The 9th grade division of the All-Ohio Central Basketball Tournament run by Jerry Watson was loaded with some of the states highest ranked freshmen. Rickey Jackson (Louisville Aquinas), Jajuan Jones (Sidney), James Dews (Lakota East), and Chris Polenitz (Toledo St. John's) were all there. Others that rose to the occasion included Todd Brown (Canton McKinley), Kevin Carr (GroveCity-CentralCrossing), Adrian Graves (Hughes), Josh Chichester (Lakota West), and Brandon Russ (Cincinnati Hughes).
All-Ohio, led by Polenitz beat the Queen City Prophets led by Dews and Graves in the championship game. Polenitz clearly showed that he deserved his number one ranking by several scouting services. The 6'2-3" guard showed ball skills, exceptional vision, and a true understanding of the game to lift his team to the title. The Prophets got off to a bad start and had to fight to get the game to it's close 48-42 end. Tournament director Jerry Watson said you'd see these two teams battle again, and that is definitely true.
Here's an evaluation of the best kids I saw play:
Chris Poelinitz (All-Ohio)
This kid has what it takes and the smile of a champion. It was good to meet his mother and Uncle as they were constantly heard shouting "Truth" during the championship game. He is definitely the truth and showed it in the biggest game. As I told our kids (Queen City Prophets), there are some kids that are truly hard to guard because they have all the ball skills in the world and can shoot. Poelinitz fits this description.
Rickey Jackson (NEO Storm)
Very athletic kid that has that bounce. Looks like about 6'6 Rickey is tough on the glass and can get to the basket while playing above the rim.
JaJuan Jones (The Dayton Squad)
Love the hairdo kid. Smooth skinny guard that probably needs to be more aggressive. More skilled than most kids 6'5 and looks like he can shoot it too. Nice soft touch on that jump shot. Potential is limitless.
James Dews (Queen City Prophets)
Hey, this kid came to the gym to check out the competition and decided he wanted to play. Can shoot with anyone- any class. Probably the best shooter in the class, even better than Polenitz. Also can get to the rack and see the floor. Definitely deserves mention when you're talking about the best in the class.
Adrian Graves (Queen City Prophets)
I think John Stovall of Prepspotlight called him "raw". I think the Michigan Basketball Association who got bounced in the final four would call him killer. Super talented guard that can flat out score. Works hard without the ball and a great midrange game. While underrated, Graves introduced himself to the class at this tournament.
Josh Chichester (Queen City Prophets)
The most exciting player at the tournament. Had a variety of dunks, tip ins, rebounds, soft baseline jumpers, and left many leaving the tournament talking about his pro potential. At 6'6-7" with long long arms Chichester left a long lasting impression on the heads of some pretty good players.
If there's a kid that you think I left out, just write me or leave it on the message board. I'll get back to you in a hurry- promise!