DUNCAN FALLS, Ohio – There are very rarely athletes who, from the first time they step onto a high school basketball court, you can tell that they’re going to be special.
A once in a generation athlete, even.
That’s what Philo junior AJ Clayton has been for the Electrics’ boys basketball program for the past three years.
Clayton is a two time all-Ohioan, a two time Muskingum Valley League player of the year, and holder of over half a dozen records at Philo High school.
Clayton’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last summer, the 6’8″ Clayton committed to the Ohio University basketball program.
Before this past season, Clayton announced that he had reclassified as a high school senior, and will graduate a year early to join the Bobcats program in the fall of 2021.
Wednesday afternoon, Clayton signed his name on the dotted line and made it official.
“There was a lot of the feeling of home when I was down there,” Clayton says about Ohio University. “It’s not too far, but it’s also far enough that it’s not like I’m still here.”
“But really, [it was] the home feeling and the staff was the biggest parts.”
Clayton leaves the Electrics basketball program with his name all over the record books. In 2021, he finished with the highest single season scoring average with 23.6 points per game, as well as the record for most rebounds in a season with 289 and most field goals, both in a season and in a career.
And, as anyone who has ever faced Clayton can probably tell you, he holds the school records for blocks in a single game (12), blocks in a season (108) and blocks in a career (195).
Philo coach Greg Haberfield says that it’s unlikely the MVL will see another player of Clayton’s caliber for a long time.
“It’s meant the world to us,” Haberfield says about Clayton’s time with the team. “You know, a great competitor in the program. He led by example. He was always in the gym. He’s one of those players that you wish and hope to coach every year, but unfortunately, those players come few and far between.”
As for the future, Clayton isn’t entering just any program at the next level. This fall, he will join an Ohio Bobcats squad that fought its way to a MAC tournament championship before upsetting the defending NCAA champions, fourth-seeded Virginia, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“It’s really exciting how they’ve improved the past couple of years.” Clayton says. “A lot of the guys are coming back. It’s just — it’s really exciting and I can’t wait for it to happen.”