This past Saturday, I was able to go over to the Hoop on the east side of Columbus for about a half-dozen games to check out the annual Midwest Future Stars tournament, hosted by Jerry Watson and the All-Ohio AAU program. Although much of the state and region's top talent was in North Carolina for the Bob Gibbons T.O.C., this certainly had its perks.
Obviously in the time I was there, I was only able to watch teams in their pool play. Honestly, the competition wasn't exactly top-tier. However, a couple of particular players continued to show their mettle for me personally.
Here is the brief rundown on what I saw Saturday, and also a few other notes from around the gymnasium.
*James Dews was absent from pool play on Saturday because he was completing the last 24 hours of his official visit to Miami (Fla.). However, we did hear that he was back for play on Sunday and played remarkably well. Dews has grown about an inch since last spring and now stands a legit 6-4. He is also much quicker than he has ever been. Still, we feel he needs to continue working on getting to the hoop more often and not settling for jump shots. As far as recruiting, Miami, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Dayton, and still possibly Michigan will be the teams vying for his services.
*Josh Chichester, as he has seemingly done every time I've seen him, looked a little better this time out. He got off to a rough start early and was not really a factor for All-Ohio. However, once he asserted himself, he went off to the tune of 14 points and nine rebounds against Chicago's Reach Legends in the full game I saw him. He also added at least six or seven blocked shots and had a few impressive baseline jams. It's looking more and more, though, like Chichester will play football first and foremost. He is ultimately hoping to end up at a place like Ohio State and still have the chance to play basketball as well, but he still has Illinois and Notre Dame high on his list regardless.
*Jon Diebler showed both some of the talent that has created such a stir and also some of the same bad habits he has adapted this spring on Saturday. On one hand, playing for both the 17-under and 16-under teams, he was hitting a good deal of his outside shots once he caught fire. Additionally, he showed a lot of explosiveness off the dribble in taking the ball to the hoop. He even showed a pretty good knack for pulling up in the lane and hitting his mid-range shots. What I didn't like to see, however, is his continually feeling the need to fade away on every shot, or sometimes just taking incredibly off-balanced jumpers. I believe this happened due to having so many shots blocked earlier in the spring against better competition, and he needs to start using good judgment against this competition and let the game come naturally to him.
*Chris Knight is a name that recruitniks should keep an eye on over the next year. Knight is a 6-6 senior wing from Cincinnati Withrow that has decided to attend prep school this year. Because of his extra year, he is able to play AAU and he looked terrific on Saturday. Knight was aggressive on the glass, picking up nine rebounds, but he also finished well in traffic and looks a lot stronger this year. I think Knight can be a high-major D-I type of player with a little bit of improvement in the perimeter department.
*Nate Miles will be heading off to Oak Hill Academy next season to improve himself both academically and athletically. The competition will obviously be a lot better, but how ready is he? On Saturday he played pretty well with the 17-under team, although he isn't quite yet comfortable enough to take control. It was apparent, however, that playing with the 16-under team is not doing him much good unless it's against a better team. He proved he could hit open jumpers all day long if necessary, and he showed more quickness than I've even seen in the past. However, Miles could be developing some bad habits defensively, trying to settle for getting steals and not getting back to play actual man-to-man defense. In a win in the 16-under division against the Newark Rams, Miles had a cool 27 points, including 19 in the first half alone. Currently Miles is committed to Xavier. If he sticks out that commitment, Xavier will ultimately have a great player when it's all said and done.
*Kosta Koufus is a kid that you need to remember if you haven't done so already. He's a 6-9 PF from Canton (Oh.) GlenOak, that plays for the King James Shooting Stars' 16-under team. He's a big body with enough range to step outside and hit a 3-pointer. Unlike a lot of fours nowadays, Koufus is a PF that is not afraid to bang down low. Especially for a European kid, he is the antithesis of "soft". In the game I watched, Koufus had 18 points and eight rebounds to go along with three blocked shots. He is quickly emerging as a top prospect in Ohio in the 2007 class, and Ohio State already likes him an awful lot.
*Delvon Roe is probably the best freshman in the state of Ohio, with apologies to Yancey Gates and B.J. Mullens, who are both very, very good. Roe is a legit 6-7 or 6-8, and is very strong and active down low. His biggest weakness to this point is that he doesn't have very good range and isn't really comfortable shooting it from beyond 10 or 12 feet. Roe had 12 points and four rebounds. He also needs to work on his free throw shooting. In a game on Sunday against All-Ohio, we hear he went off for 25 points. We heard that teams like Duke and North Carolina are the early favorites for Roe, but there's a long way to go before any of that really takes shape. Ohio State will probably be involved, but there's a varying level of interest being shown by Ohio State depending on who you talk to.
One other note from this weekend -- we hear that Ohio State continues to aggressively pursue 6-10 PF Brian Carlwell of Maywood (Ill.) Proviso East. Illinois and Michigan State continue to lead Arizona, Virginia, and others for the talented big man. Ohio State began recruiting Carlwell back at the end of April and could still seemingly get involved in a serious capacity.