Oakland Team Camp Loaded

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Given its location with so many big schools within a half hour and the facilities to put all six courts under one roof, Oakland’s team camp has been a “must” stop on our list for over a decade. And here are some recent examples why, the talent is always there.

Quinn Blair  6-6  Jr  Dearborn Divine Child: Not naming names because there are too many really, mediocre Midwest mid-major afterthoughts that continue to offer the latest kid they see run by for an open dunk, while a grinder, leader and winner like Blair doesn’t have a D1 offer. Combination of two Cadillac stars really — offensive forward game of John Simons with the grit of Brian Snider. Like Snider, gets it done on the football field too. He had a pair of 30 point games Saturday at OU. He’s a good three-point shooter but much more with his ability to get to the rim with jabs and look-offs. Gets to the rim a lot, would like to see him playing above it too.

Jason Dietz  6-3  Jr  Troy: Hurt through most of AAU and didn’t look 100 percent. But still very productive because of how well he shoots the three-pointer. Great form, will need more lift on it for the scholarship level. Not just a specialist but a ballplayer with a feel for the game manifesting in off-ball movement and his own passing. Needs to play lower and longer defensively.

Foster Loyer  5-11  Jr  Clarkston: The Wolves were good last week without Loyer at MSU. With him at Oakland, it became a shooting clinic as they went unbeaten and no one was close for two days. They blew out Belleville and Renaissance, and Loyer scored 41 in a 20-point win over Holt. When Clarkston spreads the floor with guys like Loyer, 6-5 senior Dylan Alderson, 6-4 junior Chase Wasilk and junior point guard CJ Robinson all hitting from deep, what are you going to do? Especially since they’re not just aware of, but looking to make that one more pass for a better shot. Robinson has improved so much as a shooter that he and Loyer are truly interchangeable at the 1 and 2, with both able to defend the spots too. Sometimes democracy can prove prescient as it did here, with those two putting on big time performances after winning last week’s Bank Hoops Twitter poll — Best 2018 Class A Backcourt — by a resounding margin. Not only was Loyer winning big, he was doing it while withstanding matchups with the two players most likely to contend with his mythical title as the state’s best junior guard, EEV’s David DeJulius and Belleville’s Davion Williams.

Mark Watts  6-1  So  Detroit Allen: His future is more certain than his school’s — high-major guard recruit. Picks and chooses his spot than just explodes for a barrage of mad arc jumpshots. Combines the court poise of Monte Morris with the scoring instincts of Eric Davis.

Romeo Weems  6-6  So  New Haven: Some college coaches think there’s too much noise around Flint’s Terry Armstrong thus have Romeo their top instate guy for 2019. Weems is all business, a grinder, self critical, emerging leader. “I ain’t no pretty boy, I’m fierce” — Living Colour. Gotta love that his first instinct with a post catch is to dropstep dunk. Not as efficient or polished as gets away from the hoop. Something like a merger between Antonio Smith and Miles Bridges. A couple years development will determine which way the final earnings swing. He’ll just get better and better and New Haven could be our preseason No. 1 team in Class B.

Michigan Prospects Represent in Toledo

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Toledo’s is an “out of state” camp in name only for most of Michigan, and there was as usual a strong contingent of Northerners competing in Savage Arena for the Rockets’ showcase. Prospects from eight states and Canada were in attendance, with some from Michigan among the very best.

Marcus Bingham  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids Catholic Central: He was outstanding a few weeks ago at Ferris State’s elite camps, and gave a repeat performance at Toledo. Has an NBA type wingspan at 7-2 1/2, which meant shooting against even college players wasn’t problematic. Against the older players, Bingham hit a three-pointer from the corner, OK. But maybe the big guy got lucky. A minute later he nailed a step-back 21 footer from the left wing, and that was no mistake. Mid-major lock on his current talent who could go bigger if he adds 25 pounds.

Jacob Boonyasith  6-3  Jr  Jenison: He might not be a top pick if lining up to play, but he would be after they looked at the first box score. Not just a shooter but a scorer, Boonyasith plays with a lot of poise and at his own pace creating shots in sometimes frantic conditions. Repeatedly beat defenders with a quick release from mid-range. Not many kids in the state make tough shots with as much regularity as JB. Needs to get better on the defensive end.

Cade Coleman  6-4  So  Davison: He and AAU teammate Zach Trent of Bentley were two of the youngest players in camp, but also two of the best shooters. Coleman didn’t shoot it particularly well in drills but he came alive later on as they tagged up with 6-9 Calvin Christian junior Blake Verbeek forming the core of one of the camp’s best 5-on-5 groups. Cade is the next Spencer Littleson but a year ahead of schedule. Played a lot of point guard in the spring so had to adjust to being off it but as he did the talent came through. Has the skill and size to beat you from all three levels and in a scrimmage against the Toledo college players he hit a three-pointer and pull-up jumper, with a quick but controlled release over a 6-7 defender. Needs to get tougher, meaner, and use his physical advantages relentlessly.

Tre Harvey  6-0  Jr  West Bloomfield: Even after graduating Trishton Jackson, WB will have one of the state’s stronger backcourts with Harvey and senior Kevin McAdoo returning to the Lakers. With makeshift teams of players looking to impress in this kind of venue, an unselfish guard is worth his weight in the precious metal of your choice, and Harvey was golden. He kept the ball moving while not neglecting his own offense, made the simple plays and even fed the post. Needs to get his shot release point off his chin.

Duane Washington  6-2  Jr  Grand Rapids Christian: He got stripped of the ball on his very first possession against the college team, then regrouped and went out and earned a scholarship offer from the host school. Scored with the jumper, at the basket, and made plays for others. Don’t forget how good GR Christian was last year before their transfers were eligible, and Washington was a big part of that success. While not overwhelming in any one aspect of his game, though he’s a damn good shooter,  Junior is efficient in every part of it.

Looking Back at Local NBA Draft Prospects

With Thursday’s NBA Draft approaching, let’s take a look back at some local prospects through various Bank Hoops scouting reports from their high school and AAU careers.

Matt Costello  6-9  Sr  Michigan State (Bay City Western ’12)

Matt Costello made the Portsmouth all-tournament team after four years at MSU.
Matt Costello made the Portsmouth all-tournament team after four years at MSU.

He led Dorian’s Pride to the 16-under championship and looked like the best prospect in the tournament for any age. He’s top 50 in 2012 and good enough to play anywhere in America because he has the body of a power forward with the skill of a small forward. Pride was at its best, beating Ohio Basketball Club in the semis then the Mustangs in the final, when it ran its offense through Costello. Whether he was on the wing or on the block, he was able to pass or make scoring moves. Favorite series for Matt came when he bounded out of the paint to block a jumpshot, then on the other end hit the floor for a jumpball and kept fighting after the whistle … and was T’d up. (May 24, 2010)

Would’ve loved to see Costello at the previous week’s prospects camp at U-of-D, in Jay Smith’s big man group. At U-M, all the drills and games involved guards, who control the frontcourt’s fate in these thrown-together camp games and hardly ever get big men the ball where they need it most. That said, Costello was the biggest kid at the camp and he has so much talent it can’t be fully repressed, so it’s not like he was lost. He’s just an all-around big and strong kid for his age and height. Costello went hard after rebounds and shot the three-pointer with an easy touch. To his credit, even when he went yet another series without getting a post touch, he would run hard to get back defensively. (June 27, 2010)

Deyonta Davis  6-10  Fr  Michigan State (Muskegon ’15)

2015 Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis is projected as a late lottery pick after one season at MSU.
2015 Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis is projected as a late lottery pick after one season at MSU.

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 actual 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 Josh Jackson.” (August 6, 2012)

Put an exclamation point on a June which has seen Davis vault to the No. 1 spot in the 2015 class with his performance at Toledo’s elite camp. Toledo’s team only lost one game. That was against DD’s team, thanks in part to a combination of his lucky off-glass three-pointer, and his defensive domination around the basket. His 7-1 wingspan, timing and surprising toughness turned what had previously been a dunk contest, into a physical, chippy, grinding game. Davis could’ve finished better and run the court more consistently, but wow when he did it was so quickly. Didn’t take the drills as seriously as the 5-on-5 — where he was a game-changer. MAC offers and hearing from half the Big 10 and major programs nationally. (July 1, 2013)

He’s one of the trending recruits in the entire country, with 20 offers including MSU, Memphis, Iowa State, Missouri and Xavier. Lumbered at times in drills, but turned it on in games and made a bunch of future college 4s and 5s look silly. His skill level continues to improve, passing the ball smartly on the break or from the block; made a number of three-pointers. Most of those were with a hand in his face but it didn’t matter with Davis’ 7-1 wingspan. (September 26, 2013)

It’s not uncommon for a junior to stamp his name on a state title run, but it’s almost always a junior guard — Mateen Cleaves, David Kool or Keith Appling. Deyonta Davis looked ahead of schedule with head-to-head domination of a series of D1 senior forwards, Ann Arbor Skyline’s Tristan Wilson, Mt. Pleasant’s Jaleel Hogan and finally Blomfield Hills’ Yante Maten in the Class A championship game. He held Detroit-signee Hogan dunk-less and 4-of-13 shooting in the semis. Muskegon won the final in the largest margin of victory since Detroit Pershing whupped Benton Harbor over 20 years ago. Davis made 12-of-14 field goals, from alley-oops to a three-pointer, in the championship game, which solidified Muskegon as a top 20 national team, and DD as a to 20 national prospect. When dialed in like that, Davis looks like a young Marcus Camby or Sam Perkins. (March 25, 2014)

The Michigan State signee recorded a triple-double in the feature game against Arthur Hill — 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. The final block came after running down Eric Davis full court to block a would-be tying layup as time expired, no doubt locking up some Mr. Basketball votes in the process. (December 23, 2014)

Kay Felder  5-9  Jr  Oakland (Detroit Pershing ’13)

Kay Felder left Oakland a year early and is a projected late-first or a second-round pick.
Kay Felder left Oakland a year early and is a projected late-first or a second-round pick.

Which leads us to 5-8 junior Kahlil Felder. He’s the consistent one, the tough one, the leader. He’s Pershing‘s best player, with the heart for competition that his bigger teammates don’t necessarily carry in the same volume. The lefty hits big shots and is able to pull up to get them over taller defenders, has tremendous vision and the knack for delivering the ball in a crowd, gets in there to rebound and even blocked from behind the shot of a 6-4 player. (November 28, 2011)

Lefty never takes a play off. He scored 31 points in REACH’s 72-64 championship game win. He sealed the victory with his clever ball-handling and money free throw shooting.  At the mid-major level could be a star, because he gets a lot done and has the talent to transcend his size if not going up against guys with monstrous physical advantages. (May 1, 2012)

Among college coaches at the Adidas Invitational, the most oft heard sentence regarding Felder was “He’s so good.” This recalls the ranking system of Hope hall of fame coach Glenn Van Wieren: he’s good; he’s really good; Stephen, he’s really good! So it is with Felder. Not many 5-8 guards rebound like this kid against big, and big-time, athletes. Nate Robinson maybe. Plays really hard. (July 16, 2012)

Bryn Forbes  6-3  Sr  Michigan State (Lansing Sexton ’12)

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Bryn Forbes became one of the nation’s top three-point shooters for Michigan State.

The Mustangs beat the Grady Elite Hurricanes for the 16-under title. The best player on the floor in the championship was 6-1 Lansing Sexton sophomore Bryn Forbes. He played a really mature game at the point keeping everyone involved, not sitting on the ball, attacking from various spots on the floor. When he was open, Forbes knocked down the shot. D1 guard.  (April 20, 2010)

He was terrific a couple weeks ago when the Mustangs won the 16-under title at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, and may have been even better in the Stangs’ overtime elimination loss to JP Tokoto’s Wisconsin Playground Warriors team. He had five second-half three-pointers in that game, and all of them seemed to come in rhythm. (May 6, 2010)

Shot the heck out of it in AAU with the Mustangs, and didn’t see him miss a three-pointer here (albeit while trying to see three courts at once). He’s also going to Stanford’s prospects camp. (June 18, 2010)

He just wasn’t ready for the defense of Country Day guards Chris Fowler and Lee Bailey. The majority of Forbes’ value comes from his three-point shooting. But this wasn’t 16U AAU or summer team camp. Those looks were hard to come by, and without the shots Forbes lost all confidence. Country Day owned him physically and mentally, he just shrank. (Nov. 30, 2010)

Forbes played with a local Lansing club and got them to the 17U semifinals. He does a great job mixing up his shots and drives, and he’s not averse to passing. He’s bouncier than you suspect and shoots it somewhere shy of Rodney Monroe. (April 18, 2011)

He’s grown both physically and in terms of maturity in the past six months. Bryn had a 19-point third-quarter as Sexton made its statement against Country Day. He’s always been a high-end shooter, but now up to 6-3, 175 he finished very well. Played with bounce and confidence. Could see him ending up as high as A10. (Nov. 4, 2011)

James Kelly  6-7  Sr  Marshall (Ann Arbor Pioneer ’11)

James Kelly played at Owens, Miami (FL) and Marshall.
James Kelly played at Owens Community College, Miami (FL) and Marshall.

In his first game after becoming eligible for the second semester, Ann Arbor Pioneer’s James Kelly scored 22 points in 15 minutes. A few weeks later the 6-7, 225-pound junior had a game of 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 blocked shots. This past Friday Kelly scored a season-best 25 points in Pioneer’s upset of Ann Arbor Huron. In his abbreviated season, Kelly is averaging 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. (March 1, 2010)

We’ve discussed 6-6 Ann Arbor Pioneer junior James Kelly before, but few have seen him play because of eligibility problems. He’s definitely headed the junior college route and, as he showed at Oakland playing with the y Warriors, he could be the next perhaps Marcus Kennedy. The opposite of Gary Cooper, Kelly is all energy on defense. He is both strong and can jump, and doesn’t shy away from the dirty work, blocking shots, going up a second and third time after the ball. His offense is raw, but is an OK shooter. (April 11, 2010)

The Warriors’ older, bouncier frontline of Kelly and Stephn Edwards won this semifinal battle though, one with a lot of athletic, hard-headed plays around the rim. Kelly plays hard and produces around on the glass, but is maybe 6-7 and has nothing resembling an outside shot. With his grades, will be JC bound which will give him a chance to work on his skills. Kelly just hasn’t played a lot of organized ball. (June 1, 2010)

Jalen Reynolds  6-10  RS Jr  Xavier (Livonia Stevenson ’11)

Jalen Reynolds turned pro with a year of eligibility left at Xavier.
Jalen Reynolds turned pro with a year of eligibility left after graduating from Xavier.

Clarenceville’s 6-7 soph Jalen Reynolds can be awkward with flashes of potential. (Feb. 18, 2009)

Reynolds didn’t play as a junior after transferring. He moves smoothly, generally plays hard and is competitive in the paint. He’s pretty aware and at ease with his back to the basket, A good, if not elite, athlete. (April 20, 2010)

Jalen Reynolds, a 6-8 junior from Livonia Stevenson, has been one of the state’s hottest prospects, and lived up to expectations playing with the Crew at the Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com Classic. While he may be 6-8, plays more like 6-10 because he has really long arms and is active. Defensively, he’s just all over the place. Offensively, plays over the rim and finishes at a very high rate. Needs a go-to move and to keep his release point in front and not behind his head, but with work ethic the points should come (not that they weren’t there in some cases, Jalen had a couple 20-point games). (May 18, 2010)

Made the all-tournament team the weekend prior in Lansing, and was just as good again, including a triple-double effort. Gets a lot done even with an under-developed offensive arsenal because he’s long, athletic and active. With the lack of quality bigs nation-wide, looking like a high-major lock. (May 24, 2010)

Had to be dragged away from a pool party to put the sneakers on, and big-timed it and joked around for much of the U-D camp. Despite all that, there were flashes of why Reynolds was still probably the most talented one in the gym. He has bounce toward the rim, and no one was stopping his flip hook. Also did a good job sealing for lob dunks. His shooting still needs work, specifically leveling the corkscrew rotation. Reynolds has a slew of turnovers, and with those mitts it’s not because he can’t hold onto the ball. He was just doing silly, sloppy junk with it. (June 18, 2010)

Denzel Valentine  6-5  Sr  Michigan State (Lansing Sexton ’12)

Denzel Valentine will be a first-round pick after an All-American career at MSU.
Denzel Valentine will be a first-round pick after an All-American career for Michigan state.

Denzel Valentine is very skilled for his age, and is a 6-5 guard. He is Sexton’s No. 2 point guard, and can break down smaller guards with the dribble. Valentine is a smart, fundamental and active defender, who knows how to use his reach. He does seem quicker on offense than defense. With his awkward build and big butt, Valentine draws fouls; has a soft and easy free throw touch. Plays heads up and looks to pass. Valentine will take defensive rebounds all the way. As easily as he gets to the rim, doesn’t finish with a lot of power; lacks consistent shooting range. If those improve, he’s a high-major lock. (Feb. 14, 2010)

If those Indiana sophomores have Big 10 offers, then clearly should Denzel Valentine. The son of Sexton coach and ’80s Spartan Carlton Valentine, he  scored 28 in the 16-under final of the Motown Showdown including the seeming game-winning pull-up jumper, only to have Dorian’s Pride win at the buzzer on a banked in three-pointer. He’s nearly exited gawky mode into just being a big-bodied, angular athlete with a big hoops IQ and the drive to make all the shots, from breakout dunks to pull-ups in the lane to three-pointers over a fully extended 6-9 Matt Costello. He looked to have more of an all-around game than Pride’s standout sophomore wings, 6-4 Jovontae Hawkins from Powers and 6-5 Anton Wilson from Flint Carman-Ainsworth. (April 12, 2010)

While no match athletically for highly regarded national recruit JP Tokoto, Valentine more than held his own scoring 22 as the Mustangs 16-under was eliminated in overtime of the Run n Slam by Tokoto’s Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Valentine looks like Mark Aguirre out there, using his big build and old-school post moves to score in the lane again and again. He has a great feel and high hoops IQ, just not high-end athletic ability. (May 2, 2010)

The best high schooler in Calihan Hall was Valentine. He doesn’t have the explosive vertical game that the drive-by national scouts adore, but on substance and production he’s a top 100 recruit like Draymond Green or Antonio Gates. Valentine has the hoops IQ and passing ability to play the 1, a rapidly improving shot to play the 2 and the size to rebound and score inside like a 3. Defensive quickness will be coaches’ main worrying point, but he’s a grower. (June 18, 2010)

No surprise his team won the three-on-three crown at U-M’s camp. One, his teammates were both good and two, Valentine’s old school game was made for the driveway. The do-it-all wing is the best actual basketball player in the class of 2012, a versatile, tough, physical winner in the lineage of Antonio Gates and Draymond Green. It’s not just a grinding thing. Denzel is good at creating triangles and two-on-one space advantages in the halfcourt. (June 27, 2010)

MSU commitment was just dynamic in leading Sexton to the Class B state title. They just took it to Detroit Country Day in the semifinals, with Valentine heading a potent fastbreak game. He’d be a good point guard if he were 5-10, but he’s 6-5 so add in that vision plus the bulk to bully into the lane to make plays. Rare combination of flare and substance, fun and toughness. Better athlete than you think, and had the dunks to prove it. Helped defensively against Muskegon Heights star Deontae Hudson, who had put up 31 in the semifinals but struggled in the final (5-of-25 field goals). He’s the kind of winner and leader the Spartans have been lacking. (March 26, 2011)

A dynamic playmaker and the national scouts who don’t have him top 50 need to keep their day jobs … whatever those may be, to paraphrase Homer Simpson. Questions about Valentine’s athleticism are misguided and increasingly moot. (May 29, 2011)

He’s laughably underrated nationally. Big college-ready body, high hoops IQ, amazing passer — though he’ll have to cut out the Harry High School highlight passes. The indulgent ones, not the creative ones. (Feb. 16, 2012)

Prospects Make Their Case at Izzo Shootout

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Macomb Dakota rising junior Thomas Kithier earned an MSU offer at the Izzo Shootout.

Some of the top talent in the Midwest converged on Michigan State for the annual Izzo Shootout. Here are in-state prospects who helped their recruiting standing, if not with the home school, then by showing the talent to attract others as the summer continues.

Dylan Alderson  6-5  Sr  Clarkston: Stepped up with Foster Loyer at the NBAPA Camp. The three-pointers were dropping Friday, when Alderson looked like the best player in the entire field. But when he misses, he misses, and Saturday that was the case. When he does shoot well Alderson looks like a high-major prospect because of his size, athleticism, versatility. Not just a high-flying wing, he has some wiggle off the bounce too.

Jimmy Bell  6-9  Jr  Saginaw Arthur Hill: Ring that Bell, big boy! Most have resigned Jimmy to a football career given his considerable weight, but he’s become a very good basketball player. Defends the paint with physicality, attitude and blocked shots. Doesn’t shy for contact and doesn’t censor his body like so many young big guys. Showed some well-coached post moves on the other end.

Keion Epps  6-5  Sr  Wayne: Under .500 last year, Wayne Memorial looks like it’s turned the corner going into coach Nkwame Young’s third season. With no center Epps has to play big, and he does on the glass with his activity, but he’s most comfortable and effective out on the court using his energy and length to make plays. His defensive gambling had mixed results. A long-time commitment to Eastern Michigan.

Jaron Faulds  6-10  Sr  Holt: When you’re 6-10, not afraid to mix it up, and have good grades, your parents aren’t paying for your college. Faulds recently visited Yale and Columbia, and received an offer from Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His performance at MSU, leading Holt on a deep tournament run, would translate well to either mid-major league. Consistently hit someone when the ball went up. He’s an simple, efficient scorer who doesn’t touch the ball as much as one might like, but makes the most of it, usually keeping the ball high and utilizing his understanding of angles and the backboard.

Jermayne Golidy  6-2  Sr  Muskegon: Love his rare, old school offensive game. Herky jerky, going off the wrong foot, NBA range set shots, using the glass and extreme arc, with the high socks to complete the 1960s retrospective. Tough to stop when he’s in rhythm and gets going downhill.

Luke Hyde  6-6  Jr  DeWitt: When teams zoned DeWitt Hyde did a great job of running the offense through the high post. He had the size to see over defenders and hit cutters and the short corners, and also could dive and finish himself after giving it up. Hyde is such a smooth, easy athlete, can do a lot with him in the future.

Thomas Kithier  6-8  Jr  Macomb Dakota: Carpe diem, kid. Kithier showed an expanded, improved, versatile, confident game to the Michigan State coaches, and earned the coveted in-state offer. When he wasn’t dunking easily and with regularity, TK was playing away from the basket and looked very comfortable passing, shooting, moving. Agile, good hands. Impressive performance, and it came with Dakota’s star point guard, Jermaine Jackson, out of town at the NBAPA Camp.

Josh Perkins  6-6  Jr  Ypsilanti: Ypsi had a solid weekend, with Perkins holding it down inside with old school post play to counterbalance strong guard play. Nice repertoire of fakes and footwork from the blocks. Not overly athletic, but tough and competes.

Brandon Wade  6-1  Jr  Ann Arbor Skyline: Did nothing to dissuade those who consider him a top 10 overall prospect in the 2018 class. His strength is a real advantage because he’s able to get into the lane and force the issue when things break down. Runs the point like an older player, not like one with two more varsity seasons remaining.

Duane Washington  6-2  Jr  Grand Rapids Christian: With big man Xavier Tillman at the NBAPA Camp, Washington filled the star void for the Eagles. His jumpshot is as pretty as it gets in Michigan, and he knows how to run a team efficiently. Calm and made plays in clutch. Struggled against smaller, aggressive defender CJ Robinson of Clarkston and you’d like Washington to show a bit more dog and drive to match the skill level and hoops IQ.

New Staff, Same Talented U-D Camp

The University of Detroit’s elite camp has usually brought in the top prospects from Southeastern Michigan, and that doesn’t look like it will change under new coach Bacari Alexander. Here are some of our favorite performers from the Titans’ first elite camp with the new staff.

Quinn Blair  6-6  Jr  Dearborn Divine Child: One of the more unselfish players in camp, willing to do the dirty work on the glass, fight defensively, push the ball with the pass. Rebounded at a high rate. A three-tier scorer, playing a lot like John Simons. He’d hit a 3 one trip, backcut for an easy bucket the next.  Blair has offers from Ferris State, where his sister plays, and Hillsdale, where they have to have visions of the next Kyle Cooper out of the Catholic League, and is a likely D1 recruit in both basketball and football.

Gabe Brown  6-7  Jr  Belleville: He put in a performance similar to Kent State freshman Daniel Pippen’s two year’s ago at Detroit’s elite camp, a hustling, versatile presence on both ends of the floor. All knees and elbows and no defined position, Brown has a motor, arms for days, passed well on the break and looked great shooting left-handed three-pointers off the catch. A key member of Belleville’s loaded 2018 class.

Deante Johnson  6-7  Jr  Detroit Edison: Can really get up and down for a big kid, a requisite for playing with the Family’s 16U which is one of the fastest AAU teams in the country. Johnson just got a Toledo offer which looks like a prescient move, he could be a big-time rebounder in the MAC as he gets off the floor quickly a second and third time. And he’s not named “Spider” because his arms are short.

Avery Lewis  6-5  Jr  Ann Arbor Huron: Reminds one of Jared Holmquist, who was the best player in the MIAA last season for Trine University, a strong kid who works hard, bangs, rebounds, complements talented guards, while having a blossoming offensive game. One of the state’s most improved 2018 prospects.

Lamar Norman  6-2  Jr  Wyoming Godwin Heights: Simply the most talented offensive guard in Michigan for 2018. Those peers that can drive and finish like Norman can’t shoot like him, and those that can shoot with him aren’t as athletic. The kind of guard who by the time he finishes breakfast has already scored buckets, like Calvin Wooten, Katu Davis or Steven Haney Sr. He’s produced in any venue we’ve seen him and that’s not likely to change.

GLIAC Smack: Checking out Ferris, GVSU and Northwood

We hit up three events at GLIAC schools over a week, prospect camps at Ferris State and Northwood, and a team camp at Grand Valley State.

Muskegon Could Be a Problem: Even with young or otherwise untested players in prominent roles, the Big Reds looked deep and talented in winning the GVSU Shootout. The vets are 6-3 senior Jermaine Goliday who can manufacture buckets like few guards in the 2017 class, and 6-5 senior Anthony Bethea, blue collar on the baseline. 6-4 Markell Jackson is also a senior but didn’t see the floor last year after transferring from Loy-Norrix. He’s intriguing because of his wingspan and finishing ability, hopefully the light comes and stays on. There’s an embarrassment of talent at point guard with 6-0 left-handed junior Willie Shanks and 5-9 sophomore DeAndre Carter — once they figure out the nuances and responsibilities of the position.

DeWitt Duo: DeWitt was more impressive in losing to Muskegon in the semifinals than was Wayland in the final of the GVSU Shootout. DeWitt has two outstanding juniors. 6-4 Tanner Reha is physical and can score in the lane and when making NBA 3s like he did against Muskegon is really hard to guard. Reha is a good athlete, with a bit more wiggle, flexibility and bounce could be a mid-major wing guard. 6-6 Luke Hyde moves like a natural athlete, rebounding like a forward running like a guard, active and often around the ball.

2018s Steal Show: The top overall prospects at both Ferris State’s and Northwood’s camps were both rising juniors. At Ferris State it was 6-9 Marcus Bingham from Grand Rapids who impressed early with a wingspan measuring 7-2 1/2 then a flurry of made shots in drills. He was less of a presence once it got going up and down, limited by lack of weight and strength. Strength is no issue with 6-3 Frankenmuth junior Mario Whitley who piled on the dunks at Northwood. Power wing who can initiate or take a hit and still get it over the rim. Can create his shot but overall handle isn’t yet D1 guard caliber.

Bellaire senior Gabe Meriwether is a rare high school jumpshooter.
Bellaire senior Gabe Meriwether is a rare high school jumpshooter.

2017 MVP: The top senior from the two prospect camps was Gabe Meriwether at Northwood. A 6-3 Bellaire guard, he has a big first step, stayed in attack mode, finished with dunks and knocked down a real jumpshot from behind the arc. Meriwether plays like another Northerner, Boyne City’s Jason Rozycki an important player for Oakland when they transitioned to Division 1 at the turn of the century, and should end up with a choice of D2 offers.