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The entirely-too-early Central Ohio basketball preview: Part 2

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As we've hit the dead period between the end of AAU basketball, and the beginning of high school practice in the fall, let's take a look at part two of LGHL's "Entirely-Too-Early" Central Ohio basketball preview.

Westerville South looks to be one of the top teams in all of Central Ohio in 2014-15
Westerville South looks to be one of the top teams in all of Central Ohio in 2014-15
@SouthBasketball

Kicking off the "Entirely-Too-Early" Central Ohio basketball preview on Tuesday with a primer on the OCC's Ohio and Central divisions, Wednesday's part two will cover the remaining two divisions in the area's largest conference. In the OCC-Cardinal, immense talent in the 2016 class makes this division anyone's to win, while in the OCC-Capital, with Delaware Hayes and New Albany controlling the division a season ago, not much looks to change in 2014-15. Stay tuned for a preview of the Columbus City League coming on Thursday.

OCC-Cardinal

1. Westerville South

2013-14 record:

16-6 (10-4, second)

Key losses:

Kashawn Guice (6'0 SG)

Top returnees:

Jordan Humphrey (6'1 G, 2016)

Kaleb Wesson (6'8 C, Ohio's top big man in the class of 2017 and it's not even close)

Andre Wesson (6'5 SF, 2016)

Jelani Rogers (5'9 PG, 2016)

Outlook:

Arguably the division's deepest team, South looks to build on a successful 16-6 season a year ago. With the return of nearly the entire roster, the Wildcats will have depth at every position, led by Ohio's top sophomore big man, Kaleb Wesson. In the backcourt, juniors Jelani Rogers, Daylan Haynie, Ennis Thomas and Jordan Humphrey can each handle the ball in pressure situations, while Andre Wesson is a legit wing prospect. Seniors Chris Cook, DJ Dingess and John Edwards should provide leadership for this young, but talented unit. South also picks up another talented young prospect in sophomore 6-foot-5 power forward Antoine Smith, who comes over from Dublin Coffman. At this point, South looks like the clear favorite in the Cardinal division.

2. Dublin Jerome

2013-14 record:

10-13 (9-5, third)

Key losses:

Connor Kerns (6'3 SG)

Top returnees:

Mason Baich (6'3 SG, solid Division I prospect, 2016)

Seve Stavroff (6'0 PG, 2016)

Colton Irion (6'4 SF, 2016)

Outlook:

Similar to Westerville South, Dublin Jerome is a team that started several underclassmen during the 2013-14 season, and looks to vastly improve heading into this year's campaign. Behind the all-around game of Mason Baich, who by all accounts is a top player in all of Central Ohio, Jerome has a really strong 2016 class that should lead the Celtics toward the top of the division this season. Baich's mate in the backcourt, junior point guard Seve Stavroff is one of the area's top perimeter shooters, while 6-foot-4 wing Colton Irion made major strides in the summer, going for several big performances with Ohio Elite in the AAU season. Jerome receives more help in the back court in the form of junior guard Elyjah Nelson, who transfers to the Celtics from Dublin Scioto. After Baich made all-district honors averaging more than 17 points, five rebounds and four assists per game as a sophomore, look for a big-time junior season from him to lead Jerome to new heights.

T3. Westerville Central

2013-14 record:

19-5 (13-1, first)

Key losses:

Eric James (6'5 SG, Duquesne)

Kwamel Wade (6'4 SF, Ohio Dominican)

Jalen Malone (6'0 PG)

Top returnees:

Will Maynus (6'5 SF, 2016)

Erron James (6'1 SG, 2016)

Kyle Freytag (6'7 C, 2015)

Outlook:

After James and Wade (sorry Heat fans, not the guys you're thinking of) led the Warhawks to new heights in 2013-14, coach Donovan Bennett has his work cut out for him in leading Westerville Central back to the top of the division. Juniors Maynus and Erron James will be looked to produce at higher levels, as both were key role players a season ago. Maynus is a lengthy wing with lots of athleticism, and can really attack the glass. James, on the other hand, has developed into a lockdown perimeter defender, and knockdown shooter from behind-the-arc. Expect more production from the 6-foot-7 center Freytag, who missed a great deal of the 2013-14 season. After advancing to the district finals last season, Westerville Central will need several underclassmen to step up and produce to get back to that level in 2014-15.

T3. Hilliard Bradley

2013-14 record:

9-14 (6-8, sixth)

Key losses:

Brady Simpson (6'0 SG)

Oscar Guerra(student section chant leader)

Top returnees:

Brandon Glenn (6'1 PG, 2016)

Jackson Murphy (6'4 SF, 2015)

Isaiah Speelman (6'5 SF, one of the area's top 2018 prospects)

Outlook:

The darkhorse team in the division, Hilliard Bradley returns for the 2014-15 season as talented as ever. Led by Glenn, who received first-team all-division honors after averaging 16 points and six assists per game as a sophomore, the Jaguars get better on the wing with the return of Murphy and incoming freshman Speelman, who is one of the more talented players in Ohio's 2018 class. Only graduating one senior, Bradley returns a cast that has played together for the past two years, and has a great shot to take the OCC-Cardinal by storm this year.

5. Westerville North

2013-14 record:

11-13 (8-6, fourth)

Key losses:

RJ Hutcherson (6'7 PF, Fairmont State)

Isaiah Keene (6'5 SF, Marietta)

Justin Bennett (6'4 PF)

Top returnees:

Corey Benton (6'0 SG, 2016)

Austin Armwood (6'1 PG, 2015)

Outlook:

After a disappointing end to a season that started off with high expectations, Westerville North looks to rebound in 2014-15. Graduating a talented class of seniors in 2014, the Warriors will need great production out of its top guards in Benton and Armwood to compete at the highest level in an improving conference. Losing the majority of its size from a year before, North's top returning player from the 2013-14 varsity squad is only 6-foot-2, which may hinder what the Warriors can do on each end of the floor. Expect big numbers from Benton and Armwood, as both can absolutely light it up from behind-the-arc.

6. Hilliard Darby

2013-14 record:

11-12 (7-7, fifth)

Key losses:

Taylor Van Winkle (6'1 SG)

Zach Cowen (6'3 SF)

Jordan Clark (5'11 PG, Harvest Prep transfer, 2015)

Top returnees:

Joey Schnieder (5'11 PG, 2015)

Nick Powers (6'1 SF, 2016)

Outlook:

Losing its top guard to Harvest Prep for the second year in a row (David Dennis in 2013, Clark in 2014), Darby will face some challenges early on as the Panthers look to regroup and get stronger for 2014-15. Senior guard Joey Schnieder is as tough as they come, while the junior combo-guard Powers showed versatility on both ends of floor last season, which should help the Panthers in division play this year. Darby is the definition of "middle of the pack" this year, but as the Panthers are always hard-nosed and scrappy, look for them to steal a game or two in 2014-15.

7. Canal Winchester

2013-14 record:

7-16 (2-12, seventh)

Key losses:

Coach Kent Riggs (retirement)

Daltyn Colley (6'0 G)

DeAndre Slappy (5'9 G)

Top returnees:

Brendan Snyder (6'1 G, 2015)

Kamon Craine (6'3 SG, 2015)

Outlook:

As Kent Riggs steps down after 27 years at the helm of the Canal Winchester program, the Indians have a period of transition to get through following great success under Riggs. Senior guard Brendan Snyder scored in bunches last year for the Indians, and will need to increase his production level to help the Indians compete in their second season in the OCC.

8. Dublin Scioto

2013-14 record:

4-19 (1-13, eighth)

Key losses:

Zac Brown (6'6 C)

Kalib Wallace (5'9 PG)

Andrew McKinley (6'0 SG)

Top returnees:

Scott Berg (6'0 SG, 2015)

Nick Pothoven (6'3 SF, 2016)

Outlook:

After a turbulent first season under head coach Mike Moler, the Irish look to rebound in a talent-rich division. Unfortunately for Scioto, they may still be a year or two away from seriously competing. Look for a big senior season from Berg who can really fill it up, while the 6-foot-3 junior Pothoven is an intriguing prospect on the wing.

OCC-Capital

1. New Albany

2013-14 record:

13-10 (11-3, tied for first)

Key losses:

Trey Miller (6'0 PG, Otterbein)

Avery Schneider (6'5 SG)

Alex Savikinas (5'10 SG)

Tanner Cline (6'3 SF)

Top returnees:

John Miller (6'10 C, Cornell offer, 2015)

BJ Duling (6'6 SF, one of Ohio's top forwards in the 2017 class)

Chris London (6'5 SF, 2015)

Joe Rowling (6'3 SG, 2016)

Outlook:

The deepest team in the OCC-Capital, New Albany returns the majority of its production from a year ago, led by the lengthy 6-foot-10 center Miller, who received an offer from Cornell in the spring. With Miller's size in the middle, New Albany features elite-level athletes in Chris London (6-foot-5, 2015), Bryson London (6-foot-6, 2016) and sophomore BJ Duling, who has already received an offer from Kent State. In the backcourt, seniors Alex Sparks and Austin Schaub form a dynamic duo, while the 6-foot-3 junior Rowling is the ultimate "glue guy," doing all the dirty work on both ends of the floor. Look for New Albany to win 20-plus games this season and battle with Delaware Hayes for the division title.

2. Delaware Hayes

2013-14 record:

21-4 (11-3, tied for first)

Key losses:

Alex Stevens (6'7 PF, Ohio Dominican)

Tyler Treese (6'3 SF)

Phil Frentsos (6'6 SG, Fork Union Military Academy)

Top returnees:

Khalil Iverson (6'5 SF, Penn State offer, 2015)

Noble Moore (6'3 SG, 2015)

Jordan Hecker (6'4 SG, 2015)

Outlook:

As Iverson's late-game heroics led Hayes to a share of the OCC-Capital title in late February, the 6-foot-5 small forward returns for what looks to be a monster season. Averaging more than 17 points and 11 rebounds as a junior, Iverson will be looked to provide even more production as the Pacers lose five three-year lettermen from the 2014 class. Look for the 6-foot-3 senior guard Moore to provide a scoring lift, as he is only 13 three-point field goals away from breaking the school record after shooting a 42 percent clip from deep last season. Hecker is an intriguing prospect on the wing who had a successful summer playing with Hidden Gems in AAU action. Sophomore guard Will Yoakum has been impressive during the summer, and should step up and be a key role player alongside 6-foot-4 junior Zach McIntire. Replacing a strong senior class is never an easy task, as Hayes will have to play high-IQ basketball to overcome New Albany for the second-straight year.

3. Olentangy

2013-14 record:

9-14 (5-9, tied for fifth)

Key losses:

No seniors on the 2013-14 roster

Top returnees:

Jimmy Gundling (6'0 PG, 2015)

Seth O'Neal (5'11 PG, 2016)

Obi Anunike (6'5 SF, 2016)

Outlook:

The youngest team in the OCC-Capital a season ago, look for Olentangy to be vastly improved in 2014-15. Led by the sharp-shooting Gundling, who averaged 18.2 points per game as a junior, the Braves are an interesting squad with lots of pieces. The junior guard O'Neal has been impressive this summer, while the lengthy 6-foot-5 African forward Anunike is posed for a breakout season, as his skill set is very reminiscent of Hayes' Iverson. While Olentangy doesn't have the size of a New Albany or Delaware Hayes, look for the Braves' perimeter shooting to keep them competitive enough to make a run for the top of the division.

4. Worthington Kilbourne

2013-14 record:

14-9 (10-4, third)

Key losses:

Mike Chambers (6'5 PF)

Seth Hill (5'11 PG)

Connor Silva (5'10 SG)

Top returnees:

Carson Van Lynn (6'7 PF, 2017)

Griffin Dahn (6'5 SF, 2015)

JC Bartok (6'5 PF, 2015)

Outlook:

After a fairly successful 2013-14 campaign, Worthington Kilbourne has a lot of production to replace as its top three scorers move on to college. With size in the front court, look for the sophomore Van Lynn, and juniors Dahn and Bartok to pace the Wolves this season. Always one of the more well-coached teams in the conference, Kilbourne will be a team to keep an eye on as 11 players return from last year's varsity roster.

5. Mount Vernon

2013-14 record:

8-15 (5-9, tied for fifth)

Key losses:

Alex Gilbert (5'11 PG)

Eric Leprotti (6'2 PF)

Jared Pryor (6'1 SF)

Top returnees:

Alex Arck (6'4 SG, 2015)

Austin Springer (6'1 SG, 2016)

Outlook:

Following an up and down season in 2013-14, look for Arck and the Yellow Jackets to be more competitive as Mount Vernon returns a great deal of its varsity roster. At 6-foot-4, Arck is one of the better combo-guards in Central Ohio, and looks to lead a scrappy Mount Vernon team without a true inside presence. Junior guard Austin Springer can light it up from the perimeter, and will be looked to produce at a higher level this season. In a conference complete with length and athleticism inside, Mount Vernon will have to utilize its unique home-court advantage to steal a game or two in league play.

6. Olentangy Orange

2013-14 record:

3-20 (3-11, eighth)

Key losses:

Dave Dawson (6'3 SG)

Chase Mosher (5'11 PG)

Taraji Hillard (6'5 PF)

Jay Joseph (6'3 SG, Worthington Christian transfer, 2017)

Top returnees:

Grant Gossard (6'7 C, 2016)

Collin Shepherd (5'10 SG, 2016)

Hayden Audsley (6'5 PF, 2016)

Outlook:

On a team that started primarily freshmen and sophomores a season ago, Olentangy Orange took the bumps and bruises that are expected for a team with that kind of youth. With the majority of last year's team returning for 2014-15, look for Orange to be much-improved, as its primary post threat Gossard improved by leaps and bounds during the AAU season, while juniors Audsley and 5-foot-10 guard Collin Shepherd can put the ball in the basket. Orange still seems to be a year away from being a serious competitor in the Capital division, however. Orange's top young prospect, Joseph, transferred to Division III Worthington Christian over the summer, which is a big loss for the Olentangy program.

7. Big Walnut

2013-14 record:

9-14 (4-10, seventh)

Key losses:

Jeremy Bok (6'2 SG)

Chase LaVeer (6'0 G)

Nick Herbert (6'1 G)

Logan Boyd (6'1 G)

Top returnees:

Zac Asher (6'5 SF, 2015)

Michael Buckles (6'0 G, 2015)

Matt Tarney (5'10 G, 2015)

Outlook:

After an up and down season in 2013-14, Big Walnut returns with a strong senior class that should help the OCC's lone Division II team compete with the bigger schools in its division. Led by the productive 6-foot-5 senior forward Asher, Big Walnut features skilled seniors guards Buckles and Tarney, who each scored big buckets in several games last season. Don't be surprised if Big Walnut winds up as high as fourth in the division, as the gap between the middle of the pack teams in the division isn't very wide.

8. Franklin Heights

2013-14 record:

13-11 (7-7, fourth)

Key losses:

Akiean Frederick (6'7 PF, Owens CC)

Kyle Tope (6'3 SF)

Jonathan Tinker (6'1 SG)

Jon Tinker (6'0 SG)

Top returnees:

Josh Williams (5'9 PG, 2015)

Jeilani Jeilani (6'0 PG, 2015)

Outlook:

While Frederick's breakout senior season led Franklin Heights to its best season in years, the cupboard is currently close to empty for the Falcons in 2014-15. As senior guards Williams and Jeilani are the only two players with legitimate varsity experience, coach Todd Phillips will have his work cut out for him, a season before a brand new building will open up for the school located on the west side of Columbus.