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Battle For The City: Boys 2024 Top Performers

By Greg Glasser and Mark Francis, 04/17/23, 9:30AM EDT


Our prospect scouts highlighted the day's best players

GROVE CITY, Ohio -- The annual 270 Hoops' Battle for the City presented by E.E. Ward Moving took place last week at Central Crossing High School.

The showcase puts top players from each class from the OCC against the various leagues to make up the Central Ohio team.

On Wednesday, the 2024 class saw the OCC team defeat Central Ohio 146-121.

Below, our prospect scouts highlighted their favorite performances from the day.

Jesse Burris (Delaware Hayes / 6'4 Wing) Awarded the 270 Hoops Junior of the Year, Burris' performance on Wednesday validated the recognition. Like he was all season for the Pacers, Burris was a bucket and finished with 22 points on top of 10 rebounds. Burris is one of the more talented offensive playmakers in the area and against the Central Ohio team, he showed off his sneaky strong bounce with tip slams, reverse dunks and as a recipient of some alley-oop feeds. Although he was able to get mostly whatever he wanted at the rim, Burris still showed off his excellent jumper, including an impressive step-back three. After a spectacular junior season in which he was named second-team All-Ohio, Burris is my early favorite to be named next year's District Player of the Year. His size, athleticism and ability to score anywhere on the floor is why he has already received two Division I offers and should continue to garner more attention as he heads into his senior season. GG

Derek Goodman (Olentangy Berlin / 6'3 SG) Perhaps one of the best shooters in the area, Goodman brought his high-accuracy sniper out on Wednesday as he finished with 20 points. Goodman has a seriously smooth and clean-looking release, as he connected on three triples. But while we are familiar with Goodman's ability to hit from deep, on Wednesday, he proved why he's not just a catch-and-shoot perimeter player. Goodman has decent athleticism and finishes well around the rim. With six assists, he did a nice job of looking up court and making an extra pass and his six rebounds showed an ability to compete and out jump for boards. After being named honorable mention All-State, Goodman is the driving force behind an evolving Berlin program. A shooter as good as Goodman cannot be overlooked by regional scholarship programs, as he has already received an offer by Shawnee State. GG

James Nowell (Eastmoor Academy / 5'11 SG) In a game filled with excellent shooters, the junior from Eastmoor Academy made his case as the best long-range shooter in the class. Nowell finished the day with 20 points, 18 of which came from deep. He's at his best in a catch-and-shoot position, but also showed some serious range on a couple attempts that were made a couple feet beyond the arc. An honorable mention All-State recipient, Nowell can continue to evolve his game in all facets. However, shooters like him do not come around too often and could make for a valuable asset for a future Division II/III/NAIA program. GG

KJ Reynald (Gahanna Lincoln / 6'0 Combo Guard) The young man that helped seal the OCC title for the Lions, also won MVP of the junior game at Battle for the City with a game-high 32 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the win for his team. Reynald has long arms and incredibly quick hands that causes problems for ball handlers trying to get around him. Reynald buried eight threes in route to his 32 points, showing off the burner that the OCC got a display of all year long. He not only was able to stroke it from beyond the arc, KJ also got to the basket and finished around the rim while dropping some nice floaters over the top of taller defenders. A representation of playing hard and with energy, Reynald was able to score just by outworking other players. As a first-team all-OCC baller, the junior had a breakout season in 2022-2023 and looks to continue that progression headed into the spring and summer. MF

Na’Varion Adams (Westerville North / 6'6 PF) An explosive athlete that looks to dunk whenever he’s close to the rim, Adams finished the game with 24 points, six boards and a big block in the OCC’s win for the junior class. Vari started and finished his scoring by expanding his range and knocking in a couple of triples. His effortless explosion is something to marvel at, using those young legs to spring over the opposition. One of the best finishers in this class, Adams has soft touch around the rim and can get the ball in the bucket from all types of weird positions around the basket. An exceptional athlete that can score without ever having a play run for him, his off-ball movement and offensive rebounding skill allows him to get buckets without dominating the basketball. The way he can score efficiently, move without the ball and finish around the rim, Vari definitely has one of higher ceilings in the area. MF

LJ Foster (Mifflin / 6'4 Wing) A young man with over a 4.0 GPA and a smooth jump shot, Foster led his team in scoring with 31 points, while snagging down six rebounds as well. LJ drained a Battle for the City high of nine three-pointers, with as pure looking of a jump shot as we saw over the two days of the event. One of the most productive players in the City League and Mifflin’s go-to scorer, Foster is a problem for defenders with his combination of size, shooting ability and quickness with the ball in his hands. He hit jumpers over outstretched arms, showing his quick release and used his hot shooting to pump fake and get to the rim a couple of times. The junior plays with aggressiveness and passion on both ends of the court, having a relentless motor and the desire to compete and win. With his production on the court and in the classroom, Foster’s future is bright. MF

Ro’Sean Burns (Beechcroft / 5'9 Combo Guard) One the most inspirational stories of hard work, dedication, competitiveness and a great attitude, Burns displays all of those in spades. Having one arm has not discouraged or overwhelmed Burns while he is competing, something that everyone could learn a lesson from. The Cougar guard finished with 18 total points and impressed the entire gym with the way he was able to get his shot off over any defender that guarded him. Whether it was a step-back, floater or a simple layup, Ro’Sean had some creative finishes around the basket that wowed the audience. An incredibly shifty player with the ball in his hand, Burns has a twitch in his game that catches defenders off balance and allows him to get in the paint with ease. Blazing speed and great start-stop ability, Burns is a natural athlete that knows how to use the gifts he has to play the game of basketball at a good level. No matter where his path leads him, Burns will always be recognized as a special City League player and an inspiration to people all over the city. MF

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