COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Scholastic Play By Play Classic is returning to Columbus in December and has a chance to be bigger than ever before. The last time the event was in a major arena, a player by the name of LeBron James starred in front of tens of thousands at Value City Arena against Brookhaven.
This time around, another player named LeBron James will take center stage on December 14 at Nationwide Arena. “Bronny” and his Sierra Canyon squad of stars will take on LeBron Sr.’s alma mater Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary as the event’s nightcap.
Let’s take a look at the matchups that are to come three months from today.
In what could be a preview of a Division I district title, South will get its first test of the season against a big school in Thomas Worthington. The Bulldogs are reigning Division II state runner ups and will go head to head against a Cardinal squad with the best junior class in the area.
Players to watch: Tyrese Hughey (Jr. PF, TWHS), Jalen Sullinger (Jr. PG, TWHS), Trevell Adams (Sr. PG, SHS), Marcus Johnson (Sr. WG, SHS), Taquan Simington (Sr. WG, SHS), Isaac Settles (Jr. WF, TWHS), Samual Barton (Sr. PF, SHS)
Star power is the theme of the PBP this year and this game will have it. Pickerington Central comes in as winners of seven of the last eight district titles in the area and will take on a Buchtel team coming off a trip to the Division II state final four. The Tigers will have their hands full with Buchtel super sophomore Chris Livingston, who is regarded as a top five talent nationally by every major service. Central will have a few studs of their own, however, as the Tigers seem to like their place as a relative underdog among the elite teams in the area. Keep an eye on Buchtel juniors Tae Perie and Vernon Smith, as Livingston’s squad is not a one-man show.
Players to watch: Chris Livingston (So. WG, BHS), Garner Wallace (Jr. WF, PHSC), Tae Perie (Jr. G, BHS), Tahleik Walker (Sr. G, PHSC), Vernon Smith (Jr. PF, BHS), Elhadji Thiam (Jr. PF, PHSC), Conner Maciag (Sr. PG, PHSC)
If it weren’t for Thomas Worthington providing the upset of the season in the district semifinals last March, this would have been a district final at the Columbus Convention Center. Instead we get to see these two juggernauts square off on the floor of Nationwide Arena. Pickerington North and Hilliard Bradley are regarded as the top two teams in the area heading into the season and will do battle in front of a huge crowd. It will be interesting to see if North is able to break through against Bradley’s dominant packline defense. The battle of Jack Sawyer against Matt Allocco should be one of the best storylines in the event.
Players to watch: Jack Sawyer (Jr. WF, PHSN), Matt Allocco (HBHS), Chris Scott (Sr. WG, PHSN), Chris Mayfield (Sr. WF, HBHS), Hunter Shedenhelm (PHSN), Jack Pugh (Jr. WF, HBHS), Casey George (Jr. PG, PHSN), AJ Mirgon (Jr. PG, HBHS)
The nightcap could result in a sellout at Nationwide as Ohio’s favorite in Division II will square off against a national power on the big stage. St. Vincent-St. Mary is coming off a runner up finish in Division I and will roll out a star-studded lineup of its own with junior Malaki Branham, the top 2021 prospect in the state and sophomore star Sencire Harris, one of the elite prospects in the state.. Fellow sophomore Ramar Pryor is a talented prospect to keep an eye on, as he and Harris both transferred to the Irish during the offseason.
For Sierra Canyon, the California power will feature five-star freshman LeBron James Jr., who is looking to make a statement against the program many thought he was destined to play for. Sierra Canyon also features Zaire Wade, son of Dwyane Wade. The Blazers are loaded with even more blue chip talent outside of James and Wade, as they should be St. V’s toughest challenge all year long.
Players to watch: Malaki Branham (Jr. WF, STVM), LeBron James Jr. (Fr. G, SCHS), Sencire Harris (So. PG, STVM), BJ Boston (Sr. WG, SCHS), Ramar Pryor (So. WG, STVM), Zaire Williams (Sr. WF, SCHS), Amari Bailey (So. WG, SCHS), Zaire Wade (Sr. PG, SCHS), Isaiah Ingol (Sr. WG, STVM), Marcus Johnson (Sr. C, STVM)