Top 250 Expo Underclassmen Awards

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Posted On: 09/17/18 10:34 AM

Stock-risers, new names, efficient players, top point guards, forwards, defenders, and team guys — we will cover them all throughout the week! This onslaught of recap coverage, though, needs to start at the top because an event that unites top prospects from every corner of Ohio begs the question: Which players were the best?

MVP: Kalen Etzler

Breakout Performance: Aidan Noyes & Henry Raynor

Top Prospect: Seth Wilson

Best Big Man: Skyler Schmidt

Best Facilitator: Jack Pugh

Best Shooter: Casey George

 

MVP: Kalen Etzler (2021), 6’8” W/F, Convoy Crestview

Etzler was nothing short of spectacular throughout the event. The young standout from a rural Northwest Ohio Division IV high school program, Crestview, rose up for bombs with defenders glued to him, put-back dunks above opposing forwards, and the whole competition for MVP.

Those were the highlights, but Etzler also played with tremendous feel as a screener and passer, often urging teammates to get on the same page offensively. He defended 6’10” Moeller center Logan Duncomb, the no. 5 player in his class, pretty well despite giving up roughly 30 pounds. All the while, Etzler can switch onto guards, proved to be a fluid athlete, and was always one of the first guys running the break.

Co-Breakout Performance: Aidan Noyes (2021), 6’4” W, Moeller

Noyes … I mean, whoa. We knew he had some bounce and athleticism, but he was getting off the floor in a hurry to throw it down in transition, even with defenders pursuing. Noyes, again we knew he could score with on straight-line drives off a jab step, but he was getting to the cup all day. What’s more, he made advanced moves off the dribble such as a turn-around jumper to create enough space for a basket. Made it look easy offensively while being a nice rebounder who can defend two through four. He exceeded expectation in every way and looked like, by our own eye and according to a D-II assistant coach in attendance, a D-I or top-flight D-II prospect.

Co-Breakout Performance: Henry Raynor (2021), 6’6” W/F, St. Ignatius

Raynor played with purpose all day. He was productive against the top attendees, a group he belonged in by about 3PM. First of all, he’s a fluid and dexterous athlete at 6’6”. We knew he used those tools to run the floor, rebound, defend, and finish simple baskets, but we weren’t prepared for his off-the-dribble game. Raynor created his own shot by attacking from the perimeter to go one-on-one in face-up situations. Step-throughs, euro-steps, spin moves — the whole bag was emptied throughout the day and nobody was stopping him, even those we consider to be excellent defenders in 2021.

Top Prospect: Seth Wilson (2021), 6’3” PG, St. Vincent-St. Mary

Wilson is spectacular navigating the floor in a pick and roll situation. Truthfully, he could definitely pull-up for 3 or go to the cup even without the two-man game, but Wilson knows he’s unstoppable with the help. He does a great job of sizing up opponents and getting them on their heels with between-the-legs dribbles. From there, he can go into their bodies with power or get his jumper off. Wilson finished everything inside and it didn’t really matter who was there to contest the shot.

Best Big Man: Skyler Schmidt (2021), 6’7” F, Clermont Northeastern

We’ve tabbed Schmidt as a power big in the past, without much nuance. He just simply out-sized and out-muscled people in our time watching him. And, look, he can definitely do that. The kid is cut out or granite with sharp shoulders and a wide frame.

But on a team without a ball-dominant guard, Schmidt was also able to push pace after grabbing defensive rebounds and showed good vision in the open court. He dropped a memorable half-court bounce pass and even showed good court sense in the lane. Soft touch and pretty good bounce for a kid of his size.

Best Facilitator: Jack Pugh (2021), 6’6” W/F, Hilliard Bradley

Pugh is clearly transitioning into more of a full-time wing in preparation of the next level. He started pretty much every possession from behind the 3-point line and defended all over the floor, which isn’t a new thing actually. Offensively, he was tremendous on the drive-and-kick. Pugh gets into the middle of the lane at will and consistently looks to the opposite corner or wing for a spot shooter, often delivering clever passes through constricted passing lanes for the potential assist. He simplifies the game by not making wild crossovers but has a really good power-spin-move that he uses after two dribbles.   

Best Shooter: Casey George (2021), 5’11” PG, Pickerington North

Before an ugly ankle injury where George landed on a defender’s foot on the way down from yet another 3-point conversion, he was really finding his role on his team as an off-ball guard shooting specialist. It was an impressive switch-up for a player who otherwise enjoys making plays off the bounce as a primary ball-handler. Further on that point, it’s always impressive for someone to sacrifice their normal role in this type of setting and still find success. For George, that came back to him in dividends once he focused on spot-up shooting.