WORTHINGTON, Ohio -- Another installment of The Hidden Gems Showcase took place on Saturday at Thomas Worthington and we got to check out some of the area's rising talent from all four classes compete. Let's take a look at some of the top perfomers from the event.
Casey George (6'0 PG / Pickerington North / 2021): George put on a very nice showing as a lead guard today. The junior does a really good job of using his body to create space and get into the lane, as he bullied around smaller guards throughout the event. George impressed as a passer, making several impressive drive-and-kick reads to open shooters and finding teammates in transition. He finished around the rim with consistency and did so through contact with good body control. He also shot the ball well from the perimeter as he knocked down a handful of contested three-pointers both off the dribble and off the catch. On defense, we really like how active Casey's hands are as he frustrated opposing ball handlers all day on the perimeter. He's not freakishly quick, but he stays in front of guys and won't get bodied around easily. A high IQ guard who plays with a really good pace, we're excited to see how Casey works into a loaded Pickerington North backcourt this winter.
Garrett Taylor (6'7 PF / Marysville / 2021): Taylor has caught our eyes recently playing in the Invite Only division of our fall league and he continued to impress today. The 6-foot-7 junior has a very long build and makes use of it on both ends. He dominated the glass on Saturday as he boxed guys out to get position, used his length to snatch down boards and flat out outhustled the opposition. Taylor was disruptive on the perimeter and inside as he can really bother guys trying to get their shot off with his wingspan. He came up with three really nice blocks on the interior as he picked his spots on that end very well all day and consistently made the right rotations. The lanky junior showed his offensive potential by knocking down a few soft hooks in the lane, filling lanes in transition, displaying really good hands and finishing around the rim almost every chance he got. We really like Taylor's upside and expect him to have an impressive season for Marysville this year as he's one of the more promising young big men in the area.
Eli Burke (6'0 PG / Africentric / 2021): One of the most promising 2021 prospects in the area, Burke had his way with virtually every matchup we saw him go up against on Saturday. With elite quickness and a really tight handle, the Africentric guard is a dynamic ball handler who can get into the lane at will. He has one of the best hesitation moves in the area because of the fact that he's lightning quick off the dribble and a very reliable shooter from the perimeter. Eli made some really nice passes off the dribble Saturday, finding open shooters time and time again after attracting helpside defense. He finished extremely well around the rim as well, absorbing contact and showing the ability to go up with either hand. On defense, Burke has the potential to be a really good point of attack defender with his lateral quickness and instincts on that end. As he's grown a lot in the last year, Eli has developed the ability to defend bigger guards as well as wings. He takes pride on that end of the floor and is one of the more gritty perimeter defenders around. Burke has all the tools, including work ethic, and we expect his stock to continue to rise this winter in a loaded Africentric backcourt alongside guys like Cali Davis and Dan Wagner.
Travaughn McConnell (6'5 WF / Beechcroft / 2020): Though he wasn't extremely involved in his team's offense on Saturday, McConnell caught our eyes with his defensive play and hustle. At a long 6-foot-5 with speed, lateral quickness and athleticism, the senior can really defend on the wing. He came up with several steals and a very athletic block in our viewing of him to highlight his impressive all around defensive showing. McConnell made several nice rotations within the defense as well and this was satisfying as it showed us that he's more than simply an athletic mismatch. He ran the floor all day, made several good passes on the offensive end and finished around the rim consistently when he had opportunities. McConnell will be a really key piece this winter for a Beechcroft team who graduated several talented seniors last year. We think he'll excel in that role as he plays the game the right way and has the tools to develop into a solid offensive option as well.
Sohn McGee (6'3 WG / Westland / 2022): McGee has shot up a few inches over the last year and it's really allowed him to strengthen his game. The sophomore is a gifted athlete and we saw that on several occassions on Saturday as he soared into the lane for some tough finishes through contact and a big time dunk. As he's added length, McGee has become a much better perimeter defender. He came up with several nice steals off of instinctive rotations and went coast-to-coast on two of them for impressive transition finishes. We liked the way Sohn worked within the offense as well as he didn't force things but rather scored off of several high IQ cuts and droppped off a handful of impressive passes. As he continues to add to his offensive arsenal, McGee's length and athleticism should really help him become a threat on that end. We expect him to take some big strides this season as he has a year of varsity play under his belt now.
Chance Groce (6'5 WG / Linden-McKinley / 2021): Groce was a mismatch for most players in the gym on Saturday as his length and athletic ability set him apart from a lot of guys. In our viewing of him, the 6-foot-5 wing put his offensive versatility on display as he scored from all three levels. Groce has an above average handle at this point and beat guys off the dribble on multiple occassions on Saturday. When around the rim, he was tough to stop as a finisher as his length allows him to create comfortable shots inside. Chance was most impressive in the mid-range, where he hit several post turnarounds while fading away. He also created a lot of easy points on the glass as he was simply too long in the paint for a lot of guys and grabbed a handful of offensive rebounds as result. Groce has the offensive tools, however, we'd like to see more effort from him on the defensive end as he could be just as good there. It will be interesting to see how Groce leads a Linden-McKinley with some of the most potential in the City League this winter yet a very young core.
Solomon Amponsah (6'1 WG / Westerville South / 2022): Amponsah caught our eyes today on both ends. A 6-foot-1 guard who can knock down shots from the perimeter and defend at a high level, Amponsah could serve as an excellent 3&D guy in the future for Ed Calo at Westerville South. Though we liked the way he shot the ball from the perimeter, the sophomore impressed off the dribble as well. He likes to use his body to get inside and create space to get his shot off. He displayed finishing value with both hands as we saw him finish tough lay-ins with his left and knock down a few floaters with his right. Amponsah has really good feet on both ends at this age and didn't let many guys get by him off the dribble on Saturday. As he continues to smooth out his game and grow into his body, the sophomore should become a name more people know about in the coming years.
Julian Heckman (5'11 CG / Reynoldsburg / 2022): Heckman was one of the better off the bounce creators we saw all day in our short viewing of him. The sophomore has good quickness and beat guys off the dribble time and time again. He's a crafty finisher inside and has the hang time to adjust his shot mid-air in order to get a more clean look. Heckman found open shooters on multiple occassions and had a few impressive drop off passes to streaking big men. He can really shoot it from the perimeter as well as we saw him hit a wing three off the catch and we saw him hit two triples off the dribble, one of which was from about five/six feet behind the three-point lane. Heckman's quickness gives him an advantage over slower guards and allows him to create easy transition opportunities. We think Heckman is a guy who could become an elite point of attack defender with proper development. Given that he already has a lot of the offensive tools in his arsenal, this could allow the young Reynoldsburg guard to become a very good two-way player in the coming years.
Josiah Mobley (6'0 PG / Whitehall / 2021): One of the quicker and more shifty guards in the area, Mobley did some impressive things off the dribble on Saturday. He knows how to handle the ball and uses his tight handle to his advantage when attacking on the perimeter. Mobley can change directions very quickly and does an excellent job of stopping on a dime in order to get into his pull-up jumper. Though he didn't finish a few opportunities that we would have liked to see him finish, Mobley did a good job of getting his shot off inside as he has some really high level body control. In the future, however, Mobley's best use could be on the defensive end as he has really quick feet on that end and does an excellent job of using his hands. With some of the best end-to-end speed in the area, the junior guard is not an easy matchup on the perimeter for anyone as he is constantly active. Josiah should really succeed this year in the MSL as his experience against elite OCC guards in the past will benefit him greatly.
Troy Scowden (6'7 PF / Buckeye Valley / 2022): Too big and too strong. That's what Scowden was for all of the opposing big men he had to go up against today. The 6-foot-7 big is one of the stronger players in the area as just a sophomore and bullied guys around near the rim all day. We liked how Troy ran the floor and showed off his athleticism with a big time dunk in transition. We got to see him attack off the dribble from the perimeter more than usual today and he impressed in that phase as well, getting to the rim on multiple occassions. On a Buckeye Valley team that a lot of people might be asleep on, we expect Scowden to put big numbers and lead his team to an impressive record this season.
Keegan Schaub (6'1 WG / New Albany / 2020): Schaub did all the little things right on Saturday, which is something we've grown used to seeing him do. The 6-foot-1 senior made all the right defensive rotations to come up with a handful of steals, made all the right passes and showed the ability to hit shots off the dribble. He scored from three and with a nice coast-to-coast take in our viewing, displaying his ability to score in multiple ways on that end. Schaub just seems to be one of those guys who always plays hard. He's the type of role player who makes a championship team what they are and we've seen exactly that so far this fall as his Ohio State squad is 4-0 in the 270 Hoops Fall League. We expect Schaub and New Albany to open some eyes this season as they return several key pieces and have made some nice additions to their squad.
Kegan Hienton (6'5 PF / Big Walnut / 2020): Hienton had an impressive day in the paint as he used his size to get position around guys and did a really good job of creating second chances on the offensive glass. Though we're used to seeing Hienton getting involved inside and scoring out of the post, where he caught our eye today was his ability to get to the rim off the dribble. Kegan snuck around guys on several occassions and showed a good post spin move leading into the dribble drive. He got to the line on several occassions as he knows how to create contact inside and get his points despite not being the most tall or athletic. We'd like to see him show a little more effort than he did today on the defensive end, but we expect Kegan to have a solid senior season for a Big Walnut team in which he will most likely be the leading scorer on.
Lee Sims (5'8 PG / Northland / 2020): A shifty, undersized guard who can knock down shots off the dribble, we liked what we saw from Sims on Saturday. He got into the lane a multitude of times and kept defenders off balance with his shifty handle and big crossover that he likes to use to create space. The lefty hit a three off the dribble and a handful of mid-range shots off the dribble in our viewing. He also showed that he can use his right on a very tough finish through contact. Sims needs to clean up his shot selection a little bit, but he displays a lot of valuable tools on the offensive end. He'll have to play a much bigger role for Northland this season due to the departure of former Viking N'Keeley Elmore.
Gavin Headings (6'4 WF / Dublin Coffman / 2023): Headings displayed his ability to do multiple things on the offensive end today as he scored outside, in transition and off the dribble. The 6-foot-4 freshman has really good hands in transition and inside that allow him to finish off easy looks his teammates have created for him. Headings length allows him to alter shots on the defensive end and work around the basket with ease on offense. We saw him go coast-to-coast after a big block for a tough and-one through contact on one possession, displaying the kind of versatility that you like to see out of a wing with his frame. He also scored from the post and hit a tough floater going baseline. As he continues to grow and fill into his frame, Headings has the chance to become a mismatch nightmare on the wing with his ability to do multiple things at such a young age.