The Columbus Dispatch
Gahanna atop preseason poll
Last winter marked the first time three central Ohio teams were playing on the final day of the season since the OHSAA expanded the boys basketball postseason to four divisions in 1988.
None of those teams — Westerville Central in Division I, Desales in Division II and Worthington Christian in Division III — won a state title, but the accomplishment underscored the quality of play that area programs are capable of producing.
The team that enters this season with the most established and deepest talent pool is Gahanna, which had its hopes of reaching state for the first time since 2010 dashed when Central’s Tasos Cook made a 3-pointer from half court to win a regional final 45-44.
The Lions return the area’s most polished guard in senior Sean Jones, who is about 300 points from becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer and has signed with Marquette. They also have size with 6-foot-7 senior Javan Simmons, a Toledo signee, and the pain of last year’s disappointment as motivation.
Two other teams that consistently have been in the mix to make the Division I state tournament in recent years, Hilliard Bradley and Pickerington Central, continue to have standout talent.
Bradley has yet another member of the Norris family to build around in sophomore Cade Norris, the third of coach Brett Norris’ sons to play for the program.
Senior forward Tayshaun Mayfield also has returned after helping Bradley make it to a regional final in 2020 before the remainder of the postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He missed last season with an injury.
Junior forward Devin Royal looks ready for the leading role for Pickerington Central, which lost to Bradley 46-37 in a district final last season.
Along with Bradley, Gahanna and Westerville Central, the area’s other defending district champion is Olentangy Liberty, which returns senior guard and Toledo signee Cooper Davis and should battle Bradley and Dublin Coffman for the Occ-central Division championship.
Another program to watch from the OCC is Pickerington North, a district runner-up last season that is led by senior guards Jerry Saunders and Dior Connors. Reynoldsburg also was a district runner-up, and Westerville South features Wright State signee Drey Carter.
The teams that qualified for the City League championship game last season, Beechcroft from the City-north and Africentric from the City-south, again look like the favorites.