Boys Basketball

Pickerington Central, Westerville North expected to battle for top spot

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Westerville North guard Jack Gibbs returned for his senior season after missing most of last year with an injury.

It’s been a little more than eight months since the Pickerington Central boys basketball team won its first Division I state championship.

While that finish was somewhat of a surprise considering the Tigers were ranked only seventh in the inaugural ThisWeek Super 7 last season, it makes them one of the favorites this season even though they lost a few key players.

Caris LeVert is now playing for Michigan and junior Javon Bess is now at Gahanna, but Ohio State-recruit Jae’Sean Tate, a junior slasher, is back and ready for a breakthrough season. Considering senior Taco Charlton (6-foot-6) also is back, the Tigers again should be a top team this year.

To begin the season, however, we like Westerville North.

Jack Gibbs is back for his senior season after missing most of last year with an injury. If Gibbs can stay healthy, he should be a strong candidate for Super 12 captain because of his abilities in the backcourt.

The thing about the Warriors that’s so impressive is that Gibbs has plenty of talent around him with Jaylen Benton and Adrian Cook also back.

Westerville South, which we have fourth in our preseason rankings, and Dublin Scioto should give depth to the OCC-Cardinal.

The OCC-Ohio Division looks like the strongest league from top to bottom again after Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg each won district titles a year ago.

In addition to Tate’s team, Gahanna (Aaron Jackson), Newark (Jordan Dartis) and Reynoldsburg (Wendell Davis) all have talented individuals to lead the way.

In the always-deep City League, there isn’t an obvious favorite in the North Division, but we’ll give a slight nod to Brookhaven. The Bearcats are led by senior guard Randal Clarkson and 6-4 newcomer Deiondray Martin.

The OCC-Central Division likely will come down to Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington, with a respectful nod to Hilliard Davidson.

Walnut Ridge has been the team to beat in recent years in the City-South, but that league looks tight as well with Africentric again appearing strong and with Columbus South and Marion-Franklin both looking improved.

Combine those teams with players like Delaware’s Mike Wells, Centennial’s Elias Osborne and Newark Catholic’s Jett Speelman, and it should be an unpredictable and exciting season.