After dominating what used to be known as Coach Vic's Open Gym for the greater part of the last three years, Ohio State freshman forward Jae'Sean Tate returned home to compete with the area's top high school talent. Among a deep group of talented prep stars, Tate was just one of several top performers from the day. Let's take a look at the top players from week five of Coach Vic's Weekly Showcase.
Jae'Sean Tate (6'5 SF / Ohio State freshman):
Returning to Coach Vic's for the first time all fall, Tate showcased the improvement in his game that many expected after a full summer with the Ohio State coaching staff. As strong and physical as ever, Tate had his way in the lane with opposing defenders, and finished several rim-rattling jams, while knocking down several pull-up jump shots from the mid-range area. Tate's greatest quality is his non-stop motor, which is a big reason for the high energy plays that the 6-foot-5 forward consistently makes when on the floor. Expected to come off the bench as a freshman, look for Tate to find his way onto the floor with that very motor that made him such a star at Pickerington Central.
Rodrick Caldwell (6'0 PG / Huber Heights Wayne / 2016):
The top performing guard from Sunday, Caldwell was extremely impressive in all facets of the game. Able to score when he wants to, Caldwell can also facilitate with the best of them, and that was apparent in a six-point, six-rebound and four-assist game vs. Tate & Co. Recently receiving an offer from Miami (OH), Caldwell is undoubtedly a top-three point guard in Ohio's class of 2016, and was far and away the top point guard in attendance on Sunday. Showing a greater ability to shoot from the perimeter, look for Caldwell to add an absolutely tremendous boost to what Wayne will be able to do on offense this season.
Jelani Rogers (5'11 PG / Westerville South / 2016):
One of the more underrated guards in 2016, Rogers was a major part of a Dayton-based squad that steamrolled competition on Sunday. Playing alongside Michigan State commit Kyle Ahrens, Dayton commits Ryan Mikesell and Xeyrius Williams, and Johnstown forward Jason Carter, Rogers did exactly what was needed of him; distribute the ball. Racking up a high number of assists, Rogers' excellent vision and passing ability helped him hit open teammates, as the Dayton-based team scored easy bucket after easy bucket. Rogers also showed off his ability to hit the deep ball, in addition to finishing amongst traffic in the lane. What I like most about Rogers' game is his ability to constantly control tempo, and control himself, which are the makings of an efficient point guard.
Austin Armwood (6'0 PG / Westerville North / 2015):
As a college coach in attendance described Armwood as a guard that, "can score in so many ways," Armwood did a bit of that on Sunday. A consistent shooter from the perimeter, Armwood is also a steady ball-handler that can get into the lane and either score or facilitate. A high-IQ lead guard with decent size, Armwood is receiving interest from several top Division III schools, including Mount Union, where he visited after Sunday's action. Armwood also reported to me upcoming visits at Capital, Bluffton and Bethany (WV).
Austin Schaub (6'2 PG / New Albany / 2015):
My open gym MVP of the fall so far, Schaub put in another productive day, showing off his three-point shooting ability and well-roundedness at the most important position on the floor. Another high-IQ guard that just seems to do everything right, Schaub consistently hit the deep ball, and was able to handle tight defensive pressure from several solid opposing guards. An ideal fit for most Division II programs, Schaub is one of the better guards in Central Ohio and should be a major part of what New Albany hopes to accomplish in 2014-15.
Chris Darrington (6'1 PG / Toledo Scott / 2015):
Coming down from Toledo once again for Coach Vic's, Darrington showed off his greatest strength; scoring ability. A shot-maker that can consistently create for himself, Darrington reminds me of former Toledo Rogers standout Tony Kynard, in that both guards may take what seem to be difficult shots, but the ball just seems to always find its way into the hoop. An excellent athlete that can really make things happen in transition, Darrington is a high-scoring guard flying under the radar in Northwest Ohio at this time.
PJ Wilkes (5'9 PG / Columbus Mifflin / 2015):
Returning to Coach Vic's for the second time this season, Wilkes played at a high level than before. Running alongside Tate and high school teammate Shad Kimble, Wilkes played his role, hitting open shots and racking up assists. Wilkes' perimeter shot continues to improve, while the guard's ball-handling and ability to create have never been in question. Receiving his first Division III offer from Heidelberg last week, Wilkes is a scoring guard on the rise, while his recruitment should only increase as Mifflin builds on what looks to be a promising season.
Shad Kimble (6'2 SG / Columbus Mifflin / 2015):
One of Central Ohio's most improved guard from this time a year ago, Kimble shared the floor with Tate, and did not look overwhelmed or out of place in the slightest. A quality-sized two guard that constantly plays hard and smart, Kimble showed an ability to create for himself, knocking down jumpers from all over the field. Kimble's ball-handling is the most improved part to his game, which was a major strength on Sunday, as the 6-foot-2 senior was able to slash past defenders into the lane. Receiving some Division II and III interest, Kimble is a top three shooting guard in Central Ohio's senior class.
Kyle Ahrens (6'5 SF / Versailles / 2015):
Finally looking to be 100 percent after a season-ending leg injury as a junior, Ahrens was completely dominant, showing the signature athleticism that helped him land on the radar of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, whom Ahrens committed to earlier in the summer. Proving to be a terror around the rim, Ahrens was also one of the day's top shot-makers, while playing stout defense on the other end of the floor. Alongside Michigan forward Deyonta Davis, Ahrens is a major part of what looks to be another solid recruiting class for Izzo and the Spartans.
Jaquan Harrison (6'4 SF / Columbus Africentric / 2015):
After a broken knee cap suffered in June slowed down Harrison for the rest of the summer, the athletic 6-foot-4 forward looked to be closer to his former self on the floor. A bouncy combo-forward that is similar to Tate when it comes to making energy plays, as Harrison's motor never stops. Receiving an offer from Division II Ashland last week, Harrison is a high D2/low major tweener with a ton of athleticism and considerable upside.
Houston Smith (6'5 SF / Columbus Africentric / 2016):
Harrison's mate on the wing at Africentric, Smith continues to improve in each viewing I see of him. Another athletic high-flyer, Smith's jump-shooting has come a long way since his sophomore season, which has made him a tough matchup for most defenders. Smith's greatest improvement, however, has been in his motor, as the 6-foot-5 junior has been productive in all facets of the game lately. Long-armed and bouncy, Smith looks to take another step forward as a junior, which will be key to what Africentric hopes to accomplish in 2014-15.
Ibi Watson (6'5 SF / Pickerington Central / 2016):
By all accounts, Watson is one of the best wing prospects in Ohio's class of 2016. A skilled scorer that seems to always do things the ring way, Watson will be one of the OCC-Ohio's top scorers after scorching the nets at Athens for two seasons. Improving his athleticism and perimeter shooting ability, Watson can score in a variety of ways, and is a physical defender on the other end of the floor. With offers from Akron, Duquesne, Miami (OH), Ohio and Toledo, Watson has also reportedly received increased interest from Michigan in recent weeks.
Andre Wesson (6'5 SF / Westerville South / 2016):
One of several talented juniors on a deep Westerville South roster, Wesson might just be the most improved of them all. While the 6-foot-5 forward had some trouble finishing through contact at times as a sophomore, Wesson has shown great improvement in that area, and was one of Sunday's top slashers. Playing with more physicality and strength, Wesson was another high-motor guy that came out and competed for the entirety of the event. While Wesson's jump shooting is still an area for improvement, the 6-foot-5 junior wing will be a major part to a Westerville South team looking to win the OCC-Cardinal in 2014-15.
Seth Towns (6'8 SF / Columbus Northland / 2016):
Central Ohio's top shot maker at the small forward position, Towns continued an impressive fall season on Sunday. After Ohio State coach Thad Matta, and several other high-major coaches came out to watch Towns last Thursday, the 6-foot-8 wing shot the ball at a higher percentage on Sunday, especially utilizing a patented step-back move to create space on his perimeter shot. While Towns can still shy away from contact at times, the junior wing has improved his finishing ability going toward the basket, which will only enhance his offensive development in the future.
BJ Duling (6'7 SF / New Albany / 2017):
The top wing in Central Ohio's 2017 class, Duling has been consistently productive in my last several viewings of him. A skilled and athletic 6-foot-7 wing, Duling is a shot-maker that is more than capable from behind-the-arc. Receiving his first offer from Kent State earlier in the summer, Duling looks to explode onto the scene in Central Ohio this season. Learning from an experienced senior class at New Albany, look for Duling to take the reigns of the Eagles roster as a junior in 2015-16.
Matt Moyer (6'7 SF / Gahanna Lincoln / 2016):
With Courtside Films following Moyer around for the weekend, the 6-foot-7 Syracuse commit made sure to put on a show at Coach Vic's. Flying all over the floor with his signature high motor, Moyer was effective scoring in transition, while maintaining solid control of the boards. While his shooting was very inconsistent on Sunday, Moyer made up for it with hustle and energy plays. Showing a tendency to dribble too much on the perimeter at times, the more Moyer starts to understand how to play the game at the most efficient level, that mixed with his insane level of upside will turn him into one of the best forwards in the entire 2016 class.
Xeyrius Williams (6'8 SF/PF / Huber Heights Wayne / 2015):
Deserving of a ranking in the top 250 of the national class of 2015, Williams was a flat out beast alongside Ahrens on Sunday. A difficult matchup for most defenses, Williams has the length to be successful in the post, while being athletic and skilled enough to score anywhere from 24-feet and in. An active rebounder that is especially effective on the offensive glass, Williams is a tremendous addition to Archie Miller's 2015 class at Dayton.
Caden Sanchez (6'7 PF / Columbus DeSales / 2017):
As several college coaches complimented Sanchez on his motor and brute strength in the post, Sanchez showed a level of toughness on Sunday that I hadn't seen out of him before. Looking to mix it up on the block on every trip down the floor, Sanchez was not hesitant when contact arrived, finishing through defenders for tough buckets. A capable shooter from the mid-range as well, Sanchez had himself a productive afternoon, and should continue to rise up recruiting boards in the class of 2017.
Luke Mayer (6'6 PF / Hilliard Davidson / 2016):
Greatly underrated in the junior class, Mayer was one of the top posts in attendance on Sunday, showing off a high level of athleticism and skill around the basket. Another high-motor guy, Mayer loves to bang in the post, and is an active rebounder on the offensive glass. An instrumental part of a Hilliard Davidson team looking to make a charge to the top of the OCC-Central division, look for Mayer to be one of the OCC's top breakout players this season.
Nick Ward (6'8 PF / Gahanna Lincoln / 2016):
Going up against Big Ten freshmen Tate and Javon Bess on Saturday in an open gym at Pickerington Central, Ward was as solid as ever once again on Sunday. Skilled and strong in the post, Ward is becoming the state's top post scorer, as he just continues to put the ball in the basket with defenders hanging all over him. Improving his off-hand finishing ability by a considerable amount since the end of the high school season, the best defensive game plan against Ward is to keep him out of the paint and force him to shoot jump shots, which is much harder said than done. Receiving an offer from Cincinnati last week, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami (FL), Purdue, and others were in the gym to watch him.
Caleb Mitchell (6'8 C / Bellefontaine / 2015):
Another breakout performer from Sunday, Mitchell showed off a versatile offensive skill set, finding success around the rim, while knocking down comfortable jumpers from the mid-range area. Built like a Mack truck, Mitchell is broad-shouldered 6-foot-8 forward with decent athleticism. On a Bellefontaine team with some talented pieces, Mitchell and senior guard Tristan Tillman are one of the better duos in the greater Central Ohio area.
Kaleb Wesson (6'9 C / Westerville South / 2017):
The big-bodied beast of a sophomore returned to Coach Vic's after unofficially visiting Ohio State for the Kent State game on Saturday. Ohio's top post in the class of 2017, Wesson used his wide-frame, polished footwork and soft touch to score a variety of buckets on the block. The most underrated part to Wesson's game is his jump shooting, as the 6-foot-9 sophomore knocked down several comfortable threes from the top of the key, a positive sign for things to come going forward. While Ohio State is the major player in Wesson's recruitment at this time, the sophomore center also reported to me that Dayton, West Virginia and Xavier are also very involved.