GROVEPORT, Ohio -- Championship Sunday offered the type of high level competition and intensity that we hoped it would, as all three title games went down to the wire and were determined by three points each. We even saw a few overtime battles in the semifinals of both divisions, as the players and coaches came to compete at a high level on Sunday.
We’d like to congratulate coach Alex Lemon and his Ohio State squad for running the table and finishing as league champs. This group started out 4-0 before losing three of its last four games to end the regular season. Staying the course, this team regrouped and put together an impressive three-game run to take home the title.
We’d also like to give a shout out to the coaches and players from our runner-up Kansas team. This group entered the regular season with seven-straight losses and seeded eighth. Upsetting top-seeded North Carolina in the first round, Kansas ran through Indiana in the semifinals before giving Ohio State all they could handle in the championship game. It was great to see those young men come to compete despite the adversity they faced for most of the season.
Let’s now take a look at our top performers from the Invite Only Division.
Trey Woodyard (6’6 WG / London / 2021): When it comes to elite-level talents, rarely do they come as selfless as Woodyard. However, when you come across a player as smart, unselfish and competitive as Woodyard, something special can happen and that’s what he has done all fall league long. Playing in all 11 games, Woodyard was the heart and soul of an Ohio State squad that played the best brand of basketball in the league. On Sunday, Woodyard was at his best, scoring efficiently from every level and even locking up opposing team’s best players in all three games. We love the IQ and feel that Woodyard has, as he’s rapidly improved in the last year, has stretched out to 6-foot-6 and is as smooth of a scorer as you’ll find off the bounce in Central Ohio. Woodyard will put up big-time numbers, lead London to 20+ wins and will have the Red Raiders competing for its first district title since 1971. We joked yesterday that the junior wing guard is the biggest thing to come out of London since Dick LeBeau. The funny thing is, we may not be far off with how he’s continued to improve and the recruiting interest that he’s garnering from programs as big as Cincinnati and Ohio State.
TJ Pugh (6’4 WG / Shelby / 2021): Coming into the fall league, Pugh was excited to have a chance to prove his small town hype was more substance than just hype. The Shelby junior did just that in helping lead Kansas to a runner-up finish, where he made the play of the day when he stripped North Carolina’s Sean Jones and scored a game-winning bucket at the buzzer to finish off the first-ever No. 8 over No. 1 upset in 270 Hoops Fall League history. The 6-foot-4 junior is a shifty ball handler that plays with an edge, as he has a variety of offensive tools that he uses to get by defenders. Pugh is one of the better at the rim finishers among all players in the area, while also being a talented shooter that excels both off the catch and off the dribble. Pugh’s size, frame and athleticism helps him create his own shot, as he was able to score it against length on Sunday. When Pugh substitutes flash for efficiency, he is very effective and that was the case for most of the day on Sunday. We really appreciated that Pugh played in both the invite and open leagues, playing four games each week and competing in every single one of them. We think the 6-foot-4 wing has a chance to be a Division I player, as his talent, skill and approach to the game are all where they need to be in order to be successful at that level. We plan to get up to Shelby a few times this season to watch him with a Whippets squad that should compete among the elite in the MOAC.
Josiah Fulcher (6’4 WG / Lima Senior / 2020): Fulcher absolutely dominated on both ends of the floor as he capped off a big time fall in helping lead his Ohio State team to a title. The Lima Senior guard went for 42 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, five steals and three blocks in three games. Fulcher is an elite creator off the bounce as he has a shifty handle and high-level quickness that allow him to get into the lane at will. He scored from all three levels and did it off the bounce as he hit pull-ups off the dribble both in the mid-range and from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-4 guard excels in the open floor as his dynamic handling ability and elite athleticism allow him to get to the rim where he’s a crafty finisher who is very efficient when around the bucket. He can defend guards at a high level as well as his lateral quickness and instincts on that end serve him very well. Fulcher stays active in the passing lanes as well and impacts the game blocking shots in the open floor and sometimes as a help-side defender. We expect him to put up some really, really outstanding numbers for Lima Senior year this year as there aren’t many guards in the state who can get things done on both ends of the floor like he can.
Jerry Saunders (6’0 PG / Pickerington North / 2022): Saunders put together a really impressive performance on the offensive end for his Kansas team in the title game as he went for a very efficient 15 points in a heartbreaking loss. The 6-foot tall guard scored from all three levels as he excelled off the bounce and in the pick and roll. He plays with a great feel on the offensive end and knows how to get his own shot. Saunders hit shots off the dribble and finished around the rim through contact efficiently as he can take hits inside and remain under control. He also passed the ball well in the half-court and did a good job of staying active in the passing lanes on the defensive end of the floor. In a Pickerington North program with quite a few elite young guards, we’re excited to see where Jerry fits in this season as he brings a lot of tools to the table on both ends of the floor.
Marcus Johnson (6’4 WG / South / 2020): The key to Kansas’ run to the championship game, Johnson played his best basketball in a win or go home situation on Sunday. The 6-foot-4 senior made plays off the bounce all day long, slicing his way to the rim and creating opportunities for others when he wasn’t scoring off the bounce. Johnson was a pest in the passing lanes, picking off five passes alone in a semifinal win over Indiana where the senior led all scorers with 15 points. In the championship match against Ohio State, Johnson held his own, going for 10 points and three assists. The 6-foot-4 senior knocked down a pull up jumper from 15 feet, showing good lift, balance and shooting touch, which will be a huge key for him going forward. Johnson had a great year on the EYBL and excels in uptempo settings where he is at his best as a playmaker and point of attack defender. We think low-major Division I programs that play fast should take a real look at Johnson, as he has proven that he can play against the best of the best.
Keegan Schaub (6’0 WG / New Albany / 2020): After just five weeks in the fall league, Schaub proved that there aren’t many players in the area who are better than him at doing the little things as he rebounded, played lockdown defense and made some really instinctive passes throughout his Ohio State squad’s championship run while also doing his fair share of scoring. Combining for 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocks in three wins, Schaub did a little bit of everything on Sunday. The 6-foot tall wing guard showed off some really impressive finishing ability around the rim, passed the ball really well in the half-court and in transition and showed excellent confidence while going up against some of the best guards in the area. He really impressed us on defense as he stayed active in the passing lanes, showed off good feet on the perimeter and kept his hands active while coming up with a handful of steals. Keegan is the ultimate competitor as he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, whether he has to score 20 points or score zero. We saw this yesterday in the title game as his team needed three points to end the game and after they took several forced shots from the perimeter, he told one of their star players, Josiah Fulcher, “Get a good look. We don’t need a three.” After a bucket on that end and a free throw on a later possession ended the game and helped them capture a title, it was clearly a good move on Schaub’s part. A talented guard who can play as a primary ball handler or on the wing, we’re very excited to see the success the senior has this season for New Albany.
Sean Moore (6’4 WG / Reynoldsburg / 2020): Moore made great use of his opportunity in the fall league, showing up each week and playing with great effort. That work was rewarded on Sunday where he had one of his best weeks yet, knocking down shots and getting out in transition to help lead Kansas to the title game. Moore is an athletic 6-foot-4 wing who has played with great confidence lately. We’ve liked the upside he’s shown as a perimeter shooter, as he has had a few big scoring games thanks to his ability to get hot from the perimeter. The biggest area of growth for Moore has been with his shot selection, as he has cut down on settling for outside jumpers, even when his shot is falling, in favor of more high percentage shots off the bounce. Moore comes to compete on both ends and would be a great look for NAIA programs in need of size and athleticism on the wing.
Tyler Kindberg (6’4 WG / Worthington Christian / 2021): Kindberg had one of the best motors in the gym all day on Sunday as he was aggressive on both ends and made big time plays for his Ohio State squad when they needed it in every game. The 6-foot-4 wing guard was excellent scoring in transition as he excels in the open floor with his speed, athleticism and length. He also hit shots in the mid-range and did an excellent job of playing within the offense as he dropped off several nice passes in the half-court and in transition. Kindberg is a reliable defender on the wing as his quickness and length allow him to bother opposing ball handlers in the half court. We like how hard he competes and the IQ that he plays with as he doesn’t make many bad choices with the ball in his hands and is a disciplined defender. We expect the junior to be a vital piece to a Worthington Christian team with big aspirations this season.
Elhadji Thiam (6’7 PF / Pickerington Central / 2021): Thiam made a major impact for Ohio State on Sunday as his length, finishing ability and athleticism allowed him to have success both in the open floor and in the paint. He went for 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in three games as he was all over the place on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-7 power forward makes a big impact with his length as he’s a reliable rim protector on the defensive end and can score out of the post with soft touch around the rim while also having really good patience on the offensive end. He also had success in transition on Sunday and it was highlighted by a big-time poster slam he threw down in the semifinal matchup. Thiam can also hit shots off the catch and is only going to add to his offensive arsenal as he continues to develop. We expect the junior to start garnering some serious attention this winter as combination of length and skill give him great value as a prospect.
Keaton Turner (6’1 PG / Dublin Coffman / 2020): Over the course of the last few months, Turner has been one of the biggest stock risers of any player in the state, as a handful of mid-major Division I programs are beginning to turn their attention towards the senior guard. In the fall league, Turner was terrific and Sunday was no different as he provided Kansas with valuable scoring before going down with a hip injury early on in the semifinals. The 6-foot-1 guard is as shifty as any player you can find in the area, has a very high skill set and scoring ability that will translate to the next level. We love the way Turner can create for himself and others off the bounce, greatly improving as a scorer, passer and playmaker in the last year. He can hit shots off the bounce both in the mid-range and from deep and is a crafty finesse finisher around the rim who has good body control and knows how to get his shot off. The senior should put up some really big offensive numbers this year for Dublin Coffman as he’s taking over the reigns for the Shamrocks.
Ryan Cutler (6’4 WF / Olentangy Orange / 2020): Cutler played a vital role in Ohio State winning a title as his ability to score efficiently, play without the ball and hit shots off the catch allowed him to find success on the offensive end all fall. The 6-foot-4 wing proved to be a high-level finisher around the rim in transition and in the half-court as his length and touch allow him to find success inside. He also has shown us that he can hit shots from deep off the catch and can be relied on as a ball handler in the open floor where he also has put good vision on display. The senior made a huge difference on the defensive end in the title game as his instincts and activeness in the passing lanes allowed him to come up with three steals and create easy buckets for his team. We’re excited to see how the senior plays this year as he’s really burst onto the scene since the summer.
Henry Hinkle (6’0 PG / Olentangy Liberty / 2021): Hinkle put the finishing touches on a great fall league season with a championship with Ohio State. The 6-foot junior guard is a high IQ ball handler that plays within the team and can make guys better around him. We liked how Hinkle was able to be effective with and without the ball throughout the course of the season, as he knocked down catch and shoot jumpers and took advantage of scoring opportunities off the bounce. Hinkle is a talented passer with good vision, while possessing a strong handle that helps him create for himself and others. We look forward to seeing Hinkle step into an expanded role for Olentangy Liberty this season, as he is one of very few returning rotation players from last year’s state semifinal roster.
Tasos Cook (6’3 WG / Westerville Central / 2021): Cook stood out immediately on the defensive end as he took the challenge of guarding one of the areas elite scores in Jalen Sullinger. He picked up full court the entire game and was an absolute pest. Cook showed off his lateral quickness and played really physical defense making his matchups work for difficult shots. He had really active hands, coming up with two steals in the game. Offensively he was just as impressive as he scored a game high 16 points. He was able to get into the lane at will finishing through contact over and over again. Tasos has showed this fall that he is ready for a breakout season this winter for Westerville Central, as he is one of the standout athletes in the OCC and plays with the type of motor that gets things done.
Cooper Davis (6’3 WG / Reynoldsburg / 2022): In a rough showing for Kentucky against Ohio State, Davis was a bright spot as the 6-foot-3 sophomore had a season-high 14 points. Davis is a deadly perimeter shooter with solid length and mobility, who really shined in the latter part of the game where his team trimmed what was a massive deficit thanks to his outside marksmanship. Davis is the son of Reynoldsburg coach Scott Davis, as he plays with great pace, confidence and has continued to improve as a scorer off the bounce. We look forward to seeing Davis’ impact on a Raiders roster that will need every bit of scoring and defense that he can give them.
VonCameron Davis (6’5 WF / Walnut Ridge / 2020): The Kent State commit has proven himself to be one of the most dominant players in the area, if not the state, over the course of his career at Walnut Ridge, and while he wasn’t able to lead his Duke team past the first round of the Fall League playoffs Davis still left his mark. Davis, who led the entire league in rebounds for the second-straight year, pulled down 20 boards in two games on Sunday. The 6-foot-5 forward is constantly productive, plays with max effort and is the type of guy you want on your team if you’re building a winning program.
Eli Burke (6’1 PG / Africentric / 2021): Burke continued his impressive Fall League run in Indiana’s first round victory over Duke. Burke is as efficient as they come as a lead guard, being able to score at all three levels and facilitate in the half and full court. He possesses a tight, smooth handle and is confident with the ball in his hands, and knows when to find his own shot, which he did incredibly well on Sunday to the tune of a game-high 12 points on multiple pull-up mid range jumpers and two threes. Burke thrives in one-on-one situations and makes opposing defenders respect his ability to score from anywhere on the floor, which opens up his dribble drive game and leads to contested finishes in which he converts at a high rate. The Africentric junior has continued to become more explosive which has turned him into an absolute terror in transition, as he wowed the crowd on Sunday with a few big time dunks in the semifinals.
Max Stokey (6’7 PF / Buckeye Valley / 2020): The biggest stock riser among upperclassmen in the fall league, Stokey had a nice showing for Villanova in a run to the semifinals. The 6-foot-7 post was his team’s most reliable offensive option in its loss to Ohio State, scoring efficiently on his way to eight points. Stokey cleaned up the offensive glass for a putback, showed nice touch on a turnaround jumper from several feet out and competed on both ends against a tough and lengthy OSU squad. Stokey is a late-blooming big who continues to get better each time we see him, as toughness and physicality have been his biggest area of improvement. Division II and III programs looking for size in Central Ohio’s senior class need to take a look at Stokey.
Jaden Woods (6’5 WF / Newark / 2020): Woods brought an extremely high energy level that his teammates fed off to beat Michigan State and advance to the semifinals. He was all over the glass pulling down six rebounds. The Newark senior was simply just working harder than guys as he continuously sprinted in transition and finished well around the rim. He scored nine points to go along with his work on the boards. Woods has improved a lot since last season and will be a key factor in how far Newark will go this year.
Hunter Shedenhelm (6’5 WG / Pickerington North / 2020): The Ashland commit did all he could to keep playoff hopes of Michigan State alive. He gave maximum effort on both ends of the floor. Defensively he really got after guys using his length to contest shots and force difficult looks. Offensively he was able to get it going knocking down catch and shoot opportunities. He led his team in scoring with 13 points and dished out two assists. Shedenhelm has become a much more confident player, which has helped him become consistent. For example, last year as a junior he could either give you 30 or completely disappear. The latter is something we think Shedenhelm has overcome, as he was productive in every viewing we had of him this fall. We look for him to to produce on a nightly basis and guard the opposing team's best player. The Panthers are loaded and have their sights on cutting down the nets at the Schottenstein Center and they’ll need Shedenhelm to be at his best in order to do just that.