Springboro was an exciting place to be on Saturday as some of the state's top teams (16 to be exact) were on the hardwood for 12 hours of non-stop action.
We were there for just about every minute of it to file this in-depth report on what we saw, who the top players were, and how the teams played.
The day was split into four sessions, with four teams each session. Each session lasted for three hours, with each of the four teams playing each other once each.
Each game lasted about an hour each, with two games going on at once. Each game was split into playing two 18-minute halves with a running clock—stopping only for a timeout.
Ohio State fans had interests in each of the four sessions. Here is the breakdown.
Session One—10 AM to 1 PM (Canton McKinley, Cincinnati Elder, Centerville, Middletown)
Despite not having junior star Raymar Morgan due to an injury, Canton McKinley showed why they are one of the favorites to win the Division I state championship this season.
Transfer Ricky Jackson, who came to McKinley from Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most athletic players in the entire state.
Jackson was playing hard-nosed basketball and doing so in an exciting fashion. Aside from his several highlight dunks, Jackson showed a little more of an outside shot to his repertoire, which already included the dunks and aggressive rebounds.
McKinley also received contributions from Todd Brown and Jason Snow. Snow showed a very dangerous outside jump shot while Brown did a nice job defensively and made more than a few nice entry-passes.
The Bulldogs didn't exactly play inferior competition, either.
Cincinnati Elder is probably one of the most annoying teams anyone could play, and it showed. Elder is a very disciplined team who has several good shooters and a mental toughness that not many teams have.
Above all else, Elder played solid defense and showed the ability of making open jumpers. Jared Sommerkamp, a 6-4 senior, did a nice job down in the post. Josh Walters, Craig Carey, and Billy O'Conner all played good basketball on the perimeter.
Centerville, much like Elder, played competitive basketball in large part to several 3-pointers. Junior Justin Johnson looked like a good shooter with a nice inside-outside game.
The fourth and final team, Middletown, on the surface looked more like a group of junior varsity kids playing out there, but actually played deceivingly tough basketball.
Session Two—1 PM to 4 PM (Lakota West, Dayton Dunbar, Reynoldsburg, Cin. Roger Bacon)
Dayton Dunbar was obviously the class of the second session, although they were given strong tests from all three teams.
Cook, a 6-5 junior and Pogue, a 6-8 sophomore, were both extremely streaky. In the first game against Roger Bacon, Cook went 9-of-12 from the field for 21 points. He also had four rebounds and two assists.
Pogue added eight points to that first game. However, Cook and Pogue both struggled often in their last two sessions against Reynoldsburg and Lakota West, although it seemed to me like they were just pressing a little too hard.
Mark Anderson, a talented 6-5 junior, was also off his game on Saturday as he was taking few too many poor shots and missing a large percentage of them.
Dunbar was definitely more talented than most, if not all, of the teams in attendance, and if the offense shows more consistent flow, they will be tough to beat this season.
Lakota West is searching for a perimeter game but has a gem underneath in 6-8 junior Josh Chichester.
Chichester is very mobile and rather coordinated for his size. Although somewhat lanky, he's deceptively strong and very athletic. Chichester is a good scorer out to about 15 feet and also is a terrific rebounder. Lakota West received good contributions from J.C. Casper and Todd Mayberry as well.
Austin Covington and Evan Washington, a pair of talented guards who are a senior and junior respectively, played solid basketball keeping Reynoldsburg in nearly every half that they played.
Roger Bacon, much like Elder and Centerville, is a scrappy team with some good fundamental basketball players. Nick Duffy, a 6-7, junior, and 6-4 Pete Knecht, a senior, were a very good inside combination.
Session Three—4 PM to 7 PM (Springboro, Beavercreek, Lakota East, Cincinnati Western Hills)
Because of transportation issues, Western Hills didn't arrive until after 5:00. Additionally, because of personal hunger issues, I wasn't able to see Beavercreek play.
However, I did get to see Lakota East play against Western Hills.
When watching Lakota East, as always, your first impression is usually "Wow, Dews has a nice shot." On Saturday, that was again the case, but East's Nick Kohs, a 6-6 senior, also impressed me.
Kohs is a solid rebounder who can rise up above the rim for a few pretty nice dunks. He is a work-horse in the paint and has pretty nice quickness about him. He also does a nice job defensively.
Dews is a bona fide scorer, but if East can consistently get that sort of performance as they got from Kohs and the rest of their team on Saturday, they will be a strong team in the Greater Cincinnati area this season.
Western Hills played somewhat out of control at times although they are a very quick team. Jamar Howard, one of the top juniors in the state of Ohio, is a legit 6-3 or 6-4 and is tough to stop on his way to the rim.
The only real knock on Western Hills might be that they don't play very smart at times. Too often they rely on their quickness and don't work for good shots.
Springboro center and 6-6 junior Jake Ballard is a decent basketball player, but it was his physique that appealed more to me in terms of football.
As one of the top linemen in the state of Ohio for 2006, Ballard's impressive quickness and versatility on the hardwood impressed me as potential strong suits for a perfect Ohio State prospect.
He's very well conditioned, but his foot speed seems to be something that Jim Tressel would crave.
Session Four—7 PM to 10 PM (Sycamore, Sidney, Cincinnati Hughes, Cincinnati St. Xavier)
My only focus for this last session, specifically for just the one and a half games I stayed for, was to see how Hughes' stars Adrian Graves, Yancey Gates, and Christian Siakim played.
My first impressions were favorable of all three, especially Gates.
Gates is a 6-8 220-pound freshman and is one of the top players in the entire country in the class of 2008. He is also a good friend with Ohio State commitment, B.J. Mullens.
Physically, Gates is far mature than most kids his age. Only being 14 years old, he's very coordinated and he's also very strong. He is aggressive enough to hit the boards but talented enough to stroke 3-pointers.
His mid-range game and ball skills need work, but he has plenty of time (four years) to do just that. He will be big-time by the time he's a senior, if he's not already. He and Mullens are going to be playing on the same AAU team together beginning this spring.
Siakim is the 6-7/6-8 African native who came to Hughes last season, but is just now about to get his eligibility cleared by the OHSAA. Although he's not officially cleared, being just a scrimmage, he was allowed to play.
And play he did.
Siakim, although just a sophomore, is a man-child. He's very strong with the ball, and he's extremely aggressive in calling for it as well. Once he puts the ball on the floor, he's still a bit clumsy, but if he gets his man on his hips, it's over with. He projects to be a solid rebounding threat as he develops.
I've seen Graves in the past, and I'm still very high on him. Graves is somewhat sporadic, in both shooting and decision-making, but he's very athletic and is tough to stop on the dribble.