Posted On: 11/6/18 4:59 AM
In the favorites article for Division II, we predicted a Trotwood, Benedictine, Sheridan, and Lexington Final Four. But, that’s not to say we’d be shocked if others made it in, especially if it were Columbus South, Lake Catholic, Hartley, Wyoming, Columbus DeSales, or Gallia Academy.
#7 Bishop Hartley
Last season’s result: Eliminated by Beechcroft in the District Finals
Key departures: Garrett Tipton, Mac Wieging, Major Lowe
Key players: Morgan Safford, Payton Collins, Chase Albanese, PJ Daniels
An offense centered around Tipton (last year) and an offense centered around Safford (this year) are two completely different teams. We haven’t seen a preseason scrimmage, so we’re speculating. But we anticipate a much faster-pace team that capitalizes on Safford’s ability to rebound and go coast-to-coast. The dark horse Mr. Basketball candidate could play a small ball four for them, creating the potential for an even greater pace advantage.
Meanwhile, Collins is a throwback post player, a prodding big. His ability to create second chances and presence as a second scorer is a nice weapon. However, we’ll see how Safford’s and his contrasting strengths work together.
Last season’s result: Eliminated in the first round by Aiken
Key departures: none
Key players: Joey Edmonds, Evan Prater, Isaiah Walker, Deante Gray, Elijah McGee, Pierson Rogers
Wyoming is the third team of our top eight who will go through the Southwest Ohio region in the postseason. The biggest difference with Wyoming is their tempo — they play much more in the halfcourt. Also, while Taft and Trotwood are known for causing turnovers with their pressure defense, Wyoming has a ball secure point guard in Edmonds — a Findlay commit with an assist-turnover ratio of 4.5-2.2 last season.
If their underclassmen, and especially Walker, can take a major step forward, Wyoming should be a top ten team statewide all season.
#9 Lake Catholic
Last season’s result: Eliminated by VASJ in the District Final
Key departures: Brandon Horton, Cyncere Watkins
Key players: Luke Frazier, Luka Eller, Sean Fitzgerald, Robert Morgan
Lake Catholic was above average last season, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. Their seven defeats came against VASJ (twice), Benedictine (twice), Holy Name, Gilmour, and Hoban.
So, what has changed? Well, they were led by sophomores. Those sophomores, Eller and Frazier both showed excellent development this summer. Both earned exactly five D-I offers since last season. When you have an inside-outside punch that complements each other and is super talented, Lake Catholic has a chance to accomplish a lot the next two years.
#10 Columbus South
Last season’s result: District Champions, eliminated by Trotwood in the Regional Semifinals
Key departures: Jaedyn Carter, Jeremiah Green, Wesley Williams, Naiquan Galloway, Dashn White, Michael Cochran
Key players: Treohn Watkins, Marcus Johnson, Trevell Adams, Taquan Simington, Tyrique Hawkins, Alvin Byrd
South should be one of the fastest teams in Ohio, let alone among Central Ohio’s Division II teams. They definitely won’t have a size advantage, so it will be crucial for them to beat teams in transition. We all know about Watkins and Johnson. But, Adams, Simington, Hawkins, and others will need to meet our high expectations individually for South to truly threaten Hartley and other D-II contenders across Ohio.
#11 Columbus DeSales
Last season’s result: Eliminated by Eastmoor Academy in the District Semifinals
Key departures: Donya Harris
Key players: Kayin Derden, Kobe Righter, Desmond Watson, Anthony Sciarroni, Chris Fleisher, Daniel Bogue
DeSales is a long-shot prediction, but they epitomize the meaning of a sleeper. Their most appealing quality is their starting backcourt, a one-two punch that is only behind Trotwood and maybe Benedictine among D-II teams. Neither Derden or Righter will draw D-I scholarships, but they’re both quality future D-II players in our opinion. Both can score it from all three levels and are high-IQ players. If Watson naturally progresses as a sophomore, DeSales should sneak up on people.
#12 Gallia Academy
Last season’s result: Eliminated by Fairfield Union in the District Semifinals
Key departures: Evan Wiseman, Kaden Thomas, Gage Harrison
Key players: Zach Loveday, Justin McClelland, Caleb Henry, Cory Call
Gallia Academy finished 20-4 last season, an improvement from 18-7 the year prior. The question is, now that the 7’0” Loveday is an upperclassman, can they capitalize and bring home a State Championship while they have a high-major prospect in house? Other than a senior-laden Sheridan, the road looks pretty clear in that Southeast Ohio region. As Loveday’s scoring ability has expanded, finding more creative ways to put him in scoring opportunities should be the focus. Loveday, Ohio’s no. 1 2020 prospect, is already a dominate defensive anchor for GA.