Posted On: 11/14/18 5:00 AM

Plenty of talented and productive players hardly missed the cut for our preseason First Team All Ohio for this division, including guys who will probably make the official All State team. But, in narrowing it down to five it was important for us to not just look for 20-point per game guys or Division I college prospects. Instead, this exercise is about identifying valuable players on competitive teams. With that being said, it still doesn’t feel right to leave Joey Holifield and Jarred Logan off the list, but we believe this group of five inches out the competition.

CJ Anthony (2020), 6’0” PG, Harvest Prep

Anthony made last year’s official First Team All State as a sophomore which makes him a pretty obvious choice here. The rising prospect has been a model of consistency throughout his career. The point guard built like a running back has the skill and body to score efficiently on the drive. Also, those lanes are wide open given his 43 percent shooting from 3-point range. Anthony was also two turnovers away from having a perfect 2-1 for assist/turnover ratio last season.

His consistent excellence on an individual level should carry over to Harvest Prep this season, a reigning Regional Champion. They’re without question the best Central Ohio team in the division. If they run into unexpected trouble on a given night, too, Anthony can transform into a more ball-dominant scoring guard to bail them out.

Tanner Holden (2019), 6’6” W/F, Wheelersburg

Between the five schools represented in this group, Wheelersburg may have the longest shot of making the State Tournament. Holden, however, isn’t the one to blame and he will give them a shot. Last season they were eliminated by Harvest Prep in the Regional Semifinals. If that matchup were to occur again for a shot at Columbus, Holden would have even more of a size mismatch than last season.

The First Team All Ohioan was a walking double-double at 17.6 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior, according to the Herald Dispatch. He will either play the three of four at Wright State in college. But at the high school level, Holden can dominate the game within 12 feet of the basket with his 185-pound frame. His skill and ability to step out for jumpers poses a mismatch for opposing forwards every night.

Jake Plantz (2019), 6’4” G/W, Genoa

The name “Jake Plantz” may not have the loudest ring to it on a statewide level. But, let us tell you, there’s no chance of the Lake Erie commit not making First Team All State as a senior. The rural Northwest Ohio prospect is a talented scorer and irritating perimeter defender.

His 21.0 PPG last season, good enough for a Third Team All State selection, was up from 18.1 as a sophomore, per the Toledo Blade. At 205 pounds, he also tallied 6.2 rebounds a night. His strong chest and shoulders also allow him to defend multiple positions and bully guards on both ends of the floor. His two-way ability is imperative to Genoa’s success, a 20-4 team a year ago that returns their two centerpieces. Even if it will be tough for Genoa to get past the likes of Cardinal Stritch come March, Plantz’s value is irreplaceable for this ball club.

Brandon Rush (2019), 6’2” G, Warrensville Heights

Maybe the most explosive athlete in Ohio’s senior class, Rush is going to look out of place in the Division III postseason scene — he’s that electric. The Fareigh Dickinson commit showed improvements as a distributor and thinker-of-the-game this grassroots season. His maturity as a point guard and outside shooter gives Warrensville a chance to make a run now that they’ve been moved down from Division II.

But, while the maturity is important to winning, Rush’s awe-inspiring moments come when he’s attacking the rim and looking to score. After darting past guys with a crossover, he can rise up on shot-blockers for nasty dunks. The step-back 3-point jumper is a weapon, too. Rush ignites crowds with his on-court energy and he’ll hope to do the same in their eventual upset-bid against Lutheran East in the Regional playoff matchup everyone wants to see.  

Mark Wise (2020), 6’3” G, Deer Park

Wise put up a gruesome 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 3.0 steals per game last season and, somehow, none of those averages led the team. Instead, the since-graduated Damani Mcentire topped him in each category. So, Wise should actually go up another level as the upperclassman leader. The D-I combo guard prospect is stronger and more skilled since the high school scene last saw him, giving us the expectation that he will exceed last year’s numbers.

Meanwhile, Deer Park is coming off an undefeated run to the Division III State Championship. We believe their chances at repeating are strong, ranking them at no. 2 in the state in our preseason preview. We’re excited to see Wise, a powerful slasher, with the ball in his hands more often as a creator and scorer. He should also, once again, be one of Ohio’s best rebounders at the guard spot.