With the AAU circuit taking a month long break after the conclusion of the Ohio state tournament this past weekend, it is time for high school summer league basketball to resume back up. As Groveport-Madison hosted a five team session on Wednesday night, let's take a look at some of the top players and top teams from the opening week of action.
Rodney Willis (6'3 Senior-to-be SG)
The long, athletic and explosive Willis put on a show on Wednesday night. The only player to consistently finish high above the rim, Willis did a little bit of everything for Briggs, leading the Bruins to an undefeated mark in four scrimmages. Excelling at feeding the roll man in pick situations, Willis was also active on the defensive perimeter, forcing several steals, each leading to Briggs points. Playing the second half of the season in 2013-14 after transferring from Columbus Independence, Willis has carried a strong finish from high school ball into the AAU circuit, where the 6'3 guard has been the top scorer for his club, the Columbus Kings.
Maleik Gore (6'4 Senior-to-be PF)
One of the more unheralded players around the Columbus City League, Gore showed all the makings of a potential breakout senior season on Wednesday. A strong and stocky 6'4, Gore absolutely bullies defenders en route to the basket, and showed crisper touch with his perimeter shooting to stretch the floor. With the graduation of front court mate Travon Hester, Gore will be looked to carry the load for Briggs underneath the basket, while also allowing the Bruins to be one of the city's faster teams, as coach Tony Rice looks to run early and often.
Danny Corbett (6'1 Sophomore-to-be PG)
Starting the point at Briggs from day one of his high school career, Corbett has the on-court demeanor and attitude of an experienced vet. Sharing the back court with senior-to-be Davonte Hardin, the duo lit up the nets from behind-the-arc, as Corbett has improved his perimeter shooting in recent weeks. A strong ball-handler and active defender, Corbett is a feisty competitor that is focused on turning Briggs into a serious contender in the City League.
Capone Richardson (6'2 Junior-to-be SG)
As Briggs graduates Hester and guard Dante Brown, Richardson looks to be a player with a great chance to crack the Bruins' starting lineup this season. Similar to Willis in body build, Richardson is a long and athletic wing that should help Briggs this season.
Tyus Ferguson (6'2 Junior-to-be PG)
Arguably the top sophomore point guard in Central Ohio, Ferguson certainly played like it on Wednesday. Leading Groveport in scoring, assists and steals during four scrimmages, Ferguson was excellent on both ends of the floor, and handled tight defensive pressure with ease. Helping lead Groveport to a fairly successful season as sophomores, Ferguson and AAU teammate Tyrell Carter look to help the Cruisers take another leap forward in 2014-15.
Tre Charles-Martin (6'2 Junior-to-be SG)
One of several Cruiser players that have made major strides in the last calendar year, Charles-Martin is a player to keep your eye on this upcoming season. Vastly improving his athleticism and perimeter shooting, Charles-Martin is the ultimate energy guy for Groveport, turning open court steals into powerful one-hand slams. Often matching up with opposing teams' best players, Charles-Martin is one of the quicker on-ball defenders in Central Ohio, and will help Groveport tremendously as a junior.
Carmearl Thomas (6'6 Senior-to-be PF)
Much like Charles-Martin, Thomas has come a long way since last fall, solidifying himself as one of the top post players in Central Ohio's 2015 class. With a thick frame at 6'6, Thomas is solid at sealing defenders on the block, and has good enough hands to squeeze sharp passes in tight traffic. Manning the low post, Thomas pulled down a high number of rebounds and finished from both blocks whenever the Cruisers fed the big man the ball.
Marshawn Davis (6'5 Junior-to-be SF)
After spending his entire sophomore season on the junior varsity, the long and athletic Davis looks primed for a varsity breakout after a solid all-around showing on Wednesday. As Davis has been hard at work in the gym to improve his perimeter shooting, the 6'5 forward did a little bit of everything for the Cruisers on Wednesday, showing the signs of a player with improving confidence. Much like senior-to-be guard Ray Rhone, 2014-15 should be a breakout season for Davis.
Jake Fischer (6'1 Sophomore-to-be SG)
As Hartley graduates virtually all of its back court scoring from this past season, the 6'1 Fischer looks to help replace what the Hawks lost in 2014-15. A knockdown three-point shooter, Fischer has improved his scoring off-the-dribble, and has developed a quick enough first step to keep defenders at his hip. Working on a mid-range floater, Fischer was able to score in a variety of ways for the Hawks on Wednesday, leading Hartley in scoring in both games that I watched. Coming off the bench for Hartley as a freshman, look for Fischer to resume a spot in the starting lineup this upcoming season.
J'Air Wheelwright (6'4 Senior-to-be PF)
Part of a Wheelwright lineage with several family members scattered throughout college football and the NFL, the younger J'Air is another impressive athlete. Long and athletic at 6'4, Wheelwright runs the floor like a guard, while being an adequate scorer on the block. Wheelwright uses his length to pull down rebounds in traffic, and should be a key piece to a young Hartley team that looks to make some noise in a Central Catholic League that will be more wide open than usual in 2014-15.
St. Frances DeSales
Caden Sanchez (6'8 Sophomore-to-be PF)
One of the most intriguing 2017 prospects in Central Ohio, the long and athletic Sanchez is a key piece to a young, but experienced DeSales team. In Sanchez, DeSales gets a raw, but developing post presence that can run the floor better than most players his size, while being physical enough to handle contact underneath the basket. As DeSales returns the core of its entire rotation from a year ago, look for Sanchez to be a key part in a turnaround effort for the Stallions in 2014-15.
Ryan Peaks (5'10 Sophomore-to-be PG)
Alongside Sanchez, Peaks cracked the DeSales starting lineup for the majority of the 2013-14 season, making strides in his overall effectiveness at the point guard position. At 5'10, Peaks is extremely quick, and handles pressure well, while applying an equal amount on the defensive end. Sharing the back court with junior-to-be Eman Golloh, Peaks should help the Stallions become more balanced offensively, as DeSales will look to pound the ball inside to Sanchez in a conference with limited size in the front court.
Tommy Bolte (6'3 Senior-to-be SG)
The prized hidden gem prospect in Central Ohio, Bolte shouldn't go unnoticed for much longer. After helping lead the Cavaliers to a 15-7 record as a junior, Bolte looks to resume an even greater leadership role this upcoming season. Skilled in all areas of the game, Bolte is a player that is well-rounded and never plays out of character. At 6'3 and 170 pounds, Bolte is quick, can break down defenders off the dribble, and sees the floor well enough to efficiently distribute the ball to the open man. In an interesting matchup vs. Willis of Briggs on Wednesday, Bolte put together his best performance of the night, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks.