As the 2015-16 college hoops season officially ended Monday night, the grassroots club basketball season got started over the weekend across the country.
NY2LA Sports’ Swish ‘N Dish in suburban Milwaukee (WI) has established itself as a premier national event throughout the course of it’s 11-year history, and perennial powerhouse program All Ohio Red left it’s mark in Wisconsin this past weekend.
Behind Ohio State-bound big man Kaleb Wesson, point guard Nelly Cummings and small forward Delonte Brown, All Ohio Red’s 17-and-under squad took home the Platinum Division crown, while the 15U squad from All Ohio Red also captured the Platinum Division crown in their age group. All Ohio Red’s 16U squad finished as the runners-up in the 16’s Platinum Division.
Wesson’s 6-10, wide-bodied, frame was too much for the opposition to handle and he displayed his nice touch and footwork on the block offensively throughout the tournament. Cummings, a 6-1 point guard from Midland, Pennsylvania, showed off a smooth floor game which should attract some high DI attention when the first official NCAA live evaluation period starts April 15th.
Brown proved to be one of the entire tournament’s most dynamic talents. At 6-6, the wing from Bowsher High in Toledo applied the cuffs defensively on the perimeter and was a terror attacking the rim in transition. He also dropped in jumpers from midrange, as well as beyond the three-point arch. He claimed only two offers from Dayton and Toledo, but said he’s hoping to get some attention from the high major programs as the spring and summer circuit progresses.
Wesson, Cummings and Brown were the top three scorers in their team’s championship win over Milwaukee’s Playground Elite – which featured Michigan-bound guard Jordan Poole.
One of the squads that All Ohio Red’s 17’s knocked off on their way to the crown, King James, featured arguably the most electric player at the Swish ‘N Dish.
Cleveland native Markell Johnson has insane bounce for a point guard, and at 6-2 he’s also got the potential to be an elite defender thanks to his quickness, speed and overall athleticism. Johnson showed off the ability to score the rock from anywhere in between big-time dunks and step-back three-pointers. He said that during the spring and summer he wants to continue to polish his offensive skills to make him an even more dangerous prospect.
“This AAU season, I want to work on my jump shot and on being a leader on the court,” Johnson said. “I also am trying to play off the ball so I can be a combo guard.”
“My two favorite players are Russell Westbrook and Terry Rozier,” Johnson added. “Everything Rozier does is downhill. He’s an Ohio guy, so growing up hearing his name a lot made me want to play exactly like him.”
Johnson currently holds scholarship offers from Ohio State, Louisville, Florida, DePaul, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Arizona State among many others. If his performances at the Swish ‘N Dish are any indication, he’s going to have plenty more offers to choose from by the time the summer wraps up.
However, he said balancing everything else that comes with recruiting aside from a scholarship offer has been a challenge.
“It was fun at the beginning, now every college coach wants to get to know me and wants me to come visit – so now it’s getting kind of crazy,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to focus on basketball now, then after the summer I’ll make a decision.”
Coaches will be waiting intently on that decision, but in the meantime hoop junkies should familiarize themselves with Johnson’s game as they will most likely be hearing a ton from him in the near future.
One of the Swish ‘N Dish’s other standout performers played for All Ohio Red’s 16U squad, but hails from Clarkston, Michigan.
Six-foot floor general Foster Loyer has a chance to be one of the best point guards in the entire Class of 2018. Despite the oppositions’ best attempts at the Swish ‘N Dish, Loyer could not be sped up or forced into turnovers. Loyer has got a seemingly endless bag of tricks with the ball in his hands, a quick and picturesque shooting stroke and a masterful understanding of the position relative to his age.
His dad, John Loyer, has served as an NBA assistant coach since 2003 – most recently with the Detroit Pistons – and Foster has taken full advantage of having the opportunity to see the best in the world up close and personal.
“I’ve grown up around the game of basketball, and just always been around it,” said Loyer, who was a ball boy for the Pistons when he was younger. “I picked up on what good point guards do – like seeing the court, being able to create their own shot and getting their teammates involved. Really I just try to put the team in the best position to win. So I’ve tried to build my game around that.”
Teaming up with Class of 2018 Ohio State pledge Dane Goodwin (6-5, SG, Upper Arlington) on All Ohio Red, Loyer and the rest of the squad are primed to be one of the toughest outs at the 16U level wherever they play during the spring and summer.
Michigan State, DePaul, Oakland and Toledo have already offered him, and he’s taken unofficial visits to Ohio State, Butler, Indiana and Michigan. His recruitment and offer list should continue to grow at a rapid pace as more coaches see his game. It’s not just how offensively gifted Loyer is that sets him apart, it’s his willingness to defend and communicate on the floor as well, which stood out at the Swish ‘N Dish as he led the squad to a second place finish.
Loyer’s balance of flash and creativity with fundamentals and sound decision making is rare, particularly at the level in which he plays relative to how young he is, but it may not be such a shocker when you find out two of his favorite players.
“When my dad was a coach for the 76ers, I grew up watching Allen Iverson and Andre Miller,” Loyer said. “I always watched Andre Miller because he never did anything special. He just knew how to use his body and play the game, which I loved to watch.”
Wherever he ends up playing college hoops in a few years, coaches and fans of that program are going to love watching the product of Loyer’s studies of Iverson and Miller.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE SWISH ‘N DISH
– The Iowa Barnstormers captured the 16U Platinum Division title behind a three-headed monster of Joe Wieskamp (6-4, Muscatine), Joey Hauser (6-7, Stevens Point (WI)) and AJ Green (5-11, Cedar Falls). Wieskamp is already committed to Iowa and proved to be one of the most versatile players at the Swish ‘N Dish. Hauser is a high Division I recruiting target with great skill for his size, and was a mismatch for opposing defenses during championship Sunday. Green showed off a slick handle and a cash shooting stroke, and recently picked up his first offer from Northern Iowa where his dad Kyle is an assistant. Green definitely played at a level which will demand plenty of attention from DI programs.
– The Class of 2018 was loaded at the Swish ‘N Dish, and 6-7 Lawrence North product Kevin Easley Jr. made a case for himself as one of the best in attendance playing with the George Hill Rising Stars. He already has some big time offers and possesses an advanced mid-range game and overall offensive feel for a forward.
– The Louisville Magic 17’s bowed out of the tournament early, but Tony Jackson (6-4, SG, North Hardin), Jaylen Sebree (6-7, SF, Christian County) and JR Mathis (6-1, PG, Kentucky Country Day) each showed flashes of why they’re coveted by DI programs at their respective positions.
(Photo Credit: NY2LA Sports)