By Ozie Davis III MS, JD
I couldn’t wait for Friday. October 30, as it marked the first day of High School Basketball in Ohio. Since last March when COVID-19 abruptly ended the season prior to the close of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament, I have hungered for this day.
And so have coaches, players, and fans across our region!
During the offseason, the defending champion Hughes Big Red had a change of leadership. Out went Bryan Wyant and in came new head coach Derrell Black.
Black said he is excited for “the opportunity to embrace the role as the head guy and see if I can put my guys in a position to consistently be successful. “
The chance to win another Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC) championship will be tough with Taft, Aiken, Woodward and West High all fielding very competitive teams. But the Big Red returns one of the best in the league in senior Cameron McKenzie.
Western Hills Head Coach Bryce Stokes is most excited about “the amount of talent we have returning to the team and taking the next step as a program into becoming a powerhouse in the city as well as the state.” The Mustangs have one of the city’s most talented player’s in junior Aboubacar Cisse.
Among the best players in the country are Woodward junior Paul McMillan IV and Taft sophomore Rayvon Griffith. McMillan is ranked in the top 50 juniors and Griffith in the top 25 sophomores! Not many leagues can boast the depth of individual talent that graces the CMAC.
McMillan has hefty goals, “I feel great about this season. Going into my junior year I still feel like I have to do some things that I haven’t done yet which are winning a conference championship at Woodward, winning a state title, winning Mr.Basketball of Ohio and Gatorade player of the year for Ohio. Making sure I finish off what my dad, Coach Redden, brother, and coach Bettis started.” His mentioning of Coach Dennis Bettis, who died last year, speaks to the sincerity of McMillan’s motivation.
Standing in the way of the goal to win a championship is perennial contender the Aiken Falcons. Led by senior Jakada Stone, the Falcons are my favorite to win the league.
Stone says that the season will be marked by the saying, “Don’t be satisfied,“ and “What excites me is playing another season and another game of basketball.” He says he is grateful and happy to still be here. This senior’s leadership will determine how far the Falcons can go
One of the most exciting happenings in the off season was the welcoming back of the Withrow Tigers to the CMAC with their new head coach Roberto Allen, late of Gamble where he had five very successful years. Allen states, “What has me excited is that we begin a new chapter at Withrow University High School both on and off the floor with the unbelievable opportunity to compete in the CMAC.”
It is definitely going to be an exciting season. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about CMAC Boys Basketball, hit me up at Ozie3@OzieDavis.com