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Posted On: 10/5/17 2:45 PM
The #1 prospect in Ohio’s loaded 2018 class, Darius Bazley, will surely be monitored closely as senior at Cincinnati Princeton.
As a junior, Bazley played half of the season after transferring from Finneytown. With the future Syracuse Orangeman on the floor, the Princeton Vikings went 8-5, eventually being eliminated by La Salle in the District Semifinals.
Given the unusual circumstances in the 2016-2017 season, Bazley didn’t receive any statewide postseason awards and Princeton wasn’t ranked in the AP State Poll. But, given Bazley’s individual growth and familiarity with the team, he’s a top-notch preseason candidate, according to our formula.
First of all, Ohio’s Mr. Basketball must have elite talent. Since 2001, only LeBron James (#1 NBA Draft pick) and Justin Fritts (Wheeling Jesuit) didn’t play Division I basketball.
Next, we considered projected team success. Again since 2001, 10 of the 17 Mr. Basketball winners led their high school team to the State Final Four that season.
Then, the most important piece of the formula considered is production. We’re considering the player’s projected role on their team to predict if they have the opportunity to fill up the scorer’s book. It’s especially imperative that you put up points, as the only Mr. Basketball to average under 20 points since 2001 was Jared Sullinger at 19.9 points per game in 2009. But, Sullinger made up for that tenth of a point by averaging 14.8 rebounds, being the #2 player in the country, and winning the Division I State Championship.
How exactly does Bazley score in each of these metrics?
There’s not a more talented player in the race for Mr. Basketball. As far as offensive package goes, Bazley is a 6’9” guard with playmaking ability. He can shoot it or finish over any opponent, and he also uses his height and smooth ball-handling skills to create passing lanes for post entries. Bazley can play every position at the high school level.
Princeton went 15-10 last season, which isn’t good enough for a Mr. Basketball winner. However, they return their top contributors in Bazley, Darweshi Hunter, and Dominic Pierce. Additionally, the Vikings have a strong 2020 class that will contribute at the varsity level this year.
Basically, Princeton is going to be a lot better than a year ago. Bazley’s candidacy will see a considerable rise if they emerge as the biggest threat to Moeller in Southwest Ohio.
In 13 games last season, Bazley averaged 11.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.8 blocks, and 1.1 steals, per the Greater Miami Conference official website. Even if Bazley doubles his scoring average as a senior, he’d post one of the lowest scoring averages of any Mr. Basketball winner ever. Meanwhile, his teammate Darweshi Hunter, led the team in scoring.
There’s several capable teammates Bazley has to share the rock with. They also have a pair of emerging post players who could prevent his rebounding numbers from increasing.
Look, Bazley is the most talented player in Ohio, regardless of class. Princeton is also loaded. There’s no doubt that Bazley is in preseason contention. But, we believe, the amount of talent on the Vikings roster is going to decrease his scoring opportunities. While we expect him to average a double-double in points and rebounds, we don’t think those stats will be quite enough for him to win a competitive race.