Featuring 10 high school boys basketball games, the All-Ohio Nike Showcase held Dec. 1 at Gahanna and Pickerington North proved a worthy device to signal the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
Some of the area’s top expected players showed their worth and many of the matchups were competitive.
There were even a few surprises.
Here are five things we learned from the event:
1. Any concerns about Olentangy Liberty’s Ben Roderick appear unnecessary.
While averaging more than 24 points last season, Roderick scored his 1,000th career point last January but had his season end with a knee injury later in the same contest.
He wasn’t able to play football this fall but played as though no injury had ever occurred in Liberty’s opener Dec. 1 at Gahanna.
Roderick poured in 29 points in a 74-73 loss to Cincinnati Taft, which is a strong Division II program.
2. Upper Arlington, Whitehall and Harvest Prep also were involved in tight games.
In addition to Liberty’s loss to Taft, UA lost to Huber Heights Wayne 46-45 and Harvest Prep beat Northland 82-78 at Pickerington North and Whitehall edged Dayton Dunbar 60-58 at Gahanna.
Christopher Anthony scored 34 points for Harvest Prep, which again will be one of the area’s top Division III programs after reaching a state semifinal last season.
Max Martz looked ready to step into the leading role for UA after it lost Ohio Mr. Basketball Dane Goodwin to graduation, as he scored 26 points in his team’s opener. Wayne was a Division I regional runner-up last season.
Whitehall got 16 points from Royal Sibley and had three players in double figures as it beat Dunbar, a Division II district runner-up last season.
3. Pickerington North’s Jack Sawyer could be poised for a breakout season.
In the finale of five games at North, Sawyer scored 31 points as his team beat Cleveland Villa-Angela St. Joseph, a Division II regional runner-up last season, 89-58.
Sawyer is central Ohio’s No. 1 recruit in football from the 2021 class, already receiving offers from Michigan, Ohio State and other major programs.
At 6-foot-5 and physical, he without question also will be one of the toughest players to deal with for as long as he decides to stick with basketball.
4. Grandview looked like it was in midseason form while beating last year’s Division III state runner-up.
In the second game at Pickerington North, Grandview got the better of a young Africentric team 65-49 as Luke Lachey had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Brian Collier also scored 24 points.
While the Nubians lost nearly all of their key players from a team that lost in the Division III state final, the Bobcats look hungry after going 19-5 but having their 2017-18 season end in the second round of the district tournament.
5. A new Reynoldsburg cast looked sharp in an opening blowout win.
Coming off a Division I district championship, the Raiders have just one key player back in senior Ben Fort, but they had no trouble getting by Xenia Legacy Christian 71-37 in the opening game at Pickerington North.
Legacy Christian is a strong Division IV program but couldn’t keep up with Reynoldsburg’s athleticism led by Fort and junior Sean Moore.
The Raiders pulled away during the middle two quarters despite not being at full strength because of the absence of senior forward Sahmi Willoughby, who was out with an ankle injury but figures to be one of their top players.