31 things to ponder with the start of boys basketball season

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Dayton Dunbar won its third D-II state title in five years last season. Can they repeat?

Who defends their title? Who makes the Final Four? Who has the toughest
schedule? Who wins Mr. Basketball? Who are impact freshmen? Who has the best conference? Those questions and more answered now…


Another high school season just tipped-off, and Ohio High School
Hoops has been pondering a lot of items of business in the offseason.

As
we try to get you ready for the 2010-2011 season, we will give you 31
thoughts ponder as Week 2 begins…

1. Which of the four
defending state champions has the best chance of repeating?

This
is a hard question to answer.

Massillon Jackson loses four of
its starting five including Mark Henninger (Kent State), Josh Egner
(Akron), and Brad Dupont (Wheeling Jesuit). Division 1 is extremely hard
to repeat considering Canton McKinley did in 2005 and 2006, but before
that it was Cincinnati Elder back in 1973 and 19974.  Jackson will be
better than people think and will compete for a Federal League
Championship, but it would be a serious stretch to think this unit can
repeat.

Dayton Dunbar is looking to go back-to-back for the
second time in six years. The Wolverines won consecutive Division 2
titles in 2006 and 2007 and then captured last year’s gold. To us, this
is your best bet for a team to repeat. Dunbar returns junior Deontae
“Teddy” Hawkins and Gary Akbar on the interior from last year’s team,
but will be forced to replace all of the guard positions. At Dunbar,
it’s never about rebuilding and always about reloading. The guards will
need some time to get comfortable, but there is talent with Keontae
“Tutu” Brown, Roger Williamson, Demarion Geter, transfer Shawn Fleming,
and Javon Rice. The most challenging part for Dunbar will be getting
out of the brutal Southwest with the likes of Kettering Alter, Roger
Bacon, Bishop Fenwick, Dayton CJ, and Urbana.

Lima Central has a
terrific team returning, but will need to replace point guard Desi
Kirkman who really made last year’s team run. However, the Thunderbirds
biggest challenge will be much like every other team in Division 3 and
that will be overcoming a talented Cincinnati Taft team. Look for
guards Bubba Krieg and Austin Stolly to have monster years along with
talented junior Ty O’Connor. Look for LCC to start slow as usual due to
another fantastic football campaign. Keep an eye on sophomore Tre’on
Johnson as he could be the heir apparent to Kirkman. As always, the
Elida district will be brutal with the likes of Ottawa-Glandorf,
Delphos Jefferson, Findlay Liberty-Benton, Coldwater, and St. Henry.

Dayton
Jefferson had the best chance to repeat until a series of events
changed that in a hurry. First, junior Devin Foster moved to
Mississippi with his father. Foster averaged 13 points per game as a
sophomore coming off the bench and was primed for a breakout season.
Then, and most importantly, Cody Latimer decided to not come out for
the team. Latimer most likely would have been a 1st Team All-Ohio
performer with a chance for Division 4 Player of the Year. Latimer has
committed to Indiana to play football. This certainly leaves Jefferson
with some question marks. Don’t’ be fooled, the Broncos still have
talent with Joby Jackson, Dwight Johnson, and Juan Gay returning, but
head coach Art Winston has to be asking himself what would have been
despite the chance of another really good season.

2. Who
will win the Associated Press Mr. Basketball?

The last two
years it has basically been a foregone conclusion that Northland’s
Jared Sullinger would be taking home the award, and he did. In 2008, it
was another Ohio State Buckeye in William Buford of the now defunct,
Toledo Libbey and ’07 it was Buckeye, Jon Diebler.  O.J. Mayo captured
the award in ’05 and ’06, while former OSU standout Jamar Butler was
the winner in ’04. The Lebron James reign was from 2001-2003, and 2000
was the only year with two winners in Tony Stockman (OSU/Clemson) and
Chester Mason (Miami, OH).

The bottom line is this when there
is a good player which has committed to Ohio State he wins the award.
O.J. Mayo and Chester Mason were the only non-Buckeyes to win the award
in the past decade. James didn’t attend college, so we exclude him
though he likely would’ve attended Ohio State.

This year there
is nary and Ohio State commit or signee in the Classes of 2011 and
2012. The only player in Ohio currently committed to Ohio State is
Toledo St. John’s sophomore, Marc Loving. He is an unbelievable talent
with major upside, but he won’t be able to put up the kind of numbers
to win the award at this point.

Next, we must look to see if
there are any future pro players in the state. Well, perhaps, but it’s
hard to tell at this point. So many factors go into playing
professionally that it’s nearly impossible to gauge outside of talents
such as James and Mayo. There are no James’ and Mayo’s in the state at
this time.

This leaves us with the obvious. Most people are
enamored with high scoring averages, and this award has certainly gone
the way of the state’s top scorer on several occasions.

Realistically,
there is no front-runner this year and any number of players could
capture the award which has been around since 1988. Here are a few names
to consider for this year’s award.

Mentor’s Cole Krizancic,
Garfield Heights’ Trey Lewis, Toledo Bowsher’s Robert Davis, Cincinnati
Withrow’s Aaron Thomas, Northland’s Trey Burke, Huber Heights Wayne’s
Travis Trice Jr., Westerville South’s Traevon Jackson, Gahanna Lincoln’s
Stevie Taylor, Cleveland Central Catholic’s Anton Grady, Peebles’
Blake Justice, Zanesville’s Tanner Gibson,  Medina’s Kenny Kaminski,
Strongsville’s Aaron White, Cincinnati La Salle’s Brandon Neel, and
Cincinnati Taft’s Adolphus Washington are 15 names to keep in mind.

Division I:

3.
Will Moeller keep its pattern going?

Cincinnati Moeller has
won the Division 1 state championship every four years since 1999. Its
last title came in 2007, which makes this year number four once again.
The Crusaders certainly have the talent to win it all with guards Alex
Barlow, Charlie Byers, Ben Galemmo, and Shaquille Jinks returning from
last year’s state runner-up team.

4. Northwest Ohio has been
starving for a Division I boy’s basketball title.

Ohio
High School Hoops’ was in the 3rd grade the last time a NW Ohio team
won the boy’s D1 state championship. Toledo Scott cut the nets down in
1990, which followed Toledo Macomber’s title in ’89. Toledo-area fans
are starved for a title after coming close on several occasions. In
2004, Toledo St. John’s had the best team of any in the past 20 years
to win it all and faltered against Hamilton in the title contest. The
Titans have earned three runner-up trophies during this time frame and
Lima Senior was runner-up in ’92.

Is this the year? Toledo St.
John’s would be the best bet. The Titans have been impressive in the
preseason despite playing without five regulars which have been absent
due to the success of the football team. St. John’s nearly knocked off
eventual state champion, Massillon Jackson (52-50), a year ago in the
regional final. Most will look over the Titans thanks in large part to
NW Ohio’s tournament failures over the years in D1. We won’t be
surprised if St. John’s ends the drought in 2011.

Toledo
Central Catholic, Toledo Bowsher, and Bowling are other viable options
out of NW Ohio.

5. Who will be the Division I impact freshman
of the year?

This will likely come down to two kids, Ty
Herron of Lakewood St. Edward’s and Tyonte Robertson of Cincinnati
Aiken. Robertson will likely start for Aiken, while the 6-foot-8 Herron
will most likely be forced to mainly jayvee duty and spot varsity play
at Ed’s. Jaesean Tate of Pickerington Central, Rozel Hurley of Shaker
Heights, Aaron Oden of Cincinnati Hughes, Juan Ford of Huber Heights
Wayne, Vincent Edwards of Middletown, Dazhonet Bennett of
Trotwood-Madison, Daryl Long of Westerville South, and Ronnie Williams
of Columbus Brookhaven are some other names which will see action.

Obviously,
more names will suffer as the goes along but the above mentioned are
just a few for starters. It’s hard enough to get on the floor as a
freshman especially at D1 schools, so not many diaper dandies will get a
chance.

6. Who will be the Division I Player of the Year?

See
Ohio’s Mr. Basketball section minus Grady, Gibson, Justice, and
Washington.

7. Who will be the sleeper teams and players in
Division I?

Cleveland Heights gets our vote for biggest
sleeper. CHHS is a state power, but they are flying under the radar
heading into this season. The Tigers will welcome back Tyree Gaiter, Sam
Collins, and Kevin Clark along with Cody Martin and Aaron Ashley
coming off injuries which cost them all of last season. Ashley was
actually granted another year of eligibility by the state, which is a
rare case. Also, joining the party will be sophomore Maurice Ofield who
is coming over from Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.

There are
plenty of sleeper players in the state, but we will list our top 5.
Terry Rozier of Shaker Heights, Semaj Christon of Cincinnati Winton
Woods, Shaheed Davis of Warren Harding, Tyler Kelly of Pickerington
North, and Geovonie McKnight of Middletown.

8. Who has the
toughest schedule?

Almost every Division 1 team has a tough
schedule, but Lakewood St. Edward’s schedule is arguably the toughest.
They do have an advantage in terms of schedule because they don’t’ play
in a league so they aren’t locked into games.

The Eagles will
lock up with Mentor Lake Catholic, Toledo St. John’s, Akron SVSM,
Cleveland VASJ, Strongsville, four games at the Max Preps Holiday
Classic in San Diego (CA), Cleveland Benedictine, two games at the
McDonald’s Classic in Erie (PA), Shaker Heights, Toledo Central
Catholic, Cleveland St. Ignatius (x2), Garfield Heights, Columbus
Northland, and Mentor.

9. Who has the best conference?

Normally
this is a no-brainer for us as we say the Greater Catholic League
South and move on, but this year is a bit different. We have La Salle
and Moeller ranked No. 1 and 2 in the state, but St. Xavier and Elder
will likely be down for its standards. The No. 1 and 2 rankings hold
plenty of weight, but the conference isn’t deep enough for us this
year.

We are going with the Lake Erie League this year. Mentor,
Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, and Euclid along with newcomer
Warren Harding make this league terrific. The addition of Harding puts
this conference over the top. Everyone listed but Euclid is ranked in
the OHSH Elite 25.

10. Who makes the Final Four?

This
is our preseason picks, so don’t shoot the messenger just yet. We will
have our midseason report coming out later in season, which will give a
total overview of the season thus far along with our midseason Final
Four picks along with our state championship predictions.

Cincinnati
La Salle, Toledo St. John’s, Westerville South, and Lakewood St.
Edward.

Division II:

11. The East and Central
Districts are still looking for its first Division
II
state championship.

Will this be the year that one of the
two districts finally breaks through and wins a D2 state championship?
In reality, probably not but reality isn’t always what it seems.

The
East District has a better chance with Zanesville, while the Central
doesn’t really have a standout team like in year’s past with Columbus
DeSales.

Other than Zanesville the East District would next have
to turn to Carrollton. Though, Carrollton lost inside ace, Krisitan
Cross to North Olmsted.

Likely, the drought will carry on for
both districts.

12. Who will be the Division II
impact freshman of the year?

Here are a few names which
could have an impact this season in Division 2. Victor Dorsey of Akron
SVSM, William Green of Dayton Dunbar, Ben Haraway and Jeff Thomas Jr. of
Norwalk, and Zach McCormick of Wilmington could all get a chance to
shine.  McCormick could emerge as budding star for the Hurricane.

13.
Who will the Division
II Player of the Year?

This
is the hardest division to pick of any. Honestly, this is totally up
in the air. Here are few names to consider. Tanner Gibson of
Zanesville, Ricky Johnson Jr. and Lorenzo Cugini of Akron SVSM, Desmond
Ridenour of Cleveland Benedictine, Deontae Hawkins and Gary Akbar,
Jaaron Simmons of Kettering Alter, Reggie McAdams of Kalida, Cole
French of Eaton, Jake Heagen of John Glenn, Anthony Monaco of Dover,
and Derek Colston of Port Clinton all have a chance to step up and
bring home the award.

However, we won’t be surprised if it’s
someone not even on our list.

14. Who will be the sleeper
teams and players in Division
II?

Urbana is
our choice for Division 2 sleeper team. They have all five starters
returning including senior Anthony Marino (16.1 ppg.) and junior Zach
Stillings (14.1 ppg.). Four top bench players also return. Urbana has an
excellent chance of running the table in the Central Buckeye
Conference (Mad River Division). Two games with St. Paris Graham, a
game with Springfield, North College Hill, and Columbus DeSales are
five games which we think stand in the way of Urbana completing an
unbeaten regular season.

Our top five sleepers in Division 2
are Paul Byrd of Roger Bacon, Rian Burrell of Zanesville, Anthony
Marino of Urbana, Jordan Watson of Thurgood Marshall, and Michael Ebert
of Sandusky Perkins.

15. Who has the toughest schedule?

We
felt several Division 2 teams worthy of this award including Akron
SVSM, Cleveland Benedictine, Kettering Alter, Cincinnati Roger Bacon,
Dayton Dunbar, and Dayton Thurgood Marshall.

Though, Akron SVSM
won out with Benedictine finishing a close second. 

SVSM will
play the likes of Garfield Heights, Cleveland Central Catholic,
DeMatha, Hoban, Lakewood St. Edward, Gateway (PA), Glenville, Warren
Harding, Shaker Heights, Mentor, St. Paris Graham, Huntington Prep
(WV), Columbus Northland, Akron Buchtel, Kenmore, Mansfield Senior,
Walsh Jesuit, Cleveland Benedictine, North Canton Hoover, and Canton
McKinley.

Benedictine will play Cleveland JFK, Brush, Lincoln
Park (IL), Walnut Ridge, Mentor, Cleveland Central Catholic, Dowagiac
(MI), North Canton Hoover, Berlin Hiland, Lakewood St. Edward, Cardinal
Mooney, Rhodes, Massillon Washington, Collinwood, University School,
Bedford, Walsh Jesuit, Akron SVSM, and Cleveland St. Ignatius.

16.
Who has the best conference?

The Greater Catholic North
this year has a chance to be the toughest D2 conference in Ohio with
Kettering Alter, Dayton CJ, Bishop Fenwick and Dayton Carroll.

Alter,
CJ, and Fenwick are all in our top 12, while Carroll won’t be a push
over.

The Dayton City League should be pretty good as well with
Dunbar, Thurgood Marshall, and Meadowdale. Also, the Sandusky Bay
Conference with Port Clinton, Sandusky Perkins, and Milan Edison should
give the SBC three quality teams.

17. Who makes the Final
Four?

This is our preseason picks, so don’t shoot the
messenger just yet. We will have our midseason report coming out later
in season, which will give a total overview of the season thus far
along with our midseason Final Four picks along with our state
championship predictions.

Zanesville, Cincinnati Roger Bacon,
Akron SVSM, and Toledo Rogers

Division III:

18.
Will the East District finally break through and win a Division
III
state championship?

Sugarcreek Garaway has been close on
two occasions. In 2003, the Pirates finished runner-up to a very good
Reading team and then in ’08 they were runner-up once again and this
time to powerful Ottawa-Glandorf.

Garaway is the East
District’s best chance once again with all five starters returning
along with a nice collection of veterans and youth coming off the
bench. The Pirates lost by just a single point to Chesapeake in the
regional semis last season, so a trip to Columbus is not a stretch.

After
Garaway, perhaps St. Clairsville and Barnesville would be its next
best options.

19. Who will be the Division III
impact freshman of the year?

We have a few names, but trust
us, there will be several kids arise which we have not heard of to this
point. It happens every year in the small schools.

Antonio
Woods of Cincinnati Summit Country Day is a name that could surface by
season’s end.

20. Who will the Division III
Player of the Year?

The first name that comes to mind for us
is Adolphus Washington of Cincinnati Taft. He is the most dominant
player in D3 and he was last year as well.  Though, Ready fans may argue
that Joe Graessle was the most dominant player.

Steve
Bridgeman of Bloom-Carroll and Anton Grady of Cleveland Central
Catholic are the next names that come to mind. Bridgeman transferred to
B-C from Lancaster.

Blake Justice of Peebles, Nathan Copley of
Chesapeake, Evan Legg of Piketon, Andy Stegman of Wheelersburg, Paul
Honigford of Garaway, Danny Monteroso of St. Clairsville, Zach Wasson of
Orrville, Marcquise Taylor of Columbus Africentric, Cody Dillon of
Newton Falls are some of the front runners to win the award.


21. Who will be the sleeper teams and players in Division
III?

Portsmouth
has a chance to be the sleeper of the year. To most in Southeast Ohio
the Trojans may not be a sleeper, but to the rest of the state they
certainly will be. Portsmouth seems to have talent on a yearly basis,
but the wins don’t equal the talent. This year could be different with
Tre’ Underwood, Wayne Evans, and Dion McKinley along with Andrew
Bendolph returning from Wheelersburg.

Cincinnati Mariemont,
Dayton Christian, Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Clark Montessori,
Heath, and Columbus Africentric are other sleepers to keep an eye on.

Jalen
Billups of Cincinnati Shroder could be the biggest sleeper in Division
3. He isn’t a sleeper on the AAU circuit, but Shroder isn’t exactly a
state power so outside of the Queen City the 6-foot-6 senior doesn’t
get much publicity. Billups is an old school post with man strength.

22.
Who has the toughest schedule?

Cincinnati Taft, Cleveland
Central, Ottawa-Glandorf, Cleveland VASJ, Lima CC, Hamilton Badin, and
Orrville all have legit schedules, but Taft and CCC take it to another
level. 

Cleveland Central Catholic will play Bedford Chanel
(x2), VASJ (x2), Akron SVSM, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Hoban, Benedictine,
Garfield Heights, and Lutheran East.

Taft will play Cincinnati
Aiken (x2), Cincinnati Woodward (x2), Cincinnati Shroder (x2),
Cincinnati Withrow (x2), and Cincinnati Western Hills (x2). All of these
teams are D1 with the exception of D3 Shroder.

23. Who has
the best conference?

This is hard to say, because there
aren’t many all Division 3 conferences.

24. Who makes the
Final Four?

This is our preseason picks, so don’t shoot the
messenger just yet. We will have our midseason report coming out later
in season, which will give a total overview of the season thus far along
with our midseason Final Four picks along with our state championship
predictions.

Cincinnati Taft, Bloom-Carroll, Sugarcreek
Garaway, and Cleveland Central Catholic

Division IV:

25.
Can the East District win its first D-
IV state
championship since 1992?

The Berlin Hiland Hawks capture the
1992 state championship in dramatic fashion led by Junior Raber and
the late Perry Reese as head coach. The Hawks have returned to the
state tournament several times since that year, but have never hoisted
the gold trophy since ’92.

Could this be the year? The Hawks
have a terrific team led by juniors Dylan Kaufman and transfer Seger
Bonifant along with senior Noah Boyd.

Zanesville Rosecrans
should be a top 5 team as well and Malvern will be good as well. This
is the best chance for the East District in a long time.

26.
Who will be the Division
IV impact freshman of the year?

Honestly,
at this point, we have no clue for Division 4.

27.
Who will the Division
IV Player of the Year?

Here
is our list of candidates: Dylan Kaufman (Berlin Hiland), Seger
Bonifant (Berlin Hiland), Mason Roth (McComb), Luke Kohls (Columbus
Grove), Dontonio Wingfield Jr. (Lockland), Juan Gay (Jefferson), Joby
Jackson (Jefferson), Shakir Dunning (Harvest Prep), Grant Harris
(Harvest Prep), Jake Phillis (Rosecrans), Travis Tucci (Malvern), Marcus
Reineke (New Knoxville), Konnor Baker of Ada, Blake Blevins of
Manchester, and Devonta Brooks (Bedford Chanel).

28. Who will
be the sleeper teams and players in Division
IV?

We
have four sleeper teams we want to mention in Springfield Central
Catholic, South Webster, Newark Catholic, and Toledo Maumee Valley
Country Day. 

For our sleeper player, look for sophomore Wade
Gelhaus to have a breakout year for Fort Recovery. He could fall into
the mold of former Indian, Greg Kahlig.

29. Who has the
toughest schedule?

Dayton Jefferson takes the cake for this
award. The Broncos will play Dayton Dunbar, Dayton Thurgood Marshall,
Dayton Meadowdale, Huntington Prep (WV), Trotwood Madison, and Harvest
Prep. This is brutal for a D4 squad.

30. Who has the best
conference?

Once again, this is hard to say considering there
aren’t many all Division 4 conferences. The Midwest Athletic
Conference would be our best bet with Delphos St. John’s, Marion Local,
New Knoxville, Minster, Fort Recovery, and New Bremen.

31.
Who makes the Final Four?

This is our preseason picks, so
don’t shoot the messenger just yet. We will have our midseason report
coming out later in season, which will give a total overview of the
season thus far along with our midseason Final Four picks along with
our state championship predictions.

Harvest Prep, Dayton
Jefferson, McComb, and Bedford Chanel

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