Under a new regime with longtime Brookhaven coach Hali Robinson, Mifflin looks to be one of Columbus' most promising teams in 2014-15. Receiving several talented players from the Bearcats' City Championship team a year ago, Mifflin has depth, and most importantly, experience. With 15 seniors in the gym for the first open gym session of the fall, Robinson will have one of Central Ohio's top senior classes, as the Punchers aim to win its first Columbus City League championship in school history. Let's take a look at who will don the blue and white for the Punchers in 2014-15, as Robinson hopes to catch lightning in a bottle for the second year in a row.
Shad Kimble (6'2 SG / 2015):
The top player in the gym on Wednesday, Kimble returned to the court as a much-improved player from the last time I saw him in July at AAU Nationals. Adding noticeable strength to his frame, Kimble was able to do whatever he wanted on the offensive end, hitting a number of impressive pull-up and step-back jump shots, while the senior's ball-handling was also improved from the summer. Handling the majority of ball-handling duties for his team, Kimble showed a high level of comfort with the ball in his hands, and showed the best vision in transition, hooking up with an open teammate on several occasions. Receiving interest from several Division II programs including Ashland and Ohio Dominican, Kimble's father said his son is also hearing from Kent State. A late-blooming two guard with lots of skill, Kimble is one of the hardest working players in Columbus, and is primed for a big-time senior season.
J-Saun Davis (6'4 SF/PF / 2015):
Kimble's teammate at Brookhaven and in the AAU season with Ohio Varsity, Davis hit the hardwood for the first time since the summer, and didn't skip a beat in his return. A bouncy undersized four that brings a high level of energy to the offensive and defensive glass, Davis looked like the animal he was toward the end of the season a year ago. Collecting more rebounds than any other player in the gym, Davis' commitment to the offensive glass will pay dividends for a Puncher team without a post player taller than 6-foot-4. Davis showed more comfort putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket from 12 feet out, which will add to a Mifflin offense that will rely on speed and athleticism.
PJ Wilkes (5'10 PG / 2015):
After leading the Punchers in scoring as a junior in 2013-14, Wilkes now finds himself with several former middle school teammates that won a Columbus City championship several years ago. As Kimble and Davis will bring more scoring to the Puncher offense, Wilkes looked the part of the true point guard that he can be, dishing and dealing his way to an day-high in assists. A polished ball-handler that consistently finds his way into the lane, Wilkes is the type of guard the Punchers will need to run the show on a deep unit. Averaging around 17 points per game as a junior, look for Wilkes to be an instrumental part to a Mifflin team that has the most depth at the guard positions in the City League North.
Jalen Spencer (6'1 PF / 2017):
The top underclassmen in the building on Wednesday, Spencer showed off a high level of skill near the basket, months after starting a great deal of his freshman season on the varsity squad. A wide-bodied post at 6-foot-1, Spencer uses his frame well to move defenders on the block, and was able to convert near the rim against taller defenders. Idolizing the greatest undersized power forward of all-time in Charles Barkley, Spencer played with the same fiery passion that Barkley possessed on the floor, which is a trait needed to compete in the post.
Aidurus Mohamed (6'5 SF / 2016):
Mifflin's top junior prospect in the gym, Mohamed impressed in my first viewing of him. A long-armed and wiry 6-foot-5 combo-forward, Mohamed showed a significant level of skill, knocking down several jump shots along the baseline, in addition to scoring several buckets in transition. Running the floor hard on both ends, Mohamed's hustle was rewarded time after time, as the lanky junior looks to be a key reserve player for the Punchers this season.
Tolliver Cunningham (5'11 PG / 2015):
Coming over to Mifflin from rival Beechcroft, the senior guard Cunningham, who is built like an SEC running back, is another key addition for the Punchers. Penetrating the lane at will, Cunningham has great burst and strength to finish through contact, and was a catalyst in transition as he and Kimble torched the opposing defense. An inconsistent shooter at this point, Cunningham caught fire toward the end of the season, knocking down several three-point field goals from the corner. While not possessing the scoring ability of former Mifflin legend Rolland Patterson, Cunningham has similar burst, which will only help a Puncher offense looking to put points on the board.
Brandon McEwen (6'0 PG/SG / 2015):
The forgotten piece from the Brookhaven merger, McEwen was as solid as ever on Wednesday, controlling the tempo and playing tough on-ball defense. A capable shooter from the perimeter, McEwen will have plenty of opportunities to spot up and shoot from the perimeter in 2014-15. As McEwen and fellow transfer guard Curt Armstrong come over from Brookhaven, Mifflin's depth at the guard position will be key in crunch time.