GROVEPORT, Ohio -- Championship Sunday surely delivered at Groveport Madison as Week 5 offered some of the best games that the 270 Hoops Fall League has ever seen. With the new Elam Ending rule coming into effect for the championship games, we saw some big time endings with both games coming down to the final shot.
We would like to congratulate coach Joe Schmitz and the Jazz on taking home the Open West Division Championship in a thriller against the Clippers. The Clippers came in as the top seed with its only loss coming to the Jazz in the final game of the regular season. The matchup between the two star-studded freshmen teams went down to the wire with the game tied at 52 and a target score of 54.
The Jazz drew up a great play and got an open three for Dublin Coffman freshman Gavin Headings who delivered a championship sealing three from the left corner for the win.
In the Open East Division Championship, the No. 2 Pacers and No. 1 Raptors battled back and forth all game long. In the final stage of the game, the Pacers took control and held a 50-49 advantage with a target score of 52. Locking up on defense, the Pacers got a great look in transition to take home the title, as coach Grant Gilliland redeemed himself after his Academy team fell in the same title game a year prior.
We would also like to congratulate the Hawks on winning the Open East Consolation tournament. Coming in winless at 0-8, the Hawks rallied together and won back-to-back games over the Knicks and Bucks to finish as one of only three teams in the 28-team league to finish the season victorious.
Let’s now take a look at the top performers from Week 5 of the Open Division.
Grant Burkholder (5’8 PG / Newark / 2023): The engine that made the Jazz go all fall long, Burkholder’s excellent play at the lead guard spot was good enough to lead his team to an open west title. A shifty 5-foot-8 guard with a high level handle and elite quickness, he was a terror to defend off the dribble on Sunday as he set up open looks for his teammates and got good shots for himself as well. Burkholder is the best passer that we’ve seen yet in the 2023 class and his elite distributing ability was on display as he went for 11 assists to go along with 22 points in three wins. He can finish around the rim, has a deadly mid-range game and has shown us that he can hit shots from beyond the arc as well. We love how he gets after it on both ends and loves to compete. The freshman is an above-average point of attack defender as he has advanced feet and hands on the defensive perimeter as this age. We’re huge fans of his game and expect him to see the varsity rotation this year off the bench for Newark.
Devin Royal (6’4 WF / Pickerington Central / 2023): Royal was a man amongst the boys this fall in the open west as he took home league MVP honors and although his team came up short, he was the best player in the championship game on Sunday as he erupted for 25 efficient points after combining for another 25 in his first two games of the day. The freshman wing has an excellent frame, good size, good strength and an elite motor, all things that allow him to physically dominate opposing wings off the dribble. He’s really aggressive on the offensive end and gets into the lane at will as his strength and athleticism allow him to body off smaller defenders and also finish around the rim through contact at a really, really high level. Royal dominates the glass, competes on both ends and even showed the ability to hit shots from the perimeter off the catch as the fall progressed. We love how he impacts the game on the defensive end as he can defend on the wing and alter shots in the paint with his length and build. The freshman’s raw tools and physical ability will find him time in Pickerington Central’s varsity rotation this year as he’s one of the better 2023 prospects across the state.
Joey Zalewski (6’1 WG / Thomas Worthington / 2023): Zalewski was excellent for the Jazz on the offensive end all fall long and that was no different on Sunday as he went for 30 points to go along with nine rebounds in three wins. The 6-foot-1 wing is an advanced scorer off the bounce at this age as he has a quick first step and reliable handle. He’s shown us elite finishing ability around the rim and a consistent jumper off the dribble both from the mid-range and from deep. We like the pace and IQ that he plays with as he rarely takes bad shots on the offensive end and knows how to create space for himself. Zalewski is reliable as a finesse finisher or power finisher around the rim against opposing guards as he has a stronger frame at this age to go along with his above average athleticism that allows him to get clean looks inside. We like the tools he brings to the floor on both ends as he has shown the upside to become just as good on the defensive end as he will be on offense. We’re excited to see the strides he makes this winter at Thomas Worthington.
Gavin Headings (6’5 WF / Dublin Coffman / 2023): Headings made plays for the Jazz during their championship run all day on Sunday, none bigger than his game-winning three in the title game, as he put his versatile game on display throughout the day. The 6-foot-5 wing offers an interesting blend of length, shooting touch and handling ability at a young age and affects the game in several different ways as a result of it. He hit several three’s off the catch and scored it well off the bounce as he’s a capable finisher inside at this point. He can also create easy points on the offensive glass as he snatches down boards with his length and does a good job of moving guys around and picking his spots inside. Headings is still developing as a wing defender at this point but could be dominant on that end if he continues to add quickness due to the fact that he already does a great job affecting the game as a help side shot blocker and has the length to disturb wings. We’ll be interested to see where the freshman fits in at Dublin Coffman this season as their roster is going to look a lot different from last season.
Maurice Charlton (6’3 WF / Gahanna / 2023): Charlton is a smart and composed forward who can play both on and off the ball. We liked his ability to pass, find the open man, score with both hands at the rim and hit the mid-range jumper. With decent size and athleticism, Charlton has the intangibles that you need to be a productive player. We look forward to watching him more over the next few years, as he was a key role player in the Jazz run to the title.
Kevin Brown Jr. (6’0 PG / Centennial / 2023): Brown continued his consistent productivity on Sunday as he did a lot of the little things on both ends to help propel his Clippers squad to the title game. The 6-foot freshman is a dynamic ball handler with above average quickness and the ability to beat guys off the dribble with consistency. He has good vision, can finish around the rim and is a threat to knock down the three. We love the way he gets after it on defense as he can really defend on the perimeter and has good hands that allow him to come up with a lot of steals. The freshman also plays the passing lanes well and makes really good decisions in the open floor. We’re excited to see how he develops in the next few years at Centennial.
Elias Lewis (6’1 G / Olentangy Orange / 2023): A silky smooth guard who can score from all three levels, Lewis went for 27 points, five assists and three steals in three games for the Clippers on Sunday as he rounded out a fantastic fall. The 6-foot-1 guard has an excellent feel for the game, knows how to play at different paces and can hit shots from the perimeter off the dribble. He has a great combination of speed, elusiveness and handling ability that allow him to excel in the open floor where he’s also a high level finisher. Lewis is an above average defender on the perimeter and has the tools to develop into an excellent two-way player in the future. We can’t wait to watch the freshman at Olentangy Orange this season as he should get major minutes in the varsity rotation.
Peyton Frey (6’3 PF / St. Charles / 2023): Frey made some big plays down the stretch in the title game, pulling down a few key rebounds and making some excellent passes. We love that Frey adapted to whatever role was needed out of him all season, showing the ability to be the workhorse inside for his Jazz squad. We look forward to seeing how Frey develops in a St. Charles program with a litany of young talent.
Andrew Wade (6’4 WF / Olentangy Liberty / 2021): Wade has great length on the wing and uses it to do a lot of things on both sides of the floor. He went for 23 points, 28 rebounds, four assists, three steals and seven blocks in three games, making his impact felt in all three contests. The 6-foot-4 wing can hit shots from the perimeter, cleans up the glass better than a lot of forwards in his class and is an excellent finisher in transition. He’s shown us that he can handle it in the open floor and make instinctive passes as well as the junior is a really high IQ player on both ends. He can defend reliably on the perimeter and does an excellent job of using his length as a rim deterrent, something we saw in a five block performance against the Celtics on Sunday. We love how Wade plays hard and can’t wait to see what he does for Olentangy Liberty this season.
Tylar Foster (6’2 WG / Olentangy Liberty / 2021): Foster proved himself as one of the elite shooters in the Open Division all year long by helping lead the Raptors to a one seed and runner up finish. The 6-foot-2 guard can play on and off the ball, is a deadly catch and shoot threat and showed the ability to score it off the bounce a bit over the last five weeks. In an Olentangy Liberty program that lost a ton to graduation, Foster will be relied upon to step up for the Patriots this winter and we think he’s capable of doing just that.
Adam Benschoter (6’3 WG / Teays Valley / 2020): Benschoter was excellent on Sunday as he put up big time numbers in all three wins for his Pacers squad. The 6-foot-3 wing impressed in transition, finishing around the rim extremely efficiently and handling the ball well in the open floor. He flashed a really good in-between game as he hit shots from the mid-range area off the catch with consistency throughout the day. Benschoter can score from all three levels, rebounds well and is a reliable team defender on the defensive end, all traits that made him a vital part of the Pacers championship run. We’re excited to see what the senior does this season for Teays Valley as he’s really improved each week of the fall.
Gabe Chalfin (6’0 WG / Logan Elm / 2021): Chalfin was really impressive on the offensive end on Sunday as the junior showed off his three-level scoring ability and did a lot of impressive things off the bounce. We like the pace he plays with, his decision making and his ability to score in different ways. Chalfin runs the floor well in transition, can finish through contact plays the passing lanes really well on the defensive end. The 6-foot wing can create and hit his own shot off the dribble as he knows how to handle the ball and generate space for himself. He loves to compete and showed us on Sunday that he’s a threat off the ball as well as he’s a consistent shooter off the catch. We think he could put up some impressive numbers this season in the scoring category for Logan Elm.
Ryan Magill (6’3 WG / Fairfield Union / 2021): A versatile 6-foot-3 wing with solid upside, Magill continued to do a little bit of everything for the Pacers on Sunday as he crashed the glass hard, created shots, finished in transition and played the passing lanes very well on the defensive end. He can handle the ball in the open floor and hit shots off the catch within the offense, both traits that allowed him to have a lot of success for the Pacers and Coach Gilliland. Magill is long and can defend well on the wing at this point as he frustrates opposing wings with that combination. We like the IQ and motor he plays with and are excited to track the junior this season all the way out in Fairfield County.
Matt Kennedy (5’8 PG / Olentangy / 2021): Kennedy was an excellent floor general for the Pacers all fall and put together a solid playoff run to cap it off on Sunday. The 5-foot-8 point guard is lightning quick off the dribble as he beats defenders to the rim with ease where he’s a crafty and efficient finisher. He can hit shots from outside as well and is an extremely good passer with a high IQ as he always knows what play to make next. Kennedy is best at times on the defensive end however as he has excellent lateral quickness, really good hands on the perimeter and does a great job of playing the passing lanes. He came up with eight steals in three games on Sunday and proved that he’s the real deal while competing against some of the best guards in the open division in three really competitive playoff games. We’re excited to watch Matt for Olentangy next season as they have a nice crop of young talent in the backcourt.
Josh Harlan (6’0 PG / Pickerington Central / 2022): Harlan was the MVP of the open east and one of the biggest stockers in the entire league as his tremendous play at the point guard spot helped lead his Raptors to a 7-1 regular season record and a runner-up finish after a tough loss to the Pacers in the title game. Harlan can hit shots from the perimeter, beats guys off the dribble, and can distribute it as he has excellent vision both in the half court and in the open floor. We like how he competes on both ends, plays with a really good pace and stays involved on the glass as well. The sophomore is one of the best guards in the 2022 class and should play a key role this year and beyond for Pickerington Central.
Maceo Williams (6’6 PF / Gahanna / 2021): Williams rounded out an excellent fall for the Raptors with three solid showings on Sunday. The 6-foot-6 rim-running big has shown improved motor, excellent finishing ability around the rim and also has put up some really nice assist numbers in several games. He has good hands, soft touch and uses his big, strong frame to body guys around and create clean looks around the rim. We like the way he’s competed on the glass and ran the floor as the junior has played hard in every viewing this fall. He can alter shots in the paint with his build and length and will only improve as a defender as he continues to get into better shape. We think Williams is going to take some really big strides this season and improve a lot as he’ll be playing alongside Sean Jones, who simply makes everyone around him better.
Damian Davis (5’11 PG / Bexley / 2020): Davis was one of the best scoring guards in the entire open division this fall and that was no different on Sunday as he went for 23 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists for his Raptors squad. Davis has shown that he can score off the bounce from the mid-range with efficiency and has done a really good job of playing off the ball as a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s shown the ability to get teammates involved at the guard spot as well as we’ve seen him put up good assist numbers in several games. We like how aggressive he plays on both ends and how confidently he goes about it. Davis is one of the more slept on guards in the senior class and should put up some really solid numbers for Bexley this season.
Omari Effiong (6’1 WG / Thomas Worthington / 2021): Effiong ended the Open Division playoffs with a great game in an overtime loss to the Raptors by going for 16 points and three steals to nearly pull off the upset. We’ve covered Effiong extensively over the last five weeks so we will be brief here. We love the effort and energy he constantly brings to the floor, as he’s a confident and fearless wing that loves to get to the basket. As he continues to evolve as a shooter, he will become one of the better two way wings in the area.
Jaydon Pearson (5’11 PG / Dublin Scioto / 2021): Pearson had a bit of a breakout on Championship Sunday, providing the Bulls with scoring and playmaking for both games. Pearson had a season-high 14 points in the loss to the Raptors, getting to the rim, knocking down shots and opening up opportunities for others. The 5-foot-11 guard is a talented passer who improved over the course of five weeks, as we are excited to track him going forward for Dublin Scioto. On an Irish team that lost a lot of production to graduation, it will be interesting to see how much of the void that Pearson can fill this winter.
Zaveon Croff (6’1 WF / Reynoldsburg / 2021): Croff had the best motor in the open league and, quite frankly, probably had the best motor in the motor fall league throughout the last five weeks. This was best on display in his last game in which he scored five points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out three assists and came up with two steals in a heartbreaking loss to the Raptors. The 6-foot-1 wing is a gifted athlete who plays extremely hard and this was highlighted when he came up with a steal and then finished off the play with a poster and-one alley-oop on the other end. Croff can finish around the rim, hit the glass hard and stretch out his game on the catch and shoot. He plays really aggressive on both ends and does things the right way, both things that should help earn him time in the rotation at Reynoldsburg this season.
Atticus Schuler (6’4 WG / DeSales / 2022): Schuler is an intriguing player that has plenty of game both from the perimeter and inside the paint. The 6-4 wing-guard has a wiry build and uses his lanky frame to contest shots on defense and get his long arms into passing lanes to disrupt the opposition’s offensive flow. He is a skilled and effective offensive player, comfortable off the dribble-drive on high-flying finishes, in face-up situations, and from mid-range pull-ups. Schuler even showcased his outside shooting ability on Sunday, an element of his game that we hadn’t seen much of in previous weeks, and though he has an unorthodox shooting form was still efficient from deep, making a three in each game. Schuler finished with a combined 37 points in his two games on Sunday and was consistently pouring it in for his undermanned Bucks team, having game-highs in both of his games.
Duane Davis (5’5 PG / Groveport Madison / 2022): Davis proved himself as one of the best pound for pound scorers in the Open West Division, bringing it each week as he didn’t back down from anyone, despite being the smallest guy on the floor in most games. The 5-foot-5 sophomore is tough as nails, extremely confident and very talented, as he has a way of creating his own looks and using the smallest windows to score at the rim. Davis can knock down perimeter jumpers and rebounds very well for his size, as we enjoyed watching the way he was able to produce on both ends of the floor. We look forward to seeing Davis more going forward.
Drew Panning (6’4 WG / Westland / 2022): While Panning’s season ended a bit early as the Grizzlies fell in the first round against the Thunder, we were really impressed with the sophomore’s explosiveness and shot making ability in the matchup. Panning soared to the rim for a few tough finishes and got hot in the second half, knocking down a trio of threes off the bounce to finish with a team-high 14 points. The 6-foot-4 sophomore has grown nearly six inches in the last year, while becoming much more athletic, which when you combine with his shot making ability, could create for quite the intriguing prospect. The opposing coach in Sunday’s first round matchup kept reiterating how Panning was “special” and we tend to agree with what we saw. As long as he remains as engaged and aggressive as he was on Sunday, you could see more big scoring outings out of Panning going forward. Keep an eye on the sophomore as his older brother, Eric Panning, has stretched out to 6-foot-8. Drew is more of a guard than Eric is, which could be something to see if he can stretch out close to his brother’s size.
Luke Kuhlman (6’3 WF / Dublin Jerome / 2023): Kuhlman had a solid 11 point showing against the Grizzlies where he showed off his ability to stretch the floor and score inside. The 6-foot-3 forward has a stronger build and good hands around the rim. We like how he stays active on the glass and fights for position inside. Kuhlman can guard fours at this level and can step out on the wing, though he’ll have to grow a little more in order to guard fours at the varsity level. We like the raw potential of the freshman and have no doubt he’ll develop quickly at Dublin Jerome.
Marlon Elliott (6’0 PG / Groveport Madison / 2022): Elliott did his best to keep his Thunder squad alive in the playoffs as he combined to go for 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals in two games. The 6-foot guard is an above average athlete who has excelled as a point of attack defender with his quickness on the perimeter. He’s shown good hands on the perimeter and played the passing lanes very well as he racked up a good amount of steals throughout the fall. Elliott has shown us the ability to score from all three levels as he can beat guys off the bounce with his good handle and speed and can also be a threat as a perimeter shooter. We like how aggressive Marlon plays as he always seems to be around the ball looking to make something happen. The sophomore is a great kid most importantly and will look to play an important role for Groveport this season.
Caleb Miller (6’0 PG / Thomas Worthington / 2023): Miller is an aggressive two-way guard who plays with a really good IQ and has the ability to create for himself as well as get teammates involved. He played his role all day on championship Sunday as he did a good job scoring off the ball as a spot up shooter, finished in transition and defended well on the other end. He also has the ability to beat guys off the bounce and is an advanced passer at this age. The freshman loves to win and is a fierce competitor as we saw on Sunday during his team’s title run. We’re excited to watch Miller develop as he has a lot of really good tools on both ends of the floor.
Daniel Fetty (5’10 G / Grove City / 2023): This fall Fetty proved that he has the ability to fill it up in a hurry. Once he gets going there’s not a shot on the court that he doesn’t think he can make. Although his Warriors team lost pretty handily in the first round, he still put on a show. Fetty caught fire from beyond the arc, knocking down three threes, one of which was from about 25 feet. He isn’t just a catch and shoot threat, when defenders played him tight he showed off his elusive handle and got to the basket for some crafty and tough finishes. He finished well through contact as he made two and-one baskets. Fetty finished with a game high 19 points and a block. .
Hervon Jacobs (6’4 F / Africentric / 2020): Jacobs continued to show what he’ll bring to the table for the Nubians this year. He hit the glass hard again coming up with five rebounds. Offensively though, Hervon had his best game of the fall as he confidently took and made shots from midrange. Once he got rolling he even knocked one down from beyond the arc. Jacobs finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists and was the perfect glue guy helping the Pistons secure the win. If he can bring the same level of energy and effort his winter he’ll find himself on the floor a lot for a Nubians squad that needs someone to step up in the front court.
Landon Newland (6’3 WF / Ridgemont / 2022): Newland put the ball on the floor more than he had all fall on Sunday. He thrived in a point forward role as he was really impressive creating off the dribble whether he was getting past his man to finish at the rim or dishing off to open teammates. The sophomore played a complete game finishing with 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Taking the hour-plus trip from Ridgedale each week, Newland showed that he can compete among the best in the 2022 class.
Dylan Thompson (6’0 G / Buckeye Valley / 2022): Thompson finished the fall league with another impressive performance for the Nets. For a guy who could definitely score more, it amazes us the selflessness that Thompson plays the game with. He’s never forcing the issue and somehow seems to always efficiently end up in double digits. The sophomore has made a consistent effort to crash the boards and defensively he’s always locked in perfect help position waiting to make a play. Thompson had another stout outing knocking down two catch and shoot threes and finishing with 11 points. He got his teammates involved with three assists and added six rebounds. Thompson is one of the cornerstones for a Buckeye Valley team with high hopes and we’re excited to see what he can do in his sophomore season.
Jevin Beard (6’1 G / Buckeye Valley / 2022): Beard continued his stellar play this fall in a heartbreaking semi finals overtime loss to the top-seeded Clippers. Beard was the focal point of the Clippers defensive game plan as he was constantly harassed 94 feet with two defenders coming his way on on multiple occasions. None of that mattered, however, as the poise that Jevin plays with can only be compared to that of a senior who’s had multiple years of experience running the show. He simply doesn’t get rattled, as Beard took his time and still found a way to get to his spots. In the last five minute stretch, he really got it going scoring at will and in every way possible. Although his team fell short, he had nothing to hang his head about, finishing with a game high 16 points, three rebounds and an assist. Buckeye Valley is primed for a big season and Beard will play a key role in just how far the Barons go.
Evan Dozer (6’0 G / Bloom Carrol / 2022): Dozer was big time for the Lakers in their semifinal loss to the Clippers. He was the ultimate stat sheet stuffer, as in the past two weeks there’s been a noticeable increase in Dozer’s confidence level. He knocked down a catch and shoot three and attacked the rim relentlessly. Dozer did much more than score, as he got his teammates involved at a high level. He was his usual self on the glass, too ,as he finished with an impressive stat line of 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Jacob Pleiman (6’6 PF / Botkins / 2022): The 6-foot-6 forward continued to raise his stock with an absolutely dominant performance in the paint. It seemed as if he came down with every rebound in sight cleaning the glass for 10 boards, earning himself a double double with 12 points on a great showing around the rim. Defensively, points were scarce in the paint against Pleiman as he really made his presence felt blocking two shots and altering many others. Another player who made a long trip down to Groveport from Northwest Ohio every single week, Pleiman will be a post prospect that colleges should begin to familiarize themselves with.
Mehki Jarrett (5’5 PG / Mifflin / 2021): With his Pistons team missing its top player in Huston Harrah on Sunday, Jarrett stepped up in a big way, going for 20 points in two games to lead his squad to the semifinals. For what the 5-foot-5 point guard lacks in height, he makes up for in toughness, as he is one of the better pound for pound rebounders in the league. Jarrett is a shifty ball handler that plays with a lot of confidence, as he can get by defenders to the rim. After earning second team All-City honors as a sophomore, Jarrett should put up good numbers for a Mifflin squad that will need him to produce at a high level.