Podcast: Making Some Sense of Early AAU Scene

Slow EYBL start for Family, but 15U one of nation’s best.

The Elite impresses early; Mustangs in flux.

More Michiganders in the EYBL; 1Nation.

The best unaffiliated 17U, 16U teams in Michigan.

More Storm Classic Standouts

2018 prospect Bryce Washington of the Family via Southfield Christian is one of Michigan’s elite finishers.

Some of the top available college prospects in the state played in the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, included here from the class of 2020 all the way to current seniors.

Christian Agnew  6-1  Sr  Mustangs (Westland John Glenn): One of the state’s top uncommitted senior guards Made key plays in two statement wins for the Mustangs, a comeback elimination of 1Nation then a semifinal blowout of the Family. The Mustangs used four and sometimes five guards against 1Nation, with Agnew exploiting his matchup with forward Shayne Scruggs by ducking under him to get into the lane or shooting before he could close out.

Tevin Ali  6-6  Jr  Elite Nation (Lansing Waverly): Elite Nation may not have a center, but lead the league in 4s — Ali, Mason Pline, Luke Hyde and Josh Perkins. Ali can finish above the rim if you tee him up but is most likely a garbage man on offense. Will step up and block shots on the other end, but got whistled for some cheap ones when we saw Ali against TEAM Basketball.

Terry Armstrong  6-5  So  The Elite (Davison): Everything came a bit tougher for Elite’s offense when Armstrong was either not touching the ball or out of the game. He makes tough free up moves against athletic defenders look easy. Not a ball hog, sees the floor, understands the game. Which makes Armstrong’s shot selection all the more frustrating. A lot of Dion Harris here, from the love of the mid-range shot, to latent athleticism, to court demeanor, and facially. With Jamal Cain matriculating to Marquette, Armstong’s now Michigan’s best combination of natural talent, skill level, and pro size relative to position.

Isaiah Jackson  6-7  Fr  Family 15U (Rochester Lutheran Northwest): Even a team so talented it features over half of Bank Hoops’ top 10 2020 prospects and won the 15U tournament, Jackson stood out. Long, active rim protector. His defense is ahead of his offense — only because he’s already a special defensive presence at this level. He’s not bad at all on the offensive end. Unlike so many young bigs, doesn’t fight the ball and plays right along with the Family’s guards and athletes. All the talent’s there, will be determined internally is Isaiah is the next Deyonta Davis or Dashonte Riley.

Avery Lewis  6-6  Jr  1Nation (Ann Arbor Huron): Forms a pair of forwards with 6-9 Danny Kolp that might be undersized in the EYBL but will help make 1Nation competitive on the Under Armour circuit. A one-time role player whose increased height, athleticism and assertiveness have increased that status. Kolp didn’t play against the Storm with an ankle injury and Lewis gave away height to their 6-10 Blake Verbeek and 6-8 Brandon Paul. But he took the fight to them with strength, leverage and aggression.  Lewis is an active lefty who gets to balls off either backboard. Has body control and talent as a finisher. GLIAC lock with upside and improvement track for higher.

Drew Lowder  5-11  So  Family 16U (Ann Arbor Pioneer): Playing a true 1, with Rocket Watts being the designated gun in this AAU backcourt. Lowder looked great pushing the break and found the hot hand. Good guard size for age group play, which he uses selectively to assert himself defensively. Seems to like the challenge. In the halfcourt, would like to see Lowder more often turning the corner and getting in the lane to create even better shots for teammates on pitches and dish higheres percentage shots than just moving the ball around the horn. Or finish the play himself, as he looks like a natural scorer around the rim.

Brandon Paul  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids Storm (Sault Ste. Marie): A lot to like once he transitions from UP to AAU basketball, as he was too flat-footed, reaching for rebounds, and was often the recipient rather than distributor of physical play. Even a point guard like Brandon Wade pushed Paul around a bit. However, hard not to be intrigued how easily he steps out and shoots it; keeps the ball high; sees and gets to offensive rebounds.

Kevin David Rice  6-3  Fr  Family 15U (Goodrich): Easy to see how he was the state’s top freshman scorer this winter. Calls to mind the gifted Flint wings we used to cover like Desmon Farmer,  Jaquan Hart and Cory Hightower. Versatile scorer in the lane or from the baseline where he’s ambidextrous. Seemed tuned in and serious on the defensive end for a ninth-grader.

Danny Sully  6-6  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Troy): He has an uncanny wingspan, and reacts quickly. Those impact defensively both out on the floor harassing ball-handlers, or in the paint where at times it looked like Sully just flicked his wrist and blocked a shot. Dunks easily but still a work in progress on offense.

Bryce Washington  6-4  Jr  Family (Southfield Christian): Made an impressive transition from Class D all-stater to all-around efficient role player who didn’t need a high shot volume to contribute. Used his length and athleticism on the glass, getting to 50/50 balls, defending out on the court. Still has rare ability finishing from the wings, extends on the run so gracefully you forget how fast he’s actually moving.

Romeo Weems  6-6  So  Family 16U (New Haven): Played a lot in the post and that proved a tough cover as Weems ran rim to rim repeatedly and eagerly. That effort is particularly noticeable when juxtaposed with the Family’s other 16U star, Rocket Watts, who sometimes just gets back past midcourt on defense. Their closest thing to a 16U center, Sage Walker, didn’t play, and Weems defended the rim with a variety of shot blocks. He was so dominant it wasn’t uncommon to see Weems not just blocking the shot but recovering the ball himself.

Flint’s Finest: Rep Builders

Farmington sophomore Ray Bryant looked like one of the state’s most explosive 2019 guards for the Michigan Playmakers.

While there was name-brand shopping the week before at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, Easter weekend provided a good chance to find college talent from grassroots teams. It’s abundant this spring given the depth of the 2018 class. That was apparent at Flint’s Finest tournament, which included these standouts below. Local team Comrades United beat the Michigan Playmakers for the 17U title; in 16U Championship Sports Gold beat Parallel 45; and in 15U the Playmakers topped the Flight.

Leon Ayers  6-2  Jr  Moneyball East (Troy): The starting point guard from Troy’s Class A regional championship team. Keeps the ball hot, good play running for AAU. Can also play off it and hit his own shots off the catch. Covered space on defense. More strength, explosion will help Ayers rise in a deep 2018 guard class.

Emmanuel Bates  6-4  Jr  Flint’s Finest (Swartz Creek): High energy two-way guy who is a small college recruit for the right system like an Olivet. Turns ends easily, able to play on the top of the press then recover to block the shot. Has physical tools for the next level. Needs to define and refine his halfcourt offense. A passer, cutter, clean-up guy right now.

Noah Baylis  5-11  Fr  Mid-Michigan Lakers 15U (Holly): Did nothing but solidify his name among the deep 2020 point guard class. Toughened up from a year of varsity ball since last we saw him, which dictated the addition of a pull-up mid-range game. Scored 26 against the Playmakers, including five three-pointers.

Ray Bryant  6-3  So  Michigan Playmakers 16U (Farmington): He could jump from All-OAA to all-state as Farmington graduates Jordan Graham and Jay Kirby. Bryant was already a consistent double-double threat and it was easy to see why in the 16U semifinals where he was a finisher and rebounder not afraid to seek out hits. A tough cover on the break coming downhill, either with the ball or running the lanes. Slasher from the halfcourt who ended up spending a lot of time at the line. In that semifinal Bryant was the guy the Playmakers turned to match the toughness and physicality around the rim of Championship Sport’s Blake Charboneau. Not many more talented guards in the 2019 class.

Blake Dockery  6-2  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Baldwin): With 6-7 junior Ethan Ancick injured, P45 needed rebounding where they could find it and Dockery came up big on the glass for the 17U silver bracket champions. Strong first step and finishes well, and is that much more dangerous when playing a half-second behind because the quickness remains a plus even then. Good tools and coachable, but college chances will be as a point guard so needs to work on skill level, decision making, recognizing game situations.

Omari Duncan  6-4  Jr  Comrades United (Carman Ainsworth): Was joined by high school teammate, junior point guard Ja’kavien Lewis, in the final to conclude 17U championship run. Duncan projects as a tweener but is versatile and plays hard. Slasher, active on the glass where he can play bigger than his height, sets tough screens.

Nick Jungel  6-7  Jr  Camp Darryl (Olivet): Went from tall, active 4, to tall, active, strong 4. Cleared the glass and ran rim to rim. Jump hook in the lane off either shoulder. All the MIAA and WHAC will want him, and all the GLIAC will want to see him. Needs to show he can step out and check stretch 4s.

Jalen Kelso  6-0  Jr  Michigan Eagles (Walled Lake Northern): He has more to work with than on past editions of this team, which is coached by his father hall of famer Ben Kelso. The younger version has long played with the right intent, now that he’s matured and filled out physically is able to follow all the way through more consistently. Did a lot of damage once he got a shoulder into his defender, made the Eagles’ fast break hum hitting some athletic but not especially skilled guys on the money so they had no choice but to finish the score. Kelso needs to finish more chin to the rim, off the glass as he’s not big or explosive enough to make his preferred mode, over the time, an efficient shot.

Lucas Lueder  6-4  So  Champ Sports-Gold (Sanford Meridian): This was already a top five 16U team in Michigan based on their 15U resume. The addition of Lueder raises the ceiling. Sees over defenders and passes like a point guard or can hurt you shooting off screens. All kinds of defensive potential with his length and hoops IQ. Tougher than might think at first glance but still lacks physicality, the punch to finish above the rim. Could rank with guys like Reese Castor, Chandler Turner and Cade Coleman in the next group of 2019 wing prospects after Terry Armstrong and Romeo Weems.

Jaylon Rogers  6-1  Jr  Parallel 45-Green (Frankfort): Can be up and down but was all the way dialed in for a bracket play OT loss to FABE. Rogers made three free throws with time expired to force the extra period. Repeatedly abused FABE’s guards off the dribble and mixed in enough drop offs for layups to keep the second row of defense off balance. It’s when there’s a 6-9 type waiting back there that the decision making and expediency can be tested, but in this game at least it was layup city.

Trever Salani  6-0  So  Parallel 45 16U (Manton): Underclassman starter from Manton’s state semifinalist team, and now for an AAU team that reached the 16U final in Flint. Battled on defense, showed a serious vertical on the glass and knocked down timely three-pointers. Needs to work on handle and overall guard game.

Ashton Sherrell  6-7  Jr  Michigan Playmakers (New Haven): Underrated starting center on New Haven’s state championship team; didn’t have plays run for him with all-state scorers on the wings. Plays a similar role for the Playmakers, an active rebounder and shot blocker. Lanky, bouncy, recovers well. Needs some kind of reliable offense as things progress.

Jackarus Smith  6-3  Jr  FABE (Grand Blanc): Wide-shouldered wing guard who could rebound one end the finish at the other. Hard to keep out of the lane. Could square and redirect defensively. Three-point shot seemed to depend on which game.

Nick Wells  6-2  Jr  North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): He’s one of four returning starters for defending state champ Clarkston. And probably the least well-known. Wells is out there for a reason though and thrives at the subtle stuff, in AAU like in the high school season. Combines smart defense between positioning and beating the ball to the spot, and plays with quick hands. Closes out really well just doesn’t give much room off the catch. A spot up shooter whose offense could benefit from fluidity and diversity. Hard not to recruit if MIAA school.

Early Returns: Prospects Help Cause at Storm Classic

Detroit U-D Jesuit sophomore Julian Dozier belied his age running the point for The Elite’s 17U at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic.

The state travel season really gets underway with the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, the top event in the Midwest this weekend. C2K from Ohio beat the Mustangs to win the 17U title; the Family defeated another Ohio squad the NEO Shooting Stars in 16U; and the 15U crown also went to the Family, a championship game winner over the Michigan Playmakers. Here are some in-state prospects who helped their cause.

Julian Dozier  5-9  So  The Elite 17U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): Did the simple, but rare, things to make The Elite’s high-flying athletes look all the better. Made his plays and deliveries from the foul line instead of over-penetrating and getting swallowed up like so many talented but small point guards. Feel, handle, vision and footwork to slice through traffic. His real playing up, can he grab some of these teammates by the collar, inspire and lead Isiah style? Because talented as they are, there are a couple guys who need a kick in the rear to play team-first, winning basketball.

Justin Fischer  6-3  Jr  TEAM Basketball 17U (Warren De La Salle): Helped TEAM Basketball to an opening round win over the host Storm and then one close half, at least, against the Family in the platinum bracket. Point guard with size and slickness, and DLS fundamentals. Shot is unorthodox, but there’s significant range on it. Fischer made a terrific defensive play against the Family, stopping a two-on-one break with a blocked shot. He doesn’t play as low and explosive as you’d expect from a mid-major prospect, but skills and grades will give him ample college options.

Ja’kavien Lewis  5-10  Jr  1Nation 17U (Flint Carman-Ainsworth): 1Nation was at their best going with a three-headed point guard track team Lewis, PJ Mitchell and Brandon Wade. Lewis competes on the defensive end, and if not passing has a real gift for the right angles and spin to finish around the rim. A consistent shot could be all standing between JK and free college.

Traveon Maddox  6-4  Jr  Warriors 17U (Novi): It’s been fun to watch his evolution from athlete to basketball player. Maddox has really improved with the jumper — it’s not natural looking but he does a good job of keeping the elbow in — opening it up for strong takes to the hole. Big time finisher off the break.  Has the tools and increasingly the mentality to be a lockdown defender.

Nelson McCauley  6-4  Jr  Mustangs 17U (Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills): Natural athlete who moves well, elevates from a standing position and changes ends easily. Loved McCauley’s defense in the winter, how he talked, recovered, closed out high, and rebounded to trigger the break. The offense was on display during the Mustangs’ Sunday run to the championship game, with a comeback over 1Nation in the quarterfinals and an annihilation of the Family in a grudge match semifinal. He attacked the rim with abandon and had a flurry of three-pointers. Can get sloppy sometimes with the one-handed passes. If he plays with this kind of energy consistently, and with his good grades, McCauley is closing in on D1 territory.

Matt Nicholson  6-9  Fr  North Oakland Wolfpack 15U (Clarkston): PT was predictably sparse for Clarkston’s state championship team, but Nicholson clearly made the best of his time on the JV. Took his offense towards the basket instead of fading away. Not big, but not soft and didn’t shy from other bodies not post-whistle physicality.

Max Perez  5-8  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Hudsonville): He impressed last fall at both the Bank Hoops All-State Camp and College Guard Workshop. Perez is even more finely tuned now after a year starting in the O-K Red under Eagles coach Eric Elliott. Ace ball-handler who gets it where he wants in generally the most expedient manner. If he didn’t look young, would never guess his age by how he plays. Was particularly strong operating and closing out games in crunch time. Scholarship player, size will ultimately determine level.

Mark Watts  6-2  So  The Family 16U (Old Redford Academy): Watts had a score to settle in Grand Rapids, as last he was seen in DeVos Country it was in a blowout loss to West Ottawa at the Union Showcase. In age group competition he proved too tough a matchup, the leading scorer as the Family won the 16U title dropping 37 in the championship game over the NEO Shooting Stars. Terrific range and not shy about pulling it — sunk nine from behind the arc in the final — he s but Rocket was more than just a shot-hunter here as we attacked and scored in the lane all weekend. He’ll be a big league recruit off the EYBL a year from now.

Rashad Williams  6-1  Jr  The Family 17U (Wayne): He knocked down eight three-pointers in a Saturday game, and closed out the weekend with 18 points against the Mustangs. Versatile, stone scorer with the mentality to produce regardless the circumstances. Type of Michigan guard who will go mid-major and average 17 his second season.


Storm Classic: Recruit these pool games

Grand Rapids is once again home to the Storm Classic, the most prestigious travel basketball tournament in Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Storm Classic is open to all college coaches except D1. Combine that setup and what continues to be a very deep 2018 class, there will be some serious GLIAC, MIAA, WHAC and juco recruiting being done outside of the super pool games. Below are some pool games ripe with college prospects that coaches should check out. All are in the senior-to-be division.

Click here for the full schedule.

MBA vs. Parallel 45 (White), 6:15 pm Friday Ct. 5: MBA will have a mixed group due to spring break, including Muskegon Heights junior DeCarri Brown, 6-5 East Kentwood junior D’Avery Moore, 6-3 Rockford junior Ty Thiel, 6-9 Harper Creek junior Ryan McCafferty, Portage Northern sophomore guard Devin Marshall and Luke Maranka, a 6-8 home-schooled sophomore from Hudsonville. For P45, D2s will be all over one of the state’s most productive inside-outside forwards this winter, 6-7 Walled Lake Northern junior Ethan Ancick. His teammates are deep at guard, including four who just played at the Breslin Center, Buckley juniors Denver Cade and Joey Weber in the Class D final, and Manton juniors Jayden Perry and Hunter Ruell in the Class C semifinals.

North Oakland Wolfpack vs. The Francise, 8:45 pm Friday Ct. 5: The Wolfpack were a top 10 in-state team at both the 16U and 15u levels, and add some new blood to that original core. There are a number of Clarkston state champions in the mix, most notably junior point guard CJ Robinson whom GLIAC schools will be looking at here. Their top newcomer is 6-6 L’anse Creuse junior Davion Moore, a bull around the basket. The Franchise has one of the state’s most attractive unsigned senior recruits in Southfield A&T’s Brandon Rucker, given his athleticism at 6-7 and good grades.

Grand Rapids Storm (George) vs. Michigan United, 9:15 am Saturday Ct. 1: United likes to play a zone but for how long when the Storm can counter with Forest Hills Central junior Tyler George shooting deep and 6-4 Jenison junior Colton Ritsema in the short corner? The Storm’s top prospect is Forest Hills Central junior Ryan Dunn who is 6-5 and can play the 1, 2 or 3. Small schools will want to check out United’s center Kyle Hensley, a 6-7 junior from Parkway Christian with a strong base, who walls off well on D and hits shots going either way in the lane.

West Michigan Lakers vs. Detroit Spartans, 9:15 am Saturday Ct. 6: The Lakers have their first D1 guard prospect since Korey VanDussen. Like KVD, Coloma’s Zach Goodline will play up on 17U as a sophomore. The Lakers always seem to come up with size for their 17U team that wasn’t there the previous spring. That’s the case again with 6-8 Spring Lake junior Sam Johnson and 6-9 Watervliet junior Dan Cluster. The Spartans rarely play in-state, so this will be a good chance for their players to be seen by schools that actually recruit Michigan.

Michigan Playmakers vs. Parallel 45 (Green), 10:30 am Saturday Ct. 1: The Playmakers may wear green are always one of the most blue-collar outfits in the state. 6-6 Cass Tech junior Randy Gilbert has a plethora of offensive tools and is poised for a breakout summer. 6-5 Detroit King junior Antonio Marshall is a tough, versatile wing defender. Junior guard Tavares Oliver was the sixth man for Class B state champion New Haven. What P45 lacks in size they make up for with passing and shooting, the cornerstone of 75 wins for the core of this group at the 16U and 15U levels. They feature a two-headed point guard in Frankfort junior Jaylon Rogers and Marine City Cardinal Mooney junior Daniel Everhart. 6-3 junior Austin Harris gained GLIAC favor with his performance for Buckley in the state finals and 6-3 Frankfort junior Matt Loney turned heads last week with his defense against Hazel Park all-state guard Carl Bow. 6-4 junior Seth Mann is a coach’s dream, lights out shooter with Petoskey toughness and a 4.0 gpa, bookending as a wing who can play big with athletic 6-4 Boyne City junior Mason Gardner.

Elite Nation vs. TEAM Basketball, 3:30 PM Saturday Ct. 2: Elite Nation returns most of the key parts from what was one of the state’s top 16U teams, and add 6-6 DeWitt junior Luke Hyde and Goodrich guard Carrington Wiggins. EN’s top prospect is 6-7 junior Mason Pline, who didn’t dominate like his physical tools would suggest in the winter for Fowler, where he could be a Class D Charles Barkley, but perhaps has a game best-suited for AAU. He’s a D2 lock with the possibility to move up. TEAM Basketball was also very good at the 16U level and are built around triumvirate of scholarship guards 6-3 point Justin Fischer from Warren De La Salle, 6-2 slasher Nate Davis from Rochester Stoney Creek and 6-4 marksman Jason Dietz of Troy. Also from Troy 6-6 junior Danny Sully is a long-armed athlete whom coaches will hope matches up with the versatile Hyde though he may have to defend up against Pline and 6-6 junior Josh Perkins from Ypsilanti.


Bank Hoops 2017 All-State

Junior Foster Loyer was the leading scorer on Clarkston’s Class A state championship team. He’s committed to Michigan State.

Bank Hoops Player of the Year

Foster Loyer  5-11  Jr  Clarkston: Loyer scored 29 points in the championship game after 32 in the semis to lead Clarkston to its first state title, a performance that ranks with Pershing’s Keith Appling in 2009 and Flint Northern’s Mateen Cleaves in 1995 as the most dominating Class A finals from a junior guard in the past 25 years. Like Appling and Cleaves, he’ll play at Michigan State. In the regular season he averaged 25.4 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Loyer shot .469 percent from three-point range and .957 percent from the foul line.

Bank Hoops All-State

Greg Elliott  6-4  Sr  Detroit East English Village: One of the most rapidly rising recruits in the country during his senior season, in which Elliott became Bank Hoops’ No. 2 college prospect in the 2017 class as he earned offers from Marquette, MSU and Providence. He scored nearly 10 points more per game as a senior than junior, with averages of 28 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. A Mr. Basketball finalist and voted Mr. PSL.

Malik Ellison  5-8  Sr  Flint Beecher:  He led Beecher to its third consecutive state title, scoring 32 in the Class C championship game.  Ellison averaged 26 points, 5.5 assists and four steals per game, including 63 points against Class B state champion New Haven. Bank Hoops’ Class C player of the year. Committed to Eastern Michigan.

Brandon Johns  6-8  Jr  East Lansing: Led East Lansing to its second straight 20-0 regular season. Johns averaged 20.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per game. He has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa, Pitt, Alabama and Texas.

Isaiah Livers  6-8  Sr  Kalamazoo Central: Mr. Basketball. Led Kalamazoo Central to a Class A regional title. He averaged 18 points, 14 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, while shooting 54 percent from the field, 45 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the line. Livers signed with Michigan.

Xavier Tillman  6-9  Sr  Grand Rapids Christian: Led the Eagles to the Class A state final, scoring 25 in the championship games. Bank Hoops Class A player of the year. Averaged 13.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 4.1 blocks per game. Signed with Michigan State.