A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to check out some of the action at Lucious Jones’ annual Hidden Gem Showcase.  Although we were not there for very long, we were impressed with the talent level at the event.  More of a local event, the showcase attracted a number of Central Ohio’s best players.  We were most impressed with the play of Jason Bates Jr. (5’1″/PG/2026/Pickerington, OH), who exhibited the ability to both run a team and score the rock.  We’ve seen Bates play on a number of occasions, but his play on that day was the best we’ve seen of him. Bates was in attack mode in each game we saw; he worked the pick and roll to perfection, and he scored at a high level.  Simply impressive! We also really liked Brody Hatfield (5’6″/PG/2026/Sunbury, Oh), who showed excellent skill, poise under pressure, and the ability to go get buckets. He’s also an excellent shooter; he’s smart and really understands the game.  Also, he impacts the game on both ends of the floor.  We will be upgrading his rankings when we start our updates. We also saw some good things from Carter Ward (5’10″/PG/2025/Columbus, Oh), who has good size, goes strong to the cup, and finishes well through contact.  In addition, Ward knocked down catch and shoot treys and handled the ball well for his size. Finally, Austin Brown (5’2″/PG/2026/Middletown, OH) was a pleasure to watch. He’s small, but super quick and super aggressive driving to the basket. Like most good diminutive guards, Brown has a nice floater and ability to make plays for teammates. He’s also a pesky on ball defender which is a must for small guards.  He also has 3-point range. We had not coved the Hidden Gem events in several years, so we’re gald we were able to fall through!

Name Hgt/Pos Class City Evaluation Notes
Austin Brown 5’2″/PG 2026 Middletown Small, super quick, elite handle, play maker, pesky defender, has floater, crafty
Brody Hatfield 5’6″/PG 2026 Sunbury Highly skilled, plays with pace, floor general, shoots well, works pick & roll well, best player that day
Jahmere Johnson 5’4″/PG 2025 Columbus Solid handle, aggressive to the cup, shifty, good on ball defender, has killer crossover
Kenny LaRue 5’4″/PG 2026 Hilliard Excellent shooter both in catch & shoot situations and off the bounce, has great floater, solid skill set
Jason Bates Jr. 5’1″/PG 2026 Pickerington Highly skilled floor general with high basketball IQ, can score and make plays, deadly off screens
Christian King 5’6″/CG 2026 Columbus Strong PG, solid shooter, has range from beyond the arc
Xavier Rogers 5’6″/PG 2025 Columbus Strong to the cup, finished drives through contact, great drive & dish game, great in transition
Carter Ward 5’10″/PG 2025 Columbus Good size, strong to cup, aggressive, solid ball skills, finishes through contact, hits catch & shoot treys
Isaiah Pearson 5’7″/SG 2025 Dublin Hit multiple catch & shoot treys, has nice floater
Isaiah Crawford 6’0″/C 2025 Columbus Good size, finishes with left & right hands, rebounds & passes well, good vision, communicates well