Each week this summer leading up to the AAU National Championships in Orlando in July, ESPNHS will profile one of the nation's top AAU teams and tell you why you should be paying attention.
Team: All-Ohio Red
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Coach: Quentin Rogers
What you need to know about All-Ohio Red:
Not a summer goes by without All-Ohio Red being discussed as a national title contender. The storied program has captured victories at seven national tourneys since 1989, with the most recent conquest coming in 2011.
This year’s squad has compiled a 16-4 record at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, but the coaching staff and players agree the team hasn’t even played its best ball yet.
“When we have our whole team we are really good,” says junior Nigel Hayes, who has watched several of his teammates miss time due to various injuries. “It’s been real frustrating because our goal was to not lose a game.”
With the team nearing a return to full strength, All-Ohio is looking to unleash its frustrations on its foes at next month’s Peach Jam after clinching a berth in the prestigious tourney following a 5-1 mark at the Oakland EYBL session.
Bolstered by the play of frontcourt star alums like Samaki Walker and Jared Sullinger, All-Ohio Red has established itself as a premier program, and the current incarnation appears to be following the same script. The team is headlined by ESPN 100 forwards Marc Loving and Tony Farmer, both of whom have missed multiple games battling ankle injuries. Hayes, Jaaron Simmons, Keon Johnson and Jordan Lauf have stepped up in their absence proving the team is deep enough to add to the program’s lore.
“They’re the best EYBL team we have had by far,” says Rogers. “I expect them to take it to the next level at Peach Jam.”
Marc Loving: Rated the No. 38 player in the ESPN 100, Loving is a lethal perimeter threat and a menace on the glass. The Ohio State commit affects the game on both ends of the floor with his 6-foot-8 frame and averaged 22.9 points and 9.0 boards during the winter at Toledo St. John’s.
Tony Farmer: This physical 6-foot-6 forward was an All-State second team selection and has emerged on the national scene thanks in large part to his play with All-Ohio. He is a superb perimeter defender and has a progressing offensive game revolving around a tight mid-range jumper. He encountered legal trouble in the spring, stemming from a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend, but Rogers expects him to be available for Peach Jam in July.
Nigel Hayes: Rogers says this 6-foot-7 forward is one of the most underrated players in the nation, and Hayes is beginning to attract more suitors due to his versatility and scoring ability. He tallied 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a contest for Division I state runner-up Toledo Whitmer.
Jordan Lauf: Flypaper defender helped limit the nation’s No. 1 rising senior, Jabari Parker, to 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting in a one-point victory over Mac Irvin Fire in late May. His defense will be instrumental to the team’s success at Peach Jam.
Nike Peach Jam: July 18-22 in Augusta, S.C.
King James Summer Showcase: (TBD) in Chicago
AAU Super Showcase: July 24-30 in Orlando, Fla.
The team’s improving health should be a big boost to its championship hopes and Hayes thinks Lauf's D could further bolster All-Ohio Red’s national title bid.
“He’s one of the best defenders in the country,” Hayes says. “He went mano a mano against Jabari and held his own. We know he’ll keep players out of their hot spots and keep them from killing us. (With him) we have weapons and I think it’s going to be hard to guard us.”
Jared Sullinger (Potential 2012 lottery pick)
Aaron Craft (OSU guard)
Michael Redd (Phoenix Suns guard, former NBA All-Star)