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2023-24 boys basketball preseason players to watch list



Nathan Borling, Columbia: The senior guard did it all for Columbia last season with 18.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He’s one of The Morning Journal coverage area’s best scorers and will look to rack up the awards again like last year. Everything’s in place for him to have a special season.

Jayden Crutcher, Elyria: With Ryan Walsh graduated, it’s going to be the Jayden Crutcher show in Elyria. The junior is a sharpshooter, but will do more damage this season with the ball in his hands. A versatile player who is a tough matchup with his length, he’s garnering Division I interest for a reason.

Jai’den Guerra-Howard, Lorain: Lorain will be led by its senior guards this season, and the first one is Guerra-Howard. After transferring from Open Door the year prior, he had a nice junior season for the Titans. He can shoot the ball and has a quick first step to the rim. He’s poised for a big year.

Grant Hartley, Keystone: Hartley is one of the best true athletes who will take the court this year. The Wildcats’ point guard impacts the game in many ways, and his play will win them games outright at times this season. He will throw his hat into the ring for the LC8 Player of the Year race.

Anthony Januzzi, Open Door: Open Door has a strong senior class, and Januzzi is the leader. Playing under his dad, the senior point guard has a high basketball IQ and has the uncanny ability to get the best out of his teammates. He averaged 16.3 points per game as a junior, and big things are expected in 2023-24.

Collin Jones, North Ridgeville: North Ridgeville will be a tough team to guard, and that’s due to having multiple players who have length and athleticism such as Jones. He and Griffin Turay are the unquestioned leaders of the Rangers, and they will be in production, too. Jones was a solid third option for Ridgeville last season, but he’s poised for a breakout senior season.

Asiah Kielian, Lorain: The other half of Lorain’s strong guard tandem. Kielian provides a consistent presence for the Titans, and you can count on him producing on a nightly basis. His length puts pressure on defenses, and he’s a strong finisher at the rim.

Peyton Lerch, Avon Lake: Lerch was one of the few underclassmen to make an impact for Avon Lake last season. Losing a lot of talented players to graduation, it’s his time to shine this year. The Shoremen are under the radar heading into the season, but Lerch’s play could bolster them up the SWC standings again.

Derek Occhipinti, Westlake: Occhipinti isn’t necessarily a post player, but he’s the best big man in the area. There aren’t many opponents around that can take him on the block, but he can stretch the floor and provide good spacing for the Demons. Averaging 17.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, those numbers could rise as he’s firmly the first option.

Griffin Turay, North Ridgeville: If North Ridgeville’s going to be as good as last year or better, Turay will play a big part in that. Losing Jake Boynar, the senior guard will now be the Rangers’ go-to scorer. His height creates a matchup nightmare for opposing guards and is one of the best around slashing to the rim.

Nolan Waechter, Brookside: If someone can challenge Crutcher as the best shooter in the area, it’s Waechter. There isn’t a 3-point attempt the junior doesn’t like, and there certainly isn’t a limit on how far he’ll pull one from. To be fair, he usually makes them. Brookside loses Avery Young, but leaning on a successful player such as Waechter puts the Cardinals in a good spot.

Sean Whitehouse, Wellington: Whitehouse is another big-time scorer in the LC8. The conference has some really good individual players this season, and he belongs right in that group. He does it all for the Dukes.

Tyson Ziegler, Avon: There isn’t a better true point guard around than Ziegler. The senior is going to always have the Eagles in the right play and will get his teammates involved. Avon will go as he does, and that’s a good spot to be in.

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