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Hidden Gems Showcase: Top Performers

By Greg Glasser, 09/25/22, 10:15PM EDT


Our prospect scout breaks down the top ten performances of the event

GROVE CITY, Ohio -- The Hidden Gems organization put on their annual Showcase event that featured over a hundred boys and girls at the high school level as well as a session for 4th-8th graders. 

The Central Crossing High School main and auxiliary gyms were filled with families, coaches and scouts as players mostly from Central Ohio showcased their skills and previewed what's to come for the upcoming season. 

Our prospect scout was on hand to evaluate the boys 11&12th grade session, which included seven teams. Included out of those seven teams were two rosters that featured players from Indiana Elite Prep, a national post graduate program from Indianapolis. 

Let's take a look at who stood out on Sunday:

Preston Steele (Columbus Africentric / 6'5 PF / 2023) The senior Nubian's combination of size, strength and athleticism was nearly impossible to ignore as Steele was arguably the most impactful player of the day. While the power forward does most of his work in the post, on Sunday he did a little bit of everything as evident by all the notes he filled on our scout sheet. At six-foot-five, Steele has above average handles for his size and used them to his benefit along with his strength to get inside the post. His motor competed for offensive boards, his explosiveness resulted in multiple dunks and defensive blocks and he also showed some ability to hit from beyond the arc along with a few nice turnarounds from several feet out. He still has room to improve on some of his finishes, but it's hard to not love how active he is on nearly every play. Steele should be a target for regional NAIA and JUCO programs as he looks to provide a major role in Africentric's journey back to the state tournament.

Juwan Turner (Pickerington Central / 5'10 PG / 2024) The best guard of the day looked the part of a defending state champion, as Turner showed off his beautiful point guard prowess, along with what appears to be a growing threat from beyond the arc. Turner is a point guard's "point guard," meaning he's highly efficient with his handles and vision and gives a sense of ease when the ball is in his hands. On Sunday, Turner did that but also showed consistency from deep. In one game we viewed, he went perfect on all three of his three-point attempts. There are the occasional plays that Turner himself would wish he could have back, but those are rare and you often have to remind yourself that Turner is only entering his junior season. It's fair to believe Turner is the top area guard in his class and will be a key piece in Pickerington Central's bid to repeat as state champions.

Nyelle Shaheed (Harvest Prep / 6'5 PF / 2023) There were hardly any players that could truly match up against Shaheed on Sunday. The six-foot-five forward runs the floor with guard-like quickness, but has the size and aggression to dominate around the rim. Shaheed's day was filled with baseline dunks, tip slams and easy finishes. But even on a roster with unfamiliar teammates, it was evident Shaheed naturally takes on a leadership role and stepped up with a game-winning jump shot early in the session. It's hard not to enjoy Shaheed's competitive nature, as the event was winding down, the Harvest Prep senior was still playing with a strong level of tenacity. Shaheed can continue to expand his game further with some improved outside shooting, but can make enough shots to keep defenses honest. NAIA and JUCO programs that enjoy a competitor with a high degree of athleticism should prioritize Shaheed.

Kameron Hordge (Indiana Elite Prep / 6'3 SG / 2023) While most of our scouting efforts were focused on the Central Ohio participants, Hordge's play was too good to not garner a mention. Looking the part of a traditional shooting guard, Hordge was natural with his release and started the day with two pull-up threes. The Indianapolis native did a good job off the drive and finished well above the rim. His ability to hit the triple pairs well with his defensive approach, as he was able to guard most positions on Sunday. Indiana Elite Prep had several talented representatives, but it was Hordge who stood out the most.

Khiryn Mcneal (Horizon Science / 6'0 SG / 2024) On one of the session's better teams, Mcneal was a valuable asset and a consistent scorer. The junior guard made multiple three-point attempts, played well with the ball in his hands and was active on the offensive glass. As the event progressed, Mcneal made it hard to ignore the impact he was making. Mcneal seems to have an ability to score from anywhere on the court and should be a major contributor for the Hawks this season.

Michael Mooreland Jr. (Pickerington Central / 5'10 CG / 2024) The hustler of the day goes to the Tigers guard, who fearlessly played bigger than his size and was hard earned of all his opportunities. On a team that had no one listed above six-foot-one, Mooreland often defended or challenged opponents with much greater size. He did this by a relentless attack of the glass, out-working his competition and by being smart and active without the ball. While he didn't necessarily convert at the rim a high percentage, he would often make up for it with an offensive board. Mooreland's day looked to be in jeopardy when he went for the ball, but hit the floor and hurt his arm. Yet, he persisted through the pain and continued to make an impact. The Pickerington Central backcourt is deep once again this season, but Mooreland appears to know he can best earn minutes through his hard work.

Dyson Bibins (Columbus Africentric / 6'1 CG / 2023) Another hard worker was the explosive Nubian guard. Bibins had perhaps the highlight of the day when his posterizing dunk caused spectators to spill onto the court. Bibins has a significant bounce and spring that allowed him to be the main aggressor for his team. While Bibins has room to gain consistency on his long range shooting, he still showed off a nice touch on the mid-range fadeaway and a couple three pointers. As the Nubians set their eyes on a state championship, it's players like Bibins that help compliment the roster and play a major supporting role. Bibins ability as a defender and athlete gives coach Michael Bates a true "x-factor" in his line-up. 

Cortez Freeman (Columbus Africentric / 6'2 CG / 2024) Perhaps no team represented as well as the Nubians, as their new junior guard looked the part of the talented scorer we've grown accustomed to see. In our brief viewing of Freeman, he showed quickness in transition and consistently found a path to the rim. Even with his hair in his eyes, Freeman hit a nice step-back three as he's shown he's capable of scoring from mostly anywhere. The Nubians were already strong contenders for a Division III state championship, but the addition of the talented Freeman make their title hopes even more attainable.

Markell Johnson (Pickerington Central / 6'1 SG / 2023) The Pickerington Tiger caught our eye with a smooth offensive game, highlighted by his consistency from deep. In just one game, we saw Johnson connect on three triples, including an impressive pull-up in traffic. Johnson's strong shooting was matched with a strong set of handles. Johnson began to make an impact for the Tigers in the second half of last season en route to a state championship. He currently holds an NAIA offer from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and from Division III Heidelberg. Expect Johnson to continue to be a target for these level of programs as he should play a vital role for the Tigers this season.

Editor's Note: Due to a roster error, the original post had the incorrect name of this player. 

Jayden Jones (Marion Harding / 6'1 SG / 2023) One of the better shooters on the day, Jones was a long range threat all throughout the session. We counted at least five triples throughout a couple viewings of Jones, and it's likely he made more than that. The lefty has a nice release and positions himself well. The Marion Harding senior is worth a look for NAIA and Division III programs.

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