Posted On: 08/29/20 11:22 AM


During the abbreviated AAU season, many Columbus City League players have traveled to the best tournaments or scrimmages in and around the state of Ohio showcasing how much they have gotten better over the time of the pandemic, shutdown and other things that have happened in the chaos that we have called 2020. Since they started games back up in Ohio, some players have excelled for new AAU programs and some established AAU programs, making their stock go up in the eyes of coaches and scouts alike. These players have stood out as young men who seem like they will make an impact on their varsity teams this upcoming season. 

Maurice Barnes- South High School: The young man known as “Buck,” has gotten stronger, has waited his time long enough for his turn and looks like he is ready to assume the crown as best point guard in the Columbus City League south division. Barnes has had an excellent summer playing for the Ohio Varsity Shooting Stars, speaking to people that have seen him more than this writer has, improving his jumper and continuing to get his handle tighter for this season. The times this writer has seen him, he plays steady, never gets sped up and has the most nonchalant facial expression in the Columbus City League. His three point jumper has always been consistent, he is a constant threat from behind the arc while barely getting off his feet to get his shot off. His stock will continue to rise if he carries his AAU season into the regular season and can lift his South Bulldogs to big victories. 

Marquis Hawthorne- South High School: Playing for the newly founded JH95 program has helped this young man find more confidence in his all around game. Hawthorne has shown more ability this summer, displaying a consistent mid-range jumper which can make him a power player in the Columbus City League south amongst big men. Crisp moves in the post make him dangerous, with quick feet and being able to keep his dribble alive while making moves under the basket. He’s more Zach Randolph than Aaron Gordon athletically but he gets rebounds at a pretty high rate, being able to move people with his strength and using his long arms to grab rebounds. Schools and scouts alike have enjoyed watching him improve and look forward to what his season brings about. 

Caleb Brigle- Whetstone: Once again, I will apologize for not mentioning him in my “Best Shooters in the Columbus City League,” because he is the best shooter in this great league and one thing he did this summer was increase his range. In his games with Hidden Gems this summer, Brigle has shown that he is not the best shooter in the Columbus City League but he has I-270 type range, dazzling scouts and coaches with how well he can shoot it. This young man has also gotten better defensively, showing quicker hands and feet to stay in front of other players. Brigle has always competed at a high level and that has not changed this summer, diving on the floor for loose balls and taking charges in AAU games, something not many players do in that type of environment. Brigle has a chance to make Whetstone a tough out for any team this upcoming season.    

LB Towns Jr.- Linden McKinley: The small point guard has always had quick handles and many moves in his arsenal as well as being one of the better passers in the Columbus City League but this summer he has seemed to put more moves to his bag. Towns has played with the JH95 program this summer and has been one of the better point guards in that system. His court vision is still in the upper echelon amongst Columbus City League players in general and he got some definition in his arms meaning he was in the weight room during the shutdown. Improvement in one-on-one situations has helped him create more space to get his jump shot, which comes and goes, and get to the rim without using so many dribbles beforehand. The young LB has gotten better at finishing in traffic over taller players by getting more air on his floaters. 

Zion Blevins- Walnut Ridge: Playing for the JH95 program has elevated his game to a level where he is ready to help continue the legacy of recent Walnut Ridge basketball. His handle has improved according to scouts and coaches alike, proving that if needed he can carry the load for the Scots this upcoming season. Blevins is better at getting to the rim off the dribble because of his quick feet and the moves he has added to his bag of tricks. He still needs to put on some more muscle on his frame to be able to finish through contact, as well as he gets to the rim he will need to be able to score even though he will be hit at the rim. On defense, Blevins has shined this summer, being long and active enough to defend every guard spot and some forwards which will do nothing but help him and his team this upcoming season. This AAU season has prepared this young man for the type of competition he will see all season in the Columbus City League south. 

Dennis Asoro- Eastmoor Academy: Starting to grow into his body and develop more muscle, Asoro has surprised many with how good he has gotten playing with the JH95 program. He addressed the need of pushing his game to the perimeter more and is hitting his jump shot with more consistency. He was already a good rebounder but his added muscle helped him become more of a presence on the boards, especially being the athlete he already is. Increased explosiveness has also helped move him onto the radar of scouts, he was already one of the most athletic bigs in the Columbus City League south. The biggest leap in his game has been in transition, where he runs the floor smoother than a Ferrari on the open highway, he has shown better ability to fill lanes for his teams and finish at the rim through contact. Coach Miranda and the Warrior basketball team utilize their big men in different ways than other teams so Asoro will have to be ready to have the ball in his hand much more. 

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