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Hypothetical Hoops: What if the Columbus City League consolidated to 5 high schools?

By Zach Fleer, 10/08/19, 9:45PM EDT


Hypothetical Hoops: A What If? Series. Analyzing some of the greatest ‘what if’s’ that the area has to offer

Editor’s note: This is a ‘what if’ series, meaning the majority of content in this article is fictional. This series is based on true events with a twist of “what if” creativity based on past rumors and rumblings and events that shaped the history of local basketball - whether those be injuries to top players, school closings, league/division realignment and much more. Enjoy as we creatively dive into what could have happened in Central Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The vibe on 1160 Ann Street is not that of a team that came a few minutes away from a Division II state championship just seven months ago. For the Bulldogs of South High School, who return a great majority of last season’s winningest team in a long school history, a return trip to the D2 state tournament is off the table. 

Why, you ask?

South has moved up to Division I.

With an enrollment of 367 male students after the effects of competitive balance, the Bulldogs are the smallest school in all of Division I in Central Ohio. South could double its enrollment and still be smaller than Reynoldsburg, Gahanna, Olentangy Orange, Olentangy Liberty and Dublin Coffman - yet the Bulldogs will have to compete among those programs in order to return to last season’s glory.

South is not alone, however.

In the entire City League you cannot find a school with more than 500 boys, as Whetstone ranks as the district’s largest high school with 497 male students. 

In the OCC, all but five of its 32 member schools have at least 500 students, as Big Walnut is the smallest program with 443 boys. If Big Walnut were placed in the City League, the Eagles would be the fourth largest school. That’s the type of disparity that exists these days. 

Despite that, seven of the City League’s 16 programs will compete in Division I this season, all ranking in the bottom 10 of enrollment.

What if the City League consolidated and created larger schools with more student-athletes? What would that look like? What would it do for basketball in the inner city? 

Let's dive into what consolidation might be able to do.

2016: The Year of Change

The year is 2016. After all of its Division I basketball programs are shut out from winning district titles, the leaders of Columbus City Schools feel it’s time to make a change with its high schools. With declining enrollment and schools like Linden-McKinley and West facing football extinction due to lack of participation, the leaders feel that something needs to be done. And done fast.

Putting together a plan to consolidate its 16 high schools into five mega schools, CCS goes full steam ahead into this process for the next three school years, with completion coming just prior to the 2019-20 academic year. Included in the plan are four brand new high schools and the use of a newer buildings to host the consolidated schools as one. This is what CCS comes up with.

East Side High School

  • Location: Africentric. With Africentric holding a current capacity of 1400 students, CCS adds onto the school in order for East Side High to have the space to accommodate the area’s largest student body.
  • 1,224 male students (largest in the Central District)
  • Consists of the following:
    • Walnut Ridge: 414 students
    • Independence: 373 students
    • Eastmoor: 275 students
    • Africentric: 162 students
  • East Side High School becomes grades 9-12 only, with Africentric’s K-5 students moving to Eastmoor and its 6-8 students moving to various schools throughout the district. Independence and Walnut Ridge become the feeder middle schools for East Side High.
  • Top players:
    • Von Cameron Davis
    • Kaveon Ross
    • Cali Davis
    • Eli Burke
    • Dan Wagner
    • Qian Magwood
    • Da’lon Keaton
    • Andre Trent

Brookhaven High School

  • Location: new high school built on the former campus of Brookhaven. With the original high school being quite a ways off Karl Rd, the new school would be built closer to the road, allowing for the demolished former school grounds to be used for athletic fields, an auxiliary gym and community center
  • 1,209 male students (second largest in the Central District)
  • Consists of the following:
    • Northland: 491 students
    • Mifflin: 404 students
    • Beechcroft: 314 students
  • Brookhaven is grades 9-12 only. Northland, Mifflin and Beechcroft become the feeder middle schools for Brookhaven.
  • Top players:
    • Makhale Massey
    • JJ Simmons
    • Rob Dorsey
    • Isaiah Ingle
    • Mikal King
    • Davon Wooden
    • Devan White
    • Mehki Jarrett

Central High School

  • Location: New school built on the grounds at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center
  • 1,064 male students (third largest in the Central District)
  • Consists of the following:
    • South: 367 students
    • East: 250 students
    • Linden-McKinley: 232 students
    • Marion-Franklin: 215 students
  • Central High School hosts grades 9-12 only. The current Fort Hayes students move to South, which essentially becomes the new Fort Hayes. Linden-McKinley becomes a middle school and Marion-Franklin becomes an elementary school. East turns into a museum to celebrate the history and greatness of not only the school, but the nearby Mount Vernon neighborhood. 
  • Top players
    • Trevell Adams
    • Taquan Simington
    • Marcus Johnson
    • Chance Groce
    • Cedric Norvett
    • Shamarion Rogers
    • LA Walker
    • Samual Barton

Northwest High School

  • Location: new school created on the grounds of Whetstone High School. CCS strikes a deal with Columbus Parks and Rec to acquire land from the nearby Whetstone Park of Roses to build bigger athletic fields and an auxiliary gym
  • 964 male students (fourth largest in the Central District)
  • Consists of the following: 
    • Whetstone: 497 students
    • Centennial: 288 students
    • International: 197 students
  • Northwest High School hosts grades 9-12 only. Centennial becomes a middle school and will serve as the primary feeder school for Northwest, while International becomes the new Global Academy for immigrant students with the elimination of Brookhaven’s current building.
  • Top players
    • Jaylen Gilbert
    • Jaden Arledge
    • Caleb Brigle
    • Travonne Jackson
    • Tyreek Gunnell
    • Taemar Gunnell
    • Kelvin Gilliam
    • Jaylon Jackson

Sullivant High School

  • Location: On the grounds of Mount Carmel West Hospital, which has since moved all operations outside of its emergency room to the new Grove City location. The new school would be built on the land between Town Street and Broad Street, stretching as west as Souder Avenue and offering an unreal view of downtown Columbus to the east
  • 928 male students (sixth largest in the Central District)
  • Consists of the following:
    • Briggs: 492 students
    • West: 436 students
  • Sullivant High School hosts grades 9-12 only. Briggs becomes a middle school and primary feeder school for Sullivant, while West becomes a museum as one of Columbus’ oldest schools. CCS uses the land from Mount Carmel to build an auxiliary gym with six courts, a major football stadium in a convenient, centralized location which will then be used for playoff football games, and a central library for the community. 
  • Top players: 
    • Javion Williams
    • Abdi Gelle
    • Domenic Farley
    • Samir Shields
    • Jacob Cash
    • Andrew Grubbs
    • Mauricio Diaz
    • Sidi Aden

After Effects

Featuring five of the six largest schools in the Central District, the Columbus City League is changed forever. Basketball and football see the most benefit, with teams having an abundance of players to grow and develop.

The City League’s new five team conference also creates for more non-league scheduling opportunities in all sports, allowing City League teams to play the OCC schools more often that they will face off against in the district tournament. This exposure and familiarity to different teams allows CCS to become more competitive in all sports, as the number of league games are cut in half, with City teams playing up to 13 non-league basketball games instead of the max number of eight non-league games that they have now.

The building and renovation of the five schools allow for expanded and upgraded athletic facilities, which then helps CCS to compete with the major OCC schools. With the talent level increasing across the district, student-athletes see a rise in recruiting interest from colleges, which then enhances the academic performance across the five high schools. CCS competes for district titles, sends its student athletes to college and lays a foundation for the future with new, upgraded facilities with major enrollment that rivals the powerhouses that lay outside Interstate 270.

The best and brightest educators move from all across the district into the five high schools, offering an upgraded academic experience for students in CCS. 

In this perfect world scenario, consolidation is clearly the way to go. With the empty hallways, desolate stands and dwindling gyms of the current City League, this just may be the way of the future for Columbus City Schools if the area’s oldest league ever wants to return to the glory of the past.

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