Shaker Heights' Esa Ahmad leads the pack: Boys basketball Player of the Year watch for week of Jan. 16, 2014 (poll, videos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Few seasons have featured as many talented boys basketball players in Northeast Ohio, which begs the question: Who's the best?

This week we're kicking off our weekly rankings for the Top 10 players in the area. This will supply a way to follow the race to be named as the Player of the Year at the conclusion of the season.

To be clear, these are not rankings for who is the top college recruit or who will be the best college player. These rankings are based purely on which players are having the best seasons in Northeast Ohio.

With all of the debate over top players, it's important to get your voice heard whether you agree, disagree or just want to nominate a player. You can do all of that in the comments section below. To register, go to the top of the page and create an account. It's free and takes just a few moments from your day.

There's also a poll at the bottom of the post to have your input heard, as well. But remember, those votes are just for fun and don't actually determine who wins the award at the end of the season.

And now here's a look at how the players stack up for this week as decided by the Northeast Ohio Media Group staff, as well as a few video highlights by

(Points per game averages as of Jan. 16; all other stats as of noted date below)

1. Esa Ahmad

Shaker Heights, junior, forward.

2013-14 stats: 28 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game (as of Jan. 9).

Ahmad debuts at the top of this list due to his versatility. He scores down low, scores from beyond the arc, rebounds and defends. On Jan. 10, he scored 27 points to lead his team to an upset victory over No. 8 Medina.

2. Omari Spellman 

North Royalton, sophomore, forward.

2013-14 stats: 24.6 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game (as of Jan. 9).

Spellman doesn't have the supporting talent around him like some of the other elite players, but he still manages to shake off double-teams. Against No. 5 Garfield Heights on Dec. 17, he scored 40 points.

3. Carlton Bragg

Villa Angela-St. Joseph, junior, forward.

2013-14 stats: 17.7 points per game, 11 rebounds per game (current).

Despite the Vikings' rugged schedule, Bragg can still put up some monster stat lines. At the McCracken County Festival of Hoops this past weekend, he averaged 21 points and 12.5 rebounds over two games against teams ranked in USA Today's national Top 25.

4. Brian Parker

Villa Angela-St. Joseph, junior, forward.

2013-14 stats: 19.6 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game (current).

While Bragg gets most of the recruiting headlines, don't sleep on Parker. Parker leads the Vikings in scoring this season and has finished with at least 14 points in all 10 of the team's games.

5. Gavin Skelly

Westlake, senior, center.

2013-14 stats: 20.9 points per game, 13 rebounds per game (as of Jan. 9).

The Northwestern signee has been the anchor down low that has the Demons off to a 10-0 start. In the team's overtime win against Lakewood on Tuesday, he finished with 12 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks.

6. Tervell Beck

Central Catholic, sophomore, forward.

2013-14 stats: 20.3 points per game, 5 rebounds per game (as of Jan. 9).

Few players have seen more improvement this season than Beck, who averaged 10.6 points per game as a freshman last season. He's emerged as the team's go-to scorer.

7. Kyauta "KT" Taylor

East Tech, senior, guard.

2013-14 stats: 26.5 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game (as of Jan. 10).

The reigning Senate Athletic League MVP isn't disappointing in his encore. His scoring average has increased by over five points from his junior to his senior season.

8. Jimond Ivey

Glenville, senior, guard.

2013-14 stats: 26.8 points per game.

Ivey is as athletic as they come on the court. He can throw down a thunderous dunk and step outside to sink a three-pointer. It makes him one of the toughest players to defend in the area.

9. Marsalis Hamilton

St. Edward, senior, forward.

2013-14 stats: 16.7 points per game (other stats unavailable).

St. Edward has a couple of Top 10 candidates. Hamilton, though, has been the most consistent, as he's scored at least 12 points in all but one game.

10. Alex Brown

Berea-Midpark, senior, guard.

2013-14 stats: 19.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game (as of Jan. 9).

The player in the middle of the Titans' undefeated start is Brown. His stats speak for themselves, and his leadership was crucial when the two schools merged this school year.

The next five: Eric Black (St. Ignatius), Jalen Hudson (St. Vincent-St. Mary), Willie Jackson (Garfield Heights), Kipper Nichols (St. Edward), Craig Randall (Medina).

Also considered: Ryan Badowski (Brunswick), Marcus Bagley (Cleveland Heights), Matt Beech (Stow), John Davis III (Beachwood), VJ King (St. Vincent-St. Mary), Conner Krizancic (Mentor), Antwon Lillard (Central Catholic), Vonte Montgomery (Garfield Heights), Dererk Pardon (Villa Angela-St. Joseph), Zavier Powers (Lake Catholic), Branden Wilkins (Medina), Cristen Wilson (John Hay).

Contact high school sports reporter David Cassilo by email ( or Twitter (@dcassilo). Or log in and leave a message in the comments section below.