COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Central Ohio Fall League kicked off with its middle and high school divisions at Ohio Dominican the past two weekends. There was a lot of talent on display as a preview of the future of Central Ohio basketball. The young people showed up early and got to work as games were competitive and some even had to go into overtime. With so much talent spread through the gym, a lot of the young players deserve praise, so here are the players who stood out during week 1 and 2.
Kraig Gilbert (Grove City): One of the best unsigned big men in the area went to work from the opening tip and did not let up the entire afternoon. Gilbert dominated both games he played in, playing with energy and effort in both games. He crashed the defensive glass at an extremely high level, snagging everything in his area and even throwing long passes that connected with teammates for easy buckets. The senior highlighted his day with back-to-back dunks in transition that impressed everyone. He was a good passer out of the post, hitting shooters on the perimeter and his other big man down low.
Sam Miller (Teays Valley): The glue to his team, doing the little things that it takes to help his team win. Miller got on the offensive glass and kept possessions alive for his team, giving them extra opportunities to score. He got out in transition and was the benefactor of numerous outlet passes thrown by Kraig Gilbert, flying past defenders for easy scores on the break. He played well inside the paint and showed a soft touch around the rim. His height caused problems for the offense, getting his hand up and effecting shots taken by the offense. Miller played an effective game and helped his team navigate the waters and come out victorious.
Amare Spiva (Pickerington Central): Athleticism in spades, Spiva played an aggressive style of ball this past Sunday, attacking the basket relentlessly in both transition and the half court. His twitchy style of play kept the defense in retreat mode and that allowed him to get to the rim basically at will. He made big plays like his and-1 to cut his team’s deficit, knocking the ball off the ball handler to force a turnover and his lead taking and-1 as well. Spiva created contact at the rim and was still able to get his shot off. The Pickerington Central product showed why he is one of the best guards in the area this upcoming season.
Dom Aekins (Walnut Ridge): The Duquesne University commit changed the pace of the game whenever he was on the floor for his team, pushing the ball up court and put pressure on the defense. He played downhill in the halfcourt, not settling for tough jumpshots, instead getting to the basket with his lightning quick first step and getting into the paint where his floaters were automatic the entire afternoon. He did stretch the defense with his shooting, putting away the second opponent with a big time three-pointer. Aekins showed his court vision with some pure lasers that he put on the money for teammates.
Jahki Calloway (Bishop Hartley): He took as much pride into the defensive side of the ball as he did the offensive side and did not let up on either end. The usually laid back point guard, also was aggressive with the ball, using his crafty first step to get in the lane where he was magical all afternoon long. Calloway stayed at the rim and finished through contact, getting numerous and-1’s, especially in the second game of his day. Jahki also got into the lane to make plays for other players, dropping dimes to shooters on the perimeter. His active hands on defense made things difficult for ball handlers and he consistently closed out on shooters the correct way. One of the better sophomore guards in the area had a solid Sunday afternoon.
Cooper Kent (Galion): His three-point shooting was a key to keeping his team in games Sunday afternoon, knocking in two consecutive to start off the first game and then adding another one later in the game in his team's march back from a deficit. His shooting in the second game was just as efficient, using his quick release to get his shot off. Kent also got to the basket, both in transition and the half court, not settling for jumpers and being able to finish at the rim. He created contact off the dribble as well, his strong handle of the ball made it hard for defenders to get the ball away from him.
Calea Byrd (Springfeild): A very athletic forward that finished at the rim with grace and was really good at creating his own shot off the bounce. The lefty used his slim frame to slide through the lane, relentlessly attacking the rim on offense. He played under control and did not let the defense speed him up, staying poised even with the defense staying attached to him. Byrd was able to be a threat from the perimeter as well, knocking down shots from beyond the arc. The junior showed some high basketball IQ when he made an open pass to keep the clock rolling instead of forcing a bad shot that some young players may have taken.
Tyler Kerner (Gahanna Lincoln): Kerner played an extremely efficient, downhill brand of basketball on Sunday, constantly putting the defense on their heels because of his attacking style. He was physical all afternoon long, driving right into the defenders chest as he drove the ball and much of the time on defense he was under the rim fighting for rebounds. In transition, the guard made plays for others with some absolute blazing passes that his teammates were able to easily finish for buckets. Kerner was a huge key to his team's success on Sunday.
Ezra Bobo (Licking Heights): One of the most energetic players on the floor, he played with effort and was a natural leader for his team as well. Bobo was talkative on both ends of the floor, whether it was calling out screens defensively, directing traffic on offense or encouraging teammates, the guard’s communication was excellent. In the second game, he buried a crucial three to give his team a lead then came back and hit another one to tie it, a game his team ultimately won in overtime. His long arms help him pressure the basketball and play passing lanes on defense.
Micah Germany (Bishop Ready): Scored efficiently all afternoon long, never forcing shots and taking what the defense gave him when the ball was in his hands. He started one game with a personal 5–0 run to get his team started, kicking off what was a really good day putting the ball in the hoop. His handle was smooth and he was able to break down the defense, getting to his spot to score. Germany got to the rim, hit midrange jumpers and went behind the three-point line and knocked some in as well. The Ready product had a really solid day for his team.
Alex Smith (Upper Arlington): An active big man on both ends of the court who affected the games most on the defensive end in week 2. Smith couldn’t fully find his offensive rhythm in the first game, despite some good looks he cashed in and near misses, so he controlled it on the defensive end. He picked up a block on a midrange jumper, a steal from a full court press and owned the defensive glass as well. He got out in transition off of rebounds and made for his teammates as well. His defensive prowess helped his team finish ___ on the day.
Brody Fields (Teays Valley): Was a straight bucket getter, there was no wasted movement from Fields, he got to his spot and wasn’t shy about letting it fly. He dropped in some tough looking floaters, and a nasty turn around jump shot from the elbow. The ___ kept the defense off balance with his attacking style of play, never allowing defenders to get comfortable when he had the ball in his hands. Fields created contact multiple times and was able to still finish through it as well. His offense was able to keep his team in striking distance during an early afternoon of blowouts in week 2.
Carson Scholl (Big Walnut): One of the best shooters in the gym on week 2, this young man is capable of tearing the net off the rim. He showed off a quick release, getting the ball out of his hands almost as soon as he caught it. Scholl hit three’s both off the dribble and the catch as well. He moved well without the ball in his hands, understanding how to get open before the ball even gets to him. His length allowed him to snag down rebounds and get the team on the run as well. His play helped his team finish the day 1-1.
Nolan Fedak (Westerville North): He was a reliable source of offense for his team in the early going, knocking in shots to help keep his team in the game until others pitched into the scoring. The physical wing finished around the rim and even stretched the defense by knocking in perimeter jumpers as well. Fedak absorbed contact at the rim and was still able to finish tough layups. The start he helped get his team off to was a building block for the victory in week 2 as they finished the day unbeaten.
Tai Perkins (Westerville North): Perkins got into the game and got his offense clicking immediately. He buried a triple as soon as he got onto the court, put the ball on the floor and finished at the rim and dropped in jumpers from the midrange as well. Perkins also did the little things as well, getting deflections, battling for rebounds and somehow found himself getting a rebound while he was on the ground. The junior made smart passes and used his quick handle to elude the defense.
Trey Cady (Marion Harding): Versatility on offense was his calling card in week 2, being able to attack and score from different areas of the court. Cady got out in transition where his speed shined, getting to the basket in a hurry on the break. In the half court, the __ created contact on his drives and made jumpers from the midrange including a step back shot from the corner over outstretched hands. One of his mid range jumpers gave his team a one point lead, a lead that they stretched out over the last minute to get the win.
Isaiah Brown (Westerville Central): A big time contributor to his team, doing a little bit of everything for his competitive and feisty team. The senior was a reliable scorer, was able to guard inside and outside defensively and made plays for his teammates as well. He was relentless and never gave up on plays, meeting an opponent at the rim to contest what would’ve been an easy dunk and forcing a miss. Brown absorbed contact on drives and still managed to get his shot off. He forced the defense to guard him beyond the arc as well, knocking in jumpers from the outside.
Kevin Reynald Jr. (Gahanna Lincoln): Even though the result wasn’t the desired one, Reynald acquitted himself very well on both sides of the court. On offense, he hit numerous big shots that not only helped his team climb out of the deficit, but also tie it and take it into double overtime. On the defensive end, he had a tough block at a critical time in the game to get his team out in transition to tie the ball game. The Gahanna Lincoln product competed at a high level and got after it on both ends during both games.
Corbin Gregorio (Olentangy Orange): A freshman that flashed his potential during both games, he continuously made the correct plays for his team and kept the offense flowing at a high rate. The ball never stuck to his hands because of the way he either moved the ball or attacked the basket. He knocked in shots from beyond the arc, but the way he saw the court was very impressive. Gregorio drove the lane to find shooters in the corner or cutters, and he hit them with pinpoint accuracy for open shots. He was the key to his team’s offense looking so crisp, and he did it without dominating the basketball.
Owen Laury (Bishop Hartley): Played as a steady hand all during both games, helping his team race out to a big early lead that was capped off by his corner three. His smooth handle in transition allowed him to fly past defenders to the basket for easy scores as well. Laury played confidently and without hesitation, attacking the defense in the half court as well, getting in the lane to make plays for himself and his teammates as well. The sophomore played well defensively as well, getting his hands on the basketball for deflections and picked up a few steals as well.
Tashai Davis (Licking Heights): Davis came into games and provided game shifting defense, picking up ball handlers full court to help erase the deficit his team was in to take the lead and win the game. His shot could not fall from the perimeter so he took the challenge and was able to effect the game on the other end like a smart player should do. He caused turnovers to get easy layups for himself and was able to hit his teammates for easy scores as well because of his ability to get his hands on the basketball. The ability to change his focus mid game and turn up the pressure on defense to help win games was really impressive.
Chavis Wilson (Reynoldsburg Waggoner Rd.): He showed off an electric handle of the ball all morning long, helping his team go unbeaten on the day. He threw a couple dimes to cutting teammates as he was driving, displaying excellent court vision and confidence in his own game. Wilson weaved his way through the defense, getting to the rim where he found success finishing at the rim. He hustled and got after loose basketballs, diving on the ground to keep it inbounds. His defensive ball pressure allowed his team to play passing lanes and get steals from wild passes that his defense caused. Wilson played an excellent game and was able to effect the game on both ends of the court.
Evan Allgood (Grace Christian Academy): Maybe the best shooter in the building all morning, Allgood was a consistent threat from beyond the arc. He started his first game by knocking in back-to-back triples, finishing the first game with four total. He was also patient with the ball in his hands, making smart decisions and never getting rushed. Allgood ran the pick-and-roll to perfection with his big, placing the ball in the perfect spot where his teammate could score or keeping it and finishing around the rim if he needed to. The young man showed a knowledge of when to get his teammates involved and when to score himself. Allgood showed the makings of a true lead guard with his IQ and scoring ability.
Robert Talbert (Licking Heights): A true glue guy for his team, doing all the little things necessary for his team. He made the extra pass to turn good shots into great shots numerous times, making sure that his teammates got fed. On the offensive glass, he got his hands on the ball as it bounced off the rim to tip it out to teammates or flat out grabbing the board himself and putting it back, he did all the gritty work for his team. Showed excellent hustle on both ends and played with nothing but energy. When called upon, he was able to finish at the rim consistently all morning. Every team needs players like Talbert, tough minded and does not mind doing the things that other players do not want to do.
Elijah Smith (Pickerington Ridgeview): His quickness with the ball in his hands allowed him to put pressure on the defense by getting downhill to make plays for himself and his teammates. Smith was able to stop on a dime and get shot off anywhere on the court, and showed that he could get his shot off over length. He had a nice touch around the rim once he got in the lane as well, knocking in floaters and creative finishes off the glass. In transition, Smith kept his eyes up and threw some nice upcourt passes for easy buckets. A consistent source of offense for his team.
Xavier Jones (Heritage): One of the best athletes in the entire building in week 1, Jones ran like deer in transition, racing past defenders and having good hands in traffic to finish around the basket. He constantly found teammates for paint scores because of the attention the defense was paying to him, hitting them with some nice passes for easy buckets. Jones understood when to attack the defense and when to share the ball. His timing and athleticism made him dominant on the glass as well, seemingly grabbing everything that bounced off the rim.
Mehki Roddy (Reynoldburg): Roddy was in go mode from the opening tip and flexed his talents in both games during the morning. Menacing on the glass, Roddy excelled at rebounding, finding a body, boxing out and soaring for the board. He took advantage of smaller lineups by attacking the basket and never settling for jump shots. Roddy did not over dribble either, getting to the rim in a hurry and finishing at the rim. He got very close to having a couple of in game dunks as well. The young man was locked in, in both games and helped lead a loaded team.
Carter Hinton (Licking Heights): A consistent source of offense for his team in both games, regardless of the outcome, Hinton played big. He was smooth with the ball in his hands and carved up defenses to get in the lane. Hinton was smart with the ball in his hands, making sound decisions and not forcing anything. He was a jack of all trades for the team, playing a multitude of roles depending on the situation. Hinton scored on different levels on the court, he was able to get his teammates involved and he crashed the glass at an efficient level. His big block helped seal a game for his team as well, Jones got it done on both ends of the court.
Louie Thomas (Olentangy): The big man had a nice touch from the midrange and around the hoop as well, knocking in shots at a high level from those areas. He understood his game and did not do too much when the ball was in hands. When the ball was in hands, the lefty regularly created space to get the ball up. Thomas moved well without the ball in his hands on the perimeter, setting solid screens. This young man was a catalyst for his team's success on the court.
Robert Page (Shanahan): Played with energy and effort the entire morning, not letting up and outhustling the majority of players on the court. He collected steals and got out in transition for easy points. He was talkative on the defensive side of the court, calling out the offense’s movements and making sure his teammates knew what was going on behind them. In a competitive second game, took on the challenge of guarding the other team's most complete player and played well. A key reason for his team going 2-0 on the day.
Chris Marsh (Kilborne MS): Helping his well rounded team win both games in the morning, Marsh was a solid contributor, scoring at the rim, getting his teammates involved and defending at a high level. He moved extremely well without the ball in his hands, being a good screen setter and getting open down low by slipping through the defense. He did a good job at getting his shot off at the rim, powering through contact while being able to finish as well. Chris and his team rolled on the day, giving them a confidence boost heading into next Saturday.
Jimmy Braima (Licking Heights): His explosive athleticism was on full display in week 2, helping lead his team to a 2-0 day. He completely dominated the paint area in both games, using his size and athletic advantage to overwhelm other players. On defense, he had a huge block in the second game and forced other shots to be taken away from him due to his ability to contest shots. Braima’s defense allowed his team to get easy points in transition. His team’s control over both games allowed him to throw down dunks in transition.
Jordan Wagner (Groveport): Played with poised and a business approach to both games; get the win and be in command the entire time. J-Man put his ability to get the rack at will on display in week 2, putting his head down and finishing at the rim consistently Saturday morning. He played an all-around game, scoring on his own, getting his teammates involved and totally shutting down the other squad’s most versatile players. Wagner had no flaws in his game this past Saturday, doing everything for his team in route to an unbeaten day.
Troi Watkins (Genoa MS): One of the smallest players on the court was the most consistent source of offense for his team, forcing the opposite team to give him most of the defensive attention. He started off his first game with back-to-back three pointers, showing a quick release and pure looking release. His handle was lightning quick and allowed him to get into the teeth of the defense to try and get easy shots for his teammate’s. Watkins had a really strong morning, even though his team did not get the results they were looking for.
Bryce Sims (Lakewood Junior High): Despite not getting the desired results on the day, this young man played a couple solid games and helped his teams have chances to win. His quick hands got him a steal while the other team was in transition in game one and his deflection led to his team taking a late lead in game two. He was unselfish in transition, delivering a nasty behind the back assist along with making the easy pass for buckets. Sims gave his team chances to win both games, which is all you ask from a player.
Clayton Graley (Teays Valley MS): A strong young man that played with physicality on both ends of the court, with a strong build and the frame of someone much older than him. Graley hounded the defensive glass and fought for offensive rebounds as well, keeping possessions alive for his team. He moved well without the ball in his hands, never standing still. The young man finished at the rim at a high level, being patient when the ball was in his hands and creating the space needed to get his shot up. On defense, he was versatile and was able to guard on the perimeter and in the paint as well.
Saron Stewart (Hilliard MS): Gritty, tough and a physical athlete that did much of the dirty work to help his team finish unbeaten on the day. Stewart played with high energy, sprinting up and down the court to get himself easy buckets. He rebounded at a high rate, showing good timing and the athleticism to continually tip the ball to himself while battling for the ball. A couple of tough putback layups as well that helped his team keep the opposition at a deficit. Saron was able to be a key contributor for his team without always needing the ball in his hands.
Byron Byerly: An athletic big man who held down the paint during both games for his team, resulting in two victories in the second week. He was a good rebounder who crashed the glass and looked down court for streaking teammates and easy scores. His good footwork in the post allowed him to get his shot off and he had good touch around the basket. He was a willing passer out of the post as well, hitting shooters all around the court for open jumpers. Defensively, Byerly was versatile and could guard on the perimeter and interior, picking up some big time blocks while guarding on both.