Buckeye Prep offers a glimpse of the future in the midwest.
For nearly a decade now, Rob Taylor has been a staple throughout the midwest on the grassroots circuit. After his son Stevie moved onto Ohio University to continue his playing career, it left the elder Taylor with a difficult decision: Continue building Buckeye Prep Report or call it a day now that all of his children had reached the college ranks? Taylor decided to build on, producing the best Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase to date.
With national media there from all over the country and video coverage by CityLeagueHoops, Taylor opted to bring a different twist to the 2012 showcase. On the first day, he pegged all of the top players in the state of Ohio against all of the top players in the state of Michigan, feeding off of the rivalry that the two states already have on the gridiron. The players bought in and played extremely hard during the showcase games in front of a packed crowd at Central Crossing High School. Sunday offered a bit of a more traditional showcase format, bringing 380 players to a gym that had so much talent it made your head spin.
While we weren’t able to see all 380 ballers, here are a number that caught our eye:
Omari Spellman, 6-7, PF, North Royalton HS (OH), 2016
The biggest surprise of the event was the 6-7 freshman who Cleveland hoopheads had been talking about for a minute now. Omari Spellman made his debut at the best fall event that the state of Ohio had to offer, and lived up to the hype. Blessed with long arms, size 18 feet, and an outstanding frame, Spellman was a man-child in the paint mixing in bullish play on the offensive end with great timing as a shot blocker defensively. He showed soft touch out to 15 feet and outstanding coordination for a young big man. Omari is fresh to Ohio from New York and will be a name that college coaches and fans alike will be tracking over the next four years.
Josh Jackson, 6-6, SF, Detroit Consortium (MI), 2016
The top freshman in Michigan’s 2016 class did not disappoint, changing the game with his freaky athleticism and living up to every bit of the hype. Jackson slashed to the cup, blocked a ton of shots, and naturally threw down a number of ridiculous dunks. There are still plenty of holes in Josh’s game, but the potential is definitely there for him to be the next star wing out of the D.
Miroslav Jaksic, 6-11, C, Walled Lake Western HS (MI), 2013
The best senior center in the state of Michigan slipped through the cracks a bit after moving to the states from Canada, but has now firmly supplanted himself on many BCS programs’ recruiting radars. A lefty, Jaksic does a great job holding position down low, has a feathery touch, and can turn toward either shoulder coming out of the post. Miroslav tells us that he plans on reclassifying to the Class of 2014 after this season, which will only enhance the amount of love he will receive from college coaches.
Carlton Bragg, 6-9, PF, Cleveland VASJ (OH), 2015
You don’t see 6-9, 15-year-olds who can run, jump and shoot 17 footers on the regular. Carlton Bragg is that guy. After seeing him in a scrimmage at the beginning of last season, I can truly say that it’s nearly unbelievable to see how much that he has improved over the last 10 months. In fact, he has improved to the point that some now feel that he is the top sophomore in the state of Ohio. At Buckeye Prep, he showed off his soft touch, sick instincts as a shot blocker, and ability to play out of the high post that made Bob Huggins offer him a scholarship to West Virginia already.
Marc Loving, 6-8, SF/PF, Toledo St. John’s (OH), 2013
The top senior in the state of Ohio (who we featured in Ish 162) made it a point to come three hours from his home in Toledo to show love to reciprocate the love that Buckeye Prep has shown to him over the years. There wasn’t much that the Ohio State recruit couldn’t do on the floor in the game we saw, whether it be slashing from the perimeter or doing work with his developing post game. Look for Loving to help band-aid the wound left by DeShaun Thomas, who most expect to bounce to the League after this season.
Javon Bess, 6-4, SG/SF, Gahanna Lincoln (OH), 2014
Bess was solid all day Sunday, but really turned up in the all-star game. The 6-4 do-it-all used his size to see over the defense, was an animal on the glass, and was outstanding attacking the basket. In fact, his play was strong enough to earn him an invite to the John Lucas Camp in Louisville later this month. Bess will look to springboard his strong play this fall at a new home of Gahanna Lincoln, after previously spending his first two years at Pickerington Central.
MaCio Teague, 6-3, SG, Summit Country Day (OH), 2015
Transferring back to his hometown of Cincinnati after spending a year at IMG in Florida, MaCio Teague showed that he still has the big-time game that he had when he left the Queen City. Able to create his own shot against just about anyone, Teague was outstanding during the 10th grade all-star with his NBA-range three-pointers and creative finishes with both hands in the lane. Look for Teague to be a crucial part in what appears to be one of Cincinnati’s better high school teams this season.
Cassius Winston, 5-10, PG, Detroit Academy (MI), 2016
The best point guard in Michigan’s freshman class showed that he could hold his own with all that Ohio had to offer. Bringing an old school approach to the game and an excellent court presence, Winston used his varying speeds and a number of ball fakes to get by defenders en route to the cup. Though his Michigan squad got hammered in the Ohio/Michigan showdown, Winston rebounded with a really strong Sunday performance that included this ridiculous buzzer beater.
Trey Cobbs, 5-11, SG, Lima Central Catholic (OH), 2016
While his high school and AAU teammate Xavier Simpson usually gets the bulk of the media attention, Trey Cobbs has some serious game of his own. He is an excellent shot creator who can get his own against anyone one on one, showed off a filthy step-back, and was a solid decision maker when not putting points on the board. Even though he hasn’t played his first varsity game yet, Cobbs is definitely a name to store in the back of your mind.
Seth Towns, 6-6, SF/PF, Columbus Northland (OH), 2016
Columbus Northland’s streak of pumping out elite talent appears to only be starting, and Seth Towns has a chance to be next in line. Towns definitely needs to get stronger, but the combo forward has the outside shooting touch, coordination, and all around skills that have already drawn the attention of college coaches throughout the country.
Anthony Christian, 6-3, SG, Akron Hoban (OH), 2016
A scorer supreme, Anthony Christian is one of those players who seemingly finds a way to fill up a stat sheet without having the ball in his hands much. Christian was great driving to the basket, hustled for loose balls, and showed that he is a capable outside shooter. Word is that Christian will be starting for Hoban’s varsity team this year, so he is one to remember.