CINCINNATI -- Six area male high school student-athletes have been named finalists for the 31st annual LaRosa’s High School MVP of the Year Award for the 2016-17 year.
The male and female winners will be announced at the annual Buddy LaRosa’s Sports Hall of Fame Banquet June 25 in televised ceremonies at WCET studios. The telecast starts at 2 p.m.
Inaugurated with the class of 1987, the LaRosa's Male and Female MVPs of the Year awards are the oldest ongoing awards given annually in Greater Cincinnati to honor outstanding high school athletic achievement.
Here's a closer look at each nominated athlete with information provided by the LaRosa's selection committee:
C.J. Fleming, senior, La Salle High School, basketball
C.J. Fleming finished as La Salle’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer (1,458 career points) and powered the program to 83 victories during his career -- the most over a four-year period in school history. He finished this season with a 16.1 scoring average (tops in the Greater Cincinnati League-South), 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
Along with the most victories, Fleming holds school records in Most 3 Point Goals Made (192), Most Free Throws Made (330) and Highest Career Free Throw Percentage (86.7 percent).
Fleming, the son of former longtime La Salle basketball coach Dan Fleming, was second-team all-state for a second time this winter. He was the GCL South Player of the Year for a third time.
Selected for this year’s Ohio North-South Basketball All-Star Game, he will continue his basketball career on scholarship at Bellarmine University in Louisville.
Grant House, senior, St. Xavier High School, swimming
Grant House ranks as the winningest swimmer in OHSAA state history.
He has accumulated 17 state titles in individual (eight) and relay events (five), plus he helped lead the AquaBombers to four consecutive team state championships. He was named Ohio’s Most Valuable Swimmer in Division I for the second time in his career.
This past year, House won four Ohio state titles and set state and tournament records in all four events. He captured the 200-Yard Freestyle in 1:34.59. His time in the 500-Yard Freestyle of 4:19.15 also set a CT Branin Natatorium pool record. The 200-Yard Freestyle Relay team etched a 1:21.44 record, while the 400-Yard Freestyle Relay team’s time of 2:51.13 blistered the previous state record by 3 seconds. Ironically, House was a member of the previous record holding team that set the mark in his junior year. That team’s time broke a 17-year old record.
House was named a six-time All-American this past year. He holds six St. Xavier school records in the 200- and 500-Yard Freestyle, the 200-Yard Individual Medley, the 100-Yard Breaststroke and both the 200- and 400 Yard Freestyle relays.
House participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. He is a member of the 800-Meter Freestyle Relay that holds the Junior World Record set in Singapore in 2016. He is the YMCA National Champion in the 200-Yard Freestyle, which set the YMCA National record.
He also won two state championships as a member of St. Xavier’s water polo team. (The sport is not officially recognized by the OHSAA).
House will continue his career on full scholarship at Arizona State University.
Albert Kalala, senior, Withrow High School, track and basketball
Albert Kalala captured the Ohio Division I state championship in the high jump as a junior with a 6-foot 10-inch performance. Earlier this month, he placed second at the state tournament with a 6-foot-8 effort.
The native of the Republic of Congo won the national championship in the high jump last year with a 6-10.25 leap at the New Balance Track and Field Championships.
Earlier this year, Albert set a personal record with a 7-foot jump at the Westlake Relays in April.
The two-time Regional High jump champion was twice named First Team All-Eastern Cincinnati Conference in Track. Albert also played soccer and basketball for the Tigers. As a center in basketball, Albert averaged 10.2 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots. An All ECC Second Team selection, he led the league in rebounds.
Kalala will continue his track and field career on scholarship at the University of Cincinnati.
Jake Ohmer, senior, Scott High School, basketball and baseball
Jake Ohmer was the driving force behind the Eagles’ first trip to the Kentucky Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament in the 28-year history of the school.
Ohmer is the first player in Scott school history to score more than 2,000 points in his career, finishing with 2,705 points. He averaged over 25 points per game each of the last two seasons. His 34.7-point average in this year’s 10th Region tournament is the second-highest in tournament history.
Ohmer averaged 35.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals over three games in the Kentucky State Sweet 16.
His 41-point effort in a first round victory over Harlan County made him just the 21st player in the Sweet 16’s 100-year history to reach at least 41 points in a game. He was named winner of the Larry Conley Ultimate Teammate award given by the Kentucky State Basketball Coaches Association and media members at the state tournament.
The runner-up for Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball this past season, he averaged 27.8 points and 8.4 rebounds. He shot 52.7 percent from the field, 41.6 percent (79 of 190) from 3-point range and 86 percent from the free-throw line.
A first-team All-State selection, Jake was named First Team All Northern Kentucky for the second straight year. Ohmer, also a standout baseball player, will play basketball on scholarship at Western Kentucky University.
Luke Waddell, senior, Loveland High School, football and baseball
A four-year starter in both football and baseball, Luke Waddell played a crucial role in powering undefeated Loveland (15-0) to its 41-23 Division II state championship over Cleveland Glenville at Fawcett Stadium in Canton in 2013.
The then-freshman opened the scoring with a 66-yard touchdown run and wound up as the game’s leading rusher with 179 yards on 19 carries.
Over the course of his career, he would set six Loveland records in football. He is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 5,600 yards, leading scorer (500), all-time TD leader (83), and all-time receiver (1,699 yards). He was a three-time All-City and Eastern Cincinnati Conference selection. He was the ECC Offensive Player of the Year (2015) and MaxPreps Second Team All-America (2013).
This past spring, he batted .414 (29-for-70) in 24 games with 18 runs, eight doubles, four triples, 16 RBI and 45 total bases. He had a .643 slugging percentage and a .517 on-base percentage. He walked 14 times and did not have a strikeout all season.
He is Loveland’s all-time career record holder in games played (105), hits (145) and doubles (39). He had 11 triples, 206 total bases with 113 runs scored, 74 RBI, 57 walks and 57 stolen bases. He wound up with a career batting average of .432.
He was a First Team All-Ohio selection twice. He was First Team All-City twice and First Team All-ECC four times.
Jarell White, senior, La Salle High School, football
La Salle’s football team won an Ohio state-record three consecutive Division II state championships, and Jarell White played a large part in the Lancers’ success.
White was a rare two-way starter on offense (tailback) and defense (defensive back). He played three different positions during his career, including linebacker. Over his career, he was First Team All-Greater Cincinnati League-South at three different positions.
This past season, he had 45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, an interception and 2.5 sacks. On offense, he rushed for 799 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
This season was La Salle’s first-ever outright GCL-South football title in school history. In La Salle’s 14-7 state championship victory over Massillon Perry, White rushed for 35 yards, then led the team with 10 tackles as the Lancers culminated their season with a 13-2 record.
White's honors have been numerous this past season. He was named Second Team All-State in Division II and was First Team All-Southwest District.
White, who also ran track during his prep career, will continue his football career on scholarship at the University of Cincinnati.