Posted: 2:29 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
By Zach Fleer
Taking place at Central Crossing High School on the southwest side of Columbus, 2013's Buckeye Prep Showcase was a success. Lightning quick Dayton Dunbar point guard AJ Harris was the lone Ohio State commit on the floor (Dave Bell and Jae'Sean Tate were seen in the crowd), several targets in the '15 and '16 classes had impressive performances. Let's take a look at the top Ohio State targets.
Esa Ahmad (6'7 PF, Shaker Heights / 2015):
One of the most complete players in the class of 2015, Shaker Heights' Ahmad was as solid as always over the weekend. The 6'7 forward was a man among boys on the block, collecting a number of offensive rebounds and finishing for second-chance points. Ahmad has expanded his skill set throughout the summer and fall, and has added noticeable muscle to an athletic frame. The junior has yet to receive an Ohio State offer, but the Buckeyes have continued to show interest and rightfully so. Ahmad's versatility is appealing to the Ohio State coaching staff, as he can play both from the wing, and on the block, in addition to his improving ball-handling skills. Ahmad currently holds offers from Dayton, Miami (FL), Rutgers, Wright State, and Xavier.
Derek Funderburk Jr. (6'8 SF/PF, Lakewood St. Edward's / 2016):
After visiting Ohio State roughly a month ago, Lakewood St. Ed's Funderburk was one of the top performers in Columbus over the weekend. At 6-8, Funderburk has incredible length that compliments his high motor and nose for the ball on both ends of the floor. Like Ahmad, Funderburk is a guy that can bang in the post, while also being able to step out to the mid-range area and hit with consistency. Multiple times, Funderburk was seen carrying the ball up the floor, which is mightily impressive considering his size and position. The sophomore has tremendous upside and should only continue to rise up recruiting boards as they years go by.
Funderburk tells me he's been hearing from Purdue, Xavier, Michigan, Michigan State, Dayton, Indiana, and Akron in addition to the Buckeyes.
AJ Harris (5'9 PG, Dayton Dunbar / 2015):
Committing to Ohio State in August, Dayton Dunbar's Harris was arguably the top point guard in attendance at Buckeye Prep. The uber quick floor general did what AJ Harris does best: get up and down the floor with amazing speed, facilitate offense, and stretch the defense with improving perimeter shooting. Going head-to-head with Medina's Craig Randall Jr., the battle between the two guards was one of the top matchups during the weekend's festivities. Giving up a three to Randall, Harris struck right back with a baseline drive on the following possession. Harris' competitiveness and will to win are two appealing factors to his overall package, which will make Buckeye fans very happy one day.
Kipper Nichols (6'6 SF, Lakewood St. Edward's / 2015):
The latest 2015 prospect to receive some Ohio State interest is St. Ed's Nichols. After an impressive summer alongside VJ King and Luke Kennard of King James Shooting Stars, Nichols has seen a rise in his recruitment, also receiving interest from Michigan State and Virginia Tech. The junior is an athletic 6'6 small forward, who excels as a slasher and with his mid-range shooting. Still looking to add more range to his arsenal, Nichols is a lockdown defender who has proven to be mightily effective when surrounded by other talented teammates. At Buckeye Prep, Nichols ran alongside Ahmad, and the duo proved to be a nightmare in the paint for opposing defenses. One of Ohio's more underrated prospects, Nichols is a name Ohio basketball fans will be hearing about for the next two seasons.
Omari Spellman (6'8 PF, North Royalton / 2015):
Arguably the top performer over the weekend, North Royalton's Spellman was an absolute force at Buckeye Prep. At 6'8 and 230 pounds, Spellman has a large frame, and for the majority of the last year, has operated primarily out of the post. However, at Buckeye Prep, Spellman showcased a level of perimeter shooting that was both impressive and downright surprising considering his style of play earlier in the summer. The sophomore also looked to be in better shape than in the past, playing both a brute and finesse style of basketball. While Ohio State has yet to offer the power forward, Spellman is certainly on the radar of Thad Matta's staff. According to Yahoo! Sports, Spellman currently holds offers from Cincinnati, Cleveland State and Dayton. With performances like Spellman had last weekend, don't be surprised if a rush of mid-major and high-major schools begin to zero in one of Ohio's top prospects.