Hidden Gems Showcase Standouts

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Posted On: 09/23/18 5:00 AM

The centrally located Hidden Gems Showcase lived up to the expectations as an event where Ohio prospects could be seen by Division II, Division III, NAIA, junior college coaches, and media.

We took advantage of the opportunity by scouting the oldest age group, 11th and 10th graders with premiere underclassmen spruced into the mix. Our two-part recap will touch on Standouts and, the next tier of top performers, New Names.

Benjamin James (2019), 6’5” F, Columbus Independence

James was a ball of energy throughout the day. He truly crashes the paint, whether it’s for a rebound or a straight-line drive. The combo forward has a little wiggle but he primarily scores with power off the dribble. James pops off his picks, settles for contested jumpers, and hangs out around the arch too much. But when he plays to his strengths as a rebounder who pushes pace off the glass, James shines while showing versatility more on the defensive end.

James informed us that, in terms of recruitment, his grades and ACT will be his biggest challenge. We will get a Recruiting Report up on James before the high school season to explore it further.

Caleb Wallis (2020), 5’6” PG, Jackson

Confidence exudes out of Wallis when he’s handling the ball and making plays. When spacing allowed for it, Wallis attacked one-on-one matchups and possessed good vision in the lane. Between Saturday and the Top 250 Expo, he has shown the ability to pick apart defenses with a two-man game. Wallis’s jumper came and went at the HG Showcase but he’s normally very good from outside.

Kayin Derden (2019), 6’2” G, Columbus DeSales

In back-to-back weekends, we’ve become very impressed by how Derden has simplified the game. He’s optimizing his length as a finisher and isn’t settling for tough triples any more. As a slasher, Derden finishes in these nondescript ways. He just sort of drives hard into his defender and waits for the opponent to lower his hands. Once the guys’ hands are below his waist, incapable of contesting a shot, Derden rises from wherever and drops the ball through the net. Good ball player.

Kyler Block (2019), 6’6” F/C, Thomas Worthington

Block is a very self-aware player. Offensively, he operates the paint when he’s not setting ball screens, making contributions on post-ups and offensive rebounds. He tends pass out of the paint, which is fine and shows vision, but assertiveness is lacking.

On the other end, Block’s physical tools really shine. He isn’t an explosive athlete, but he’s very dexterous and coordinated with a wide frame capable of adding muscle. Block proved quick and long enough to switch onto wings and guards. Good recovery speed and he runs the floor well.

Cali Davis (2020), 6’0” PG, Africentric

Davis didn’t really show anything new, but he was just better in every facet of the game. He’s morphing into a confident knock-down shooter before our eyes. Meanwhile, his decision-making is a step faster. The ball was popping out of his hands as soon as he identified an open man and felt help-side. Once a kid I considered a surefire D-III prospect, Davis could interest D-IIs and NAIAs come his 17U campaign.

Caleb Terry (2020), 6’10” C, Alexander

Similar to his AAU teammate, Davis, the rural Ohio big man continues to build upon his strengths. Terry was a dominate shot-blocker throughout the day and he does so without fouling. An intriguing prospect for regional D-II and low-major programs, Terry might be just a year of body development away from becoming a rebounding and defensive terror.

Sean Jones (2022), 5’9” PG, Gahanna Lincoln

“Who was the best prospect you saw today?” Thanks for asking! Sean Jones, freshman point guard from Gahanna Lincoln. Make a note on this kid.

He plays with excellent balance and poise, showing extraordinary feel in the pick and roll. Jones seemed to see every pass available today, often threading the ball into pockets that his teammates were clearly unaccustomed to receiving — can’t wait to see him alongside four other quality varsity players for the Lions this season. Jones has also shot up two or three inches from the spring, where he starred on Miller Factory’s 16U team. He’s a very good outside shooter but Jones was adamant about playing inside the arch today and had several dazzling finishes in traffic.

Javohn Garcia (2019), 6’3” PG, Pickerington Central

Garcia, one of Ohio’s two Miami (OH) commits, has developed about as rapidly as anyone in the state over the last 18 months. So, with one big question mark remaining in his game, outside shooting, should we expect anything besides improvement out of Garcia? Saturday was an encouraging data point on his development. The ball was coming out of his hands fluidly and confidently. Garcia later confirmed with us that he’s focused on shooting right now. It’s paying off. He also looked a bit more explosive and powerful at the rim.