Being able to play the game at the next level requires talent, hard
work and being seen by the right people. More than 320 of the top
basketball players in Ohio who have the talent and have been putting in
the hard work will be showcasing their talent for the right people on
Sunday, Oct. 4 at Olentangy Liberty High School for the 11th annual
Ohio Girls Basketball Report Top 64 Showcase.
Being able to play the game at the next level requires talent, hard work and being seen by the right people. More than 320 of the top basketball players in Ohio who have the talent and have been putting in the hard work will be showcasing their talent for the right people on Sunday, Oct. 4 at Olentangy Liberty High School for the 11th annual Ohio Girls Basketball Report Top 64 Showcase.
When many of the best players in the next four graduating classes converge on Olentangy Liberty High School, they’re likely to see 175-200 college coaches cramming the baseline and bleachers watching them play.
More than 700 college coaches have shown up for the Top 64 over the last five years, with a record 208 attending last year.
“The thing that makes this event the best: No. 1 the talent in Ohio is second to none, and No. 2 it’s so well organized and well done, that’s so critical,” Dayton head coach Jim Jabir said. “All the top coaches want to be there.
“It’s become a very important event for us.”
The combination of talent and the organization’s events have made it a popular stop for players, coaches and the top three national scouting services.
“There’s a zillion of these events going on, so they’ve got to be selective,” Collegiate Girls Basketball Report’s Dan Olson said of the college coaches choosing to attend. “They want to hit an event that’s going to be worth their while.
“Whether you watch the young kids or the upperclassmen, you’re going to get some value out of it.”
Roster spots for the Top 64 have a history of filling up quickly as players have learned its one of the best events of its kind.
Invitations are sent out to the top players early in the summer and the sophomore and junior classes average about 30 days before the spots on those rosters are full. The freshman group tends to fill up in about 45 days and the unsigned seniors are generally full within 60 days.
“It really was a no-brainer,” Steve Sanders said of signing up his daughter Brianna, playing guard for Ohio State this year, for the event in past years. “She has benefited so much from this. It’s a quality event and you know college coaches are going to be there from everywhere.”
Those coaches include staff members from the 2008 NCAA champion Tennessee Lady Vols, one of several programs that sent two members of the team’s staff to last year’s event.
Tennessee assistant Dean Lockwood said they try to have all the staff offer input on recruiting decisions and the Top 64 offered a chance to see more kids they were interested in.
“I had seen a couple of the kids and a couple I hadn’t seen. The staff member I brought with me hadn’t seen three or four of the kids so we were able to get another pair of staff eyes on the kids we were seriously thinking about,” Lockwood said.
“It’s by far the best event put on in the state of Ohio,” Ohio University head coach Semeka Randall said. “I always say Ohio is the best – I’m from Ohio, I played here (at Garfield Heights Trinity High School) and there is great talent.
“Coaches from every division can find a player in this state, and at this event in particular.”
The day is designed to highlight the players and give them a place to showcase their abilities in front of the coaches. As part of that effort to help the players focus on their basketball, a no AAU recruiting policy is strictly enforced during the day.
That doesn’t bother Sanders who runs Cincinnati’s Finest, one of the top AAU programs in the state. “It’s good to go somewhere and watch your kids and know somebody’s not trying to steal your kids,” he said.
Sanders also works the event as a coach for the day’s games. “There’s a very high talent level,” he said. “It’s a joy to coach and joy to just sit back and watch.”
OGBR Executive Director Tom Jenkins’ history with the event is considered by many as one of the top reasons for its success.
Lockwood said the amount of preparation put into the Top 64 and other events by Jenkins and his OGBR staff has earned him a high level of respect and developed his credibility with college coaches.
“It’s run on time, it’s well organized and what you get is helpful,” Lockwood said. “(Player information is) concise and precise. You come in knowing what you’ll get.”
Aside from the organization, it still takes talent to get the coaches in.
“We’ve got to go where the good players are and he’s going to have the best players in Ohio,” Lockwood said. When wanting to know about kids in Ohio, he’s a go-to guy and the Top 64 is a go-to event.”
“It’s well respected by the best of the best college coaches,” Randall said. “It shows the long hours he puts in with how accurate the information on each prospect is. It’s run in a first-class manner.”
“Tom’s track record speaks for itself and that’s one of the main indicators of why you have a base of college of coaches coming to an event,” Olson said. “From an organizational standpoint, it’s outstanding. Even if I didn’t know Tom Jenkins, I would go to the event. It wouldn’t surprise me if that number (of 208 coaches attending) is about equal this year. Word catches on, coaches talk and people like him.”
While the rosters for this year’s Top 64 are full, people can still see what it’s all about by stopping by Olentangy Liberty on Sunday, Oct. 4.