Area hoops standouts show off skills at recruiting event

Thrugood Marshall senior Anthony McComb drives against Alter junior Jacob Conner (center) and Springboro junior Sam Feldman  during Wednesday night's Dayton Elite Open Gym at the Dayton Sports Complex.  Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Thrugood Marshall senior Anthony McComb drives against Alter junior Jacob Conner (center) and Springboro junior Sam Feldman during Wednesday night's Dayton Elite Open Gym at the Dayton Sports Complex. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Dayton Elite Open Gym draws 48 players to Dayton Sports Complex

Anthony McComb’s summer was not supposed to be spent anonymously. The AAU season before his senior year was the time to show more college basketball coaches who he is as a player.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, has stopped any players from going viral on the recruiting trail. AAU tournaments are rare. McComb is hoping to play in his first one this weekend.

So it was with eagerness that McComb and 47 other high school players from the Miami Valley played in the Dayton Elite Open Gym on Wednesday night at the Dayton Sports Complex. The event, sponsored by Miami Valley Hoop Vault (mvhoopvault.com) and Triple Double Prospects, a recruiting service for Ohio and Kentucky players, was livestreamed on YouTube and is available for replay. Coaches from about 75 colleges were expected to watch big-school and small-school players who hope to play at all levels.

“It gives us more exposure, which we don’t have in the city a lot of times,” said McComb, who was one of 31 seniors to participate in the 16-minute scrimmages.

McComb, who starred for a good Thurgood Marshall team last year, isn’t unknown to colleges. He’s drawn interest from Kent State, Miami, Toledo and Division II Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee. But he doesn’t have any offers yet. “I’d love to play college basketball,” he said.

The pace was fast and there were no officials. It was a pure open gym. The only fans were the large ones in the ceiling trying to move the warm air. Players wore reversible red and black practice jerseys numbered 1 to 48.

“It’s great for the city of Dayton as far as exposure with not being able to play this summer in front of coaches,” said Alter junior Jacob Conner. “It’s an honor to play in it and it’s good to get out and play with some of the top guys in the area.”

Conner’s AAU team has trained but not scheduled for any events. He received a Division I offer from Bryant in April and another from Youngstown State on Sunday. He’s also gotten interest from Dayton, Wright State, Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Valparaiso, Robert Morris, Davidson and Charlotte.

Conner is 6-foot-7 and can play four positions, including the point which he did a lot for Alter last year. He shot well from 3-point range Wednesday. He said college coaches like his versatility.

Conner might have the opportunity to stay close to home, but he said he hasn’t fully considered that idea yet.

“I’ve never really spent time away from home for too long,” he said. “It will be a matter of whether the campus feels like home to me. That will be a pretty big factor.”

Ben Knostman, a senior point guard at Tippecanoe who has DI offers from Lehigh and Winthrop, played in his first AAU tournament this past weekend in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

“With the quarantine stuff I’ve just tried to focus on my body to get a little bigger, get my shot down,” he said. “And now that everything’s opened back up to get as much exposure as I can and get as many games as we can.”

Wayne guard Lawrent Rice was one of three sophomores to play. The others were his AAU teammate Antaune Allen of Belmont and DayJaun Anderson of Ponitz.

“It’s a big, big opportunity for a lot of us to show what we’ve got to everybody,” Rice said. “So we’re all playing to the best of our ability to get our offers and go to college.”

Rice impressed enough at a camp last summer to get an offer from Ohio before his freshman season. He’s also hearing from Ohio State, Purdue, Kansas State, Xavier and others.

“I try not to think about it much and put that pressure on myself,” he said. “I’m just playing right now.”