In the final four game between All-Ohio 16's and the Queen City Prophet 17U there was this 6'7" kid going to work, so I asked freshman Chris Poelinitz, who was laying on our sideline watching the game, "who is that?" He said, "that's my cousin, Ben Raymond!" I said, "Damn, basketball runs in the blood in that family!" It was my first up close look against Raymond (Toledo St. John) and he was a little better than advertised. Rated by most publications as a 4, the athletic Raymond will most likely play the 3 at the next level. He can do it all- handle, shoot, drive, and plays with the type of enthusiasm that's worthy of praise. MVP of the tournament praise on this weekend! As you can tell, I love the kid.
His compadre, Mr. Cornley (Jamaal- Brookhaven) plays with the same passion and also was very hard to contain. He is everything on the inside that Raymond is on the outside. Oh so sweet, and as I talked to him I could tell he was really trying to maintain his composure with the thoughts of his deceased leader. Jamaal and the rest of the Brookhaven family, we send our love!
Travis Walton (Lima Senior) is the x factor on this very talented team. Hey Jerry, who wins 16 v 17? I'd guess 16. Walton is awkward to describe but he is a basketball player. The type of kid that is very good at everything, but great at nothing- well, nothing but killing the opposing team! About 6'3 and very athletic, he's the kid that really hurts you when you try to stop Raymond or Cornley.
Walton and Jacob Diebler (Fostoria). Diebler does what he's supposed to do. Won't turn it over, won't miss the open shot, won't take a bad one, and won't miss the open player. He is the perfect player with this mix of talent. This team has talent and smarts. That's how they won the tournament against some very tough 17U teams. In the finals, they beat a Cincinnati AAU team that is pretty damn good. Billy Finnell (Purcell) and Harrison Brown (Winton Woods) joined the four from All-Ohio on the all-tournament team. Finnell is a heady point guard that has great floor vision and is starting to attack the basket. He has always been an above average scorer and a very aggressive defender. Justin Rey (Oak Hills), Kevin Weybright (Wyoming), Bubba Walthers (Moeller), and Thomas Sander (Elder) are the other components that make this team tick. I didn't get to watch much of their team, but Mike Price told me they all played well, and it is a good mix.
Cincinnati AAU beat a very game Cleveland Basketball Club in its final four game. Some of the state's top players were involved including Jamar Butler (Lima Shawnee). Butler's team began the tournament ranked 27th in the country by PrepStars.com. Joined by Matt Terwilinger (Troy), Raynard Sawyer (Cleveland East Shaw), Justin Orr (Cincinnati LaSalle) this team is VERY talented and will be almost unstoppable after a couple weeks of practice. Butler showed why many consider him the top player in the class. He was super, and I mean super smooth. His strength and handle makes it really difficult to put a small guard on him and big guards cant guard him, so this makes him very hard to guard!
Terwilinger was a dunking machine all weekend. He smacked glass on a dunk in the waning moments of their final four game against Cincinnati AAU and a very bad technical was called. It was a HORRIBLE call and was the talk of the tournament. Justin Orr played good too and seemed to get more aggressive as the weekend went.
In pool play, the Queen City Prophets beat CBC on a last second shot by Ed Herring (Cincinnati Taft). Herring had an incredible weekend as he stroked jumper after jumper while inspiring his team to play fierce defense. Herring got plenty of help from guards Jurrel Williams and Mark Dorris (both of Princeton). Jurrel Williams is the real. Can score the ball from the outside and to the basket. Kid plays D like Deion Sander's on the football field and on basketball floor. This three guard tandem combined with the inside play of Walt Chancellor (Hughes), Jamar Finch (Taft), and Darnell Mackey (Mt. Healthy) to take the Prophets to their first final four in two years. Kudos' to all the kids that participated in last weekend's tournament.