After a talent-filled opening day of EYBL Session 3 at the Boo Williams Sports Complex in Hampton, Virginia, Ohio State basketball fans should have a lot to look forward to in the future. As all three of Ohio State's commitments in the 2015 class took the floor on Saturday, all three turned in unique performances. Let's take a look at how the Buckeye commitments Austin Grandstaff, AJ Harris and Mickey Mitchell fared on Saturday.
Austin Grandstaff (6'5 SG, Team Texas Elite / Rockwall, TX):
Despite Texas Elite going 0-2 on the day, Grandstaff was one of the EYBL's top performers, putting up an average of 22.5 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. In a 77-68 loss to the New Jersey Playaz on Saturday morning, Grandstaff's 27 points were a team-high, as the 6'5 shooting guard added four three-point field goals.
Taking a look at the newest Buckeye commit later in the day vs. Meanstreets, Grandstaff greatly impressed in my first ever viewing of him. Showing to be a skilled scorer, Grandstaff is a high-IQ leader that rarely takes an ill-advised shot. Opting to get his teammates involved for a great majority of the game in the matchup vs. Meanstreets, Grandstaff would eventually take control late.
With Texas Elite trailing 65-64 with just over 30 seconds to go in regulation, Grandstaff would drive from the ring wing, going up and around a defender to give his team a lead. Fouled on the play, Grandstaff would knock down the ensuing free throw to give Texas Elite a 68-65 lead with 27 seconds to go. Unfortunately for Texas Elite, Meanstreets forward Nick Fasekas would knock down a buzzer-beating three to send the game into overtime, where Grandstaff & Co. would eventually fall short, 81-76.
Finishing with 18 points in the loss vs. Meanstreets, Grandstaff did not disappoint in my first viewing of him. Proving to be a vocal leader and ultimate teammate, Grandstaff greatly fits the Ohio State program and will be a welcomed addition to a team that struggled to shoot from the perimeter this past season. Paired with two commitments in Harris and Mitchell, whom both are excellent floor generals for their respective AAU programs, Grandstaff should have no problem finding open shots once he arrives in Columbus.
AJ Harris (5'9 PG, King James Shooting Stars / Dayton Dunbar):
On a King James squad that has greatly disappointed up to this point in the EYBL season, Harris has been the exception. Nearly leading the Shooting Stars back from a 20-point deficit vs. conensus No. 1 Malik Newman and the Jackson Tigers, the 5'9 Dayton Dunbar product scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half of a 73-68 loss.
Defending the 6'4 Newman for a great deal of Saturday morning's contest, Harris would give the taller guard all he could handle with tight on-ball pressure. One of the better athletes at the point guard position, Harris showed an ability to score in a variety of ways, whether it was driving lay-ins, pull-up jumpers, or teardrop floaters. In addition to his 26 points, Harris would add four rebounds and three steals in the five-point loss.
Redeeming themselves in the second game of the day, King James would receive 13 points from Harris in a 57-51 win over the New York Lightning. After a sluggish performance vs. Jackson earlier in the day, Duke commit Luke Kennard would get into a greater rhythm vs. New York, scoring a game-high 19 points as King James overcame an early deficit.
With talented scorers like Kennard, Ohio State target VJ King, and Lakewood St. Edward combo-guard Kipper Nichols on a loaded roster, Harris should not have to be the primary scorer, but as King James has faced early adversity, the 5'9 guard has been forced to take more shots than usual. Through 10 EYBL games, Harris leads King James in scoring with 15.4 points per contest, in addition to three rebounds and 4.2 assists. Harris has also reached the free-throw line a team-high 52 times, converting on 43 of his attempts for an 83 percent mark from the stripe.
Mickey Mitchell (6'6 SF, Texas Titans / Plano West, TX):
Still a bit of a mystery to most Ohio State basketball fans, Mitchell put in productive minutes in limited action on Saturday. Playing just a total of 31 minutes in two games, Mitchell would post averages of three points, 5.5 rebounds and six assists per contest, operating out of a point-forward type role.
Handling a great deal of ball-handling duties for Texas Titans when he was in the game, Mitchell showed excellent court vision while putting great touch on all of his passes. Bulking up to 230 pounds, Mitchell has the body of a power forward, but plays more like a guard. In a 65-39 win over Team CP3 on Saturday night, Mitchell would turn in an all-around performance, going for four points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals. Playing just 18 minutes in the win over Team CP3, Mitchell was a terror in transition for Texas, constantly making the right decision with the ball to create lots of scoring for the Titans.
Through eight EYBL games, Mitchell is averaging 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per contest. A player that is capable of going off for a triple-double at any time, Mitchell has an all-around game that will only improve as the 6'6 point-forward racks up more minutes after missing more than a year of action due to a knee injury.