On Sunday afternoon numerous student-athletes, fans, coaches, and basketball junkies gathered at Toledo Christian High School for the second annual Northwest Ohio Boys Basketball Showcase. Over sixty young men from grades 9-12 competed throughout the afternoon, and then a dunk and three point contest, followed by a small single elimination tournament concluded the day. College coaches from Trine University, Heidelberg University, Defiance College, Owens Community College, and others were on hand throughout the day to check out the talent in the gym. Special thanks to all involved. The following are evaluations and other notes from the great day that was had by all:
E Hoops Ohio All-Showcase Team (No Order) – T.Q Belcher (Rogers), Carl Banks (Waite), Joe Ochoa (Toledo Christian), James Harris III (Toledo Central Catholic), Jalen Elliott (Bowsher), DJ Triplett (Toledo Central Catholic), Jordan Burton (Cardinal Stritch).
Slam Dunk Contest Champion – Jalen Elliott (Bowsher)
Three Point Contest Champion – Cole McWhinnie (Toledo Christian)
’17 SG Jalen Elliott (Bowsher) – While some guys early in the day took a bit of time to get things going and their energy up, Elliott wasn’t one of them. He was special from start to finish, competed at a very high level, especially for showcase play, and very much looked the part of a quality recruit at the next level. Standing around 6’4” Elliott has the length to get to the rim and finish over and through contact, while also being a valued defender. An above average athlete, he used that to his advantage throughout the day. Shot the ball at a very efficient rate as most are accustomed to him doing on a consistent basis.
’17 G TQ Belcher (Rogers) – It took a game or two for him to get things going, but he eventually settled in and took over the event for a stretch of time. Belcher can score from all levels as he did on Sunday, and is becoming more and more comfortable attacking the rim off the dribble. Was dialed in defensively which led to excellent transition offense for he and his teammates. Made shots from the perimeter with consistency and competed every trip down the floor. My preseason pick for Toledo’s City League Player of the Year.
’17 G DJ Triplett (Toledo Central Catholic) – If the event had an MVP it would be hard for my vote not to go to Triplett. Known as one of the better offensive threats around, DJ was on a mission all day long filling it up from all over the floor. Can be a bit of a streaky shooter at times, but on Sunday that wasn’t an issue. Attacked the paint and had his mid-range game working, got teammates involved. Competed on the defensive side of things and took his matchups personal. Should be poised for a big season in the always talented and competitive TRAC.
’18 PG Carl Banks (Waite) – You’d be hard pressed to find a better point guard in all of Toledo and that was the case on Sunday as well. Banks can just flat out play. While undersized, inch for inch he also just might have the most heart of anyone around. Got teammates involved, led the break, and picked his spots to score all day long. Always a standout on the defensive end, he creates turnovers and gets in opponents’ heads. Banks plays with swagger and has that ‘dog’ about him and you just know what you’re going to get from him every time he steps on the floor.
’17 G/F James Harris III (Toledo Central Catholic) – Won’t necessarily impress you with his size, strength, or even athleticism, but he just flat out plays hard, smart, and always seems to be around the ball. He was active all over the floor, grabbing rebounds on both ends, getting put-backs, finishing around the rim, and bringing energy on defense. Should play a big part in the amount of success that Central Catholic has this coming season.
’17 PF Joe Ochoa (Toledo Christian) – At 6’7” Ochoa was without a doubt the most impressive big man at the showcase. His improvements from last season to now can easily be seen. Is much more polished offensively displaying a number of moves in the paint, and finishing strong around the rim. Corrals rebounds well in and out of his area. Can be a force defensively clogging up the lane. Improved coordination and athleticism. Will be one of the better talents in the TAAC this coming season. Should find a place on a college roster by this time next year.
’19 PG Jordan Burton (Cardinal Stritch) – If the previously mentioned Banks was the best point guard on Sunday, Burton was certainly second and not far behind. The young floor general was exceptional doing a little bit of everything. Has a good handle and can deal with ball pressure, sees the floor well, finds the open man, and makes heady basketball decisions. Possesses a pure stroke from deep where he was dialed in for much of the day. Has a nice bounce in his step and good athletic ability from his position. While small in stature at 5’9” Burton has big game.
’20 PG Joey Holifield Jr. (Cardinal Stritch) – Has yet to play a minute of high school basketball but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the better talents in the area. Has grown and matured physically, now standing around 6’. Displayed some strength getting to the rim and attacking the interior. Smart and understands the game beyond his years. One of a handful of freshman from Toledo that will see varsity minutes this season and should land with a D1 program in the coming years.
’19 PG Trey Syroka (Whitmer) – Another undersized guard with tons of heart, Syroka is a competitor through and through. Always sees the floor well and did so on Sunday, can break down defenders off the dribble. When you know you’re going to get to watch him play, it’s a lock that you’ll see some dimes dished out, and he was good for a few ‘oohs and ahhs’ once again. Will have the keys to the Whitmer program for the next few years and deservingly so.
The decision was made to break up the play into two divisions with 9th and 10th playing in one gym and 11th and 12th in another. A few of the more talented underclassman played up in the junior and senior division including the aforementioned Holifield, Burton, Syroka, as well as Payton Moyer of Toledo St. Johns, and Alek West of Sylvania Northview. All of them more than held their own and are worth recognizing.
Others who played well and deserve recognition: Tayler McNeal (Toledo St. Francis), Tyrik Barbine (Start), Alontay Gould (Rogers), Dru Pettigrew (Rogers), Mikey Mitchell (Scott), Delano Smith (Toledo Christian), Vonte Middleton (Rogers), Ajai Washington (Bowsher), Darnell Brown (Bowsher), Max Birmingham (Bedford, MI).