High school basketball: Recruitment heating up for Centerville’s Cupps

Centerville sophomore point guard Gabe Cupps during a game earlier this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Centerville sophomore point guard Gabe Cupps during a game earlier this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Point guard, teammates House, Rolf all have Division I offers

To the victor goes the spoils.

In this case, that means scholarship offers for multiple members of the state champion Centerville Elks boys basketball team.

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The latest came Wednesday when Gabe Cupps announced he received an offer from Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann.

June is barely halfway over, but it’s been busy for Cupps.

Of course, that is true of every potential college athlete as the month saw the NCAA lift a recruiting dead period that began early in the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.

A junior-to-be, Cupps has also received offers from Xavier, Miami University, the College of Charleston and Brown this month.

Centerville High School junior Tom House drives past Mentor's Jonah Waag during their game on Saturday night at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Centerville High School junior Tom House drives past Mentor's Jonah Waag during their game on Saturday night at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

The Elks’ point guard has the highest-profile suitor so far (the Big Ten’s Buckeyes), but senior-to-be Tom House was the first one to get a Division I offer.

That came in March from Robert Morris.

Mercer followed in April with Oral Roberts coming in May.

This month, things have picked up even more with the in-state trio of Ohio, Wright State and Miami all offering the 6-5 guard who led the Elks with 17.2 points per game as a junior.

With 6-7 senior-to-be Rich Rolf having been offered by Radford in May, the defending champs will take the court this fall with at least three Division I prospects.

“I’m getting a lot of calls right now between our guys and then the AAU stuff and it’s fun,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps (Gabe’s father) said. “I’m glad to be a part of it and to be able to speak on behalf of Tom and Rich and those guys in terms of their recruitment.”

Centerville's Rich Rolf puts up a shot in the paint during Sunday's Division I state title game vs. Westerville Central at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Centerville's Rich Rolf puts up a shot in the paint during Sunday's Division I state title game vs. Westerville Central at UD Arena. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

That means trying to facilitate communication between prospect and coach, a major part of the job now for any high school coach.

“That’s the fun part of it, especially those guys because I’ve been around those guys since they’ve been in third grade and they’ve been so dedicated and worked so hard in the program and invested so much time,” Cupps said. “It’s cool to see that kind of stuff paying off and having those conversations with college coaches and starting to think about their future and where they might play — all those things that they’ve kind of dreamed of. It’s cool to see that stuff all kind of coming to fruition for them.”

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Gabe Cupps averaged 15.2 points and 4.9 assists for the Elks last season. He shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from 3-point range.

He received his Ohio State offer during an unofficial visit to Columbus.

“It was a great experience,” Brook Cupps said. “Coach Holtmann and his staff are really good, and we appreciate the opportunity to talk to them, sit down with them, see campus and that kind of stuff.”

Given Gabe’s age and the fact contact with college coaches was limited over the past year, his father said his recruitment is just getting ramped up.

“He’s really just kind of trying to take everything in,” Brook Cupps said. “I mean, to be honest, he doesn’t have a whole lot of comparison. He’s been to Xavier, he went down to (the University of Cincinnati), and he was at Ohio State. And so he just doesn’t have a whole lot of things to compare it to.

“So I think he just wants to try to get to know some coaches and get to know some programs and see where he thinks he would fit in terms of their culture and relationships with those coaches and who would challenge him to become the best person and player he could be.”

After taking part in team activities with the Elks the next two weekends, the younger Cupps is looking at taking unofficial visits to Clemson, Virginia and Michigan before the end of the month.

“It’s really early in the process and he’s just going to try to sort through them and enjoy the experience and be grateful for it, realizing he’s very fortunate to be having those talks and going to Ohio State and stuff like that,” Brook Cupps said.