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(FREE) Five Breakout Juniors

By T.J. Peatross, 12/25/22, 11:45PM EST


Deandre Jones (Garfield Heights)

Deandre Jones Emerges

We're not even at the midway point of the season yet but there have been several juniors that have boosted their stock. 

Garfield Heights currently sits at a 6-1 and that's in large part to the development of the big man in the middle. Deandre Jones has played his way onto the radar of several programs in the region and he's a prospect that seems to get better by the week. 

Dom Aekins out of Columbus Walnut Ridge has been on an absolute tear scoring the basketball while Lutheran West's Jayson Levis has made a name for himself in Northeast Ohio.

Check out the five juniors that are on their way to a breakout year!


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Breakout Juniors (Alphabetically)

Dom Aekins (Walnut Ridge) 5'8 PG

The Columbus product has exploded out the gate to start the season, averaging a monster 31.5 points and 5.1 assists through 7 games of action. Aekins began his high school career at KIPP Columbus but has been one of the top players in the City League South for the past two seaasons. With fellow junior Navarion Adams transferring to Westerville North, Aekins has been asked to carry the vast majority of the scoring load for the Scots and he has since accepted the challenge. The super shifty guard is dynamic with the ball in his hands as he can knock down tough shots from the perimeter or finish at the rim in transition. He's a pesty on-ball defender that checks all of the boxes for what college coaches want to see in an undersized guard. 

Max Dawson (Willard) 6'1 CG

While Dawson was one of the top scorers in Northern Ohio a year ago, he didn't land on our radar until this past Spring. NEO Spotlight was in attendance earlier this month as Dawson scored a game-high 40 points in a hard fought loss to Shelby. He was a smooth operator out of the triple-threat, and he used an advanced jab series to create space or get a step on his defender. Has a high release point on his shot and used it to his advantage as he knocked down a number of tight space jumpers. Dawson played off two feet and was tough to deal with when he was able to get to his left hand. 

Kraig Gilbert (Grove City) 6'7 C

Gilbert quickly burst onto the scene opening weekend in a matchup against Youngstown Chaney, finishing with 24 points and a double-double. He has a strong, mature frame and was a mobile athlete at 6'7. Gilbert was a threat to score it as a roll/dive man and showed some toughness on the defensive end that he probably picked up from his time on the gridiron. He has solid touch and the foundation to being a serviceable pick-and-pop threat down the road. Gilbert will be tracked by a plethora of programs throughout the Spring and Summer on the grassroots circuit. 

Deandre Jones (Garfield Heights) 6'8 PF/C

Jones is one of the more intriguing prospects in Ohio's junior class as he offers a unique combination of size, length, and touch. He has flashed the ability to knock down the trail three or make good reads operating out of the high post. When engaged, he has proven to be a serviceable rim protector thanks to his mobility and plus-wingspan. He still has some ways to go with his feel and overall basketball IQ but he has a very high ceiling once all of the pieces come together. 

Jayson Levis (Lutheran West) 6'0 PG

Absolute gamer! Levis plays the game with a major chip on his shoulder and is a fiery competitor on both ends of the floor. He has some wiggle with the ball and an uncanny ability to create space with his patented left to right crossover. Levis is a rhythm shotmaker that can fill it up in a hurry but also get teammates involved off the dribble drive, preferring to dish the rock with style and flair.  He should be a high priority for in-state programs looking for a tough nosed guard. 

Honorable Mention (Alphabetical)

  • Brock Beech (Medina) 6'3 WF
  • Jalen Brown (Emmanuel Christian) 6'2 WG
  • Derek Fairley (Lutheran West) 6'2 CG
  • Hayden Nigro (Louisville) 6'3 PG
  • Jeremy Wilson (Richmond Heights) 6'6 PF/C

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