New Blood: Ohio’s 2015 Hoops Class

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Orange’s Kipper Nichols

This past weekend at the All-Ohio Nike Super 16 Showcase we spent a
great deal of time looking at some new blood. It’s always fun to get a
long look at the next group of incoming freshmen and that is just what we did by checking out the Class of
2015.


This past weekend at the All-Ohio Nike Super 16 Showcase we spent a great deal of time looking at some new blood. It’s always fun to get a long look at the next group of incoming freshmen and on Saturday and some of Sunday that is just what we did by checking out the Class of 2015.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen some of these kids, but it’s really our initial look at them at any length. Ohio High School Hoops certainly likes how this class is shaping up considering the best U-14 team wasn’t even at the event, referring to the highly touted and defending national runners-up Cincinnati Knights.

The 2015 group will likely have plenty of bigs and a couple elite guards along with some choice wing players. This bunch has a chance to rival Ohio’s current juniors-to-be (2013), but there is much more for time for growth, maturity, and skill increase. We don’t like to put expectations on kids at such a young age, but we are excited about this class.

All-Ohio Nike Super 16 Showcase U-14 Recap:

Saturday started off with a bang for one Ohio club. The King James Shooting Stars jumped out to a 15-0 lead and eventually 21-5 on one of the top teams in the country, Ferrari out of Chicago. Ferrari won the prestigious Bill Hensley Run-n-Slam just two weeks prior, but King James showed them no Ohio love in the early going.

Ferrari finally shook off the rust and eventually forced overtime, but King James was able to hold in the extra session for a narrow victory. The Chicago-based team wouldn’t lose the rest of the weekend, and go on to win the tournament by defeating Team Berea in the finals.

We really like what we saw out of Kipper Nichols (6’4) of Orange, Ohio near Cleveland. Nichols is long and deceivingly strong with some decent skill. We really liked how he rebounded the ball with authority. He needs to work on staying plugged into the entire game and not just every now-and-then. At any rate, he is easily Top 10 in this class. Nichols said he is considering several high schools in the Cleveland area.

Will Andrews is a solid guard for King James. The lefty from Akron (Firestone) has a little bit of sauce to his handles and some nice gears.  R.J Jones is another rock-solid guard for this team.

Jibri Blount is an intriguing player on this team as well. Blount rebounded the basketball very well and scored pretty well around the basket. He has solid strength for a young kid.

Our next stop was to see Team Berea. This is a very good team which has won some good tournaments thus far. The team has been together for a while and is very well coached.

When talking about Team Berea it all starts with Esa Ahmad (6’5) of Shaker Heights. The kid just knows how to play on the interior. He shows good foot work, uses his body very well, and is crafty at getting shots off against taller and longer defenders. This is a kid we will hear a lot about in the future.

Andrew Francesconi (6’5) of Tallmadge is another interesting prospect on this team. He started the year with All-Ohio Red, but the travel became too much according to his father. Francesconi is a solid presence in the paint with pretty good length. He showed the ability to score around the basket. We didn’t get to see a whole lot from him, so we want to see how well he shoots the basketball.

Twin brothers Andrew and David Dowell are really fun to watch. They both enjoy attacking the basket, which is the strength of their game at this point. In Saturday’s game against Dorian’s Pride (Saginaw, MI), the Dowell brothers had their foot on the gas at all times trying to attack the basket at all costs. They reside in North Ridgeville, but aren’t certain of where they will attend high school.

We also liked what we saw out of Austin Marciniak (Green). This is another kid who knows how to play. He knocked down outside shots, scored off the drive, and defended pretty well. Marciniak plays for the Shooting Stars most weekends, but they were off this past weekend.

Also, keep an eye on 2016 prospect Brandon Peters who sees some time at guard with Team Berea.

Another interesting contest we witnessed was a very talented Spiece Indy Heat squad out of Fort Wayne (IN) featuring K.J. Walton against Team Lima. The game was close for a while, but Spiece’s talent eventually took over. Let it be known, Team Lima was without its two inside players.

Team Lima is led by 2016 point guard Xavier Simpson. This kid is flat tough and knows how to lead a team despite being a year younger.

The assistant coach for Spiece asked what Simpson was ranked at the point guard spot in the 8th grade class. The coach thought definitely Top 5, but was stunned to find out Simpson was only in the 7th.

He is a little undersized at this point, but his strength makes up for it. He has pretty big feet and his dad is over 6-foot, so he has a chance to grow a good bit.

This is a kid who is wise beyond his years. He has a very good basketball IQ with the ability to control the tempo. Simpson spoke with OHSH for about a half an hour after the contest. If we would have been on the phone, he could have easily been mistaken for an adult with the way he was explaining things.

We also like Reco Stafford (6’4/Elida). This kid is a bit raw, but he is long and seems to have a knack for being around the basketball. He knocked down some shots and used his athleticism to score in the paint. Stafford, with some work, has a chance to be a real nice prospect down the road.

Also, keep an eye on Blake Blevins (Ottawa-Glandorf), Elijah Pughsley (Lima), and seventh grader Tre Cobb (Lima).

We got our second look at All-Ohio Red and came away impressed again. All-Ohio director Jerry Watson believes with a couple more pieces this team has a chance to be special.

Lamonta Stone (5’6/Bowling Green), MaCio Teague (6’0/Cin. Princeton), Andre Foster (6’0/Trotwood-Madison), Shawon Wilson (5’10/Africentric) and Trevon Avery (5’10/Grand Blanc, MI) are all solid guards.

Stone is a very savvy lead guard, Teague is a knock down shooter with good length, Foster is a terrific athlete, Wilson makes plays, and Avery has the ability to get into the paint and make things happen.

Michael Simon (6’5/Hilliard) has a chance to be one of the top kids in this class. He has a good frame with solid strength. Simon has the ability to be a knock down shooter from behind the arc. Simon puts us in mind of Medina’s Kenny Kaminski.

Tony Anderson (6’6/Marion Franklin), Kevin Fisher (6’7/Logan), and Jaquan Harrison (6’2/Africentric) are solid up front. Anderson and Fisher have a long ways to go, but the potential is certainly there.

JaeVon McClain (5’5/SVSM), Jalon Tuttle (5’11/Indian Lake), and Jalon Lewis (5’6/Eastmoor) also have nice potential, but are struggling to get minutes with this bunch.

In addition, Watson may have a surprise for this weekend’s tournament in 2016 prospect Vincent “VJ” King (6’5/United Faith Christian, NC). King will be living in Cleveland for the summer and will likely be playing for All-Ohio Red’s U-14 team. King started jayvee for nationally-ranked United Faith Christian as a 7th grader. King’s father is a graduate of Beachwood High School and played college ball at IUPUI.

It was now on to check out a very good TNBA Red team led by Devon Andrews (6’2/Lorain). He was the best player on the floor in his game against EXCEL, and it wasn’t really close. Andrews has a chance to be pretty good.

We also like guards Johnny Peganoff (Avon), Tannor Castora (Strongsville), Brandon Lerch (CYO), Darien Knowles (Amherst), and Sherm Saunders (Lorain).

EXCEL had some quality kids as well starting with undersized point guard Marcus Dempsey (Tri-Valley/2016). Guards Chris Alloco and Gabe Akin (Upper Arlington) along with forwards Michael McGovern and Avery Williams also showed potential.

The final pool play game we were able to watch was Ferrari against All-Ohio Connection (White). All-Ohio gave Ferrari all they could handle, but came up just a bit short.

All-Ohio Connection has a nice combination of length and strength. Once this team’s skill level catches up with its length, this could be a very good team.

Rodney Culver Jr. (6’1/Pickerington) and DeMarco Cannon (6’1/Springfield) both have terrific length and potential to be very nice prospects down the line. Guards Eric Marshall (5’10/Pickerington) and Henry Alexander (5’10/Springfield) will also be heard from in the future.

Andrew Elliot (6’1/Bexley) had a real nice game shooting the basketball leading the team in scoring against Ferrari. Jordan Jones (6’2/Wagner Road MS) provides strength and brings a blue-collar like mentality to the table.

Mitch Gardner (6’1/Bowling Green), Asante Patterson (5’10/Dayton), and Andy Elliot (6’3/Springfield) were absent this past weekend.

Championship Game: Ferrari 40, Team Berea 27

MVP- Anthony Mosley- Ferrari

All-Tournament Team- Dennis Williams (Ferrari), Charles Matthews (Ferrari), Brandon Hutton (Ferrari), Jeoffrey Brown (Ferrari), Andrew Dowell (Team Berea), and Brandon Peters (Team Berea).

Silver Bracket: Spiece Gym Rats 52, TNBA 48

MVP- Alex Hammond (Spiece Gym Rats)

All-Tournament Team- Andrew O’Harh (TNBA) and Wes Gerhardt (TNBA)

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