In its first three years the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic has showcased 30 players who are currently on NCAA Division I college basketball rosters throughout the country.
But, when Darius Bazley of Princeton High School steps on the Patriot Center floor at Southern State College on Dec. 1 against the Xenia Buccaneers he will be the highest rated player to participate in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.
Bazley currently stands at number nine on the ESPN top 100 list of high school seniors. Jaren Jackson Jr. of Indianapolis Park Tudor (currently at Michigan State) actually rose to number 8 in the ESPN rankings after his senior season, but at the time he participated in the 2015 OVHC he was ranked number 18.
Princeton and Xenia will close out the Friday night session at 9:00 p.m. Wilmington takes on Campbell County, Ky. at 7:30, while Lynchburg-Clay and Ripley open up this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at 6:00 p.m.
Bazley will not be the only highly regarded athlete on the floor when the Vikings and Bucs collide. Samari Curtis, Xenia’s 6’3” junior guard, has several Division I offers with more certainly to come.
Curtis led the always tough GWOC conference in scoring at 24.1 points per game last year as a sophomore. Xenia teammate, 6’2” Meechi Harris, is an outstanding athlete who has committed to play football for the University of Kentucky. On the Princeton side, Bazley is joined by fellow senior Darweshi Hunter. The 6’3” Hunter was a first-team all GMC performer who was second in the league in scoring at 17.1 points per game.
Wilmington has never lost in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic. The Hurricane defeated Lexington Catholic 79-52 in 2014, Cleveland Heights 82-69 in 2015, and New Albany 49-41 in overtime last year. Campbell County will be making their second appearance in the OVHC. The Camels defeated Chillicothe 55-45 in the 2014 event.
Coach Mike Noszka’s Hurricane teams have been very successful in recent years, having appeared in the 2016 Division I Final Four. Former star Jarron Cumberland is now at the University of Cincinnati while cousin Jaevin Cumberland plays at Oakland University.
Last year’s Hurricane squad finished the year at 13-10. Wilmington suffered a major blow when star senior guard Dylan Beaugard suffered a football injury which will likely force him to miss the entire basketball campaign. If Wilmington is to keep their perfect Ohio Valley Hoops Classic record alive they will need big efforts from returning starters, Jeffrey Mansfield, and Matt Smith, both 6’3” seniors. And, the Hurricane will also depend on their trademark tenacious defense.
Campbell County has also been highly successful in recent years, having won back-to-back 10th region championships in 2014 and 2015. The Camels were 30-5 a year ago. Tanner Clos, Reid Jolly, and Joel Day return for Coach Aric Russell’s squad which is primed for another run to Rupp Arean and Kentucky’s Sweet 16.
In the opener, Lynchburg-Clay and Ripley will meet in a Southern Hills League Showdown. The two teams split a pair of games last year. We will have a more in-depth report on that game later.
Tickets for the Friday night session are available at Wilmington, Ripley, and Lynchburg-Clay high schools. Tickets are also available online by visiting our website at www.ohiovalleyhoopsclassic.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.
This story was submitted by Bennie Carroll, manager of the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.