Recapping the OHSAA State Tournament.
by Rodger Bohn
Lost in between the mix of all of our coverage of AAU and HS All-Star gems, we spent some time checking out some of the OHSAA state tournament games. Over the past few years, cats like Daequan Cook, O.J. Mayo, Jared Sullinger, Raymar Morgan, and LeBron James have put on legendary performances down state in Columbus. We made it to a handful of games even before things hit the capitol, giving us an even better feel as to how things were going to shake up.
The biggest surprise of the tournament was the nation’s #1 team, Columbus Northland, getting bounced in the elite 8 to a puny Gahanna Lincoln squad. Now don’t get me wrong, Lincoln had 3 guards that can GO, but they didn’t have anyone to matchup with the crazy frontline of high major bigs that Northland had in 6’8 Jared Sullinger, 6’8 Jalen Robinson, and 6’6 J.D. Weatherspoon. Needless to say, the Northland upset along with a few other surprises left the final 4 without the star power that it’s had in year’s past.
Here are the winners of the OHSAA state tournament by division, along with some of the top cats that caught our eye throughout:
D-1: Massillon Jackson
D-2: Dayton Dunbar
D-3: Lima Central Catholic
D-4: Dayton Jefferson
Jared Sullinger, 6’8, PF, Columbus Northland, 2010- Words cannot even express how surprised I was to hear about “Big Sully” getting bounced out of the state tournament prematurely, losing by over 30 points to Gahanna Lincoln (which didn’t have a starter over 6’3). I was in Milwaukee for the NCAA tourney games getting text updates, with my jaw hitting the Bradley Center floor after each and every one. I had the chance to catch Sullinger in some of the earlier rounds and he was straight dominant, continuing to disprove the haters who say that he’s not big enough or athletic enough. He’s starting to really flourish shooting the ball from beyond the arc, opening up some doors for him down the road as a pick and pop threat. All in all, the Naismith award winner made as strong a case as anyone for top player in the senior class.
Stevie Taylor, 5’9, PG, Gahanna Lincoln, 2011- The high school version of David knocked off Goliath (Sullinger and Columbus Northland) in the elite 8 of the state tourney. The super skilled little man showed no fear against the top team in the USA. Taylor drilled a number of deep threes , made some pinpoint passes, and converted in traffic in the games we caught. Size is the only thing that holds back this filthy point guard from being a bigger name on the national level.
Adreian Payne, 6’10, PF, Dayton Jefferson, 2010- AP has always been known as a guy who had all of the talent in the world, but never quite had the productivity to mirror that. He put it all together during his senior year, terrorizing the D-4 division (smallest schools) in the state of Ohio. In the Final Four, he completely dominated both ends of the hardwood and put the talents on display that made him a top 25 recruit nationally. The future Michigan State Spartan hit a number of face-up jumpers, made great decisions in the open floor, and had a handful of explosive dunks. If Payne can keep this sort of consistency up once he hits Lansing, the Big Ten better watch out.
Geron Johnson, 6’3, SG, Dayton Dunbar, 2010- Johnson exploded on the scene nationally after his monster performance at Flyin’ To The Hoop in Dayton, and continued that play to a ring at the state tourney. The athletic dynamo brought his A game to Columbus, putting the clamps on people defensively, getting to the basket, and converting on a number of power dunks in the open floor. It’s looking like that Geron will have to head to the prep school ranks to sure up his academic situation, but is definitely a guy to pay attention to once he reclassifies.
Mark Henninger, 6’7, PF, Massillon Jackson, 2010- The skilled big man led his Massillon Jackson team to a state championship through the consistent scoring presence that he brought to the table. Not a guy that’s going to “wow” you with his hops or drill a number of deep threes, his gritty inside play made him the target of a number of mid-major programs throughout the country. The Kent State recruit still needs to work on his footspeed against more athletic forwards, but should have no problem making his presence felt in the MAC.
Anthony “A.J.” Jackson, 6’1, PG/SG, Gahanna Lincoln- The athletic combo guard had a great state tournament, which led him to earn a scholarship from Stonybrook. Not a dude that’s going to blow you away in any particular facet of the game, he consistently put points on the board for Lincoln and as a reward will be playing in the D-1 ranks next year.