Ohio State four-star guard signee Malaki Branham was named the boy’s basketball player of the year by Cleveland.com on Friday afternoon.
The 6-foot-4 and 175-pound Branham – who was considered the sixth-best shooting guard and No. 29 prospect in the class of 2021 – averaged 21.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game to lead Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II state championship this season.
Branham scored a game-high 37 points in the title game, a 72-50 win over Columbus St. Francis DeSales. It was the most points by any play in the state championship since former Buckeye Jon Diebler scored 48 points in Upper Sandusky’s two-point loss to Dayton Dunbar in 2007.
The victory gave the Fighting Irish their ninth state title, which also includes one during Branham’s freshman year in 2018.
“Malaki just made me better,” St. Vincent-St. Mary point guard and Cleveland State commit Ramar Pryor said after the championship game. “He pushed me (and) screamed at me a whole bunch of times. That’s just what I needed to play hard.”
Branham, who committed to Ohio State last July, is one of two players who signed with the Buckeyes in November, joining Convoy Crestview three-star power forward Kalen Etzler. They're set to enroll in classes over the summer.
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