COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The class of 2023 brought it on Tuesday night, putting on a show full of athleticism, shot making and competitiveness that created an amazing dynamic of fun and desire to win. 28 young men stepped onto the court at Central Crossing and had an exciting night. The OCC came away with the 119-117 victory after a 113-113 tie ended regulation and the maestro Zach Fleer bestowed a “first to 118” finish. OCC head coach and 2023 Player of the Year Devin Royal earned the first win of his head coaching career despite receiving a technical foul. 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. Although every player played up to expectation, there were some who stood out and delivered a high effort performance along with notable play.
Rasheem Biles ( 6’2 G / Pickerington Central) - The game plan was sort of simple towards the end let Rasheem Biles make a play. The trust from coach Royal paid off as The Dream made the game-winning play to send the OCC home with a victory and Rasheem as MVP of the game. Biles was the embodiment of hustle and game, the gridiron star was all over the place on both sides of the court. He was the second leading scorer of his team, putting up 22 points to go along with a handful of assists and a number of rebounds. When there was defense being played during the game, the game MVP had a hand in it by forcing turnovers from the Central Ohio team and allowing his team to get some fun dunks in the process. While he has pigskin dreams, Biles is a true definition of a high level two sport athlete.
Preston Steele ( 6’6 F / Africentric) - One of two players representing the Columbus City League, Steele continued his paint dominance on Tuesday night. He started hot with five points, two rebounds, two assists and a block in the opening quarter en route to finishing with 11, 10 and five assists. He was one of seven Central Ohio All-Stars to finish in double figures. Steele made a living finishing in traffic and showcasing his soft touch around the rim. He was another young man that played hard while in the game, a trait that the Nubian coaching staff had to love about him.
Elias Lewis ( 6’3 G / Olentangy Orange) - Lewis was a pure bucket getter on Tuesday night, leading all scorers with 23 points while knocking down five three’s in the third quarter. The guard came into the game and was ready from the time the orange leather connected with his skin. He started by scoring his first six in the second quarter but after the break is when he went berserk, the ball barely touched the rim as it fell through the net. Lewis scored 17 of his team’s 26 points in the third frame and gave the OCC a 83-76 lead heading into the final quarter. The junior shot the ball with conviction and confidence, taking over at a crucial time for his team.
Peyton Frey ( 6’6 F / Hilliard Davidson) - Winner of $10 because he was the first player to sink a half court shot, Frey makes this list for solely taking this writer's money! The stretch forward also showed more of his range when he hit another deep three. He also added a couple more buckets to give him eight points to go along with seven boards and three assists. His energy while on the court was amazing and he was a great teammate all night long. Frey was a young man that enjoyed the moment while taking advantage of the perks of communication.
Gavin Headings ( 6’8 F / Pickerington Central) - Despite missing the most dunks in Battle for the City history, Headings was a rebounding machine and was still able to finish around the rim well enough to finish with 14 points and 12 rebounds. His length was a detriment inside for the Central Ohio team, as he made multiple players think twice before trying to get the ball up over him. Headings is one of the most intriguing prospects in the area because of his versatility and being able to shoot the ball both inside and outside. The banter between Headings and his coach (who is also his teammate) is one of the things that this event is built on, seeing them have a good time was truly a great moment.
Luke Ruth ( 6’2 G / Bishop Ready) - Pure grinder, a consistent scorer who only has two games in which he scored in single digits, Ruth was the spark in the final quarter for the Central Ohio All-Star team. He led his team in total scoring with 17, including 12 in the fourth quarter and the extra time, with five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Nothing was flashy but everything was effective, he slashed through the defense to get to the bucket, got to the free throw line and he also drained a pair of three’s that showed his range. Ruth will continue to make an impact for his team, and is a major sleeper in this class.
Billy Berry ( 6’0 G / Franklin Heights) - From the full court knockout game until the actual game ended, Berry was a fierce competitor that didn’t not take a play off on either end of the court. The Falcon guard finished the game with seven points, four rebounds, three assists and effort on defense. Berry showed his ability to get in the lane and knock down outside jumpers as well. He is a tough guard that can get knocked down nine times and will stand up 10.
Diamauntae Jackson ( 5’9 G / Northside Christian) - Inch-for-inch and pound-for-pound, this young man was the best athlete in the building on Tuesday. He first put it on display in a losing, but eye-popping, performance during the dunk contest. Jackson soared over family members and had the entire gym waiting with baited breath to see if he could finish the dunk. While he did not execute the dunk the way it was intended, everybody in attendance was floored by the way he glided in the air. He scored four of the most impressive points of the night and added a big block as well. The diminutive dynamo was a blast to watch on Tuesday and will be a game changer for Northside Christian in Division IV next season.
Bede Lori ( 6’2 G / Caldwell) - To sum Lori up in two words; instant offense. The scoring machine (who once hit 183 consecutive free throws for the 270 Mental Health Awareness Challenge) scored 10 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists and a steal but the glimpses of magic were undeniable. His release was quicker than the snap of a finger and he created space to get his shot in different ways. Lori was a joy to watch when he entered the game, changing the pace of the game for the Central Ohio All Star team. He belongs in the conversation with the better 2023 prospects in the area.
Trenton Collins ( 6’4 F / Utica) - The leading scorer from this high school team, Collins came into Battle for the City and dropped an efficient 11 points to match his 11 rebounds in the game. His three triples led his team and he shoots the ball with so much confidence that it always looks like it’s going in the hoop. Collins was also able to show off his handle when he got to the basket by blowing by his defender. The way he shoots the ball is next level and colleges need to get on this lethal shooter.
Rayvon Bagley ( 6’4 G / Whitehall) - Bagley is a bucket with a deep offensive repertoire and Tuesday he showed a little bit of everything while scoring his 10 points. The guard exhibited his handle of the ball as he got into the lane and had a crafty finish at the rim. He showed off his range by knocking down a deep three and also got to the line and knocked in three-of-four from the stripe. Bagley used his long arms to disrupt defensively as well, coming up with a couple of steals that turned into transition offense for the Central Ohio team. The best basketball is still to come for Bagley, his potential is through the roof.
Michael Bearden ( 6’1 G / Madison Plains) - If it’s one thing we appreciate here at 270 Hoops, it’s hustle and effort, both of which Bearden put forward on Tuesday night. Despite being 6’1, he was a machine on the glass while in the game, raking in eight rebounds and keeping certain possessions alive for the Central Ohio team as they worked their way back into the game. His offense picked up in the third quarter as he scored all 10 of his points in that frame and did it in a couple different ways. Bearden knocked down two three’s and got to the rim for big finishes for his other four points. He affects the game in more ways than just scoring, and although he is the leading scorer for the Golden Eagles, he can get it done in a multitude of ways.
Elijah Hughes ( 6’5 F / Whitehall) - Another piece of a talented junior class on Yearling Rd, Hughes was able to shine on Tuesday night. The second-leading scorer from last season’s Rams team, Hughes was one of two players to score 11 points for the Central Ohio All-Star team. Not only can this young man run the floor with grace, he can finish at the rim in traffic and shoot from deep when he is called upon to do so. Hughes is a really good athlete that is able to use his strength on the block and his quickness to drive by defenders. Whitehall will have a very good team next season, and Hughes will be a major key for his team