The fifth-annual Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp goes 10 am-4:30 pm Friday at Aim High Sports in Lansing.
Before many of them were household names, world champions, All-Americans, Mr. Basketballs, state champions and high-major recruits they were putting in work at the Underclassman Camp. Here’s a look at the top dozen performances from the first four camps. Included is verbatim of what we wrote about these players after the camp.
1. Josh Jackson, 2012: He’s a consensus top 10 prospect in 2016 (as high as No. 2) nationally and certainly did nothing to dissuade that notion. Jackson is a smooth, Scottie Pippen style forward who would take rebounds end-to-end, and just make it look so easy. It’s surprising to see a player so young, move and handle the ball like that. Great attitude and teammate. An unselfish passer and big-time finisher — on his last play of the day he caught a half-court alleyoop pass from Shae Somers. The main point of improvement is his shot. He puts one foot forward, and releases it from nose level. It works when he’s open, but will have to become a jumpshooter over the next few years for when he’s going up against wings of similar size and athleticism.
“Beyond his years athletically and understanding the game,” a coach said. “Stacy Augmon clone potential for a better shot. Has the tools to be a great one. Needs to concentrate on getting the proper rotation on his shot to make him the complete player with a spot on mid-range or deeper shot.”
2. Miles Bridges, 2013: Were he staying in-state, Bridges would be the No. 2 2016 behind national No. 1 Josh Jackson. The Flint native is top 25 in the country himself. When the games started, the light went on and he dominated. Including when he won the tip then caught the ensuing alley-oop. A willing and capable rebounder and passer, which set the tone for what was not just the most talented, but most unselfish team in the camp.
“Athletic and physical freak for such a young kid,” a coach said. “Long and fluid athletic step in transition and in the half-court. Smart player who is always looking to make the right play. Plays stronger and bigger than his 6-5 frame. Nice handle in the open court and he was able to push the ball when he got it off the glass. Has a little hitch and corkscrew release from outside but showed an ability to make shots form the perimeter in addition to drives and scores around the basket. Also covers a lot of ground on the defensive end. Really high ceiling in terms of talent and potential at his current size and/or if he stretches out a few more inches. Great attitude as well.”
“No one was close to as explosive and athletic as this kid,” another coach said. “He can handle the ball very well for his size and get the the hoop at will. A menace in transition who can also knock down the open jumper. Rebounds with reckless abandon and will try to dunk on anyone! Would like to see him work on his perimeter game in order to be a true 2 guard.”
3. Deyonta Davis, 2012: The Big Smooth is steady and productive. Like so many young big guys, kind of easy going. Can’t wait to see him get a kick-butt attitude, because he’s already one of the elite prospects in 2015. That would make him one of the best players. As well as he scored it from the blocks, my favorite play from Davis was when he blocked a shot, then corralled the ball himself.
“This kid is long, long, long, and has the softest touch around the rim I’ve seen in awhile,” a coach said. “Yes, a bit of a project, but the upside on him is crazy off the charts. If he learns to play hard, it’s over. Long and is a natural in everything he does. Great shot blocker, can run the floor, and puts the ball in the basket. A mini William Bedford, on the court. Needs maturing and someone to work with him daily and the sky’s the limit.”
“One word: intriguing,” another coach said. “The kid runs like a deer and it’s obvious to the human eye that he’s a gifted and talented prospect. However, he tended to go through the motions and rely on athleticism rather than give maximum effort. I know camp experiences for bigs can sometimes be painful because of uneven guard play, but Deyonta looks to have the ability to be more than a traditional big where he can go get the ball and make a play for himself or others. He has the body and skill level to one day be a college wing forward. Long stride on the run and just a ton of upside if he can harness it and develop a more assertive attitude in developing all facets of his game. The second most naturally talented, gifted prospect in camp behind Joshua Jackson.”
4. Eric Davis, 2011: May be the early choice as the state’s top 2015 prospect, and did nothing here to dissuade that position. At 6-2 already and a propensity for getting to the rim at will, could see him as a Calipari point guard at the college level. Because he’s smooth and long, was deceptively athletic off the dribble and lived at the rim. Davis made a bunch of tough and-1s, but also missed layups because he needs to get a lot stronger to finish instead of contorting to avoid contact every time. Scored on misses — his and others. Though he dominated the ball, he passed it unselfishly to set up teammates — drive-and-dish, give-and-go. In addition to the strength issue, will have to improve as a shooter and vocal leader to realize what is a whole lot of potential.
“Athletic finisher and slasher,” said a coach. “One of the top two or three drivers at the camp. Got to the basket at will either in transition or in the half court. He didn’t always finish at the rim but no one could really stay in front of him when he was attacking from the wings. Multi-skilled player that likes to get up and down the floor. Looks like he could be a high level defender as well. He will need to add strength to be able to finish off his drives. Has the potential to live at the free throw line because he’s got a killer first step.”
5. Cassius Winston, 2011: One of the Family’s rising stars, and it’s easy to see why. Going into eighth-grade but already this was already his second Bank Hoops camp and he was all business. One of my favorite players in drills because of his seriousness, quickness, footwork and dribbling. His handle was such that it was free-flowing while staying strong and close to the body. That only happens with some long hours in the gym and it translated to situations where he was guarded as Cassius took good care of the ball. He was equally impressive in games, playing the point guard spot with his head up and bright eyes. His teammates were already good — he made them better with his passing and unselfishness.
“One of the youngest kids in attendance but he definitely didn’t play like it,” a coach said. “Played comfortably against older players and he didn’t let his older teammates like Lindsey Hunter get all the shine. Mature beyond his years. Made shots all day as well from different places on the floor.”
6. Jaron Faulds, 2013: Legit big with the rare combination at his age of being well-coached and energetic for the game. Soft touch to 12 feet. Owned the glass — going to get the rebound — like a guy who will eventually have half the Big 10 calling.
“Most dominant player at the camp from the class of 2017,” one coach said. “Rebounded well on both ends and showed very good timing on his shot blocking. Probably had 20+ points 20+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in a game I coached against him. Fundamentally sound and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Not sure about his perimeter game, cause he never really had to use it.”
Still, with four years of high school ball ahead there’s much to improve on. Said another coach: “Big kid that kept the ball high on the blocks for scoring positions but would sometimes turn into trouble, instead of away, when going into his move. Needs to improve basket orientation to maximize opportunities. Showed off a good hook when going middle. Tended to swat down on shots instead of going straight up to block them.”
7. Trevor Manuel, 2011: Equally as good away from or around the basket. Focused, mature player for his age, by all indications he’ll be a high-end national recruit.
“Long, smooth lefty who found space around the rim,” a coach said. “Played point and was equally impressive setting up teammates. Will be interesting to see how he progresses when adding strength in years to come.”
“Just a hard and tough-nosed kid,” said another. “One of those multi-skilled players that does a little bit of everything. That’s certainly not a dis because he does everything at a high level. Has prototypical combo guard size and game that can be a nightmare to game plan against. Rebounds really well for a guard and just has a knack for making plays.”
9. Austin Davis, 2013: Knows how to play, cashing in on a season of 17U experience with the Southern Michigan Lightning. Legit post at 6-9, 235. Did a good job of establishing deep post position. May have to improve athletically, but has size and feel for the game going for him. Could be the top prospect for the 5 spot in the soph class.
“Methodical, but got the job done,” a coach said. “He’d go right to the block and put work in.”
“Plays big!,” said another. “A true post with a nice game with his back to the basket. Had the best “seal” of any big man at the camp and maybe in the state for that matter. He sits down in the paint with a wide base and offers a big target with hands always up calling for the ball. Could really cause problems in a 4-out-1-in set if you aren’t going to bring help. Finishes with both hands around the hoop. Rebounds very strong on both ends. Needs to develop his mid-post game for when he faces defenders that he can’t simply overpower. Loved his motor, he played hard all day long.”
10. Alegvon Eichelberger, 2012: He was strong at the spring camp and came back four months later an improved player. Saw him knock down a three-pointer, which was new. A gym rat type with a good hoops IQ. Well-schooled and stood out in drills with his footwork, hands and fundamentals. The next step is to start finishing above the rim. When going against more athletic forwards, like Josh Jackson, or a true post, like Justin Greason, Eichelberger went into blue-collar mode, showing good second and third effort on the glass.
“Easily my favorite player,” said one coach. “What’s not to like about the kid? He plays much bigger than 6-5, and much smarter than 14. He loves to grind it out and play the blocks but has range out to the three-point line. He defends and rebounds like a big. Most importantly he has a high motor and doesn’t shy away from the challenge.”
11. Devon Daniels, 2013: Ran and finished all day long, at and over the rim; good legs, strong body. Live motor (come game time) and could go get it even if the shot didn’t fall the first time. Did nothing to dissuade anyone from his consensus top 10 status in what is a deep, talent Michigan class of 2016. The next star out of K-Central (formerly Battle Creek Lakeview) as long as his guard skills and shoot continue to improve.
Said a coach: “Athletic wing player with good hops. Very active around the basket.”
“Explosive athlete!,” said another. “He went hard in the drills and finished with authority any time he was around the rim. He had incredible body control in the air and pushed the ball very well in transition. Distributes the ball well and was a very good defender who goes to the glass on both ends once a shot goes up. A more consistent jumper would put him in the talks for Mr. Basketball in a couple years, in my opinion.”
12. Davion Williams, 2014: You don’t expect a rising ninth-grade guard to dunk it like Williams did. Got into the lane with a big first step and could finish off one or two feet. He was a key player going up a grade on Michigan United’s 15U and looks varsity ready.
“Most athletic kid at the Underclassman Camp,” one coach said. “Very dangerous running the wing in transition as he seems to be smart and elusive enough to avoid picking up charges while still finishing at and above the rim. Can defend any position on the perimeter. Usually young guys that play as fast as him have trouble slowing it down in the halfcourt, but not Davion. He exhibited well-timed cuts off the ball and always going into triple threat with catches off the wing. A consistent jumpshot and this kid could really be special.”