COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the first time in three years, Columbus is once again a city of champions as Harvest Prep dominated Lutheran East to take home the Division III state title.
With three representatives in the state tournament this weekend, Central Ohio was well represented as South took Trotwood Madison to the wire in the Division II state final, while Olentangy Liberty gave Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary all they could handle in the Division I state semifinal.
Let's take a deep scouting dive into the top performers that we scouted on the weekend.
Trevell Adams (5’10 G / South / 2020): The South junior built on a breakout postseason finishing the state final matchup against Trotwood Madison with 16 efficient points. Once again providing a much needed spark off the bench for the Bulldogs.
Standing at 5-foot-10, Adams is a scoring lead guard that thrives as a change of pace ball handler. Almost all of his points tonight were scored exclusively at the rim where he finishes with exceptional body control and his leaping explosion allows him to finish around significantly taller rim protectors.
Adams has a quality midrange pull up jump shot where he showcases some deceleration ability in order to create space, even though we did not see it in this game. The junior really thrived in this insanely paced game and proved that he would fit in well within an up tempo system at the next level. As a passer, Adams is capable of executing dumpoffs reading rim protection. The Bulldog guard also flashed a weakside read driving baseline on a spot up which created an open shot opportunity.
Defensively, Adams plays with a high motor and seems to really take pride on that end of the floor. He has active hands where he can come up with steals on the ball matched up with opposing teams ball handlers. He came up with multiple jaw dropping blocks in transition showcasing some fantastic north/south speed in the open court, but I would still like to see him refine his off ball defensive efforts though.
Adams recently picked up his first offer from D2 Saint Leo in Florida. His stock is through the roof right now and continues to be trending upwards. If he builds on top of a fantastic postseason performance in the spring, I would anticipate many more D2’s follow suit, however, he might just earn some low-major Division I looks if he keeps playing like he did in the tournament.
CJ Anthony (6’0 G / Harvest Prep / 2020): Anthony willed his team to a state title as the unquestionable leader on both sides of the ball. He proved to be a high IQ guard that is capable of contributing in various ways.
At 6-foot, Anthony has a pathway to future success playing either on or off the ball. The junior possesses a tight handle and is capable of getting to the lane changing speeds with solid burst out of his hesitations. Once getting into the lane, he applies his IQ by being a quality decision maker that can execute reaction passes reading helpside defenders regularly, displaying a feel for the weakside of the floor. Anthony can also absorb contact and finish at the rim on his drives, but it would be nice to see him continue to develop a floater or mid range jumper. Off the ball, Anthony has flashed the ability to shoot off movement which we saw in this game as well. His off movement and spot up shooting would make him a real off ball threat that can attack closeouts at a high level and should develop his halfcourt shot creation to become a deadly off movement threat.
On the defensive end of the floor, Anthony will give you 110 percent on every possession. He’s a gritty on ball defender that takes pride in sitting down and bothering the opposing teams ball handler to the best of his abilities. He’s a strong team defender as well, which is where his IQ comes into play again. He always places himself in great weakside positioning which allows him to make correct rotations and read passing lanes.
Anthony has a pair of mid major offers at the moment. He’s probably more of a secondary creator that can work off movement and create his own offense within the ballscreen game at the next level. His off ball defensive prowess should translate immediately, where he can elevate a team’s defensive performance. I’d anticipate that Anthony continues to have some mid major offers and a plethora of high D2’s following this season.
Ben Roderick (6’6 WF / Olentangy Liberty / 2019): Roderick had a sound outing and a dominant fourth quarter in order to keep the Patriots in their game. Proving that he was more than deserving of the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Ohio, finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds, and three assists.
Standing at 6-foot-6, Roderick has a solid handle for a wing at the next level. He was able to score points on the perimeter by driving into the lane with his change of pace handling. Even though he struggled to create separation, his phenomenal frame allowed him to finish at the rim through contact at a high level as a ball screen handler. On top of flashing some strong finishing in the post.
The unsigned senior showcased his potential to punish a switch in the future against the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s big man off a ball screen. In his big fourth quarter, the senior knocked down two pull up jump shots, and that consistency on his pull up jumper will be a majoring factor in projecting his potential offensive outcome in the future. He also had a decent outing as a passer proving that he can make reads within the flow of an offense and flashed some stationary weakside passing vision.
The leading scorer in the Central Ohio has also flashed promise on the defensive end of the floor. With his size, Roderick has strong enough lateral speed to stay with low usage wings and the strength to guard smaller fours. He has flashed some potential to be a plus team defender in the future, but did not showcase it a high level on Friday.
Roderick is one of the best players and prospects that you will find in Central Ohio. He has potential on both sides of the ball to be an all-conference mid major player, however, we think he will end up getting the high major offers that he earned throughout the season.
His offensive equity will go as his shooting consistency does as he is likely a lower usage off ball scorer. I think teams could really get value out of the senior playing him at the four where he has a better chance of taking advantage of his handle in the halfcourt. Defensively, Roderick should develop into a plus team defender with some positional versatility on the ball and should be able to contain less dynamic guards on switches.
Lunden McDay (6’3 CG / STVM / 2019): The former Groveport native and Ohio University commit was the Fighting Irish’s main source of offense in their semifinal win over Olentangy Liberty. Finishing with 21 points on a wildly efficient 9-14 shooting performance.
At 6-foot-3 with a slight frame, McDay showcased his on ball prowess throughout the game as a scorer. He has a tight handle and can change directions well to create space for his mid range pull up jumpshot which we saw several times against Olentangy Liberty. However, he did showcase some off ball equity as well knocking down a spot up three where he appears to have a projectable release. Along with finishing strongly at the rim off a backscreen displaying solid body control. McDay flashed some passing equity as well. Executing simple drive and kicks on high usage possessions, flashing a low usage read off a spot up drive to the weakside of the floor, and making decisive reads within the flow of his team's offense.
Defensively, McDay had a few encouraging possessions defending Roderick on the perimeter where he flashed his lateral speed and quick initial reaction time to his opponents first move. He should have enough lateral speed to contain both guard positions but could struggle with the size of larger wings.
McDay has some secondary creator potential in the future, but his impact he makes off the ball will likely be how he gets on the court at the collegiate level. He flashed some signs of low usage success on the offensive end of the floor and would be an immediate transition handling threat. Defensively, McDay likely will not be a point of attack defender, so his impact will have to be made off the ball as a team defender along with being a solid contain defender on the ball.
Malaki Branham (6’4 WF / STVM / 2021): Branham did not play a majority of the second half only totaling 18 minutes in the contest, but the sophomore was quite impressive on the defensive end of the floor when he did play. Another Columbus native that attended Ridgeview Middle School, Branham is one half of a talented sophomore prospect duo for the Fighting Irish.
Standing at a lengthy 6-foot-4, Branham is still developing his handle but can already be dangerous in the open court as a handler with his top north/south speed. A majority of his offense came in the open court, but he flashed a pull up jumper on a mid post isolation which was pleasant to see. I would expect to see his offensive high usage game to continue to grow once he improves his handle and shooting consistency. Branham had a possession on a backdoor cut where he finished at the rim and finishing off of a specific action or cut is likely what his halfcourt offense is limited too until his perimeter game develops. However, with his length and leaping explosion he should develop into a strong finisher at the rim.
Branham’s true value was showcased on the defensive end of the floor. He was able to consistently apply his length combining it with his anticipation skills in the passing lanes, flashing an ability to contain Olentangy Liberty’s wings off the dribble coming up with on ball blocks. He was a little slower laterally than I anticipated compared to his north/south speed, but his long stride lengths do help him aide that deficiency.
Branham will be a joy to watch develop in the future, but he does need to continue to mature. Ideally his offensive game should be developed with his handle and shooting consistency. He also does need to improve some indecisiveness on spot up drives once he gets into the lane. However, Branham’s calling card should be on the defensive end of the floor. With continued team defensive development there’s no doubt Branham will continue to find ways to apply his physical and athletic tools to the best of his ability. His ability to make impact plays and play off his defense to create his own offensive looks is something that is rare for a player so young.
Soul Hines (6’4 WF / Harvest Prep / 2019): Soul Hines’ performance in the state final could be summed up very easily. The senior was efficient, effective, and rarely needed the ball to make his impact on the game. Hines went 4-for-4 from the floor including three triples to finish with 11 important points.
At 6-foot-4, Hines is a true wing with tremendous length. He has a decent handle and applies it well attacking closeouts on spot ups and attacking off movement getting to his one to two dribble mid range pull up. While his high release may be unorthodox, it goes in consistently and is incredibly hard to contest. He also put together a strong spot up shooting performance tonight making all three of his attempted shots from beyond the arc. I would like to see him continue to develop as a passer in the future. Especially when working off specific actions.
Defensively, Hines has some positional versatility as he likely guards 3-4 positions at the next level. He has decent lateral speed and quick hips which allow him to contain his matchup off the dribble. His length makes it harder for defenders to shoot over him as well. The senior is smart off ball defender that is capable of making correct rotations.
With only one JUCO offer to show for it, Hines is a high quality player and someone essential to any D3/NAIA staff that is serious about team building. You need players that can make an impact without the ball in their hands to compliment your more ball dominant players on your roster, Hines is that guy. He’s going to be really useful in the future if you run a lot of pin downs and flares where he can get to his mid range pull up quickly or knock down a three off slight movement. Defensively he brings some positional versatility on the ball that could be useful to heavy switching team and is solid off ball, although he will need to adjust to the learning curve with a faster paced game.
EJ Farmer (6’4 CG / Lutheran East / 2021): Farmer really struggled against Harvest Prep, but the sophomore has plenty of better days ahead of him as his talent was evident.
At 6-foot-4, Farmer is a shifty tight handler that excels changing directions. He can create space and get to the rim at will. The sophomore showcased some transition handling ability where he was able to make simple reads to open strong side spot up shooters. Along with a solid strong side read off a double drag in early offense. He flashed his passing vision as a passer on ball screens as well, showing that his vision extends past the initial roll man. He didn’t hit many shots in this game, but his jumpshot looked projectable with a quick release on spot ups.
Defensively, Farmer had a solid on ball performance and his size should allow him to effectively guard both guard positions in the future.
It was hard to get a strong feel for Farmer in this game, but like previously mentioned his talent is evident. On a team filled with returners, I would anticipate seeing him in Columbus a few more times before his career is over. Keep an eye out for the deadly combo guard in the spring.
Taquan Simington (6’2 CG / South / 2020): Simington had to battle with foul trouble early on the second half after picking up two quick fouls against Trotwood. Ultimately fouling out in the fourth, the junior combo guard played a major role in South’s halftime lead.
Standing at 6-foot-2, Simington is one of the better athletes you will find in the state at the guard position. Offensively, he’s the most effective on the ball and the combo guard far exceeded my expectations handling the Trotwood Madison press. Frequently making fantastic passes in the backcourt covering the length of the floor for easy layups. As a scorer, Simington was relatively quiet, but is at his best as a transition handler. When he combines his tight handle and blazing speed in the open court, Simington is capable of making simple reads in transition, and could potentially finish above the rim in the open court in the future. In the halfcourt, Simmington is a downhill driver that has improved his pull up mid range jump shooting throughout the course of the season in order to keep defenders honest.
The junior combo guard was outstanding on the defensive end of the floor as well especially in the uptempo game. He’s a strong point of attack defender on the ball with elite lateral speed. His positioning and rotations as a transition defender were pleasantly surprising. Even though he did not always take the greatest angles on these rotations it was refreshing seeing him make split second decisions in transition to come up with several blocks and contests at the rim.
Simington currently holds no offers, but that should change in the off-season. Division II teams that are looking for a guard who would be an irritant in fullcourt pressure and push the pace should take a hard look at the South junior. Continuing to improve his decisiveness as a playmaker in the halfcourt and shooting consistency will be major factors in his future development as a prospect.
Amari Davis (6’3 CG / Trotwood Madison / 2019): After struggling offensively in the first half, Davis found his stride in the second. The UW-Green Bay commit became a key factor in Trotwood’s second half victory. A veteran at the state tournament without a win to show for it, I’m happy Davis finally received his championship ring in the final game of his career.
At 6-foot-3, Davis will likely be more of an off ball guard at the collegiate level. His quick first step on spot ups and mid range touch will likely be the primary ways he is utilized offensively. Like curling off screens and working dribble handoffs. He does have plenty of value as transition handler where he fits perfectly within Trotwood’s system. Davis can take advantage of his elite athletic traits and execute any read asked of him in transition.
Davis is a stud and the total package on the defensive end of the floor. He can be a high level point of attack defender with elite lateral speed on the ball, but he’s also an instinctual off ball defender that is capable of making any rotation with phenomenal recovery speed. Possessing the rare ability to generate turnovers both on and off the ball, Davis usually translates those turnovers into offense for himself and his teammates.
I think there may be a little bit of a learning curve for Davis on the offensive end of the floor, but his defense both on and off the ball should give him immediate minutes with the Phoenix. I’d like to see Davis continue to develop his shooting consistency. The senior already shots well off movement from midrange, but expanding that off movement scoring equity to the three point line would be a major help to his halfcourt offensive success and identity.