Sunday was a great day at Lourdes University as I watched the Toledo Top 64 hosted by Anthony and Shane Garcia. With players from all over NW Ohio, the event featured some high quality competition and some great storylines. Here’s what impressed me:
2024 Guards Showed Out
Plenty of senior guards used the event as an opportunity to show what they can do. Jalen Brown from Emmanuel Christian jumped off the page right away. The PG caught my eye early with his shooting touch as well as his finishing through contact. Twice in the first game, Brown rose up for a shot and took a bump on the perimeter, but still finished. Also showed some bounce with a transition dunk.
Defense was also on display with CJ Majors from Maumee Valley. The 6-foot guard picked up full court on Antoine West and sat down on the perimeter. Utilized his length to clog passing lanes and alter skip passes. Just a tough competitor all together.
Max Dawson from Willard showed why he’s one of the best shooters in the state with a strong performance in his games. What I liked about Dawson was his shots weren’t bad looks or forced. Everything was in rhythm and fluid. When opponents got closed out on him, Dawson put the ball on the floor and could create some offense with the dribble attacking.
Size Is Not An Issue In NW OH
If there was one takeaway from the event, it’s that there is some size up in the Northwest and plenty of options. Charlie Wood (Jr) was a name I had heard a lot about and he showed plenty of potential at 6-foot-10. While there are areas he needs to improve yet, the ceiling is high with him having 2 more years of HS action at Swanton HS. Several D2 programs were watching Wood as he showed he has the size to be a target at that level.
Kaeden Carruthers (So) might be one of the more intriguing prospects as he is technically a wing at 6-foot-6, but I could see him transforming more into a stretch 4. A former Emmanuel Christian player, Carruthers transferred to St. John’s and will have a chance to stand out as he continues to develop. He moves well up and down the floor and can be a problem with his stronger frame when he gets a head of steam.
Alan Horton (So) is another player that changed high schools as he will be suiting up with Toledo St. Francis this Winter. Horton has a great frame and while a little wirey, he shows confidence at the rim and attacking with whoever is defending him. Still has some moments of clumsiness, but Horton turned heads with a two-handed slam off two feet in the first game.
Household Names Live Up To The Hype
While the event was targeted for smaller school prospects, some scholarship athletes showed why they are notable names in the area. Antoine West (Jr) is one of Ohio’s top players in the 2025 class. This was on full display as West consistently had paint touches and made plays beyond scoring. His court awareness and vision allowed him to get guys involved in the halfcourt.
Lima Senior’s Jekel Cotton (Jr) was another name everyone knew entering the event and he did not disappoint. Cotton showed he can score however and whenever he wants to. While his go-to is a 3PT shot either off the dribble or off the catch, Cotton used his shooting potential to get guys in the air with a pump fake and attack hard for points in the paint.
More of a household name in rural NW Ohio, Austin Niekamp (Jr) from Marion Local showed great strides in his confidence and play around the rim. Already known to stretch the floor out as a big, Niekamp was confident battling on the blocks, demonstrating good vision out of the post and made some great passes out of a post move. Overall he looked more confident with the ball in his hands and embraced contact wherever possessing the ball.
The Future is Bright
Several young players showed they can hang during the event as some made their first appearances at all at the high school level. Ty Lewis (Fr) was a big that impressed in the first game. Standing 6-foot-7, Lewis looks like a TE with his strong body and looked to establish position on the post when he was in. Still very raw, the Maumee Valley rookie showed me he can be a force to reckon with as time passes and he continues to improve.
Mack Hieber (So) from Patrick Henry was a name I especially wanted to see as I had heard good things during the Grassroots season on him. While Hieber didn’t jump off the page offensively, he showed more unselfish and team-first plays that caught my eye. Always looked to make a better pass and was unselfish himself making decisions with the ball. Hieber has good size already at 6-foot-5 and as he improves his guard play can be a solid name for scholarship programs to monitor.
I would argue the most put together player in the event was Race Kowalczyk (So) from Toledo St. John’s. When it comes to intangibles, Kowalczyk took the cake. Made good reads and passes, scored the basketball from multiple levels, moved without the ball and was a leader for his team. I was espeically impressed with Kowalczyk’s demeanor under the rim as he utilized quick footwork and a soft touch to score several times around the rim.
Finally, Nate Miles (So) put on a great showing in the game I checked out his team. Impactful on both ends, Miles played his game, was not phased with ball pressure or defensive rotations. Well-rounded scorer with a go-to off the dribble. Even impressed with some good post play utilizing an up-and-under against a bigger team in the matchup I checked out.