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(FREE) Full Recap | Cleveland Play by Play

By T.J. Peatross, 01/13/23, 3:00PM EST



The Cleveland Play by Play Classic took place last Sunday John Carroll University and the event featured 13 of Northeast Ohio's best teams as well as Imani Christian out of Pittsburgh. 

The game of the night saw Richmond Heats edging Lutheran East in a hard fought 57-54 contest, a game that featured a plethora of high-end talent. Junior Hosea Steele recorded a 22 point, 13 rebound double-double while Lutheran East's Jesse McCulloch added 23 of his own. 

Akron Buchtel senior Khoi Thurmon (IPFW commit) took home the NEO Spotlight Showcase MVP and he was joined on first team by Steele, McCulloch, Luke Skaljac (Brecksville), and Ace Buckner (St. Ignatius).

Check out NEO Spotlight's full recap from the event!


Time Game Location
10:15AM Lutheran West (66) vs. Shaker Heights (60) John Carroll University
12:000PM Gilmour Academy (44) vs. Maple Heights (57) John Carroll University
1:45PM Garfield Heights (66) vs. Imani Christian (46) John Carroll University
3:30PM Brush (54) vs. Brecksville (52) John Carroll University
5:15PM Mentor (47) vs. St. Ignatius (84) John Carroll University
7:00PM Lutheran East (54) vs. Richmond Heights (57) John Carroll University
8:30PM Akron Buchtel (67) vs. Cleveland Heights (62) John Carroll University

Hosea Steele & Jesse McCulloch winning Game MVPs


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Most Outstanding Player

1st Team All-Showcase

2nd Team All-Showcase

  • Michael Hatcher Jr. (Brush) 5'8 PG 2023
  • De'Erick Barber (Richmond Heights) 5'10 PG 2025
  • Tommie Benn (Garfield Heights) 6'0 CG 2023
  • Jayson Levis (Lutheran West) 6'0 PG 2024
  • Marcus Johnson (Garfield Heights) 6'1 PG 2026

Top 8 Performers

Class of 2023

Khoi Thurmon (Akron Buchtel) 6'0 PG

Thurmon, Sunday's MVP, put on a master class from the lead guard spot as he finished with a game-high 25 points, including 14 in the game's opening quarter. The IPFW commit found his rhythm early on and didn't take his foot off the gas throughout Buchtel's 67-62 win over Cleveland Heights. He thread the needle in the halfcourt and was a big-time playmaker in transition, finding open teammates with crosscourt skips or kick outs. 

Class of 2024

Ace Buckner (St. Ignatius) 6'1 PG

Despite battling some early foul trouble, Buckner was the best player on the floor as he turned in an efficient 20-point performance in a blowout win over Mentor. He kept defenders honest from three and made shots in rhythm, including an impressive pull-up jumper after creating space with a crossover move. Buckner is one of the better defenders in the area and he proved that again on Sunday thanks to his length, activity, and natural instincts. 

Jayson Levis (Lutheran West) 6'0 PG

Levis has quickly went from being a player on our watchlist to becoming a regular guest here at NEO Spotlight. One of the state's top rising prospects in the 2024 class, the 6'0 guard has turned in a number of impressive performances as we reach the midway point of the season. He entered Sunday averaging 20.1 PPG on 50/40/80 shooting splits. Levis is a tough-nosed guard with the ability to fill it up, in a hurry, and do so with flair. He used a series of scoring and hesitation moves to knock down tight space shots off the bounce. 

Jesse McCulloch (Lutheran East) 6'9 C

McCulloch knocked down a catch-and-shoot three with 40 seconds to play to help bring the Falcons within three points of Richmond Heights. While Lutheran East fell short, the junior big man displayed his feathery touch from the perimeter and let his presence be felt on the interior. He showed a great effort on the offensive glass, scoring around the rim on putbacks and weak side tip ins. At 6'9, McCulloch plays with a ton of finesse and has continued to have a monster junior season for Coach Liggins and company. 

Luke Skaljac (Brecksville) 6'1 PG

The 6'1 guard was in attack mode from the game's opening tip and was perhaps the most aggressive I've seen him to date. Skaljac is a heady guard that plays the game with phenomenal pace, using his tight handle and a unique change of speed to get to his spots and knock down rhythm jumpers. He has a natural fade on his shot which allowed him to comfortably take and make highly contested shots. He finished with a game-high 32 points on 12/23 shooting (3/5 3FG). 

Hosea Steele (Richmond Heights) 6'4 PF

Steele is a mismatch nightmare and he was the catalyst for Richmond Heights in their win over a talented Lutheran East squad. Steele was relentless on both ends of the floor as he flourished in his role as a small ball four man. At 6'4, Steele was a tough out for opposing bigs thanks to his ability to size defenders up and attack the rim off the dribble. He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds en route to picking up Game MVP honors. 

Class of 2025

De'Erick Barber (Richmond Heights) 5'10 PG

Barber impacted winning in a major way for Richmond Heights and he changed the course of the game without scoring the basketball. The 5'10 sophomore is as tough, and as complete, of a guard that you'll find in the state of Ohio. Barber made some high-level passes off the dribble, zipping it across the court while hitting teammates right in the shooting pocket. He competed from start to finish, picked up fullcourt, and scrapped for 50/50 balls.

Class of 2026

Marcus Johnson (Garfield Heights) 6'1 PG

It didn't take long for Johnson to find his bearings on the varsity level. The 6'1 guard has been the state's most productive freshman, averaging just a hair over 20 points per game while dishing out 5 assists. Johnson's pace and ability to quickly change directions resulted in paint touches and a number of trips to the charity stripe. He has a natural feel as a scorer and a playmaker, using a variety of jabs and rips to drive angles and finish with touch at the rim. 

Honorable Mention (Alphabetical)

  • Tommie Benn (Garfield Heights) 6'0 CG 2023
  • Darius Davis (Maple Heights) 5'9 PG 2023
  • Rayvelle Duncan (Cleveland Heights) 6'2 CG 2023
  • Michael Hatcher Jr. (Brush) 5'8 PG 2023
  • Deandre Jones (Garfield Heights) 6'8 PF/C 2024
  • Brandon Rose (Gilmour Academy) 6'3 WF 2023
  • Kellon Smith (Shaker Heights) 6'2 WG 2023
  • Demaris Winters (Richmond Heights) 6'3 WG 2025

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