GROVE CITY, Ohio -- The fifth and final installment of the 2021 Proving Grounds ended in dramatic fashion and served as a great preview of the upcoming junior class.
Team 1, which consisted of Andrew Hedgepeth, Luke Ruth, Jason Inbody, Kaleb Schaffer, Derek Vorst, Aiden Schmidt and Lachlan MacDonald initially looked to make it a short event, as they pulled off five straight wins and needed a sixth to claim champion.
Yet Team 3 put together an admirable, relentless effort and strung together five wins to earn a showdown against Team 1 in a winner-takes-all championship game for a sixth and final win.
Team 3 Featured:
Majadi Cunningham Jr. (Westerville South)
Trenton Collins (Utica)
Jeff Amapps (Pickerington North)
Gavin Headings (Pickerington Central)
Brenden Revels (Rossford)
Zazen Bivens (Reynoldsburg)
Henri Young (Columbus Centennial)
Plenty of talent was on display and below we highlight the top 12 players of the event.
Jeff Amapps (6'3 SF / Pickerington North) One of the top scorers of the day, Amapps' shot selection chart showed an overwhelming amount of made attempts from both offensive blocks. Amapps made it near impossible for the defense to keep him off the glass. The junior wing collected countless offensive boards and was near automatic on each put-back. Beyond crashing the glass, Amapps was able to get to the rim off the dribble as opponents had trouble keeping up with his athleticism. The Pickerington North junior showed solid handles, a nice passing touch and was the session's best overall rebounder. Simply put, Amapps made winning plays and Team 3 would not have achieved its championship run without his high-motor effort and explosiveness.
Gavin Headings (6'7 PF / Pickerington Central) Long considered a prospect with significant upside, the Pickerington Central lengthy forward delivered a complete and confident performance that only got better as the day progressed. Headings was most consistent and impressive when it came to his overall offensive skills. At six-foot-seven, Headings showed off handles that resembled a point guard with a combination of crossovers, behind-the-back dribbles and an ability to drive to the rim. He complimented those handles with sharp and crisp passes not often seen from players his size. While he didn't convert a majority of his early shot attempts, Headings confidence never waned and for good reason. The left-handed shooter got hot in the final stretch of Team 3's winning streak, making an impressive selection of three pointers, step-backs and attacked the rim. There is no denying that Headings has a unique and talented skill set, especially for a player of his length. If Headings continues to grow in confidence and into his body, expect the Pickerington Central junior to start gaining the attention of low and mid-major Division I programs.
Derek Vorst (6'9 C / Rossford) In an event filled with mostly Central Ohio participants, the day's best looking prospect hailed from the Toledo region as the six-foot-nine Vorst was a matchup nightmare for most of the session. Offensively, Vorst is a threat from any spot on the court. The center has an exceptionally quick and sharp release from deep and was one of the day's most accurate three point shooters. In the post, Vorst is disciplined and skilled with good ball fakes, pump moves and an ability to finish most of his attempts and crashed the glass with aggressive put-backs. Often times he attracted a double team and did a good job of kicking the ball out to an open teammate. When Vorst was in the game and had energy, Team 1 looked unbeatable. As he continues to recover from an injury, Vorst should be on the radar for regional Division I programs.
Lachlan MacDonald (6'0 CG / Dublin Jerome) With the event titled the "Proving Grounds" for a reason, the junior guard from Dublin Jerome played with an attack and intensity that looked as if he indeed had something to prove. MacDonald's effort was simply unmatched while he made countless plays and was the session's best overall guard. Through Team 1's five wins, MacDonald had excellent control of the offense and consistently made tough finishes and connected on fantastic passes to his teammates coming off screens and cuts to the hoop. MacDonald did not take a play off and competed hard on both ends of the floor. That type of effort, to go along with his disciplined and skilled running of the offense, made MacDonald one of the most enjoyable players to watch.
Bede Lori (6'3 CG / Caldwell). Although he comes from Eastern Ohio, the six-foot-three super scorer is no stranger to being a top performer at 270 Hoops events. Sunday was no different as once again Lori looked the part of an elite offensive talent. Lori is the definition of a three-level scorer as he showed off his natural ability to score from mostly anywhere on the court and appearing to do so with natural ease. Lori made difficult finishes under the rim, turnaround jumpers and from deep. A volume shooter, Lori does shoot at a high rate, but does so usually with the awareness that his ability to take over offensively is generally in the best interest of his team. Lori also doesn't take plays off on the other end and shows pride with his defensive effort. Expect Lori to be not only a top scorer in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, but the entire state and on Sunday, he once again proved he can do so against any talent.
Luke Ruth (6'0 CG / Bishop Ready) In an event filled with great guard play, Ruth was one of the best. At six foot, Ruth has a strong build and did a little bit of everything. The junior guard hit multiple three point attempts and was one of the session's best overall defenders. Ruth is an above average athlete and did a nice job of avoiding turnovers and was a major contributor for Team 1's five-game winning streak. The Central Catholic League is wide open this year and if Ruth consistently delivers like he played on Sunday, expect him to make the Silver Knights contenders.
Kaleb Schaffer (6'5 PF / Bishop Ready) Another Bishop Ready player that stood out on Sunday, the six-foot-five Schaffer brought a high motor and a fearlessness to show off his long-range shooting. Schaffer started and ended his day with made three point attempts to go along with active defense and good rim protection. While he doesn't necessarily have with the smoothest form, Schaffer has a unique athleticism that still covers the floor well and corresponds well with his overall aggression. Although he has the ability to hit from deep, Schaffer is tall and has some strength and could benefit even more with added post play. Overall, he can create mismatches for defenses and should be a solid contributor for Bishop Ready.
Aiden Schmidt (6'3 SG / Dublin Coffman) Along with a strong offensive performance, the Dublin Coffman junior was arguably one of the best defenders of the day. With above average athleticism, Schmidt challenged a variety of talented offensive players, which at times led to visible frustration from whomever he guarded. Schmidt recorded a couple of impressive clean blocks that often set the tone and would add more momentum with his ability to shoot from long range and offensive contributions. Expect Schmidt to have a significant role for the Shamrocks this season.
Majadi Cunningham Jr. (5'11 PG / Westerville South) Just under six feet and with a scrawny-thin frame, if you're prone to judging a book by its cover, then you would have been fooled by the masterful performance by Cunningham. The Westerville South guard was one of the session's most offensively skilled players, making crafty athletic finishes, with both hands, under the rim and a smooth, quick release on shot attempts from mid and long range. Cunningham also showed nice vision and touch on his passes, including an impressive bounce pass to Gavin Headings for an easy lay-in. Westerville South has a strong reputation of developing players and the Wildcats look to have an impressive guard in Cunningham, that regardless of size, proved he can score at a high level.
Trenton Collins (6'4 SG / Utica) Team 3's championship run came via a total team effort and often times momentum was sparked due to high-energy plays from Collins. The six-foot-four guard showed a serious bounce and was most evident as he soared several feet high at half-court for a transition steal. Collins showed off his springs on the offensive glass which included an impressive and athletic left-handed put-back. A player that matches his energy with confidence, Collins also displayed an ability to hit from long range as he did on a couple three point attempts. After he played the previous season at Lakewood, Collins will spend his junior season at Utica, where if he consistently delivers energy and plays like he did on Sunday, should make for a significant addition for the Redskins this season.
Brenden Revels (6'3 SG / Rossford) A high school teammate of Vorst, the six-foot-three guard from Rossford made the most of his two and half hour drive. Revels was excellent from deep, as he made three total triples, all coming from the corner. Revels also showed off some nice passes and overall was a consistent contributor for Team 3 in their championship run. With nice size and an ability to shoot an accurate rate, Revels should continue to evolve into a quality prospect.
Nyelle Shaheed (6'5 SF / Harvest Prep) Similar to a Swiss Army knife, the six-foot-five forward does a little bit of everything. Strong defense, tough finishes under the paint and even flashes of an ability to score from deep, Shaheed delivered an admirable performance with much credit due to his high motor and hard play. While still relatively raw in some aspects, Shaheed makes up for that with his effort and what appears to be an authentic enthusiasm for the game. With good size and strong versatility, Shaheed should only continue to improve and has the potential to develop into an attractive prospect.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jason Inbody (6'5 SF / Olentangy Berlin), Elias Lewis (6'3 SG / Olentangy Orange), Luke Kuhlman (6'5 SG / Dublin Jerome), Peyton Frey (6'7 PF / Hilliard Davidson), Caleb Miller (6'1 PG / Thomas Worthington)