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Posted On: 06/20/18 6:14 AM
The 2021 Watch List went up today, which means it’s time to start overviewing this class for the first time from a statewide lens. We’ll structure these regional breakdowns with a consistent format, which resembles what we’ve been doing this month to look at other classes.
So, what can you expect? First, a list of all the prospects from a designated area. Then, a look at Top Prospects, First Impression (i.e. a trend or tidbit), Top Bigs since they’re rare, and The Intrigue where we identify some undercover guys with upside.
Hmmm. Well, it’s actually pretty hard to identify just a few. You’ve heard of Seth Wilson and Meechie Johnson if you’re paying any sort of attention to the Ohio scene. So let’s skim past those two in this article. We’ll throw EJ Farmer into that Johnson and Wilson category too, as he had a well-documented freshman year at Lutheran East.
Anyways, let’s check out three more starting with Malaki Branham, who could mess around and be the very best prospect in Ohio’s 2021 class. He sure looked like the guy in an E15 game against All Ohio Red and showed flashes later in a win over the Mid Ohio Pumas. Branham is a versatile combo forward with the driving ability and physical tools to transform into a pure three. Yet, Branham defends the basket like a true rim protector because of his quick burst off the floor, length, and old school toughness.
Ramelle Arnold and Jaden Hameed appear to be the top point guards in NEO’s 2021 class but for very different reasons. Arnold’s game has more flash in terms of ankle-breaking crossovers and fancy finishes. He gets into the lane by buckling a defender’s hips and knees and is showing early developments as a passer. Hameed on the other hand is a natural passer that can dictate tempo like an upperclassman. Hameed is also a more confident and consistent outside shooter who opts for floaters in the lane.
As a whole, the state’s best breeding ground of basketball talent once again has an immense amount of scholarship level hoopers across the region. Then on a more specific basis, many of the power programs in Cleveland, Akron, and otherwise will have impact sophomores in their starting lineups next season.
STVM can compete at the D-I level over the next three years, in part because of Seth Wilson and Malaki Branham. Both are likely top five players in the entire state.
VASJ also has a very promising trio led by an inside-out duo of Jaden Hameed and Evanell Lighty. Lighty has some floor-stretching ability as a faceup four and will stand out as an athlete in the winters as well.
Garfield Heights has the heir apparent to Alonzo Gaffney as Meechie Johnson is already a national recruit with offers from Florida, Louisville, and others.
Finally, Lutheran East could climb their way back up the mountain once again this season with EJ Farmer and Sirr Hughes making a major impact.
Branham and Lighty are the only two players over 6’5” on the NEO Watch List. We’re sure that will change as soon as our next update. For the time being, we’ve already said enough about those two combo forwards.
Luke Chicone is a player we haven’t talked about in pretty much any capacity thus far. We saw him lead Mentor against Toledo St. John’s a couple weeks ago at a summer team camp. The 5’6” point guard impressed with his cerebral playing style and outside jumper. He’s an absolute killer that is capable of making plays for others or getting you a pretty good look for three points when necessary.
Also, Amarion Dickerson from Rhodes has the makings of a prototypical athletic wing prospect. He’s already turning the corner as a defender who blocks shots, puts pressure on ball-handlers, and rebounds in traffic. If Dickerson becomes capable from deep and/or develops a tighter handle, Division I programs won’t want to miss on the kid.