COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Taking in yet another team camp on Thursday at Ohio Dominican, we had a chance to evaluate a handful of new players and teams for the first time this month. Let's get straight into the action.
Drew Ballinger (6’3 WG / Newark / 2021): Standing at 6-foot-3 Ballinger is the ultimate low usage offensive weapon. The southpaw is one of the best shooting prospects in the area. He can knock down shots off movement, spotting up, or attack closeouts off the dribble and use his passing vision to hit the weakside of the floor in 1-2 dribbles. Along with the capability to make simple reaction reads in those situations to rim protection.
Ballinger is a pretty average athlete for the high school level, and the lack of tools shows on the defensive end of the floor. He has the length to guard smaller less dynamic players and guard 2-3 positions, but should not be tasked with consistently defending a lead ball handler or strong big. He does have a quality IQ and positions himself well on the weakside of the floor in help, which allows him to execute rotations even though he has less room for error. One of my personal favorites, Ballinger is the type of High IQ prospect that coaches will love. He’s improved as a ball handler and if he continues to get stronger and improve his explosiveness, he has a pretty high ceiling as a dynamic off ball threat at the wing position.
Dan Lee (6’0 G / Dublin Jerome / 2020): I doubt many high school players were getting shots up at 6 a.m. this morning especially prior to a collegiate camp, but Lee was doing just that. The improvements in Lee’s game are quite noticeable too. The 6-foot lead guard did an outstanding job today in a primary creation role for the Celtics, constantly making the underclassmen around him better whether that was in the ball screen game or transition. Lee does an outstanding job as a decision maker with tremendous passing vision when working out of drag or spread ball screens. He is capable of reading all five defenders on the court out of those situations as well. Lee’s scoring value mainly comes from his jumpshot where he is a knockdown spot up shooter and flashed the ability to shoot off movement as well. He does need to create a little extra space in order to get his pull up jumper off in isolation situations, but has a very high release, so it really gets blocked.
I was very impressed with Lee on the defensive end as well. The guard did a great job spending most of his time on the weakside off the floor in a 1-3-1 zone trap, his awareness was impeccable. Lee came up with steals and was able to force turnovers by preventing the weakside pass from being thrown as well. If that wasn't enough, Lee has also features a 4.6 GPA and a 34 ACT score.
Elijah Hinton (6’5 PF / Newark / 2021): Hinton was the biggest surprise of the day. With Newark losing their big man Keshawn Heard, Hinton has been plugged into the rotation and the Wildcats offense may look even better than last year.
Standing at a long 6-foot-5, Hinton is an incredibly fluid athlete at his height. Offensively, the junior has some skill to his game as well as a capable transition handler that can initiate a fast break on the grab and go. On top of, showing poise as a spot up and off movement shooter. He also did his work inside on the low block, cleaning up shots and finishing below the rim.
Defensively, Hinton was active coming up with steals and blocks, but still needs some polish off the ball, which I have no doubt he will get at Newark. He had multiple possessions where he defended in space well in the ball screen game. Hinton’s just bursting out with potential, and while he may not consistently match it with his production, anticipate this height ceiling prospect to put together some impressive outings for the Wildcats this season.
Jaden Woods (6’4 WF / Newark / 2020): The senior wing did not have the most effective performance scoring the basketball, but found ways to contribute in Newark’s wins over Dublin Scioto and Centerville. Another lengthy wing a 6-foot-4, Woods really impressed as a passer today in particularly consistently making weakside reads after driving into the lane or as a transition handler. Scoring the basketball, Woods was impressive finishing in transition as well, using his athletic tools and length to finish through contact. Defensively, Woods was outstanding off the ball, rotating for a handful of charges in both games. His movement ability, length, and off ball IQ should make him a standout team defender at the next level, along with being a multi positional defender. I’d like to see Woods continue to develop his shooting stroke, but I love high IQ players that can affect the game without having the ball in their hands and that is exactly what Woods did today. The wing may get lost in the shuffle with an outstanding starting five for the Wildcats, but D3 coaches will definitely want to take a good look at him this season.
Jayden Prince (6’1 CG / Dublin Scioto / 2020): Prince looked to embrace a new role at Scioto today, with former lead guard Victor Mwamba now in college. Prince was clearly the go to guy throughout Scioto’s close loss to Newark.
Standing at 6-foot-1, Prince has a wildly tight handle. He is able to change speeds and directions with ease allowing him to get to the rim or to his pull up jumper. The senior thrives as a transition handler, pushing the ball up with excellent open court speed while making no look and look off passes to shooters and rim runners.
Defensively, Prince was very aggressive off the ball. He turned his defensive motor into easy points on the offensive end. Prince will be the go to guy for a Dublin Scioto program who appears to be a little better than anticipated after losing two high level seniors. Don’t be surprised if Prince starts popping up on Division III radars.
Alex Coffey (6’2 WG / Grove City / 2021): Coffey was one of my favorite prospects late in the season and looks like he’s been in the gym as well. Posting a new physique, improved athletic ability, and a tighter handle.
The 6-foot-2 wing mainly played last season as a lower usage wing. Within the first possession of the game, we already saw him in the ballscreen game. Coffey attacked closeouts spotting up, knocked down jumpers, made some excellent backdoor cuts in the halfcourt, and did a great job finding the open spots on the floor within the Independence press obtaining shot attempts at the rim and converting them through contact. The Junior’s IQ carries over to the defensive end of the floor where he is intelligent off the ball and looked better on the ball defensively with his newfound physique adding some lateral quickness. A high IQ player, Coffey is a Division III prospect at the moment, but if he continues to improve, so will his stock.
Brock Waits (5'10 PG / Grove City / 2021): Waits is the leading scorer from last seasons Greyhounds team, and he did not miss a beat today. The junior put together a quality scoring outing in Grove City’s win.
Standing at 5-foot-10, Waits is a change of pace handler. A little undersized for the position but his stature more than makes up for it. He put his strength to use today with a strong finish at the rim. Waits was also able to get into the lane and convert on multiple floaters, a shot that we would like to see him master in order to become a more appealing prospect. He finished his scoring output with multiple shots from the outside. Both spotting up and off the dribble, as the guard was never shy of shooting from well beyond the three point line. Defensively, Waits has elite lateral speed and could really make an impact this season as a point of attack defender. Waits will be expected to carry a bigger load for the Greyhounds this season and with what we saw on Tuesday and the flashes he showed as a sophomore, we feel he is capable of being one of the top guards in the OCC.
Eric Panning (6'8 PF / Westland / 2020): One of the better under the radar prospects in Central Ohio, Panning is going to be a major piece to Westland on both ends of the floor this winter. We liked what we saw from the rising big, as he has an ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting prowess, as well as the handling coordination to get to the rim on straight line drives.
Panning scored it in bunches today as Westland took down Independence, Valleyview and Buckeye Trail. The 6-foot-8 rising senior made shots, pulled down a handful of rebounds and even flashed some above the rim theatrics with a few big dunks.
Panning has great length and the ability to block shots in the post. While he still has a skinny frame, Panning has worked really hard this offseason and appears to be stronger from last year. What is extra intriguing about Panning is that he may still not be done growing as he's added nearly two inches from the beginning of last season.
We think Panning would be a quality look for Division II and III programs looking for a big that they can develop in their strength and conditioning program. While he may need a redshirt year, Panning has great size and enough skill to make an impact at the next level.