COLUMBUS, Ohio -- June is in full swing which means high school teams are participating in different shootouts. It is a great chance for teams to see how they will play with new players. Ohio Dominican hosted a two-day shootout with a bunch of different teams. In this article, I wrote about how a few Central Ohio teams changed from last season to this year.
It is really hard to imagine that the defending state champs could get better this year. The Tigers return several key guys and also add Braylin Wells who moved from Akron Buchtel. The 2024 prospect is a really athletic and skilled big man who only adds to the massive frontcourt that Pick Central boasts. Wells joins top 100 prospect Devin Royal and stretch big man Gavin Headings. The Tigers also return two key bench pieces from last year in Andrew Hedgepath and Markell Johnson who both now move into starting roles. The big question was going to be how Central addressed their point guard situation. They lost their two starting guards from last year in Juwan Turner who moved to Reynoldsburg and Josh Harlan who graduated. They didn’t play a true point guard and at times had anyone bring the ball up the floor. They don’t have the same depth as before as their bench is composed of mainly younger guys but the Tigers are undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in Ohio.
The Warhawks are one of the younger teams in the area as they only have one senior in the main rotation. Kent State commit Donovon Hunter is that senior and will look to lead a group of younger guys. They have a trio of really good junior guards in Dallas Tucker, Devin Martin, and Nick Patton. It looked like Tucker and Martin shared ball-handling responsibilities as Central used a two-guard system. Both can create off-the-bounce and distribute which can make it hard to defend against. Patton played an off-ball role mainly as a spot-up shooter. The Warhawks also have two athletic wings in senior Jared Hart and junior Isaiah Brown who both brought energy and rebounding. Central lost their true big man in Brad Leonard who graduated but has an offense where anyone can put the ball on the floor. This 5-out spread offense can be really hard to scout against which makes Westerville Central one of the more intriguing teams to watch.
The clear leader and number one option for the Wildcats is big man Peyton Frey who has evolved into one of the best bigs in the area. After losing a lot of offensive firepower in Ryan Paris and Jayden Nervis who both graduated to play in college, Frey will have to carry the load offensively. There are some solid pieces around Frey in junior Ben Oakly and sophomore Patrick Lynch. Oakly was one of many shooters on this Wildcat team that can help spread the floor. Lynch took main ball-handling duties and did a nice job running the offense. Sophomore Drew Remlinger was another big who played solid minutes when Frey needed a rest. He could be used in a two-big lineup or as a spark plug off the bench. A young team that can only improve with time with a senior leader who is ready to prove something makes Davidson an interesting team heading into next year.
It is extremely rare for a team to graduate all five starters along with two bench pieces and still be competitive but Gahanna was the expectation. They didn’t look the same as last year but still didn’t look like a team who lost seven seniors. The Lions lost guys like Sean Jones, Javan Simmons, and Eljae Deas who will all play in college after three straight OCC titles together. A new-look Lions team returned a few guys who contributed on varsity last year in Luke Murry, Dylan Scott and Maurice Charlton. Murray and Scott are good shooters who can create while Charlton is a big wing who can play inside. These three guys along with some younger talent will keep Gahanna in the running for another OCC title.
The Greyhounds return almost everyone who played significant minutes last season and look like a team that can make some noise next year. Senior Daniel Fetty has taken on the role as a number one option and looks comfortable playing with the ball. Grove City also plays a two-big system with junior Kraig Gilbert and senior Campton Williams. Gilbert is a natural athlete who threw down a ton of dunks while also rejecting a bunch of shots on the other end. Williams is more of a traditional big who can dominate inside and on the glass. They also have junior Keegan Holmstrom who is a solid shooter and can also handle the ball. In a wide-open OCC-Ohio division, Grove City can easily come out on top.
The Eagles lost three starting frontcourt players in Justin Perry, Blake Pistro, and Josh Evans but also return a lot of guys who played significant varsity minutes last year. This will be the third year starting and fourth overall on varsity for senior point guard Sam Dunn who has a ton of experience. Junior wing Braylen Nash who was the Eagles’ second-leading scorer a season ago, can become a true number one option this year. Sophomore Miles Jackson will become a starter after being the team’s first man off the bench last year. Senior wing Will Powell who can stretch the floor and junior Chase Boals who is a traditional big will hold down the frontcourt for New Albany. The Eagles are another OCC-Ohio team that can make some noise.
The Panthers are another team that lost some key guys but also return a few as well. They lost three really good starting guards who are all playing in college in Corey Hudson, Dior Connors, and Jerry Saunders. However, sophomore Arness Lawson looks ready to be the main guy for Pick North after a standout freshman year. He was trusted with the ball in his hands and for good reason. Lawson is really shifty and can score from all three levels. Along with him, the Panthers have athletic senior wing Jeff Amapps who is a great two-way player. They also have junior Jaiden Vital and senior Kaedyn Dunbar White who can both play well inside. It is hard to replace three solid guards but the Pick North has guys in place for a solid season.
Expectations are high for a Harvest Prep team that is coming off a district title. The Warriors lost three rotation guys in Marshawn Oliver, Artrell Saunders, and Kevin Holmes but have a ton of returning pieces. Seniors Zyuan Hutson and Nyelle Shaheed will once be at the helm of the Harvest Prep offense as they look to make a mark in their final year. They are accompanied by sophomore Brandon Roddy who is another really shifty guard who can handle the ball. Along with junior Adonus Abrams who is a lights-out shooter, the Warriors have a really good group of guys. There is a lot to like about Harvest Prep who will likely be favorites in the Mid-State League.