COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When it's time for one elite guard to depart from Dublin Coffman, somehow, another one always steps up to help keep the program competing at the highest level.
After watching Keaton Turner blossom last season and earn a scholarship to Wofford after replacing former guard Dominiq Penn, who committed to Washington yesterday, the Rocks have another special one in line: Ajay Sheldon.
Leading the Rocks to 4-0 with a 66-61 win over Reynoldsburg last night, Sheldon went off for a career-high 34 points just eight days after opening up the season with a 31 point outing against Hilliard Davidson.
With his ability to get by guys off the dribble, knock down shots from anywhere inside of half court and get his teammates involved, Sheldon is one of the very best guards in the area, as the junior thrives in Coffman's up-tempo system that relies heavily on the three ball.
In an extremely tough OCC-Central where anyone can win on any given night, Sheldon has the Rocks at 2-0 in league play with another tough test coming up Friday against rival Upper Arlington.
While Sheldon highlights our first Stars of the Night rendition of 2020-21 similarly to how Turner did last season, there were several other fantastic showings in the area, so let's take a look at some other big performances from Tuesday night.
Jackson Izzard (6'3 WG / Jonathan Alder / 2021): Scoring over 65% of his team's points on Tuesday night, Izzard went off for 30 points in a 45-43 double overtime win over Bishop Hartley. A Division I wide receiver prospect on the gridiron, Izzard's size and athleticism allow him to excel both offensively and defensively on the wing. While he struggled to get his shot going from deep against Bishop Hartley, Izzard did an excellent job of working the mid-range game and getting to the free-throw line while also throwing down a big dunk in transition. After the Pioneers lost several key guys to graduation such as Jackie Santa-Emma and Henry Walker, Izzard has done an excellent job taking charge for the Pioneers and being a leader this season, putting up big numbers in wins on several occasions. A scholarship worthy talent in two sports, the senior is looking to lead Jonathan Alder to another CBC title this year.
Matthew Bland (5'10 G / Mount Gilead / 2023): Helping Mount Gilead pick up a solid win over Pleasant at home on Tuesday, Bland led all scorers in the game with a career-high 24 points. After getting his feet wet on varsity and putting together some impressive performances last season, Bland is the leading scorer for Mount Gilead this season, however Tuesday was the first time he surpassed 20 points in a game. A young KMAC player who has consistently put up good numbers, we would like to get our eyes on the sophomore guard at some point this season.
Weston Melick (6'2 WG / East Knox / 2021): Scoring 20+ points for the third straight game on Tuesday night, Melick notched a season-high 22 points as East Knox won their fourth straight game with a 56-42 win over Mansfield Christian. After leading the Bulldogs in scoring last season and helping them piece together a solid campaign, Melick is trying to do the same this season, however also win the KMAC while doing so.
Joe Benvie (6'1 WG / Granville Christian / 2022): Despite his team suffering a loss, Benvie led all scorers in 22 points in a contest with Fredericktown. Fredericktown has a pair of talented guards in Ty Hatfield and Lincoln Cunningham and I assume most of the defensive attention was shifted towards Benvie, making this 22 point outing all that more impressive. After losing his brother Thomas to graduation, Joe needs to find some help carrying the scoring load for Granville Christian this season, as he scored over half of their points on Tuesday night. Benvie is an intriguing small college prospect who most folks have never heard of due to playing at such a small school.
Connor Slabaugh (6'3 WG / Shekinah Christian / 2022): In a blowout win over Gilead Christian, Slabaugh led the Flames in scoring with 21 points. On a Shekinah Christian team who has won some really close games this season, Slabaugh has been their best player, leading the team in scoring at nearly 15 points a night.
Zaveon Croff (6'1 WF / Reynoldsburg / 2021): In a tough loss to Dublin Coffman, Croff scored a season-high 19 points. The senior plays with one of the best motors in the area, as he is always playing 100% and does a lot of dirty work for the Raiders. Croff scores off of a lot of second chance buckets and by filling lanes in transition, as he uses his athleticism and will to win to find ways to make an impact as he is not exactly someone who creates their own offense. On a team with a pair of talented and experienced guards, Croff is a key piece, as he scored in double-digits for the second straight game last night.
Josiah Mobley (6'0 WG / Reynoldsburg / 2021): After returning to Reynoldsburg following a year at Whitehall, Mobley has gotten off to a solid start in the Raiders first three games. Matching Croff's output of 19 points, the fellow senior led the Raiders in scoring on Tuesday night. Going up against a Dublin Coffman backcourt with a ton of talented guards, Mobley held his own, as he is a solid defender on the perimeter who can also score in a variety of ways offensively. A hard worker who loves the game, Mobley will be an impact player for the Raiders every night this season.
Luke Kuhlman (6'4 WG / Dublin Jerome / 2023): Leading all scorers in a blowout win over Teays Valley on Tuesday, Kuhlman scored a season-high 19 points in the showing. The sophomore nailed two shots from beyond the arc and converted on six two-point attempts, scoring in several different ways. On a Dublin Jerome team that has a very balanced scoring attack, Kuhlman has the chance to lead the Celtics in scoring on any given night, however practically anyone on their roster does. The 6-foot-4 sophomore is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on moving forward this season.
Gavin Headings (6'7 WF / Pickerington Central / 2023): After transferring to Pickerington Central from Dublin Coffman following last season, it has taken Headings a few games to get into a groove, however he put together his best showing for the Tigers on Tuesday night when he scored 19 points in a loss to Centerville. The Elks have some of the better wing prospects in the state, making this showing all the more impressive. Keep an eye on Headings moving forward this season as he has the potential to have some big games as he continues to find his role within the Pickerington Central system.