After spending all day Saturday watching Buckeye targets Carlton Bragg and Willie Jackson at the Midwest Elite Camp, it was on to Columbus for Sunday's Coach Vic's Open Gym. Two Ohio State targets in particular, Seth Towns and Matt Moyer, had outstanding performances among a deep pool of Ohio talent.
Seth Towns (SF, Columbus Northland / 2016):
If you ask anyone who has seen Seth Towns, the likely comparison you receive is that the Northland sophomore plays just like Ohio State freshman Marc Loving. Loving, Ohio's reigning Mr. Basketball, was a major target for Thad Matta and the Buckeyes, and should see immediate action this upcoming season. Similar to Loving, Towns is another big time target for Ohio State, and with performances like the sophomore had on Sunday, more coaches across the country are going to take notice. After a successful freshman season with the Vikings a year ago, one that included a trip to the state Final Four, Towns is primed for a breakout season as a sophomore. The 6'7 forward is incredibly smooth on the offensive end, operating best from the mid-range area, while showing improvements in his overall quickness and lateral movement over the summer. In a series of 10-minute scrimmages that often times didn't include a whole lot of scoring, Towns put in multiple performances of 8+ points, while dishing off several flashy assists. Starting as a freshman in 2012-'13, the Vikings increasingly looked to Towns to produce late in games as the season wore on, a testament to the sophomore's maturity. With offers from Dayton and Xavier, Towns is also hearing from Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Improving in every facet of his game during the offseason, Towns returns to Northland as the top player in the Columbus City-League.
Javon Bess (SG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):
After the commitment of All-Ohio Red teammate Vince Edwards to Purdue on Saturday, there is no player in Ohio's class of 2014 that is more sought-after than Bess. As interest has picked up from several high-major programs, Bess' production has also increased. Throughout the course of the open gym series, Bess has really focused on his outside shot, and has received great results. Adding that element to his skill set, one that includes a knack for slashing and scoring at a high rate around the rim, Bess continues to raise his stock among the region's best combo-guards. Scheduled to visit Kansas State on Oct. 12, interest from Michigan has picked up as Wolverines assistant coach Bacari Alexander was in house to see the Gahanna product with his own eyes last week.
Jae'Sean Tate (SF, Pickerington Central / 2014):
After missing last week's open gym, Tate returned on Sunday as impressive as ever. As has been the case for the entire summer, Tate was a major force in every aspect of the game, attacking the paint for scores, while shooting at a better percentage than past sessions on Sunday. Running with his younger brother, Jalen, and Northland guard Ty Hairston, Tate operated as a facilitator for a large part of Sunday's action, setting up his teammates for high-percentage shots. Even on a day when Tate had a handful of highlight plays, the Ohio State commit's brightest moment on Sunday was when he hit the younger Tate for a powerful two-handed slam, something Jalen doesn't do all that often. There is nothing quite like brotherly love.
Xeryius Williams (SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):
Having yet another eye-opening showing on Sunday, Williams continues to improve each game. At 6'7, the athletic forward has an all-around offensive skill set, highlighted by Williams' sweet shooting stroke. In addition to the many things he can do on the offensive end, Williams is an excellent defender, and attacks the boards to collect a great amount of rebounds. Playing alongside Ahmad Wagner at both Coach Vic's and at Huber Heights Wayne, the duo has caused an array of mismatches, as each forward compliments one another with their assortment of skills. Receiving offers from Bucknell, Kennesaw State, Kent State, and Robert Morris, Williams has also heard from Akron, Butler, Belmont, Dayton, Harvard, Liberty, Penn, and Stanford.
Matt Moyer (PF, Gahanna Lincoln / 2016):
Moyer, along with Towns, is an extremely talented prospect in Columbus' 2016 class. The athletic forward has an incredible motor, and at 6'7, is a dangerous scorer on the block, while improving his mid-range and perimeter game. Receiving interest from Ohio State, along with Dayton (offer), Detroit (offer), DePaul, Michigan, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech, Moyer has the potential to be a top three player in the state by 2016. Transferring to Gahanna for his sophomore season, expect Moyer to be one of the top forwards in the Ohio Capital Conference as the Lions look to win yet another district title.
Zach Neuenschwander (C, Fairless / 2015):
Receiving interest from Kennesaw State, Northern Kentucky, West Virginia and Wisconsin, Neuenschwander was a force in the paint on Sunday. At 6'10, the Fairless junior has an extremely large body, and flashed impressive mobility, scoring at a high-volume from both sides of the block. In a series of 10-minute scrimmages that run back-to-back with little break time in between, the big man didn't seem to tire easily, which says something about his stamina, especially given his size. Rising among Ohio's top players in the 2015 class, Zach will only continue to improve as he refines his offensive skill set.
Ronnie Williams (SG, Columbus Brookhaven / 2014):
Having his best performance thus far in the open gym series, Williams' was the top three-point shooter in Columbus on Sunday. During a two-game stretch, Williams shot 6/7 from behind-the-arc, while a vicious dunk in traffic put an exclamation point to his impressive offensive output. Throughout the course of the summer, Williams has been highly-effective shooting from the perimeter, and has also proved to be an above-average slasher. The Brookhaven senior is another combo-guard with good size, and would be a valuable addition for any program looking for a player that will give you 110 percent for 40 minutes a night.
Jaquan Harrison (SG, Columbus Africentric / 2015):
Arguably the best all-around athlete in the Columbus City-League, Harrison did a little bit of everything on Sunday. Aggressive on the drive once again, Harrison thrived around the rim, slashing for points, while also cleaning up several misses with graceful tip-ins. Adding a great deal of muscle to a solid 6'3 frame, Harrison is an intriguing combo-guard, especially with his increasing focus on his defensive skill set. Harrison has the body of a running back, and has a knack for attacking seams in the defense, which has made him a better offensive player. One of multiple returning starters for the defending City-League South champions, look for Harrison to earn All-City honors in 2013-'14.
Babe Murphy (SF, Licking Heights / 2014):
Murphy might just be Central Ohio's most underrated player for the class of 2014. After leading Licking Heights in scoring at 18 points per game in his junior season, Murphy has elevated his game to another level in the offseason. Receiving interest from Bucknell, Norther Kentucky, and Ohio, the 6'5 combo-guard is a solid offensive player, operating well from the mid-range area and on the drive. In a come-from-behind win vs. Neuenschwander & Co., Murphy slammed the door on the Northeastern Ohio opponents with a game-high eight points.
Isaiah Keene (SF, Westerville North / 2014):
One of Central Ohio's most improved players from a year ago, Westerville North's Keene had another impressive outing at Coach Vic's. At 6'5, Keene has great athleticism to go with a thick build. Shooting well from behind-the-arc, Keene was one of the leading scorers on a squad that won a majority of their scrimmages on Sunday. In addition to his scoring, the senior rebounded at a high rate, grabbing down six boards alone in his team's first scrimmage. Similar to Hutcherson, Keene is expected to be a key contributor for the Warriors in 2013-'14.
Ty Hairston (SG, Columbus Northland / 2014):
Hairston's niche for the last three years as been his surge scoring, and Sunday's showing was no different. Lighting it up everywhere from the rim, to the mid-range, to the perimeter, Hairston excelled playing alongside Tate & Co. The 6'2 guard has had a successful summer after running with Ohio Varsity on the AAU circuit, and has carried his high level of play to the open gym season. After being an integral part of a Northland team that went 28-1 a year ago, Hairston looks to have a productive senior campaign for the Vikings. Hairston is a warrior on the floor, and would be a steal for any low-to-mid major program looking for a combo-guard that can do it all.
Robert Jones (PF, Mansfield Senior / 2014):
Jones, a 6-6 forward from Mansfield, was one of the top players at his position on Sunday. With a lengthy wingspan, Jones showed expanded range from the last time I watched him play, and was also effective in the rebounding department. In the Columbus area, Jones' coming out party was a monster performance vs. Northland in January, and the forward has continued to improve. While Jones still looks to add bulk and strength, the senior would be a steal for a Division-II program looking for a developing athletic forward.
Kenny Sloan (G, Columbus Northland / 2014):
Playing alongside Tate, and Northland teammate Ty Hairston, Sloan, a reserve guard for the Vikings, had a very solid afternoon. At 6', Sloan has decent size for his position, and scored at a pretty high volume for the amount of touches he received. The senior attacked the hoop with either hand, and knocked down several shots from mid-range. On a loaded Northland basketball team, Sloan will be looked to fill a reserve role again this season, but as he proved on Sunday, he takes advantage of all the chances he gets.
RJ Hutcherson (PF, Westerville North / 2014):
After receiving an offer from Fairmont State a week ago, coaches from the Falcons basketball staff were in the gym to see the Westerville North again on Sunday. At 6'7, Hutcherson is a physical specimen on the offensive end, and his fluid mobility help tremendously in transition. The senior continued to shoot effectively well from mid-range and deeper, in addition to leaking out for several powerful slams in the fast break. As the Warriors graduated lots of talent from a year ago, Hutcherson is primed for a big time senior season.
Nate Axelrod (PG, Dublin Coffman / 2014):
The senior from Dublin has incredible foot speed and put that to use on Sunday. Proving to be the top on-ball defender among point guards in Columbus, Axelrod did a little bit of everything for his team in a series of scrimmages. Sporting an Aaron Craft-esque buzz cut, Nate's defense resembled the newly-engaged Ohio State guard, as Axelrod pestered opposing ball-handlers for 90+ feet. In addition to his defense, Axelrod shot decently well from behind-the-arc, and set up teammates Harrison and East guard Marvin Johnson for scores several times.