logoHigh school basketball gyms throughout northwest Ohio have been graced with some tremendously talented players over the years, many of whom have gone on to play at the collegiate and professional levels. This year is no different, as the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, alone, contains four skilled individuals who will be donning collegiate uniforms after receiving their high school diplomas.

Marc Loving of St. John’s Jesuit, C.J. Gettys of Findlay, and Nigel Hayes and Leroy Alexander of Whitmer will continue their athletic careers beyond June, 2012.

Loving, a 6-foot-8 senior, will be heading to Columbus to play at Ohio State University, where he has been committed to since his freshman year. The big man is on pace to set records in both career scoring and rebounding for the Titans, and has a desire to excel that really pleases head coach Ed Heintschel.

“Marc has a remarkable set of skills for a 6’8” young man,” Heintschel stated. “He can score in a variety of ways and always looks to make his teammates better by giving up the ball. As he matures physically and in his approach to games, he will become an even better player.”

Gettys is also an imposing figure in the post. The UNC-Wilmington commit earned all-conference, all-district and all-state honors as a junior. Still growing into his 6-foot-10 frame, the skilled big man still has room to improve on the hardwood.

“”You can’t teach that size, and people have to prepare so much for him,” said head coach Jim Rucki. “He’s very skilled for a big man, and his athleticism is improving. He has a chance to be a pretty good player at the next level.”

Alexander, a standout in football and basketball at 6-foot-2, is playing in his first season at Whitmer after transferring from Springfield in Spring, 2011. Despite being a fresh face in head coach Bruce Smith’s program, his accomplishments thus far in his prep career should ease the transition.

“I’ve never coached Leroy before so each day is a learning experience with him,” said Smith. “He is very receptive to coaching and, having already scored 1,000 points in his high school career, it is obvious that he is talented.

The only thing that isn’t obvious is what exactly his future holds, as Alexander is still weighing the options of playing football or basketball at the next level.

Another Panther, Hayes, is hot on the recruiting block with offers from five schools already – Cincinnati, Dayton, Xavier, Toledo and Central Michigan – with more suitors expected to join the picture as his senior season progresses. The 6-foot-7 forward is known for his ability to score points in the paint as well as being able to show touch from beyond the arc.

“Nigel is primed for a great season,” Coach Smith exclaimed. “He has worked harder than ever before on his game and is ready to become a dominant player. We will ask him to do an awful lot to help us win.”

The 2011-12 basketball season has been under way for several weeks now and these four players have already been displaying the abilities that earned the attention of college coaches in the first place. Look for them to continue their success this season and continue to make names for themselves down the road.

Likewise, look for the next batch of players in the cycle to gain major attention after the current crop graduates. The talent pool never runs dry in northwest Ohio.

–Brad Pettiford