High School basketball: Area players hope to be seen

TIPP CITY – Jonathan Riddle looks around the basketball courts he plays on and sees players who are getting college offers or at least talking to more schools than he is.

Riddle, a 6-foot-5 senior guard from Legacy Christian, and other players in the same situation came to Bethel High School on Saturday for the five-game Miami Valley All-Conference Challenge looking to be seen during a year when recruiting has been slow. College coaches from 40 schools, mostly from Ohio, watched on a livestream or sat in the stands.

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Players at Division III and IV high schools, including Shawnee 5-11 senior guard Jamon Miller, face obstacles to make an impression on college coaches in any year because of the level of competition. The struggle is bigger this year because of an increase in college transfers, the extra year of eligibility granted to college players by the NCAA and the current dead period for Division I coaches.

Coaches from Division I schools, like Ohio State, Dayton and Wright State, had to watch online because those coaches aren’t permitted to attend games or meet with players in person until May 31. Small-college coaches from schools such as Wilmington, Mount Vernon Nazarene and Miami-Hamilton were in the gym.

“I’m a little frustrated because I see other kids that I know that are getting looks, and I know that I can compete with them,” said Riddle, who is ready to decide his college future.

Riddle has offers from Division III programs Grove City in Pennsylvania and Wilmington. Wright State has invited him to walk on.

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“I’d love to play ball,” he said. “I’m still trying to find a home, but thankfully I got to do this event. So hopefully some coaches saw this, but I’m just going to keep trying to find the right place.”

Miller transferred from Springfield for his senior year and flourished in Chris McGuire’s program.

“I wasn’t as big as an impact as I was at Shawnee,” Miller said of the move from Springfield. “It made me become a better player.”

Miller has visited Wittenberg and Wilmington. However, he is strongly considering playing on a post-grad team at prep school to enhance his recruitment by Division I or II programs. He hopes to decide his destination by early June.

“It’s a long process, a hard process, you’ve got to have a lot of film,” Miller said. “I’m not really disappointed. I’m just really pushing myself to work harder and be where I want to be at.”

A post-grad team at a prep school, possibly ISA Andrews Osborne in the Cleveland area, is the likely route for 6-5 Cedarville senior Isaiah Ramey. He’s only 17 and has been told by his doctor he should grow to 6-7. A year at prep school will also allow him to build strength and improve his guard skills after playing mostly forward in high school. The goal is a full ride to a Division I or II school.

“I don’t feel like I’m ready to go to college yet, so I need another year to prep myself as a basketball player,” Ramey said. “I’m cool with my decision.”

Saturday’s event was organized by Southwest Ohio Full Court Press, a website that covers high school basketball. The games featured all-star teams from the Cross County Conference, Metro Buckeye Conference, Central Buckeye Conference, Southwestern Buckeye League, Shelby County Athletic League, Ohio Heritage Conference, Greater Catholic League Co-ed, Dayton City League (including Trotwood-Madison) Miami Valley League and Greater Western Ohio Conference.

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