Ten Best: Toledo City League Semifinals

High School

Posted On: 02/21/18 9:54 AM

Start (18-3) will meet Rogers (9-11) in the Toledo City League Championship on Thursday night, after the two eliminated Woodward and Bowsher respectively on Tuesday.

While the Start Spartans continued their season-long momentum in an 18-point win over Woodward, Bowsher took Rogers down to the last shot. Rogers actually trailed the Rebels until the late third quarter, until sophomore point guard Ketaan Wyatt put them ahead with a corner 3-pointer. From then on, the Rams charged ahead for a narrow 70-68 victory.

There’s plenty of unknown talent brewing in the 419, and we’ll use a run-down of the Ten Best to give you a heads up on which prospects to follow and recruit.

MVP: Ajai Washington (Bowsher)

At 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and three steals, Washington is an easy choice for last night’s MVP. The 6’2”-6’3” senior lead guard set a confident tone with eight quick points in the first quarter. His ability to weave through traffic for elusive finishes accounted for Bowsher’s only consistent option in a one-on-one situation. Washington was able to get teammates going once he commanded Rogers’ defensive attention.

More on Washington in a minute.

Offensive MVP: Charles “CJ” Robinson III (Woodward)

With 22 points on 7/12 shooting from the field, it wasn’t close to Robinson’s best night for Woodward. The 6’3” slashing guard is a volume scorer. He struggled to protect the basketball, while reciprocating the turnovers on the other end by gambling for steals.

Offensively though, Robinson was extremely integral to his team’s success. Start doubled him on the catch in the half-court and Woodward made a run in the second half behind his 15 points. While Robinson makes impressive passes, his teammates weren’t able to capitalize in open space — an indication that Robinson would thrive alongside college ball players next season.

Defensive MVP: Christian Smith (Rogers)

Although he dropped in a respectable 10 points, the 6’6” senior didn’t win this game with his patented mid-range scoring ability. Instead, Smith displayed leadership with his defensive communication in the half-court. Rogers held Bowsher to six points in the third quarter by utilizing their athleticism to slow the game down and shut down passing lanes. Smith, often sharing the court with four sophomores, anchored the zone by talking and getting his hands on errant passes.

Often labeled a up-and-down scorer, a defensive performance last night is a nice chip on his résumé for the unsigned senior prospect.

Best Underclassmen: Caleb Smith (Rogers)

It was Christian’s brother, Caleb, who led Rogers in scoring last night, pouring in 27 points in a breakout performance. Smith didn’t hesitate with the ball in his hands, rushing past defenders with his quick first step. Smith is a streaky shooter, but he converted on three first half triples.

The 6’4” sophomore has as much upside as anyone from last night. Becoming more consistent as a shooter and developing a stronger handle would likely lead to scholarship offers for Smith down the line.

Best Prospect: Ajai Washington (Bowsher)

It will need to happen at the JUCO level, but Washington made his case for the top unsigned senior in the Toledo City League last night. A breakout player this season, Washington proved capable of running a team once again last night. The unselfish creator uses his height to protect the ball and find unique passing lanes. He keeps the ball high on finishes and can side-step around traffic. Washington’s jumper has improved considerably since last season, even showing the ability to hit off the dribble. Defense is his only question mark, but he wasn’t able to take a break at all last night.

Best Intangibles: Devin Williams (Start)

In a hectic semifinal game between Start and Woodward, the 5’9” junior point guard steadied Start with his patience and ball security. Playing an efficient game with nine points and three assists, Williams didn’t force the issue. The high-IQ junior has an effective mid-range jumper also.

The Glue Guy: Alex Perry (Start)

An impressive athlete at 6’4”, junior wing/forward Alex Perry was all over the offensive boards for Start. He was a bit of an enforcer with his fearlessness near the basket. Perry’s activity away from the ball also resulted in some easy baskets on cuts.

They’ve got a whole roster of role players who work extremely hard and play unselfishly. Perry just happens to be the best athlete of the bunch.

X-Factor: Josh Ellis (Rogers)

The 6’1” senior two-guard is a high-motor complimentary piece for Rogers. Ellis’s presence was crucial for Rogers late, as they stole the game from Bowsher with a steadfast defensive effort. Nobody was able to contain Washington in the open floor, but Ellis played well in the half-court against him.

In all, Ellis dropped in 10 points, six coming at the free throw line. A couple steals late helped seal the deal for Ellis and the crew.

Sixth Man: Adrian Michael (Start)

In a commanding 20-7 second quarter for Start, 5’11” sophomore guard Adrian Michael came in and scored an important nine points. The underclassman has a good handle and feel for the game to package alongside his shooting specialty. He also sold out defensively, chasing around Woodward’s primary ball-handler for 94-feet. Expect him to get of buckets over the next two seasons.

Thursday Night’s Favorite: Rogers

Start is the no. 1 seed and has double the wins of Rogers. However, the Rams have split the season series up to this point and have a losing record because of a brutal out-of-conference schedule. With Ellis and Christian Smith as their leaders, a talented cast of sophomores should snag their first of three City League Championships tomorrow.