COLUMBUS, Ohio -- At the midway point in the season, it's time to check in with the 270 Hoops staff on all things basketball. We asked our staff 10 questions to get their thoughts and opinions on the area and what they're seeing. Let's take a look below.
Zach Fleer: London. The Red Raiders are rolling at 10-2 and a force in the CBC and Division II. They're a young team led by sophomores but I like the progress they've made and it's the first time London basketball has been relevant since I began my career. For me, the most surprising player has been junior Derrick Hardin from Worthington Christian. He has tripled his production from last year and has been one of the best knockdown shooters in the area.
Jason Morrow: It’s not even close, honestly. Canal Winchester has been the surprise team this year. Their win over Newark sealed that up for them last week, and they have been scoring at an impressive rate. The Indians definitely will be an interesting team to keep an eye when the seeding and tournament draw comes around.
Jake Spegal: The most surprising team so far this season has been Canal Winchester. Behind the play of Brady Snyder and Bilal Sow, the Indians are still perfect heading into the ladder half of January.
Darkell Curry: Canal Winchester has been really impressive. I watched them last year and had no idea that they’d be this good. Dallas Patrick has really stepped up from being the young guy on those Final Four teams, to being a top five scorer in the area at 26.7 points per game.
Nathan Perkey: Thomas Worthington has been a team that has really surprised me on the season so far. Before the season started I wasn’t sure is their sophomore trio of Jalen Sullinger, Isaac Settles, and Maurice Collins would be able lead the Cardinals they way they have so far this year, as they have already doubled their win total from a season ago.
Andy Hoben: The most surprising player this season for me has been Bobby Crenshaw for Newark. I’ve seen him play twice, and every time I watch him he just gets better and more dominant as a high-flying finisher and energy player. He’s gone from just starting to play organized basketball last year to being a leader on coach Quackenbush’s Wildcat squad and his trajectory only looks up from here.
Connor Harr: Canal Winchester
Zach Fleer: Jack Sawyer. I expected Ben Roderick, Von Cameron Davis, CJ Anthony, etc to dominate like they have so far. Didn't expect Jack to be THIS good THIS soon. He's a top five player in the area regardless of class to me and is highly efficient in what he does. He also plays in the toughest conference in the area and has been a standout in each game.
Jason Morrow: Ben Roderick has been filling it up at a truly impressive rate to start the season, with multiple 30-plus point games and keeping Olentangy Liberty in that discussion of top tier teams as we go through the middle of January. His recruitment is going to continue to grow as the Patriots season hits the homestretch.
Jake Spegal: The most impressive player in my eyes has been Olentangy Liberty's Ben Roderick. Despite coming off of an ACL tear last season, he's the leading scorer in Central Ohio so far this year, scoring an alarming 30 points per night.
Darkell Curry: Ben Roderick since he is averaging 30.2 points per game and has Olentangy Liberty sitting pretty atop the OCC Buckeye. Most people not familiar with Central Ohio hoops would believe he’s coming off of a serious knee injury.
Nathan Perkey: Jack Sawyer has been the most impressive to me so far this year, Sawyer has a unique combination of size, strength, and skill that only a select group of players in the entire country have. He dominates opponents by scoring at all three levels, and has a deadly mid-range game that is practically unstoppable.
Andy Hoben: The most impressive player this year to me has been Javohn Garcia from Pickerington Central. I went out to see him take on North early in the season and he absolutely shredded them all game, and has been the leader of the Tiger squad that again looks like it’s in a great spot to make a deep run in the D1 playoffs.
Connor Harr: Currently, the most impressive I have seen this season is Hilliard Bradley guard Matt Allocco. His 21 point performance against Delaware Hayes was phenomenal. A true guard at 6-foot-4, Allocco may have the best defensive IQ I have seen from a player this season.
Zach Fleer: Hilliard Bradley. They don't have the depth and overall talent from top to bottom that other elite teams have, but it doesn't matter. That coaching staff prepares like no other and those players have a special bond that is really rare these days. I love the way they defend and share the ball. No guy on that roster cares how many points they score just as long as the team wins the game and I think that's special.
Jason Morrow: Canal Winchester has been the most surprising, but Dublin Coffman has been the most impressive so far, staying unbeaten through an OCC-Central that has a banana peel in the road every now and then. Dominiq Penn has played outstanding so far and this may just be the year for the Shamrocks to end the stigma of struggling in the regional tournament.
Jake Spegal: The most impressive team to me so far has been South High School. The Bulldogs are the best team in D2 without a doubt, and also have a great D1 win over Walnut Ridge.
Darkell Curry: Pickerington Central since they have been steam rolling teams thus far.
Nathan Perkey: Columbus South has really impressed me so far this season, the Bulldog’s sit at the top of the Columbus City League South division standings at 12-0 (7-0), and show no signs of slowing down. One thing that really impresses me about South is their backcourt depth, Tre Watkins, Taquan Simington, Trevell Adams, and Marcus Johnson are all producing at a very high level this year so far. If South takes care of business on Friday against Walnut Ridge, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish the regular season with an undefeated record.
Andy Hoben: The most impressive team thus far has been Canal Winchester. Undefeated up to this point, the Indians recently dished out Newark’s first league loss in forever last week and with sharpshooting senior Brady Snyder as well as efficient post man Bilal Sow leading the squad, they might just have a chance to make a run.
Connor Harr: Easily it has been Dublin Coffman, because of how deep and well coached they are. Dom Penn is a dynamic lead guard with one of the best handles around and shooting stroke. Seniors Luke Bartemes and Derek Van Vlerah have also been impressive. Coffman’s high powered offense and willingness to defend are big reasons why they are undefeated along with their top tier talent.
Zach Fleer: Walnut Ridge vs. South. Overtime thriller complete with controversy. It was great to see a City League gym packed to the gills and two teams giving it all they had. Von Cameron Davis dominated with 35 points in the first matchup, so it'll be interesting to see if he has a similar outing in the rematch on Friday.
Jason Morrow: Walnut Ridge-South takes the cake for this one. How often do you get a game that features a two-minute official review in high school? In all honesty that has been the best finish I’ve seen in a long time, and the first three quarters were pure insanity in their own right. The tiebreaker situation in the City League makes for must-see TV any time the top two teams in a division go head-to-head.
Jake Spegal: The best game that I've covered so far would have to be Bexley and Worthington Christian last Saturday night. It came down to the wire, but Ryan Callahan's 23 point and 15 rebound flu game performance was too much for the Warriors to handle, falling 59-57.
Darkell Curry: Walnut Ridge vs. South.
Nathan Perkey: South vs. Walnut Ridge Part I was a game I will never forget. The teams went back and forth all game long and both teams had a high level of emotion. After a controversial buzzer beater by Marcus Johnson, the Bulldogs went on to win in overtime. I look forward to watching South vs. Walnut Ridge Part II on Friday.
Andy Hoben: The best game that I’ve covered so far is Granville vs. Johnstown. An incredibly low-scoring contest, Granville edged the Johnnies 35-32 in double overtime, made possible by a crazy 35-footer at the buzzer from Blue Aces junior Brody Ley to tie the game and send it into OT.
Connor Harr: Probably would be Thomas Worthington versus Ringwood. Even though it was a total blowout, the Cardinals have a ton of young talent in the backcourt mixed with an experienced frontcourt of Ben Wright and Kyler Block. An incredibly fun team to scout.
Zach Fleer: Dominiq Penn. I'm a huge fan of Dom's game and he's extremely fun to watch when he gets in a rhythm from behind the arc. Coffman's offense is a thing of beauty when the ball is moving and guys are knocking down shots, and it usually starts with Penn.
Jason Morrow: I haven’t been to a Gahanna game yet this year, but seeing all the highlights of Sean Jones spinning and crossing up defenders is an awesome sight, knowing what he did in The Intro and Fall League this past offseason. Jones has plenty of clicks on his name from his MSHTV camp days and other events, but combined with head coach Tony Staib’s prowess for developing great guards, he will become an even better player than what he is now, which only means the sky is the limit for the Lions freshman.
Jake Spegal: My favorite player to watch is Pickerington Central's Javohn Garcia. One of, if not the best unsigned senior in the area, Javohn puts on a show night in and night out for the Tigers. Turn me up!!!!
Darkell Curry: Javohn Garcia. I've always been a fan of his game since he was a sophomore so it’s crazy how much better he has gotten in the time since.
Nathan Perkey: My favorite player to watch is Taquan Simington from Columbus South. “Bink” is a lightning quick guard that attacks off the dribble. He has remarkable athleticism and is big reason why South is a top team in the state for Division II.
Andy Hoben: My favorite player to watch is Jack Sawyer from Pickerington North. The sophomore is just so smooth on the court and plays incredibly hard from tip to buzzer. Watching him and knowing that he is equally, if not more, dominant on the gridiron makes watching him before he goes off to play high-major college football even more impressive.
Connor Harr: My favorite player to SCOUT would have to be Marcus Johnson from South. When you combine his athletic tools and fluidity, I truly believe he is just scratching the surface of what he can be as a player. He’s already a phenomenal defender both on and off the ball, continuing to refine his offensive game could make him the best long term prospect in his class next season.
|Name||Central Catholic League||City League North||City League South|
|Jake Spegal||DeSales||Centennial||Walnut Ridge|
|Darkell Curry||DeSales||Beechcroft||Walnut Ridge|
|Andy Hoben||DeSales||Beechcroft||Walnut Ridge|
|Zach Fleer||Olentangy Liberty||Canal/Newark||Hilliard Bradley|
|Jason Morrow||Olentangy Liberty||Canal/Newark||Hilliard Bradley|
|Jake Spegal||Olentangy Liberty||Canal/Newark||Hilliard Bradley|
|Darkell Curry||Olentangy Liberty||Canal/Newark||Hilliard Bradley|
|Nathan Perkey||Olentangy Liberty||Canal Winchester||Hilliard Bradley|
|Andy Hoben||Olentangy Liberty||Newark||Hilliard Bradley|
|Connor Harr||Olentangy Liberty||Canal Winchester||Hilliard Bradley|
|Zach Fleer||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Jason Morrow||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Jake Spegal||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Darkell Curry||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Nathan Perkey||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Andy Hoben||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Connor Harr||Dublin Coffman||Pickerington Central|
|Name||Licking County League||MSL-Buckeye||MSL-Cardinal||MSL-Ohio|
|Zach Fleer||Johnstown/Granville||Fairfield Union||Harvest Prep||Grandview Heights|
|Jason Morrow||Johnstown/Granville||Fairfield Union||Harvest Prep||Columbus Academy|
|Jake Spegal||Johnstown/Granville||Hamilton Township||Harvest Prep||Columbus Academy|
|Darkell Curry||Johnstown/Granville||Hamilton Township||Harvest Prep||Grandview Heights|
|Nathan Perkey||Johnstown/Granville||Fairfield Union||Harvest Prep||Columbus Academy|
|Andy Hoben||Johnstown/Granville||Fairfield Union||Harvest Prep||Bexley|
|Connor Harr||Johnstown/Granville||Fairfield Union||Harvest Prep||Grandview Heights|
|Zach Fleer||Highland/Centerburg||Clear Fork||Jonathan Alder/London|
|Jason Morrow||Highland||Clear Fork||Jonathan Alder|
|Jake Spegal||Highland||Clear Fork||Jonathan Alder|
|Darkell Curry||Highland||Clear Fork||Jonathan Alder|
|Nathan Perkey||Highland||Clear Fork||Jonathan Alder|
Zach Fleer: Bilal Sow of Canal Winchester. He's averaging around 18 points and 10 rebounds per game while leading the area in field goal percentage. I love how efficient he is and the way he plays the game. High IQ wing forward who can make shots, rebound, score inside and especially block shots with his long wingspan. An under the radar team to keep an eye on is Logan. They have a big-time player in Bo Myers and just went on the road and beat Pickerington North by 23.
Jason Morrow: Canal Winchester and Bilal Sow. His breakout performance in that Newark win was huge for the Indians, giving them a post presence that finished around the rim with consistency. Dan Lee from Dublin Jerome is another name to keep an eye on, shooting the ball at an impressive clip for a Celtics team that is really hitting their stride at the right time.
Jake Spegal: Christian Gillilan of Hilliard Davidson and Jayse Miller of Amanda-Clearcreek are two players that have caught my eye this season. Gillilan is a 6-foot-7 senior forward who can stretch the floor and also do work inside. Miller is an extremely high IQ junior guard who's stock will continue rise with more good showings in the Mid State League.
Darkell Curry: Northland sophomore forward Jason Foster is one to watch. He is still finding his groove after a season ending knee injury last year.
Nathan Perkey: One under the radar team that has caught my eye so far this season would be Hilliard Davidson, now that junior post Gage Keys has returned from injury, Davidson should be a team to keep an eye on for the second half of the year.
Andy Hoben: Two under the radar players from the same team are freshmen Keylan Williams and Brandon McLaughlin from Heath. Though Heath isn’t very good this year, the freshmen have shown that they have what it takes to be two of the premier playmakers in the LCL for the next three years and are both intriguing prospects going forward.
Connor Harr: A pair of under the radar prospects I really like. First would be Isaac Settles from Thomas Worthington. The sophomore is a true 6-foot-5 guard with an encouraging frame and a smooth shooting stroke both spotting up and pulling up. I think he has loads of future potential. The second prospect would be sophomore Javion Williams from Briggs. He continues to produce despite excruciating team circumstances. A solid athlete with a strong motor, Williams has been a double double machine in the City League this season.
Zach Fleer: I'm sticking with my preseason pick of Dublin Coffman. The Rocks have eight guys who can pass, dribble and shoot. If they can stay out of foul trouble, they're a matchup nightmare for most teams. They're more than likely going to have to beat someone like Hilliard Bradley or Pick Central to get to state, so it'll be interesting to see if they finally break through this year.
Jason Morrow: The Division I regional champion is going to come down to who can stay the healthiest with the majority of their roster still intact come March, and right now it has to be Dublin Coffman. They are as athletic as any Coffman team I can remember, and they will only continue to get better as Dominiq Penn’s game grows. Hilliard Bradley and Pickerington Central are obviously right there in the mix, but with the loss of Pugh for Bradley and Towns/Rodgers for the Tigers, they are definitely missing some key pieces that would change the equation at Ohio Dominican in mid-March.
Jake Spegal: I'm taking Hilliard Bradley to win the region in Division I this season. I believe the Jags will get it done this season despite the loss of Jack Pugh.
Darkell Curry: Still rolling with Pickerington Central from my preseason pick.
Nathan Perkey: My pick to win the region in Division I is Dublin Coffman, even if a team figures out how to contain Dom Penn, Coffman has a plethora of other scholarship level talents that can win them big games.
Andy Hoben: I’m gonna go with the easy answer on this one, but I’ll pick Pickerington Central to win the region. With the phenomenal program they have built over the last decade as well as the constant influx of high-impact transfers they get year in and year out, the Tigers look poised to repeat as regional champs.
Connor Harr: Dublin Coffman
Zach Fleer: Jeff Quackenbush (Newark) and Jack Sawyer. Quack is extremely good at maximizing his big men and I think Sawyer would be a monster in his system. That turnaround jumper is deadly and nobody has a matchup for it in the area.
Jason Morrow: I think I would have to take an existing combination because winning late in the year has not been much of a problem for this coach over the years. Tony Staib and Sean Jones would be my pick because you get a head coach that has great success with guard play over the years as mentioned above, and an ability to win when the chips are against them (Google “2010 Northland Gahanna”). I really feel like this partnership would be an excellent foundation for the future for any new program.
Jake Spegal: I would take Hilliard Bradley's Brett Norris as my head coach and Olentangy Liberty's Ben Roderick as my star player.
Darkell Curry: I'm taking Coach Quackenbush from Newark and Ben Roderick as my star player.
Nathan Perkey: I would have Columbus South head coach Ramon Spears and Pickerington Central guard Javohn Garcia. Spears is a phenomenal coach, and Garcia in my opinion, he is the best all-around player in the area. The unsigned senior is a smart and unselfish player that elevates the players around him.
Andy Hoben: I would choose coach Jeff Quackenbush from Newark and Jack Sawyer from Pickerington North. Quackenbush runs a system predicated on smart, confident offensive play and tough pressure throughout the whole game on defense, which has worked out in a big way for the Wildcats over the last few years. Adding Sawyer, a heady, dominant inside-out presence, to coach Quack’s system would be a scary sight for area teams.
Connor Harr: I would choose Sean Jones and Hilliard Bradley coach Brett Norris. Bradley has been the highest IQ team that I have seen and that is a testament to tremendous coaching. Jones is an amazing point guard as a freshman, his willingness to distribute and make passing reads well beyond his years are the exact elements I want in my lead ball handler. Plus his elite quickness, hands and speed would be a nightmare to add to an already lockdown Hilliard Bradley defense, which is due in large part to the scheme drawn up by the Jaguar coaching staff.
Zach Fleer: I'm sending Myles Martinez of Centennial to Dublin Coffman. Martinez is exactly what Coffman needs and would be a seamless fit for the Rocks. At 6-foot-7, he can rebound, score on the block, defend on the perimeter, run in transition and knock down perimeter shots. Putting him at the five would be highly entertaining with what the Rocks already have.
Jason Morrow: I like Zach’s idea with Myles Martinez, but I am going to spin it and send him to Hilliard Bradley. Martinez’s presence down low would help give the Jaguars some extra size that they just lost with the injury to Jack Pugh. The Ohio Dominican baseball commit would really excel in their system, getting some open looks to knock down mid-range jumpers and forcing teams to not help off of shooters like AJ Mirgon and Keaton Norris.
Jake Spegal: If I could take one player from an unranked team and add them to a Division I contender, I would put Westland's Kalil Camara on Dublin Coffman. If the Rocks had Camara, Dom Penn, Luke Bartemes, Derek Van Vlerah, Keaton Turner, etc., the showtime would only be more exciting than it is now.
Darkell Curry: St. Charles guard Jared Frey to Upper Arlington. The freshman has never seen a shot he didn’t like and Upper Arlington is a good team that could use an offensive boost. This marriage would be great and fun to watch.
Nathan Perkey: I would add Chillicothe wing Jayvon Maughmer to Hilliard Bradley. With Bradley’s star wing Jack Pugh out for the season, Maughmer would be able to replace him for the rest of the year, I also think adding a skilled 6-foot-4 wing would allow Bradley to match up better with Dublin Coffman and Pickerington Central.
Andy Hoben: I would add Hunter Antritt from Liberty Union to Canal Winchester. While Brady Snyder handles much of the on-ball duties for the Indians, adding another athletic offensive weapon that can slash and spot up when given touches as well as be an energizer on both ends in whatever role he plays, like Antritt would do if he was traded, might be just what Canal needs to mix things up in D1.
Connor Harr: With the loss of Jay Rodgers and Sam Towns due to transfer ineligibility, Pickerington Central is in need of another guard who can shoot, handle and create. This is where I would enter Sean Marks from Olentangy. Marks is one of the most efficient lead guards in the area, an elite shooter from three and a reliable free throw shooter. Adding Marks to the Tigers gives them a reliable ball handler to take pressure off Javohn Garcia. Marks would add an element to the Central offense that would make them virtually impossible to defend at the high school level.