This season is really no different. Ohio again is loaded with top-tier studs. The only difference being, you might have to look a little further down the line to find it.
In part one of a two-part series, Bucknuts will take a look at some of the talent within the state of Ohio that Ohio State is showing early interest in. Part two will cover all of the out-of-state underclassmen they've taken serious looks at.
As is always the case with recruiting, this is a very fluid process. Names will surface that are not on this list, just as certain names on the list will fade into obscurity. But to the best of our abilities, we will paint an accurate portrayal of the players the coaching staff will have their eyes on, and by association, who the recruitniks should watch.
Without further adieu, we start with the junior prospects in the state of Ohio.
JUNIOR CLASS (CLASS OF 2005)
By en large, the class of 2005 is a relatively weak class in comparison to those before and after it. Jamelle Cornley and Ben (B.J.) Raymond are the only two upper echelon players. But, neither is without their weaknesses. As of this moment, there are really only three other prominent names mentioned more than others—Korrey Spates, Zach Hillesland, and Derrick Brown.
The pickings are slim for true post players in next year's class. The best post in Ohio is without question 6-8 Jason Miller. Although Miller, of Hamilton High School, is probably more of a natural power forward, Hoopscoop editor Chris Johnson tells us Miller has potential.
"He's a left-hander who is a very hard worker," Johnson said. "He runs really well, but the knock on him is that he's not real explosive."
The other post player being evaluated is 6-10 Matt Adler. Adler is from Cleveland St. Ignatius and is a true center.
"He is definitely more of a middle-man," Johnson said of Adler. "He runs pretty well too, but he needs a little more strength and a little more toughness."
There is no question that the headliner of this group is Jamelle Cornley. He is an undersized player (6'5 ½) who is your prototypical blue-collar player. Hillesland is another guy who does the dirty work you ask of him.
Johnson tells us that Cornley (pictured left) is full of tenacity and his intangibles set him above the rest of the players in his class.
"He's undersized, but the very fact is that no one in his class is as fierce a competitor as he is," Johnson said. "No one plays harder and no one is more effective at their position than Jamelle Cornley."
Cornley is currently averaging 30 points and 16 rebounds a game for Brookhaven. Cornley's size is a small concern, and Spring AAU play against taller defenders could alleviate any of those concerns. His perimeter skills are limited at this point, but his toughness more than makes up for that.
Zach Hillesland is a projected power forward who needs absolutely no refining his shot. The 6'7 player from St. John's High School in Toledo possesses much of the same intangibles as Cornley.
"Zach is actually a 3-4 combo, but he's an extremely good defender," Johnson said. "He has the ability to guard any position, at least in high school. He's quick enough to guard point guards, and he's got extremely long arms in order to defend centers."
The other power forward worth watching is 6-8 Ross Morin from Cincinnati Princeton. Morin is a skilled player who is able to score inside or outside.
"He has a great shooting touch for a power forward," Johnson said. "He needs to toughen up inside, and he needs to be a little more aggressive."
According to Johnson, this group is probably the most talented position in the state, especially the junior class. Much of the evaluations and availability of a scholarship for any of these players will depend on the decision of Detroit star Malik Hairston.
B.J. Raymond (left) is a 6'6 wing from Toledo St. John's. The high school teammate of Hillesland, is currently the most highly regarded of a trio of talented wings within the junior class. Johnson currently ranks Raymond as the top junior in the state.
"B.J. is a real good three-point shooter," Johnson said. "He has a good body and good strength. He needs to improve on his ball-handling, and work on creating his own shots a little more."
The second of the trio is 6'6 Chris Knight of Cincinnati Withrow. Knight is an emerging threat, whose breakout season is turning some heads. "He reminds me of former Indiana standout Rickey Calloway," Johnson said. "He and Brown could both end up being better than Raymond."
Brown is the third of the three talented wings; 6-6 Derrick Brown, that is. Brown is a left-hander who plays for Dayton Chaminade-Julienne.
"He just turned 16 years old, so he's young for his grade," Johnson said. "He could grow into the power forward position. He's a very good outside shooter. He had a very nice game against Matt Terwilliger in the Ohio Scholastic play by play tournament at the Schottenstein Center last month."
Another name to keep an eye on is 6-6 Nate Linhart. The product of Gahanna-Lincoln has grown two inches in just over a year, and his stock has been rapidly soaring.
"He's developed a real nice outside shot," Johnson said. "He's grown into a nice player."
Currently, the only SG in Ohio that is worth watching is 6'2 John Wolf of Cincinnati St. Xavier. Wolf is a scoring guard who can also shoot.
"He has real good shooting range but he needs to be more consistent with his shot," Johnson said. "He has been known to take some bad shots."
Korrey Spates, a 6-0 point guard from Warrensville Heights, and 6-2 Travis Walton (left) of Lima Senior are the main two point guards currently on the radar.
Spates is a terrific scorer with a nice shooting touch. Right now his biggest problem seems to be playing team-oriented basketball.
"He doesn't do a very good job of getting his teammates involved," Johnson said. "He's a very explosive guard but sometimes he looks to score too much."
Walton is a very different player. Johnson said that Walton could work on his shot a little more.
"Travis is a tremendous defender," he said. "He's still developing a perimeter game. He needs to work on his jump shot."
SOPHOMORE CLASS (CLASS OF 2006)
The sophomore class is much better than its predecessor. The headliner is 6'5 shooting guard Daequan Cook of Dayton Dunbar. Here we take a look at what Chris Johnson calls "The Dandy Dozen Sophomores".
1. Daequan Cook – 6'5 SG – Dayton Dunbar
Cook is an explosive scorer who Johnson believes is the most talented player in Ohio regardless of class. Cook averaged 15 a game as a freshman before breaking his wrist, and averaged over 20 a game for his AAU team. He currently averages over 23 points a game as a sophomore for the Dunbar Wolverines.
2. David Lighty - 6'5 WF – Cleveland Villa-Angela St. Joseph
Lighty is a two-sport athlete who very well could wind up playing football in college. As of now, he's reported to be a strong Michigan lean.
3. James Dews – 6'4 SG – West Chester Lakota East
Dews (left) is a terrific player who Johnson believes is the "best pure shooter in Ohio regardless of class".
4. Adrian Graves - 6'3 SG – Cincinnati Hughes
5. JuJuan Jones – 6'4 WF – Sidney
6. Heath White – 6'0 PG – Cincinnati Winton-Woods
7. Marcus Johnson – 6'2 SG – Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's
8. Chris Poellnitz – 6'3 PG – Maumee
9. Brandon Russ – 6'6 PF – Cincinnati Hughes
10. Josh Chichester – 6'6 C – West Chester Lakota West
11. Raymour Morgan – 6'6 PF – Canton Mckinley
12. Jamar Howard – 6'3 SG – Cincinnati Western Hills
OTHER SOPHOMORES TO WATCH BY POSITION
Brent Leitniker – 6'8 – Lancaster
Rich Semerau – 6'8 – Rocky River Lutheran West
Kirk Huelsman – 6'8 – St. Henry
Jeff Cumberland – 6'6 – Columbus Brookhaven
Devron Bussey – 6'4 – Akron North
Chris Mcknight – 6'4 – Lancaster
Rickey Jackson – 6'6 – Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas
*Nate Davis – 6'2 – Bellaire
*Rudy Kirbus – 6'4 – Cleveland St. Ignatius
*Both likely to play football as they are upper-level QB prospects
FRESHMEN CLASS (CLASS OF 2007)
This year's freshmen class probably without question the deepest and most talented haul in years. Johnson says it's easily the best class in Ohio. Even without transfers O.J. Mayo (left) and Bill Walker of Cincinnati North College Hill, this class is still very deep. But you put these two superstars in the making, and you have an incredible group.
Although Mayo and Walker have stolen the headlines, 6-8 Aaron Pogue of Dayton Dunbar, 6-7 African power forward Christian Siakam – soon to be eligible for Cinncinati Hughes, 6-9 center Dallas Lauderdale of Solon, and 6-5 Billy Allen of Hamilton all are potential difference makers at the next level as of this stage of their careers.
Pogue is currently sitting out because of academics as well as an in-grown toenail in his foot. He is a clone of Sean May who is a little beefier.
Siakim, the African foreign exchange student, is not currently eligible to play by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, but is an extremely talented forward who will be a star for Hughes upon his clearance.
OTHER FRESHMEN TO WATCH
Scott Moviel – 6'9 C – Lakewood St. Edwards
Brandon Woods – 6'6 PF – Cleveland Benedictine
Nate Miles – 6'4 WF – Toledo Libbey
Jon Diebler – 6'9 WF – Fostoria
Dante Jackson – 6'4 WF – Greenfield Mcclain
Chris Wright – 6'5 WF – Trotwood Madison
Daitwan Eppinger – 6'5 WF – Cleveland Central Catholic
Elijah Allen – 6'4 WF – Columbus Desales
Alex Kellogg – 6'4 SG/WF – Columbus Desales
Ben Martin – 6'5 WF – Cincinnati Lasalle
Ira Brown – 6'5 SG – Toledo St. John's
Bobby Austin – 6'2 SG – Cincinnati Lasalle
Ron Steward – 5'8 PG – Columbus Eastmoor Academy
Nick Gross – 5'8 PG – Akron Hoban
Troy Cherry – 6'0 PG – Columbus Beechcroft