In one isolated moment on Saturday night, for example, OSU commitment B.J. Mullens and former OSU recruit Delvon Roe were leading their squad, King of the Court, to an easy win while Mullens’ future Buckeye classmate, 6-5 wing William Buford, was doing the same on an adjacent court.
Moments later on the same court where the 7-1 Mullens had dominated, Nick Kellogg was a standout in a 15-Under game while his father, former OSU star Clark Kellogg, was taking in the action.
On the opposite team was Treavon Jackson, the impressive son of former Buckeye All-American Jim Jackson. At 6-2, left-handed and multiskilled, Treavon was highly effective with the ball in his hand, especially when finding teammates. He currently is in eighth grade and will attend Westerville South next season. Nick is a well-muscled 6-1 freshman at Columbus St. Francis DeSales who just put in a promising season as the Stallions’ starting point guard.
Serving as an official for that contest, which turned out to be one of the most competitive of the night, was former OSU forward Treg Lee. Also on hand and awaiting the court to coach his next game was another recognizable Ohio State star – Dennis Hopson.
And if that weren’t enough, the most recent addition to the Buckeye family, Columbus Northland freshman forward Jared Sullinger, was looking on even though he is unable to play for the All-Ohio Red 15-Under team because of a broken foot.
“I hate watching basketball,” Sullinger said, “but I wanted to be here to support my team.”
Even without the 6-7 Sullinger, who recently committed to OSU head coach Thad Matta, host All-Ohio won the 15-Under championship.
The more anticipated 17-Under title game featured Buford’s D-1 Greyhounds team, but the ’Hounds and the cold-shooting Buford fell 54-45 to The Family, a Midwestern AAU power from Detroit.
Buford scored only nine points in the loss, and five of those came in the final 20 seconds.
King of the Court, which trudged on without star point guard Anthony “Noopy” Crater, yet another member of Matta’s top-rated 2008 class, was edged out of the Gold (highest) Division of the 17-Under playoffs thanks to a narrow loss to C-Biz’s 17-Under squad on Saturday.
“We came out and underestimated them a lot, and we shouldn’t have done that,” Mullens said. “We came out like, `We should beat this team,’ and we got beat.”
King of the Court took it out on its next opponent, winning in blowout fashion. On Sunday morning, Mullens scored a team-high 18 points and was stingy defensively in the paint in a 77-53 wipeout of C-Biz’s 16-Under team in the Silver Division semifinals.
In a strange ensuing twist, King of the Court’s 17-Under outfit was named the Silver Division champion, winning by forfeit since its coach decided to have Mullens, Roe, Kenny Frease and company take on the program’s 16-Under team.
More noteworthy, though, than the outcome of any of the games was the fact that Mullens, a star at nearby Canal Winchester and a top-10 prospect nationally among seniors-to-be, had scuttled his longstanding relationship with the Cleveland Basketball Club program to join forces with King of the Court.
“Fundamentals, they practice,” Mullens said when asked to explain the shift. “Instead of just being able to get together, I like to win. Nobody likes to lose. Plus, I know some people on this team. Crater is one reason. I wanted to play with one of my teammates before I actually get to college so I can get a feel for him.”
When out on the court with the 6-11 Frease (who is committed to Xavier) and the 6-7 Roe (who recently tabbed Michigan State), Mullens gives King of the Court a font line with enough size and skill to awe several major college head coaches.
“Actually, I’m playing power forward right now and (Frease) is playing center,” Mullens said. “I love it, and I love running plays instead of just going out there and getting together every weekend and just throwing something out there.”
Mullens is taking his preparation very seriously these days. He has been a fixture in pickup games at Ohio State on Tuesdays and Thursdays, going against the likes of Greg Oden and fellow big man predecessor Kosta Koufos and swingman Jon Diebler, who will enroll in June. He also shoots in the gymnasium on those days at Canal and lifts weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“I’m doing all that and playing AAU ball, so I’m still keeping in shape and running," he said. "But this, for me, is to show what I’ve been working on back at the gym.”
Mullens has exams next week and will not accompany King of the Court in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions next weekend in North Carolina . However, he will participate in the NBPA Top 100 in Virginia in late June – Crater, Buford and fellow ’08 commits Walter Offutt of Indianapolis and Luke Babbitt of Nevada are signed up to be there as well – and from there will head to Amare Stoudemire’s Nike big man skills camp, which will run June 29-July 2 in Phoenix.
After that, Mullens hopes to be invited to LeBron James’ Nike camp for elite prospects July 6-11 and he’s also going to try to squeeze in a trip to Las Vegas later in July for the AAU championships.
“I’ve got it on schedule,” Mullens said. “We went over it like 10 times. We had it and then we switched it and then we switched it up again. It’s kind of hard and frustrating but thankfully for me we got it all laid out on paper.”