Taking in some open gym action in the Columbus City League-North division on Tuesday, we had a chance to watch two teams in transition, but surely on the rise. Making our first stop at Columbus East, a program that won five state championships from 1951 to 1979, we were impressed with a group of young guys that are working hard to change the culture. In our second stop, we checked in at Whetstone High School, just north of Ohio State's campus, to watch a team in year two of a program transformation that has been making steady progress by the day. Let's take a look at some top performers from Tuesday's action.
Justin Curtis (6'3 SF / 2018): The top prospect in the gym, we were impressed with the talented Curtis, who showed a lot of upside at the wing guard position. With a high motor and some natural scoring ability, Curtis is one of the better 2018 prospects that we have seen in the City League, as his development will be contingent on staying disciplined. Curtis is a confident wing guard that can knock down the mid-range jumper consistently, while also being a force in transition. We look forward to tracking his progress this season.
Chase Walker (5'7 PG / 2016): The senior leader on the floor, Walker was the top performer on Tuesday. A quick left-handed lead guard with natural leadership ability, Walker commanded the floor and was the top scorer off the drive that we watched. A hard-working kid with high character, Walker would be a good fit at a Division III or NAIA program.
Kelvin Burley (6'4 PF / 2016): East's biggest player on Tuesday, Burley is a wide-bodied post with some upside. The top rebounder in the gym, we liked the way Burley positioned himself underneath, as he grabbed down a lot of offensive boards for second-chance points. Burley will need to continue to work on his finishing ability underneath, but we liked what we saw from him.
Noah Harris (5'9 PG / 2017): A transfer from Pickerington North, we were impressed with not only Harris' play, but his demeanor and attitude on and off the floor. A bright kid with an infectious smile, Harris is a quality pass-first lead guard that is skilled at setting his teammates up to score. With a reliable outside shot, Harris is a quality addition for an East program looking for leaders.
Jacques Davenport (5'11 PG / 2017): Confident ball-handler that works hard and loves the game. Davenport is always looking to get some run in, which is evident in the progress that he has made. Davenport is quick in transition, and utilizes a crossover dribble move to create separation and get to the rim. The transfer from Walnut Ridge will need to continue to work on his perimeter shooting and off-hand finishing to become a solid all-around lead guard for East.
Tommie Lee (6'1 SG / 2016): The top scorer in the gym on Tuesday, we really liked what we had to see out of the hard-working senior Lee. A gritty right-handed guard with innate scoring ability, Lee is best-served off the ball for the Braves, as he can get to where he needs to go off the dribble, while also not wasting many possessions with bad shots and over-dribbling like many of the other guards we watched on Tuesday. A breakout senior season could see Lee pick up some college interest, as we think he would be a solid player at the NAIA level.
Dexter Kowalski (6'6 PF / 2016): A player that arrived on our radar during the 2013-14 season, Kowalski is an intriguing forward prospect that brings a high motor, toughness and athleticism to a Whetstone team with a ton of guards. An above-average athlete for his size, Kowalski is a guy that affects the game in many ways for Whetstone, and while he may never be the Braves' first or second scoring option, he will do the little things that will make a difference. The top rebounder in the gym on Tuesday, Kowalski was difficult to keep off the offensive glass, as his length and motor helped him keep many possessions alive for his team. Look for Kowalski to pick up some Division III interest this season.
Rayshon Walker (5'10 PG / 2018): Tough lead guard that played vital minutes on varsity as a freshman. Walker is composed, smart and disciplined, which are excellent qualities to have as a point guard. A hard worker that has improved over the offseason, Walker will be a key component on this Whetstone team, as he can produce in a variety of ways, while also handling the burden of being a primary scorer at times. Look for Walker to keep developing into one of the better point guards in central Ohio's 2018 class.
Shamari Jacobs (6'1 SG / 2016): A kid that has battled a lot of adversity, Jacobs was a bright spot for Whetstone on Tuesday, as he played some of his best basketball in months. A streaky scorer that reminds us a lot of Walnut Ridge's Azende Johnson, Jacobs is a hard-nosed hooper that affects the game in several ways. Rebounding well for a guard, Jacobs is athletic enough to compete with bigger players for boards, and has the speed and ball-handling ability to instantly get out into the open floor. If Jacobs can perform at the level he did on Tuesday, he can really help this Whetstone program take the next step forward.