Ohio Boys Basketball breakdown: Who are the state’s top players by position?


Jakarr Sampson committed to St. John’s over offers from Kansas, Louisville and others

The Ohio boys basketball Class of 2011 is starting to round into shape
after a terrific high school year and almost two months of travel ball.
The spring of 2010 has already seen some outstanding performances from
several top Ohio hoopsters.

The Ohio boys basketball Class of 2011 is starting to round into shape after a terrific high school year and almost two months of travel ball. The spring of 2010 has already seen some outstanding performances from several top Ohio hoopsters.

We are coming to an end of the spring session of AAU with just the state tournament left on the docket until July, and several big tournaments are already in the books including the Boo Williams Invitational, Swish-n-Dish, Motown Showdown, Buckeye Prep Invitational, All-Ohio Nike Cup, Pitt JamFest, King James Shooting Stars Classic, the Bill Hensley Memorial Spiece All-Star Classic, Nike Youth League in Houston, and the Adidas May Classic, Inside Prep Sports Lake Erie Classic, All-Ohio Super 16, Bob Gibbons, Nike Youth League in Los Angeles, and the Nike Memorial Midwest Showdown.

This is what ESPN and Prep Spotlight’s John Stovall is saying about the Class of 2011.

“The 2011 class is an average class for Ohio,” Stovall stated. “Ohio is a mid-major state. This is not necessarily a negative. It makes Ohio one of the most recruited states in the country. We have 35 to 45 kids sign D-I scholarships each year (JUCO’s included). It is pretty consistent every year. 2011 is loaded with mid-major players. Jakarr Sampson a 6-7 WF/PF from Akron SVSM is the best prospect in the class. He will definitely end up at a high major school. After him there are about 10 to 12 players that will be between high-major and mid-major.”

Here is a look at the top 2011 prospects by position:

Point Guard:

Point guard is the deepest position for this class. No matter how you order them the top six are Trey Burke (Columbus Northland), Stevie Taylor (Gahanna Lincoln), Travis Trice Jr. (Huber Heights Wayne), Jehvon Clarke (Canton Timken), Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights), and Nyles Evans (North Canton Hoover).

Burke, Taylor, and Trice can all score the basketball from the one-spot, while Clarke and Evans can both score if called on but excel more from a distributing aspect. Lewis is a pure scorer, who is more of a combo guard than a pure point guard.

The above six are attracting several D-1 schools, and here is a look at their interest along with some analysis from one of the country’s best scouts in John Stovall.

Trey Burke- the 6-foot guard recently opened up his recruitment after committing to Penn State back in the fall.

“Trey is getting stronger and improving,” Stovall noted. “He thinks score first. He is the best point guard prospect in the 2011 class for Ohio. He is a solid defender, but needs to improve on involving others.”

Stevie Taylor – the flashy 5-foot-10 Taylor has long been thought of as one of the top point guards in the country dating back to his middle school days. Taylor has offers from Akron, Toledo, Montana State, Providence, George Mason, Miami (OH), Ohio, and James Madison. He is also drawing interest from Richmond, Old Dominion, Charlotte, and Bowling Green State University.

“Taylor is a quick, scoring point guard that has really good offensive tools,” Stovall mentioned. “He needs to improve his defense and involving others.”

Travis Trice Jr. – the 5-foot-11 sharp-shooter can knock down threes in bunches. He is sneaky athletic with a good head on his shoulders. Trice has offers from Akron, Butler, Cleveland State, Wright State, Dayton, and Toledo. He has recently been drawing interest from Temple and Florida State.

“Travis a great, streaky shooter,” Stovall explained. “He has range up to 25 feet. He needs to show he can impact the game even when his shot is not falling.”

Trey Lewis – the 6-foot-1 guard is a volume scorer. Lewis can score points in bunches. He has offers from Akron, Bucknell, Cleveland State, Dayton, Duquesne, George Mason, Harvard, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Saint Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, and Virginia Commonwealth.

“Trey is solid,” stated one of Ohio’s best eye’s for talent. “He is a good shooter and can play either guard position. He needs to improve his penetration skills.”

Clarke and Evans are both hearing from D-1 schools.

“Jehvon has nice size and a good handle,” Stovall said. “He can penetrate, score, and pass. He needs to improve his decision making.”

“Nyles is solid but small.” He can score and pass. He needs to get stronger.”

Other point guard prospects include:

Ricky Johnson Jr. (Akron SVSM), Delbert Love (Lakewood St. Edward’s), Brian Sullivan (Upper Arlington), Evan Legg (Piketon), and Jazelle Garrett (Akron Buchtel) support the strongest position in the ’11 class.

Sullivan is a system type player, but one thing is certain, the kid can play. He is most effective running the baseline coming off screens for catch-and-shoot three-point shots.

Sullivan has an offer from Toledo and is receiving interest from Cornell, Bucknell, Lafayette, Princeton, Miami (OH), Davidson, Western Carolina, UNC Wilmington, Hartford, Columbia, and Boston College.

Johnson Jr. is the type of kid, who thrives in the big moment. The SVSM guard has been starting since his freshmen year, and loves taking the big shot. He is drawing interest from several D-1 schools.

Legg is hearing from a mixture of Low D1s and some D2s and D3s including Holy Cross, Northern Kentucky, Ohio Dominican, Penn, Princeton, Wheeling Jesuit, and Wooster.

Where Do I Fit?

Traevon Jackson is listed by many as a wing, but is slowly transitioning into a point guard. The 6-foot-3 Jackson isn’t a lights out shooter and he won’t wow you with his athleticism, but he does find ways to make plays and accumulate victories. For further proof of Jackson converting to point guard all one has to do is look at his recent move from All-Ohio Red to the West Virginia Wildcats. With Pierria’ Henry on the shelf for the remainder of the AAU season, Jackson will now assume the point guard duties.

Regardless of your thoughts on the lefty from Westerville South, the bottom line is he can win basketball games.

“Traevon is a strong combo guard,” Stovall noted. “He is a streaky shooter that is best inside 17-feet. He is good at getting to the basket and he is a solid defender. Traevon is also a good passer and penetrator. He is able to get the defender on his hip and drag him wherever he wants to go. He is also a good rebounder for a guard and tough.”

Jackson has offers from Akron, Arizona State, Cleveland State, Miami (OH), Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Ohio’s Best Prospect:

The point guard position may be the deepest position, but Ohio’s best prospect in the 2011 class is a wing forward.

Akron St. Vincent-St.Mary’s Jakarr Sampson (6’8) is quickly moving up the national ranking boards. Sampson averaged 14 points per game as a junior for the Irish in helping them advance to the D-2 regional finals before losing to Cleveland Benedictine. Sampson will return for his senior year along almost the entire roster likely giving them the early nod for No.1 in Ohio in regards to D2 rankings.

Sampson has performed like a can’t miss high-major prospect thus far this spring prompting several scouts to become giddy of this bundle of potential.

“Jakarr is turning into a big time prospect,” Stovall relayed. “I would say he is now top 30 in the country. At 6-foot-8, he can slash and score from the wing which makes him a match up nightmare.”

Sampson has offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton, Michigan State, Ohio State and Xavier with the thought of many more on the way in the coming months. According to most sources, Xavier is the early favorite.

Hello, my name is Aaron Thomas

Obviously, the basketball junkies know or have heard of Aaron Thomas but outside of that inner circle his name may not be as familiar.

Thomas averaged 21.9 points per game this past season at Cincinnati Aiken, and is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. Most scouts love his fire for the game and his willingness to continue to attack the tin. In other words, Thomas is fearless and at times reckless.

“Aaron is wired to score,” Stovall said. “He is a good slasher and solid shooter up to 17-feet. He tends to get a little erratic outside of 17. He is constantly improving and long with athleticism. He is a decent defender, but has the tools to be a lock down defender.”

The 6-foot-4 wing forward will have a chance to explode his senior year, and after his torrid spring he has climbed into the national Top 100 rankings. July, as it will be for many other prospects, will be huge for Thomas. He plays his AAU round ball with the Queen City Prophets.

Thomas has offers from Akron, Depaul and Xavier with interest from Dayton, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, and West Virginia.

Though, he doesn’t have an offer from Indiana it seems he would welcome one with open arms. Thomas spoke with the Indy Star’s Kyle Neddenriep at the Adidas May Classic and here is piece of the article.

“Indiana fits my style of play,” Thomas said. “It’s the biggest sport in Indiana so I’d like to be a part of it.”

He went on to say “it felt like home.”

Smooth as “Silk”

Cleveland Central Catholic power forward Anton Grady (6’8) goes by the nickname of “Silk,” but after this past season it seemed more like “Injured.” Grady spent much of the 2009-2010 campaign on the shelf with a knee injury, but returned in the latter stages of the season to ignite a late-season surge for the Ironmen.

It was just a little over 13 months ago, Grady and his Central Catholic teammates were hoisting the 2009 Division III state championship trophy and he introduced himself to the Buckeye fans. However, suddenly the talks of Grady grew silent after much hype following the state tournament.

Perhaps, it’s Grady’s loyalty to his Friends 4 Life travel ball family.  They aren’t one of the elite sponsored teams in Ohio like All-Ohio, King James, and OBC. In this day and age, kudos are certainly warranted for a young man which stayed with the people who first believed in him. Then, there is talk about his consistency.

“Anton is a skilled four-man,” Stovall said. “He could eventually be a three down the road. He has great upside, but needs to be more consistent.”

Grady has offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Dayton, Duquesne, Kent State, Michigan State, Ohio, Saint Joe’s, St. Bonaventure, and Xavier along with interest from Detroit, Minnesota, and Penn State.

Big Red

This is a term often used to describe one of basketball’s all-time greats in Bill Walton. We use this expression to describe one of Ohio’s best, Aaron White.

The 6-foot-8 red-head continues to fly under the radar despite his high level offensive game. White, who plays at Strongsville High School, has enjoyed a solid spring for the state’s top 17U team, the Ohio Basketball Club.

“Aaron is a long and skilled combo forward,” Stovall explained. “He is more of a 3 right now. He is a good shooter with range to 20-feet. He is okay off the dribble especially against 4’s. He can struggle some defensively against quickness in space. He has been soft in the past, but has really improved his aggressiveness and assertiveness in the last year or so.”

Keep an eye on White; he could be a gem down the road for a very good college.

White has some Big 10 schools and plenty of mid-majors after him.

The Price is Right

Zach Price (6’9) is considered an enigma to some, while others still believe his long term potential far outweighs his at times lack of production. At any rate, Price is 2011’s best center prospect.

The Louisville commit will occasionally give you a glimpse of his shining potential with moves or plays having you saying “wow!” The lefty looks like a million bucks, and at times shows signs of equaling his look. We will continue to monitor the progress of this big fellow as it is clear his best basketball is still ahead of him.

“Zach is a lefty low post player,” Stovall mentioned. “He needs to improve his hands. At this point, he gives solid effort but not great production yet. Zach can score on the left block with his back to the basket with a decent jump hook. He is a solid athlete, runs okay, and is a good shot blocker. He is a decent rebounder for his size. His range is only about 10-feet at this point.”

Crider Time

I’m sure Huber Heights Wayne head coach Travis Trice wishes it was Crider time more often as in Markus Crider time.

The 6-foot-5 wing forward is talented, very talented. He oozes with potential. At times, he plays the game with ease. Though, many times Crider will go unnoticed on the court for periods of time before letting you know he is on the floor with a “wow” play. Crider has the ability to dominate extended stretches of games, but has the tendency to disappear.

“Markus is very talented,” Stovall insisted. “Though, he needs to get a little more out of his talent. He has all the tools. Markus is a solid shooter to 17-feet. He can score off the bounce. He is a solid athlete, but tends to disappear at times.”

Crider has offers from Akron, Dayton, Depaul, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wright State.

Other Top Prospects by Position: (No Particular Order)

Point Guards:
Cheatham Norrils (5’11)- Toledo St. John’s
Charlie Byers (5’10)- Cincinnati Moeller
Damon Powell (5’10)- Toledo Rogers
Ke-Sean Harris (5’11)- Toledo Waite
Davonte Beard (6’1)- Akron SVSM
Tanner Gibson (6’1)- Zanesville
Andrew Bendolph (5’10)- Wheelersburg
Jake Forrest (5’10)- Hilliard Bradley
Mason Roth (5’10)- McComb
Drew Lehman (6’0)- Toledo CC
Marcquise Taylor (5’10)- Columbus Africentric
Dennis Thomas (5’9)- Cincinnati Winton Woods

Wing Guards:
Brandon Neel (6’4)- Cincinnati LaSalle
Offers: James Madison
Interest: Akron, Miami (OH), and Toledo
Semaj Christan (6’2)- Cincinnati Winton Woods
Robert Davis (6’2)- Toledo Bowsher
Blake Justice (6’2)- Peebles (Akron)
Cole Krizancic (5’11)- Mentor
Chester McFadden (6’3)- Holland Springfield
Tre Brown (6’3)- Warren Harding
Brandon Means (6’2)- Canton Glen Oak
Milan Mabry (6’3)- Toledo Libbey
Ryan Fleming (6’3)- Cincinnati LaSalle
Christian Heine (6’1)- Dublin Coffman
Shakir Dunning (6’2)- Harvest Prep
Anthony Monaco (6’3)- Dover
Marcus Reineke (6’2)- New Knoxville
Michael Shull (5’10)- Massillon Jackson
Kristian Taylor (6’1)- Akron SVSM
Brooklyn Bradley (6’3)- Dayton Stivers
Zach Riddle (6’2)- Bishop Watterson

Wing Forward:
Paul Honigford (6’8)- Garaway
Offers: Michigan State, Ohio, and Toledo
Maurice Taylor (6’5)- Toledo Libbey
Interest: IUPUI, Central Michigan, and Toledo
Shonn Miller (6’5)- Cleveland St. Ignatius
Jaylen Ragland (6’5)- Chillicothe
Nate Spears (6’6)- Columbus Marion Franklin
Chauncey Orr (6’4)- Bowling Green
Alex LaLonde (6’5)- Wooster
Wes Richter (6’5)- Upper Arlington
Alex McGlothlin (6’5)- Walnut Hills
Geron Tate (6’5)- Harvest Prep
Harrison Martin (6’4)- Waverly

Power Forwards:
Darius Carter (6’6)- Akron Firestone
Offers: Akron and Kent State
Interest: Central Michigan, Toledo, and Wright State
Nate Anderson (6’9)- Teays Valley
Offers: James Madison
Interest: Ohio, Princeton, and Wright State
Kirby Wright (6’7)- Middletown
Will Weeks (6’6)- Garfield Heights
Jalen Billups (6’6)- Cincinnati Shroder
Brock Ammons (6’7)- Findlay
Dane McGloughlin (6’6)- Columbus St. Charles
Lonacy Utley (6’7)- Toledo Libbey
Interest: Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Grand Valley State, Toledo, and Western Michigan
Chaz Rollins (6’5)- Cleveland John Hay
Devyn Benson (6’7)- Mansfield Senior
Adam Westbeld (6’6)- Kettering Fairmont
Zach Wasson (6’5)- Orrville
Ned Tomic (6’7)- North Royalton
Garrett Stephenson (6’6)- Milton Union
Andy Stegman (6’5)- Wheelersburg

Jared Bryant (6’8)- Cincinnati Roger Bacon
Dwayne Bazemore (6’8)- Columbus Walnut Ridge
Desmond Rorie (6’9)- Canton Timken

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *