Boys Basketball News & Notes from around the state
The All-Ohio Super 16 is always one of our favorite events of the spring. Tournament director Jerry Watson did a great job piecing together a solid lineup considering Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour all had big time events this past weekend.
When the dust settled, All-Ohio protected its ground yet again at the Super 16 winning the coveted 16U crown and thieving the 15U title on a last second shot. Also, major props to TNBA East for bringing home the rising seniors trophy.
17U- TNBA East
16U- All-Ohio Red
15U- All-Ohio Red
We spent much of the weekend focusing in on a talent laden 16-and-under division, which saw All-Ohio Red hoist the hardware. AOR defeated the VCC Warriors in the championship game after the Warriors upset the favorite, the King James Shooting Stars, in the semis. VCC and King James were forced to play back-to-back games after each was taken to the wire in the quarterfinals. King James trailed a game Detroit Stars team by four points in the closing minutes before Quincey Simpson’s team closed the game on an (8-2) run. VCC snuck past the Spiece Indy Heat following an oh so close game-knotting three at the buzzer.
All-Ohio’s path was significantly different. AOR throttled DB Hoops in the quarters before taking out a very solid Nova Village outfit in the semis. On championship Sunday, it’s hard to tell what the last few games are going to look like after a weekend of hard fought basketball.
Top 5 Stock Risers
Billy Thomas- (6’0/2016)- University of Detroit Jesuit/Detroit Stars
Playing alongside one of the better guards in the class (Cassius Winston), on his high school team, Thomas has been overshadowed to some degree. Make no mistake about it, this kid can play. In the first game we saw him, Thomas was able to virtually get wherever he wanted on the floor. He relentlessly penetrated the lane scoring through traffic and dropping off dimes to his big men. He showed a very nice handle in that game and played very low to the ground. The second time we saw him, against the King James Shooting Stars, he wasn’t able to do some of the things he showed in the first contest. King James ran a double team at him as soon as he crossed half court with the basketball making him give up it. Early on, the length and athleticism of King James bothered him forcing him into four or five turnovers. However, as the game continued on, Thomas showed his ability to make tough shots off the dribble and catch-and-fire situations. He showed good range, but at times he forced up some ill-advidsed shots. Thomas can play either guard spot, but against full court pressure, he seems more comfortable playing off the ball allowing him more energy to be a scorer/shooter. Thomas said he currently has no offers, but is hearing from several schools from mid-majors to high-majors.
Ibi Watson- (6’5/2016)- Athens/King James Shooting Stars
Pure scorer. Watson is instant offense off the bench for the Shooting Stars. He is very efficient when he can spot up behind the arc. He doesn’t have a quick release, so he obviously shoots better off the drive-and-kick. Watson thrives at slashing to the basket and scoring inside the paint. He sometimes appears as if he is asleep and then he will rise up and dunk on someone. Watson is very successful at giving King James scoring punch off the bench, because his points usually come in spurts. He has all the tools to be a good defender with his size and length. Watson didn’t get a lot of minutes on Sunday, but in those minutes, he was very productive. For instance, in a two-point win over the Detroit Stars, Watson likely played 15 minutes and scored probably the same amount of points as minutes.
TC Wells (6’3/2016)- Fairfield/Team One
Beast! I always hesitate to write about a kid that I know is a better football prospect, but TC can play a little hoop as well. Wells looks like he was made in a lab with broad shoulders, big arms, and a little nasty in him. It’s unusual that with the muscle mass, he is still extremely long. Wells has a sweet stroke behind the arc, and makes a high percentage of his shots. On Sunday, he was 5-of-6 from the field in the 1st half of a tournament game with all the shots being contested from the perimeter. At times, he was too caught up in things beyond his control during the game, which is an area he needs to let go. Wells, a rising junior, should have breakout seasons in football and basketball next school year at Fairfield.
Donatus Eke Ikechukwu (6’10/2017)- Detroit Jesuit/Detroit Stars
A very intriguing prospect from Detroit by way of Nigeria. This kid has plenty of upside with a nice frame and excellent mobility, and is still learning how to play. Eke showed the ability to face up from 15-to-17 feet, and seemed more comfortable facing up then with his back to the basket. He runs the floor very well, and was able to catch-and-finish on the move. His hands were pretty good as well. At times, he was very aggressive, especially on the defensive boards against a talented King James’ frontline. He along with his frontcourt mates swatted away several shots on the afternoon. As this youngster continues to develop his skills and learns how to play, he could be a high priority for several schools.
Nick Ward (6’8/2016)- Gahanna Lincoln/All-Ohio Red
Big Nick has a polished low post game, which is tough for smaller high school kids to stop. The big lefty has a very quick over the right shoulder move that he makes with consistency. He can step out and knock down shots up to 15-feet, but is more valuable inside the lane. He isn’t a great athlete, but has good length, which allows him to attack the rim. Ward is definitely still growing, and may be closer to 6-foot-9. He appears to be going through growing pains as his hips and legs appear very stiff when he is running. Hopefully that goes away as he continues to stretch out. He has been one of the biggest forces on an overachieving All-Ohio Red team. Mid-major offers are beginning to pile up.
16U Top Performers
Xavier Simpson- Lima CC (King James Shooting Stars)
Tre Cobbs- Lima CC (King James Shooting Stars)
Kyran McClure- Central Cabarrus (Nova Village)
Dylan Hanie- Westerville South (Nova Village)
Seth Towns- Columbus Northland (VCC Warriors)
Tyus Ferguson- Groveport-Madison (VCC Warriors)
Reggie Tharp- Concordia Lutheran (VCC Warriors)
L’Christian Smith- Huber Heights (Spiece Indy Heat)- 2018
Isaiah Williams- Dayton Stivers (Team One)
Seve Stavroff- Dublin Jerome (Elevate Crush)
Brandon Glenn- Hilliard Bradley (Elevate Crush)
Justin Layne- Cleveland Benedictine (TNBA East)
Darius Harper- Springfield (Cincy Lakers)
Gregory Eboigbodin- Detroit Jesuit (Detroit Stars)
Zach Donley (6’7/2016)- Columbus St. Charles (Columbus Elite Kings)