Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase: Best Ever? Yep. Who impressed? Who…

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6-9 sophomore Carlton Bragg of Cleveland VASJ

We have been to several Buckeye Prep events over the years and all have been good, but all failed to compare with this past weekend’s Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase. A plethora of the top players in the Midwest and several nationally
ranked players took part in the event, which brought out all of the top
scouts and media types in the region.


We have been to several Buckeye Prep events over the years and all have been good, but all failed to compare with this past weekend’s Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase.

Buckeye Prep director, Rob Taylor, delivered in a big way with over 350 kids participating in the two-day extravaganza at Grove City Central Crossing High School.  A plethora of the top players in the Midwest and several nationally ranked players took part in the event, which brought out all of the top scouts and media types in the region.

Saturday was a special day featuring five elite contests before an evening session of skills and drills. The five games on Saturday included four Ohio North vs. South contests in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades and concluded with a much-hyped 9th grade Ohio vs. Michigan match up.

Sunday was a daylong event as 37 teams filled five courts at Central Crossing High School. The contests were split into four separate divisions consisting of 10 teams in the 10th-12th-grade division, 10 in the 9th, eight in the 8th, and nine in the 6th/7th.

The action was controlled chaos on Sunday from 9:15 a.m. to nearly 5 p.m. Following team play was four all-star games, which concluded around 7:30 p.m. The all-star games consisted of 20 kids in each group split into two teams. Needless to say, the kids were pretty exhausted by the conclusion.

The North/South games started Saturday with a match up of top 7th graders. We won’t say too much about these young guns, but we do want to mention a few of the top performers from the contest.

The South squad earned the victory by a 51-42 count. Dayton’s Deshon Parker (5’6/PG) earned MVP honors with 11 points. Middletown’s Ernest “EJ” Williams (6’6/C) was a beast in the paint scoring eight points, grabbing several rebounds, and swatting away numerous shots. Gahanna’s Seth Goodson (5’8/Combo) and Hamilton’s Cory Davis (6’0/WF) were other kids who stood out.

Cleveland’s Jerry Higgins (5’5/PG) led the North in defeat with 10 points and Bedford’s Coryon Rice (5’8/SG) added nine. Brookpark’s Dwayne Cohill Jr. (5’10/WF) tallied seven.  Other top performers for the North were Sincere Carry (5’6/PG) of Solon, Cooper Crawford (5’10/Wing) of Avon Lake, and Isaiah Speelman (6’2/PF) of Hilliard.

The 8th grade encounter was won by the South, 47-43. The South was very balanced as six of the 10 players scored between four and eight points and each team member scored. Sheridan’s Dylan Dupler (6’2/SG) led the way with eight points. The lefty was one of the best shooters of the weekend.  Other standouts were Kings’ Matt Sichterman (6’3/PF), Kings’ Tyler Knecht (6’3/PF), Hilliard’s Trey Pugh (6’2/PF), and Whitehall’s Garcia Dixon (5’10/SG).

The North was led by Cleveland’s Jaylen Harris (6’4/PF) with nine points and Massillon Jackson’s Logan Hill (6’4/PF) and South Euclid’s Kelvin Calhoun II (6’4/C) with eight apiece. Middleburg’s Tommy Schmock (5’7/PG), Mansfield’s Tyrell Ajian (5’10/Combo) and Barberton’s John Williams (5’6/PG) were other top performers.

The freshmen game, featuring Ohio’s deepest class in years, was won by a loaded North squad, 67-59. North jumped out to a huge lead by halftime (40-16) and held a 52-31 advantage after three quarters. South came alive in the final frame with a furious rally, which fell short, 67-59.

Akron Hoban’s Anthony Christian (6’2/Wing) paced the winners with 10 points. North Royalton’s Omari Spellman (6’6/PF) added nine and Cleveland Central Catholic’s Trevell Beck (6’5/WF) netted eight.

Cleveland CC’s Tyler Bybee (6’3/WF) and Lima Central Catholic’s Trey Cobbs (5’10/PG) both chipped in seven points and Shaker Heights’ Keith Griffin (5’9/PG) and Lima CC’s Xavier Simpson (5’9/PG) each scored six.

The South got 10 points from Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Hunter Lampley (6’0/SG) and Columbus Northland’s Seth Towns (6’6/WF). Gahanna Lincoln’s Nick Ward (6’4/C), Columbus Marion-Franklin’s James Manns II (6’5/WF), and Dayton Stivers’ Rodrick Caldwell (5’11/PG) all tallied eight. Gahanna Lincoln’s Matt Moyer (6’3/WF) notched six.

Lampley and Towns earned MVP honors.

The closest contest on Saturday matched the North/South All-Stars in the 10th grade. South held on for a slim 49-48 triumph behind strong play from Cincinnati Summit Country Day’s MaCio Teague (6’2/SG) and Huber Heights Wayne’s D’Mitrik Trice (5’10/PG). Teague paced the South with 11 points including three bonus goals and Trice added 10.

Cincinnati Northwest’s Isaiah Jones (5’10/PG) totaled eight points, New Albany’s Chris London and Wayne’s Xeyrius Williams each netted six. Cincinnati Moeller’s Nate Fowler (6’9/C) chipped in with five.

Shaker Heights’ Esa Ahmed (6’6/PF) led the North with 11 counters. Barberton point guard Josh Williams (6’2/PG) notched nine, Lakewood St. Edward’s Kipper Nichols (6’5/WF) scored eight, and Cleveland VASJ Carlton Bragg (6’9/PF) totaled seven.

Dayton Dunbar’s AJ Harris, Bowling Green’s LaMonte Stone II, Franklin’s Luke Kennard, and Newark’s Jordan Dartis were all absent due to prior commitments.

The finale on Saturday never lived up to the hype as the Ohio squad dominated Michigan, 60-35. The Buckeye state was too deep, too talented, and too big for the state commonly referred to as the state up north.

Trevell Beck paced the Buckeyes with 10 points. Manns, Christian, and Towns all added nine. Caldwell finished with eight and Spellman was good for six.

The Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase NBC4 All-Skill Team included Keith Griffin, Zeb Jackson, DJ Tyree, Carlton Bragg, Seth Towns, Zach Watson, Seve Stavroff, Kipper Nichols, Jalon Lewis, and Xavier Simpson.

Best handle was awarded to Griffin, most athletic to Michigan’s Josh Jackson, and best attitude to Marcus Stewart.

Sunday’s Top Performers:

Carlton Bragg (6’9/PF)- 2015/Cleveland Central Catholic:
Bragg is quickly becoming the top guy in Ohio’s Class of 2015. He is a ferocious defender with the ability to recover quickly from block-to-block. We witnessed Bragg make several plays on the defensive end outside of his area. Bragg possesses great length, athleticism, and ability to run the floor like a thoroughbred. We really liked his motor as he rarely gave up on a play on either end of the floor and always seemed to be involved in the play. Offensively, Bragg is better than most believe. He has soft touch around the basket with a teardrop right-handed baby hook. Bragg has a smooth stroke from 15-19 feet, which he knocked down with consistency.  He did struggle a little bit finishing through traffic at the rim and it would have been nice to see him dunk the ball more instead of slapping the board. With more strength, Bragg will finish in the paint with more consistency because it isn’t a soft issue. The ceiling is very high for Bragg. If he continues to improve, Bragg will have a chance to be a Top 50 nationally type kid.

Javon Bess (6’4/WF)- 2014/Gahanna Lincoln:
It’s great to watch the continued improvement from Bess. It’s really hard to classify him to a position at this point. He is very versatile and can play the 1-4 at the high school level. He isn’t great at any one position, but he has value at all four. Bess was a monster on Sunday. He was as aggressive as we’ve ever seen him at attacking the rim.  He was very good on the offensive boards using aggression and strength to rip away several strays. At times, Bess wanted to settle for perimeter shots and made a couple, but he was at his best attacking. He has a terrific frame with broad shoulders and a good base, which makes him a very good and physical defender. He doesn’t have great lift, but it has improved immensely over the last year.  Look for Bess to be a huge part of what should be a very good Gahanna squad.

Ryan Mikesell (6’4/WF)- 2015/St. Henry:
Mikesell was at his best on Sunday on the offensive end. We have seen the St. Henry sophomore several times and he has always been good, but this was by far the best we’ve seen of him. He is long and athletic on the offensive end. Some kids just know how to get buckets or be involved in the play, and Mikesell is one of those. He has a great feel for the offensive end and is best when using his midrange game or attacking the basket, but we even saw him knock down a 22-footer. This was a pleasant surprise. If he starts adding the perimeter game to his arsenal, Mikesell will be an even harder guard on the high school level. Mikesell needs to improve his lateral quickness on the defensive end if he wants to be able to guard either guard spot, but right now he is more than capable of defending the three.  This is a kid, which gave up football, so look for continued improvement from this youngster. Mikesell has improved from April-to-July-to-September, which is great to see.

MaCio Teague (6’2/Wing)- 2015/Cincinnati Summit Country Day:
Teague could make an argument for best overall performance at the camp. He is an assassin on the perimeter. Teague knocked down shots all weekend with or without a hand in his face. He has range up to 22-feet, which sets up his ability to attack the basket. If Teague gets his feet set, book it. Teague is a relentless offensive player as he attacked the basket with bad intentions. He was easily the best scorer at the camp and will likely be the best scorer in his class. His offensive package is advanced for a kid yet to play his sophomore year of high school.  We would like to see some more effort on defense, but his talent alone allows him to make plays. Teague played his freshman year at IMG Academy in Florida.

Rosel Hurley (6’4/Wing)- 2014/Shaker Heights
Hurley is a kid oozing with potential. Look for the Shaker Heights’ junior to have a breakout season. We were able to watch Hurley put on an offensive showcase. He scored on all three levels and finished above the rim on more than one occasion. Hurley had the jumper working in the game we watched on Sunday. He used a couple step back moves to knock down perimeter shots over the outstretched arm of 6-9 Carlton Bragg, which was very impressive. Hurley is a kid with Top 5 in Ohio type talent, but he needs to become more consistent and stay focused. With Terry Rozier moving on to Hargrave Military Academy, there will be plenty of points to make up. Hurley is capable of being one of the main fillers with his versatility on offense. His length and athleticism also make him a very good defender.

Top Performers by Class:

2013:
CJ Bussy (6’1)- Toledo Central Catholic
Miroslav Jaksic (6’11)- Walled Lake Western (MI)

2014:
Nate Sheppard (6’3)- Dayton Jefferson
Martin Jones (6’2)- Winton Woods
Chavez Harper (6’4)- Euclid
Chelvonte Montgomery (6’2)- Cleveland Central Catholic
Malcolm Walters III (6’2)- Lakewood St. Edward

2015:
Josh Williams (6’2)- Barberton
Brian Parker (6’2)- Cleveland VASJ
Kipper Nichols (6’5)- Lakewood St. Edward
Esa Ahmed (6’6)- Shaker Heights
David Dunnigan (6’7)- Midpark
Antwon Lillard (6’5)- Cleveland Central Catholic
Luke Fisher (6’8)- Archbold
D’Mitrik Trice (5’10)- Huber Heights Wayne
Chris London (6’3)- New Albany
JaQuan Harrison (6’3)- Columbus Africentric
Xavier Cochran (6’4)- Huron (MI)
Isaiah Farley (6’4)- Huber Heights Wayne
Seth McCoy (6’2)- Canal Winchester
Austin Adams (6’3)- Oregon Cardinal Stritch
Isaiah Jones (5’10)- Cincinnati Northwest
Demarco Cannon (6’0)- Springfield

2016:
Xavier Simpson (5’9)- Lima Central Catholic
Trevell Beck (6’5)- Cleveland Central Catholic
Algevon Eichelberger (6’5)- Saginaw (MI)
Dantez Walton (6’0)- Lima Central Catholic
Rodrick Caldwell (5’11)- Dayton Stivers
James Manns (6’5)- Columbus Marion-Franklin
Keith Griffin (5’9)- Shaker Heights
Tyler Bybee (6’3)- Cleveland Central Catholic
Derrick Daniels (6’7)- Dayton Thurgood Marshall
Cassius Winston (5’10)- Detroit Mercy (MI)
Josh Jackson (6’6)- Detroit Consortium (MI)
Ryan Custenborder (6’3)- West Carrollton
DJ Tyree (5’10)- Pickerington Central
Derek Funderburk (6’8)- Lakewood St. Edward
Marlo Brown (6’4)- Southfield Christian (MI)
Cedric Lattimore (6’5)- Crockett (MI)

Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase All-Stars:

10-12th:
MaCio Teague, Ryan Mikesell, Kipper Nichols, David Dunnigan, Isaiah Jones, Seth McCoy, Chavez Harper, Brian Parker, Marc Loving (DNP), John Dobbertin, Robert Caldwell, Javon Bess, Carlton Bragg, Luke Fisher, Dahmere Epperson, Esa Ahmed, Isaiah Farley, Antwon Lillard, Rosel Hurley, Jaylin McDonald, and Miroslav Jaksic.

9th:
Seth Towns, Darwin Hubbard, Josh Jackson, James Manns, Jalani Rogers, Derrick Daniels, Jarron Cumberland, Trey Cobbs, Marlo Brown, Trevell Beck, Xavier Simpson, Anthony Christian, DJ Tyree, Cassius Winston, Arguster Daniels IV, Deven Stover, Keith Griffin, Cedric Lattimore, Omari Spellman, Nick Brown, Derek Funderburk, and Algevon Eichelberger.

8th:
Jaylen Harris, Matt Sichterman, Tyrell Ajian, Derek Koch, Tyler Knecht, Trey Pugh, Marcus Barton, Dylan Dupler, Jacqual Freeman-Parks, Antwon Smith, Alec Holtry, Tommy Schmock, Malcolm Moffett, John Williams, Dakota Pritchard, Kelvin Calhoun II, Riley Voss, Logan Hill, Garcia Dixon, and Braden Van Cleave.

6th-7th:
Jordan Simmons, Jaiden Lipscomb, Cory Davis, Sincere Carry, Malik Onyeali, Dwayne Cohill Jr, Derrick Veasley, Jerry Higgins, Juan Elmore, Coryon Rice, Seth Goodson, Antwuan Johnson, Jeremiah Francis, Isaiah Speelman, Jordan Coovert, Daquan Hilory, Kane Cooper, Ernest “EJ” Williams, Jordan Mitchell, and Xavier Castaneda.

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