Class of 2018

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Peyton Banks – Wadsworth Grizzlies

(Peyton is back from an ACL injury that costed her her summer)

Peyton is a big time force. She has great size and strength! She definitely passes the eye test but when you watch her play her actual skill stands out even more. She has the strength and power to be a very formidable post player but she also has the ability to extend her game and become more perimeter oriented if needed. She shoots the ball well and can consistently knock down open mid to long range jumpers. She’s very basketball savvy and as a result she is a good passer for her position. The more you watch Peyton the more you see how good her skillset is.

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Taylor Duplaga – Wheeling Central

(Committed to Fairmont State)

Taylor has a little bit of everything in her game, and some things that are rare at her age. First of all she is a strong kid with a great build. Her measurable are very good, she runs and jumps with the best of them. all those things combined with her intensity and willingness to play basketball as a contact sport make her a very good defender. Offensively she has some advanced skills. She handles the ball very well and has a very good jump shot with a quick release. She’s very good off the dribble with an advanced pull-up and shot off the catch. The future is very bright for Taylor!

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Makenna Drabick – Hoover Vikings

(Committed to Eastern Michigan)

Makenna is a kid who is very diverse. Defensively she is strong enough to guard bigger players, yet quick enough to guard smaller guards, and physical enough to do well against both! Offensively she hasn’t been in a position to have to show much but as she matures and becomes more of an important part of the Hoover offense you will find that she has a very solid midrange game. She’s not the biggest kid around but she is very strong and athletic, allowing her to rebound well and be an effective put back scorer. As time goes on you will probably see her move more from the paint to the perimeter and see her game change some as she gets older. The potential is very high with Makenna.

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Sophia Fortner – Wadsworth Grizzlies

(Committed to Toledo)

Sophia brings an outstanding basketball IQ and court awareness with her the minute she walks the halls of Wadsworth High. Confidence and fearlessness are two huge assets of hers. Having faced the best of the best all spring and summer she is certainly battle-tested and not scared to square off against anyone. She isn’t the biggest kid you’re gonna see but her toughness won’t be outdone. While she may not dazzle with super exciting moves quite yet, Sophia will open your eyes with her outstanding fundamentals. She can handle the rock with the best of them! She is more of a traditional point that runs the team very effectively, but the amount of potential she has is sky-high. As a freshman she doesn’t have any huge weaknesses that opposing teams can focus on. Likewise there’s not one certain part of her game that I would consider her strongest point, overall she does everything pretty well. Can’t wait to see her development as she will certainly be an elite point guard for years to come, and already a top point in the area.

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Bella Gajdos – Poland Bulldogs

(Bella has continued to grow, she just keeps working and focusing on improving. She continues to be a tough sell for coaches because of her size but she’s as or more skilled than any D2 guard that’s already committed. I’ve seen Bella for 2 years just work, she will make any team happy they signed her, and others regret they didn’t!)

Bella’s skillset is off the charts a young PG, though undersized she plays big. Her shot is natural, and she shoots a good percentage. The midrange is there as well. Bella shows an above average pull up and a developing floater that can be dangerous. Getting an opportunity to do some work with her I know that her attention to small details is a big asset of hers and will benefit her through the years. Bella is smooth and has a very good understanding of the game and her decision making seems to be good more than bad. Her ability to get the ball up and down the floor seems effortless and is very efficient. She struggles with handling traps at this point but through experience will learn to handle that type of pressure.

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Alexis Green – Hoover Vikings

(Committed to Walsh for golf after decommitting from Clarion for basketball)

Alexis  brings some unique offensive skills to the floor. She has a good shooting arsenal with the ability to shoot off the dribble, out of triple threat and off screens. Coupled with her nice spot up jump shot she finds herself as one of the most promising young scorers in the area. She has a very solid frame and a muscular build which helps her get to the rim and finish with consistency around the rim. She is a very willing defender. Quickness on the defensive end isn’t her strong suit but she is intense and very active while guarding the ball and in team defense situations.

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Kayla Hovorka – West Branch Warriors

(Committed to Mount Vernon Nazarene)

Unfortunately for this young lady her entire freshman year was lost to a knee injury and she has been set back more than once. When she gets on the floor she will turn some heads. This lefty is very good around the rim and knows exactly what to do with the basketball. She is very physical and isn’t afraid to mix it up. The jumpshot is good, pretty good midrange and in. As she gets older her range and ball handling will improve. She often stood out when playing with older more experienced kids and comes away with some high praise from others. When she gets healthy and on the floor watch out!

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Kelsi Hulit – Malvern Hornets

(Committed to West Liberty for basketball and track)

At just under 6 foot, and strong as an ox, Kelsi can and will be a force in the middle for the Hornets, immediately! Throw in the athleticism factor and she presents matchup problems with most teams. She obviously young and has a lot of learning to do, but her physical skills alone right now will help her standout. It’s rare to have the combination of size and speed that Kelsi has. Kelsi passes well in the post and has a good midrange game. She has the capability to become a good perimeter player with good size, she will be fun to watch develop!

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Cailee Husted – Carrollton Warriors

(Cailee suffered a major knee injury and missed her entire sophomore summer. She is back and though she still hasn’t regained the speed and quickness she had, that just highlights her fundamentals and skillset even more. She has stayed healthy and continues to improve after having a great summer.)

Cailee is part of a very talented freshman group in Carrollton, but a very talented part. Husted is prepared to go up against the NBC and other great teams on Carrollton’s schedule this season. She is very skilled, can shoot and handle the rock at an impressive level. I watched Cailee play against and handle the pressure from some of the best guards in the area this summer. She is mentally tough for a freshman, she always looks calm and collected. Playing alongside some very good players definitely helps and gives her great leadership and confidence. Cailee just has it, you know how high her understanding of the game is within a few minutes of watching her. She also has good size for her age, she’s not a skinny little girl who’s going to get pushed around.

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Izzy Kline – Newton Falls Tigers

(Committed to Cincinnati for track after decommiting from Malone)

Izzy is an athletic freak. She runs and jumps with anyone, strong enough to make it to regionals in the shot her freshman year of track, which happened to be her first. You put all of her God-given talents together and she is very fun to watch. At 5’10” and a former point guard, you can tell she has guard instincts and shows glimpse of dominance, mostly in the open court and transition. At her size, strength and athleticism she’s a defensive and rebounding standout. Whenever her offensive game catches up and she puts in the work to move back to the perimeter she will become a force! She has all the tools to be great and the right mainframe, with some time she will shine.

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Lexi Lance – Wadsworth Grizzlies

(Committed to Toledo)

Lexi is an incredible talent, long, athletic 6 footers are often successful in girls basketball. Lance takes that theory and raises the bar quite a bit. She jumps out of the gym, making her a great rebounder and an excellent rim protector. She either blocks or alters a very high percentage of shots. She’s good enough on the offensive end to draw plenty of attention and while she’s obviously still young and has plenty of growth to make, she can handle the ball and shoot it well enough to cause matchup problems with other bigs.

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Sydney Mayberry – Lake Ridge Academy

(Committed to Walsh)

Syndey is a 6-foot athlete, one that has above average skill. Her skillset shows a little bit of everything, making her a very versatile player. Because she is so well rounded at her size she can be a defensive asset and a big time matchup problem on offense. She has good guard skills, can handle the ball and shoot it. She’s strong enough to not only play big in the post but also finish well around the rim. Sydney is very mobile for her size and has a very bright future!

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Boston McKinney – Tusky Valley Trojans

(Boston is still undecided and open. She’s continuously gotten better and although she lacks ideal size she has serious game. She possesses a court vision and IQ unlike few others. She will find a good fit with a school that values what she can do and sees how she can help them.)

Boston is fun to watch, she has a 6th sense as a point guard that you cant find just anywhere. Her court awareness and basketball IQ are on an elite level. Boston has a certain swag about her game, it’s flashy, but she also not too careless or mistake heavy. She is willing to take chances but she also a good decision maker so that the mistakes are limited. Boston is very crafty with the ball in her hands whether is dribbling, creating, or getting a shot off. She is a very reliable shooter from deep and the foul line and also very creative so she can score against bigger defenders. Boston is very good with her left as a passer, dribbler and a finisher.

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Morgan McMillen – Hiland Hawks

(Committed to Bowling Green)

Morgan is the illustration of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Quite frankly she doesn’t look like a baller, but she will embarrass you! She already uses a full arsenal of offensive moves and unlike most freshies, she’s not shy. Considering her shot is textbook in form and mechanics it is no surprise that she isn’t afraid to fill it up. Morgan has an extremely quick release that she can get up off the dribble, standing still or coming off screens. She has a great understanding of the game and always seems in control. I’m very impressed with her poise and focus on the floor, at some times even being the vocal leader. As a freshman, I’ve seen Morgan directing teammates on where to be and what to do within the offense. On top of being an offensive sight to see, she passes well, makes great decisions in transition and even defends well. Morgan is a very well-rounded player and the ceiling is very high for her.

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Taylor Mikesell – Jackson Polar Bears

(Committed to Maryland)

It’s tough to describe Taylor’s game, not because you really have to dig to find things to say, but rather because she doesn’t want the individual recognition. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Taylor views basketball as a team game and she’d rather not be elevated above her team. That in itself sets Taylor apart. She is and always will be team first, she doesn’t want to stand out she wants to strengthen the team. However…for the sake of this article, its my responsibility to communicate how impactful Taylor is. Everyone has their best freshman they’ve ever seen…mine is Taylor. For what it’s worth other people I’ve spoken to, who are credible in girls basketball, can’t decide between her and Ameryst Alston. Offensively Taylor is already superior. She shoots the 3 better than anyone, she’s almost automatic from the line, she shoots off of screens at a collegiate level. Off the dribble she can pull up, get to the rack, she hits runners and floaters with either her left or her right hand. She is a phenomenal passer and can defend as good as anyone. Mentally she is unflappable and has a ridiculously high knowledge of the game, she can adjust to anything you throw at her, which makes her that much more special. Most will read this, especially opposing Federal League players and fans, and think I’m just blowing her up or a ‘Jackson homer’, but to those people I will gladly accept your apology come December. This summer you would have never known Big Ten schools are already beating her door down considering she was completely fine coming off the bench or starting, whatever the team needed and the coach asked of her, she does it. You will never find another player of this caliber that is as selfless and team focused as Taylor Mikesell, and a set of parents that are as supportive of the team and not only worried about their daughters success as Taylor’s. In the day and age of superstars looking for all the praise they can handle, it is refreshing to see.

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Gabby Mitchell – Solon Comets

(Still uncommitted with lots of serious interest, definitely one of the best combo guards still available.)

Gabby shows that she has a very good understanding of basketball. As she grows and gets stronger she will be a very solid guard. Though you will never hear her use her lack of size or experience as an excuse, it’s really the one thing that most people might consider a weakness. She has went up against some great guards this spring and summer and that experience has helped her greatly! Even though she’s a freshman and smaller than most, her intensity and confidence has never weakened. She already has excellent length and as a defender that helps her tremendously. She has a good level of intensity on the defensive end which is nice to see. Offensively you definitely see the potential, in transition she is at her best, showing that she has excellent decision-making ability and her speed, length and agility creates all kind of problems for defenders at or around the rim. Her handles are great and she has a certain smoothness about her that you don’t find just anywhere. Playing with the Bekelja sisters is invaluable for Mitchell and I fully expect her to take advantage of that. When you watch Gabby you just know that she knows what she’s doing. Gabby has a bright future and hopefully many protein shakes as well.

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Valencia Myers – Solon Comets

(Committed to Florida State)

Valencia is a once in a lifetime type of talent. When it’s all said and done she will be at the top of every list and every college coaches wish list. At 6’3″ with a solid build and incredible athleticism Valencia is a nightmare to try to contain. She has a very well-rounded inside game and at any point she can showcase several post moves along with counter moves, to go along with a decent midrange game. At this point there are times where she still plays like a youngster but when she develops a mean streak to go along with her ability she will be downright scary! As one of the best players in the country at her age and position it is great that she’s playing against the best. She has a great work ethic so she will definitely be getting even better, and one day Geno and some others will be sitting in Solon’s gym to get a close eye on her.

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Madi Pearson – Minerva Lions

(Since has shifted her focus away from basketball.)

Madi is a smooth lefty guard that brings lots of skill to the table. She has an incredibly high understanding of the game and puts it on the floor. She was handicapped as a freshman by lack of varsity time, when the powers that be realize what they are actually sitting on the Lions will become a better team. Madi has an advanced midrange game. Her perimeter game is enough of a threat to give her chances to beat defenders and get to the next level. She also finishes at the rim very well and sees the court better than most. Pearson could have been the best player in the NBC last year, but only time will tell if she gets a fair shake this season. For a kid that is getting serious college looks already, it wont take long before something gives.

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Mikayla Poole – Carrollton Warriors

(One of the top uncommitted 2018’s in Ohio. Mikayla has done nothing but continue to get better. She can do everything a D2 coach would need her to do at the guard position.)

It seems to be in the genes with these Poole girls, but Mikayla isn’t trying to ride any coattails, she’s looking to make a name of her own. Older sis Ali is already committed to Kent State but she isn’t looking to be in the shadows. Mikayla is a part of a great backcourt at Carrollton and has a bright future of her own. Mikayla came into the high school ranks ready to go, complete with a nice jump shot and high basketball intelligence. She works as hard as anyone and will continue to stay hungry. As her role expands over the next few years everyone will find out that she is ready and able to carry a bigger load. The ceiling is very high for Mikayla and with her work ethic she’s going to get every inch out of it.

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Kennedy Schlabach – Hiland Hawks

(Committed to Ohio Dominican)

First thing that comes to mind with Kennedy is cold-blooded. This kid doesn’t get flustered, is always stone cold focused and is always coming up big in clutch situations! Kennedy is the queen of knocking down the walk up three ball. This is all even more impressive considering she’s generally the smallest player on the floor. Her toughness and grit are second to none and Kennedy doesn’t back down from anyone! The foundation of her game is being very precise and fundamental, which is always obvious when you see how infrequently she turns the ball over. Kennedy’s leadership on the floor is very good and she is always very vocal. Defense is not overlooked by this young lady, she works just as hard on the defensive end as she does on the offensive end!

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Natalie Zuchowski – West Branch Warriors

(Committed to Shawnee State)

Natalie passes the eye test within seconds of entering the gym. Her 6’3″ very solid frame catches the eye of everyone! Posts are generally the late developers but Natalie already has things that some posts can never get, good hands and feet. She does move well for her size but she is most definitely a traditional 5. As she gets older and gets more shots up she may develop a good midrange game but her bread and butter is in the paint. She knows exactly what to do with the basketball and gets it up on the rim quick. As she faces bigger competition she will realize how important developing go to post moves and counters are, and that’s something I fully expect to begin to be more and more of a big part of her game.

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Categories: Northeast Ohio Girls Basketball

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