Raymond, Cornley Among Ohio's Top Juniors

Toledo St. John's B.J. Raymond and Columbus Brookhaven's Jamelle Cornley went head-to-head during the recent state final four at OSU's Value City Arena. Each has more than a passing interest in the Buckeyes. Click here for more on each of these fine Ohio prep basketball prospects.

Ohio State is still waiting to see what will happen with Detroit schoolboy standout Malik Hairston, who is still deliberating between OSU, Kansas, UCLA and Michigan.

But the Buckeyes also need to have one eye trained on the junior and sophomore classes as well. OSU has as many as two scholarships it could offer this spring to seniors or junior college transfers. On top of that, OSU will have at least three scholarships to offer to current prep juniors next year.

Two players who would have to be high on OSU's list would be Toledo St. John's 6-6 wing forward B.J. Raymond and Columbus Brookhaven‘s 6-5 power forward Jamelle Cornley. Bucknuts.com had a chance to visit with each player during the recent state final four at OSU‘s Value City Arena. Here are updates on these two fine juniors:

* B.J. Raymond -- Raymond was listed as the top junior in the initial edition of Ohio High in December. He then went out and had a fine junior year, averaging 19.5 points per game for a St. John's team that ended up 23-5 after dropping the Division I state title game to Hamilton. Raymond had 26 points, five rebounds and three blocks in a state semifinal win over Columbus Brookhaven.

Raymond said he was interested in Ohio State.

"I am definitely looking at them," Raymond said. "They're one of my picks. I just want to wait until the summer to sort everything out. The Big Ten is a big thing in Ohio, obviously. That is one of the premier conferences in the U.S."

Raymond's teammate, 6-7 junior forward Zach Hillesland, was already offered by Notre Dame and verbaled to the Irish.

"He's happy and it's the right spot for him," Raymond said. "I support him 100 percent."

OSU could have a keen interest in Raymond if Hairston goes elsewhere: They both project as wing forwards.

"I would like to be a three," Raymond said. "But I think I could play two, three or four. It doesn't make a difference to me. I just want to help whatever team I play for to go as far as we can."

Raymond admitted during the tournament he had no idea where things stood with his various colleges of choice -- he was focused only on his team's season. But it appears, besides OSU, that he is also looking at Boston College, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Xavier.

St. John's avenged a loss to Brookhaven in last year's state semifinals.

"We left the court last year with a lot of regrets," Raymond said after his team's win over Brookhaven.

St. John's loses high scoring guard Brian Roberts, who signed with Dayton. But with Raymond and Hillesland back, look for the Titans to make a run at the state title again next year.

* Jamelle Cornley -- Recruiters are wondering what to do with the 6-5, 235-pound Cornley, who may be an inch or two too small to play power forward at the major college level.

But nobody can question Cornley's heart or production. A year after finishing as the state runner-up, Cornley willed the Bearcats back to the state final four. Brookhaven lost outgoing seniors Andrew Lavender and Brandon Foust as well as junior Everett Spencer, who transferred to a prep school in Indiana.

Cornley averaged 24.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as a junior. He hit 66 percent of his shots from the floor and helped Brookhaven post 20 straight wins before the state semifinal loss ended the Bearcats‘ season at 24-3. Cornley had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss to Toledo St. John's.

As Cornley met with reporters after that loss, he admitted he needs to broaden his game and become more of a force from the wing.

"I have to expand my game," he said. "I can't just be limited to playing in the post. I have to work on opening my game up a little bit and have some more options. I'm going to put all of my time in and work on being a three man (wing forward). The doctors don't know if I'm going to grow any more. I know I have to establish myself as a perimeter guy.

"There aren't too many undersized post guys who are successful. Maybe somebody like Charles Barkley comes to mind. It's not for everyone. You have to have a lot of heart to go down there and battle and be physical."

Cornley discussed his plans for the weeks and months ahead.

"I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and start lifting and training for next year," he said. "I will be at the Nike Camp (in July). Plus, I'll be at some AAU events. I just want to show everybody I can do some other things. That's why I have to develop my perimeter game."

Cornley ticked off an impressive list of schools he is looking at. It included Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Nebraska, Cincinnati, Marquette, Louisville, Texas and Florida.

Regarding Ohio State, Cornley said, "I'm not sure where things are at right now. I like them, but I know they want me to grow some more."

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