Columbus, Dayton & Cleveland win State Hoop Titles at Nike City Series Finals


Esa Ahmad of Shaker Heights

The 2012 All-Ohio Nike City Series State Championships came to a close this past Sunday, and with its conclusion, brought an end to the fall showcases/camps and marks the start of the high school season. Columbus, Cleveladn and Dayton brought home titles…

The 2012 All-Ohio Nike City Series State Championships came to a close this past Sunday, and with its conclusion, brought an end to the fall showcases/camps and marks the start of the high school season.

The event was competitive and plenty of talent was on hand, but many of the state’s top players missed the event due to various reasons.  Toledo failed to send teams this year, but a few players from Northwest Ohio did participate and were placed on Columbus’ second team.  A lot of Akron and Canton’s top players were unable to make the event and it failed to field a senior team.  In addition, Dayton didn’t field a 12th grade squad.

At any rate, Columbus continued to its dominance in the senior division by defeating Columbus’ second team in a comeback victory. The nucleus of the squad has been playing together for a long time with Ohio Varsity (AAU). Wendell Davis (Reynoldsburg), Randal Clarkson (Brookhaven), Adrian Cook (Westerville North), Jaylen Benton (Westerville North), Aaron Jackson (Gahanna Lincoln), and Kenny Robinson Jr. (Columbus Africentric) have all played together on several occasions in the spring/summer, which gave them a superior advantage. Add in Boo Osbourne (Centennial), Armani Towns (Columbus Northland), and Kevin Marsh (Dublin Coffman), and Columbus’ top team was dominant.

It would be hard to find a group of kids in the state that play harder led by Davis, Jackson, and Clarkson. Davis, an Ashland commit, is absolutely relentless attacking the basket and scoring in transition.

Deiondray Martin (Columbus Brookhaven), who just recently returned to the state, made an impact all weekend making perimeter shots for Columbus’ second team. The Eastern Michigan commit is a much better shooter since his days at Lima Senior. He seems to have totally transformed his game from a blue-collar scorer to a knock down outside threat.

Omar Diop (Columbus South) also had a solid weekend showing off his athleticism and ability to attack in transition. Ronnie Stokes Jr. (Gahanna Lincoln) and Kris Little (Bishop Hartley) knocked down shots, and Will Hill (Thomas Worthington) was steady at guard.

The juniors held serve for Columbus as well handily defeating Cleveland in the title game after losing to them earlier on Sunday in round robin play. Jae’sean Tate (Pickerington Central), Javon Bess (Gahanna Lincoln), and Donovyn Benson (Mansfield Sr.) were monsters all weekend for the juniors. Manny Powell (Gahanna Lincoln) did a nice job at the point when he was under control and Ty Hairston (Columbus Northland) made some shots and attacked the basket with floaters. Shemar Waugh (Columbus Northland) was solid on defense and running the team, but didn’t play in the championship game along with Hairston and Westerville Central’s Eric James. Ronnie Williams (Brookhaven) and Dymiere Finch (Walnut Ridge) were solid glue guys, who made plays. Robert Jones II (Mansfield Sr.) was very active making tons of plays with his length. Jones struggled at times to finish, but his energy was very good.

Cleveland got outstanding play from Rosel Hurley (Shaker Heights), Daniel Sapp (NDCL), Isaiah Walton (Elyria), and Chelvonte Montgomery (Cleveland CC).  Hurley has great length and athleticism with the ability to finish well above the rim. He is a streaky shooter, who was filling it up at the City Series. When he is engaged in the game, there are few better than Hurley. Sapp made the game-winning shot against Columbus in round robin played and continues to show shot making ability.

Cleveland retained its title in the Class of 2015 with a victory over a surprise Columbus squad. Esa Ahmad (Shaker Heights) was dominant throughout the weekend working from the inside/out.  Devon Andrews (Lorain), Antwan Lillard (Cleveland CC), and Jahmere Howze (Warrensville Heights) were all solid contributors as well.

Jordan Dartis (Newark) led Columbus on the weekend.

The freshmen group, which is far and away Ohio’s strongest in years, was won by a very good Dayton team in overtime over Columbus. Round robin play ended with a three-way tie with Dayton, Columbus, and a loaded Cleveland squad, but points allowed Dayton and Columbus to advance. Cleveland guards Keith Griffen (Shaker Heights) and Yavari Hall (Warrensville Heights) didn’t show up until Sunday, which definitely hurt them in the loss to Dayton.

The outstanding duo of point guard Rodrick Caldwell (Dayton Stivers) and long and athletic forward Derrick Daniels (Thurgood Marshall) helped lead Dayton to its first championship in the City Series. Terrance Landers Jr. (Dunbar), Trey Landers (Huber Heights Wayne), and Isaiah Williams (Dayton Stivers) all helped the cause.

Columbus got a strong showing from ever improving combo forward Seth Towns (Columbus Northland), wing forward James Manns II (Marion-Franklin), post presence Nick Ward (Gahanna Lincoln), strong scoring wing Tarik Wright (Walnut Ridge), Luke Vargo (Dublin Coffman), and point guard Jelani Rogers (Westerville South). Towns and Manns continue to show improvement each time out, which is only enhancing their stock as college prospects.

Other Top Performers:

Austin Grimes (6’3)- Cincinnati Aiken
Trent Donald (6’3)- Cincinnati Winton Woods
Dorian Jordan (5’8)- Cincinnati Princeton

Dazhontae Bennett (6’3)- Trotwood-Madison
Patwuan Hudson (5’10)- Trotwood-Madison
Jaylen Tucker (6’6)- Columbus Northland
Ronnie Rousseau (5’11)- Cincinnati Winton Woods

Ahmad Wagner (6’6)- Huber Heights Wayne
Xerious Williams (6’7)- Huber Heights Wayne
Dorian Dawson- Dayton Dunbar
Austin Marciniak (6’2)- Akron Green
Jordan Stock (6’4)- Massillon Washington
Brogan Scott (6’4)- Medina Highland
Andrew Francesconi (6’4)- Tallmadge
Demajeo Wiggins (6’7)- Springfield
Jordan Bradley (5’6)- Cincinnati Princeton
Von Irving (6’0)- Cincinnati Princeton

Jordan Kinchen (5’10)- Columbus Northland
Kalib Younger (6’3)- Walnut Ridge
Jamel Howard (6’0)- Purcell Marian
Willie Jackson (6’4)- Garfield Heights
Derek Funderburk (6’8)- Lakewood St. Edward
Trevell Beck (6’5)- Cleveland CC
Keith Griffin (5’10)- Shaker Heights
Yavari Hill (6’1)- Warrensville Heights

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