COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With an emphasis on the transfer portal and the bonus year provided to athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the recruiting interest for high school athletes took a noticeable dip the last few seasons.
However, given the amount of attention towards Central Ohio hoopers the past few months, it appears local prospects haven provided much interest to scholarship programs from across the country.
Below is a recap of all the recruiting activity that has taken place since the high school season ended.
2024 Commitments Begin
Currently, four area prospects have received offers from Division I programs. As of last week, two of those hoopers announced their verbal commitments.
Walnut Ridge point guard Dom Aekins was the first when he made his commitment last Wednesday to Duquesne , a program in the Atlantic 10. Aekins received an offer from the Dukes in mid-July and chose them over a previous offer from Youngstown State.
Delaware Hayes guard Jesse Burris followed Aekins last Friday with a commitment to Ohio University. You can read more about Burris' decision to play for the Bobcats in an exclusive interview with 270 Hoops HERE
2024's Still Available
The best area prospect still on the board is Hilliard Bradley's Cade Norris. The versatile do-it-all player picked up recent offers from Winthrop and Lipscomb. That brings Norris' total offers to five, after he received initial interest from Wright State, Ball State and Illinois State prior to the start of his junior season. Norris' older brothers and former Jaguars Braden and Keaton play for Loyola Chicago and Wright State, respectively.
Westerville Central shooting guard Nick Patton announced his first offer from Northern Illinois on July 11th. Patton's father, Peter, is the Director of Player Development with the Chicago Bulls after he spent five seasons as the shooting coach for the Dallas Mavericks.
In non-Division I activity, Olentangy Berlin's Derek Goodman received last week an offer from Rio Grande, an NAIA program. This goes along with a previous offer from Shawnee State, another NAIA school. Goodman is arguably the best shooter in the area and should continue to gather interest from scholarship programs from all levels as he enters his senior season.
Newark's Steele Meister garnered two Division II offers in July, first from Ohio Dominican then Findlay. Marysville's big man Jason Moore also recently attracted interest from Division II programs University of Charleston and Wayne State. Lastly, Grove City center Kraig Gilbert picked up an offer on Sunday from Concord shortly after he was named an MVP from the 270 Hoops Prospect Camp.
It is safe to expect the number of offers for these and many more 2024 prospects to only grow as we approach the high school season.
Class of 2025 Shows Strong Interest
While the number of area Division I prospects in the 2024 class currently appears to be lower than most years, the class of 2025 recruits that have already received offers seems to indicate a talent-heavy group.
Olentangy Liberty big Tyler Kropp leads the way with five announced offers. Kropp, who spent some time playing with Argentina's U16 team in June, posted offers from Stonehill, Toledo, Robert Morris and Ohio in just over a two-week span and also holds an offer from Radford that he received last September.
Northside Christian's Landon Vanderwarker is perhaps the best prospect in the area for the class as his recruitment gained major attention this summer. In a two-day span in mid-June, Vanderwarker received offers from VCU, Ohio and Toledo, followed by Utah Tech last week.
Reynoldsburg's Jordan Fisher picked up two Mid-American Conference offers from Akron and Ohio over the last few weeks. These are the first two posted offers from Fisher since he was offered by Texas Rio-Grande Valley and Youngstown State shortly after his freshman season in the spring of 2022.
Fisher's teammate, Reynoldsburg forward Toby Nwokolo, gained his first offer last week from Ohio University on the same day as Fisher.
Pickerington North point guard Arness Lawson also has an offer from Ohio, which he received the winter of his freshman season. On July 17th, he gained a second Mid-American Conference offer from Kent State.
Rounding out the 2025 class is Westerville South point guard Kruz McClure, who picked up his first offer from Siena at the end of June.
The 2025 class is off to an exciting start from a recruitment standpoint and should feature some of the best players in the area this upcoming season, regardless of class.
Attention Begins for 2026, 2027 Prospects
While the list is still short, area colleges have already shown interest in a few area underclassmen.
The most notable area prospect in the 2026 class, Northland's King Kendrick, announced his second offer in mid-June from Kent State. This comes after he received his first offer from Ohio towards the end of his freshman season.
A new prospect for Central Ohio fans to start following is Hilliard Bradley's Gavin Lightning, a 6'6 wing that just announced his transfer to the Jaguars from Bowling Green (KY). While Lightning has not posted any offers from this summer, he did receive his first scholarship opportunity from Detroit Mercy last December.
And before he even played his first high school game, Walnut Ridge's Deon Johnson, a 6'3 small forward, already attracted the attention and an offer from Kent State. The high-level potential of Johnson has given Walnut Ridge fans much excitement as the Scots look to compete for a City League championship.
As always, you can follow recruiting updates in the recruiting tab under the All-Access Pass.