There aren’t a lot of opportunities for a 7-foot high school player in southeastern Ohio to find corresponding size to play against.
It was with that in mind two years ago that Gary Harrison, the boys’ basketball coach at Gallipolis Gallia Academy made the decision to bring his team to Ohio State’s summer team camp.
This year, that meant better performances overall from the Blue Devils and for their biggest player: Zach Loveday, Ohio’s top overall prospect in the class of 2020 according to 247Sports.com and listed at 7 feet, 200 pounds.
“Probably the biggest guy he’s going to go against is 6-4 (in our league,)” Harrison told The Dispatch during Friday’s camp session.
“So, 7-foot (versus) 6-4, we want him in the post. For his all-around game and college and stuff, he needs to develop and shoot the three and I think he’s got to get better at taking people off the bounce. He’ll get that. He’s got the tools to do things.”
That much was on display during both days at the camp, where Loveday dunked with ease but also showed touch with an outside jumper. Surprisingly agile for his size, Loveday said he tries to look to a player such as Kevin Durant for inspiration for his game and is working on his perimeter defense as well as his mobility and strength.
“I really try to work on my ball-handling and things like that,” he said. “I feel confident with my post game, and that’s one thing I’ve been working on is expanding away from the basket because you can see in the league today the 5 spot is really evolving. They don’t just want a guy who can sit on the block and rebound. They want somebody who can step out, shoot the ball, attack the basket, face up, stuff like that.”
Harrison said Loveday will be Gallia Academy’s first Division I men’s basketball player in more than 50 years and only the second in school history.
Ohio State offered him a scholarship last fall, and he spent time with coach Chris Holtmann and his staff during the two-day camp. Buckeyes assistant coach Terry Johnson, who coaches the team’s big men, was on hand watching.
Since the OSU offer, “I got a Xavier offer,” Loveday said. “I got a George Washington offer a couple days ago. Louisville I believe is supposed to offer, and Clemson I believe is supposed to offer as well. That’s all I know of. If I can make a really good impression this July, that can really skyrocket (things) as well.”
Loveday plays AAU basketball for the Louisville Magic in the Adidas series and will be playing in New York and Los Angeles during the July evaluation period. He has taken an unofficial visit to see the Cardinals while David Padgett was the school’s interim coach, and his AAU coach is a former Louisville player. Loveday said he has also taken unofficial visits to Kentucky, Michigan, Purdue and West Virginia and is trying to go to Indiana.
Through it all, Loveday said, he’s looking for a situation that can help him grow on and off the court.
“I don’t really want to be a one-, two-year (player) and go to the draft unless I really, truly believe that I am mentally and physically superb to come in and compete for a really good spot,” he said Thursday. “I want to really focus on an education because Ohio State, we met with coach Holtmann today and they had a slideshow: there’s a 500,000(-member) alumni base around the world. If you go here, if you go four years and you get a degree and you need a job, you’re going to get it because so many people watch you and follow you and pay attention to you.”