Editor’s note – This is a part of a continuing series of previews for the third annual Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Basketball Tournament that will be played Dec. 2-4 at the Southern State Patriot Center in Hillsboro. This story features a matchup between Cincinnati Moeller and Pickerington North that will be played at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2.
The matchup between Cincinnati Moeller and Pickerington North is certainly one of the most highly anticipated games in this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.
Pickerington North features 6-7 junior Jerome Hunter, one of the top players in the entire event, with offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, Florida, Xavier, Dayton and a host of others. And Moeller is, well, Moeller.
Moeller Coach Carl Kremer has won 491 games in his career, including state championships in 1999, 2003 and 2007. The Crusaders were state semifinalists in 2005 and runners-up in 2010. Last year Moeller was 23-4, losing by three points to the Wilmington Hurricane in the regional semifinals.
The 2016-17 edition will be a typical Moeller team. While the Crusaders don’t have any one player with an offer sheet to match that of Pickerington North’s Hunter, Moeller can fill the floor with college prospects. Senior forwards Riley Voss and Keegan McDowell have already committed to play Division I college basketball – Voss for Cornell and McDowell for Liberty University. Junior guard Isaiah Payton has an offer from Liberty, while sophomore Miles McBride is already getting some looks from D-1 schools.
Over on the Pickerington North side, Hunter is not the only high profile player. Fellow junior Eli McNamara, a 6-8 forward, recently received his first D-1 offer from Stony Brook, and more are likely to come. In fact, the Panthers’ junior class is loaded. Dondre Palmer, a 6-3, guard is a versatile player who has numerous Division II college offers. Ty Wiley, a 6-0 guard, is lightning quick and can wreak havoc on the defensive end. He is a Division I college football prospect and has offers from Division II schools for basketball.
Essentially, this game pits an up and coming program (Pickerington North) against a traditional powerhouse. Pick North finished 7-7 a year ago in the brutal OCC Ohio Division, which includes state powers Pickerington Central, Gahanna Lincoln and Newark. And, they did that with a predominantly sophomore lineup. Now, they look to take the next step in the program’s evolution. For Moeller, it is business as usual. The Crusaders are always looking to make a deep, deep run in March, and this year is no exception.
Regardless of the outcome, Southeast Ohio basketball fans will have an opportunity to see one of the premier programs in all of Ohio (Moeller) step foot for the first time onto a basketball court in Highland County, and to see one of the top players in all of Ohio (Hunter). It should be a great game.
This story was submitted by Bennie Carroll, the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Blanchester High School.