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)
Mid Ohio Pumas 2020 Elite (Younkin)
Mid Ohio Pumas Black (Staib/Keys)
Mid Ohio Pumas Silver (Justice/Fenner)
Mid Ohio Pumas White (Beard)
Mid Ohio Pumas Blue (Jayaraman)
Mid Ohio Pumas Grey (Sullivan)
Mid Ohio Pumas 2021 Elite (Mirgon/George)
Mid Ohio Pumas Black (Hunt)
Mid Ohio Pumas Silver (Mills)
Mid Ohio Pumas White (Seemann)
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.
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.