LOGAN, Ohio -- Tipping off for the fourth-straight year, the 270 Hoops Intro returned this year to the Chieftain Center on Saturday. Hosting 97 different freshmen across Ohio in two separate sessions, we got a great look at the next crop of rising talent.
Let’s take a look at some of the players who really stood out to us in Session 1. Top performers from Session 2 will come out later in the week.
Boots Perkins (5’9 PG / Clayton Northmont) – Perkins was one of the most underrated players from session 1. From watching him in the skill sessions, he appeared to be a guy who came in ready to prove himself as a player and showcase his talent. He displayed high skill in being able to handle the ball as he is very shifty and tough to guard. His shooting and playmaking ability was also efficient coming off pick and rolls. To top it off, not only was he a breakout player from the event, but he took home the MVP of session 1 after his leading his team the entire way.
Toby Nwokolo (6’3 G / Reynoldsburg) – Nwokolo had the most upside at the event. Nwokolo is a gifted basketball player. He has the size, athleticism, and a feel for the game that just looks easy for him. He was virtually unstoppable when attacking the rim and he consistently finished the ball well. Nwokolo was also a part of a growing JH95 Elite AAU program this past summer and will look to impress in his freshman season at Reynoldsburg. It's obviously very early and he still has a lot to earn, but Nwokolo looked the part of a future scholarship prospect on Saturday.
Devin Brown (6’2 WF / Olentangy Orange) – Brown is a long and lengthy wing with an extremely smooth game. He has a nice handle which makes it very easy for him to get past defenders for buckets. Most impressive for Brown was his feel for the game, as he was able to effortlessly change speeds and pace. Once he adds strength and is able to finish consistently through contact, Brown is going to be an absolute force. Along with that, he is a very capable shooter that can knock down tough shots. Brown is easily a guy who passes the look test and will be a top prospect in the area.
Kruz McClure (6’0 G / Westerville South) – McClure was one of the best combo guards in the gym. He can play on and off the ball and plays under control. With the ball in his hands, he made great decisions and made his teammates better. McClure has a mature offensive game and a mindset that is ready for instant impact at the varsity level. His outside jumper is a thing of beauty and McClure plays with a great deal of confidence and bravado, as his teammates thrived off his energy.
J. Ulysses Ponder (5'5 PG / Olentangy) - Ponder is an absolute bucket. He had the biggest offensive explosion of anyone in the event, dominating on Court 2 for team black. Ponder is a shifty ball handler who fits the hybrid guard model for what he can do to a defense with the threat of his scoring and facilitating. It was impossible to stay in front of Ponder, but even more impressive was his ability to make shots against tough defense. At an Olentangy program that has had strong guards in years past, Ponder has a chance to be the next great one for the Braves.
Chris Cooper-Patton (6’1 G / Africentric) – Cooper-Patton is another player who was impressive on Saturday. He did an excellent job pushing the ball in transition which created opportunities for other teammates and easy baskets. In addition to that, he displayed great tempo and pace offensively in the half court setting. Standing at 6’1, he appears to have an athletic build which allows for him to be a solid defender and pickup rebounds for second chance points.
Amari Hodges (6’1 SG / Westerville South) – Hodges was a top performer. From winning the shooting contest to the 5 on 5 games, his performance was exciting to watch. Hodges is a player who plays with great energy offensively and defensively. With his shooting, he can score the ball at an elite level, and he gives just as much effort on defense. Hodges is a player to keep your eyes on as he suits up for Westerville South for the next 4 years.
Alexander Edge (5’10 PG / Dublin Jerome) – Edge has an extremely high basketball IQ. His playmaking and court vision was very impactful. What also impressed me about him was his work ethic as he stayed after the event to put up shots. That’s the kind of effort it takes to move your game to the next level.
Braylon Morris (5’7 G / Newark) - Morris is a smooth guard who can score the ball and fill up a stat sheet by contributing in many ways. The freshman proved to be a knockdown shooter over the course of the event and showcased a great feel for the game on both ends of the floor. We are very excited to see him develop in a historically guard-led Newark program where he will have every chance to be successful.
Aaron Foster (5’11 PG / Dublin Scioto) - Foster is a lefty with the athletic tools to be a lockdown defender. During the 1 on 1 drills, Foster shut down most guards with his lengthy frame and was too quick for most guards on his first step. After having a great showing in Nova Village fall league, Foster continued to build on his performances. He is someone to keep an eye on as he could have real value on both ends of the floor if he continues to develop his offensive game.
Noah Hess (5'10 G / Jonathan Alder) - Hess has an absolute flamethrower of a jump shot. The Alder guard dominated the round robin portion of the event, carrying his team to what would end up being a championship run. Hess found a mismatch on the perimeter in one of the games, consistently attacking it and hitting tough shot after tough shot. Hess is tough to guard off the bounce, as he really knows how to play in the ball screen game, while being a knockdown catch and shoot threat. Alder has a promising young backcourt in Hess and sophomore Peyton Heiss.
Brady Lentz (6'7 C / Findlay) - Lentz is a player in Northwest Ohio to remember. He offers really impressive size at 6-foot-7 and appears to still be stretching out. Lentz was a natural rim protector due to his size alone, while showing some skill coordination that will serve him well going forward. Northwest Ohio seems to consistently produce talented and skilled big men and Lentz looks to be the next one of that fabric.
Tyler Kropp (6’6 PF / Olentangy Liberty) – Kropp was the tallest player in session 1. Kropp is an excellent ball handler for his size. His mobility and footwork are well developed among his peers and his perimeter shooting is impressive. Kropp has a ton of upside to develop into a dominant stretch forward at a Liberty program that consistently churns out college-ready talent.
Dominic Theado (6'4 F / Bishop Watterson) - Theado is a lengthy forward who protected the rim better than any player in the event on Saturday. He was the reason why his white team was able to fend off Nwokolo and the red squad in the final four. Theado can move his feet on the perimeter and is a stellar athlete that also showed the ability to stretch the floor and score at the rim. Keep an eye on him going forward in a stellar Watterson program.
Grady Bush (6'1 / New Albany) - Bush deserves a mention based off his rebounding and effort alone. The New Albany freshman was an absolute force with his motor, creating a dozen second chance opportunities for his team, in addition to the monster screens he set to open up offense for his team. He didn't score a bunch, but his impact was as high as anyone on his runner-up team.
Other notable performers: Jaxon Duston (6’0 G / Heath), Noah Gunnoe (6’2 WF / Dublin Jerome), Aidan Rice (6’2 WF / Dublin Jerome), Beckett Miller (6’5 PF/ Olentangy Orange), Tyler Carpenter (6’0 G /Lancaster), Alex Olah (5’7 PG /New Albany), Brayden Torgrimson (6'3 F / Harvest Prep), Landon Burkey (5'9 PG / Bishop Hartley)