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

You could have made a case for about a dozen Mr. Basketball preseason candidates last year. After that, we would have realistically narrowed it down by cutting half of that list. This year, however, the award is up for grabs.

As we know from our research last year, there’s three components of a résumé that voters gravitate towards: talent, productivity, and, ultimately, team success. The bench marks that have normally been hit is Division I talent, 20 points per game, and a team who threatens to make a playoff run. The more one exceeds those unofficial qualifiers (e.g. high-major Division I prospect, 25-plus points or 20 and 10 rebounds, no. 1 ranked team in the AP Poll) is where the separation occurs. 

Considering those standards, along with common sense, we’ve identified candidates from each region of the state. For Northwest Ohio, we have their four top candidates ranked in order.

Javin Etzler (2019), 6’7” F, Convoy Crestview

Etzler certainly should hit all of the qualifiers we’ve laid out — again talent, team success, and production. Crestview is our pick to win it all in Division IV, Etzler should be around 20 and 10 per night, and he’s signed on to play at Miami (OH). However, it could be tough for him to overcome a bias against playing in the lowest division of Ohio basketball. Voters could conclude that his numbers are inflated from a lack of competition. We’d argue, though, that Etzler will need to be considered heavily in a wide-open race.

Nathan Bruns (2019), 6’7” W/F, Marion Local

Bruns will need to overcome that same Division IV bias. The Findlay commit, however, did capture the attention of the state last season at the Final Four. There should be some glimmer of a spotlight on Bruns to start the season after what he pulled off in Columbus. To reach those benchmarks and keep the buzz going for his campaign, Bruns will need to raise his numbers from 14.6 PPG and 7.0 RPG.

Zeb Jackson (2020), 6’3” G, Maumee Valley

Jackson is probably a year away from putting together a super compelling case for Mr. Basketball. But, the Michigan verbal commit should be a couple points better than 20 a game this season while leading Maumee Valley to a top ten placement in the AP Poll. Even though the Division IV thing remains a problem here, Jackson is a high-major player who should put up gaudy scoring numbers.

Cade Stover (2019), 6’4” F, Lexington

Stover is a stealthy candidate given the buzz he generates as an Ohio State football commit. If given a fair shake, Stover’s candidacy will need to be considered. He was just two points away from averaging a double-double last season, including 13 freaking rebounds a game. Keeping Lexington, a reigning Regional Champion, near the top of the AP Poll all season will be crucial for Stover.