Posted On: 04/3/18 12:00 PM
The Mid Ohio Pumas organization is a basketball program that happens to play during the grassroots season. For them, it’s more about teaching the game than the non-basketball related parts of the AAU culture.
“We just want to play basketball and do right by the kids,” said Dave Mirgon, the founder and Director of the Mid Ohio Pumas.
Mirgon explained that they place an emphasis on simply playing the game a certain way, regardless of winning.
“’The Puma Way’ is really that we simply won’t compromise our integrity and doing things the right just to win a trophy. … For example, we could win a lot more tournaments if we played zone as third, fourth, and fifth graders. But we’re not going to do that because that’s not going to make these guys better basketball players,” Mirgon said.
To maintain those principles, the Pumas rely on a whole cast of seasoned coaches.
“It’s almost becoming a coach’s club,” Mirgon said. He continued, “We have 30 high school coaches or former high school coaches or college coaches … We’ve got over 600 combined years of coaching experience in the program.”
The Pumas will have 35 total teams this season, with 11 of them playing at the high school level. The top teams at the 17U, 16U, and 15U level will play on the adidas Gauntlet Silver for the first time in program history.
Mid Ohio Pumas 2019 Elite (Ballenger)
Sean Marks (Olentangy), Bryson Lane (Olentangy Orange), Luke Ballenger (Olentangy Orange), Pat Preece, Johnny Bultema (Indian Hill), Brice Hill (Seven Hills), Peyton Jutte (Fort Recovery)
Mid Ohio Pumas 2020 Elite (Younkin)
Jake Younkin (Moeller), Cameron McCreary (Colonel Crawford), Chris Mayfield (Hilliard Bradley), Grant Whisman (Middletown Madison), Jack Pugh (Hilliard Bradley), Harley Day (North Union), Alex Mangold (Lakota East), Max Land (Moeller)
Mid Ohio Pumas Black (Staib/Keys)
Jack Santa Emma (Alder), Nate Staib (Gahanna), Nate Griggs (Delaware Hayes), Paul Buriss (Delaware Hayes), Nick Nesser (Zane Trace), Gage Keys (Hilliard Davidson), Jalen Orwig (Wayne), Logan Slubowski (Hilliard Darby), Brandon Noel (Chillicothe)
Mid Ohio Pumas Silver (Justice/Fenner)
Jordan Fenner (Colonel Crawford), Jack Lyall (Tri Valley), Carson Conley (Licking Valley), Will Lemaire (Westerville Central), Jayde Prince (Worthington Kilbourne), Clark Newland (Buckeye Valley), Marcus Peaks (Watkins Memorial), Logan Justice (Watkins Memorial)
Mid Ohio Pumas White (Beard)
Tre Beard (Chillicothe), Colby Swain (Waverly), Caleb Wallis (Jackson), Jayvon Maughmer (Chillicothe), Cam Evans (Zane Trace), Dalton Mischal (McClain), Trey Jefferies (Kenton)
Mid Ohio Pumas Blue (Jayaraman)
Brendan Lamb (Lebanon), Dylan Herbert (Buckeye Valley), Colby Cross (Cedarville), Carter Gray (Arcanum), Tyler Eberhardt (Kenton Ridge), Kal Jayaraman (Olentangy Liberty), Ryan Cutler (Olentangy Orange), Zach Woodall
Mid Ohio Pumas Grey (Sullivan)
Carter Sterling (Bellefontaine), Jackson Baker (Pickerington North), Keaton Turner (Coffman), Hayden Lemaster (Circleville), Drew Begin (Alder), Bobby Conarroe (Kings Mill), Zach Miles (Canal Winchester), Henry Walker (Alder), Dylan Sigler (Olentangy)
Mid Ohio Pumas 2021 Elite (Mirgon/George)
AJ Mirgon (Hilliard Bradley), Casey George (Pickerington North), Nick Zuro (Alder), Garner Wallace (Pickerington Central), Jack Sawyer (Pickerington North), Brock Waits (Grove City), Jackson Izzard (Alder), Logan Duncomb (Moeller), Isaiah Moore (Beavercreek)
Mid Ohio Pumas Black (Hunt)
Max Utrup (Jerome), Matt Kennedy (Olentangy), Caleb Gossett (Olentangy), Nick Malagreca (Watterson), Riley Gibson (Circleville), Jack Fantin (Hilliard Davidson), Davis Boone (Watterson), Aidan Yoo (Coffman)
Mid Ohio Pumas Silver (Mills)
Austen Mann (Columbus DeSales), Gavin Foe (Johnstown), Justice Ross (Hilliard Bradley), Alex Koltovski (New Albany), Tavian James (Olentangy), Jake Hoying (Watterson), Luke Elmore (Olentangy), Quentin Stottsberry (Maysville), Gavin Greene (Watterson), Will Jados (Westerville Central)
Mid Ohio Pumas White (Seemann)
CJ Szaz, Bladen Brown, Connor Huss, Carson Seemann, Aidan Noyes, Caden Conrad, Rich Rolf, Quinn Hafner
The Pumas are a mismatch problem because of height and skill, especially on the Elite teams.
“Our 2020 team is pretty loaded with size. A couple of the college coaches … all three have said that this 2020 team is bigger than any of the college teams they play against,” Mirgon said.
Specifically, Mirgon sees a couple players on that team capable of raising their recruitment stock this summer.
“Jake Younkin is up to 6’2” and a half now. If he keeps shooting the ball well, I think he’ll find himself being recruited above what we thought he was going to be.”
“Grant Whisman has got to get stronger and he’s got to get a better feel for the game overall. But, shooting wise, he’s 6’7” now. He’s bouncy. He’s got a lot of potential,” Mirgon told us.
Mirgon is also excited about two-sport athlete Chris Mayfield, who has D-I football offers but is hoping to draw the equivalent in basketball this summer.
“At 6’4 230 [pounds], Chris mayfield is really improving his game. He has slowed the game down in his mind and is just athletically ahead of most. Just turning 16 earlier this year, he is still growing,” Mirgon said.
Bradley 6’6” wing/forward Jack Pugh (2021) is the player Mirgon and 16U Elite head coach Jay Younkin raved about however. He’ll be playing on Younkin’s 2020 Elite team.
“Pugh’s a man. Pugh’s our best player, even being re-classed. He’s clearly the best player on my team. I think he’s the best player at the 2021 grade in the whole state,” Younkin said. He continued, “He’s 6’6”, 210 pounds. Can play every position. Gets every rebound. And he’s got a 3 [pointer].”
Also, watch out for 2021 Moeller big man Logan Duncomb, a 6’8” post player with two Division I offers to his name despite never playing a varsity minute for Big Moe this season.
Schedule (for Elite teams)
April 6: Bearcat Classic @ Cincinnati, OH (15U)
April 13: Mid Ohio Pumas Classic @ Reynoldsburg, OH (all teams)
April 20: adidas Qualifier @ Indianapolis, IN (all teams)
April 27: adidas Qualifier @ Indianapolis, IN or Atlanta, GA (all teams)
May 4: Bill Hensley Run n’ Slam @ Fort Wayne, IN (15U)
May 18: Super 16 @ Columbus, OH (all teams)
May 25: adidas Regional @ Chicago, IL (15U)
July 13: adidas Finale @ New York, NY (all teams)
July 20: adidas All In @ Louisville, KY (all teams)
Along with their new-look adidas schedule, the Pumas will host a tournament in just two weeks. They currently have around 120 teams signed up for the inaugural event.
“Going forward, we’re hoping to make this a good D-II/D-III tournament before the Live events start because there’s nothing really that weekend,” MIrgon said.