REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – Easily some of the standout performers so far this summer would have to be Tom Jenkins and his Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report staff. After being slammed by Mother Nature just six days prior to the tip off of the 13th annual OGBR Skills Camp, Jenkins and company were scrambling to adapt to multiple and extensive power outages as well as developing and revising a schedule that saw more changes than a piece of congressional legislation. Finally, after scaling back the popular camp by one day Mother Nature decided to take one last shot ultimately forcing the event to move from its original location in Granville on the campus of Denison University to an abbreviated one day event at Reynoldsburg High School just east of Columbus.
If there ever was any question as to the high regard in which this event is held among recruiters one quick look around the gym would have provided plenty of confirmation. Over 70 coaches represented in excess of 50 schools and 10 different conferences while taking in the action and checking out 245 participants representing the top tier of young talent in the Buckeye State. Additionally the highly anticipated “counselor games” with the some of the state’s top upperclassmen made the schedule revision and had recruiters and campers alike crowded courtside.
The OGBR Skills Camp annually provides some much needed and high level fundamental instruction. Fortunately, even the wrath of this summer’s weather or some dark and unconditioned gyms couldn’t keep some impressive athletes from getting on the floor. Though limited to a short evaluation opportunity here are just a few of those on hand that caught our eye.
If the name Coffee sounds familiar out of the Buckeye State it just might be because 6-5 Shannon Coffee is the niece of highly respected and longtime Dayton Hoopstar mentor John Coffee. With impressive size and a solid frame this post has the tools to make an impact at the level she’ll let her work ethic allow. Though there are plenty of rough edges to smooth out yet, the Centerville High School product has already shown great strides since we saw her last in the spring. She’s willing to play physical and works to obtain and hold position on the block. Speed isn’t the first adjective anyone will use but her willingness to get out and run the floor gets her from A to B efficiently enough. The concepts are in place and plenty of effort goes into all she does making for a promising prospect to keep a close watch on.
Cincinnati native Taylor Darks has that combination of athletic and individual skills that will have plenty of folks adding Walnut Hills High School to their recruiting schedule this winter. The dynamic 5-8 combo has the game to create her own looks but also the attack that develops opportunities for her teammates as well. She finds herself deep in the paint time and again as her wiry build lets her slash past her defender and into traffic. The first step is there to leave opponents standing but she’ll have to make perimeter consistency a priority to keep close outs tight and her penetration options in place.
North Fairfield resident Anna Hintz has that combination that coaches love to find; size with some perimeter skills. Standing 6-1 she necessitates a bigger match up but her ballhandling and passing puts her in a position to exploit one that might not be comfortable away from the rim. While she can and is more than willing to put it on the floor she’s still very upright in her attack which is something that may minimize her effectiveness facing quicker defenders. The South Central High School product is active with and without the ball and more than willing to play with contact once she gets into the paint.
Offering up plenty of versatility, Kendall McCoy out of Sylvania and Northview High School is going to expand the volume of interest coming her way this summer. At 6-0 tall she’s got a solid build and relatively deep arsenal of skills to call upon. Add to that a smooth reliable stroke and some productive results are going to be inevitable. Making her all the more challenging for opponents is the willingness to get out and run the floor as well as her constant motion in the half court. On the catch she can deliver the spot up jumper, take it to the rim or call upon a very sound pull up.
At this age there is always an abundance of “wiry” built players since Mother Nature is just beginning to kick in her part for many. Kandace Satterwhite fits the bill and with a 5-10 frame as well as a growing skill set should be in a position to help keep Coach Nikki Drew and the folks at Lakota East happy for a few more years. Most of her success last Friday came off penetration or in transition but the tools are there to offer up a more diverse attack in a more structured setting. The Liberty Township resident also provided a glimpse or two of some strong on ball defense as well as some awareness and anticipation on the weakside.
Another individual displaying both size and some perimeter skills was Liberty Benton High School’s Katie Simon. The Findlay native is playing confidently and has advanced her game just in the short time since the end of the high school season. The 6-0 forward is mobile and has good length to go with her size. She can put it on the floor but has a smooth and seemingly reliable stroke to call on as well. Lots of tools and versatility are in place and with three more years of high school could be in a position to evolve and develop even further. Well worth keeping a close eye on.
The youth movement at Lakota East should continue their success of the past few seasons and 5-8 Sharmaine Wills could be an integral part of that next chapter. This athletic and attacking guard from Liberty Township created plenty of her own scoring opportunities off the drive but at the same time demonstrated the vision and passing skills to put those around her in a position to put some numbers on the board as well. Lean and quick, Wills is very fluid in her movement and navigates rotating defenders with ease off penetration. The ability to consistently convert from the perimeter will be key for her in maintaining her attack against smarter and more experienced defenders down the line.
If you’re looking for both size and genuine promise in the 2016 class check out Kortney Eisenman from Columbus and Upper Arlington High School. Solid and physically strong at 6-2, Eisenman has the frame that will translate well to the next level when the time comes. Add to that an impressive wingspan and the impact potential over the next couple of years is up to her to determine and establish. Don’t think for a moment that her possibilities all lie in her size. There are plenty of tools and concepts in place already and it’s obvious she’s been exposed to some sound instruction on the floor. The rough edges that come with youth are still there but the right competition and continued focus could smooth those out with ease.
Toledo Rogers High School has made plenty of waves with their youth the last few seasons and another promising guard is joining the cause. Akienreh Johnson is the kind of player that’s going to make something happen with the ball in her hands. She’s impressive in her individual attack but equally adept at delivering the ball if someone else has a better look. A quick first step goes hand in hand with some sharp ballhandling getting her past defenders and opening up her options. The fact that she already stands 5-10 makes her all the more difficult to match up with and just that much more intriguing to recruiters.
Celina King has been on plenty of folk’s radar for a couple of years now and next season will be suiting up for Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. The 5-5 point guard is spending the summer on the roster of Sports City U and the maturation of her game is already evident just with their spring schedule and training regimen. Smart and instinctual, King is evolving into a multifaceted threat that can convert her own looks but also improves those of her teammates around her. Defensively she’s equally focused and is active and aggressive on the ball. Her commitment and work ethic have long been established and the payoff should be in front of her as she enters her freshman year.
Lakota East hasn’t cornered the market on all the young players in their neck of the woods. Coach Any Fishman at Lakota West has had his share in the past and has another in dynamic 5-7 backcourt standout Nia Staples. To say that Staples is attacking might be somewhat of an understatement. Even without the ball in her hands she’s active and challenging defenders to keep up on the break or off cuts in the halfcourt. One facet that stood out Friday was her ability to read the floor and make decisions which can be difficult in the setting of an individual event. The West Chester native also offered up some assertive defensive efforts that led to both touches and turnovers. Keep watching…closely.
Mark Lewis is a national evaluator and photographer for Blue Star Basketball as well as the lead columnist for Blue Star Media. Twice ranked as one of the top 25 Division I assistant coaches in the game by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), he has more than 20 years of college coaching experience at Memphis State, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Western Kentucky and Washington State. Lewis also serves as a member of the prestigious McDonald’s All-American selection committee.