In a high-flying display of talent and athleticism, Saturday's 16th Annual All-Star Basketball Saturday put on by Capital Transportation, lived up to its billing. Even as West's Charles Holland took home a dunk contest title at halftime of the boys' high school All-Star game, the day's best dunk was completed by an 8th grader. Let's take a look at some of the day's top performers.
Middle School All-Stars
Jerome Hunter (6'6 small forward / Monroe MS / 2018):
Stealing the show in the middle school All-Star game, Hunter brought down the house with a posterizing one-handed slam on a defender late in his team's 69-62 victory. At 6'6, Hunter has a great deal of upside as his elite combo of length and athleticism are uncommon for a player his age. However, Hunter can do much more than just dunk. With a nice feel for the game, and serviceable handle, Hunter also showed an ability to step out and shoot from the perimeter. His greatest strength, however, is Hunter's ability to run the floor like a guard. Starring at Columbus' Monroe Middle School, traditionally a feeder school into Northland High School, keep an eye out on Hunter for years to come.
EJ Williams (6'8 center / Middletown MS / 2018):
The largest player to participate in any of the All-Star games on Saturday, Williams showed why many feel he is the top center in Ohio's class of 2018. Built like LSU commit Elbert Robinson, Williams was an absolute anchor on the block, punishing defenders around the basket, while also serving as an excellent low-post enforcer on defense. Scoring 38 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a game at the Buckeye Prep Invitational two weeks ago, Williams has been playing excellent basketball as of late, and has showed impressive stamina for a player of his stature. Slated to attend Middletown High School next year, look for Williams to be one of Ohio's top freshmen in 2014-15.
Isaiah "Sleepy" Payton (6'1 point guard / Cincinnati / 2018):
Sharing the same last name as former Seattle Super Sonic great Gary Payton, Cincinnati's "Sleepy" awakened the crowd with excellent perimeter shooting. Garnering MVP honors with 15 points, Payton hit big shot after big shot late in Saturday's game, knocking down the necessary shots for his team to overcome Williams' size. Coached by junior Ohio point guard Stevie Taylor on Saturday, Payton played with a similar bravado that the aforementioned Taylor brings to the floor, valuable confidence that will give Payton an edge when he enrolls at Cincinnati Moeller in the fall.
Corey Baker (5'9 point guard / Groveport MS / 2018):
Smooth play-making point guard with a score-first mentality. Effortlessly flows through traffic and is a skilled finisher in the lane. Will be a great addition to Groveport's backcourt next season. If Baker can grow to the 6'1-6'4 range, look for the Groveport product to be a definite Division I prospect in the coming years.
Thomas Hickman (5'11 point guard / Westerville / 2018):
Athletic and skilled combo-guard that can score the ball in a hurry. Works best in transition and attacking the basket. Jump-shooting is still a work in progress, but Hickman is a player with a lot of promise. Looks to be a future Westerville Central Warhawk after middle school.
Cameron Carlisle (6'3 small forward / 2018):
Had the most unlikely athleticism in a game full of elite athletes. Athletic and strong combo-guard that brought the house down with a tomahawk slam late in Saturday's game. Not much information is out there about Carlisle, but the 8th grader is certainly a player to look out for, as his skill set is ready for the high school varsity level.
Sierra Harley (5'8 senior PG / Africentric):
Far and away the top player on the floor on Saturday, Africentric's Harley was named the game's MVP after scoring 18 points to lead her team to a win. Also the best athlete on the floor, Harley plays with great aggression and bravado, often breaking down defenders off the dribble and finishing with athletic drives to the basket. Slamming the door shut late in the game with her perimeter jump-shooting, Harley provided the only excitement in a game that was rather sloppy. As her teammates Alexa Hart (Ohio State), and Alexis Parks (Western Michigan) have signed with Division I schools, look for Harley to be the next one up from the state champion Lady Nubians, as Harley has committed to Owens Community College.
High School All-Stars
Dymiere Finch (6'2 Senior PG / Walnut Ridge / unsigned):
The game's leading scoring and MVP, Finch had another excellent showing, finishing with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead the West squad to a 90-78 victory. Attacking the basket relentlessly, Finch showed the type of aggression that the senior is capable of playing with, but something he hasn't always executed on. One of the top unsigned guards remaining in the area, Finch is looking at several Division II programs, and would be an excellent addition to any school looking for an athletic point guard with upside.
Charles Holland (6'3 Senior SG / West / signed to Tiffin):
Finch's best friend, Holland, put on an absolute show, winning the event's dunk contest and finishing with 19 points. Opening Saturday's contest with back-to-back threes, Holland scored in a variety of ways, and showed exactly why I believe he is the most overlooked player in Ohio's senior class. Although no bigger than 6'3, Holland plays much taller than his size, utilizing elite athleticism and agility to score points around the rim. Signed to Division II Tiffin for both football and basketball, don't be surprised if Holland finds himself in the National Football League in a few years. Check out his dunk contest performance below.
Anthony Glover (6'3 Senior SG / Toledo St. John's / Signed to Chicago State):
The only player signed to a Division I program in Saturday's game, Glover put on a show with improved athleticism and jump-shooting from the last time I had seen the guard before his senior season. At 6'3, Glover is of similar build to Holland, Glover is a tough scoring combo-guard that can stretch the floor with his shooting, while being a force in the slashing department. Moving on to Chicago State after graduation, Glover looks to be a solid player at the college level.
Chris Byrd (6'2 Senior SG / South / unsigned):
After a strong performance in last Saturday's Jump25.com All-Star Classic, Byrd followed up that showing with a team-high 14 points on Saturday. Although his East squad would give up a 15-3 run in the final four and a half minutes, Byrd had another solid outing, attacking the basket and hitting open shots to provide the most scoring for his team. One of the better unsigned shooting guards in Central Ohio, Byrd would be a good pick-up for any program looking for a gritty performer that has takeover capability.
Chris Harris (6'3 Senior SG / Toledo Scott / unsigned):
Athletic scoring guard that did a little bit of everything on Saturday, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Has takeover ability with his streaky scoring, and would be a good addition for any program looking for a guy that can create his own shot and score around the rim.
Mario Davison (5'11 Senior PG / Mansfield Senior / unsigned):
Strong point guard with good instincts. Scored in an assortment of ways. Finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Played good, efficient basketball for Mansfield this past year.
Manny Powell (5'10 Senior PG / Gahanna Lincoln / unsigned):
Lightning quick guard that had his work cut out for him going up against Ohio Dominican commit Shemar Waugh. Played a solid game, finishing with nine points and four assists. Division II level prospect narrowing his list.
Akil Cornish (6'2 Senior SG / Africentric / unsigned):
Dead-eye shooter that can't be left open. Hit some big shots for Africentric in the Nubians' run to a regional runner-up finish. Led Central Ohio in three-point shooting percentage as a junior.
Brandon Paschal (5'11 Senior PG / Walnut Ridge / signed to Notre Dame College):
First-team All-State defensive back signed to Notre Dame College for football. Had a solid outing, finishing with 12 points and four assists. Active on defense and has quick hands.
Shamonty Manning (6'5 Senior PF / Eastmoor Academy / unsigned):
Solid big man that has come a long way since last season. High IQ player that does all the little things. Finished with six points and six rebounds, converting on all three of his attempts from the field. Would be a good addition for any program looking for a hard-working combo-forward that will not be a distraction off the court.
Brandon Manley (6'4 Senior PF / Bloom-Carroll / unsigned):
Similar to Manning, Manley is another workhorse in the low post. Good strength and awareness, and clears out space well to secure rebounds. Finished with five points and seven rebounds. Would be a good addition for any program looking for a player that will buy into the team concept and will compete each and every day,