A four-year starter for the Westerville North High School girls basketball team, 2015 graduate Symone Simmons completed her prep career as the program's all-time leading scorer.

She also has been an impact player for the Wright State women's program.

In addition to being the 22nd Raiders player to score 1,000 career points, the senior guard earlier this season became the first player in program history to tally 1,000 career rebounds.

Simmons is one of the biggest reasons Wright State is in the NCAA tournament for the second time, with its other appearance coming in 2014.

The Raiders earned their conference's automatic bid by beating Green Bay 55-52 in the Horizon League championship game March 12.

"We've been winning," Simmons said. "We're the first team to (win the regular-season conference title), so that was amazing. This is the best team I've been on since I've been here. We have so much talent."

Wright State, which made NIT appearances each of the past four seasons, entered the week 96-37 with Simmons on the roster, including a 27-6 record this season.

Simmons, who is among numerous college basketball players from central Ohio who will be competing in postseason tournaments, was averaging 7.9 points and 10 rebounds through 33 games.

She had 21 rebounds in a 70-65 win over Youngstown State on Feb. 24 and surpassed 1,000 career rebounds during a 76-73 victory over Detroit Mercy on Feb. 28.

Although she's listed on Wright State's roster as being 5-foot-10, Simmons said she's closer to 5-8.

"I didn't know I was going to break the (rebound) record until that day when one of my teammates told me," Simmons said. "It's really cool. It shows you don't have to be a post player to get rebounds."

Also on Wright State's roster is freshman Anisja Harris, a former Westerville North player who played her final prep season for Gahanna in 2017-18. Entering the week, Harris had appeared in 31 games, averaging 2.9 points and 8.6 minutes per contest.

Another area player who has shined at the mid-major level is Eastmoor Academy graduate Amani Burke, a junior guard for Ohio University who averages 13.3 points.

The Bobcats beat Miami University 74-48 on March 15 in a semifinal of the Mid-American Conference tournament but lost to Buffalo 77-61 on March 16 in the championship game to fall to 27-5 overall. They won the MAC-East title at 14-4.

Last season, the MAC had two NCAA tournament qualifiers. The Bobcats found out March 18 that they would play in the WNIT.

Burke, who finished with more than 1,000 career points while helping Eastmoor reach a Division II state semifinal in 2016, started 23 games last season and all 32 games this season.

"I don't think any of us going into this season had any doubts that we could do this, but we just worked hard," Burke said. "We weren't satisfied with the way we ended last season (when the Bobcats went 16-15) and we had a chip on our shoulders. The experts picked us to be third or fourth (in the MAC-East)."

*B1G DANCING -- Dela-ware graduate Khalil Iverson and Gahanna graduate Nick Ward are among the central Ohio players from Big Ten men's programs who will be competing in the NCAA tournament.

Iverson is a 6-5 senior guard averaging six points and four rebounds for Wisconsin, which was 23-10 after losing to top-seeded Michigan State 67-55 on March 16 in a Big Ten tournament semifinal. The Badgers were the fourth seed for the Big Ten tournament and earned a No. 5 seed for the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State beat Michigan 65-60 for the Big Ten title March 17, and both teams received No. 2 seeds for the NCAA tournament.

Ward, a 6-9 forward for Michigan State who was averaging 15.1 points before missing the last five games of the regular season with a left hand injury, returned to face Ohio State on March 15. The Spartans improved to 28-6 by beating Michigan.

Ohio State earned a No. 11 seed for the NCAA tournament after it lost to Michigan State 77-70 to drop to 19-14.

That was the second game back for sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, a Westerville South graduate who sat out the final three games of the regular season because of a suspension. He was averaging 14.4 points after the loss to the Spartans.

*MID-MAJOR DREAMS -- St. Charles graduate Nick Muszynski and Gahanna graduate Javon Bess are among other players from central Ohio who will compete in the NCAA tournament.

Muszynski is a 6-11 center and redshirt freshman for Belmont who was averaging 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. He started the Bruins' first 30 games before sustaining a left ankle injury during an 83-67 victory over Austin Peay on March 8 in a semifinal of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Belmont lost to Murray State 77-65 on March 9 in the OVC championship game to drop to 26-5 but earned a spot in a First Four game as an 11th seed and faced Temple on March 19 in Dayton.

"I got a pretty bad sprain, but I'm pretty much day-to-day right now and my rehab has been going really well," Muszynski said. "I've been feeling progressively better every day."

Muszynski was named the OVC Freshman of the Year.

"(The OVC is) really, really competitive, this year especially," Muszynski said. "We had four really good teams. Obviously, I want to help the team win and I'll do that in whatever way possible. I thought I had a chance to play a lot and I was able to contribute for a team that was able to win 26 games."

Bess, who played his first two college seasons at Michigan State, is averaging a team-high 15.3 points for Saint Louis.

The Billikens rallied to beat St. Bonaventure 55-53 in the Atlantic 10 championship game March 17 to improve to 23-12 and earn the conference's automatic bid. They received a No. 13 seed for the NCAA tournament.



At a glance

Below are central Ohioans listed on rosters of men's and women's college basketball teams that are competing in postseason tournaments, along with their openers:



Javon Bess (Gahanna) Saint Louis – NCAA, March 22 vs. Virginia Tech

Akiean Frederick (Franklin Heights) Kent State – CIT, March 21 vs. UL Monroe

Antonio Givens (Columbus West) Kent State – CIT, March 21 vs. UL Monroe

Danny Hummer (Upper Arlington) Ohio State – NCAA, March 22 vs. Iowa State

Jerome Hunter (Pickerington North) Indiana – NIT, March 19 vs. Saint Francis

Khalil Iverson (Delaware) Wisconsin – NCAA, March 22 vs. Oregon

Taevion Kinsey (Eastmoor Academy) Marshall – CIT, March 19 vs. IUPUI

Sterling Manley (Pickerington Central) North Carolina – NCAA, March 22 vs. Iona

James Manns (Walnut Ridge) Wright State – NIT, March 19 vs. Clemson

Nick Muszynski (St. Charles) Belmont – NCAA, March 19 vs. Temple

Adrian Nelson (Pickerington Central) Northern Kentucky – NCAA, March 22 vs. Texas Tech

Jalen Tate (Pickerington Central) Northern Kentucky – NCAA, March 22 vs. Texas Tech

Seth Towns (Northland) Harvard – NIT, March 20 vs. Georgetown

Nick Ward (Gahanna) Michigan State – NCAA, March 21 vs. Bradley

Ibi Watson (Pickerington Central) Dayton – NIT, March 19 vs. Colorado

Andre Wesson (Westerville South) Ohio State – NCAA, March 22 vs. Iowa State

Kaleb Wesson (Westerville South) Ohio State – NCAA, March 22 vs. Iowa State


Kynnedy Azubike (Africentric) Akron – WBI, March 21 vs. Tennessee Tech

Danelle Bradley (Pickerington North) Quinnipiac – NCAA, March 23 vs. South Dakota State

Mackenzie Davis (Reynoldsburg) Stetson – WNIT, March 21 vs. South Florida

Amani Burke (Eastmoor Academy) Ohio U. – WNIT, March 21 vs. High Point

Anisja Harris (Gahanna) Wright State – NCAA, March 22 vs. Texas A&M

Savitha Jayaraman (Olentangy Liberty) Ohio State – WNIT, March 20 vs. Morehead State

Brittany Johnson (Pickerington North) Florida Gulf Coast – NCAA, March 22 vs. Miami (Fla.)

Kristen Levering (Olentangy Liberty) Miami University – WNIT, March 21 vs. Western Kentucky

Taylor Pearson (Northland) Marshall – WBI, March 20 vs. Davidson

Darianne Seward (Africentric) Morehead State – WNIT, March 20 vs. Ohio State

Symone Simmons (Westerville North) Wright State – NCAA, March 22 vs. Texas A&M

Christine Szabo (Dublin Coffman) Dayton – WNIT, March 21 vs. Northwestern

Kennedy Taylor (Hartley) Miami University – WNIT, March 21 vs. Western Kentucky

Kyla Whitehead (Pickerington Central) Dayton – WNIT, March 21 vs. Northwestern