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Ohio prep hoops: AJ Harris wins MVP honors at All-Ohio Nike City Series

2015 Buckeye commit AJ Harris was the top performer in the junior division at the All-Ohio Nike City Series

SB Nation

Dayton Dunbar's Amos "AJ" Harris has always been one of the fastest guards in the country. Committing to Ohio State in early August, Harris surprised many around the Midwest with a commitment that seemingly came out of nowhere, and like Harris' play style, happened rather quickly. At the 2013 All-Ohio Nike City Series, Harris was the top performer in the 2015 division, leading his Dayton squad to a championship over Esa Ahmad and Cleveland.

Harris' command of the offense and overall court prowess was mightily impressive, as the junior guard had opposing guards at his mercy over the weekend. Slashing relentlessly for points, Harris also showed an ability to step out and hit from the perimeter, something Ohio State fans haven't seen out of a point guard in quite some time. Playing four five-minute stretches in the title game, Harris continually brought his team back from single-digit deficits, until eventually closing the game out with swarming on-ball defense, which resulted in transition points.

While Harris' loudest critics believe his height (5'9) will hinder him at the next level, the Buckeye commit continues to outperform opposing guards and surpass expectations. Harris is truly a 94-feet guard, meaning he plays constantly fast on both ends all the way down the floor. The Dunbar junior looks to take over the reigns as Thad Matta's starting point guard in 2015-'16. Check out Harris' highlights from over the weekend below.


With talent all across the board in Columbus this weekend, let's take a look at some of the top performers, including several Buckeye commitments and targets all across Ohio.

Derek Funderburk Jr (6'9 F, Lakewood St. Edward's / 2016):

Funderburk has the tools to be a top forward in a deep class of 2016. With a versatile skill set, and above-average athleticism, Funderburk uses his unique combination of length, quickness, and aggressiveness to punish opposing players. The sophomore, who unofficially visited Ohio State this past weekend, runs the floor like a guard, and alters shots like a center. Funderburk has great lateral quickness, and can defend both on the block and on the perimeter. Without a doubt, the sophomore forward is one of Matta's top targets in 2016.

Esa Ahmad (6'7 PF, Shaker Heights / 2015):

Listing Ahmad among top performers has almost become redundant due to the junior forward's consistent performance. An absolute matchup nightmare, Ahmad can punish defenders under the basket, while being able to stretch a defense with his three-point shooting ability. Similar to Funderburk, Ahmad can run the floor effortlessly and defend on the perimeter, highlighted by a steal along half court that resulted in a two-handed jam from Ahmad in the title game. Holding offers from Clemson, Rutgers and Xavier, look for Ahmad's recruiting to continue to grow after performances like he had this weekend.

Tervell Beck (6'7 SF, Cleveland Central Catholic / 2016):

It is no secret that Beck is one of Ohio's best athletes. While a dunk fest at the AAU State Championship in June was one of Beck's most memorable moments from the summer, Beck came to Columbus this weekend with an improved perimeter game. Shooting the ball well from behind-the-arc, Beck's step-back jump shot was virtually unstoppable, as were his relentless drives to the rim. Teamed up with Funderburk, Cleveland had the top frontcourt in Columbus over the weekend. Look for Beck's name to start being mentioned among Ohio's top 2016 prospects.

Javon Bess (6'5 SG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):

Committing to Michigan State a week ago, Bess played great basketball over the weekend. At 6'5, Bess has great size for a combo-guard, and in addition to several powerful slams, the Spartan commit continued to shoot well from the perimeter. For the entirety of the weekend, there wasn't a single player that slowed Bess down, as the guard's combination of size, strength, and quickness was just too much for opposing defenders. Bess is also a great on-ball defender and rebounder, something Tom Izzo will quickly enjoy when the senior makes his way up north.

Jae'Sean Tate (6'5 SF, Pickerington Central / 2014):

Taking his official visit to Ohio State on Saturday, Tate was limited to just one game in his final All-Ohio event. In that game, the Ohio State commit did was Jae'Sean Tate does best, attacking the basket and securing rebounds. Looking to be a few pounds stronger than the last time I watched him, it is clear to see that Tate has been working hard in the gym. Speaking with his grandfather on Sunday, the elder Tate said Jae'Sean put up at least 700 shots on Saturday, and the results have shown.

Ahmad Wagner (6'6 SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):

Wagner is another versatile forward in a talented 2015 class in Ohio. At 6'6, Wagner is best served in the paint, but has shown he is more than capable of stepping out and hitting from 15 feet. With great athleticism, Wagner is a highlight reel waiting to happen. Twice over the weekend, Wagner punished defenders with poster dunks, proving that he can finish strongly with contact. The Wayne junior holds offers from Bucknell, Robert Morris and Toledo, while also receiving interest from Akron, Butler, Cleveland State, Stanford and West Virginia.

Jordan Dartis (6'2 SG, Newark / 2015):

Arguably the top shooting two-guard in Columbus, Dartis had his best performance in weeks. Showing an ability to play either guard position, Dartis is an excellent shooter, both off the dribble, and off the catch. However, the Newark junior does more than just punish defenses from three. With underrated athleticism, Dartis can slash and finish at the rim, while also having great court vision and an unselfish undertone. Holding offers from Cleveland State, Kennesaw State, Ohio and Toledo, Dartis is also receiving interest from Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Ibi Watson (6'4 SF, Athens / 2016):

After hitting a 24-footer as time expired to down Cleveland on Sunday, Watson might be the City Series' most clutch player after a solid performance this weekend. At 6'4, Watson has great size for a combo-guard, complimented by a soft touch on his jump shot, and an ability to finish with contact. Watson is a strong ball-handler that can handle tight defensive pressure, and uses a consistent pull-up jump shot from the mid-range area. Having his coming out party this weekend, look for Watson to elevate himself in Ohio's class of 2016.

Anthony Christian (6'2 SG, Akron Archbishop Hoban / 2016):

After a strong showing at the Buckeye Prep Showcase in September, Christian returned to Columbus and impressed once again. The Hoban sophomore has a big body at 6'2, and can finish at the rim with contact, proving to be one of the top finishing sophomore guards. Christian has the tools to be a mid-major plus type prospect, and should continue to rise up recruiting boards as his perimeter shooting improves. Christian can play either guard position, in addition to being able to defend up to three positions on the floor.

D.J. Hoskins (5'10 PG, Dayton Thurgood Marshall / 2016):

One of the most underrated point guards in Ohio's class of 2016, Hoskins may just be the best shooter of them all. With a deadly pull-up game, Hoskins' range expands well out behind the three-point line. The 5'10 sophomore can finish with contact at the rim, and has a deadly crossover that he uses to create separation. Playing alongside high-flying sophomore forward Derrick Daniels at Thurgood Marshall, look for Hoskins & Co. to be one of the top teams in the Dayton area this upcoming season.

Tyler Ulis (5'9 PG, Marion Catholic (IL) / 2014):

Committed to Kentucky, Ulis was the biggest surprise this weekend. Originally from Lima, Ulis moved to the Chicagoland area prior to his freshman season, and has been one of the nation's top point guards ever since. Ranked as the 33rd-best player in ESPN's class of 2014, Ulis chose the Wildcats over Michigan State and Iowa. Lightning quick, Ulis is a deadly shooter from deep, especially with his step-back jump shot. Although he is listed at 5'9, Ulis plays much bigger than his height, and can take the ball to the rim against much bigger defenders. Check out Ulis' highlights from this weekend here.

Darius Harper (6'6 C, Springfield / 2016):

A wide body center, Harper was impressive for Dayton's 2016 squad that played for a championship. Similar to Gahanna's Nick Ward, Harper takes up lots of space on the block, and is a very strong rebounder. With a nice drop step that he uses on either block, Harper looks to add just a bit more athleticism to become one of Ohio's top posts in the 2016 class. The sophomore has good footwork around the basket, and is a classic post player, something that is seemingly rare these days. Look for Harper and bouncy junior guard DeMarco Cannon to lead Springfield this season.

Tarik Wright (6'3 SF, Columbus Walnut Ridge / 2016):

One of Columbus' top sophomores, Wright had another impressive performance this past weekend. Wright is one of the strongest players in his class, and excels around the basket. The Walnut Ridge sophomore can play both a finesse and brute style of basketball, while also showing improvement in his perimeter shooting. Wright is also a strong rebounder and help-side defender, showcasing all the valuable intangibles in his skill set. Look for Wright to have a breakout sophomore season in the Columbus City-League South.

Cris Wilson (6'4 SF, Cleveland John Hay / 2014):

One of the more vertically-advanced players in attendance at the City Series, Wilson had himself a trio of powerful slams over the weekend. The Cleveland senior is a late bloomer, and looks to have a high ceiling in terms of what he can do around the basket. Wilson has a long wingspan and adjusts well to contact, while being fearless and confident on the hardwood. Look for the John Hay forward to be one of the top seniors in Cleveland this season.

Xavier Simpson (5'9 PG, Lima Central Catholic / 2016):

One of the top point guards in Ohio's class of 2016, Simpson is a quick ball-handler that can really slash to the rim. With a devastating cross over and spin dribble that he uses to create separation, Simpson can finish at the rim, and is also an above-average shooter from the perimeter. The Lima Central Catholic guard is one of Ohio's toughest defenders, and creates opportunities in the fast break. Teamed up with stellar sophomore guard Tre Cobbs, Central Catholic looks to be one of the top teams in Northwest Ohio in 2013-'14.

Isaiah Walton (6'2 SG, Elyria / 2014):

Committed to UC-Davis, Elyria's Walton was Cleveland's top senior over the weekend. An athletic shooting guard, Walton is a good shooter and active defender. Once he gets going, Walton can be deadly from the perimeter with his streaky shooting. Walton has a very good pull-up jump shot, and is a tough matchup for opposing guards. Look for Walton to be one of Cleveland's top seniors in 2013-'14.

Eric James (6'6 SF, Westerville Central / 2014):

One of the most explosive players in Ohio's class of 2014, James showed a level of aggressiveness over the weekend that we have never seen out of him. After an intense scuffle with Tate last weekend, James seems to have broke out of his shell and has been an absolute force ever since. Given his perimeter shooting ability and athleticism, James is a tough matchup for smaller guards and larger forwards. Leaking out in transition, James makes the most out of his fast break opportunities, as shown here. Committing to Duquesne earlier in the summer, James looks to be one of the top seniors in Ohio this season.

Trey Landers (6'4 SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2016):

Even with impressive performances from Ahmad Wagner and Xeyrius Williams, Wayne's Landers might have been the top performer from his school this weekend. One of the most confident players in Ohio, Landers got the job done offensively in a variety of ways. Attacking the basket, shooting from mid-range, and expanding his range behind the three-point line, Landers was unstoppable in the '16 title game. After knocking down a deep three, and then going up and under a taller defender for a score, Landers yelled "you can't check me," just another example of his glowing confidence.

Other Notable Performers

Babe Murphy (6'5 SF, Licking Heights / 2014)

Khalil Iverson (6'4 SF, Delaware Hayes / 2015)

Ryan Mikesell (6'5 SF, St. Henry / 2015)

Seth Towns (6'8 SF, Columbus Northland / 2016)

Joey Williams (6'2 SG, Dayton Dunbar / 2016)

Jerome Hunter (6'4 PF, Columbus Monroe MS / 2018)

Zavier Powers (6' PG, Cleveland Lake Catholic / 2014)

Andre Wesson (6'6 SF, Westerville South / 2016)

Tre Cobbs (5'10 PG, Lima Central Catholic / 2016)

Jordan Smith (6'2 SG, Dayton Dunbar / 2014)

Trey Smith (6'5 SF, Delphos Jefferson / 2016)

Alex White (6'7 PF, Lakota East / 2015)

Devon Andrews (6'5 SF, Lorain / 2015)

Xeyrius Williams (6'7 SF, Huber Heights Wayne / 2015)

Roderick Caldwell (5'10 PG, Dayton Stivers / 2016)

Ulmer Manzie (6'8 C, Columbus Africentric / 2015)