The Toledo Thunder saw their first class sign National Letters of Intent this week. Coach Kechan Johnson and his team of coaches started the organization in 2003 with the hopes that this day would come. With an emphasis on replicating a college atmosphere in practice and games, the Thunder produce players who will be ready to contribute the day that they step onto college campuses.
Committed 2016 Players
Uncommitted 2016 Players
PSB Tournaments Attended:
— Jonathan Hemingway (@JLHemingwayPSB) May 2, 2015
Program Vision from Kechan Johnson
Coach Johnson talks about the Toledo Thunder as a family, before he mentions basketball. He explains, “We try to do this the right way. We practice on the weekends where we will have a couple of workouts a day. We do everything together from eating meals to going to movies together. We have built a chemistry from the players to parents.”
That chemistry is not limited to the off the court interaction. Johnson says, “We have been doing this since 2003. Our 2017 group has been together the longest, which means that they have been running the same plays for years. They know every READ, not just the options, in our offense.”
The Thunder are an Under Armour Grassroots sponsored program, which has helped financial stability. As a result, the goals of the program are very straight forward and pure. Johnson a former college and professional basketball player himself says, “The Toledo Thunder are about helping kids earn scholarships and continuing their education at the collegiate level. We are proud to say that our program’s cumulative GPA was over a 3.0 last year. The only money that we count as a program is how much money our players will earn in scholarships from playing basketball at the next level. This year is an exciting time with our seniors signing those NLI’s.”
The level of talent and chemistry that the Toledo Thunder developed over the years led to success on the court. At the PSB Tip Off Classic, the Thunder’s 17U and 16U teams both won championships while every other team in the program made the championship games. The Thunder also competed well at the PSB Summer Invitational, which was the nation’s most competitive tournament in the second half of July. The Thunder also competed very well at the Under Armour Nationals where their teams won a championship as well as finished in the top three in other brackets.
Johnson also mentioned the coaching staff as being key for their success. Coaches Bud Davis, Chandler Harris, Dan Lawson, Tim Pettaway and Gary Wolfe all contributed significantly to the program’s success. He says, “Our coaches work very well together. They are not ‘yes men,’ instead they challenge each other on what works best for our girls. They are always willing to spend extra time or money to make sure our girls have what they need.”
According to Johnson, another person that is contributed to this year’s success was trainer Steve Corgens. Johnson says, “Steve made sure that all of our girls were ready physically to compete before we left for our tournaments.”
#PSBMixTape Toledo Thunder from the #PSBRealDeal courtesy of @KrisWatkinsPSB
Standout 2016 Players
The Toledo Thunder’s top player, Akenreh Johnson, suffered an ACL injury during the Final 4 in her high school season. Johnson is a Michigan commit and was a top 50 caliber prospect nationally before the injury. She is set to retake the court this high school season. Even without Johnson on the court, this year’s Toledo Thunder experienced success because of the talent on their roster. Nia Staples of Liberty Township, Ohio, made a big impression with her play-making ability at the PSB Tip-Off Classic in April. The 5-foot-9 guard gave her verbal commitment to coach Mike Carey and West Virginia at the beginning of this year.
Bowling Green commits Andrea Cecil of Oak Harbor, Ohio, and Rion Thompson of Lima, Ohio, provided timely plays all year long. Cecil’s versatile skill set as a 6-foot wing provided match-up problems in game play. While the left-handed Thompson was terrific as a high energy slasher during tourney play. The Thunder have plenty of size in their program, which started with 6-2 post Sydney Petty of Toledo, Ohio. Petty gave her verbal commitment to Cincinnati and projects to be a contributor in the American Conference. A stock-riser from the organization was Lexi Manos of North Canton, Ohio. The hard-nosed guard earned a scholarship offer from coach Greg Brown and the staff at Lipscomb University after attending their elite camp. She accepted that offer and projects to fit well within the A-Sun program’s system.
Johnson still has an uncommitted player that projects as a productive college player. Kamryn Troike of Fostoria, Ohio, a 6-3 post recently re-opened her recruitment after being committed to Kent State University. Her size and ability to rebound will be in high demand for programs looking to add depth on their roster at the position. Also players such as Dawn Alexander of Cincinnati, Ohio, Essence Cowan of Lima, Ohio, and Jordan Elhindi of Ohio, are players that will gain attention during their high school seasons.
Much like Akreneh Johnson in the 2016 class, the Toledo Thunder boast of one of the best play-making guards in the 2017 class with Brelynn Hampton-Bey of Toledo, Ohio. Currently ranked No. 68 nationally and committed to Michigan, Hampton-Bey put up consistent numbers while playing on the 17U team. Expect Hampton-Bey to have a standout season this year with Toledo Notre Dame.
A player that made a name for herself at PSB events this year was Dani Lawson of Beechwood, Ohio. The 6-2 post player showed her ability to rebound, score and show range during the evaluation periods. She is currently ranked No. 73 in her class and is committed to Purdue. Also on the roster for the 2017 team is Toledo commit Mariah Copleand of Toledo, Ohio.
The 2017 team has been together the roster the longest and once had to compete in boys’ tournaments to get enough competition to develop. The depth of the roster can be seen with shooters Maddy Moyer of Mentor, Ohio, and Christian Passerell of Twinsburgh, Ohio. Add in prospects such as Jasmine Bishop of Twinsburg, Ohio, Jasmine Floyd and Mariah White of Toledo Ohio and the Thunder have a host of prospects that will be recruited by coaches next season.
— Brandon Clay (@BrandonClayPSB) July 12, 2015
The road to success is paved for younger players in the program. There is plenty of talent that is ready to shine in the upcoming classes. The class of 2018 is gaining attention with the likes of Ashyln Brown of Perrysburg, Ohio, Maddie Brown of Toledo, Ohio, and Grace Crawford of Toledo, Ohio. Brown, Crawford and 2017 prospect Maddy Moyer are considered three of the best shooters in the state of Ohio by many observers.
The class of 2019 could have the most raw talent of any class in the program. There are 11 that are already on varsity high school rosters going into their respective seasons. The three notable prospects to watch are Jala Johnson of Toledo (sister of Akrienreh), Ohio, Krisah Lewis of Toledo, Ohio and Kennedy Pratt of Acradia, Ohio.
The class of 2020 is already lining up the talent. Dani Lawson’s younger sister is on this team, which competed very well at many of nation’s top tournaments in July. In fact Johnson points at a game at the PSB Real Deal in the ‘Ville where 27 college coaches watched a game where the Thunder took on the Florida Future. This level of exposure is unheard of at this age. Two more prospects to track from this team are Sierra Harris of Holland, Ohio and Keyaira Burroughs of Toledo, Ohio.
ProspectsNationTV presented by the SUVtv: Toledo Thunder vs. Nautilus Express from #PSBTipOffClassic
Jonathan Hemingway is the Assistant Director of Scouting for the JumpOffPlus.com International Scouting Report, is on the Naismith Trophy Board of Selectors and owns CoachHemi.com, the go-to source for coaches for X’s and O’s. He is the floor director of #TeamEBA camps, a site director for #TeamPSB tournaments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.