., while 6-7 power forward Marquis Horne is headed to Miami (Ohio). Princeton also features 6-4 junior guard Jordan Sibert, who committed to Ohio State already.
The Middies feature 6-7 senior forward Bill Edwards as well as Liberty Twp. Lakota East transfer Kirby Wright, a 6-7 sophomore. Senior Allen Roberts, a 6-2 shooting guard, provides balance.
The Raiders will be one of the most talented teams in northeast Ohio with the backcourt of 6-1 senior guard Sheldon Brogdon, 6-4 senior guard Desmar Jackson and 5-11 junior point guard Fred Williams. Harding reached the regional finals last year before falling to Lakewood St. Edward 77-75 in overtime. The Raiders were 23-2.
Heights is led by a pair of seniors in 6-7 power forward Reggie Keely and 6-3 point guard Christian Williams. Keely will attend Ohio U.
Carl Jones, headed to St. Joseph’s, will lead the way. But Garfield Heights will also feature 6-7 senior power forward Mario Hines, who will play college basketball at IUPU-Fort Wayne.
Also Keep An Eye On
Centerville (Elks have big-time recruit in future Dayton Flyer Matt Kavanaugh), Lakewood St. Edward (will be young this year and will build around 6-10 sophomore center James Price), Trotwood-Madison (new coach is former Ohio State star Mark Baker), Huber Heights Wayne (has couple of talented sophomores), Toledo St. John’s (most everybody back from a young team last year), Westerville South (reached regional finals last year), Cincinnati Moeller.