Posted On: 11/11/19 11:51 AM

High school games begin at the end of the month, making today the right time for one of our favorite preseason traditions: the Prep Hoops Ohio 2023 Watch List reveal!

We’ve consulted several trusted high school and grassroots coaches throughout Ohio, eventually landing on 29 names that we were all confident in as eventual collegiate prospects. 

Before providing a tad-bit of analysis on the latest freshmen class, here are a few notes about the 2023 Watch List:

  • These are not the best 29 freshmen in Ohio. Rather, 29 players from Ohio that figure to be good prospects. We hope to have a more comprehensive list of 2023s by around this time next year. 
  • We haven’t personally evaluated all of these prospects. While we take pride in evaluating every prospect that we rank, that isn’t the case for the preseason freshmen Watch List. This is a scenario where we rely on sources for names. Right now we have seen 13 of the 29. Catching the other 16 during the high school season and/or spring AAU ball is a priority.
  • Players are listed in alphabetical order.

What to Expect in 2019-20

As we so often do on this site, let’s take a look at the players by city with the question in mind, who will make an early impact this season?

In Northwest Ohio, Toledo St. John’s has a promising trio of 2023 prospects. CJ Hornbeak, a 6-0 combo guard, may be one of the best Titan guards regardless of class. He’s a smart ballplayer with quickness and a nice floater. We also expect big minutes from Whitmer’s JaVaugn Jones, a big-bodied 6-foot-6 post. 

Northeast Ohio‘s freshman class is particularly potent. Marlon Barnes, a 6-foot-5 guard, earned a Miami (FL) offer already. Barnes and 6-foot-7 forward Tyler Williams both enter Brush as potential high-major prospects.

St. Vincent-St. Mary should also be excited about their tandem of Darius Strafford and Lance Hayes. Hayes may be a year away from being an impact player but we’d be surprised if the 6-foot-9 Strafford isn’t logging big minutes by midseason. At the least, Strafford will be able to defend the rim, rebound, and develop interior scoring ability against varsity competition. 

Copley and Garfield Heights also have two prospects on the Watch List. We haven’t seen the Copley kids but they both figure to be building blocks for the Indians. For Garfield, 6-foot-5 wing/forward Javion Moore is a smooth and athletic prospect with a high ceiling who may earn a significant role.

We don’t have too many Central Ohio names on the list right now but that number should grow rapidly. Pickerington Central may rely on athletic wings Devin Royal and Sonny Styles for a scoring boost off the bench. One may even start, actually. Both are athletic and big enough to play right away. Also, Gavin Headings has a chance to earn a starting role at Coffman. The 6-foot-5 wing/forward can mix it up on the glass, defend a few positions, and stretch the floor. 

Gabe Cupps (Centerville) and Lawrent Rice (Wayne) are the premier prospects out of Dayton. Both are the top guards on their high school teams. The Elks will need Cupps to provide a mix of perimeter scoring, distributing, and point of attack defense — all areas that he excels — to reach their potential as Division I contenders.

In Cincinnati, the word is that 6-foot-5 wing Rayvon Griffith (Taft) and Deshawne Crim (Fairfield) enter high school as the city’s top two prospects. Griffith has a wealth of athleticism to go with a projectable body. He’s in a nice situation at Taft this season where he can develop his skillset without being relied on to score 20 points per game. The Senators have senior leadership and go-to scorers allowing Griffith to go out there and impact the game by simply playing with energy.