WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Otterbein's annual team camp made a return on Friday as a handful of local teams made the trip to Westerville for an excellent camp put on by Coach Andy Winters and his staff. While we could not check out every area team, we got our eyes on Canal Winchester, Newark, Pickerington North, Dublin Jerome and Westerville Central.
Let's take a look at some of the top performers below!
Arness Lawson (6'2 G / Pickerington North / 2025): The biggest stock riser of Friday's team camp. While we saw Lawson once in the eighth grade, he looks to have grown a bit and became even more skilled now as he played like an upperclassman all day for Pickerington North. Has good size and length at the guard spot and is a good ball handler who seems to really know how to attack matchups. Showed off a consistent floater on several occasions, nailed a size up three off the dribble and converted on a tough mid-range jumper. Also impressed us as a passer and on the defensive end where he wasn't afraid to defend some of his opponents best players and gave them troubles at times with his aggressiveness, quickness and length. We expect Lawson to be an immediate contributor at Pickerington North this winter as he is one of the area's top young prospects in the class of 2025.
Grant Burkholder (5'9 PG / Newark / 2023): Put together arguably the most impressive showing of any guard on Friday as he led Newark to a 3-0 record which included comfortable wins over Canal Winchester and Bishop Watterson and a one point win over Pickerington North where he nailed a game-winning three before time expired. Although undersized, Burkholder has a great understanding of how to run the point guard position and make others around him better. He used his quickness to get to the rim where he showed off finishing ability with both hands and he also put on a clinic from deep off of catch and shoot opportunities. Burkholder has all of the traits you want in a point guard as he is also a great defender and passer and is a vocal leader who looks ready to run the show for the Wildcats next winter.
Jerry Saunders (6'1 WG / Pickerington North / 2022): Saunders looks ready to be the Panthers go to scoring option next season following the graduation of Casey George. Scored it from all three levels on Friday and did it efficiently as he was aggressive but at the same time took what the defense gave him. While he is more of a role player off the bench on the EYBL circuit for All-Ohio Red's 17u squad, it was soothing to see Saunders for Pickerington North on Friday as he was really able to show off his entire skillset. He also was not afraid to pick up guys full court and provided a stellar presence for the Panthers on the defensive perimeter. The rising senior picked up an offer from Wheeling this spring and is fresh off of a visit to Wittenberg and we are excited to see what is in store for him this coming winter.
Derrick James (5'10 PG / Canal Winchester / 2022): James continued his stock rising spring and summer on Friday as he came out blazing hot first thing in the morning in a matchup with Newark. He has proven to be one of the area's better shot making guards recently and that certainly was the case again at Otterbein as the 5-foot-10 point nailed shots from the mid-range area and from deep both off the dribble and off the catch, got to the rim for some tough finishes including an and-one and dropped off some impressive dimes to his teammates. James is an extremely tough guard on the perimeter with his combination of quickness, ball handling and ability to change speeds and with the way he has been shooting the ball recently, he could put up some really big numbers for the Indians this winter.
Cortez Freeman (6'2 WG / Canal Winchester / 2024): Freeman impressed us with his scoring ability at times on Friday as the upcoming sophomore is one the area's more gifted players at simply putting the ball in the bucket in his class. He got to the rim for a few tough finishes, did a good job of running the floor to create opportunities in transition and converted on catch and shoot opportunities from deep as well as getting to his spots in the mid-range for a few tough buckets off the dribble. While he had to do a lot for Canal Winchester as a freshman, we expect Freeman to really excel this winter as James will take some of the load off of his shoulders and allow him to really excel playing off of his game.
Jeff Amapps (6'2 W / Pickerington North / 2023): Amapps did all of the dirty work for an undersized Pickerington North team on Friday as he scored on multiple second chances and converted a handful of easy lay-ins inside while doing a good job of playing off of his guards. We love the energy and motor that Amapps brought to the table for the Panthers on Friday as he provided them with a real spark in an impressive win over Canal Winchester. On a team full of talented guards, some players will be forced to play out of their desired role at times and Amapps did a great job of that at Otterbein as he was fully bought into doing whatever it takes to help the team win.
Donovan Hunter (6'8 WF / Westerville Central / 2023): In the second half of a matchup against Delaware Hayes, we saw Hunter put together the best offensive showing we have seen yet from the junior. With great length at 6-foot-8 and the ability to handle the ball on the wing, Hunter is at his best when he is aggressively trying to get to the rim and that was exactly the case against an overmatched Pacers team. He got inside for a handful of good finishes with both hands, hit a tough mid-range jumper off the dribble and also knocked down a three off the catch. With the departure of four starters from last year's state runner-up team, Hunter will have to step up big time for Westerville Central this winter. We hope to see him continue to play with an aggressive mindset as he is at his best when he is trying to use his length and handle get to the rim instead of settling for shots from the perimeter.
Corey Hudson (6'0 PG / Pickerington North / 2022): Impressed us most as a passer on Friday. When Hudson isn't able to get where he wants to go off the dribble he does a great job of not forcing things and letting the offense continue to flow. Had a few tough driving finishes throughout the day on Friday and dished out a handful of impressive dimes both in the half court and in transition. We like the presence Hudson gives Pickerington North on the defensive perimeter as well as he will pair up with Saunders and Dior Conners this winter to form one of the area's more experienced and senior laden backcourts.
Ryan Nutter (6'3 G / Dublin Jerome / 2023): We watched Nutter in a game against Westerville Central, however he really caught our eye when we caught a few glimpses of Dublin Jerome's game with Pickerington North. Nutter hit a smooth three off the dribble in the pick and roll and hit a tough turnaround jumper in the paint in the few plays we were able to watch during timeouts of the game we had eyes on. We love the way Nutter leads a team and will do anything to win as Friday proved once again that he takes a charge in just about every single game that we watch. We are excited to see how Nutter takes steps as a leader and as a player heading into his junior season with a Dublin Jerome squad who has a young core which is beginning to grow up.
Ethan Schell (6'3 F / Newark / 2022): Schell gave Newark an excellent presence on the interior on Friday. Was very efficient with the opportunities he got near the rim and created several second chances for the Wildcats at times. Showed off good discipline on the interior as he gets things done the old fashioned way with great box outs and uses his somewhat lengthy frame to snag down rebounds and secure the glass for Newark. Also stretched the floor and showed the ability to hit the three in a close win over Pickerington North.
Ethan Stare (5'10 G / Newark / 2024): Stare is exactly what you think of when you think of a Newark role player. Has an excellent understanding of how to play the game, how to get himself open and how to play within the offense. While he didn't do anything flashy on Friday, we are giving him a mention here due to the way he created easy looks on the offensive end for Newark and helped them do an excellent job of executing their sets. Stare should mold into a really solid high school player with his intangibles as he will gain a lot more varsity experience for Newark this winter and will really start to become more and more comfortable at that level.
Kevin Gallagher (5'9 PG / Grove City / 2024): We only watched a little less than a half of Grove City's contest with Westerville North, however the young guard Gallagher caught our eye in the viewing. The 5-foot-9 point has a good understanding of how to play the game and seems to be very confident stepping up to the varsity level. He nailed a contested three, got his teammates involved and got inside for a tough finish in the game we saw and also competed hard on the defensive perimeter. With the departure of Brock Waits and Alex Coffey to graduation, Grove City will need some young players to step up next season and Gallagher seems to be up to the task.