KETTERING — Justin Ahrens knows the recruiting process is a lot of fun. But it can be stressful, especially in the middle of a season. And that stress is why Ahrens respects two-sport athletes like Sidney junior Andre Gordon even more.
“He’s being recruited by Ohio State for football and basketball, that’s huge,” Ahrens, a Versailles senior, said. “I can’t imagine that. That’s a lot.”
Gordon’s basketball recruitment may have gotten a boost on Sunday in Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena in Kettering. He scored 20 points and had three rebounds in Sidney’s 65-50 loss to Versailles.
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend tournament has become a basketball convention of sorts for Ohio. Flyin’ to the Hoop features some of Ohio’s best players and top collegiate prospects each year, as well as some of the top prospects and prep teams nationally.
And with top teams and prospects come college coaches. Several Division II and III coaches were in attendance on Sunday, as well as Xavier coach Chris Mack. Mack and the Musketeers are one of several large Division I programs recruiting Gordon that haven’t extended offers.
Gordon plays for the prestigious All-Ohio Red AAU program in the summer and said he’s used to playing in front of a plethora of coaches — as many as 15 or 20. He said he’s heard from a lot of coaches since his junior season began.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Gordon said.
Gordon, a 6-foot-1 guard, has gathered several offers from MAC and Horizon League schools, including Kent State, Cleveland State, Toledo and Wright State. He’s also received offers from Iowa State and Toledo for football.
Gordon, who plays at quarterback for Sidney’s football team, said he hasn’t decided what sport he wants to play in college and is open to offers in either. Among other football programs he’s been contacted by is Ohio State.
“I got to meet (Urban) Meyer and talk with him for 15 or 20 minutes,” Gordon said. “It was pretty cool.”
Ahrens, who signed with Ohio State for basketball in November, said he and Gordon are friends. Both were on Ohio State’s campus for a basketball visit on Oct. 28 when the football team played Penn State.
“I know where he’s at, because I was in this spot last year being uncommitted,” Ahrens said. “He’s going to do great no matter where he goes, I’m sure.”
Gordon struggled in the first half on Sunday and sat on the bench for several minutes after picking up two quick fouls.
As happy as Ahrens was that Gordon wasn’t playing well early and Versailles was, he said he didn’t want Gordon to fall flat.
“Obviously he came out struggling,” Ahrens said. “Quick fouls are something hard to overcome as a player. You’ve got to be mentally prepared for that because those games happen. You’ve just got to learn it’s not what happens during the game, it’s how you bounce back. I feel like he bounced back well, and I’m happy for him.
Gordon, who guarded Ahrens for most of the game, scored 16 points in the second half. He finished shooting 10 for 23 from the field and brought down three rebounds.
“We knew coming into this game that he’s a quick player with a good crossover and he can jump out of the gym,” Ahrens said. “He’s a freak athlete and we did what we could. Luckily he missed some shots in the first half and got in foul trouble. He got going in the second half and found his shot.”
Versailles (11-1) went on a 9-2 run early in the second quarter to take a 23-9 lead over Sidney (7-4) and led by double digits for most of the rest of the game. Ahrens scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the second quarter to help the Tigers jump out.
“We’re a team that plays fast,” Ahrens said. “Even though it may not look it, we like to get up and run the floor when we can. I feel like we really tired them out in the first half. Obviously with Andre in foul trouble, it helped us out a lot. We got out to an early lead and just sustained it through the whole game.”
Versailles coach Travis Swank said he thought fans in attendance on Saturday got to see a good matchup between the two.
“Both of them are elite athletes, and I think everybody got to see their athleticism,” Swank said. “Gordon is hard to stay in front of. He’s really worked on his shot. We scrimmaged him last year and I think he’s really improved. That’s going to take him a long way as far the Division I level goes. In whatever spot he goes, because I’m sure he works just as hard at football.
“Justin is a relentless working. He makes mistakes here and there, but he does so many good things for us that the good outweighs the bad.”