|Sydney Curry, DJ Dials, Josiah Hutchens, Devontae. Blanton & Zeb Jackson|
With the start of the middle school basketball season only a few short weeks away, players are still taking advantage of fall leagues and showcases to work on their game and to prepare for the season. On Saturday, Quincy Simpson held his annual Tier 1 Middle School Showcase at Lima Senior High School in Lima, Ohio. Although the numbers were down a bit from last year (about 100), there were still some quality players in the gym. The event kicked off with about 3 hours of skills and drills, followed by 3 rounds of games and culminated with all-star games later in the day.
The best player we saw all day was Sydney Curry (6’5/ PF/C/ Indiana/ 2019). Yes we are talking about the Sydney Curry who had several big time performances with George Hill in the National Youth Basketball League (NYBL) this past season. In Lima on Saturday, Curry was a man among boys and had no challengers in the low post. Big, strong and physical in the post, Curry put up big numbers around the basket. As strong as Curry is, he has a super soft touch around the cup. He’s not just a superb lost post scorer, Curry passed the ball well for a big, and reminds us of Kevin Love with his ability to deliver outlet passes on a dime. If that wasn't enough, Curry can also step out side and hit the jumper if left open. It's no wonder that the King James coaching staff was all over Curry and his mother at the event, the kid's a real talent!
Curry wasn’t the only star at the event, as David “DJ” Dials (5’6 /PG /South Euclid /2019) showed up and reminded folks why some consider him to be one of the top 2-3 lead guards in the state in his class. Not only can Dials get you buckets, his ability to create for teammates is significant. In Lima, Dials put his team on his back several times and kept them in games. Dials has the rock on a string and uses his elite handle and dribble moves to break down defenders to get into the paint to get his drive and dish game off, or to create space for his own shot. At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that the rest of the county has seen so little of dials’ talent! There were a few "under the radar" guys who made some noise on Saturday as well, including: Josiah Hutchens (5'11/ WF Sidney /2019); Braylon Mitchell (5'7/ P/SG /Reynoldsburg /2019); Anthony Mazzeo (5'7 /PG /Massillon); Jaleel King (6'0/ W/PF /Gahanna/ 2019); Ryan Martin (5'7 /SG/ Ayersville 2091); Tahleik Walker (5'4 /SG/ Pickerington /2020) and Sol Hines (5'8/ SG/ Reynoldsburg /2019), all of whom had some good moments on Saturday.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was the growth and progression of Devontae Blanton (6’1/ WF /Cleveland /2020). Blanton is not only long, agile and athletic, he showed a lot of skill and ability to finish at a high rate around the cup. Blanton also can handle the rock in the open court and is productive in transition. The brother of former Michigan State star Delvon Roe, Blanton has the genetics and upside to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. It’s early, but college coaches might want to make a note of Blanton’s potential. Toledo's Zeb Jackson (5'4 /PG /2020) was on his game on Saturday. Jackson has total command of the rock and knows how to separate from defenders in order to get his shot. A killer crossover is his primary weapon, but he has a number of dribble moves at his disposal to create offense. Fianl analysis, Jackson's national rep was well deserved from what we saw in Lima.
The Tier 1 event always seems to attract a lot good young talent, and this year was no exception. West Lake’s Seth Wilson (5’8 /PG /2021) rolled thorough and played up in the 7th/8th division. Wilson is widely considered to be one of the top 5 players in the class of 2021 and his play on Saturday proved that his success translates at the higher grade level. In his class, Wilson is a big guard who uses his size and strength to get to the rack. Against the older kids, Wilson’s poise, IQ and playmaking ability were on display. Oh, Wilson still got to the cup and scored, but his understanding of the game and savvy were more evident. Finally, we were very impressed with the way Wilson handled himself against the older kids; he was not at all intimidated.
Another day, another gym and another standout performance by John Mobley Jr. (4’7/ PG/ Columbus /2023). From here on out, when we refer to Mobley we will use the nickname “The Show.” Why you ask, because the kid puts on a show every time we see him play, and we see him a lot. Mobley’s handle is ridiculous, as is his IQ and play making ability. Unlike some, Mobley uses his elite handle effectively, and is very productive either getting his shot or getting a teammate a good look. "The Show" is also exciting to watch, as most fans are simply amazed at the kid’s skill set and swag at such a young age. If he does not get caught up in the madness that can be youth basketball, Mobley has a chance to be really good. Remember the name, John "The Show" Mobley Jr. is the real deal!
Despite what some might think, we love to write about new kids when their performance warrants recognition. Kobe Buford (5’7/ PF/C /Dublin /2021) has caught our eye a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. In Lima, Buford displayed great low post footwork and a soft touch around the basket. Because you never know if kids will continue to grow, the fact he has good shot mechanics and can handle the ball on the perimeter will only enhance his game. He didn’t really have much competition in the post on Saturday, but it was still clear the kid has game. It should be noted that Buford took home MVP honors after a great all-star game performance.
We are really starting to love Kahlil Luster’s (4’5/ PG /Lima /2022) game. He’s diminutive, but like they say, “good things come in small packages.” Luster is another guard with an elite handle; however, he rarely over dribbles and clearly understands how to use his gift to find open teammates or to create scoring opportunities for himself. Luster rarely turns the rock over by playing with it, and he consentingly makes the right decision with the ball. Luster knows what he’s doing out there, and represents the type of PG other players want to play with. He got busy at the Buckeye Prep Elite Showcase last month and he logged in another top performance on Saturday.
Sean Jones (4’9 /PG /Columbus /2022) had another good day and did nothing to hurt his state and national rep. We haven’t highlighted him before, but Bryce Williams (4’8 /PG /Fishers, IN /2022), had a lot of fans at the event, as several people approached us about the kid’s talent. From what I saw, they were right. Williams shoots the ball well, has good fundementals and knows how to run a team. Williams has good vision and the ability to deliver the ball on time and on target. Definitely a player to watch going forward. I have to give a shout out to Quincy Clark (5’0/ PG /Gahanna /2021). Clark showed a nice skill set, poise and a high basketball IQ. From what I saw, Tony Stiab’s Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions could have another quality PG heading to the program in a couple of year. It’s no secret we love Gahanna kids! All-in-all, the Tier 1 Middle School Showcase represented a great day of basketball.