Ellet rising senior A.J. Gareri plans to take his sharp-shooting abilities to Ohio University next year and play basketball on scholarship for the Bobcats.
Gareri, who is 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds, said he chose OU over scholarship offers from Kent State, Toledo, Bowling Green and American University.
“I really love the way they play and I have a great relationship with all of the coaches,” Gareri said. “I think I will be a great fit there.”
Gareri, 18, said OU’s coaching staff, led by Saul Phillips, envisions him on the court as “a stretch 4 [power forward] that can play the wing occasionally.”
“This is an awesome opportunity for my family and I to not have to pay for college,” Gareri said. “This saves my parents a lot of money.”
Gareri was named the City Series Player of the Year as a junior after he averaged just over 22 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals per game. Ellet finished third in the City Series this past season behind champion Firestone and second-place Buchtel.
As a sophomore, Gareri contributed to Ellet’s City Series championship team that topped Buchtel. As a freshman, he played on an Orangemen team that finished second to the Griffins.
Ellet coach Mark Fisher, who is Gareri’s uncle, said he recalls watching Gareri learn to play basketball “at age 5 or 6 in the Ellet Youth Basketball Instructional League.”
“A.J. really liked the coaches at most of the schools,” Fisher said. “It was a hard decision for him, but I think he made a great decision. He really liked the campus, the staff, the facilities and the system that they run at Ohio.
“I am excited for A.J. as his uncle and coach. This is a real good thing for our program. As a coach, it’s great that we have all of these college coaches coming in and seeing our program. As a family member, I always wish the best for him and love him. He has worked hard from Day 1 and I am very proud of him.”
Gareri said he has a 3.3 grade-point average and is undecided on a college major.
OHSAA penalizes school
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has concluded its investigation of Bellaire St. John Central High School, and has determined that multiple student-athletes were given improper tuition assistance based on their athletic ability.
In addition to forfeiting its football wins from 2015, St. John Central was placed on two years’ probation, fined $1,000 and received a public reprimand, according to Tim Stried, the OHSAA director of information services.
The penalties were lessened because of the cooperation received during the investigation and the personnel changes — which include a new football coach, athletic director and finance director — made by the school.
“We appreciate the cooperation of school administrators and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville,” OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross said in a prepared statement. “In addition to the OHSAA bylaw infractions, this was a very unique case because the school violated its own policies by providing financial assistance to student-athletes without having them submit an application for financial aid or reviewing their financial circumstances. We believe the school has made the necessary changes to get back in compliance, not only with the OHSAA, but with the Roman Catholic Diocese.”
Paul D. Ward, the director of the Office of Christian Formation and Schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, said in the statement changes have been made.
“We were very disappointed to discover these violations within one of our schools,” Ward said. “We have now made changes in our financial aid process to ensure this doesn’t happen again and we have educated the administrators of our schools on these and other OHSAA bylaws. Our goal is to be an upstanding member of the OHSAA and abide by the bylaws that the member schools have voted into place.”