The fourth installment of Coach Vic's Open Gym brought an unprecedented level of talent into the USA Sports Academy in Columbus. While the top player, 2013 NCAA Player of the Year Trey Burke, was in the stands watching the action, Ohio State commit Jae'Sean Tate put on a monster performance once again. Let's get into the top performers from Sunday's action:
Jae'Sean Tate (SF, Pickerington Central / 2014):
Having his most explosive performance of the open gym series, Tate was all over the court on Sunday. In the opening scrimmage, the senior's 12 points were a day-high, as Tate finished four dunks above the rim in transition. While struggling to get in a consistent rhythm from the perimeter, Tate's aggressiveness to the hoop, and his finishing ability made up for his shooting struggles. Whenever Tate touched the ball, additional defenders were required, as it is incredibly difficult to contain him one-on-one. Look for the Buckeye commit to carry his reign of dominance into a senior season that may have Mr. Basketball implications.
Javon Bess (SG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):
Running alongside Tate, the dynamic duo provided for quite the theatrics on Sunday. While Bess has always been a force on the drive and transition, the Gahanna combo-guard has become quite the force from behind-the-arc, expanding his range well beyond the three-point line. In all six scrimmages on Sunday, Bess connected from three at least once, having a solid offensive outing. After picking up an offer from Kansas State just over a week ago, expect Bess' stock to continue to rise.
Esa Ahmad (PF, Cleveland Shaker Heights / 2015):
The knock on Ahmad this summer has been that the 6'7 forward from Cleveland doesn't dunk as much as he should. All criticisms should be silenced after Ahmad's performance in Columbus on Sunday. Once again leading a talented Cleveland squad with Kipper Nichols, Ahmad rocked the rim with a vicious one-handed alley-oop slam from RJ Jones midway through the third scrimmage. While Esa has the ability to operate from the perimeter, the Shaker Heights forward was deadly from the block on Sunday, another testament to his versatility.
Kipper Nichols (SF, Lakewood St. Edward's / 2015):
I'm still having trouble understanding why Nichols has flown as hard under the radar as he has thus far in his career. After an impressive summer with King James Shooting Stars, Nichols has carried that momentum into the open gym session. Sunday's performance was no different. The Lakewood St. Ed's forward was again a force on the drive, and excelled with his mid-range shot. Playing alongside V.J. King and Luke Kennard in AAU has forced Nichols to establish an all-around game given the scoring prowess of the star forwards. The junior from Cleveland once again was a force on the defensive end, and helped create opportunities in transition.
Manny Powell (PG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):
The Gahanna lightning bolt had arguably his top performance of the open gym circuit, leading a talented Columbus squad featuring Bess and Tate. Powell scored at his highest volume Sunday, pouring in eight points, including a game-winning three to down Seth Towns and a Northland-based squad in a decisive fifth scrimmage. The senior's defensive performance helped his team get out and run, and culminated in an array of alley-oop slams between Bess and Tate. While Powell is undersized according to traditional standards, the guard has proven that he can play with the best of the best.
Seth Towns (SF, Columbus Northland / 2016):
A day after taking an unofficial visit to Michigan, Towns brought the high-power offense in the Wolverines 50-point victory on Saturday, to Coach Vic's on Sunday. At 6'7, Towns is incredibly smooth for his size, and has blossomed into one of Columbus' best pure scorers. The Northland sophomore was equally effective on the drive, and from the perimeter, again showcasing just how versatile he can be. After a freshman season with the Vikings that saw Towns hit big shot after big shot in the district playoffs, look for Seth to explode onto the scene after improving his game during the summer.
Ahmad Wagner (SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):
The All-Ohio Red forward was a key element in a deep run for his Dayton based squad on Sunday. At 6'7, Wagner is an excellent rebounder and can score in a variety of ways. Matched up with Tate in Sunday's final game, Wagner's four points and three rebounders were crucial in an otherwise sloppy contest. The junior is an excellent athlete, who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability, but also bang down low in the post. According to NY2LASports, Wagner holds offers from Kennessaw State, Robert Morris, and Toledo.
Shemar Waugh (PG, Columbus Northland / 2014):
If you're looking for the ultimate lead guard that can get out and defend the perimeter, while making all the right decisions on the offensive end, Shemar Waugh is your guy. While the Northland senior didn't score nearly as much as the aforementioned players, Waugh's defensive prowess on Sunday easily earns him a spot on the list. Leading a squad featuring Viking teammates Seth Towns and Ty Hairston, Waugh's control of the offense helped his team win several key scrimmages in Columbus.
Derek Pardon (PF, Cleveland VASJ / 2015):
Similar to Waugh, Pardon is another player that does all the little things that tend to make a major difference. The 6'9 forward from Villa Angela-St. Joseph was the top rebounder in Columbus, picking up where he left off after a dominant performance on the boards at AAU Nationals in July. In Cleveland's first scrimmage of the day, Pardon put together a well-rounded stat line, going for six points, seven rebounds and three blocks. The junior uses his long wingspan to his advantage on the defensive post, staying grounded and rarely biting on the fake to alter a high-percentage of attempts. According to Verbal Commits, Pardon holds offers from Fordham and Kent State, while receiving interest from Dayton, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Other Notable Performers:
- Asante Patterson (SG, Dayton Thurgood Marshall / 2015)
- Houston Smith (SG, Columbus Africentric / 2016)
- Matthew Moyer (PF, Gahanna Lincoln / 2016)
- RJ Jones (PG, Cleveland Benedictine / 2015)
- Ty Hairston (SG, Columbus Northland / 2014)
- Nate Axelrod (PG, Dublin Coffman / 2014)
- Derrick Daniels (PF, Dayton Thurgood Marshall / 2016)
- Kyle Ahrens (SF, Versailles / 2015)
- Matt Lehman (SG, Columbus Bishop Watterson / 2014)
- James Manns (SF, Columbus Marion-Franklin / 2016)