Top returning boys basketball players to watch

Here’s the top returning seven boys high school basketball players in the area and some other things to know. The boys season starts on Friday night.

Justin Ahrens, sr., Versailles: A four-year starter, the 6-6 versatile guard/forward will be a Mr. Basketball candidate. Averaged 25.6 points last season when the Tigers were 25-2. Won multiple awards, including the state's D-III player of the year. Signed with Ohio State after de-committing when Thad Matta resigned as the Buckeyes' coach.


»Preseason power rankings

»Coaching changes

Myles Belyeu, sr., Trotwood-Madison: Another high-scoring reason (17.7) why the Rams averaged nearly 90 points and advanced to the D-II state title game last season. At 6-4, he should shoot up the recruiting radar with another strong senior season.

Samari Curtis, jr., Xenia: Led the GWOC in scoring as a sophomore (24.1 points) for Xenia (17-8), which lost to Springfield 73-72 in OT in the postseason. Has offers from Cincinnati and Xavier. Will be a four-year starter and likely own all the single-season and career scoring records when he's done.

Amari Davis, jr., Trotwood-Madison: Another high-flyer who could rank among the Rams' all-time best scorers when he's done. Averaged 16.3 points as a freshman and 15.8 as a sophomore. At 6-3, has generated interest from most Midwest programs.

Andre Gordon, jr., Sidney: An outstanding guard, was the GWOC North player of the year as a sophomore, averaging 20.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. Key reason why Sidney was 18-6 and won a divisional title. Also an outstanding quarterback in football. Being recruited in both sports. ranks him among the state's best two-sport athletes.

Caleb South, sr., Bethel: Another all-everything guard. Averaged 25 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a junior. Also was named the Cross County Conference player of the year. Surpassed 1,000 career points early last season. Lists Wright State among the schools who have shown the most recruiting interest.

Grant Whisman, so., Middletown Madison: Anyone who leads the Southwestern Buckeye League in scoring as a freshman makes this list. The 6-6 wing averaged 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds last season. Recruiting stock should soar.

Other things to know

• Five area teams will play in the season-opening Ohio Valley Hoops Classic at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro on Friday and Saturday.

Xenia is up first on Friday night against Princeton and 6-9 Darius Bazley, who appears likely to sign with Syracuse. On Saturday it’s Chaminade Julienne vs. Columbus Linden McKinley (10:30 a.m.), Centerville vs. Proctorville Fairland (1:30 p.m.), Springboro vs. Mason (6 p.m.) and Bethel vs. Columbus Eastmoor Academy (7:30 p.m.).

• Former Dunbar coach Pete Pullen is now an assistant for Darnell Hoskins at Middletown. Their coaching kinship was cemented when Hoskins was Thurgood Marshall’s coach and Pullen led Dunbar. It’s the second season for Hoskins with the Middies.

• New Dunbar coach Chuck Taylor is the only Dayton City League change from last season. Returning as coaches are Art Winston (Belmont), Steve Pittman (Ponitz), Shawn McCullough (Thurgood), Dwayne Chastin (Meadowdale) and Felix Turner (Stivers).

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