State boys basketball tourney provides big exposure for college prospects

One of the more enjoyable things about the state boys basketball tournament is the opportunity to watch the numerous future college players as they attempt to lead their respective high school teams to historical finishes.

Pickerington Central has a group of athletes who we'll get to enjoy over the next few years in one arena or another lead it past Fairfield 60-45 in a Division I state semifinal March 23 at Ohio State.

Basketball is not even the best sport for the TIgers' junior Taco Charlton, but the Michigan football recruit contributed six rebounds.

Senior Caris LeVert, who blossomed into central Ohio's best player this season, had 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

And who had the most impressive performance for the Tigers? Sophomore Jae'Sean Tate, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

While LeVert signed with Ohio University last November, Tate should  find himself playing collegiately in either football or basketball.

Considering the way Tate looked against Fairfield, he should consider strongly following in the footsteps of his father, former Ohio State player Jermaine Tate.

"I love my babies," Central coach Jerry Francis said. "I know I'm getting old because I coached (Tate's) daddy. Caris is going to be moving on to bigger and better things next year and Jae'Sean is only a sophomore. I'm still just so proud of my babies."

Tate is a 6-4 forward who blossomed this season as the No. 2 option in the Tigers' offense. He averages 12 points and eight rebounds and has been a major reason Central advanced to the state final against Toledo Whitmer.

Whitmer, by the way, has its share of Division I caliber athletes as well.

In a 62-51 victory over Lakewood St. Edward in the other Division I state semifinal, Nigel Hayes had 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Hayes is a 6-7 junior who has Division I offers from Akron, Central Michigan and Toledo. He speaks confidently and has some rather interesting TV-watching habits.

"We're not too high, not too low," Hayes said. "We'll probably go back to the hotel, watch some TV, maybe some SpongeBob, and come back ready tomorrow."

Whitmer also features Chris Wormley, a 6-foot-8 senior center who will play football for Michigan. He finished with nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and added four rebounds.

*For updates during the state championship game Saturday night, follow @Dpurpura and @ThisWeekSports.

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By: Jarrod Ulrey

3 / 23 / 12

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