Indy: Top 17U Forwards and Centers

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Posted On: 04/30/18 10:02 AM

Between the EYBL, UAA, adidas Silver, Nike Midwest Takeover, and Terrific 24, the city of Indianapolis was a basketball fan’s dream this weekend. Every coach and scout had more wristbands than a preteen girl when the Livestrong era was in full-swing and every team had the opportunity to play in front of college coaches as the spring Live Period came to a close.

Ohio performed pretty well overall and we’ll take time to extensively recap all of the top performers at each grade level. For the 17U level, we’ve already recapped point guards, two guards, and wings. To wrap up, here’s the best forwards from the weekend.

Jackie Harris, 6’6” F, All Ohio Gold / Toledo St. Francis

Harris looked the part as D-I prospect. If he wasn’t tracked by MAC and Horizon League schools this weekend, there’s something wrong there. If we had to poke a hole in his game, maybe he’s not the most vertical athlete? But who cares! Harris is incredibly skilled for someone his size, which makes up for any of that.

Harris continually manipulated his defender by getting into position and creating an easy passing lane. Once he catches, Harris can score from anywhere on the floor. With this back to the basket, Harris hits hook shots consistently from the block or even from about 10 feet. The thick forward also gets to the line a decent amount by crab dribbling into traffic and pump faking. He’s a consistent threat from beyond the arch and can rebound against anyone.

Drew Bench, 6’5” F, All Ohio Gold / Genoa

The high-motor forward prospect is a disruptive rebounder. His relentlessness in going after rebounds sustains a lot of possessions. Even when he’s not able to come down with it, Bench is a pretty talented tipper. Although he may wind up as a college football player, Bench’s athleticism would be welcomed at a lot of D-II basketball programs.

Gabe O’Neal (2018), 6’6” F/C, C2K Elite / Princeton

O’Neal was a revelation in C2K’s game against B Maze Elite. The physical post player had an efficient outing, scoring 16 points on 80 percent shooting. Although O’Neal didn’t rebound it particularly well, he did a lot of boxing out with his broad shoulder and wide body. Scoring wise, O’Neal scored multiple times with his left-handed hook shot (he’s left handed). Otherwise, he can hit a short-range jumper and even put it on the deck once for a straight-line drive.

In talking to O’Neal shortly after the game, he told us that Huntington Prep is the only school he’s really talking to right now. He does not plan on reclassifying.

Ben Wight, 6’8” F/C, Nova (James) / Thomas Worthington

The elastic big man is a versatile defender with his ability to challenge shots at the rim or close-out on shooters. He’s very active. The coach trusts him to play unusually long stints for someone of his size, which is a credit to Wight’s conditioning. The fluid post player went through contact on a few occasions for tough finishes at the basket.

Jarod Schulze, 6’9” C, Northwest Ohio Basketball Club / Minster

Schulze dealt with a hurt ankle last summer, which limited his playing time and mobility. Now that he’s healthy, Schulze is another post prospect who looked potentially ready for a D-I scholarship. For someone we’ve affectionately referred to as “the largest human being in the 2019 class,” Schulze has some skill and footwork on the block. He drew contact by shifting his opponent with shoulder fakes and pivots with his back to the basket. Schulze is also capable of switching onto some guards against a high ball screen.

Phil Hughes, 6’8” C, Nova (Morgan) / Marysville

Hughes finished their last game of the weekend with a bloodied jersey after battling with a seven-footer. The kid absolutely left his heart on the floor and sort of neutralized his opponent’s size by hustling and being physical. Hughes is a pretty strong kid that moves around well and can get off the floor okay. Hughes can hit the short-range jumper or finish over the top. He also has reliable effort and activity.