Morning Huddle: UD, Xavier recruiting area basketball stars


JJ’s Morning Huddle: A daily dose of News, Notes & Nuggets from around the state

• Alter and Dunbar basketball stars getting looks from UD, Xavier

• Eastwood grad trains for the 2012 Olympics

• Morgan hires new football coach

• Colerain driven by last season’s disappointment

Future college hoops stars? Jaaron Simmons, a 5-foot-11 rising sophomore at Alter (Kettering), played just 15 games his freshman year, but it was enough to get him noticed by some Ohio DI basketball programs. UD offered him a scholarship two weeks ago, and Xavier doesn’t appear to be far behind. Simmons averaged 11.1 points per game while shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from behind the 3-point line. “He won some games for us,” Alter coach Joe Petrocelli told the Dayton Daily News. UD and Xavier are also showing interest in Dunbar (Dayton) junior Deontae Hawkins. The 6-foot-6 forward has a bag of offers in fact: UD, Xavier, Cincinnati and Ohio U. “I like Dayton,” he says. “It’s close to home and my mom and family can see me play. I like the players, too. When I go to see them, they treat me like part of the team.”

Sprinting to the Olympics: Eastwood (Pemberville) grad Jimmy O’Brien has joined an elite-level track and field club in Indianapolis. After graduating from Eastwood in 2005, O’Brien went on to compete at Ohio Northern University before joining up with the Indiana Invaders. He’s training out of the hopes to represent the United States in the 800-meter race at the London Olympics. “He’s done great so far,” Invaders coach Greg Harger told the Toledo Blade. “He’s been here for a short period of time and is just getting oriented. Post college track and field is just a little bit different than college track and field, especially when you come from a small college.” Between training sessions, O’Brien’s looking for work in the mechanical engineering field — something he’s confident won’t affect his running career.

Raiders get new coach: Morgan High School athletic director Nate Smith has taken the helm as head football coach for McConnelsville team. He’s stepping into the role after nine seasons as the program’s defensive coordinator. “I’ve coached for several years and saw the opportunity,” Smith says. “I feel like I can make a difference with the kids and get the program turned around.” He’ll have his work cut out for him. The Raiders went 0-10 last fall and 1-9 the year before. “We have a solid freshman class (and numbers) have been pretty consistent,” he says. “We’re looking forward to the season and getting into practice.”

Hitting the weights: Colerain (Cincinnati), which has won or shared the Greater Miami Conference title for the past 10 seasons, missed the postseason last year for the first time since 1999. It’s a fact that’s driving them to work harder (‘with a chip on their shoulders’) during the offseason. “Our summer workouts have been awesome,” says head coach Tom Bolden Bolden. All told, 117 players have been lifting weights since the end of November to ready for their season-opener against Northmont (Clayton). Colerain is ranked 20th in’s look at national contenders this summer. They’ll have to make the playoffs to remain in such high graces.

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