GROVEPORT, Ohio -- With the 270 Hoops Fall League tipping off this past Sunday, we’ve taken a look at the top overall performers in both the Invite Only and Open divisions. While we’ve covered more than 50 top players from last Sunday, it’s time to take a look at players who stood out with their effort level in other areas of the game outside of scoring.
Delavonte Jackson (5’10 PG / Liberty Christian / 2020): The small school floor general Jackson stood out in his game against Michigan State, where he really made his presence felt on the glass. He pulled down four offensive rebounds, chipped in 10 points and had a nasty block, all at the point guard position. We liked how he picked up opposing ball handlers early and made them work to get anything going off the bounce. At tiny Liberty Christian, Jackson is a legitimate college guard prospect that Division III, NAIA and NCCAA programs should pounce on.
Keegan Schaub (6’0 PG / New Albany / 2020): While Ohio State was the only team to go 2-0 and was led by two of the league’s elite scorers in Josiah Fulcher and Trey Woodyard, Schaub was a huge x-factor in helping the club remain unbeaten. Setting the tone with his desire to play full court defense and take charges, Schaub led the way as far as motor is concerned, getting on the ground for loose balls, cutting hard and making winning plays on both ends of the floor. A few months removed from earning first team All-OCC Capital honors, Schaub made great use of his opportunity in the Invite Only Division, as the next four weeks should do great things for his stock going forward.
Devin Royal (6’3 WF / Pickerington Central / 2023): While Royal has been extensively covered by us already in the last month (he’s really good, so this is what happens when you’re really good on a consistent basis), the freshman stood out the most with his toughness and attitude playing up in the Invite Only Division. On a team completely comprised of upperclassmen, Royal did not back down, rebounding at an elite level and getting a hand on the ball no matter what. The freshman gave tremendous effort, never giving up and never complaining, even when things didn’t go his way. While it could be easy for a young player to make excuses when going up against older and more physical opposition, Royal opted to take his shortcomings on the chin and attack his opportunities, things that will only aid him on his mission to becoming an elite player.
Isaiah Johnson (5’11 PG / Westerville South / 2022): Johnson caught our attention with the ability to continuously pick the pocket of whoever he was guarding. He finished with three steals and seven points. An alum of The Intro and inaugural Open Fall League, Johnson has grown his game and is another talented young guard for Westerville South to keep an eye on.
Marcus Johnson (6’4 WG / South / 2020): Johnson did a great job of soaring for rebounds and getting the break started with good outlet passes. He pulled down five boards, all well above the rim and hard to forget. Johnson ranked second in the league in rebounds after Week 1 and will be a player to keep an eye on for Kansas.
Riley Gibson (6’0 PG / Circleville / 2021): Gibson made his presence felt on the ball, really getting after guys turning them and making them settle for tough shots. He had two steals and added five points. Gibson caught our eye last year with his offensive potential, which made Sunday’s viewing more intriguing for him as he has established himself as a two-way player.
Charles Bean (6’3 WG / Fairfield Union /2021): Bean wasn’t allowing any easy opportunities at the rim. He finished with three blocks, a steal and chipped in four points for the Pacers. Bean’s length and defensive versatility will be huge for the Pacers going forward as they’ll compete for an Open league title.
Riley Gossom (6’0 G / Lucas / 2021): Gossom did a good job coming up with boards and getting in the passing lanes for steals. He finished with four rebounds, two steals and two points in our first viewing of him. In a Lucas program that is just outside of Central Ohio, we will do our best to keep an eye on Gossom this winter.
Zaveon Croff (6’1 WG / Reynoldsburg / 2021): A player that jumped off the radar for us last year in the Open Division, Croff is back in the league once again and we are excited to get another look at him. Sunday was another solid showing for the Reynoldsburg junior, as he continued to play with the motor and toughness that caught our attention a year ago. Through two games, Croff ranks second in scoring, second in rebounds and first in assists, steals and rebounds for the 2-0 Bulls.
Ajay Sheldon (5’11 G / Dublin Coffman / 2022): Sheldon played at 110% all day on both ends for his Kentucky squad. He came up with two steals in his first matchup and one in his second as he was staying active in the passing lanes constantly, especially while defending in transition. When a player with Sheldon’s skill set plays as hard as he does, it can really take their game to another level.
Garrett Taylor (6’7 PF / Marysville / 2021): Taylor did a ton of the dirty work for his Kansas squad on Sunday and ended the first week tied for the third most rebounds in the league. He grabbed eight boards in a matchup against Kentucky and four against Michigan State, using his length and picking his spots well to clean up the glass. He also came up with a block against Michigan State.
Maceo Williams (6’6 PF / Gahanna / 2021): Maceo put together a pair of solid two-way games for his Raptors as they picked up two wins in the opening weekend. He went for 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Celtics and scored four points while snatching down seven rebounds and blocking two shots against the 76ers. Williams owned the paint in both games, as size and strength is a tough matchup for a lot of players in the open division.
Hervon Jacobs (6’4 WF / Africentric / 2020): Jacobs scored a lot of his points off the glass on Sunday and finished the day averaging 13.5 points and six rebounds per game for his Pistons squad. Check out our previous write up on him here.
Luke Kuhlman (6’2 WF / Dublin Jerome / 2023): Kuhlman caught our eye early in the day for the Thunder as he worked to get a lot of easy buckets around the rim and came up with several steals on the defensive end. He finished with 11 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block in a 63-48 win over the Grizzlies, doing a little bit of everything for his 2-0 squad.
Javo Jordan (5’11 G / Beechcroft / 2022): Jordan is making the cut here due to the fact that he played excellent team basketball in both wins for his Thunder on Sunday. Jordan had a lot of matchups he could’ve attacked one-on-one, but consistently made the right play, whether it was the drive and kick, finding a cutting teammate, or simply making the extra pass. He defended hard all day as well, using his quick hands to come up with two steals in a matchup with the Blazers. We loved how Javo played his role all day.
Mason Stuck (6’6 PF / Ridgedale / 2022): While Stuck was covered as a top performer already, we wanted to mention him once again as his effort, motor and activity level really stuck out on Sunday. Stuck ran the floor hard, worked inside for position, finished his opportunities around the rim and even showed the ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot. A terrific athlete who has a motor and feel to match, Stuck could be a small school gem to keep an eye on in the 2022 class.
Amari Gaston (6’3 WF / Bishop Hartley / 2022): For a Cavaliers team that went 2-0, Gaston was the x-factor and glue guy on Sunday. Rebounding at a high level, running hard in transition and playing excellent defense, Gaston was the perfect compliment to the high scoring backcourt of Ethan Smith and Tegan Myers. A hard-working forward that does the little things and plays with valuable aggression, Gaston will have the chance to break out for a Hartley team that loses a ton to graduation. With the ability to hit open shots and score off the bounce, Gaston has a good dose of upside to go along with his already high level of all-around production.
Jacob Pleiman (6’6 PF / Botkins / 2022): Another player from the Northwest portion of the state, Pleiman had a solid Week 1 performance despite his team going 0-2. A lengthy post with an expanding skill set, Pleiman scored, rebounded and altered shots at a high level in two games for the Hawks. A young big who is not afraid of contact and playing with aggression, Pleiman has a chance to develop into a stud once he gets stronger.
Andrew Wade (6’4 WF / Olentangy Liberty / 2021): Wade had a breakout showing, dominating around the basket for a Raptors team that steamrolled its way to a 2-0 record. Check out more about him in our previous write up here.
Tylar Foster (6’2 WG / Olentangy Liberty / 2021): Much like his high school and fall league teammate Wade, Foster was terrific on Sunday, leading the Raptors in scoring and assists through two games. Foster has clearly put in a lot of time to his craft and the results showed on Sunday. Check out more about him in our previous write up here.
Josh Harlan (6’1 PG / Pickerington Central / 2022): A rather under the radar guard in 2022 who is going to sneak up on people sooner rather than later, Harlan was really good for the Raptors on Sunday, setting the table and getting them going on both ends of the floor. Harlan plays with great pace, is as tough as they come and clearly ready for big time minutes in the Pickerington Central backcourt this winter. Check out more about him in our previous write up here.
Max Stokey (6’7 PF / Buckeye Valley / 2020): While the Celtics had a rather unforgettable opening weekend, Stokey was a bright spot for the club. Stokey made his presence felt around the basket all afternoon, swatting four shots, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 15 points in two games. The Buckeye Valley senior big works hard around the basket, has solid length and is due for a breakout showing for a Barons team with enough firepower as it is.
Rex Kelly (6’0 WG / Olentangy Liberty / 2022): For a Nets team that went 2-0 and played great team basketball, Kelly found himself in the middle of all the action on Sunday. The stocky guard made his presence felt with his energy and activity level, which led to plenty of production. Kelly ranks in the top three of all statistical categories on his team through Week 1, highlighted by his team-leading six assists. While not the greatest athlete, Kelly knows how to play and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Kevin Brown (5'10 PG / Centennial / 2023): Brown was covered on Monday's recap, however, he deserves a mention here due to his defense alone. Brown was a terror on the defensive perimeter, picking pockets on ball and haunting the passing lanes. Keep an eye on the Centennial freshman and take a look at his previous write up here.