As 21 of Central Ohio's top basketball seniors took the floor on Sunday at New Albany High School for the District 10 All-Star Game, Northland senior guard Derek McKeithen separated himself from the rest of the competition in a monster performance. Scoring a game-high 24 points, McKeithen led the Columbus City League to a big win over a talented Ohio Capital Conference squad, 94-79.
With a focus on applying great on-ball pressure, the City League was intent on running, and running often, a gameplan that was effective, as Marion-Franklin coach Scott Williams' team forced 11 steals. Jumping out to a 21-6 lead behind the scoring of McKeithen, West senior guard Charles Holland and Teays Valley guard Tyler Primmer, the City League squad would retain that lead for the rest of the first half, going into halftime with a 42-33 lead.
While Westerville Central small forward Eric James, a Duquesne commit, and Gahanna Lincoln point guard Manny Powell had big second half performances for the OCC, the City League's group of athletic guards proved to be too much down the stretch. As the final minutes turned into a dunk show, West's Holland and Westerville Central's James provided for several powerful jams as the City Leagued pulled away for a 94-79 victory.
Derek McKeithen (6'4 Senior SG / Northland / unsigned):
Coming off the bench for the City League squad, McKeithen's 24 points equaled the OCC's total for its entire starting lineup. Scoring in a variety of ways, McKeithen was far and away the top perimeter shooter on Sunday, while helping the City League get out into transition by forcing a game-high three steals. At 6'4 and 175 pounds, McKeithen is one of the state's better athletes, and has all the tools to be a productive player at the next level. McKeithen also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, and was a major factor in the City League's up-and-down tempo that led to the win.
Akiean Frederick (6'6 Senior PF / Franklin Heights / unsigned):
The unanimous breakout player of the year in Central Ohio, Frederick greatly increased his stock with a 16-point, 15-rebound performance on Sunday vs. an athletic City League squad. Providing the OCC with 10 points in the first half, Frederick locked down the paint, grabbing down an array of offensive rebounds, leading to second-chance points for the OCC. At 6'6 and roughly 220 pounds, Frederick is a fundamentally-sound post player with great footwork, while also improving his finishing ability greatly throughout the season. Still looking for a college program, Frederick projects to land at the NCAA Division II or junior college level at the end of the school year.
Dymiere Finch (6'2 Senior PG / Walnut Ridge / unsigned):
Bouncing back from a disappointing end to Walnut Ridge's season, Finch played his best basketball in months on Sunday. Going for 15 points and four assists, Finch attacked the basket early and often, highlighted by a streak where Finch scored or assisted on four-consecutive possessions. At 6'2 and 170 pounds, Finch has a natural ability to attack the rim, and can be a skilled finisher in the lane when he is fully dialed in. Paired with Marion-Franklin guard Dametrius Walker, the duo provided for some highlight moments in leading the City League to a win. Unsigned at the moment, Finch is a player that is a sure bet to academically qualify with a 3.4 grade-point average and score of 20 on his ACT.
Eric James (6'5 Senior SF / Westerville Central / committed to Duquesne):
Arguably the most talented player in the gym on Sunday, James had a productive performance, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds, all highlighted by several powerful slam dunks. One of the more versatile scorers in Central Ohio, James stretched the floor with pinpoint perimeter shooting, and also had no problem attacking the rim for scores. Committed to Duquesne, James has continued to build on a successful offseason running with All-Ohio Red prior to a senior campaign in which James helped lead Westerville Central to a district runner-up finish.
Charles Holland (6'3 Senior SG / West / signed to Tiffin):
The area's back-to-back leading scorer, Holland performed at a high-level on the biggest stage for the athletic two-sport athlete, finishing with 13 points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Highlighted by a powerful windmill slam toward the end of the second half, Holland left a favorable impression on the packed crowd at New Albany. After a senior season in which Holland flew under the radar, all while averaging 26 points per game, the Tiffin signee had a chance to prove himself vs. the area's top competition, and certainly reaffirmed the praise that I've given the West guard throughout the season. A tremendous athlete, Holland will play both football and basketball at Tiffin next season, as Holland was arguably the area's top wide receiver last fall, scoring 37 total touchdowns on the gridiron for West.
Manny Powell (5'10 Senior PG / Gahanna Lincoln / unsigned):
One of the more undervalued guards in Central Ohio, Powell had a big game for the OCC squad, going for a team-high 18 points on a variety of impressive drives and pull-up jump shots. Running alongside District 10 player of the year Javon Bess this season, Powell & Co. led the Lions to a district runner-up finish in 2013-14. While Powell may not be the biggest of guards, the 5'10 senior makes up for it with heart and hustle, two qualities that were on high display on Sunday. Receiving interest from several Division II programs, Powell would be a great addition late in the recruiting process.
Dametrius Walker (6'3 Senior PG / Marion-Franklin / unsigned):
A rather unheralded guard in Central Ohio, Walker had a productive evening in leading a guard-heavy City League squad to a 15-point win. Going for 10 points and a pair of assists, Walker showcased masterful ball-handling skills and natural scoring ability coming off the bench for the City League team. Receiving his first Division II offer from Mercyhurst University last week, Walker should continue to pick up interest as schools are rounding out recruiting classes and filling scholarships. Long-armed and athletic, Walker has great vision and is a killer in transition.
Isaiah Keene (6'4 Senior SF / Westerville North / unsigned):
The final player in double-digits for the OCC, Keene had a productive evening going for 11 points and seven rebounds. At 6'4 and 190 pounds, Keene is an athletic combo-guard that got his first real taste of varsity action as a senior, as Westerville North graduated an accomplished group of seniors in 2013. Able to score in a multitude of ways, Keene found his way into the lane, slashing and picking up offensive rebounds for second-chance points. Arguably his greatest offensive strength, Keene continued to shoot well from the perimeter, knocking down a deep triple late in the second half. Also unsigned, Keene is a Division II level talent, and would be a great addition for any program looking for a versatile wing with potential.
Nate Jameson (6'3 Senior SF / Eastmoor Academy / unsigned):
Active on the glass en route to eight points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Also unsigned, Jameson is a Division II talent that has received interest from several schools in the GLIAC.
RJ Hutcherson (6'7 Senior PF / Westerville North / signed to Fairmont State):
Scored seven points and pulled down four rebounds. At 6'7, Hutcherson is lengthy and athletic, and can play up to three positions on the floor.
James Curry (6'1 Senior PG / East / unsigned):
True point guard with good vision and passing ability, finished with eight points and three assists. Led the area in assists this past season, leading East to its best record since 2009-10. Unsigned, Curry projects to the Division III/junior college level.
Shemar Waugh (5'11 Senior PG / Northland / signed to Ohio Dominican):
Mr. Do-It-All for Northland the past two seasons, Waugh had another productive game, scoring four points, while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. A top on-ball defender in Central Ohio, Waugh helped the City League squad force 11 steals as a team on Sunday.
Tyler Primmer (6'4 Senior SG / Teays Valley / signed to West Liberty):
Signed to Division II powerhouse West Liberty, Primmer was the only player in Sunday's game that did not represent the City League or OCC. Scoring three points and dishing out four assists, Primmer was unselfish on Sunday, showing great chemistry with West's Holland, a connection that resulted in a powerful alley-oop jam from Primmer to Holland in the first half.
The rest of the rest
Travon Hester (6'3 Senior PF / Briggs / unsigned):
Four points, seven rebounds. Strong rebounder with nice footwork.
Mike Chambers (6'3 Senior PF / Worthington Kilbourne / unsigned):
Athletic forward that totaled two points and four rebounds on Sunday.
Travis Gleason (5'7 Senior PG / Reynoldsburg / unsigned):
Lightning-quick guard. Struggled shooting from the perimeter, but finished with two points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals. Makes things happen on both ends.
Yemi Sholesi (6'5 Senior SF / Thomas Worthington / unsigned):
Athletic and lengthy small forward. Finished with four points and five rebounds.
Chris Byrd (6'1 Senior SG / South / unsigned):
Strong scoring guard that played unselfish on Sunday. Finished with three points and two rebounds.
Aaron Mullins (6'0 Senior PG / South / unsigned):
Tough and scrappy point guard. Finished with two points and two rebounds. Helped the City League put great pressure on the OCC's ball-handlers.
Jalen Malone (6'0 Senior PG / Westerville Central / unsigned):
Underrated guard with scoring ability. Finished up a strong senior campaign on Sunday. Finished with four points, two rebounds and a steal.
Darrell Miller (6'2 Senior PG / New Albany / unsigned):
Did not look to score but affected the game in other ways. Pulled down four rebounds and dished out an assist.