Posted On: 11/6/18 10:34 AM

It’s the start of a new season which means there are a new crop of players ready to explode onto the scene and make their presence felt. Here is our Next Up list for the 2018-19 season, and today we look at the stacked Class of 2020.


Jared Baldock/G/Purcell Marian (PHO #151)- The Cavaliers are seen as one of the D-III teams out of Southwest Ohio with a realistic chance to reach Columbus come March. And if they are to reach their goals, Baldock will need to provide consistent perimeter shooting. Last year was a transition year for Jared as it was his 1st season in Coach Scott Kerr program after transferring from Finneytown. But expect to see a much more comfortable Baldock this season who should be able to play more freely and without hesitation. I expect big things from this young man this season.


Will Burns/F-C/Deer Park- After sitting out last season due to injury, Burns and his unique skill-set could help the Wildcats make a return trip to Columbus. While possessing the size of a forward/center (6’6) Burns is very comfortable facing up and putting the ball on the deck. And with those ball skills he and FIU Football commit Joseph Hocker should work very nicely together in high/low situations. Even with two big men in the line-up, Coach Gentry should still be able the up-tempo style that he is known for coaching with Burns occasionally being the primary ball-handler.


Kaleb Crawford/G/Princeton (PHO #112) – Whoever the two guards are that walk out of the preseason as starters for the Vikings will have definitely earned it. And we expect Crawford to be one of those young men. An athletic guard who excels at getting in the paint and the foul-line, Kaleb showed over the AAU season an ability to be a play-maker for others. If he continue improving in the before mentioned area while becoming a more consistent shooter and ball-handler, we could be talking about a scholarship player at the next level.


Ivan Mason/F/Withrow- A long, lanky wing/forward with good defensive instincts, Mason is seen as a major piece to a Tigers team with high expectations. Ivan will provide more rim-protection and rebounding alongside C Abba Lawal (2019 PHO #26) along with the ability to switch onto perimeter players when needed. And while his offensive game is still developing, he will get be able to score in transition and off the offensive boards.


Michael McCants/F/Gamble Montessori- Even after being named to multiple post-season teams including 1st Team Southwest Ohio D-IV, it seems not many know about McCants. He has really good hands, is strong as a bull and does not shy away from the contact. He now has a guard in Kaden Warner (2021 PHO #45) that should help make his job a lot easier. Don’t be surprised if that 14.8ppg average from last season is at close to 20 this season.


Julian Newman/G/Western Hills- Young fella was featured in PHO back in June and for good reason, he can flat out shoot the basketball. A combo guard who has the handle to play with the basketball as well, Newman should be “The Man” for a Mustangs team looking to re-build under 1st year coach Mark Mitchell.


Nic Smith/F/Walnut Hills (PHO #165)- Walnut lost two of the best in the city to graduation last season in G Kam Gibson and big man Zubi Nwankwo, so that leaves varsity veteran Smith as the leader of the team. Having been on the varsity roster since his freshman season, Nic will have to average near a double-double this season for the Eagles to contend in the ECC. And with his ability to offensive rebound and score around the bucket, that is definitely a doable task.


Leroy Walker/G-W/Winton Woods- The first of two Warriors to make our 2020 list, Walker is as athletic as they come on the wing. At his best attacking the rim he also showed versatility by being a primary ball-handler in many instances along with showing the potential to be a lockdown defender during AAU. Leroy should end up being one of four varsity double-figure scorers this season for the Warriors.


Aaron Ward/F/Winton Woods (PHO #42)- After sitting behind Darius Bazley at Princeton the past two seasons, Aaron gets an opportunity to start for one of the Vikings main rivals. Ward’s combination of size, athleticism and skill will make him one of the best wings/forwards in Southwest Ohio, and over the summer he showed that he is getting more and more comfortable facing up. His addition makes Winton Woods one of the most dangerous teams in Southwest Ohio, and a team no one will want to see in their bracket come February/March.


Niles Whatley/G/Withrow- Old school, throwback point man who really gets after it on the defensive end. Niles combination of lateral quickness, length and straight dog mentality will make him one of the premier perimeter defenders in the Cincinnati area this season. And while still developing a consistent jumper on the offensive, Whatley is not afraid to get in the lane to draw contact.