COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Saturday, August 19, many of the area's incoming freshmen and sophomore basketball prospects went into Central Crossing High School to sharpen their skill and get ready for the upcoming season at the 270 Hoops Prospect Camp. There were over 40 young men at each session that worked hard and put what they learned during the day on display during the live playing portion of the session. With the first weekend of football in the books, some young men were fresh off games the night before or the same morning, it shows how much these young people want to get better.
Let's take a look at the standouts from Session 1.
Nate Lovinsky ( 6’6 F / 2026 / Licking Heights): Licking Heights was well represented during the course of the day, and this young man started it off. The MVP of the opening session, the hyperactive big man was in control of the paint all morning long. He started by showing energy in the drill portion, trying to tear the rim off the backboard with dunks instead of layups on every finish. Also during drill work, the sophomore flashed his ability to knock down shots from beyond the three-point line as well. Lovinsky has a soft touch around the rim and finishes at the rim through contact on a consistent basis. He was also a willing and excellent passer out of the post, dropping a dime to an open shooter to take a lead in the championship game, in which they ultimately won. This versatile big man is part of what looks like a talented Licking Heights team this upcoming season.
Ethan Wright ( 6’4 G / 2026 / Dublin Jerome): Another player from the winning team in the 5-on-5 live game portion, and one of the smoothest players that stepped on the floor during any of the sessions, Wright was operating at a different level on Saturday morning. Everything he did during the drill session was crisp and detail oriented, making sure he did exactly what the coaches asked of him. His quick first step and athleticism with his long arms gives him the ability to create space to get his shot off. Wright was also one of the better shooters in the gym, with good form and a quick release. His length gives him the ability to rebound really well for his position, and he has the ability to make plays in transition. His IQ allows him to see the game in a different way, he was even helping the coach while he was sitting and catching his breath.
Dawson Taylor ( 6’6 F / 2026 / Marysville): An excellent shooter that flashed the ability to take defenders out beyond the arc and hit shots over them, Taylor can be a true matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. Dawson did not get sped up while handling the ball, taking his time to get where he wanted to and he was consistently effective in both the post and from three. He did not force anything either, taking whatever the defense gave him while being efficient with his shot taking and making. Inside the paint, Taylor was crafty around the rim and found different ways to spin the ball off the glass to score the ball. He also rebounded at a high level, using his size and length to carve out space to gather the basketball. A high ceiling player with a motor to match.
Javonn Taliaferro ( 6’4 F / 2027 / Reynoldsburg): The definition of hustle and playing with energy, Javonn was dripping in sweat after the second drill, showing just how hard and relentless he works to get better. He dove on the floor for loose balls and was still able to get back to contest at the rim on numerous occasions. A key cog to the winning team during the first session, the freshman was all over the court during the live game portion on both ends of the court. Javonn is talkative on the defensive side, calling out screens and making sure his teammates knew what was going on behind them. This young man was a really good rebounder, using his weight to get himself in position to snag rebounds with his giant hands. Taliaferro is an ever evolving player with a high ceiling whose best days of basketball are still ahead of him.
Jace O’Daniel ( 6’1 F / 2027 / Worthington Kilbourne): A rangy and versatile prospect with a really intriguing upside. The defensive stopper of the championship team, Jace has extremely long arms and used them to play passing lanes and effect the shots that were put up around him. He was able to defend bigger players in the paint because of how his length could throw off rhythm and he got on the perimeter and disrupted the ball handling of opposing players. On offense, he displayed the ability to take defenders off the dribble and get to the rim and shoot over the top of players that guarded him. At the rim, O’Daniel found success with a soft touch of the glass, he used his long arms to stretch past the defense and get the ball off the glass. With his versatility and skill, O’Daniel can really blossom into something special as the years progress.
Colt James ( 6’1 G / 2027 / Indian Valley): Flatly the best defender in the building during the opening session, James showed why defense will always be the way to see the court as a young player. This young man was active on that end of the floor all morning long, consistently being in the correct spot and cutting off the offensive players first move, making them uncomfortable. He dove on the floor for loose balls and took charges, both in drills and in live games as well. While he was able to finish at the rim on offense a couple of times, his main impact came on the defensive side of the ball. James has the ability to guard multiple positions effectively from day one, with strength and toughness.
Noel Rozelle ( 5’6 G / 2027 / Harvest Prep): Rozelle was a sleeper all morning long during the opening session, but his ability to handle the ball with quickness and confidence was impressive. He used screens well and got into the teeth of the defense multiple times, making plays for teammates. The shifty point guard also was not afraid to mix it up in the paint and fight for rebound among the bigs on the court. His best play came off a turnover that he committed; instead of pouting or letting that turnover affect his play, he sprinted back from halfcourt and forced a miss on what would have been an easy layup because of the way he contested the shot. Harvest Prep is known to churn out high level producing guards, Noel could be in line to be one of those guards one day.
Reece Hemmert ( 6’1 G / 2026 / Hilliard Davidson): This sophomore was a flat out bucket during the first session, being in attack mode starting with the first game of the live action portion. Hemmert got to the paint and finished with floaters, hit mid range jumpers and stretched the defense to beyond the three-point line and knocked those down as well. His handle allowed him to create space and knock down those jumpers, with a smooth and quick release and the understanding of how he was being guarded to counter defenders. His length helps him be a solid rebounder for his position, being a mismatch nightmare for smaller guards.
Nate Roman ( 6’1 G / 2026 / Westerville North): Roman found a rhythm in game number two and kept it rolling from there. He was his team's go-to scorer and found success the rest of the morning, scoring at every level and being a constant threat whenever the ball was in his hands. He buried a cold blooded three to ice the second game of his day, that bucket really got him going for the rest of the day. He began to drain mid range jumpers off the bounce, being unaffected by a hand in his face. The sophomore attacked the basket with ferocity and finished in traffic with good body control and a knack to get the ball off the glass.
Camden Eaton ( 6’1 G / 2026 / Lancaster): A big moment, winning player for the eventual champions for the session, Eaton made big plays for his team all morning long. He hit jumpers that cut leads and kept his team in the game, also had big blocks that helped his team hold onto leads, Eaton was a great complement to the other guys on his team. The sophomore spaced the floor and kept the defense honest by knocking in three point jumpers, when defenders closed out too hard he was able to blow by them and finish at the rim. Camden did not rush when the ball was in his hands and was smooth while taking care of the ball. Eaton is a winning player that does whatever it takes, every team needs a player like this.
Owen McGurer ( 6’1 G / 2027 / Lakewood St. Edward): Coming from a school with a good basketball tradition, McGurer was assertive in the drills and really good during gameplay. He initially flashed in the drills, going through them with energy and taking what he learned in drills onto the court for gameplay. He showed his high IQ with some very smart passes that even some coaches didn’t see at first. His handle was crafty, using it to get past defenders with relative ease. A quick release combined with his ability to finish at the rim showed that he was a dangerous matchup for other guards tasked with defending him. He made quick decisions with the ball in his hands, either moving it quickly out of his hands or attacking the basket, McGurer was effective all morning long.
Nate Thompson ( 5’10 G / 2026 / Central Crossing): The host school was well represented with the MVP of session two was spectacular in the afternoon, making everything look effortless and easy in route to winning the championship of the session. Thompson was smooth and patient when the ball was in his hands, creating for himself and his teammates as well. He was effective with both hands on offense and made winning plays all afternoon long. It looked like he was gliding as he was in transition, getting up the court like a blur racing past defenders. The sophomore scored on every level of the court, getting to the rim with ease and finishing, hitting mid range jumpers and even hitting some behind the three-point line. Thompson was flat out amazing the duration of session two.
Caden Ivery ( 6’1 G / 2027 / Columbus Academy): One of the freakiest athletes that stepped foot into Central Crossing the entire day, Ivery made an impact during the drills simply with his ability to bounce and finish. Ivery has a quick first jump, getting in the air incredibly quick and was able to control his body while in the air. The freshman is a well rounded athlete that showcased a really good handle and breezed by defenders both in the open court and in half court scenarios. He was also a crafty passer, hitting a cutter with a beautiful over the head pass as he was also driving the ball through the lane, among other showstopping passes. This freshman will be a problem for schools to slow down this upcoming season, and has a high ceiling as far as his potential goes.
Alex Smith ( 6’7 / 2026 / Upper Arlington): His length and versatility on the court make him one of the session's most promising prospects. Smith was a good rebounder and showed the ability to take it end-to-end while finishing for himself or making a play for a teammate. He has soft touch around the rim and knocked down shots from deep as well. Smith showed good court vision, finding cutting teammates or open shooters on the perimeter and hitting them with crisp passes for buckets. His tough layup sent his team to the championship game after a hard fought battle. Alex is a rising star in line for an incredible sophomore season.
Marco Mattucci ( 6’3 G / 2026 / New Albany): Possibly the most technically sound prospect during the session, Mattucci not only excelled getting the details right in the drills but he applied those skills to the 5-on-5 period. His size allowed him to be versatile on both ends, being able to guard multiple positions and giving out buckets to those who defended him. He nailed shots from all around the perimeter and was money off the dribble from three. Marco was smart with the basketball and routinely made the correct play for his team. With the skillset that was put on display, a breakout season for Mattucci could be coming.
Daishun Brown Jr. ( 5’2 G / 2027 / Sandusky): The smallest kid in the entire building had the biggest heart, never backing down from the challenge that was taller kids guarding him or having to defend them himself. His competitiveness was visible through his fire on the court and the way he was able to be effective through it all. His court vision was tremendous, hitting players in stride with an array of bounce passes. He brought the gym down when he drained a three from nearly halfcourt while getting fouled to keep his team alive during the game period of the session. Brown’s heart is undeniable and his game is able to match it.
Ta’vyon Wright ( 5’7 G / 2026 / Gahanna Lincoln): Wright did a little bit of everything for his team on Saturday, and did them the correct way while keeping his mistakes to a minimum. The freshman was good at drawing contact from defenders while still being able to maintain his dribble. Finished at the rim very well for his size, kissing the ball off the glass numerous times. Defensively, Wright showed good instincts, getting his hands on passes for deflections and getting his team started in transition. On the ball, he had strong, quick hands and made shooting over
Dez Jackson ( 5’6 / 2027 / Licking Heights): A dynamic athlete with lightning quickness, Jackson gets to wherever he is going in a heartbeat. His explosive first step allowed him to get in the lane consistently and with the way he jumps he is able to elevate over defenders his size. Jackson finished well at the rim too, finding different ways to get his shot off over taller players in the paint. Good defensive instincts, being able to track the ball in the air on long passes and beating ball handlers to the spot. With his combination of athleticism and finishing at the rim, this young man has a bright future ahead.
Kaden Woltz ( 6’0 F / 2027 / Fairfield Union): Fundamentally sound in all aspects of his game, Woltz was a pivotal piece in his team making it to the championship game of the game period. He did all the little things for his team, keeping possessions alive with offensive rebounds or tip outs to his teammates, and timely buckets to keep his team within striking distance if they were trailing. Woltz used his body well to seal off the defense when he hit layups. He was also an effective rebounder for his size, despite routinely rebounding over taller players.
Jacob Gutierrez ( 6’3 F / 2026 / Central Crossing): Another representative of the host school that was part of the winning team, this young man was a solid all around player that helped his team immensely in the process of winning. Gutierrez got to the rim, finished around the basket and played well defensively too. His court vision was shown through his expert passes, fitting them through keyholes if necessary. His big body made him a mismatch all afternoon long, as smaller guards couldn’t match his strength and big men couldn’t deal with his perimeter play.
Cooper Manson ( 6’4 / 2026 / Liberty Union): One of the more strong 6’4 competitors you’ll see, he was a force in the paint during session two. Manson used his shield off defenders for buckets and showed a nice touch around the basket. His rebounding instincts were tremendous as well, understanding where the ball was going to come off the rim and getting in good position to grab the ball. A solid player who impacted his teams results, and helped lead them to a championship in the game period.
Eli Jessup ( 5’6 G / 2027 / Watkins Memorial): A rock solid, steady point guard that finds different ways to effect games. He made plays on both ends of the court in route to helping his team win the championship of the game period. Jessup is a tough competitor, playing through plenty of contact and never complaining. He got deflections that led to buckets, stayed in front of his man on defense and got out in the open court for easy layups. Protected the basketball and made good decisions when the ball was in his hands.
Damion King ( 6’2 G / 2027 / Westerville North): One of the young men that played in a football game early that day, showed some of that gridiron toughness on Saturday evening. His size made him a nightmare as a slasher off the ball while he was also able to get to the rim off the dribble as well. King was undeniable getting to the rim, finding different angles to get through and exploding for layups. His touch around the rim was impressive. The MVP of the final session, the freshman was a huge piece in his team winning the game period.
Taj Powell ( 6’1 F / 2026 / Centerville): Impressive from the outset during the drill session, going hard in every drill and even being the first to volunteer to play defense during a 5-on-5 drill. His strong frame allowed him to be physical on both ends of the ball, getting to the hoop with the ball in hands and slashing without it. A good finisher at the basket as well, hitting some nice shots around the hoop. Powell had a solid handle of the ball and was able to make plays for his teammates as well as himself. At such a tradition rich program, Powell hopes to be one the next stars from Elk country.
Xavier Aguila ( 5’10 G / 2026 / Olentangy Orange): Some of the best vision in the session, Aguila saw things happen before they happened and delivered it like a rocket to teammates. With the snap he has on the basketball as he throws it, it is easy to tell that is an amazing baseball prospect as well. He has lightning quick feet and was a mismatch for other guards there because of the way he used his power. He posted up smaller guards and blew by the bigs that defended him. He was patient as he threw his most impressive pass of the day, directing traffic for his team before he tossed a laser to a cutter. Even though Aguila’s future may be on the baseball diamond, his basketball skills were on full display.
Leesean Saunders ( 6’3 F / 2026 / Walnut Ridge): One of the only representatives of the City League, Saunders began the day by working hard in drills fresh off a football game earlier that morning and then helped his team reach the championship game of the game period while playing through pain. Saunders was a versatile defender, being able to effect shots in the paint and step to the perimeter and stay in front of offensive players as well. An excellent finisher at the rim, the sophomore had some athletic finishes in the paint. He was a willing passer out of the paint, being able to hit shooters at the three-point line and cutting teammates as well. The lengthy wing looks to have a bright future in multiple sports.
Elijah McCree ( 5’9 G / 2026 / Westerville North): This straight bucket getter helped carry the offensive load for his team in route to winning the live game period of the session. Scored in a myriad of ways and all over the court as well. Floaters, layups, pull-up midrange jumpers, catch-and-shoot from beyond the arc, McCree showcased his ability to put the ball in the bucket in many different ways. He was such a threat to score that he was used as the decoy for his team to get a wide open game-winning three because the defense was so focused on not allowing him to get the ball. McCree is a young man that showed explosive offensive capabilities all evening long.
Mike Daniels ( 5’7 G / 2027 / Bishop Ready): A steady hand at the point guard position, Daniels was smart with the ball in his hands and wasn’t prone to making mistakes. He plays with pace and different speeds, being able to shift the defense with his ball handling and ability to attack the basket. No defender could speed him up as he weaved through the paint looking for a teammate or somewhere to get his own shot off. Despite Daniels size, he finished with contact very well, absorbing contact and still being able to get his own shot off. His jump shot was reliable, ensuring that defenses cannot sag off of him. This young man has the ability and IQ to be a big time lead guard.
Makai Ross ( 6’1 G / 2027 / Westerville South): Scrappy and gritty, Ross left everything on the court this past Saturday. He was excellent as the screen man on screen and roll’s, getting his body in front of his man and exploding to the basket ready for the pass. Ross finished at the rim consistently, showcasing an effective pump fake down low and a nice touch on floaters around the basket. He fought for every rebound, tipping them in the air numerous times, boxing out his man with his strength and having good timing to grab the ball. Ross was also an encouraging presence, which is rare to see in events like this, something that we always want to highlight in young players.
Donovan McGovern ( 5’8 G / 2026 / DeSales): Draining the game-winning three in the championship game of the live game period was the icing on the cake of a big-time shooting display from McGovern. Possibly the smoothest looking stroke in the session, McGovern took advantage of every shot opportunity that was given to him. The best catch-and-shoot player in the session, this young man knocked down three after three as he helped his team reach the championship game, including four in the game before the final one. Confident with a quick release and seemingly hands in his face did not phase him, McGovern’s shooting will be an asset for the Stallions.
Elijah Dunn ( 5’10 G / 2026 / Canal Winchester): Whenever this young man is on the court, expect energy and passion to be flowing as well. An excellent competitor with a winner’s mentality, Dunn plays aggressive and puts constant pressure on the defense when the ball is in his hands. He has good defensive instincts, raking in a big block that would’ve been an easy layup and tracking the ball in the air for a steal. His hustle is off the charts, running after loose balls, trying to get deflections and even picking up ball handlers 94-feet. This young man’s pure desire to win is glaring and makes him a special player.
Carson Reinhart ( 6’0 F / 2027 / Fredericktown): Got buckets in bunches while helping get his team to the championship game before falling just short due to a last second shot. He was an excellent space creator, being able to get his shot off in a multitude of ways, getting defenders to bite on his pump fake and using a nice step back to get his jumper off as well. Displayed toughness with his ability to finish through contact and take punishment on his way to the basket. While defenders were not able to speed him up, Reinhart made quick and smart decisions with the basketball, getting his teammates involved as well as scoring himself. He gained a ton of confidence as the day went on and carried it to the final game of the day.
Matthew Giannantonio ( 6’1 F / 2026 / Dublin Jerome): Another young man that fought through cramps because of football earlier in the day, he did a little bit of everything for his team and helped them get to the championship game. His combination of size and skill made him tough to guard, he had a good handle and wasn’t rushed by defenders. Giannantonio finished at the rim very well with some nice touch off the glass and a soft floater. Defensively, the sophomore accepted any challenge with a basketball and made things tough, staying in front of his man and forcing difficult shots. Tough and the will of a winner, Giannantonio has an amazing future as a prospect.