COLUMBUS, Ohio -- We advanced past the mid point of the 270 Hoops Fall League on Sunday, as Week 3 offered us a glimpse of what the October 6 playoffs might look like. With a few new names making their debuts, we have a loaded list of top performers from Sunday’s action.
Kobe Buford (6’4 WG / Worthington Christian / 2021): Kobe, a three year invite league veteran, has really matured as a player. He let the game come to him, worked within the offense and showed the ability to post up smaller defenders. What has always stood out most about his game though is his ability to make it rain from beyond the arc, and boy did he make it rain knocking down five threes, after the first two hand down or heavily contested it was the bottom of the net. Kobe finished with a Court 3 high of 23 points and added four rebounds in all about 15 minutes of play to go along with a 14 point showing in his first game. Buford will be a huge part of a Worthington Christian team that has big aspirations in Division III heading into the season.
Tyrese Hughey (6’7 PF / Thomas Worthington / 2021): The junior has pogo stick leaping ability, every time the ball came off the rim you could expect to see him skying for rebounds. He used that leaping ability to block two shots and alter many others. Hughey looked really comfortable knocking down the mid range jumper as well hitting out to 18 feet. He had a complete game as he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks for a Villanova team that had a much-needed 2-0 day. Receiving an offer from Kent State on Saturday, Hughey will continue to be one of the hottest mid-major prospects in the state.
Tahleik Walker (6’3 PG / Pickerington Central / 2020): Walker’s ability to defend stands out anytime you see him play. He does a terrific job of moving his feet and staying in front of guys. Every attempt taken over him was a difficult one. Offensively the game comes fairly easy to Walker. Whether he’s finishing in transition or knocking down jump shots via catch and shoot or off the dribble, there really isn't a shot he can’t make on the floor. He finished with an efficient 14 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Trevell Adams (5’11 PG / South / 2020): Adams has continued to show that the three point shot is something that he has added to his game. Again with him consistently making that shot he is a terror for opposing defenders. It showed as guys had to play him closer allowing him to blow past and get the rim where he was able to draw fouls or finish. Adams knocked down three triples and had a team high 17 points, while adding three rebounds and two assists. With what he’s able to do on both ends of the floor, a consistent three-point shot will turn Adams into one of the most deadly players in the area.
Landon Tillman (5’7 PG / Westerville Central / 2021): When Tillman is on the court you’ll hear opposing coaches and players screaming “SHOOTER” any time the ball is heading his way. There couldn’t be anything closer to the truth as the 5-foot-7 guard is without a doubt one of the area’s best long range bombers. He can knock down the three off the dribble or via catch and shoot. He needs only an inch of breathing room and the ball is going up. Tillman finished with 11 points and made three triples.
Tasos Cook (6’2 WG / Westerville Central / 2021): The junior Cook was really impressive as the strong and athletic guard played great on-ball defense. Defenders had trouble as Tasos consistently was able to get to the rim and finish some tough shots. After averaging about six points his sophomore season, we fully expect a breakout year from Cook, as he should easily double his point production and be one of the better guards in the OCC. The contributions of Tillman and Cook will be huge for a Central program that should be able to compete for a Buckeye division title.
Dior Conners (6’1 PG / Pickerington North / 2022): Conners excels as a change of pace ball handler. He has the ball on a string and that was on full display as he broke defenders down off the dribble early and often. He showed off a smooth pull up mid range jumper that he got off with any separation. He finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds and an assist. In his second game, he was absolutely lethal from mid range, pulling up on contested jumpers on multiple possessions down the stretch and converting to keep his Villanova team ahead of a tough Indiana squad. He finished that game with 16 points that included two made threes, three assists and two steals. While he was injury riddled last year, we wish Dior a healthy season as he will be a big part of a deadly Pickerington North backcourt.
AJ Clayton (6’8 WF / Philo / 2022): Clayton played a good game as he showed off his three point range knocking down two attempts right over defenders . He finished with eight points and got after the glass coming up with six rebounds. Clayton also had two assists, both on some really nice outlet passes. The 6-foot-7 sophomore has really added to his perimeter game, becoming a reliable outside shooter who can pass, handle and defend on the wing while remaining a shot blocking force around the rim. While coming from the village of Duncan Falls, where the only places to stop are a Subway and Dairy Queen, the 15-year-old prospect will have coaches beating down his door and coming to small town Ohio for years to come.
Daviyon McDonald (6’6 WF / Dublin Coffman / 2022): Making his debut at the Fall League, McDonald was really impressive playing alongside CJ Anthony and Duke. The 6-foot-6 big showed the ability to catch and shoot threes with consistency, knocking down a pair of them in an 11-point performance to take down Michigan State. McDonald has a solid handle, rebounds and defends the rim and can really rim run. He has some of the biggest upside of any player in 2022 and could be one of the elite prospects by the time he’s a senior if he keeps developing like he has in the last few months.
Hunter Shedenhelm (6’5 WG / Pickerington North / 2020): The 6-foot-5 marksman Shedenhelm was dialed in early and often on Sunday as he led Michigan State in scoring and had his best showing yet in the Fall League. We love the strides Shedenhelm has made as an on-ball scorer, as he took advantage of a few mismatches and created for himself. On the perimeter, Shedenhelm took the task of defending CJ Anthony, and while the defending state champ Anthony did what he normally does, we were impressed with Shedenhelm’s lateral quickness and ability to stay in front of a shifty guard talent like Anthony. Shedenhelm is the best two-way wing in the 2020 class and will be a great get for whatever college lands him.
Andre Irvin (5’8 PG / Olentangy Orange / 2021): In Duke’s first win of the afternoon against Michigan State, Irvin had his best showing of the fall league thus far. While he’s been playing off the ball more than he’s used to, Irvin hasn’t complained and has adjusted nicely to his role. In Sunday’s win over MSU, Irvin had an efficient scoring performance, knocking down shots and getting to the rim on his way to 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. The 5-foot-8 junior is a talented ball handler that can really get going offensively when he’s in a rhythm and that was the case in Sunday’s opener. We look forward to seeing what he can do this winter as the primary ball handler in Orange’s offense.
Brent Walker (6’6 PF / Canton McKinley / 2021): After destroying the Open Division last Sunday, we had no choice but to move Walker up to the invite league. That move paid off as Walker greatly helped Duke as they had a much-needed 2-0 performance in wins over Michigan State and Kansas. The 6-foot-6 post has the most college ready body of any player in the league, as he looks like he could play defensive end in the NFL already. Walker is the definition of a ‘play finisher’ cleaning up the boards and remaining a force on the defensive interior. The Canton McKinley junior big might be the only player in the fall league who can drop step and dunk on a defender, as he created for several ‘woah’ type finishes around the basket with his explosiveness and overall brute strength. As he continues to become more skilled, we think Walker will be ready to contribute at the next level early on with his toughness, physicality and activity level.
Ryan Cutler (6’5 WG / Olentangy Orange / 2020): The 6-foot-5 senior Cutler continued his ascension on Sunday as he had one of his best games yet with 16 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals in a win over Kentucky. Cutler has great length, is an active play finisher that really excels in transition. On the defensive perimeter, Cutler holds his own, shutting off driving lanes and excelling off the ball where he came up with a few steals on Sunday. With Olentangy Orange graduating some big time talent, Cutler has a chance to have a breakout year for the Pioneers. Division III and NAIA programs should take a long, hard look at Cutler.
TJ Pugh (6’4 WG / Shelby / 2021): There are a few absolute scoring machines in each class and in 2021, Pugh is one of those guys. In Kansas’ first game of the afternoon against Indiana, Pugh led them right back into the game with three-straight triples in a 13-point showing. The 6-foot-4 guard has an overall game, as he can REALLY score it off the bounce and is a quality creator that can get things going for others. We like the toughness and intensity that he defends with, as he has really impressed us in the first three weeks of the season.
Keaton Turner (6’0 PG / Dublin Coffman / 2020): Through three weeks, there hasn’t been another player to put the ball in the bucket as much as Turner. The 6-foot Coffman guard did what he does best on Sunday for Kansas, getting pretty much any shot he wanted off the dribble. While he didn’t have the type of shooting performance that we’ve come to expect from him, we were still impressed with Turner’s ability to create looks for himself, as he has a unique offensive game that is one of the best in the area. Defensively, Turner had some really good moments pressuring the ball, as he does a great job of staying in front of even the quickest guards around. As he gets stronger and continues to mature his body, Turner will be one of the absolute best guard prospects in this class going forward.
Trey Woodyard (6’5 WG / London / 2021): When it comes to scoring efficiently, there haven’t been a ton of players better than Woodyard in the invite league. Just moments after going for 19 points and nearly leading his Ohio State team to a comeback win over North Carolina, Trey did everything against Michigan State as he went for 10 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. The 6-foot-5 wing has a buttery smooth jump shot off the dribble and catch at this point, does an excellent job of creating space off the dribble and can score out of the post. He plays extremely well off the ball, rarely takes bad shots and plays with an impressive pace. Woodyard can clean up the boards with his length as well and creates easy looks in that phase. One of the best pure scorers around, Trey should continue to attract mid-major interest as he recently added an offer from Ohio University on Saturday.
CJ Anthony (6’0 PG / Harvest Prep / 2020): Weight room. That was Anthony’s message to opposing guards on Sunday. With his combination of size, strength, speed and handling ability, CJ is a matchup nightmare on either end and he put that on full display as he combined for 24 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals in two close wins. He can create space off the dribble with his strength and we saw that on multiple occasions as he bodied off smaller guards to get into his pull-up. Anthony is a freight train when driving downhill and absorbs contact at an elite level which allows him to be an extremely efficient finisher around the rim. Defensively, we know that CJ can guard bigger guards at the next level as he has the strength and quickness to do so. Anthony has all the tools you want out of your starting point guard as he’s a proven winner, playmaker and leader. We expect him to put up some special numbers during his senior season as he returns to Harvest Prep as the best player on the roster for the third straight year. This may be the year where we really see how special Anthony is, as he leads a program coming off a state championship that many are doubting in the early stages of the fall.
Keegan Schaub (6’0 WG / New Albany / 2020): Schaub has went from a player we didn’t know a lot about heading into the fall league into a guy we love in just three short weeks. Schaub has been relied on to rebound, hit open shots, and play team defense for his Ohio State squad and he’s done exactly that and then some. At just 6-feet tall, Schaub has totaled the third most rebounds in the invite circuit through three weeks. These aren’t just lucky bounce boards either. He hustles, never takes plays off, picks his spots well and outworks his match up almost every game. While Schaub has excelled doing this, he’s also shown us the ability to hit shots off the dribble and make high IQ offensive reads. He combined for 18 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 1-1 day for an Ohio State team with just seven of their regular guys. Schaub had eight offensive rebounds on Sunday, proving that his big rebounding showing in the first two weeks were not anomalies. Keegan is what we would call a “stat sheet stuffer” as he consistently produces in his role every week.
Jerry Saunders (6’1 PG / Pickerington North / 2022): Saunders has continued to look better each week and that was exactly the case on Sunday as he put on two of his best showings yet on both ends, combining for 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in two tough losses. Jerry was aggressive on both sides of the ball and played with extremely high confidence which was evident as he hit the game-tying three to send his squad’s matchup with Duke to overtime. Saunders attacked off the bounce all day and made shots from all three levels as a result. He impressed in transition as he made several instinctive passes to help create easy buckets for his team. Saunders has the potential to be one of the best all-around talents in the 2022 class and if he continues to produce and improve like he has, we have no doubt he will become exactly that.
Taquan Simington (6’2 WG / South / 2020): Simington’s athleticism was on full display Sunday, and boy was it fun to watch. The South guard put on a show against Kansas in the first game of the day, jamming the ball on a few fast break opportunities including an incredible reverse windmill slam. Simington is always active on the boards, using his elite jumping ability to sky for contested rebounds and also has the ability to meet nearly any offensive player at the rim to contest a shot when he wants to. In Indiana’s game one win, he finished with 16 points and a staggering eight rebounds and was undoubtedly the most effective player on the court on either side. In game two, Simington stretched out his offensive game past the three point line, making one three and a handful of smooth pull up jumpers from mid-range that showcased his multi-dimensional offensive skillset. Though his team fell to Villanova in the second game, Simington’s play only got better, and he finished that matchup with 22 points to go along with five rebounds and a steal. Look for Simington to have a huge role for South this winter, as his athleticism, finishing ability and toughness on both ends will help the Bulldogs compete for a Division I district title and more.
Conner Maciag (6’1 G / Pickerington Central / 2020): Using his steady confidence and high-level shooting ability, Maciag made his presence known on Sunday and showed exactly why he will play a large role on perennial power Pickerington Central’s 2019 squad. Maciag has one of the cleanest and most consistent jumpshots in the area, one that is effective anywhere from a baseline turn-around jumper to a deep spot up three. While Maciag is mainly utilized on the ball, he is crafty off the ball in trying to get himself open, and overall is an incredibly intelligent offensive player that can feel the time and temperature of the game and make plays accordingly. He is a talented passer and showcased that skill Sunday, dropping flashy and effective dimes that led to great looks at the basket for his teammates (though they sometimes didn’t convert). On defense, Maciag is a heady and high-effort player that uses positioning and footwork to stay in front of faster offensive players, and with a strong 6-1 build contributes on the glass well for a guard. He finished with 14 points that included four straight threes at one point in Indiana’s win over Kansas, also adding six rebounds, an assist, and a steal, and continued his day of hot shooting in their narrow loss to Villanova with two threes as a part of his 12 point follow-up effort.
Zakai Alexander (6’3 WG / Pickerington Central / 2021): On a Villanova team that is loaded in the frontcourt with players like Tyrese Hughey and Bilal Sow, it was Alexander who was the steady force inside and out on Sunday for his team. Alexander’s sturdy 6-3 build allows him to effectively position himself on the inside on both ends, as he was able to convert on multiple second chance attempts on O and clean up the boards on D on his way to a team-high six boards in his squad’s win over Indiana. The junior wing is an efficient role-player type on offense but was able to shine in that capacity on Sunday, cutting to the basket, setting and running off screens, and spotting up on his way to 15 points that included three threes. Alexander made a living by being in the right spots and playing off of his other teammates, but also has the ability to rise up and take contested shots when needed. He is an intriguing player that will play on a loaded Pickerington Central team this winter, and will only get better as his confidence grows, because while his game may seem understated, he possesses good enough athleticism and tools to shine in the right role.
Eli Burke (6’1 PG / Africentric / 2021): While Taquan Simington might have stopped the show on Sunday in Indiana’s win over Kansas with his high-flying exploits, it was Burke who quietly took over the game on the offensive end. Burke is as smooth as they come with his ball-handling and dribble-drive ability, and looked like he was playing at a level above which most of his defenders could handle. His pull-up game was impressive, as he converted on a handful of jumpers throughout the course of the decisive stretch of the game. At times it seemed like Burke’s mid and long-range game couldn’t be stopped, and for the most part it wasn’t. But even more noteworthy was Burke’s ability to use his tight handle to blow by defenders and get into the lane to draw fouls, which led to five points from the charity stripe including a late-game and-one. Burke ended up leading all scorers in game one with 17 points, which included two threes, and added two rebounds, an assist, and a steal. While he was limited in scoring in Indiana’s game two loss to Villanova due to an injury, his dominant performance in his first game showed enough to prove that Burke is one of the most effective offensive 2021 guards in the area.
Jalen Sullinger (5'9 PG / Thomas Worthington / 2021): While Sullinger's scoring ability is what has helped him become one of the elite talents in 2021, it was his passing ability that we were most impressed with on Sunday. Setting his teammates up for scores on his way to 10 assists in two games, Sullinger had his best showing as a facilitator and creator on Sunday. The 5-foot-9 guard has a vice grip handle, able to create mismatches on the perimeter where he's really good at getting into the paint. Once he's there, Sullinger excels at driving and kicking, showing great vision and passing touch. Off pure talent and IQ, Sullinger is one of the very best in the area on the offensive end. We'd like to see him take the next step as a defender, as he's smart and quick enough to be effective on that end, he just has to show more consistent effort.