Gahanna Lincoln High School is no stranger to boy’s basketball talent
with the likes of Rob Brandenberg (VCU), Anthony Jackson (Stony Brook),
Jamel Morris (Glenville State), Stevie Taylor (Ohio), and Aaron Jackson
(Akron) all playing for the Golden Lions in the past four years, but
perhaps, the most talented of all is 2014 prospect Javon “JB” Bess.
Gahanna Lincoln High School is no stranger to boy’s basketball talent with the likes of Rob Brandenberg (VCU), Anthony Jackson (Stony Brook), Jamel Morris (Glenville State), Stevie Taylor (Ohio), and Aaron Jackson (Akron) all playing for the Golden Lions in the past four years, but perhaps, the most talented of all is 2014 prospect Javon “JB” Bess.
The 6-foot-5 and 195-pound rising senior is a tireless worker and a relentless competitor, which is a big reason he has become a top priority for many schools in the Midwest.
“He definitely has a blue-collar mentality,” stated Gahanna Lincoln head coach Tony Staib. “He brings the same level of intensity to games as practice. He is a player that a coach doesn’t have to worry about. He is always focused and leads by example.”
Bess attends nearly every event that he can along with playing for Gahanna Lincoln HS and All-Ohio Red (AOR) on the travel circuit. Bess has performed well in his first season with AOR averaging 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in nine contests on the Nike EYBL circuit.
His travel team recently won the prestigious Bill Hensley Memorial Run-n-Slam All-Star Classic in Fort Wayne, Indiana along with strong showings at the NY2LA Swish-n-Dish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a championship at the All-Ohio Nike Cup. Bess and his teammates with be in Dallas, Texas this weekend for the third stop on the EYBL circuit.
For Bess, it hasn’t always been roses. The Gahanna star started his high school career at Pickerington Central along with his best friend and Ohio State commit Jae’Sean Tate. He suffered through an up-and-down freshman year logging time at the point guard spot along with some play at the two, three, and four positions.
During his sophomore year, the struggles continued for much of the year, before something clicked towards the end of the season. Bess dedicated himself to being a defensive stopper and getting buckets when he could, which was a huge lift to a Pickerington Central team that would eventually win the Division I state championship.
Soon after the state tournament, Bess would transfer back to his home school, Gahanna Lincoln.
“To me, this is home, and this is where he belongs,” Staib said pertaining to Bess transferring back to Gahanna. “I think him and his family are glad they are back home.”
It was evident, following his sophomore year, Bess was beginning to turn the corner and evolving as a completely different player. His attitude changed and it was clear that he had fallen in love with the game. The junior showed well during the AAU season playing for the King James Shooting Stars despite a less than desirable situation, and garnered plenty of attention this past September and October at Rob Taylor’s Buckeye Prep event and the John Lucas Camp in Louisville, Kentucky.
However, as the high school began, it was clear the Golden Lions were not gelling despite high expectations. Following a rough start, and Gahanna losing five games in the early going, Bess decided enough was enough.
“About half way through the season, this year, to now, he has really stepped up the level of his game,” Gahanna Lincoln head coach Tony Staib said. “He is putting in hours of hard work in different facets of his game and it’s really showing up this spring.”
Bess helped Gahanna to a (22-6) record, which included a regional semifinals win over defending champion, Pickerington Central. He averaged a team-leading 18.5 points and 5.2 rebounds.
The Golden Lions fell to previously unbeaten Columbus Northland in the regional finals, but return a strong nucleus from that team along with some talented rising sophomores.
With such a vast improvement along with his admirable frame, it’s no wonder more-and-more schools are beginning to show interest. Bess, who is extremely long with wide shoulders, has seen his recruitment amp up over the past couple weeks.
“In this last two weeks, with the open period, his recruitment has elevated to Atlantic Ten and some Big Ten schools are starting to become very interested,” the Gahanna coach told us.
Javon told us UNC-Greensboro, Ball State, Western Kentucky, Iowa, DePaul, Dayton, and Pittsburgh have all contacted him in recent weeks.
He currently holds offers from Kent State, Cleveland State, Toledo, Kennesaw State, Western Kentucky, Robert Morris, Ball State, and UNC-Greensboro.
George Mason, Indiana State, VCU, Bowling Green, and Duquesne are also showing interest as well
Staib is high on a couple schools, because they saw the talent when most were skeptical.
“Kent State and Cleveland State have been around the longest and saw potential over a year ago,” Staib said. “I give them credit they did their due diligence and saw his potential awhile ago.”
For Bess, no one is really in the lead at this point.
“It’s all about the same right now,” Bess noted.
Despite not favoring any schools yet, there are some qualifications he is looking in his future home.
“I would like to go somewhere that I can play early and I can play the one or two,” Bess said.
While Bess is hoping to play point guard or wing at the next level, and he may, it’s his versatility that makes him such a coveted prospect. He has shown the ability to play the 1-4 on offense and guard those positions on defense.
“All the coaches that I have talked to love the versatility of his game,” Staib noted. “At the end of each game, he covers every column in the stat column. He is a competitor with a high motor, and tenacious on the defensive end. He is putting in so much time to be good.”
Bess use to be known as a guy that only attacked the basket, but that has changed drastically over the past year. He is now able to knock down outside shots, hit some mid-range stuff, and still get to the basket.
“He has a much improved outside shot,” the Lincoln boss mentioned. “He is not just a kid attacking the basket anymore. He is knocking down shots.”
Then there are the desirable intangibles.
“I would say his tenacity and his competitiveness,” Staib said when referring to Javon’s major strength as a player. “He is a winner. When he takes the floor, he will do whatever it takes to win. Whether it’s scoring, rebuilding, or playing defense.”
For younger players out there, the improvement of Javon’s outside shooting hasn’t come overnight. Bess has spent countless hours in the gym and working out with a trainer. His perimeter game is still a work in progress, but with his work ethic and passion for the game, the odds of improvement are heavily in his favor.
“I think knocking down perimeter shots,” Staib believes. “That’s the biggest thing he has been working on. He has improved tremendously since the season has been over.”
Bess is getting it done in the classroom as well carrying a 3.0 grade point average.
With a strong work ethic, a passion to be great, and solid academics, Bess is well on his way to a bright future.