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Posted On: 11/29/18 1:09 PM
Keeping in mind the criteria of games that both bring together winning teams and are worth scouting for colleges, we will select the best five games every week for the rest of the year. Just like this:
Twitter once again proved to be an effective marketing tool in the realm of high school basketball in regard to our top opening week matchup. After jabs were thrown back and forth between head coaches Sonny Johnson (Garfield) and Jermaine Jackson (Spire) for the last month, it’s finally time for a main event tonight that will likely be sold out.
As far as the basketball being played, Garfield Heights will be tested by one of the most loaded prep school teams in all of the country. Spire’s backcourt of Michigan State signee Rocket Watts and Lamelo Ball, younger brother of Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball, create high-percentage looks and are quick defenders. The Bulldogs’ young backcourt of Meechie Johnson and Sonny Johnson Jr. will have their hands full just taking care of the ball, but the team also need them to produce a lot of their points this season, too. Meanwhile, Garfield Heights unsigned 6’8” forward Brison Waller takes on Isaiah Jackson, a 6’8” junior forward ranked no. 17 in the country.
Other prospects: Myron Gardner (Spire), Brent Darby Jr. (Garfield), Jesse Laster (Garfield), Gilbert Davis (Garfield)
Our pick: Spire Institute
The top early game from the 2018 All Ohio Nike High School Hoops Showcase brings together one of the top Division II teams in Ohio, Taft, versus a Division I challenger from Columbus. The big story here will be the return of Ben Roderick, a mid-major/high-major prospect, after his mid-season ACL tear as a junior. How he looks physically will be an indication of how Liberty’s season will play out. Taft plays a man-to-man pressure defense most of the time with a 6’2” wing in Chris’seon Stringer who can keep up with Roderick athletically, so this is no easy task for Roderick and company.
Also, Shroder transfer Nekhi Smith makes his debut for the Senators. The 6’6” forward has the physical tools to really take off as a recruit as an upperclassman. We believe the new situation could equip Smith with more tenacity as a byproduct of the Taft system.
Other prospects: DeMarco Bradley Jr. (Taft), Mitchell Kershner (Liberty), Nick Nakasian (Liberty), Henry Hinkle (Liberty)
Our pick: Taft
This early season matchup could be a precursor to a late-round District or Regional playoff game in Division II this season, as these are arguably the two best teams in Central Ohio’s D-II ranks.
We’ve speculated all preseason about how fast South will play without a traditional big man on the roster, and more importantly a group of talented guards. Same for Hartley, too. With Morgan Safford as their top player, we believe they could pick it up a notch and run more often. So, this game’s pace will be interesting to watch, along with a coveted matchup of Safford against South’s Marcus Johnson, a 6’3” wing that can actually compete with Safford athletically.
Other prospects: Treohn Watkins (South), Taquan Simington (South), Trevell Adams (South), Tyrique Hawkins (South), PJ Daniels (Hartley)
Our pick: Columbus South
It’s a reunion! Springfield lost two transfers to Pickerington Central this offseason in Sam Towns and JaJuan “Jay” Rodgers, which should provide all the extra motivation the Wildcats might need to open the season. Although a staple from the Dayton-area, Springfield also enters the season with far fewer expectations while Pick Central is the favorite to come out of Columbus. But, count on a spirited effort from Springfield as they try to spoil Pick Central’s opener in their hometown.
Other prospects: RaHeim Moss (Springfield), Larry Stephens (Springfield), Javohn Garcia (PC), Coleton Landis (PC), Jalen Cromwell (PC), Tahleik Walker (PC), Conner Maciag (PC), Garner Wallace (PC), Elhadji Thiam (PC)
Our pick: Pickerington Central
Yet another game at the All Ohio event to finish up our weekend slate of games. Athleticism in the post and young backcourt stars will be the story of this one. As far as post players, the efficient Jack Sawyer for Pick North will deal with a very bouncy defensive force in senior 6’7” center LaTrace Jackson. VASJ, a perennial State Championship contender, will also be grooming their guards of the future this season with Jaden Hameed and Jonah Waag. Pick North is in a similar situation and it will be interesting to see how they split minutes between Casey George, Idris Lawrence, and Dior Conners. The Panthers’ junior wings, Hunter Shedenhelm and Chris Scott, could the X-factors for their opener and the season as a whole.
Other prospects: Khalil Mitcham (VASJ), Jerry Saunders (PN)
Our pick: Pickerington North