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!