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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Who will follow Malaki Branham as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 2022?

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 12, 2021, 5:57 pm

Now that we know that Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Malaki Branham — fresh off leading his squad to the Division II championship — is the 2021 Ohio Mr. Basketball, our thoughts turned to the future. As in, who might be the 2022 Mr. Basketball in the Buckeye State? Here’s a look at 14 players (in alphabetical order) who could capture the award next season:

Sean Craig, Sylvania Northview

The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 20.2 points per game as a junior, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division I. Helped lead the Wildcats to a 21-5 record before losing to Lima Senior in the district finals. 

Luke Denbow, Ashland

The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 21.8 points per game as a junior, earning second-team all-Ohio honors in Division I. Helped the Arrows to an 18-5 record before losing to Sylvania Northview in the district semifinals. 

Rayvon Griffith, Cincinnati Taft

Ranked No. 23 in the 2023 ESPN 25, the 6-foot-5 small forward averaged 23.5 points per game as a sophomore, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division III, and Player of the Year honors in the Southwest District. Helped Taft return to the semifinals for the first time since winning the 2011 title, taking on a bigger role after the graduation of a large senior class in 2020. Was a member of the MaxPreps Freshman All-American first team a season ago. 

Sencire Harris, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary

The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 14 points per game as a junior, earning second-team all-Ohio honors in Division II, helping the Irish (27-2) — Ohio’s top-ranked team regardless of division — to claim their ninth title overall, and third in five seasons. The No. 2 prospect in the state’s 2022 class won’t have to play second-fiddle to this year’s Mr. Basketball, Malaki Branham, next winter, either.

Elmore James IV, Lyndhurst Brush

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged a gaudy 29.8 points per game as a junior, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division I. Helped the Arcs to a 15-6 record before losing to Jackson in the district semifinals.

Sean Jones, Gahanna Lincoln

The 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 17.5 points per game as a junior, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division I. Lincoln lost at the buzzer on a half-court heave in the regional title game, falling to eventual D-I runner-up Westerville Central.

Chris Livingston, Akron Buchtel

Ranked No. 5 in the the 2022 ESPN 60, the 6-foot-7 small forward averaged 32 points, 15.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 4.0 blocks and 4.7 steals per game, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division II. Helped lead the Griffins to an 18-5 record and an Akron City championship before a loss to Shawnee in the regional finals. Was named the All-NEO Inland Player of the Year. 

Amani Lyles, Columbus Beechcroft

The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 21.6 points,11.3 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game as a junior, earning second-team all-Ohio honors in Division II. Helped the Cougars to an 11-1 record and a Columbus City-North title before losing in overtime to Columbus Bishop Watterson in the district semifinals.

Paul McMillan IV, Cincinnati Woodward

The 6-foot-2 point guard averaged 28.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game as a junior, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division II. Helped the Bulldogs to a 19-4 record before losing to Wyoming in the district semifinals. A two-time CMAC Player of the Year (and runner-up the other time), he’s scored more than 25 points per game all three seasons, and has 1,925 career points and more than 320 career assists. He’s been first-team all district at all Southwest Region all three seasons, and first-team all-Ohio twice (2nd team the other time).

Trey Robertson, Waverly

The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 25.7 points per game as a junior, earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division II. Helped lead the Tigers to a 20-4 record before losing to Warren in the district finals.

Layne Sarver, New Madison Tri-Village

The 6-foot-6 wing averaged 23 points per game as a junior, earning first-team All-Ohio honors in Division IV. Helped lead the Patriots to a Cross County title and a 25-1 record before losing to Cedarville in the regional semifinals. 

Jake Singleton, Byesville Meadowbrook

The 5-foot-11 shooting guard averaged 20.5 points per game as a junior earning first-team all-Ohio honors in Division II. Helped the Colts to a 24-3 record before losing to eventual D-II runner-up St. Francis DeSales in the regional finals. Finished in the top 10 in the state in free-throw percentage.

Jalen Wenger, Dalton

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 22.1 points per game as a junior, earning first-team All-Ohio honors in Division IV. Helped lead the Bulldogs to a Wayne County title before losing to Richmond Heights in the district finals. 

Daniel Young, Shaker Heights

The 6-foot-2 point guard averaged 25.4 points per game as a junior, earning second-team all-Ohio honors in Division I. Helped the Red Raiders to an 11-7 record before losing in the district semifinals to Cleveland Heights.

[Photo courtesy of Ohio High School Athletic Association]