Posted On: 02/7/18 11:00 AM
They aren’t the biggest names on the Cleveland high school basketball scene, but Avon Lake and North Ridgeville both have recruitable backcourt players.
All three played well but it was Avon Lake’s Jordan Ball (2018), who played the best as he dropped a game-high 27 points to lead Avon Lake to a 61-60 win over North Ridgeville on Feb. 6 in Southwestern Conference action.
North Ridgeville was led by its backcourt duo of MJ Smith and Jeremy Sanchez who scored 21 each.
Now you might read this and think you are wasting time but if you are D-3 or NAIA program that needs a guard you might want to shake up your schedule or send out an assistant to scout these two teams to check out Ball, Sanchez or Smith.
Five observations from the contest:
1. Ball’s added a jumper
Ball has added an outside jump shot to his game. He’s already lightning quick and has sprinter speed with the ball. Word is he’s headed to Heidelberg but has plenty of D-3 schools in on him.
Has a very tough little floater in the lane that is hard to defend. Jumps very well and can rebound inside; his speed allows him to track down long rebounds. Does need to bulk up.
2. Ball’s skills on full display
One of his most impressive plays of the night saw him get a block on the defensive end and gobble up the loose ball and then go end-to-end weaving in and out of traffic and changing hands before finishing with a right-hand lay in.
3. Sanchez has some sizzle
I went to the game wanting to see MJ Smith, who is averaging around 20 a game, but from the get-go, it was Sanchez (2019), 6’0” who was lighting it up for North Ridgeville. He scored nine in the first half and helped keep his team in the game. He repeatedly showed an ability to get past his defender off the dribble to drive and dish or finish at the rim. Great body control when finishing, great hands, too.
4. Smith shows some mental toughness
Smith struggled to get untracked offensively in the first half but ended up scoring 15 in the second half, connecting on four 3s. This guy can flat out shoot and was chased all night long by some pretty athletic and tough-minded Avon Lake kids. He can definitely play at the Division III -level in college.
5. Another gridiron/hardwood performerI’ve noticed the Cleveland area is loaded with kids who excel at a very high level on the football field yet also make big-time contributions on the basketball court. Yet, another of the players who fit into that category is 6’4” Nick Marsh (2020) of Avon Lake. Not a flashy hooper, he rebounds, sets screens and defends and seems to always be around the ball. He ended up scoring 14 points, all of them inside. Avon Lake coach Eric Smith noted after the game Marsh is a match-up nightmare because he can also go outside where he has a serviceable jump shot.
Marsh is already drawing interest from Division I college football programs, after starting on the defensive line for Avon Lake as a sophomore.
“He’s going to play on Saturdays,” said Smith.