If you follow prep hoops in Ohio, I'm sure you know the Jae'Sean Tate's and the Javon Bess' of the basketball world. In this latest recap from Coach Vic's Open Gym, we're going to take a look at some not-so-familiar names that Central Ohio basketball fans should get accustomed to.
Jaquan Harrison (SG, Columbus Africentric / 2015):
Receiving his first Division-I offer from Bethune-Cookman earlier in the week, Columbus' best athlete, Harrison, had himself quite the day on Sunday. Showcasing incredible explosiveness and a nose for the ball, Harrison was one of the top scorers in the gym, in addition to his excellent work on the offensive glass. The junior from Africentric was also a force on the defensive end, using his ridiculous bounce to pin several shots off the backboard. Harrison has steadily improved over the course of the summer and into the fall season, and is primed for major production in 2013-'14.
Babe Murphy (SF, Licking Heights / 2014):
What is it going to take for Licking Heights' Murphy to get the respect he deserves in Central Ohio? The 6'5 wing had a brilliant showing on Sunday, scoring in a wide variety, ranging from mid-range jumpshots, to crafty work in the post. Murphy is the head catalyst of a Licking Heights team looking to do some damage in the newly-founded Licking County League this upcoming season. The senior had a successful summer playing with Ohio Varsity in AAU action, and is currently receiving interest from Bucknell, Northern Kentucky and Ohio.
Corey Howard (PG/SG, Gahanna Lincoln / 2014):
Another guard that Central Ohio basketball fans should get used to hearing is Gahanna's Howard. The 6' floor general is one of the toughest players in the Ohio Capital Conference, and has proven to be a knockdown shooter from deep over the course of the last few weeks. With a great basketball IQ and above average handle, Howard can operate with or without the ball, and can fill in any role in which he is needed. On a senior-laden Lions squad in 2013-'14, look for Howard to be a key contributor on a team with state title expectations.
RJ Hutcherson (SF/PF, Westerville North / 2014):
Receiving major Division-II interest as of late, Hutcherson is Central Ohio's fastest-rising prospect in the class of 2014. At 6'7, Hutcherson is a very skilled forward that can score in a variety of ways, in addition to being a great rebounder. The senior has great length and a wide wingspan, which allows him to get off any shot that he wants to on the floor. Excelling as both a jumpshooter and slasher, don't be surprised if Hutcherson is Westerville North's leading scorer this upcoming season.
Kovien Dominaus (SF, Columbus Independence / 2014):
Seeing Dominaus for the first time on Sunday, I came away very impressed. The senior from Independence, a powerhouse in Columbus in the 90s, is a slim 6'5 forward with a smooth stroke. With a very thin frame, Dominaus will have to add strength at the next level, but was still able to score in a multitude of ways with the ball in his hands on Sunday. A relative unknown in Columbus basketball circles, look for Dominaus to make some noise in the City-League South this upcoming season.
Austin Armwood (PG, Westerville North / 2015):
Taking over the reigns as point guard of the Westerville North Warriors is never an easy task, especially when it's Jack Gibbs that you're following. But for Armwood, the 5'11 point guard may be just the man for the job. A tough and gritty performer, Armwood was one of the top point guards in the gym on Sunday. With underrated quickness and an above-average jumpshot, the junior excelled playing alongside highly-touted 2016 forward Derrick Daniels. Dialing up his teammates for multiple assists, Armwood's court vision coupled with great touch on his passes helped him separate himself from opposing guards. Look for Armwood, alongside Hutcherson, and forwards Alex Stewart and Isaiah Keene to keep the streak of success going in the 'Ville.
2016 Ohio State prospects Moyer and Towns impress once again
One day removed from visiting Ohio State, Northland sophomore Seth Towns had arguably his best performance of the Coach Vic's Open Gym series. Excelling greatly from the mid-range area, Towns' step-back jumpshot was lethal on Sunday.
Towns, who said his visit on Saturday "went pretty good," is proving to be one of the toughest players to guard in Ohio's class of 2016, as his great length, at 6'7, and impressive quickness make him quite the force on offense. The sophomore told me he has been working hardest to improve his ball-handling and overall comfort level with the ball in his hands, and the results have shown. Towns has gotten stronger on the drive and has finished at a higher rate around the rim.
After visiting Michigan, Ohio State and Virginia Tech the last three weeks, Towns has finally settled down in Columbus and is primed for a huge sophomore season.
Gahanna's sophomore sensation, Matt Moyer, was again a major force on the hardwood at Coach Vic's. The 6'7 forward went to work in the post, collecting a number of offensive rebounds for second-chance points. When he wasn't pulling down boards off the block, Moyer was hitting from three, showing expanded range and greater confidence with his deep shot. Earlier in the week, Moyer told me he has been working hardest on his jumpshot, and like Towns, his hard work has paid off. After playing in front of Michigan coach John Beilein last Monday, the sophomore feels he is one of the Wolverines' top targets in 2016.
Bess, Tate shine together
After playing the last nine years together in AAU action, Javon Bess and Jae'Sean Tate took the floor in the same uniform on Sunday. The duo as always were difficult to contain, as Tate got it going from deep midway through Sunday's scrimmages. while Bess excelled primarily on the drive and with his rebounding. Bess and Tate, who for two years played together at Pickerington Central, have great chemistry and seem to always know where eachother will be on the floor.
While Tate has been committed to Ohio State for nearly a year, Bess has received a major increase in his recruitment, most notably from Michigan, who has made multiple trips to Gahanna in the last two weeks. After Wolverines assistant Bacari Alexander visited Bess two weeks ago, head coach John Beilein saw the All-Ohio Red combo-guard for himself last Monday. Depending on where highly-ranked shooting guards Devin Booker and James Blackmon Jr decide to commit, look for Michigan to extend an offer to Bess in the coming weeks if either guard decides to go elsewhere.