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Cincinnati the place to be for Xenia basketball standout

Samari Curtis of Xenia High School always figured he’d take his impressive basketball game to the next level at nearby Cincinnati. He just didn’t know at which NCAA D-I program.

The high-scoring, 6-foot-4 senior guard sided with the University of Cincinnati earlier this week, announcing via Twitter a verbal commitment to Bearcats coach Mick Cronin. Last spring, Curtis de-committed from rival Xavier after coach Chris Mack left to succeed Rick Pitino at Louisville.

“It feels good,” said Curtis on Friday. “It’s just how they play. The coach and players will hold you accountable. When I went there on a visit it was like a big family. It’s crazy. You have to see it.”

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He’s also the second high-profile Xenia product to switch to UC this year. Meechi Harris, a 2018 Xenia grad, de-committed from Kentucky to play receiver at UC this coming football season.

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Curtis is a prolific scorer who excelled in Kent Anderson’s up-tempo offense at Xenia. He’ll become a rare four-year starter and has led the Greater Western Ohio Conference in scoring the last two seasons. As a junior Curtis averaged 29.8 points and converted 55 three-pointers.

Last season he put a career-high 50 points on Tippecanoe and had 41 against West Carrollton. For his career, he’s scored 1,293 points and hit 145 three-pointers.

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Those are the kinds of numbers that landed him on All-Ohio Red and most recently C2K Elite summer AAU teams, among the best in the Midwest. C2K Elite recently finished among the final 16 teams in a 17U national tourney at Las Vegas.

Coached by current Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson, C2K Elite also featured former Sidney standout Andre Gordon, who’ll play at Huntington Prep (W.Va.) this coming season.

Curtis has been a frequent visitor to the Queen City. His mother, a Wilmington native, lived at Cincinnati and All-Ohio Red is based there. “I’ve been around there all the time,” he said.

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According to Curtis, he would have considered Ohio State, Dayton and Wright State had those programs not backed off in recruiting him.

“They never offered,” he said. “They would be (considered) if they offered, but they stopped calling and never offered.”

Xenia was 11-12 last season and 7-7 in the GWOC American South. The Bucs were 17-8 when he first led the GWOC in scoring as a sophomore and 18-6 when he made his freshman debut.

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Curtis said he never considered transferring elsewhere to finish his high school career.

“It means everything to me to know when I go somewhere or UC, I can say I came from Xenia High School,” said Curtis, a life-long Xenia resident. “It feels good. I’m going to be able to be stress free during my whole senior year.”

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Besides Gordon, senior Amari Davis of Trotwood-Madison also figures to be heavily recruited. Tecumseh’s Presley Griffitts (IUPUI) and Olivia Trice of Wayne (Bowling Green) are area girls who have verbally committed.

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Also at UC is junior and returning starter Jarron Cumberland of Wilmington. The NCAA D-I early signing period for basketball is Nov. 14-21.

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