2012-13 Boys Basketball Preview: Ohio’s Top Incoming Freshmen

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Trevell Beck (6’5/WF) of Cleveland Central Catholic

The boy’s basketball season is just three weeks away with practice starting Nov. 2. Familiar faces will be taking the
hardwood, but so will some new ones. This year’s freshmen may be the best Ohio has seen in some time…


The 2012-2013 high school boy’s basketball season is just three weeks out from tipping off with official practice starting on November 2nd. This means some of the veteran, familiar faces will be taking the hardwood, but it also marks the beginning of a new era.

Each year, a new crop of freshmen enter the halls of the over 800 high schools in the state of Ohio, and it’s always exciting and fresh to get familiar with some of the newbies.

This year’s frosh may be the best the Buckeye state has seen in some time with as many as eight kids ranked in DunkDog.com’s Class of 2016- Top 100. The class is filled with size, athleticism, upside, length, and depth, and this isn’t just hype or Ohio bias. Some of the names we will be discussing have drawn attention from media and scouting services across the country.

This certainly isn’t a final list. There are numerous kids we have yet to witness; so new names are likely to emerge over the next year. Remember, being in the right situation is always helpful when speaking of freshmen seeing playing time. However, this is a good place to start…

Ohio’s Top Incoming Freshman

*VJ King of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School headlines the Class of 2016. The 6-foot-6 inch wing prospect is a consensus Top 5 player nationally. King played his 7th and 8th grade seasons at United Faith Christian in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has played with (Braxton Ogbueze- Florida) and against some of the top players in the country, including crunch time minutes against Oak Hill Academy (VA) as a 7th grader.

King’s father, Vincent King Sr., moved the family back to his home state after landing a job in Akron. King already owns offers from Ohio State and Wisconsin among others.

King has the all the attributes of a big time wing. He understands the game at a high level, and he is very fluid. The game looks easy to him at times. King has a terrific frame with good length. His mid-range game off the dribble sets him apart at this point. The youngster is also stands out in the classroom.

*Trevell Beck is another name to know. Beck will be attending Cleveland Central Catholic High School as part of a loaded freshmen group for the Ironmen. However, Beck is the headliner of a bunch featuring point guard Brandon Peters and wing Tyler Bybee.

Beck, at 6’5, is a tremendous athlete with an improving motor. When Beck comes to play, very few kids are better. He has tremendous upside with the ability to play inside/out. High majors are already showing interest in this Top 50 prospect.

*Derek Funderburk
is a kid that may not see much varsity time, but his potential is unmatched. Already standing nearly 6-foot-8 inches tall, Funderburk oozes with long-term potential on the hardwood. He isn’t a finished project yet and he has a chance to grow more, which is also good. He has decent ball skills already and can knock down some shots, but with a year in the Lakewood St. Edward system look for vast improvement of his overall game. Funderburk is yet another Top 100 National prospect with high major upside.

*Omari Spellman was an unfamiliar name to most until his sudden emergence at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase. Spellman moved to North Royalton from New York, and has brought some of the state’s toughness with him. The 6-foot-6 forward comes to the Buckeye state with high major ability.  Spellman is very active on both ends of the floor, shows soft touch with great hands and range from 15-feet in. He wears a size 18 shoe, which is a good sign he isn’t done growing. With a couple more inches of growth, Spellman has a chance to be a dominant force in Ohio high school basketball. Spellman will be a new addition to the latest Top 100 rankings.

*Seth Towns
(6’6/WF) is another talented prospect to enter the halls of Columbus Northland High School. Towns is a skilled wing forward with improving overall toughness. He has a silky mid-range game and is a match up problem due to his size.  Towns showed the ability to be a tough defender when he faced one of the nation’s best prospects in Josh Jackson at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase. The Northland frosh didn’t back down from the talented Jackson, and frustrated him most of the contest. Look for Towns to continue to rise up the charts, and solidify his spot in the Top 100 national boards.

*Derrick Daniels
(6’7/WF/PF) may be the best vertical athlete in his class (Ohio). Daniels has a chance to be a starter at Dayton Thurgood Marshall as a rookie on what may be the best team in the state regardless of division. Daniels has greatly improved his range and ball skills over the past year, which makes him a hard guard at 6-foot-7. He has great length and the ability to make plays above the rim with his elite bounce. Daniels can consistently knock down 15-footers and even shows the aptitude to make shots behind the arc. Daniels is a tremendous talent, but at times isn’t engaged in the contest.  Look for this to change with more basketball maturity and a year spent with Coach (Darnell) Hoskins at Thurgood Marshall. Regardless, Daniels is a Top 100 prospect.

*Willie Jackson
(6’3/Wing) may be the best pure athlete in the state. Jackson dazzled the onlookers at the Fab Frosh Camp in Atlanta, Georgia this past summer with his highlight reel dunks. He is able to make a lot of plays at this stage in the game due to his superior athleticism, but his perimeter game is improving. Jackson, who attends Garfield Heights HS, has been working hard on his perimeter stroke, which at times as caused him to settle. The shot technique looks good, perhaps with some more lift, but getting it to fall more consistently is the next step. When this part of his game evolves, Jackson will be a match up nightmare. He is also considered a Top 100 performer.

*James Manns (6’5/WF) is a kid creeping onto the national scene. Manns performed very well at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase in front of several scouts and media types. The Marion-Franklin freshman is a lefty with athleticism, ball skills, and a nice touch around the perimeter.  Manns has a chance to be one of the best scorers in his class. Look for him to get plenty of minutes for the Red Devils. Manns will likely crack the new Top 100 rankings coming out in the next couple weeks.

Ohio likely won’t have any guards, with the exception of Willie Jackson, ranked in the Top 100, but here are seven names just on the other side of the border.

*Jarron Cumberland (6’2/Wing) is kid a borderline Top 100 prospect. Cumberland attends Wilmington High School where he will likely be a four-year starter. He has a chance to score a boatload of points over the next four years. Cumberland has deep range and a physical presence, but tends to be a streaky player. If he is completely engaged, he has the ability to drop 30 points on anyone in his age group. He needs to work on being more consistent, but Cumberland has a chance to be a dynamic scorer at the high school level.

*Rodrick Caldwell (5’11/PG) will be one of the top lead guards in the state for his class. Caldwell is a good decision maker with the basketball, and shows a solid ability to be under control. Caldwell attends Dayton Stivers and will team up with his brother, Robert Caldwell (2014) in what should be a very good backcourt.

*Keith Griffin (5’9/PG) will have big shoes to fill replacing the graduated Terry Rozier. Griffin is a candidate to start at Shaker Heights, but needs to develop a better shot selection. We love the way Griffin plays with fire and competes on every possession. Griffin challenges the defender by attacking, and is a vocal leader on the court. He is very streaky on the perimeter.

*Anthony Christian (6’2/Wing) knows how to get buckets. Very few kids will play harder than this Akron Hoban frosh. Christian attacks the baskets and finds seams in the defense almost at will. The lefty is very efficient in the paint at finishing drives with a little floater. Christian is a very good athlete with good anticipatory instincts on defense. He tends to get his hands on a lot of passes and corals many 50/50 balls. With his motor, ball skills, and athleticism, Christian has all the makings of a big time college football prospect with the potential to be a solid hoopster as well.

*Xavier Simpson (5’9) and Trey Cobbs (5’10) have a chance to be one of the best backcourt combos in the state over the next four years. We wouldn’t want to mention one without the other. Simpson and Cobbs will both attend Division 3 Lima Central Catholic High School. Simpson is more of a pure point guard. He has an extremely high IQ for the game, and thrives as a set up floor general. Simpson puts the ball where it needs to be in order for his teammates to be successful. He is also an excellent on the ball defender. Cobbs is more of a combo guard. He has plenty of shake to his game with a tight handle. Cobbs shows the ability to get in the lane at ease and be a playmaker. LCC will be in good hands for years to come with these two.

*Ashon Riggins (6’0/PG/Wing) is a kid we haven’t seen too much, but has drawn attention from several basketball aficionados. Riggins is currently playing football, so we will hold off on an evaluation of the Hamilton freshman. Riggins certainly has talent, and we will keep an eye on him.

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