Bold Predictions: North Coast League

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Ohio

Posted On: 07/10/18 6:05 AM

Although regional Division I contenders are hard to identify in next year’s North Coast League, plenty of lower division contenders jump off the page. On top of that, there’s transfers, D-I prospects, and storylines to run through ahead of the high school season.

The top three Northeast Ohio Division II teams are in the North Coast League

The greater Cleveland area will likely be represented by either Lake Catholic, Benedictine, or VASJ at the Division II level. Since those three are likely to fight for the conference crown also, we’ll save our pick for a later prediction. But, let’s briefly assess what makes all of them unique as potential postseason contenders.

  • Lake Catholic has two juniors — Luka Eller and Luke Frazier — who will likely make an All Ohio team this coming winter. The two have notable chemistry at this point and have controlled this offense for some time. They were 16-6 a year ago.
  • Benedictine was ravaged with injuries last season and still finished with a 16-4 regular season. They’d likely have made a tournament run if they weren’t brought up to Division I by the OHSAA. Bene will need to replace interior size, leadership, excellent role players, and defense from last year — things they can presumably find elsewhere and/or mask with a more potent offense.
  • VASJ has the most to replace byway of Jerry “Gene” Higgins. However, they have arguably the best sophomore point guard, Jaden Hameed, in Northeast Ohio poised to do so. He’ll be aided by a pair of senior bigs in Latrace Jackson and Khalil Mitcham, who provide athleticism, defense, and rebounding.

Kevin Bishop is the conference X-Factor

Bishop was the third or fourth scoring option at Shaker Heights last season before transferring to Bene for his senior campaign. Therefore, the first factor to consider here is how much of the season he’s able to play because of transfer regulations. When Bishop is out there, he’ll likely be their most important true forward on the team, tasked with defending opposing big bodies and rebounding. They need consistent effort and production from a player who was hot and cold a season ago.

Benedictine will win the North Coast League

We believe in Bishop, who actually should get help from 6’4” rim protector Anthony Maxie. But more than anything, the Bengals perimeter talent is special.

Davin Zeigler is a dynamic guard who will draw help-side defense and create shots at will. He’s surrounded by capable secondary ball-handlers in Andy Barba, Jashun Cobb, and Eric Buckner who can also get their own bucket against mismatches. All in all, their speed and multiple scoring options should give them an advantage over the other two or three conference contenders.

First Team All North Coast League

  • CJ Charleston, 5’11’ PG, Gilmour Academy
  • Jaden Hameed, 5’11” PG, VASJ
  • Davin Zeigler, 6’2” G, Benedictine
  • Luke Frazier, 6’2” G, Lake Catholic
  • Luka Eller, 6’8” F, Lake Catholic

We haven’t talked about CJ Charleston yet. He’s a no-brainer for First Team All Conference in his senior season. He should lead Gilmour to a winning season with his athleticism and playmaking ability in the open floor.

Barba and Latrace Jackson will also be in the discussion for top five NCL players next season.

Player of the Year: Davin Zeigler

Zeigler ended as Division I Honorable Mention during an injury-riddled junior season. Watching him this spring, his explosiveness is definitely back. With the ball in his hands this season, his combination of speed and skill is a perfect combination to dominate the high school game, especially considering the guys spacing the floor around him.

He hardly edges out Luka Eller here because of Zeigler’s predicted team success and high scoring average.