GROVE CITY, Ohio -- As is tradition, Grove City hosted its annual Grove City Tip Off Classic on Wednesday night to kick off the 2019-20 high school basketball season. With four teams in attendance from all over the area, let's take a look at each game and the top prospects in them.
Westerville Central jumped out to an 11-0 run and never looked back as it breezed past West in non-league play. The Warhawks were led by 22 points from rising junior Tasos Cook, as Central advances to the GC Tip Off Classic title game on Saturday against the host Greyhounds at 8 p.m.
Behind 59 combined points from juniors Brock Waits, Alex Coffey and senior Cole Crager, Grove City jumped out early and never trailed as it knocked off Hamilton Township in non-league play. The visiting Rangers were led by 19 points from senior Ato Forson, who left the game late with an injury.
Hamilton Township will take on West in the event's third place game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Grove City.
Tasos Cook (6'2 WG / Westerville Central / 2021): Prior to this season, Cook made the decision to put all of his focus in playing college basketball. That work has clearly manifested itself, as Cook opened up his junior season with a bang, going for an efficient 22 points in a dominant showing against West. Cook is a punishing downhill scorer with big-time athleticism, as he was a terror in transition, absorbing contact and finishing through contesting defenders at will. While outside shooting still isn't fully in his arsenal yet, Cook knocked down one of two attempts from deep but was most effective attacking the rim. We love the energy and effort that Cook brings, as he doesn't take plays off and is always looking to get others involved. We liked the vision he showed on the drive, firing a few impressive passes on the move right into the shooting pockets of his teammates. The 6-foot-2 junior will have a chance to put up strong numbers in a season where Westerville Central will compete at the top of the OCC-Buckeye. With the role players and guard talent on this team, it'll be up to Cook to become the Warhawks' go-to guy and he started that transition off on the right foot on Wednesday.
Brock Waits (6'0 PG / Grove City / 2021): There wasn't a player anywhere in Central Ohio who scored more points than Waits in the opening night of the season. Going for 26 points, Waits was deadly from beyond the three-point line, showing his range and making Hamilton Township pay for late close outs all night long. The junior guard had an effective showing, beating tight defense off the bounce into the lane where he made plays for himself and others. Waits hit four triples, four field goals and six free throws, scoring from all three levels and showing the ability to be effective on and off the ball. With two years of varsity lead guard experience under his belt already, Waits plays with a veteran's feel, as he didn't turn the ball over much and handled tight pressure for the entirety of the game. Grove City has a strong trio in Waits, Coffey and Crager, as the Greyhounds should be able to compete in the middle of the pack in the OCC-Ohio. If Waits can continue to put up numbers like Wednesday, look for his stock to heat up in Central Ohio.
Ato Forson (6'0 WG / Hamilton Township / 2020): Forson has clearly put in the work since last season, as he opened up his senior year with an impressive 19 points in the loss to Grove City. With Moore seeing multiple defenders for most of the first half, Forson stepped in greatly, knocking down three triples and finishing with 13 points in the opening half. While a shoulder injury knocked him out of the fourth quarter, Forson still had a strong showing, proving to be the Rangers' top catch and shoot threat. The 6-foot guard plays with a great motor and gives maximum effort on both ends of the floor. With Hamilton Township losing so much to graduation, look for Forson to step into a big scoring role this year.
Tayshaun Ivery (6'1 PG / West / 2021): A recent move-in to West, Ivery is going to develop into one of the Cowboys' go-to guys this season. It was nice getting our first look at Ivery on Wednesday, as he powered the Cowboy offense with 10 points on two triples and two pull up mid-range jumpers. The 6-foot-1 guard is a solid ball handler who gets to his spots and has the ability to score from multiple areas. On a West team that struggled to take care of the ball on Wednesday, Ivery was a bright spot, as he was able to create his own looks and stretch the floor. Don't be surprised if Ivery ends up as one of the top scoring guards in the City League South.
Will LeMaire (6'5 WF / Westerville Central / 2020): There aren't many players anywhere in Central Ohio with LeMaire's length and outside shooting excellence. On a Westerville Central team with plenty of impact guards who can put pressure on a defense, LeMaire is going to feast with the open looks he's going to get. That was the case on Wednesday, as LeMaire was a marksman from the corner, knocking down two triples with little to no hesitation. LeMaire has a lanky build at 6-foot-5, is a good enough athlete to be a threat off the bounce and is a solid team defender that can defend multiple positions. Division III programs should highly covet the floor stretching 6-foot-5 senior wing.
Alex Coffey (6'1 WG / Grove City / 2021): Coffey is silky smooth, as he has constantly found a way to beat his defender off the bounce and get to the rim. While he didn't finish every single attempt when he got there, Coffey was still effective, finishing with 21 points on an array of scoring moves. Coffey initially caught our eye last year with his outside shooting ability, something that's still a big part of his game, however, we really like what he was able to do off the dribble on Wednesday. Defensively, Coffey is an intelligent team defender that is constantly making the correct rotation. The junior offers three and D equity, as he has the talent to be a go-to scorer that also won't hurt you on the defensive end of the floor.
Marquis Moore (6'0 PG / Hamilton Township / 2020): By the end of this season, Moore will have started just about every single game in his four year career. During that process, Moore has developed a veteran's feel for the game, as he plays at his own pace and doesn't get sped up. While Grove City focused on locking him down in the first half by sending two and three defenders his way each time he touched it, Moore didn't panic, passing to open teammates and getting others involved. When it came time for him to take advantage of one on one matchups, Moore did a solid job, getting into the lane and converting. While his outside jumper wasn't falling, Moore got into a rhythm in the second half and finished with 13 points for the Rangers.
Abdi Gelle (6'4 WF / West / 2020): In what was a tough night for West, Gelle did what he has always done and that was knock down shots. While he is a bit limited off the bounce, Gelle is a consistent threat off the catch and shoot, as he buried two triples in an eight point performance for the Cowboys. Gelle has good length at 6-foot-4, a knockdown jumper and a decent amount of foot speed on the perimeter. We think he would be a good look for junior colleges who can maximize his strengths and help develop the other parts of his game that show promise, like his handle and perimeter defense.
Quincy Clark (6'1 PG / Westerville Central / 2021): This season is going to be the breakout season for Westerville Central and especially for Clark. While we saw a flash of his potential this summer at the Ohio State team camp, we got to take a closer look at the 6-foot-1 guard and were really impressed on Wednesday. Clark is a smooth operator at the point guard spot, showing elusiveness off the dribble, as he was able to get into the lane whenever he wanted. While he could have forced up a couple tough shots, Clark showed his unselfishness and IQ, dropping off a few pinpoint passes to open shooters. Clark has flash, but an equal amount of substance, as he makes this offense go and helps get his shooters into rhythm.
Cole Crager (6'1 WF / Grove City / 2020): We are big fans of guys who play bigger than their height with brute physicality and toughness. Crager fits the bill here, as the 6-foot-1 bruiser had a terrific showing in helping Grove City overcome Hamilton Township. Finishing with 12 points, Crager did a lot of the dirty work inside, rebounding, defending and making it tough for his opposition. We liked what Crager was able to do off the bounce, beating defenders on straight line drives to the rim a few times. He began the game with a catch and shoot three from the right wing. While he's likely to play college football, we are fans of Crager's game and overall mindset. We look forward to watching him and the Greyhounds more this season.