COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Africentric Early College hosted a scrimmage event that included teams such as Reynoldsburg, Bishop Ready, Walnut Ridge, Linden-McKinley, Pickerington North, Groveport and Licking Heights. This event was jam packed with the best guards in the area and a couple of rising players that will be emerging during this season. Take a look at who stood out amongst the pack during the evening.
Arness Lawson (G / Pickerington North / 2025): Probably the fastest player end-to-end during the evening, Lawson has gotten stronger since we last saw him and his confidence level is soaring through the Columbus skyline right now. Lawson’s ability to finish at the rim was next level; dropping some soft lay-ups off the glass, hitting floaters in traffic and even tossed down a dunk during one game. His handle was on display as well, being able to break down defenders and get to wherever he wants to on the court. Arness showed that he is ready to step in the light as the primary ball handler for the Panthers this season after so many upperclassmen departures.
Dailyn Swain (F / Africentric / 2023): The best prospect in the building on Tuesday evening, Swain was in cruise control most of the time and still led his Nubians to numerous impressive victories. Swain has grown and his frame can still hold more muscle, so he can get even scarier. He puts so much pressure on defenses because of his skill level, he froze a defender on a crossover and used his go-go gadget arms to finish at the rim. His jump shot is beyond reliable and his rim protection is second to none in the area. Swain and the Nubians look to step through the City League this season.
Juwan Turner (G / Reynoldsburg / 2023): The best point guard prospect in his class, Turner is headed to Reynoldsburg with a wealth of talent around him. On Tuesday evening Turner was in playmaking mode for his team while understanding when to be aggressive for himself, which could be his best trait. Turner processes information on the court as fast as any player we’ve covered and always makes the best play for his team. When he decides to get to the rim, it is nearly impossible to stop him because of his mix of power, quickness and tough shot making. A natural leader, the incoming junior who is fresh off a state title with the Pickerington Central Tigers will have a huge impact on this Raider team.
JR Bates (G / Pickerington North / 2026): He turns defense to offense with his playmaking ability on the fast break and can run the offense in the half court. Bates is a fearless competitor who can get to the hoop and shoot from deep. He demonstrated his pick-and-roll craftiness on several occasions, being able to knock down shots off it or make plays for his teammates. Bates is as tough as you’d imagine and plays with heart despite being undersized, with the way he’s been brought up to think the game, he will be a good contributor to this Pickerington North ball team.
Luke Ruth (G / Bishop Ready / 2023): A consistent offensive threat all evening, Ruth nailed shots from all over the court during every game Ready was in. Ruth was able to create space using a solid handle and an incredibly quick release. He carried his team to multiple wins on the day and was the key in each win, being able to effectively lead his club on both ends of the court. All afternoon the guard made plenty of plays for his teammates as well and continued to get open by moving without the ball. Ruth showed flashes of being able to carry this team a long way this upcoming season.
Tyreke Ruffin (G / Groveport Madison / 2026): Coming out of Johnson Park Middle School, the freshman already has a body built for varsity ball combined with the defense and athletic ability to match. Ruffin ran the point for the Cruisers all evening and looked poised and in control for this age, delivering some nice passes while being aggressive and getting into the lane when the time called for it. He dropped some nice floaters in the lane that demonstrated his touch around the rim and he was able to defend older guards while not looking out of place, using his strength and quickness to not allow ball handlers around him. Ruffin will be an amazing addition to Groveport Madison and the Cruisers hope to build around this young man in the coming years.
Philip Towns (G / Linden-McKinley / 2024): If your last name is Towns, you’re tough. If you play at Linden-McKinley, you have to be tough. So everyone knows how this young man ended up on this list, Towns had some tough finishes in traffic and was a consistent threat for the Panthers offensively. Towns looked quicker and stronger as he attacked the basket relentlessly and was able to get shots to drop from difficult angles in the paint. Philip will lead Linden-McKinley into action this season and looks to continue restoring order for the Panthers.
Toby Nwokolo (F / Reynoldsburg / 2025): A high energy, athletic wing that can get out in traffic and run like deer and finish with power at the rim. Entering his sophomore season, he is surrounded by some of the best talent in the state and on Tuesday evening he proved to be one of their keys to the season. His activeness on both ends is infectious and his length makes things difficult around the rim for the offense. One of the most versatile players in the area, Nwokolo can defend multiple positions and step out on the perimeter, slide his feet and stay in front of smaller players. His best ball is ahead of him, and his growth will be exciting to watch.
Cortez Freeman (G / Africentric / 2024): A new arrival for the Nubians, Freeman was able to steady the ship whenever his team needed it by either slowing them down or setting the pace for his guys. The transfer from Canal Winchester adds another playmaker to a Nubian team who finished in the State Final Four last season. On Tuesday, the senior was efficient in his movement, causing havoc in the lane with as little dribbles as possible. The addition of Freeman makes Africentric that much more dangerous not only in the City League but also that state as a whole.
Preston Steele (F / Africentric / 2023): One of the most improved players from last season to now; Steele was a monster in the paint, posting up defenders, getting put back dunks off of rebounds and defending other bigs down low. His physicality really set him apart at this scrimmage on both ends of the court. On offense, he bullied the opposition in route to scoring a bunch of points in the low post. Defensively, Steele helped to make sure the paint was sacred by forcing tough shots over him and blocking multiple shots as well. The upcoming senior will be a vital key to everything the Nubians will do this season.
Jordan Bowens (F / Reynoldsburg / 2026): This kind of potential is rare, Bowens steps into his freshman year of high school as one of the best in his class and he proved it Tuesday evening as he held his own against some of the best in the area. The bouncy young man had a handful of dunks and went at upperclassmen in the paint, showing no fear of any competition. Bowens has a soft touch around the basket and is an amazing finisher who will only get better as he gains experience. Defensively, he is active and uses his length to bother shots at the rim. This young man has one of the highest ceilings in the area and will be on more radars very soon.
Jarrin Mock (G / Reynoldsburg / 2026): A very young player that showed flashes of an amazing future lead guard, Mock is a physical kid that can do a little bit of everything on the court. His jumper is very consistent, he isn’t a flashy ball handler but he does not turn the ball over and can get by his defender using his physicality and quickness. While he is still learning the speed of varsity basketball, Mock can still stay in front of his man and force tough shots. Jarrin is still growing, although he is already 6-foot tall, and still gaining valuable experience while also playing football as well. His potential is tremendous, this kid can flat out ball.