This past Sunday we made a trip over to Lima to check out Team Lima’s
Pre-National Round Robin event, which featured six of the top 14U teams
in Ohio along with Kentucky’s top ranked 14U squad and the Ohio Stars
15U. What we saw…
This past Sunday we made a trip over to Lima to check out Team Lima’s Pre-National Round Robin event, which featured six of the top 14U teams in Ohio along with Kentucky’s top ranked 14U squad and the Ohio Stars 15U.
Along with the host Team Lima were the Dayton Heat, All-Ohio Elite, VCC Warriors, King James Shooting Stars, Cincinnati Lakers, Kentucky Hoop Dreams, and the Ohio Stars, who were a late addition with the Indy Hoosiers dropping out.
Each team played everyone once in a 20-minute, running clock contest.
Though, there was no actual championship game, Team Lima did come away with the best overall record. The hosts were dominant much of the day thanks to solid execution on the offensive end with well run sets and terrific team defense using man-to-man and a1-2-2 zone.
Team Lima’s separation from the rest of the pack can be attributed to its solid coaching under Quincy Simpson and an overall high IQ for the game. Not to say other teams aren’t coached well, but Simpson’s bunch is a well-oiled machine. Most of Team Lima’s players have a very good understanding of team defense, which allows them to create plenty of turnovers and force the opponent to really work on offense. Simpson is persistent about drilling the team concept into his player’s heads.
Team Lima owned solid wins over the King James Shooting Stars, Kentucky Hoop Dreams, Dayton Heat, and the Cincinnati Lakers in the contests we were able to witness. In a highly anticipated match up with the Lakers, the Lima-based squad held serve in its city with a 23-9 throttling of one of the state’s best teams.
The team runs off the point guard skills of Xavier Simpson. The 5-7 guard is one of the best floor generals in the country. Simpson has a remarkable understanding of where the basketball needs to go at all times. He has all the makings of a true point guard. Simpson can score with his patent floater, but prefers to set up others in scoring position. Simpson will attend Lima Central Catholic along with Team Lima teammate Tre Cobbs.
Cobbs is an electric 5-8 combo guard. Cobbs has a tight handle with the ability to get to the basket with ease. We saw him get to the cup, score, and distribute.
Jalen Thomas is another bright, young player for Team Lima. Thomas is a 6-1 wing, who will attend Lima Shawnee High School. Thomas has one of the better shooting strokes we have seen in this class. He was able to knock shots down off the catch-and-shoot and pull-up style. This is a kid capable of scoring a lot of points at Shawnee.
One of our favorite players in this class has to be Rico Stafford (6’4/F). This is a kid playing organized basketball for just his second year. The junior high Stafford attended didn’t have basketball. We were able to see him in the spring of 2011 and he certainly caught our eye, yet raw. Stafford has improved miles since last spring. He runs the floor as hard as anybody we’ve seen allowing him to get several easy buckets. Stafford always seems to be around the basketball. He can be best described as a high effort player. Stafford made the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist team at the prestigious Fab Frosh Camp in Atlanta for his outstanding effort. He will be attending Lima Senior along with Ruben Flowers (6’3/WF).
Flowers wasn’t real loud in the four games we saw him, but he ran the floor well and even showed us a coast-to-coast finish at the cup. Flowers has the ability to play above the rim, but we only saw that in warmups on Sunday. We are hoping to see more in the future of Flowers.
Team Lima also has a solid bench featuring Demontay Liles (5’6/G), Nathan Craft (6’4/F), Zach Goecke (5’10/G) and Trey Smith (6’1/WF). Craft is a cousin to Aaron Craft and will attend Findlay Liberty-Benton High School. Goecke will play at Spencerville. Smith will school at Delphos Jefferson.
Another team that enjoyed a solid day was the Dayton Heat behind one of the state and country’s best prospects in Derrick Daniels (6’7/F). Daniels put on a show in a 21-18 victory over All-Ohio Elite. Daniels climbed the ladder for a two-hand lob dunk from teammate DJ Hoskins Jr. sending the crowd into a frenzy. Daniels followed with a right baseline 16-footer and eventually knocked down the the game-winner with a step-back triple from the left corner as time expired. It was great to see Daniels knock down jumpers as we haven’t really seen much of that until Sunday. We also witnessed him run the weave at the top of the key with two guards. He was able to put the ball on the deck from the top of the key, go left, and get to the basket against a worthy opponent in Kameron Moore. We were able to see Daniels three times on Sunday and he was extremely aggressive in each game. When Daniels plays this way he is very hard to handle for any kid his age. He was without a doubt the most dominant player we saw at the event. The long and athletic Daniels will attend Dayton Thurgood Marshall.
Point guard Hoskins Jr. had his moments before going down with an ankle injury. He is the son of Thurgood Marshall head coach Darnell Hoskins and loves the float game.
When Hoskins went down with injury, it opened the door for reserve guard Jordan Pumroy (5’9/PG) to showcase his skills. Pumroy made play-after-play in a big win over the King James Shooting Stars. He has a very high IQ for the game, and knows how to play the angles in traffic. One of the better highlights of the day came on a two-on-one situation where Pumroy drew the defender and purposely missed the lay up angling the ball off the glass to a breaking Daniels for a two-handed dunk shot. Pumroy will attend Dayton Fairborn.
We really liked the play of Corde Kyles, a rugged guard. Kyles is a tough kid that makes winning plays. He has a strong body for a rising frosh, which allows him to overpower his classmates. Kyles has a very good motor. Though, the lefty doesn’t score a lot, Kyles makes the right play more often than not. He will likely start at defensive back for Kettering Fairmont High School as a freshman.
Josh Smith (6’1/G) is another intriguing player for the Heat. He appears somewhat raw, but he did do some nice things and knocked down a couple perimeter shots.
All-Ohio Elite didn’t have its best day, but still managed to win four of its games. Star guard Jarron Cumberland (6’2) didn’t have his best day either, but did tie the game up in the closing seconds in a narrow loss to the Dayton Heat. Cumberland dialed up a deep three-ball from the right wing after missing all previous attempts and hit nothing but twine.
Cumberland has a chance to be an elite scorer during his four years at Wilmington High School. Behind VJ King, Cumberland is probably the best “basketball player” in Ohio’s 2016 class.
All-Ohio Elite also features 6’5 post Kameron Moore from Middletown and talented guards Carlik Jones (Cincinnati Shroder), Kobe Brown (Mt. Healthy), JuJuan Linzy, and 2015 prospect Caleb Tregre (Cincinnati Christian).
The aforementioned Cincinnati Lakers really struggled on Sunday, but guards Rodrick Caldwell (5’10) and Ashon Riggins (5’11) had some bright spots. Caldwell and Riggins are both in the conversation for top point guard in this class, however, Riggins (a lefty) appears to be more of a combo. Caldwell will attend Dayton Stivers and Riggins will be at Hamilton High School.
The title of the most talented team in Ohio goes to the King James Shooting Stars, but the talent didn’t translate into wins this past weekend. King James is still trying to find its team chemistry since the recent addition of Willie Jackson (6’4/WF), Trevell Beck (6’5/WF), and Keith Griffin (5’10/PG). Though, Beck wasn’t in attendance on Sunday.
Jackson struggled in the early going to make shots in the four games we watched the elite 2016 prospect. He finally found his mark in a loss to the Dayton Heat knocking down three-straight three-pointers. Jackson started with a right wing trey, followed by a left wing bomb, and finished the run with back on the right side. He is the most explosive player in this class with his ability to finish above the rim with cruel intentions. Jackson caught an off the board pass from teammate Anthony Christian and flushed it down with two hands. He is a very intriguing prospect because he is still raw at this point, but good enough to make plenty of “wow” plays at this point.
Christian (6’2/Wing) was the most consistent of the King James Shooting Stars players. Christian flat out makes plays. The lefty can get to the bucket whenever he wants. He lacks a perimeter game at this point, but Christian knows how to get buckets. The lefty dropped a pretty floater in the closing seconds to give King James a 24-22 win over the VCC Warriors. In addition, he is an excellent offensive rebounder. Christian will attend Akron SVSM. Currently, he has a lot of similarities to 2012 SVSM guard DJ Blanks.
Derek Funderburk (6’7/C), outside of VJ King, is perhaps the best long-term prospect in this class. Funderburk has a very high ceiling and isn’t a bad player right now. He was able to score some in the paint this past weekend, and has a very nice stroke at the foul-line. One thing hurting Funderburk’s ability to finish more, at this point, is the extra dribble he tends to take on offensive rebounds and post entries. However, the sky is the limit for this kid, and we look forward to watching him progress. He will get better without question playing at Lakewood St. Edward under Eric Flannery.
Griffin didn’t have a great day shooting the basketball, but from what we have seen, he can be very streaky. He can miss 10-straight, but then drop the next five. At times, his shot selection isn’t the best, and a high volume shooter at the point guard position needs to be in the right system. Griffin will attend Shaker Height High School following in the footsteps of 2012 star Terry Rozier.
Henry Baddley (6’3/WF) is another intriguing prospect for the talented Shooting Stars. Baddley’s skill set needs to catch up to his athleticism, but his length and athleticism allows him to make plays and get easy buckets at the present time.
The VCC Warriors, mainly a Columbus-based team, didn’t win either of the two games we watched. Though, the Warriors have a handful of talented kids led by Seth Towns (6’4/WF). The future Columbus Northland Viking showed us glimpses of his elite talent, but Towns just wet our appetite. Towns is silky smooth and highly skilled, but needs to stay engaged in the game. This is a kid oozing with ability and once he gets a year under his belt with Sean Taylor at Northland, look out.
Matt Moyer (6’2/Wing) of Columbus, Tyus Ferguson (5’8/PG) of Groveport, Tyrik Carter (5’9/G) of Groveport, Dantez Walton (6’1/Wing) of Lima, and Jordan Kinchen (5’10/G) of Columbus are all kids to keep an eye from the VCC Warriors. Moyer and Ferguson are two we will be watching very closely. We really like the upside of Moyer, who is just scratching the surface of his potential.
The lone 15U squad, the Ohio Stars, are a nice group of Northwest Ohio kids featuring two good looking prospects in Ryan Mikesell (6’3/Wing) of St. Henry and Luke Knapke (6’9/C) of Marion Local. This is the second time we’ve seen Mikesell, and we continue to like the future on the hardwood for this youngster. Mikesell was aggressively attacking the basket on Sunday going to the cradle carry to get through traffic allowing him to get buckets. We haven’t seen him take an outside shot yet, so we are still waiting on that aspect of his game.
Knapke does a lot of fundamental things well, which was pleasant to see. He showed good hands and the ability to score in the paint. When he gets a little bit stronger, Knapke is going to be a handful for opponents in the Midwest Athletic Conference.