OHSAA Final Four Recap

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio High School Final Four took place over the weekend. Numerous high profile players stepped up to help their teams. Here is a recap.

Ohio crowned their four state champions over the weekend. In state where the talent is clearly on the rise, it was an excellent showing for some of the nation’s best, while others really started to emerge.

Committed stars came to play

Even though his team went down in somewhat surprising fashion in the semi-finals, Ohio State signee A.J. Harris played well for Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar. Harris scored 19 points on 8-14 shooting and dished out five assists in his team’s one point loss.

On the game Harris showed his very impressive quickness along with his excellent athleticism finishing around the rim well despite being only 5-foot-9. Also, and maybe more importantly, Harris also looked improved as a shooter. At his size he has to develop into a better shooter from the outside, and so far he seems to be doing that.

In leading their Cleveland (Ohio) Villa-Angela St. Joseph team to a state title, the inside duo of Carlton Bragg and Dererk Pardon showed well for themselves.

Pardon, who is headed to Northwestern next season, recorded a double-double in both games and showed an improved ability on the offensive end, while continuing to be very good rebounding and blocking shots. He needs to continue to get stronger and fill out, but he is someone who could definitely develop nicely for Chris Collins in Evanston.

Bragg had a pretty impressive showing 22 points and 8 rebounds in the semi-final win, and then was far quieter in the final, but still showed the athleticism and skill at his size that makes him such an intriguing long term prospect. He might be a bit inconsistent early on at Kansas, but the physical tools are there to be special.

Players started to emerge

Class of 2017 center Kaleb Wesson showed signs of being very good last summer, but he seems to have taken his game to a whole new level this year. Wesson is nearly 6-foot-8 with excellent hands and great touch around the rim and from the foul line. He is a big bodied kid who plays down low, but also he has the ability to hit in the mid-range. This will be a big summer for Wesson who should become one of the top low post prospects in the Midwest.

Wesson’s older brother Andre also had an excellent event. Andre Wesson is not like Kaleb in that he is a 6-foot-4 wing, but the kid can flat out get buckets. Look for mid-major schools to take a long look at him this summer.

Also there is 2016 forward Dantez Walton. Walton has grown to about 6-foot-6 and has an impressive inside-out game. He battled the VASJ frontcourt and gave them problems all game long. Walton is a solid athlete who also can shoot with length. He might be someone who creeps onto some more radars as he runs with King James this summer.

Other standouts

Garfield Heights fell in the semi-finals but their duo of Frankie Hughes and Willie Jackson both impressed. Hughes has to improve his handle a little more, but at 6-foot-4 with the ability to hit shots and nice athleticism. The upside is huge with Hughes, and he also will rebound well from the guard spot. It could be a huge spring and summer for him running with All-Ohio Red.

Hughes’ running mate is Jackson. Jackson is a bit of an undersized power forward, but he plays with tremendous toughness and a high motor. When Jackson plays within himself and focuses on playing in the mid-range and in he is very good. At times he tries to do things he can’t, but his toughness and athleticism definitely play.

Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne won the division I title and did it on the back of a balanced and loaded roster. In the finals D'Mitrik Trice, an unsigned senior, really came to play scoring 19 points. Also 2016 guard Rodrick Caldwell was excellent leading Wayne in the semis and scoring another 14 in the finals.

Beyond those two, Xeyrius Williams and Trey Landers, both of whom are headed to Dayton, each showed upside. Williams is a long and rangy 6-foot-8 forward who has skill out to the three point line, and Landers is a tough and athletic wing who knows how to produce.

Also the Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward duo of Kipper Nichols and Derek Funderburk had their moments. Nichols had 20 points and 9 rebounds in his final high school game and is one of the best wings left unsigned in the country. Funderburk scored 13 points on 5-9 shooting, and looked the part of a high upside power forward.

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