GROVE CITY, Ohio -- The sixth annual 270 Hoops Battle For The City kicked off Tuesday night with the 2025 class, as the OCC All-Stars took on the Central Ohio All-Stars, a roster mixed with City League, CCL, MSL and independent programs.
The future of the area was on display as we got a glimpse of some promising talent from over two dozen players that just finished their freshman campaign. While some players starred on their junior varsity team, a good handful of participants earned quality or even starter minutes throughout their debut high school season.
The OCC ended up winning 113-106 with standout performances from both squads. While the Battle For The City is a fun, exhibition style all-star game, competition and strong effort is still greatly emphasized and ultimately rewarded. The below top performers delivered a combination of high-level effort along with notable play.
Noah Kershaw (Westland / 6'3 / SG) The MVP of the night, Kershaw was by far the most proficient and advanced shooter of the session. The lengthy shooting guard had an impressively quick and smooth ability to pull-up from deep, as he scored most of his 20 points beyond the arc. Kershaw was not only a scorer, but grabbed six boards and had active hands on the glass and loose balls. With a thin, slender frame, Kershaw runs the floor well for his size and should gradually add strength as he physically matures. With a handful of true standouts on display, Kershaw had the strongest support section in the audience and was one of the most fun players to watch, as he was red hot each time he stepped on the floor. Westland struggled mightily last season, but Kershaw is the type of player the Cougars can count on to help turn things around.
Landon Vanderwarker (Northside Christian / 6'6 / Hybrid Big) If you aren't familiar with Northside Christian and the talented Vanderwarker, make note to watch the Lions on Schrock road next season. After he led the Lions in scoring as a freshman, Vanderwarker came out as the most intriguing college prospect of the session. The six-foot-six big was nearly unstoppable around the rim, scoring 22 points and notching 10 rebounds, as he was perhaps the only player that could consistently finish dunks, many of which came with some authority. The Central All-Stars often performed better and outscored the OCC when Vanderwarker was in. Even as a freshman with such great size, Vanderwarker seems to have strong body control, is coordinated and runs the floor especially well. Although he may initially get overlooked due to playing a mostly Division IV schedule, Vanderwarker can play and proved he can do so against the area's top talent.
Micah Young (Westerville North / 6'1 / Hybrid Guard) As players substituted in five-minute shifts, the OCC All-Stars would consistently regain or extend their lead when Young entered the game. That's mostly because Young was the best guard of the evening, as he led all scorers with 25 points and collected five assists. Young was perhaps the quickest player on the court, earning most of his points by beating the defense in transition and showcasing an excellent ability to finish around the rim. The freshman guard has advanced handles, with a composed feel as a floor general. The Warriors lose veteran point guard Noah Lawrence to graduation, which should open up a big opportunity for Young to fulfill next season.
Arness Lawson (Pickerington North / 6'2 / Hybrid Guard) After he earned valuable, quality minutes as a freshman on an experienced and competitive Pickerington North team, Lawson showed glimpses of his exceptional talent on Tuesday amongst his 2025 peers. The hybrid guard finished with 18 points that came from a combination of transition scoring and also an impressive midrange game. Lawson's moves just inside the perimeter and his quick shooting release showcased the type of potential Lawson possesses. At six-foot-two, Lawson is quick and glides in the open court, with an ability to get wherever he'd like. As he continues to grow, add strength and some explosion, Lawson has been identified as a top potential prospect in the area for the 2025 class and already has an offer from Ohio University. With several key players departing the Panthers due to graduation, Lawson should take on a major role his sophomore season.
Tyler Kropp (Olentangy Liberty / 6'6 / Power Forward) On a night where offense took precedence over defense, the lengthy forward from Olentangy Liberty made his biggest impact as one of the session's best defenders. Kropp moved well inside the paint and recorded at least two monster swats. He also showed off his potential to be a complete two-way player with eight points, four rebounds and two assists. While Kropp received minimal minutes as a freshman for a Patriots team that nearly upset Pickerington Central in the district final, expect him to take on a much bigger role his sophomore season. Coach Greg Nossaman has a strong track record of developing players throughout their four years. He has a very solid prospect that possesses a good combination of size and athleticism, which gives us a belief that Kropp could be one of the top forward prospects in the 2025 class.
Jaden Calloway (Bishop Hartley / 5'11 / PG) As the session progressed throughout the night, quarter-by-quarter, the Bishop Hartley point guard looked more impressive each time he took the floor. Calloway was the top guard for the Central All-Stars as he poured in 12 points and led his squad with four assists. Calloway had a nice feel all throughout the evening, but started to heat up and connect on multiple shots from the field and had strong control of the offense. While the Hawks had a down season and finished last in the CCL, Calloway gained valuable starting experience and was second on the team in scoring. Keep an eye out for Calloway to help the Hawks bounce back next season.
Denim Cook (Bishop Hartley / 6'3 / SG) Make that two freshman for the Bishop Hartley Hawks that stood out and only got better as the night progressed on Tuesday. While most of the participants understandably are still relatively thin in physical stature, Cook's frame and strength stood out, as he offers intriguing size for his position. He also stood out for his ability to shoot, as he scored 13 points through an impressive pull-up midrange game and a connection on an open three point attempt. Cook also received solid varsity experience in his first year and along with Calloway, the two guards make for a duo that can help the Hawks compete in the CCL the next three years.
Dominic Theado (Bishop Watterson / 6'4 / Hybrid Big) Overall, it was a stellar showing for the big men on Tuesday and the athletic Theado really began to stand out as the challenge progressed. The six-foot-four forward was active around the rim and displayed good hands as he was the beneficiary of some nice feeds towards his ten overall points. A true hybrid big, we also saw Theado connect on an impressive three point attempt that was well contested. While Theado didn't see much varsity time for Bishop Watterson earlier this year, expect him to take on a more advanced role for the Eagles his sophomore season as he showcased intriguing potential.
Honorable Mentions: Kruz McClure (Westerville South), Miles Jackson (New Albany), Tai Perkins (Westerville North), PJ Noles (DeSales), Brandon Roddy (Harvest Prep), Noah Knostman (Whetstone), Noah Hess (Jonathan Alder)