College Alumni Fresh to Death

Looking a lot like his high school days, MSU freshman Deyonta Davis throws down against Boise State.
Looking a lot like his high school days, MSU freshman Deyonta Davis throws down against Boise State.

As we head into December, some college freshmen from Michigan’s 2015 high school class have already made an impact in their new homes.

Brad Brechting  6-10  Oakland (Cedar Springs): He’s been the first big off the bench for the 3-2 Grizzlies. In a win against Steve McNair’s alma mater, Alcorn State, Brechting made 5-of-9 shots for 12 points with six rebounds and three blocked shots.

Deyonta Davis  6-10  Michigan State (Muskegon): With Gavin Schilling injured, DD has taken advantage of early minutes to show his high school accolades were no joke. He’s averaging 10. 3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots while shooting .651 from the field and .750 from the line for the 6-0 Spartans.  Against Eastern Michigan, Davis had 16 points on 7-of-10 shots with five rebounds and five blocked shots.

Texas freshman Eric Davis explains how they shoot it in Saginaw.
Texas freshman Eric Davis explains how they shoot it in Saginaw.

Eric Davis  6-2  Texas (Saginaw Arthur Hill): After needing the opener with Washington to warm up (in China), Davis has shot it very well for first-year coach Shaka Smart in Texas. He’s scoring 11.4 points per game on .464 from the floor including .389 from three-point range. The Mr. Basketball runner-up scored 19 points on 6-10 shooting in Texas’ defeat of then No. 25 Texas A&M. Davis then avenged his debut in a repeat game with Washington scoring 15 and the Longhorns winning that one, this time in the Bahamas.

Freshman Rob Edwards scored 14 for Cleveland State against No. 2 Maryland.
Freshman Rob Edwards scored 14 for Cleveland State against No. 2 Maryland.

Rob Edwards  6-3  Cleveland State (Detroit Cass Tech): He’s leading the Michigan alumni freshman contingent at over 30 minutes a game, most recently scoring 14 points with three assists against No. 2 Maryland. Edwards scored 17 against Rider and 16 against Rhode Island and is averaging 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.2 steals while shooting .429 from the field (which includes 1-for-12 from range).

Austin LeVan  6-2  Rockhurst (Millington): He’s the sixth man but second in minutes played for Rockhurst, a D2 in Illinois. Through six games LeVan is averaging 13 points while shooting .405 from the field, .419 from three-point range and .947 (18-of-19) at the stripe.

Josh McFolley  6-0  Detroit (Detroit Western): He went from winning a state title with Detroit Western to Horizon League freshman of the week with the Titans. Never shy about firing, McFolley is taking over five shots a game from behind the arc. He made three of them against Central State en route to a 17-point performance and is averaging 12.3 points in three games.

Nick Perkins  6-8  Buffalo (Milan): The 2014 Class B state champion is getting 20 minutes a game for first-year coach Nate Oats in the Upstate. Perkins’ 15-point, five-rebound effort against Canisius was punctuated by a dunk to give the Bulls a 98-96 win for the the city championship. Click here for video of the two-handed game-winner.

Frank Vukaj  6-8  Lewis (Davison): He’s been productive seeing 15 minutes a game for Lewis, a DII in Illinois. The Albanian Hammer is averaging 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 blocks a game while making .581 from the field.


Michigan’s Class of 2016: What Their College Coaches Are Saying

“What I’ve enjoyed about Cassius as much as anything is his ability to distribute the ball. I think he has as good court vision as anyone who has played at Michigan State. He sees things ahead of time” — MSU coach Tom Izzo on Cassius Winston

“We got our point guard of the future; he’s really good. He’s unbelievably fast, which for the ‘blacktop’ is going to be great.” — Oakland coach Greg Kampe on Brailen Neely

“He is a natural scorer with deep range and the ability to score in bunches. His best days are ahead of him as he continues to mature physically. He has a high basketball IQ and a very strong work ethic.” –George Mason Coach Dave Paulsen on Karmari Newman

“He plays the game with emotion and is highly-regarded as one of the best shooters in the state. We are excited to get another player from the successful Arthur Hill program.” — Ferris State coach Andy Bronkema on Billy Burton

“He’s going to be a very versatile player for us, as he brings in great size at the guard position. His upside has him just scratching the surface of the type of player he can be.” –Wisconsin-Green Bay coach Linc Darner on Kameron Hankerson

“Chris is an athletic, creating point guard that makes those around him better.  He has a great knack for getting into the paint and setting up his teammates. ” — IPFW coach Jon Coffman on Chris Rollins

“Dylan is a great fit because of his combination of skill and versatility.  He can stretch defenses with his range, score in the post and passes at an extremely high level.” — IPFW coach Jon Coffman on Dylan Carl

Spencer Littleson is an outstanding shooter who will help us fill the Micah Mason role.” — Duquesne coach Jim Ferry

“I think when you recruit size at any level you’re looking at and projecting how good they can be down the road. And anything they can give you in year one is a bonus.” — CMU coach Keno Davis on Innocent Nwoko

“He finishes well around the rim, rebounds well and has excellent passing skills. He has exceptional length and has really put in the work to improve his strength and physical conditioning. We love his great attitude and passion for the game.” U-M coach John Beilein on Austin Davis

“He is very skilled and athletic for his size and fits in nice for the type of forward we like to have here.” — Kent State coach Rob Senderhoff on Danny Pippen

“Jason is a prolific scorer and a hard-nosed competitor.” — East Tennessee State coach Steve Forbes on Jason Williams

College Alumni Legacies on Line

Feb 26, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers guard Chris Harrison-Docks (51) keeps the ball away from Florida Atlantic Owls guard Justin Massey (4) and center Justin Raffington (11) during the first half at E.A. Diddle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Okemos High School 2012 graduate Chris Harrison-Docks led Western Kentucky in minutes played for his sophomore season.

As any fan of “Friends” knew, no one told you life was gonna be this way. These players have taken circuitous routes to this point, but they’re still standing, now upperclassmen trying to transcend on- and off-court disappointments and finish right.

Dwaun Anderson  6-4  Sr  Wagner (Suttons Bay): He was Wagner’s only returning starter going into last season, but broke his foot in November causing his season to consist of a six-minute experiment in January. A member of Michigan’s 2011 high school class, Anderson will be the old head on a Wagner team that played five freshman in his absence. The one-time Mr. Basketball winner and MSU signee averaged 5.5 points and 3 rebounds per game on .363 shooting in 2014. As always, those numbers included some highlight dunks.

Carlton Brundidge  6-1  Sr  Detroit (Southfield):  His minutes were halved in his second season in Detroit. Brundidge, who signed with Michigan out of Southfield in 2011, had one double-digit scoring game, against Aquinas.

Percy Gibson  6-9  Sr  Oakland (Detroit Southeastern): Former Iowa State assistant Cornell Mann hit a three-run homer while recruiting his home state to Ames, Monte Morris, which followed a pair of groundouts in Gibson and Sherron Dorsey-Walker, who followed Gibson’s exodus to Oakland. In his final season at Iowa State Gibson appeared in 14 games to average 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. There won’t be a repeat in Rochester Hills, where there are Corey Petros’ 36 minutes to fill at center.

Chris Harrison-Docks  6-0  Jr  Butler (Okemos): Harrison-Docks followed up his Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year campaign by leading WKU in minutes to average 11.1 points. This needs to be the season his assist-turnover ratio reaches college point guard caliber. Harrison-Docks signed with Butler out of Okemos, but like Dwaun Anderson above in his abbreviated tenure at MSU, left the school before ever playing a game.

JD Tisdale  6-5  Jr  Bowling Green (Swartz Creek): Maybe a third coach in as many years at Bowling Green, Michael Huger, will help Tisdale turn it on at the midway point of his career. Once a member in good standing of Michigan’s loaded 2013 class, he scored less than a point a game as a sophomore while racking up 16 DNPs to 17 games played.  The numbers were down all around, but for his free throw percentage improving from .356 to .636.

College Alumni Sophs Step Up

Louisville's Jaylen Johnson, a sophomore from Ypsilanti, may have more to personally celebrate in his second college season.
Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson, a sophomore from Ypsilanti, may have more to personally celebrate in his second college season.

Michigan’s class of 2014 has already had players start in the NCAA Tournament, and win an NAIA championship. Here are some of them ready for breakout college campaigns.

Darrell Davis  6-4  So  Dayton (Detroit Douglass): Like fellow Michigan 2014 high school grads who left the state like Yante Maten and Deshaun Thrower, Davis saw over 18 minutes a game as a freshman. He scored 4.8 points per game while shooting .383 overall on the strength of a .452 three-point percentage. That gave him a true shooting percentage of .57 and a .55 effective field goal percentage. Davis made all five three-point attempts against Boston U for a season-best 19 points and in A-10 play made 4-of-6 3s and scored 12 at St. Louis.

Jaylen Johnson  6-9  So  Louisville (Ypsilanti): He didn’t get started until late because of an NCAA clearinghouse issue, then had 13 DNPs. An opportunity arose for Johnson when Montrezl Harrell passed up his senior year for the NBA Draft. In Louisville’s exhibition win against Bellarmine he had 14 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting.

Yante Maten  6-8  So  Georgia (Bloomfield Hills): He played consistently and got better as his freshman season progressed highlighed by 13 and 10 against South Carolina in the SEC tournament. He averaged 5.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots. Now Maten is Georgia’s top returning big after losing Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic.

Darohn Scott  6-9  So  Central Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian): He appeared in 29 games for CMU and averaged 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. An active and aggressive dunker for years, Scott’s touch and the polish on his post game in the Chippewas’ exhibition win over Ferris State pointed to an expanded offensive future.

Kyle Steigenga  6-6  So  Cornerstone (Holland Christian): A throwback to when West Michigan high school stars spurned D1 opportunities for the local colleges and proved he was a lot more than just the best dunker in the state’s 2014 class. Steigenga was an All-American and Tournament MVP for Cornerstone’s NAIA D2 national championship team after averaging 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds on .682 shooting (the second-best mark in the country).

Deshaun Thrower  6-1  So  Stony Brook (Muskegon): Like many freshman guards, Thrower couldn’t find the hoop. At first. Then the still just 17-year-old Mr. Basketball from Muskegon’s 2014 state champion found himself in the starting lineup of a Stony Brook team that was a miracle shot from playing in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He had season/career-highs of 18 points and seven rebounds in the America East semifinal with Vermont. Thrower made 7 assists against Maine and had a 2.8 assist-turnover ratio in conference play. He shot better in league play than overall, .333 to .301 field goals and .367 to .311 on three-pointers.

Justin Tillman  6-7  So  VCU (Detroit Pershing): After initially asking for his scholarship release when coach Shaka Smart left for Texas, Tillman is back at VCU.  This after a freshman year in which he flashed the motor and athleticism that made him Mr. Basketball runner-up as a Doughboy,  averaging 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in over a dozen minutes per game. As well as he shot from the floor, .538, Tillman was bad from the line, .484.

Always one of the toughest dudes on the court in his time with Pershing and REACH, little has changed for VCU's Justin Tillman.
Always one of the toughest dudes on the court in his time with Pershing and REACH, little has changed for VCU’s Justin Tillman.