COLUMBUS, Ohio - - As the middle school basketball season approaches, dozens of the area’s
most talented middle school ballers gathered at Reynoldsburg’s Summit campus for the first
week of the Central Ohio Fall League, presented by Nova Village. Loads of young talent filled
the three courts and competed at a high level on Saturday morning. Let’s take a look at the
standout players from the first week of competition at the Central Ohio Fall League.
Gabe Tucker (2028 / Bexley Middle School / G): This young man was poised with the ball in his
hand, playing at his own pace and never allowing the defense to speed him up. He ran his team
like a true point guard, getting his teammates in spots where he wanted them to be. Tucker
displayed a smooth handle and was able to get in the paint seemingly at will, where he
consistently finished at the rim. The seventh grader knocked down multiple shots from deep,
making sure everyone knew to get a hand up when he’s on the court. Tucker had a tremendous
day on both sides of the court, the start of what he hopes to be a greatly productive five weeks
AJ Stupf (2029 / Big Walnut / G): Stupf played with poise and intelligence the entire afternoon,
under control whenever the ball was in his hands and showing that he demonstrated the ability
to play both guard positions. He never forced anything on offense and helped operate an
offense that clicked from the beginning dribble. Stupf was locked in on defense, with nice lateral
quickness and strong hands while frustrating other ball handlers with his tenacity and hustle. A
shining example of the hustle he played with is when the opposing team could’ve had an easy
transition layup, Stupf tracked him down and knocked it out of his hands. This young man has
an enormous future, with his mind for the game and his basketball abilities.
Pax Federer (2028 / Big Walnut / G: One of the best shooters in the gym on Saturday morning,
Federer was money from all over the court on the first day of the fall league. He was flat out the
best mover without the ball in the building and showed a knowledge of getting open off of
screens away from the ball, manipulating defenders and using leverage in an amazing way.
When the ball was in his hands, he was confident with the decisions he made, including a sick
pass to the corner for a three. Federer also competed hard on the defensive end, talking to
teammates and making sure to stay in constant communication.
Eli Stumph (2027 / Big Walnut / F): An impressive looking athlete with good height and long
arms that allowed him to be used in many different positions on Saturday. Stupf showed that he
could handle the ball in transition when he grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast to get a
layup as well as when he got a pass at half court and exploded to the rim where he scored. His
length also helped him defensively, he showed flashes of being a really good shot blocker with
his quick jumping ability and the way he could contest shots without fouling. Stupf knocked
down shots from the mid-range as well, showing that he can be an offensive threat on the court
from more than just inside the paint.
Kayden Woltz ( 2027 / Fairfield Union / F): The big man was a big problem in the low post on
Saturday, scoring and rebounding at a high rate in the games he played in. Woltz had a nice
touch around the basket, getting open down low and hitting a ton of interior shots. He used his
size to get positioning in the paint and once he did, it was over for the defender. Woltz stayed on
the glass on both ends of the court, seemingly grabbing every rebound that was in his area.
Showed great anticipation and timing when going up on rebounds, along with strong hands and
a strong competitive spirit. This kid has shown so much progress over the past year that is
impossible to think that he won’t keep getting better.
Mitch Zumberge ( 2027 / Columbus Academy / C): Extreme potential as a post player,
Zumberge was able to move his feet down low and create space in the lane or he could simply
overpower smaller players and go straight through the defender to score. This still raw player
showed that he knew where the ball should go when he got double teamed down low, swinging
it to open guards. He’s going to give opposing post players fits down low with his physicality
before he gets the ball, he knows how to get defenders on his back in a good position where he
can get the ball. Zumberge is a big time scoring option for his team, and he more than carried
Landon Allen ( 2028 / Olentangy Berlin / G): In the time he was on the court, he played like a
young man older than him. He was poised with the ball in his hands and did not commit the
turnovers that other young men with his ball handling capabilities would. The seventh grader
talked on the defensive side of the ball and played with a high motor and seemed genuinely
excited to be competing. He was tough to get by, showing some good foot quickness to keep up
with the many other quick guards in attendance. He showed passion for the game and a desire
to get better, taking coaching and applying it to the game.
Carter Hinton ( 2030 / Gahanna Lincoln Elem./ G): The youngest kid on this list and brought
energy to the event when he was on the court. Hinton showed a competitive edge to him that is
rare in young players his age, getting a little talkative after baskets and showing that he was not
afraid of anybody there. The fifth grader was an exceptional passer off screens and kicked it out
after driving the lane. His handle of the basketball was explosive and he used it to get rid of
defenders while creating space for his nice looking jump shot. On defense, Hinton had quick
hands and feet and was able to stay in front of ball handlers to force them to make tough shots.
The youngest kid mentioned this week has a big time game.
Jett Cornelius ( 2027 / Olentangy Shanahan / 2027): If you want swagger in your hoopers, then
this kid has it in spades and he displayed it during his games. He played free and confident,
getting up and down the court in transition and using his smooth handle to get free and in the
lane. Once he got in the lane, Cornelius got off a couple of nice layups over taller players and
good English off the glass. His name and his game are similar, as he flies up the court and past
defenders, this young man will be fun to watch during these next few weeks.