In the second annual Dunk 4 Cancer Shootout, eight of Ohio's most talented teams hit the hardwood in what was arguably the weekend's top event. With Dublin Coffman taking down Warrensville Heights to open action on Saturday, Cleveland Central Catholic made easy work of Levittsburg LaBrae in the following game, while Columbus Bishop Watterson dispatched Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph behind a furious second-half rally in the day's third game. In the nightcap, Jae'Sean Tate and Pickerington Central could not find a way to stop the high-paced offense of Evan Bailey's Massillon Jackson Polar Bears, losing 96-80. Let's take a look at some of Saturday's top performers.
Jae'Sean Tate (6'5 SF / Pickerington Central / 2014):
Without another consistent scoring threat on the Pickerington Central roster on Saturday, Tate carried the load for the Tigers in a disappointing loss to Massillon Jackson. Going for a game-high 33 points, Tate also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, in addition to three assists and two steals. Attacking the basket fearlessly in the second half, Tate was an absolute force around the rim, drawing foul after foul to keep the Tigers within contention for stretches in the second half. Knocking down a three from the right wing to open the game, Tate would struggle from the perimeter for the remainder of the game, but had no problem in the paint. With Ohio State assistant coach Greg Paulus in the house, Tate left another favorable impression on the Buckeyes coaching staff.
Evan Bailey (6'5 SG / Massillon Jackson / 2014):
Squaring off with Tate after a summer playing alongside the Ohio State signee in the AAU season, Bailey got the most of Pickerington Central's star in a major win for Massillon Jackson. Going for a team-high 30 points, 23 of which coming in the second half, Bailey was a killer in transition for a Polar Bear squad that had no problems with the Tigers' full-court press. Going to the line nine times, Bailey did a great job of drawing contact, and converted on all nine attempts at the charity stripe. Committed to the College of Charleston, Bailey is one of the more undervalued pieces in Ohio's 2014 class. With the ability to be a dead-eye shooter from the perimeter, Bailey has underrated athleticism and a great feel for the game. Look for Bailey to lead Jackson this season, in what the Polar Bears hope to be their first state championship since 2009-10.
Payton Aldridge (6'8 PF / Levittsburg LaBrae / 2014):
Putting LaBrae on his back in a challenging matchup vs. a talented Cleveland Central Catholic unit, Aldridge was arguably Saturday's top performer, turning in 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. One of Ohio's most complete players, Aldridge has an all-around skill set that will transition beautifully at the collegiate level when he hits the hardwood at Davidson next season. At 6'8, Aldridge is an above-average athlete with great instincts and shot selection. Battling with an array of Central Catholic defenders, Aldridge took what the defense gave him, and got his teammates involved from the jump, but didn't receive much help from his supporting cast. After reaching the final four a season ago, look for LaBrae to ride Aldridge as far as the talented big man can take them.
Matt Lehmann (6'5 SF / Columbus Bishop Watterson / 2014):
With arguably the best looking jump shot in the state of Ohio, the senior Lehmann was a major factor in Watterson's impressive victory over Carlton Bragg and Villa Angela-St. Joseph. Spotting up on the right perimeter for a great deal of Saturday's matchup, Lehmann was absolutely deadly, connecting on five three-point field goals to demoralize a spirited comeback from the Vikings in the fourth quarter. Scoring a game-high 20 points, Lehmann also pitched in a team-high five assists, helping Watterson's well-oiled machine of an offense thrive against an athletic VASJ defense. Receiving interest from several Division-II and Division-III schools around Ohio, Lehmann is another undervalued prospect in Ohio with all the tools to be a great collegiate player.
Brian Parker (6'3 SG / Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph / 2015):
Adding on noticeable muscle since an impressive summer campaign with Ohio Basketball Club, Parker continued a successful start to his junior season on Saturday. Also scoring 20 points, Parker was VASJ's lone consistent scorer, going for 13 in the second half alone. While Carlton Bragg struggled to get involved offensively, Parker carried the load, attacking the basket for scores in the paint. Parker is a skilled 6'3 combo-guard with elite strength, and is averaging well over 20 points per game for the Vikings this season. Paired with Bragg both in the high school season and AAU circuit, look for Parker to get adequate looks from every major program in the country the next two years.
Antwon Lillard (6'5 SF / Cleveland Central Catholic / 2015):
One of several skilled wings on a talented Central Catholic roster, Lillard had an impressive 20-point performance on Saturday. With great length at 6'5, Lillard is an impressive athlete with great court awareness, qualities that add to the overall strength of his game. With a commitment to rebounding, Lillard uses his long wingspan to pull down boards among taller defenders, and can get out in transition in a hurry. Hitting from behind-the-arc four times on Saturday, Lillard showed great versatility offensively, adding six rebounds and three assists. Paired with sophomores Brandon Peters and Tervell Beck, Lillard and fellow junior Montel McRae give Central Catholic coach Jon Harris an arsenal of weapons.
Yavari Hall (6'4 SG / Warrensville Heights / 2016):
Going for 29 points and eight rebounds vs. Dublin Coffman, Hall was an absolute force for Warrensville Heights in a game that came down to the wire. Slashing to the rim for score after score, Hall also showed an ability to stretch the floor, connecting on two shots from behind the perimeter. Another member of a star-studded sophomore class in Ohio, Hall is out to an impressive sophomore season. With great size for the two-guard position, Hall is an excellent slasher that is showing improvement in his perimeter shooting and overall assertiveness offensively. In a Warrensville offense that allows him to operate at a high-pace, expect Hall to put up big numbers over the next two and a half years. Receiving interest from Virginia Tech and Penn State, among others, look for Hall to develop into a definite mid-major plus prospect.
Luke Vargo (6'7 SF / Dublin Coffman / 2016):
Leading Coffman with 21 points, Vargo was especially effective in the second half of Saturday's win, reaching the free-throw line ten times. One of Ohio's more versatile sophomores, Vargo is developing into a complete player, and has all the tools offensively to be a cant-miss prospect. Showing unselfishness and quality shot selection on the offensive end, Vargo is also an impressive defender, using quality footwork and lateral quickness to give opposing players fits. Stretching the defense with perimeter shooting, Vargo can also get out and run the floor in transition, adding to a balanced offensive skill set.
Check out video highlights of Saturday's action, courtesy of the great folks at 3rdCoastHoops.
Outside of the action in Massillon, a handful of Ohio hoopers hit the floor over the weekend and turned in impressive performances. Let's take a look at some of the state's top talent from all over this past weekend.
Tyrell Carter (6' SG / Groveport Madison / 2016):
Scoring a game-high 28 points, Carter was instrumental in Groveport's 80-69 win over Central Crossing. Paired alongside fellow talented sophomore guard Tyus Ferguson, Carter has impressed thus far in 2013 with great perimeter shooting and glowing confidence. Look for Carter and Groveport's stable of guards to keep the Cruiser turnaround going for the next few years.
Ronnie Williams (6'2 SG / Columbus Brookhaven / 2014):
Leading Brookhaven to a 7-1 start on the season, Williams has been the key to a Bearcat offense that is improving with each game. Taking care of business in two games this weekend, Williams' 23 points were a game-high as Brookhaven held on to defeat Hiland, 54-46 on Saturday. Signed to Ohio Dominican, Williams is one of the top seniors in Central Ohio, and has been a valuable piece to a Brookhaven team that looks to contend with Northland once again at the top of the Columbus City-League North.
Trey Smith (6'5 SF / Delphos Jefferson / 2016):
Winning MVP of the Parkway Holiday Tournament, Delphos Jefferson sophomore standout Trey Smith was an absolute force this weekend. Going for 20 points and eight rebounds on Friday, Smith hit a buzzer-beating three to send Jefferson into the championship round on Saturday. Smith followed up Friday's theatrics with 24 points and eight rebounds vs. Finneytown to lead Jefferson to a tournament title. Yet another talented sophomore, look for Smith to continue to put up impressive numbers in Northwest Ohio.
Esa Ahmad (6'8 PF / Shaker Heights / 2015):
Out to an absolute monster start to a junior season with high expectations, Ahmad put up another impressive stat line against a quality opponent. Although Shaker Heights lost by 16 at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Saturday, Ahmad's 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks kept the Raiders in the game for a large part of Saturday's matchup. Averaging 28.9 points per game through eight games, Ahmad has put up major numbers against some of the top competition in the region, including Kentucky's top team Louisville Ballard, and defending Division-I champion, Mentor.
Seth Towns (6'8 SF / Columbus Northland / 2016):
Leading Northland to a final four berth in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Towns' 24 points were a game-high in the Vikings elite eight win vs. Potomac (MD) Bullis School. After a slow start to his sophomore season, Towns is catching fire offensively, which should only add to the success Northland is going to have this season. Receiving a great deal of interest from Michigan, among others, as of late, Towns is far and away the top sophomore in Central Ohio.