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Ohio State signee Malaki Branham wins Ohio's Mr. Basketball

Add another accolade to the list for Malaki Branham.

After being named OHSBCA Mr. Basketball and Ohio’s Division II Player of the Year over the last couple of weeks, the Ohio State signee Branham put the icing on the cake on Wednesday when he was named the AP’s Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio, the highest achievement you can receive playing high school basketball in the Buckeye state.

"It feels great to win the award," Branham told BuckeyeGrove. "It just shows me that all the hard work I've put in has been worth it."

Averaging 22 points per game over the course of his senior campaign and helping lead St. Vincent-St. Mary to their second state title in his four years playing for the Irish, Branham never truly became the clear front-runner for the award until the state tournament when he shut down fellow candidate and Lima Shawnee senior George Mangas in a blowout win before dropping 37 points in the state championship the very next day.

While he was certainly focused on his team and winning a state championship all season, Branham knew he was the best player in Ohio throughout and somewhat had his eyes set on winning Mr. Basketball.

"It was a goal I wrote that I wrote down for myself a year ago so that I would have something tangible to accomplish," said Branham. "Being around people who have given me the chance to showcase my talents is whom I am most thankful for."

Branham then had a long list of folks to thank including his close family, trainer Jason Dawson, Tru Game AAU coach Danyelle Love, St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dru Joyce and of course the staff at Ohio State.

Given that he had a strong chance to win the award last season before it was awarded to current Kent State forward VonCameron Davis, this accolade going to Branham should not surprise many folks, however it is extremely impressive given all of the hype surrounding Branham heading into the season along with big time campaigns from guys like Mangas, 2022 Ohio State target Chris Livingston, Des Watson and Tasos Cook.

As I have stated before, Branham is arguably the best player to walk the halls of St. Vincent-St. Mary since LeBron James himself and he only cemented that legacy even more by receiving this award. James is the only other player in school history to win the award as he won it 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Following the announcement on Wednesday, seven of the last 18 Mr. Basketball recipients in the state of Ohio have ended up signing with Ohio State, the most recent before Branham being former big man Kaleb Wesson.

While the Buckeyes have missed out on some big time prospects in Ohio over the course of the last few years, they have landed no doubt the state’s top 2021 prospect this time around as Branham brings immediate value to the roster on both ends of the floor.

Now that he finally got what everyone knew what he was deserving of, the next stop for Branham is Columbus as he looks to create his own legacy in the scarlet and grey as well.

"I'm ready to begin the next chapter of my basketball career," said Branham. "O-H!"