Posted On: 11/2/18 1:03 PM
November 14, November 21, and November 29. Three important dates to stay cognizant of if you’re a senior basketball prospect. The first two represent the beginning and the end of the Early Signing Period for Division I basketball commits. In Ohio, we’re on-track to have up to 17 seniors sign during that span. Then, November 29: the official start of the high school basketball season.
The imminence of those dates got us thinking that it would be timely to look at the top players who are uncommitted at this time. Although many of the 41 prospects in our weeklong series won’t sign to a D-I program early or late, all of them should play college basketball next season.
Brison Waller, 6’8”, Garfield Heights
Waller is the second highest ranked available prospect in Ohio regardless of position. Throughout his career, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Miami (OH), Buffalo, Youngstown State, and Cleveland State have offered, but nothing new has come across the table since September 2017. Still, Waller is a versatile defensive weapon who can really get out in transition for buckets. Becoming more effective in the half-court game will be big for his success at the college level, and it’s also a thing Garfield Heights needs this season to compete for a Division I State Championship.
Taevon Pierre-Louis, 6’5”, Lorain
After averaging 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG last season, we expect TPL to be break the double-double threshold on a per game basis this season. We were surprised that his recruitment didn’t take-off in the summer after his 10-point, 13-rebound game against Moeller’s D-I front-line in the State Semifinals. However, Lorain enters the season with a legitimate chance to repeat as Regional Champions, which could be crucial for his somewhat quiet recruitment.
Na’Elle Simmons, 6’7”, Beechcroft
Central State, an in-state HBCU that competes at the NAIA level, became the first to offer Simmons this October. His long wing-span, decent shooting touch, and mobility give him a lot of upside as a defender — he can block shots inside and close-out on the perimeter. However, he hasn’t quite closed the gap of potential and production. Simmons will need to be a dominate force on both ends this season if Beechcroft is to compete for the Columbus City League crown, so here comes his moment of truth.
CJ Karsatos, 6’8”, Upper Arlington
Karsatos is the only true stretch four in this list of top eight available power forwards. Air Force and UT-Martin have offered. In the grassroots season, at least, Karsatos hung out on the perimeter for the most part. Ball skills and vision are his strengths out there and he could become a true playmaker in the pinch post. We’d like to see him become more assertive and play a bigger role on the boards at Upper Arlington this winter.
Philip Alston, 6’5”, Westerville North
Alston looks like a Power Five tight end recruit on the basketball court, a physical toolbox that he uses to score on put-backs, straight-line drives, and in the open floor. The big-time athlete has shown a willingness to sacrifice and play a role over the past year at Westerville North and with Nova Village’s top team. There’s also potential of him adding a jumper, as his shooting mechanics aren’t bad.
Plenty of options already for Alston, so who knows how much longer he will remain uncommitted. Air Force, Cedarville, Walsh, Tiffin, and Mercyhurst have offered, with the latest two coming in October.
Garrett Powell, 6’6”, Springboro
We’ve written a lot about Powell since his July take-off. But we weren’t blowing smoke, as Florida College (NAIA), Thomas More, and Christian Brothers have offered since that time. He’s a power player with slashing and shooting ability. The kid is a handful for defenses because of his versatility. A Springboro stop is really worth your time if you’re a D-II or NAIA program looking for size late.
Drew Bench, 6’5”, Genoa
In the intro, we stated that every player in the series “should play college basketball this season.” However, it looks like things are trending towards college football for Bench, even if we continue to think he’d be an impact D-II post player. Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, and Bowling Green have offered in football. He has led Genoa’s defense to a 10-0 record this fall, which brought the EKU offer. He could potentially replicate that process by leading a basketball team that has a real chance in Division IIl this season.
AJ Garrett, 6’5”, Purcell Marian
Garrett has been lauded for his youth, athleticism, and high-character the past few seasons. Yet, no offers have been sent his way going into senior year. With Purcell entering next year as a D-III contender, a productive season could key a late blow-up for the bouncy forward. We expect him to keep to his recruitment open throughout the season.
Finally, Garrett averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds last season. A look deeper into the box score tells us that it might have been because of their rigorous schedule against D-I programs. In their five Division III postseason games, for example, Garrett’s numbers ballooned to 14.6 PPG on 65 percent shooting. Colleges will want to see him produce at a high level as a senior, regardless of the competition.