POWELL, Ohio -- With Battle for the City coming and going this week, it's time to reflect back on Tuesday's Buckeye Nissan Underclassmen Challenge.
This is the first of a three-part series from the event that hosted more than 85 of the area's best underclassmen.
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Jamir Simpson (6'4 WG / Pickerington Central): Simpson took home MVP honors in the sophomore group . He was able do a bit of everything. Simpson was very active on the glass almost finishing both contests with double doubles. Simpson impressed with his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact on a consistent basis. Simpson is a big guard who got his teammates involved and stretched the floor with his three-point shooting.
Tahleik Walker (6'1 PG/SG / Pickerington Central): Fresh off a season where he started every game in Pickerington Central's final four run, Walker showed that he could do a lot more than just lock down on the perimeter. He was able to efficiently score on his man at all three levels. At times he and fellow Tiger Simpson just took turns scoring at will. Walker is one of several intriguing young guards for Pick Central that should take this team to the brink of a state championship once again next winter.
Julian Binford (5'8 PG / Eastmoor Academy): Binford put on show a at Battle For The City. The sophomore is one of the very best ball handlers in the 2020 class, as he keeps the ball on a string unlike many others. He was automatic from beyond the arc and used his quickness to get the the rim and finish or create for others. On an Eastmoor team that graduates basically all production from the 2017-18 season, it will be Binford's team next season and he should be able to carry the load with performances like he had on Tuesday.
Markeece Brown (6'2 CG / Bloom-Carroll): Explosive guard who was fearlessly attacking the rim all night on Tuesday. Brown tried a few Russell Westbrook-esque posters that had the gym buzzing. He consistently got to the rim and drew a lot of fouls. The sophomore showed the ability to knock down the three ball as well, which makes him a difficult cover on the perimeter when he is in the zone. Brown keeps a tight handle on the ball and has natural ability that is almost as good as anyone in the class. The key for Brown will be consistency, as he has all the tools in the world to be a big-time prospect, it will just be up to him to get there.
Damian Davis (5'10 PG / Bexley): A term to describe Davis is "walking bucket." Davis gave off a few 'oohs' and 'aahs' as he was able to score in isolation over and over again. He showed the ability to score at all three levels finishing extremely well around the rim. Davis keeps a tight handle and is one of the hardest guards to stop one-on-one. Look out for the Bexley guard to be among the leading scorers in the MSL next year after a breakout sophomore season in which he was the key cog in the Lions' offensive attack.
Marcus Peaks (6'5 WF / Watkins Memorial): The 6-foot-5 forward was everywhere on the floor on Tuesday. He totaled five blocks and altered plenty of shots in his two games. The athletic Peaks was a load on the glass as well. As Peaks continues to grow, adding skill to his already near elite athleticism will take him to another level as a prospect.
Kaveon Ross (6'5 WF / Hamilton Township): Every year there are breakout prospects that just smack you in the face as a scout with how quickly and fiercely they come onto the scene. Ross has been that prospect in the 2020 class since this past season began. The 6-foot-5 wing forward was a very close second for Sophomore MVP behind Simpson. He spent the majority of the evening well above the rim with highlight dunks. Ross dominated around the basket and on the glass. Ross is a very intriguing prospect to keep a eye on, as he led Hamilton Township to an above .500 record and should help the Rangers compete for an MSL title next season alongside fellow sophomore Marquis Moore, who missed Tuesday's event with an illness.
Taquan Simington (6'1 CG / South): Simington is a fierce competitor. His uber athleticism was on full display as he threw down a plethora of alley oops and other dunks. He was able to get to the rim and finish strong . He is one of the areas better on ball defenders as well, as Simington plays an aggressive brand of ball and has one of the classes top motors. Simington had a coming out party this season as a sophomore and should develop into one of the City League's very best prospects next winter.
Xavier Cannaday (6'0 CG / Westerville South): Cannaday displayed excellent perimeter defense on Tuesday. He was able to turn defense into instant offense, finishing strong in transition. Look for Cannaday to take a larger role next year for Westerville South. The sophomore is a great fit for Westerville South's dribble drive offense, while his defensive perimeter ability is a perfect fit for the type of basketball that Ed Calo coached teams play.
Elijah Meredith (6'3 WF / Olentangy Orange): Meredith cleaned glass all night long. He was very aggressive on the interior finishing some tough shots. Meredith sat behind a few seniors this past season and should be one of the OCC's top breakout juniors next winter.
Jaden Arledge (6'6 C / Whetstone): The 6-foot-6 post was dominant in his first game. He showed good touch out to 15 feet. Arledge did his best work on the glass, totaling 12 points and 10 rebounds in the opening round.
Nate Griggs (6'0 PG / Delaware Hayes): Griggs has a good knack for scoring. That was on full display in the first game where he poured in 14 points. Griggs does a great job of using his elusive dribble to free himself up for open looks. He just has a way of getting to his spots and converting. Nate averaged 15 points per game as a sophomore for Delaware Hayes and was one of few guards in the area to give Hilliard Bradley trouble on the perimeter.
Abdi Gelle (6'4 WF / West): Gelle was one of the event's top hustle players. The 6-foot-4 forward did the dirty week in the paint and on the wing for the City League. Gelle corralled a number of 50/50 balls, hustled for rebounds and when the opportunity presented itself, Gelle knocked down open threes at a high percentage. A hard-working player with some decent upside, Gelle is one of the more underrated prospects in the City League and will have a chance to put up big numbers at West next season as a junior.