All Ohio Red (AOR) struggled mightily in 2018, undergoing a rare down year for the historic grassroots basketball program. The talent level was slightly down, but the biggest reason that All Ohio struggled was their inability to play effective defense. Along with their defensive inefficiency, All Ohio simply could not make shots on a consistent basis. AOR turns over an almost completely new roster in 2019, only welcoming back one player from last year's squad. With a number of high-major prospects on their roster, All Ohio should be in better standing than a year ago, and they'll attempt to make some noise in Division D.
The guards will set the tempo, but the offense is expected to be filtered through big man John Hugley IV. Listed at 6-foot-9, 225-pounds, Hugley (247 Composite No. 150) is a back-to-the-basket big man with high-major offers across the board. Hugley likes to play physical down low, and as the only player on the roster over 6-foot-7, it will be imperative that he consistently stays out of foul trouble. Hugley isn't the flashiest player in the world, but his ability to facilitate from the block should open some eyes. The Brush (OH) high school product needs to be productive in order for AOR to remain competitive, so he will enter the circuit with some pressure on his shoulders. Hugley has developed into a very promising prospect over the last few years and should be ready for leadership responsibility.
All Ohio junior Dom Penn (photo: 247 Sports)
Seven guards are rostered for All Ohio Red, led by junior All-Ohio E16 veteran Dom Penn. Penn, a 6-foot floor general and the son of former Ohio State star Scoonie Penn, is set to play a huge role for AOR. Penn averaged 20 points, five assists, five rebounds, and two steals in 25 games during the 2018-19 high school season, helping guide Dublin-Coffman (OH) to a 23-2 record. Penn is a bit undersized, but his speed and quickness should allow him to make an immediate and consistent impact in the EYBL.
Greg Tribble will play big minutes in the AOR backcourt. The 6-foot-1 junior transferred to West Virginia prep powerhouse Huntington Prep in December, a move that saw him averaged 10 points and six assists in a loaded lineup. Tribble is a confident, tough point guard who excels defensively, and he should help set the tone on both ends of the floor.
Javohn Garcia is the lone returner from last year's squad, and the 6-foot-2 guard enjoyed a breakout spring and summer in 2018. He'll be looking to improve on 16-game averages of 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in 2018. Garcia is a strong shooter from the perimeter, and he should be a lot more comfortable competing on the circuit after experiencing it last season. Juniors Gbolahan Adio (6-foot-3), CJ Anthony (5-foot-11), and Marcus Johnson (6-foot-4) are the remaining assets in the backcourt, and each guard brings something different to the table. Adio is a plus shooter who can facilitate at a high level, while Anthony is fresh off leading Harvest Prep (OH) to a state title after averaging 25.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 4.2 steals in 28 games. Johnson averaged 14 points per game during his junior season for Columbus South, and the big-time athlete will be super effective in transition.
Provided he stays healthy and out of foul trouble, Hugley is going to get the brunt of the minutes. Three swingmen will see time in the frontcourt alongside Hugley, led by 6-foot-7 junior Donovan Johnson. Nicknamed 'Puff', Johnson averaged 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game en route to being selected Trib Sports High School Player of the Year. The Moon Area (PA) high school product recently picked up an offer from Arizona, and he should continue to see the offers roll in as he looks to parlay in his 'sleeper' status into bonafide stardom. AOR will need someone to step up, and Johnson is a prime candidate.
6-foot-5 Alex Vargo joins Johnson as the only out-of-state players on the AOR roster. Vargo averaged 18.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for Wheeling Park (WV) en route to being named Class AAA First Team All-State in West Virginia. He shoots the three-ball with accuracy and isn't afraid to get after it on the boards.
6-foot-6 swingman Devontae Blanton averaged 22 points per game this past high school season for St. Edward, and the versatile swingman gives AOR a capable shot-maker and athletic option in transition. Blanton is the second-ranked player in Prep Hoops NEO rankings behind teammate John Hugley, and he'll be expected to be a major glue-guy.
If All Ohio Red wants to flip the script in 2019, they will need to be locked in defensively. This lineup has plenty of potential offensively, but it won't matter if that can't consistently slow down the opposition. Aside from Hugley being a dominant force down low, AOR lacks ideal size and may struggle to guard teams with bigger and strong athletes. Their entire rotation is being recruited by Division I schools, a fact that can get overlooked when looking to compare AOR against their EYBL competition.
Penn has been waiting a while for his EYBL opportunity, and he's prepared to test himself against the best.
"EYBL is the best competition, hands down," Penn said. "Nike is the best and my favorite brand as well. I used to watch the Peach Jam when I was younger, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that."