GROVE CITY, Ohio -- The 2nd annual Proving Grounds continued this past Sunday as the second week showcased Central Ohio's top talent from the 2024 class.
While each team had a strong selection of players, it was Team 1 that ultimately took control of the showcase as they were the first to win six games, which included four straight to end the session.
Team 1 Featured:
PF Jason Moore (Marysville)
G Ethan Stare (Newark)
G Maurice McCall (Columbus South)
WF Atou Thiam (Pickerington Central)
PF Trenton Minor (Big Walnut)
WG Eyon Robinson (Westerville North)
Below, we breakdown the top players from the event and include some honorable mentions.
Eyon Robinson (6'3 WG / Westerville North '24) By far the event's top stock riser, Robinson arguably delivered the top performance of the day. The wing guard was by far the most accurate shooter and connected on most of his attempts from long distance. Beyond his sharp-shooting, Robinson showcased a fantastic all-around skillset. The Westerville North sophomore displayed efficient handles, aggression on the glass and was a disruption on defense. With his combination of size and skills, Robinson clearly stood out on Sunday and instantly jumped on our radar as a player to seriously follow as he enters his sophomore season.
Jason Moore (6'8 PF / Marysville '24) An honorable mention during Week 1's Top 28 Challenge, there was no doubt that Moore was a top performer for the 2024 Challenge. While the Marysville forward is capable of quality play in the post, what stood out the most on Sunday was his ability to put the ball on the floor, drive through contact and consistently finish around the rim. With his size and athleticism, Moore is becoming a difficult matchup for defenses. If Moore doesn't finish around the rim, often times it's because he drew a foul. Fortunately, the big guy was excellent from the charity stripe. Moore's efforts are duplicated on the defensive end as the long forward got his hands on a couple of shots from range. With his elite size and above average athleticism, it is not too early for college coaches to put the sophomore on their radar.
Ethan Stare (6'0 WG / Newark '24) When taking notes on the event, the last couple pages were filled with Stare's name as he constantly made an impact. That's because the Newark guard simply took over the final few games, clinching a smooth championship run for Team 1. After a bit of a cold shooting start, Stare showed off a variety of moves and made several pull-up and turnaround jumpers. As the lead guard for his team, Stare did a great job of distributing to his teammates through a series of kick-outs, post feeds and lobs. It's also worth mentioning Stare drew a charge, not something you see often in exhibition events. Overall, Stare is a sound ball handler that has a good feel for the game and showed an ability to score. He's the classic type of guard we've seen for years from the Newark program and will be a solid contributor much sooner than later.
Jesse Burris (6'3 WG / Delaware Hayes '24) Considered the top stock riser from Week 1's Top 28 Challenge, it's no surprise that Burris was once again a top performer Week 2. Burris was not only one of the session's best athletes, but undoubtedly the most advanced player that participated. The Delaware Hayes sophomore hit an array of shots, most off the dribble and through traffic, with a dependable soft touch off the glass. When he wasn't scoring, Burris brought that touch to his passing game, often times finding teammates with perfectly timed flicks from all lengths of the court. The six-foot-three wing's athleticism was best displayed on the defensive end, blocking opponents of all sizes. Delaware Hayes has a special player in Burris who should have a breakout sophomore season.
Juwan Turner (5'8 PG / Pickerington Central '24) The crafty point guard was one of the best distributors of the session. Turner is a true pass-first point that does a particularly nice job of finding players in the post. The sophomore has strong, sound handles and avoids unnecessary dribbles and does a good job of keeping the offense active. Turner also showed a little bit of range with a made three-point attempt. Pickerington Central has a deep, quality backcourt this season, but Turner should earn quality minutes as he has skills too good to ignore.
Cortez Freeman (6'2 WG / Canal Winchester '24) For the second straight week, Freeman was a top performer and continued to showcase his natural scoring ability. A threat to score at all three levels, Freeman did a strong job of finishing through contact while also knocking down shots from midrange and one from deep. Defenders simply cannot take plays off when guarding Freeman, who is at his best when pushing at a fast pace. An alpha type player, Freeman is comfortable with the ball in his hands when it matters, as he made the game winners in both of his team's wins. Between Freeman's natural scoring ability and fearlessness, expect the sophomore to create memorable moments for Canal Winchester as his young promising career continues.
Sam Johnson (6'6 WF / Worthington Christian '24) Although his team did not earn a win, it was not for a lack of effort and the strong performance from the talented wing forward. Johnson has a gifted touch around the rim and from mid-range, which included an exceptional turnaround jumper. A disciplined player who shows patience with his moves, Johnson is also active on the glass and showed a nice spring on put-back opportunities. His athleticism stands out when he gets ahead in transition and and makes blocks on the defensive end. Johnson is the only returning starter from Worthington Christian's state championship runner-up team, but has the unique blend of size and talent to be a top player in the MSL this season.
Honorable Mention: Atou Thiam (6'3 WF / Pickerington Central '24), Peyton Heiss (6'1 PG / Jonathan Alder '24), Derek Goodman (6'3 WG / Olentangy Berlin '24), Ryker Bowden (6'2 WG / Marysville '24), Alex Bruskotter (6'6 WF / Shelby '24)
The Proving Grounds continues this Sunday at 3pm and will feature the Underrated 2022 Challenge.