Photo: Matthew Cletus Gallery

Posted On: 11/24/21 8:40 AM

The Ohio Capital Conference is one of the biggest conferences in the state with 32 teams calling it home. Many of Central Ohio’s best teams in Division I come out of this conference as this past year was no exception. The amount of collegiate talent also here is much higher than other parts of the state. Continuing on with our coverage, I take a look at the conference and preview who is expected to compete within the 5 divisions.

Ohio Division

The overwhelming favorite to win this division is Gahanna Lincoln hands down. They have so much talent including  Sean Jones Sean Jones 5'10" | PG Gahanna | 2022 State #102 Nation OH (Sr) who is committed to Marquette,  Javan Simmons Javan Simmons 6'7" | C Gahanna | 2022 State OH (Sr) who is committed to Toledo,  Joshua Whiteside Joshua Whiteside 6'7" | C Gahanna Lincoln | 2022 State OH (Sr) who transfers over from St. Charles, and seniors  Eljae Deas Eljae Deas 6'1" | CG Gahanna | 2022 State OH and  Jesse Battle Jesse Battle 5'11" | PG Gahanna | 2022 OH . This Lions team has the talent and experience to overwhelm Central Ohio. Pickerington North should be right behind them as they too have some very good senior guard play led by Dior Connors, Jerry Saunders Jerry Saunders 6'0" | SG Pickerington North | 2022 State OH and  Corey Hudson Corey Hudson 6'1" | PG Pickerington North | 2022 State OH . Westerville Central is the defending Division I State Runner-Up but are losing a lot of those key players. While they return  Sean Jones Sean Jones 5'10" | PG Gahanna | 2022 State #102 Nation OH (Sr) who is committed to Marquette,  Javan Simmons Javan Simmons 6'7" | C Gahanna | 2022 State OH (Sr) who is committed to Toledo,  Joshua Whiteside Joshua Whiteside 6'7" | C Gahanna Lincoln | 2022 State OH (Sr) who transfers over from St. Charles, and seniors  Eljae Deas Eljae Deas 6'1" | CG Gahanna | 2022 State OH and  Jesse Battle Jesse Battle 5'11" | PG Gahanna | 2022 OH . This Lions team has the talent and experience to overwhelm Central Ohio. Pickerington North should be right behind them as they too have some very good senior guard play led by Dior Connors, Jerry Saunders Jerry Saunders 6'0" | SG Pickerington North | 2022 State OH , and  Corey Hudson Corey Hudson 6'1" | PG Pickerington North | 2022 State OH . Westerville Central is the defending Division I State Runner-Up but are losing a lot of those key players. While they return  Donovan Hunter Donovan Hunter 6'8" | PF Westerville Central | 2023 State OH (Jr) and  Abubakarr Bangura Abubakarr Bangura 6'2" | SG Westerville Central | 2023 State OH (Sr) among others, I’m not sure if it’s enough to beat out the Panthers or Lions at the top. New Albany returns two talented players in seniors  Justin Perry Justin Perry 6'7" | PF New Albany | 2022 State OH and  Joshua Evans Joshua Evans 6'4" | SF New Albany | 2022 OH . Grove City lost their two top guys from last year and Westland loses one of their top two from a 3 win team. Central Division This division may be one of the toughest to pick as two of the six teams were in the Regional Semifinals last year and everyone seemingly knocked each other off. Hilliard Bradley was the division champion a year ago but will definitely be a younger team this upcoming season.  Cade Norris Cade Norris 6'2" | PG Hilliard Bradley | 2024 State OH (So) will look to replace his brother Keaton Norris in the backcourt but the Jaguars may have some learning to do with their youth. Hilliard Davidson is their cross town rival and bring back 3 of their top 4.  Jayden Nervis Jayden Nervis 6'6" | PF Hilliard Davidson | 2022 State OH (Sr),  Ryan Paris Ryan Paris 6'4" | SG Hilliard Davidson | 2022 State OH (Sr), and  Peyton Frey Peyton Frey 6'5" | PF Hilliard Davidson | 2023 State OH (Jr) are a solid core to build around and are going to try to compete with Bradley and Coffman. Speaking of which, the Shamrocks lost 2 of their top 5, but are returning Ohio commit  Ajay Sheldon Ajay Sheldon 6'2" | PG Dublin Coffman | 2022 State OH (Sr) and  Aiden Schmidt Aiden Schmidt 6'3" | SF Dublin Coffman | 2023 State OH (Jr). Fellow senior Aidan Dreng (Sr) will be a key helper too if healthy. Olentangy Liberty is the other Regional qualifier from a year ago and are bringing back quite a few pieces from that team (4 of the top 7).  Cooper Davis Cooper Davis 6'5" | SG Olentangy Liberty | 2022 State OH and Parker Hinkle both lead this team as seniors and should be considered favorites to again compete within the District. Olentangy Orange knocked off several of these teams during the regular season and even though they lose two of their top guys from last year, they still return a solid group of juniors. It will be interesting how the Pioneers compete against these senior heavy teams. Upper Arlington struggled within the conference but have a nice senior group back led by  Quinn Corna Quinn Corna 6'3" | SG Upper Arlington | 2022 State OH  and  Nick Heath Nick Heath 6'4" | SF Upper Arlington | 2022 State OH that should allow the Golden Bears a better shot of competing in 2022. Buckeye Division Pickerington Central has to be the overwhelming favorite to win this division title too. They are loaded with talent including  Josh Harlan Josh Harlan 5'10" | PG Pickerington Central | 2022 State OH (Sr),  Devin Royal Devin Royal 6'6" | SF Pickerington Central | 2023 State OH (Jr),  Sonny Styles Sonny Styles 6'4" | SF Pickerington Central | 2023 State OH (Jr), and  Juwan Turner Juwan Turner 5'10" | PG Pickerington Central | 2024 OH (So) among others. The Tigers on paper should be the best team in this division without a doubt. I like Newark next as they are defending District Runner-Ups. The Wildcats have a promising player in  Steele Meister Steele Meister 6'4" | SF Newark | 2024 OH (So) to lead them and have the culture to continue to find ways to win. Reynoldsburg was a District Runner-Up too last year, but lose 2 of their top 3 from that team. Do return  Julian Heckman Julian Heckman 6'1" | PG Reynoldsburg | 2022 OH (Sr) but can the Pirates still compete against Pick Central and now Newark? Groveport has a promising senior in Kenyatta Whiteside but need to show more competitiveness and improve from 6 wins in 2021. Central Crossing added  Sohn McGee Sohn McGee 6'4" | SG Central Crossing | 2022 OH (Sr) from Westland but still going to struggle within the conference. Lancaster loses their top guy from a 12-10 team a year ago. Cardinal Division On paper it looks like Thomas Worthington and Dublin Jerome are probably the two teams to beat within the division. Thomas Worthington likely won’t repeat another undefeated season within the division, but I like their junior duo of  Caleb Miller Caleb Miller 6'1" | SG Thomas Worthington | 2023 State OH and  Joey Zalewski Joey Zalewski 6'2" | SG Thomas Worthington | 2023 State OH and think they could still be near the top of the division even after losing the amount of talent they did. Jerome struggled a year ago, but they bring back nearly everyone including  Ryan Nutter Ryan Nutter 6'4" | PG Jerome | 2023 State OH (Jr),  Luke Kuhlman Luke Kuhlman 6'4" | SF Dublin Jerome | 2023 State OH (Jr), and Sasha Stravroff (Jr), plus added  Dayvion McDonald Dayvion McDonald 6'6" | PF Coffman | 2022 OH (Sr) from Dublin Coffman. Marysville is losing their 1-2 punch of Jack Christian and Garrett Taylor, but returning sophomore  Jason Moore Jason Moore 6'7" | C Marysville | 2024 State OH . Is that enough though to keep them in the hunt? Olentangy is also losing 2 of their top 3 but return  Ethan Smith Ethan Smith 5'10" | PG Olentangy | 2022 OH (Sr). Hilliard Darby has their top 3 back as long as they can win in the division. Olentangy Berlin likely again is at the bottom of the division. Capital Division I like Westerville South and Canal Winchester in this division. Westerville South loses a solid backcourt, but has Wright State commit  Drey Carter Drey Carter 6'8" | PF Westerville South | 2022 State OH (Sr) back who is one of the best players in the division. Canal Winchester already was returning rising sophomore  Cortez Freeman Cortez Freeman 6'0" | PG Canal Winchester | 2024 State OH and then added  Derrick James Derrick James 5'9" | PG Canal Winchester | 2022 State OH (Sr) from St. Charles to form a solid backcourt for the Indians. Worthington Kilbourne has Ayden Parson (Sr) returning but will be without 2 others from their top 3. Delaware Hayes has a talented sophomore in  Jesse Burris Jesse Burris 6'4" | SF Delaware Hayes | 2024 State OH , but is that enough for the Pacers to keep up in the division? Westerville North should still be solid with  Noah Lawrence Noah Lawrence 6'0" | PG Westerville North | 2022 State OH (Sr) and Jordan Graham (So) both back. Big Walnut will be without Caleb Conrad and Franklin Heights and Dublin Scioto just don’t have the personnel to keep up.

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