It was enjoyable watching the Marion-Franklin boys basketball team and second-year coach Scott Williams finally have some success last winter after the program had failed to struggled to reach expectations despite having as much talent as any program in the City-South the last few years.
The Red Devils were a .500 team during the regular season but blew out DeSales 56-34 despite being the 11th seed in Division II to win their first district championship since 1993.
Now at least two of their players will play at the next level.
On May 15, Marquiez Lawrence, a 6-8 senior forward, and Dominique Cartier, a senior guard, made their commitments.
Lawrence signed to play for Kent State and Cartier committed to Bluefield State College, a Division II program in West Virginia.
As pleased as Williams was of their signings, he was more proud that both carry a grade-point average above 3.0.
"I'm very proud that both of them earned their scholarships," Williams said. "I tell (my players) that it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and going deeper in the tournament helps them get more exposure. We were able to put it all together for a tournament run."
Lawrence averaged 12 points, 8.5 rebounds and four blocked shots. Cartier averaged 13 points.
Also on the radar of college recruiters, according to Williams, are junior guard Demetrius Walker and 6-8 sophomore forward Anthony Anderson, who Williams said has an offer from West Virginia. Walker had eight steals in the win over DeSales.
Freshman James Manns, a 6-7 forward who was the Red Devils' first player off the bench, is another player who should be on recruiters' minds over the next couple years.
Ronnie Stokes Jr. is probably best known as the son of the former Ohio State men's basketball player and current Buckeyes radio analyst with the same name.
He also has the distinction of being the younger brother of former Ohio State women's star Amber Stokes.
Stokes Jr., who this past winter was the glue that held the Gahanna boys basketball program together, will still be hanging around a court the next few years after he recently committed to play for Walsh University.
Last season, Gahanna had four players, including Akron-recruit Aaron Jackson, miss time for disciplinary reasons.
Stokes Jr. seemed to hold that ship together, averaging 8.2 points and making second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division as the Lions went 22-6 and were Division I regional runners-up.
Stokes Jr.'s father, of course, went to Canton McKinley, which isn't far from Walsh.
"I had a couple visits up there and I really like the staff and the campus, and it was close to my family in the Canton area," Stokes Jr. said. "I also considered Shawnee State, Heidelberg and Muskingum. I think Walsh (will) be a great fit for me."
Westerville South has produced numerous skill position players the last few years, from players like Rocco Pentello to Jayshon Jackson to Nick Renzetti.
One player who might have slipped under the radar in highlight sections of local papers because of his position has been well known to college recruiters the last couple years.
Darryl Long, a tight end and defensive lineman who helped the Wildcats go 8-3 a year ago, made a verbal commitment late last month to play for the University of Kentucky.
Long, a 6-4, 225-pounder who was ranked the 22nd-best tight end in the nation by Rivals.com, had 28 catches for 434 yards and four touchdowns last season. He was special mention all-district and second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division.
"I really liked the atmosphere in UK when I visited, and the new offensive coaching staff is very good," Long said. "It's in the SEC and not too far from home."
Long also considered Louisville, Pittsburgh, Indiana, Purdue, North Carolina and Illinois among the Division I offers he has collected.
Recruiting is going at a slower pace than a year ago for central Ohio football players. So far, there have been four others from the Central District who have made verbal commitments in Lancaster's Kyle Trout (Ohio State), Hamilton Township's Micky Crum (Louisville), Hartley's Alonzo Saxton (Duke) and Newark Catholic's Chayce Crouch (Illinois).
One of the things that has helped the Reynoldsburg girls basketball team continue to have success year after year the past few seasons has been its ability to produce young talent.
There were three players from the Raiders' 2013 senior class who will play basketball in college and there should be at least two more from the 2014 class.
While post player Alyssa Rice will continue to be one of the nation's most sought-after recruits over the next few months, her junior teammate, Nicole Orr, is now off the board.
Orr, a 5-10 forward who joined the Raiders' program this winter after spending her first two prep seasons playing for Whitehall, verbally committed to play for Butler University on April 30.
Last season, Orr averaged 9.3 points and made honorable mention all-OCC-Ohio Division and honorable mention all-district as the Raiders went 24-3 and were Division I regional semifinalists.
"I chose Butler because it's a great academic school, not too far from home, and basketball-wise it's a good program," Orr said. "They just switched conferences to the Big East. I've gotten six offers total so far but I only was seriously considering Western Kentucky (in addition to Butler)."
Last November, Shiloh Murphy signed with Morehead State and Destini Cooper and Yamonie Jenkins each signed with Ohio University.
Orr should be joined during the early signing period for basketball in November by Rice, who is considering a group of schools that includes Maryland and Ohio State.
It should be interesting to see if the Buckeyes' recent coaching change has any affect on Rice's final decision. According to coach Jack Purtell, Rice likely will announce her decision sometime late this summer.
Over the past few seasons, the Hartley football program has produced Division I college talent such as Ja'Wuan Woodley and Noah Key.
The latest star athlete to walk through the halls at the eastside CCL school is senior Alonzo Saxton.
About the only thing Saxton hasn't been able to do is stay healthy -- he missed four games last season.
That didn't affect him being one of the top area recruits from the 2014 recruiting class, and he recently accepted an offer to play for Duke.
Saxton scored four touchdowns on offense last season and had two interceptions while making special mention all-district, and said he likely will be a defensive back when he gets to the college level.
"I already had it in my mind that it would be a good academic school," Saxton said. "I felt like I could see myself there. Every one of the players I talked to said they like it there. Duke will set you up for life. I was looking for more for the long-term."
On Duke's 2013 roster are Columbus Academy graduate Will Boeckman, Olentangy graduate Kenny Anunike and Worthington Kilbourne graduate Matt Skura.
Saxton is a 5-11, 175-pounder with speed who is considered a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
He also considered Indiana and West Virginia.
One thing former Northland girls basketball coach Dean Washington wanted to see when he attended the Division I-II all-star girls North-South game April 21 at Capital University was how well his former star, senior Alexis Peterson, would look when surrounded by talents of similar caliber.
Needless to say, she looked just fine.
The Syracuse-recruit, who was the district's Player of the Year and ThisWeek Super 12 captain each of the last two seasons, made 11 of 17 shots from the floor on the way to having 26 points, five assists and four rebounds.
"I've seen her play with my girls, but I wanted to see if, when she was playing with the talent, how she'd blend in," Washington said. "It was kind of an interesting dynamic. I'd say she's going to be a solid contributor in college."
Peterson was one of three players from central Ohio for the South all-stars, who lost to the North 94-91. Pickerington North's Christy Macioce finished with nine points and Olentangy Orange's Taylor Agler added six points. As was her trademark throughout her prep career when many of her points came on 3-pointers, Agler made a pair of 3s.
In the girls Division III-IV game, Africentric post player Marley Hill had 20 points to help her team win 96-91 in overtime.
Agler will play for Indiana, Hill will play for Cincinnati and Macioce will play for Dayton.
*In boys all-star action April 21, the North beat the South 123-99 in Division I-II and the South won the Division III-IV game 102-89 over the North.
Africentric's Kenny Robinson had 13 points, including one 3-pointer, to help the South win in Division III-IV.
Davidson-recruit Jack Gibbs from Westerville North finished with 16 points for the South in Division I-II. Mike Wells of Delaware, who also played for South and is a University of Albany recruit, had six points.
May 19, 2013 | Currently: 79° Partly Cloudy