The Grand Rapids Storm Classic looks like it will again go down as one of the top spring events in the Midwest. Here are some in-state standouts who set the baseline high for their performances the rest of the travel season.
Wyatt Baker 6-4 Jr Manton 17U (Manton): This school team plus a couple friends, including 6-6 Walled Lake Northern soph Ethan Ansick who played as a freshman at Manton, went all the way to the 17U silver final. On a team full of shooters, Baker was the lane presence, a reckless, raw athlete on the glass playing so hard and in a way not everyone wants to mess with it. Not skilled but athletic, energetic and tough. NAIA with possible nice payoff.
Sy Barnett 6-2 Jr MBA (Charlotte): His team is loaded with guard talent, but Barnett is talented enough to carve out a role. He’s known for his dunking and had a few. Can his offensive ability overcome defensive shortcomings?
Marcus Bingham 6-9 So MBA 16U (Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills): You already expect to encounter some size from MBA with 6-10 Nate Verbeek. But here’s Bingham as well and suddenly the court is shady all over. That shot-blocking length is his current key to the court. As he defines his game could really rise in rankings.
Shahada Camp 6-1 Sr Rare Form 17U (Grand River Prep): He was one of the state’s top scorers during the winter at 29 points a game. He showed how he did it here, where Camp connected on a load of left-handed 3s as Rare Form made it all the way to the 17U platinum semifinals thanks to an upset of 1Nation.
Elijah Collins 6-0 So Family 16U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): A starter from the Cubs’ state championship team, early AAU competition was easy work for Collins. He’s talented enough to improve to all-state status after two years as an underclassman behind and next to Cassius Winston. On a fast Family team, he looks like the best athlete.
Ike Eke 6-9 Jr Family 17U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): The best of the Family’s four D1 posts. Has to be accounted for on offense now that he can screen and fade to knock down shots. Not that he gets a lot of chances, as the Family’s roster is full of shooting guards. Showed a burgeoning off-dribble game. Who thought Eke would be a good shooter, so why not? Tends to let UD/Family teammate Greg Eboigbodin do the dirty work on the glass. Nevertheless, between his size, improvement, state championship pedigree and EYBL buzz, could have 10 high major offers by the summer.
Ryan Gamm 6-7 Jr West Michigan Lakers 17U (Rockford): He doesn’t have the flash of Zach Nieuwkoop or skill of Jake VanTubbergen in the Lakers frontcourt. Simplicity be beauty at the 4 position. Gamm is a wide, position rebounder who finishes efficiently and can step out and play the high-low game.
Mason Gardner 6-4 So Parallel 46 16U (Boyne City): The Class C burg of Boyne City has been no stranger to talent over the past five years, with Gardner projecting as a D2 guy thanks to his frame and legs. Raw dog just sniffing out his potential. Hammered on two defenders in pool play.
Matt Havey 6-1 Jr Elite Nation 17U: Elite Nation was going through some opening weekend growing pains as some new talent attempted to meld with an already solid nucleus. Havey is part of that latter group, a steadying hand because if you drive and kick or throw it out from the post, his three-pointer is likely going down.
Tylin Humphrey 6-2 So BALL 16U (Grand Rapids University Prep): He was the top scorer on an undersized but athletic team that made the platinum bracket. A really tough cover off the bounce and got after it defensively as well.
Trayvon Jackson 6-8 So REACH 16U (Detroit Western): He gave 1Nation’s Thomas Kithier a lot of problems, swallowing up the Dakota center’s post moves with his wingspan. On the other end was rarely involved by REACH’s guards but showed an easy left-handed stroke to 3 over Kithier. Looked slower against King James. Jackson’s rebounding allergy will hopefully be fixed at Western, where he transferred from Ypsilanti Lincoln.
Orlando Little 6-4 Sr BC Elite 17U (Kalamazoo Central): One of the state’s top available seniors. Strong on the baseline, will shoot the 3 but not really an all-around perimeter player. Good prospect if his expectations are to the right level.
Deondre Lovell 6-2 Jr Grand Rapids Storm 17U (Vicksburg): The Storm is strong on the wings with Big Rapids’ Demetri Martin, East Lansing’s Deandre Robinson and Okemos’ Vail Hartman. Lovell is the least known but turned some heads dunking from the backcourt.
Matt Malcolm 6-4 So North Oakland Wolfpack 16U (Plymouth Christian): It’s saying something that on a team full of Clarkston players, Malcom is the best shooter. Now if the Class D kid can learn to guard like a Clarkston player, he’ll play college ball.
Kevin McAdoo 6-1 Jr Team Michigan 17U (West Bloomfield): McAdoo did nothing to dissuade my favor towards him from the winter. Not the biggest cat but he plays the whole court with purpose. He’s deceptively quick and can get into the lane to drive or score. Smart defender on or off the ball.
Colton Ritsema 6-4 So Grand Rapids Storm 16U (Jenison): He plays on Ken George’s 16U Storm team and anchors a nice pair of forwards with the lanker, bouncier Ryan Dunn, a 6-4 soph from Forest Hills Central. Ritsema is more broad than tall so he can score with the hook from the blocks and he can now step out and shoot the 3. MIAA will love him, best case scenario Matt Kingshott.
Eddie Thigpen 6-6 Jr GreenWood Elite 17U (Saginaw): The other Saginaw High standouts like Qua Southward and Henry Speight were with different clubs in GR, while Thigpen held it down for GreenWood. He’s a lefty who can play above the rim and is expanding his shot range. Could do more in the halfcourt, where at times he drifts to the screen-and-stand.
Jake VanTubbergen 6-5 Jr West Michigan Lakers 17U (West Ottawa): His older brothers were QBs but this one’s a hooper. Long as a Monday, always seems to be in the right spot and can finish over or around the rim. If he can show any propensity to put on strength would be ideal prep to Ivy recruit.
Mario Whitley 6-4 So 1Nation 16U (Frankenmuth): Two-footed leaper who can play much taller, often above the rim. Can bully guys in high school and is still a physical presence in an AAU setting. In an up-and-down game when he’s getting out and dunking is where Whitley is most productive. If he keeps building guard skills and defensive footwork could be the next Marc White, who was a big-time all-stater out of Battle Creek Central.
Israel Williams 6-6 Sr Oakland County Ballers (Pontiac): OCB almost pulled a major upset jumping out to a 20-point lead on the Family before ultimately succumbing. Williams was key to that run hitting smooth lefty shots from deep on either side of the baseline. Good energy on the boards, too. Juco sleeper in two years.
Trevion Williams 6-8 So Mustangs 16U (Henry Ford Academy): He blew up the opening weekend at REACH’s Michigan Invitational. This one was more up and down, as Williams struggled getting up and down with 1Nation’s bigs in a hyped Saturday morning matchup which went all 1Nation’s way. Williams has terrific hands and vision to make plays away from the basket and the frame to score underneath it. Sometimes indulges his ball-handling bringing it up when the guards would be a more prudent route.
Richard Zimmerman 6-3 Jr Team Michigan 17U (Detroit Osborn): Triple-threat wing with a strong build. Three-point shot sets up the drive or is it vice versa. Plays bigger than height on the boards. A rawness to him that makes you think he has a lot of improvement left.