COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In what has become a tradition at the end of June, Africentric hosted another mega scrimmage on Wednesday. Bringing in 20 teams from across the state, coach Mike Bates and his program helped us get one final look at some of the best teams and players in the area before AAU kicks back up in July.
Qian Magwood (6’1 G / Walnut Ridge / 2020): Magwood showed off his playmaking ability early and often in leading Walnut Ridge to two wins. He was able to consistently beat his man and find his guys for easy opportunities. He was most impressive on the defensive end of the floor where he really got after guys setting the tone for the Scots. Magwood was a real irritant in his matchup with Thomas Worthington’s Jalen Sullinger, making the junior guard work for everything and causing him a lot of problems - something not many guards have been capable of doing against the Sullinger. When Magwood is playing at the level he did on Wednesday Walnut Ridge is hard to beat. The senior guard is the x-factor for this team and is really, really effective when he’s setting the table as a playmaker, distributor and most importantly, point of attack defender.
VonCameron Davis (6’5 WF / Walnut Ridge / 2020): VonCam was the top performer on Wednesday, as he led the way for Walnut Ridge in two dominant victories. He flashed an improved handle in transition, looking really comfortable with the ball in the open floor. He looks to have leaned up too, helping with his leaping ability - which was always an area he needed to improve as he transitions to college basketball. Davis had several high flying dunks, but the most impressive play of the day was a MONSTER block where he denied a dunk attempt right at the rim. Already holding nearly 10 Division I offers, look for that number to increase in July with continued performances like we saw on Wednesday.
Makhale Massey (6’4 WG / Northland / 2021): With the departure of N’Keeley Elmore, Northland will need somebody to step and be the guy. Wednesday it looked like Massey was more than capable of being that guy. He shot it well on catch and shoot opportunities from beyond the arc. Massey was really aggressive driving downhill scoring or drawing the foul consistently. Massey showed off his explosiveness, grasping the entire gyms attention on a big time throw down. Look for Massey to have a breakout year and be one of the best players the City League as a junior. Massey has the size, athleticism and intangibles, now he needs to add consistency to his game to take himself to the next level as a prospect.
Jalen Sullinger (5’10 G / Thomas Worthington / 2021): Sullinger backed up his reputation as the top point guard prospect in his class against Cincinnati Taft. Completely taking over and dominating the game, the rising junior lead guard with multiple mid major offers showed even more improvement in our viewing on Wednesday.
Standing at 5-foot-10, Sullinger is slightly undersized as a primary ball handler but that has never posed a problem for him. Playing with exceptional pace and a tight handle, he can get into the lane whenever he pleases which was the exact case in this scrimmage. Once into the lane, Sullinger welcomes contact and can finish at the rim with either hand along with being one of the best decelerators I have seen with the basketball, where he stops on a dime to create space for his mid range pull up despite his size. He continued his dominant performance by making pinpoint passes off the dribble and knocking down multiple spot up jumpers from the outside, well beyond the high school 3-point line.
Sullinger had the most dominant performance I saw all day against Cincinnati Taft. He’s a high level lead ball handling prospect and most important a fantastic pull up shooter which should be one of the single most important skills of any primary or secondary handling prospect outside of decision making. I’d like to see him stay more engaged off the ball on the defensive end of the floor, but that’s an easy fix. Sullinger would be a great fit in an up and down system that relies on advantage concepts in the halfcourt, along with having a teammate that could defend an opposing team’s dynamic lead ball handler.
Tyrese Hughey (6’7 F / Thomas Worthington / 2021): This was my first opportunity to lay eyes on the biggest transfer in Central Ohio. The former Licking Heights forward played a solid game against Cincinnati Taft as well and flashed his tools like advertised.
Standing at a long 6-foot-7, the junior is an elite athlete with the movement skills of a wing and eye popping leaping ability. It’s clear that he can be an extremely impactful player when his motor is running. He excelled running the floor in transition and had an extremely impressive block at the rim in transition making a split second decision, covering a large amount of distance with his recovery speed. Hughey also flashed a skill game as well.
Thomas ran a little bit of their offense through him at the high post where he made a great stationary pass into the weakside corner and knocked down a face up three pointer as well.
Hughey’s tools are elite and there’s no questioning that. It’s easy to envision a role for him as an ultra switchable defender and a rim protector, but the offensive end of the floor is where it’s still a little foggy. It makes sense to mold Hughey into a rim runner and dive man, but there wasn’t any possessions indicating so or showing any gravity in that role. Hughey was the Cardinals' No. 2 option on Wednesday. I look forward to seeing how he can continue to gel and adjust with a guard like Sullinger and the rest of his new team's surrounding talent. Without a doubt though, Hughey is a high ceiling prospect that plenty of coaches are aware of.
Trevell Adams (6’0 G / South / 2020): Adams broke out onto the scene last season by becoming the top player for South as he helped lead the Bulldogs within a few points of a Division II state championship. The senior capitalized on that momentum with a D2 offer from Saint Leo prior to the spring AAU season.
Standing at 6 feet, Adams really excels running up and down the floor in transition, taking advantage of his open court speed and athletic ability. Whether that is as a transition handler or running the proper lane as a finisher, consistently finishing above the rim. In the halfcourt, Adams is known for his score first change of pace handling where he is able to get to the rim with his tremendous burst out of his hesitations and finish in the lane better than almost any guard you can find. It was extremely encouraging today to see Adams continued improvement as a passer off the dribble. Showing great patience out of double teams, along with some quick decisions off the bounce, and simple reads to the roll man as a ballscreen handler. Defensively, Adams is a point of attack defender that takes pride in making impact plays in order to create quick transition attempts for himself and his teammates.
Adams’ is one of the harder workers you will find, and I’m excited to watch him grow over the course of the season. I’d like to see him make strides in his outside shooting consistency to develop more off ball equity on offense and continue to grow as a decision maker off the bounce.
Eli Burke (6’1 G / Africentric / 2021): This was another first for me, getting the opportunity to see the Nubians' third leading scorer from last season in action and he did not disappoint.
Standing at 6-foot-1, Burke is a solid athlete at the guard position, but backs it up with his skill game as well. The junior was in attack mode on offense against Grandview Heights, utilizing his shifty change of direction handling in order to blow by defenders, and consistently finish at the rim. He also executed a pair of nice dump offs in the halfcourt and a few split second decisions as a transition handler in order to set up open looks for his teammates. He also knocked down a spot up three. Defensively, Burke has all the tools to become a quality point of attack defender that is capable of shutting down the opposing team’s best perimeter player.
The junior is in an interesting situation at Africentric, as the Nubians have a plethora of quality guards that can all make plays off the bounce. Ultimately, I think this will allow him to learn how to play off the ball, making him a more well rounded prospect. Burke is definitely a name for coaches to keep an eye on without a doubt, as his Nubians will be a team to lookout for over the next few years.
Dan Wagner (5’9 G / Africentric / 2022): I first laid eyes on Wagner at Battle For The City and he made a very strong first impression. Now the sophomore is the lead ball handler in a backcourt with two upperclassmen that are legitimate collegiate prospects.
Standing at 5-foot-9, the smooth lefty had a quality outing scoring the ball, but really impressed today as a playmaker. Wagner has the ability to make advanced reads with ease that some collegiate guards struggle to make. Consistently showing off his high level passing vision and a regular feel for the weakside of the floor once getting into the lane and out in transition. His uncanny ability to be a step ahead of the defense is quite rare for an underclassmen, especially one that has not even suited up for his first game as a sophomore.
A change of pace handler, Wagner has also showcased his willingness to take and make pull up jumpers with fantastic range, but also looks to play off the threat of that element of his game which opens up driving lanes for the young guard.
Wagner’s consistently put his feel and IQ as a lead guard on display today which provided his teammates with a lot of opportunities to take easy shots. Look for the sophomore to become one of the more dominant offensive forces in the City League even though it may not look like it based on his scoring average.
Jason Foster (6’5 PF / Northland / 2021): Foster quietly had a solid outing on the defensive end of the floor against South, despite being relatively quiet outside of an occasional below the rim finish within five feet. However, the forward did have multiple outstanding switch possessions against a wildly talented and dynamic handling Bulldogs backcourt.
In a game where switching has become so in vogue, Foster proved Wednesday that he may be one of the more switchable bigs around the area with exceptional feet and decent length to contest. Foster’s next improvement needs to become finding his offensive identity as a prospect. At 6-foot-5, he’s a pretty undersized big. His smoothest transition to success would be consistently working on his spot up jumper and trying to groom himself into a low usage role as a 3&D forward.