With coaches from Indiana State in the building, Africentric juniors Jaquan Harrison and Ulmer Manzie had impressive performances that were more than enough to pique the interest of coach Greg Lansing. As the Nubians add transfer guards Shawon Wilson and Chase Brown to an already talented roster, let's take a look at some of the best performers from Tuesday.
Jaquan Harrison (6'3 SG, 2015):
Harrison, without a doubt, is the best all-around athlete in Central Ohio. The combo-guard's vertical leaping ability is unmatched, and the junior put it to maximum use on Tuesday. Getting up and down the court with blazing speed and improved ball-handling, Harrison was the top player in the Africentric gym, and gave off that feeling of superiority that only a select few players possess. Smacking several shots off the backboard, Harrison was all over the floor, doing a little bit of everything to highlight an exciting open gym session. The junior is a physical specimen, and has improved his finishing ability with either hand, especially when he isn't flying ten feet above the ground. While his jump shooting is his biggest area for improvement, Harrison is rising up among the top players in Central Ohio.
Ulmer Manzie (6'8 PF, 2015):
The tallest player on the Nubians roster, Manzie, who has been at Africentric since kindergarten (K-12), had a big time showing on Tuesday. With improved footwork in the post, Manzie has developed an arsenal of quality post moves that should help him dominate opposing big men this upcoming season. The 6'8 forward is very patient with the ball in his hands, often times analyzing the defense to either attack with his back to the basket, or dish the ball off to cutting teammates. Manzie, who played alongside Harrison for All-Ohio Black during the AAU circuit, has impressive ball-handling skills for his position, and has a high basketball IQ. Look for the talented duo of Harrison and Manzie to lead the Nubians to the promised land in 2013-'14.
Houston Smith (6'4 SG, 2016):
Dubbed the "Silent Killer," by myself, Smith, whose father played in the NFL, is another incredibly athletic Nubian underclassman. The sophomore combo-guard has been hard at work to improve his jump shooting, and the results have shown. Houston looks much more comfortable on the perimeter, and his ability to hit from deep has forced his defenders to respect his shot, which should only open up more opportunities for the slashing sophomore. Smith attacked with efficiency from both wings, and finished several possessions with impressive up and under lay ins. After contributing as a freshman on a Nubian squad that fell within two points of a Columbus City-League championship, expect Smith to fill in for the hole left by 2013 graduate Kenny Robinson.
Akil Cornish (6'2 SG, 2014):
Africentric's lone senior, Cornish contributed in a variety of ways on Tuesday. After leading all of Central Ohio in three-point shooting a season ago, Cornish did more than just knock down the three ball, which he did a lot anyways. The senior has great foot speed, which aids in his superb physical on-ball defense. The guard also attacked the basket efficiently, proving that he has an offensive game inside the three-point line. But back to his specialty, Cornish showcased incredible range on Tuesday, highlighted by a shot the senior hit from one step inside the halfcourt line to ice a scrimmage. Cornish has improved his ball-handling, which has helped especially in his shooting off the dribble. With a quick trigger already, Cornish's improved ball-handling skills have aided in keeping opposing defenders off balance, only setting up for his deadly shooting.
Shawon Wilson (6'2 PG, 2015):
Transferring from Marion-Franklin for the upcoming season, Wilson was the ideal floor general on Tuesday. At 6'2, Wilson has great size for the point guard position, and excelled in commanding the offense, and especially attacking the basket. Wilson has a great first step which helps him breeze past defenders, leading to scoring opportunities for the Nubian offense. The junior has a quality basketball IQ to go along with good court vision. I look for Wilson and Chase Brown to fill roles similar to the way St. Joseph's used Delonte West and Jameer Nelson in the mid 2000's.
Chase Brown (5'10 PG, 2015):
Also transferring for the final two years of his high school career, Brown, formerly of Whetstone High School, was another impressive guard for the Nubians on Tuesday. A little smaller than Wilson, Brown is a shifty ball-handler that can extend a defense with his above-average perimeter shooting. While Wilson is a solid all-around player that will get all the dirty work done for you, Brown adds an element of flash to his game that warrants his nickname "Chase Too Fly." The junior hooked up with Harrison for several highlight alley-oops that should become a common theme in the remaining two years for the Nubians.
NOTE: This is the first in a series of open gym evaluations from around the Columbus area. Video courtesy of Daren Scarberry of Scarberry Media.