While last Sunday's Coach Vic's Open Gym offered the star power of Trey Burke, this week's edition had a much different feel. With Jae'Sean Tate, Esa Ahmad, Kipper Nichols, and others not in attendance, several underrated prospects in the 2014 class stole the show on Sunday. Let's get into the day's top performers.
R.J. Hutcherson (PF, Westerville North / 2014):
Playing behind a core of talented seniors on one of the state's top teams a year ago, Hutcherson, a 6'7 power forward, is primed for a breakout senior season. With a complete offensive skill set, R.J. was arguably the top player in attendance on Sunday, scoring in a high volume from the block, the perimeter, and in transition. Hutcherson attracted the attention of several college coaches in attendance, utilizing his length and athleticism to get around his defenders for scores. In a second round matchup vs. Javon Bess and Matthew Moyer, Hutcherson had his best performance of the day, scoring 10 points and grabbing down four rebounds. Resuming a reserve role a year ago, Hutcherson's best performance of the year came in a win vs. Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 7, when the forward poured in 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Xeyrius Williams (SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):
Williams, a 6'7 small forward, was one of Sunday's top scorers, scorching the nets from behind-the-arc alongside Wayne teammate Ahmad Wagner. Williams is a very long and athletic wing, who excelled in transition on Sunday, putting together an impressive offensive performance. At 6'7, Williams is a difficult matchup for most small forwards with his length, and too quick for most power forwards with his quickness. In a matchup vs. Bess' squad, Williams' 11 points, nine of which coming from three, were a game-high. Williams is receiving looks from Dayton and several Mid-American Conference programs.
Javon Bess (SG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):
Regarded as one of Ohio's top players, Bess proved it with his performance on Sunday. With the absence of usual teammate Tate, Bess carried the load for his squad, shooting effectively from deep for the third consecutive week. In the three games that I saw him, Bess hit at least one triple, in addition to scoring a day-high 11 points vs. Hutcherson & Co. With offers from Dayton, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Toledo and Xavier, I expect Bess to continue to receive additional high-major looks in the coming weeks as the nation's top programs look to notch commitments.
Derek McKeithen (SG, Columbus Northland / 2014):
Having his best performance in months, Northland's high-flying McKeithen was consistently good on Sunday, scoring in a variety of ways. As usual, McKeithen attacked the basket with vigor, finishing a high percentage of his attempts. In addition to his work off the drive, the Northland senior was also effective from three, knocking down several triples. After starting on a state final four team in 2012-'13, McKeithen will be looked upon to help bring Northland back to the Schottenstein Center in 2014.
Ahmad Wagner (SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):
Similar to his teammate Williams, Wagner, at 6'6, is another difficult matchup on the wing. Finishing the break with several powerful slams, Wagner, who plays with Esa Ahmad for All-Ohio Red, impressed with his athleticism once again. Already blessed with impressive size and athleticism, Wagner should continue to improve as he develops his offensive skill set. The junior was a lockdown defender on Sunday, blocking several shots and forcing multiple steals to facilitate opportunities in transition. According to NY2LASports, Wagner has received offers from Kennesaw State, Robert Morris and Toledo, while gaining interest from a few high-major programs.
Jaquan Harrison (SG, Columbus Africentric / 2015):
Arguably the best athlete in the Columbus City-League, Harrison put it all together on Sunday, leading his squad to the title game. Showing a high level of activity on both ends of the floor, Harrison put his ridiculous vertical to use, notching an array of rebounds, and blocking several shots in transition and from the weak side block. Like many of the top performers on Sunday, Harrison's best performance came vs. Bess & Co, when the Africentric junior posted a stat line of four points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. After falling just two points short of an upset over Northland in the '13 Columbus City-League Championship, Harrison and the Nubians are poised for another South division championship this upcoming season.
Zac Neuenschwander (C, Fairless / 2015):
The tallest player in attendance, Neuenschwander, at 6'10, had a solid outing in Columbus. With a thick frame, the Fairless junior had no problem carving out space in the paint, using his size for points and rebounds around the rim. In addition to his work on the glass, Neuenschwander blocked and altered a high percentage of shots on Sunday, proving to be the top big man in Columbus. Still a relatively unknown prospect, expect Neuenschwander to receive an increase in interest due to his size alone.
Akil Cornish (SG, Columbus Africentric / 2014):
After leading Central Ohio in three-point shooting percentage this past season, Cornish shot lights out from deep once again on Sunday. Playing alongside Harrison, the Africentric senior excelled as a spot-up shooter, knocking down triple after triple in a deep run to the day's championship game. With Harrison, big man Ulmer Manzie, high-flying sophomore Houston Smith and transfer guard Chase Brown, Cornish and the Nubians look to have one of Columbus' top teams in 2013-'14.
Babe Murphy (SF, Licking Heights / 2014):
After a successful summer playing for Ohio Varsity in AAU action, Murphy was a force in Columbus on Sunday. At 6'5, Murphy is ideal size for a combo-guard, and has shown an ability to really turn it up on the offensive end. After showing flashes of just what he can do in the summer, Murphy finally put it all together at Coach Vic's. Saving his best performance for Bess & Co., Murphy's eight points were a game-high as his team wrapped up a surprising victory. One of the best players in Licking County, Murphy is primed for a big time senior season.
Rodney Culver (SG, Pickerington Central / 2015):
Improving every time I see him, Pickerington Central's Culver was one of the top young players on Sunday. With great athleticism, Culver has continued to improve his offensive game, most notably with his three-point shot. As Tate and the Tigers look to make another run at a district title, the junior Culver will be expected to resume a greater role this upcoming season. In a win over Hutcherson's team in the final scrimmage of the afternoon, Culver led all scorers with six points, including a powerful one-handed dunk off the fast break.
Isaiah Keene (SF, Westerville North / 2014):
Under a similar situation as Hutcherson, Keene, a 6'6 forward, is also expected to be one of the Warriors' top contributors in 2013. The athletic forward, paired with his teammate Hutcherson, put together an all-around performance on Sunday. In the day's opening scrimmage, Keene finished the break with a monstrous one-handed slam in transition, showcasing the type of versatility he has within his skill set. While Hutcherson took care of the scoring vs. Bess & Co., Keene facilitated the Westerville offense, leading all players with four assists. As the Warriors graduate four of five starters from a year ago, look for Keene to pick up an increase in his recruitment as his playing time increases as well. Check out Keene's dunking ability below as the senior put on a show for me in warmups.