Parallel 45 Locks It Down in Kazoo

Parallel 45’s Green team celebrates its 17U championship with the tournament’s namesake at the venerable Camp Darryl Classic.

If you believe the stereotype that there’s no defense in AAU, you missed Parallel 45-Green’s run to the 17U championship of the 16th-annual Camp Darryl Classic. Only one team in Kalamazoo broke 50 points on their aggressive halfcourt man-to-man, and the Macomb County Cougars lost in the final 60-51. The West Michigan Lakers averaged 96 points in a pair of pool play wins, but saw that output halved in the semifinals with P45 prevailing 65-48.

Austin Harris was named the tournament MVP. The 6-4 Buckley junior averaged over 20 points per game through the semifinals, including his team’s first 16 in a 69-47 quarterfinal win over West Michigan Elite. He shot the ball with the confidence the entire state saw back in the Michigan Class D state finals, and ends the spring AAU season firmly back on college coaches’ radars as one of the most skilled, versatile big guards in the 2018 class.

Joining Harris on the all-tournament team were a pair of Frankfort juniors 6-1 Jaylon Rogers and 6-3 Matt Loney. Not many point guards are as strong and athletic finishers as Rogers, who comes in fast but drops in soft shots at the rim. He was a load in the semifinals attacking the West Michigan Lakers’ 6-8 Carter Nyp and 6-10 Dan Cluster, while taking it personally and competing hard defensively against his ballyhooed point guard opposite Coloma sophomore Zach Goodline. Loney is an aggressive two-way guard Jerry Sloan sort of throwback. Between his wingspan and hoops IQ beats people to the ball defensively and on the glass. He thrived offensively with an old school array of mid-range jumpers and pull-ups off the glass.

The addition of 6-9 Lakeland junior Cass Phillips has been a God-send to a Parallel 45 lineup that’s lacked a true post both in its 16u season then again for most of the spring. That had created a ceiling for what was still a talented team, in 2016 they were eliminated in six straight tournaments by the ultimate champion. But here’s Phillips to trigger the running game off the glass, collapse defenders to open up shooters, defend the rim so the defense can be extended, score off the catch and finish, tips and free throws. Separates himself from a lot of young bigs by how he runs hard and competes consistently. Showed athletic ability when got out on the court to make plays out on the floor for loose balls, a couple times taking it all the way for a score. Similar to Matt Costello, stylistically. Another downstate newcomer this season has proved invaluable. 6-0 Cardinal Mooney junior Daniel Everhart gives P45 another strong, aggressive driver when Rogers isn’t on the floor, or allows him to play off the ball as a scoring wing when paired together. Everhart is a smart A to B point guard who knows when to pick his spots offensively and hit pull-up jumpers throughout the weekend in the halfcourt and out of transition.

Phillips in the lineup allowed a pair of 6-4 juniors Boyne City’s Mason Gardner and Petoskey’s Seth Mann to play their natural wing forward position. Gardner had rededicated himself with a great practice earlier in the week and played hard and produced the entire tournament. A hybrid player who can check out on the floor or block shots; athletic yet may still underestimate physical advantages and could more often go over/through a defender at the rim than around him. Mann gives a clinic on moving without the ball, popping open for timely three-pointers or curling for looks at the rim. Good fundamentals as a defender and rebounder but will take more strength and weight for it to work at the college level. With a true center, 6-6 Boyne City junior Dylon Williams has thrived in his minutes as the backup post, getting better seemingly by the game. He’s raw, eager and just figuring things out, but D3s have expressed interest because he’s built like a college player and puts on a dunk show in warmups.

According to tournament director Darryl Matthews this was likely the best entry the Macomb Cougars have had in the 17U division and was the only team in bracket play to come back and take a second-half lead on P45. Their backcourt carried them for stretches, and were all-tournament picks. 5-11 Arthur Asberry of Warren Cousino and 6-0 Jaylen Blackwell from L’anse Creuse. The Mid-Michigan Lakers won the silver title. Division MVP was their three-point threat guard 6-0 Isaiah Franklin from Holly.

Tulip Tipoff Recruiting Tips

Zeeland West sophomore Mason Bakker is a workhorse forward for the Grand Rapids Storm’s 16U which fell to Parallel 45 in the championship game of the Tulip Tiopff.

While Tulip Time engulfed Holland proper, the Northside once against played host to the Wes Leonard Strength & Honor Tulip Tipoff. TEAM Basketball defeated the home team West Michigan Lakers in the 17U final, Parallel 45 beat the Grand Rapids Storm in the 16U championship game, and in 15U the Storm beat Impact Elite for the crown. These players stood out.

Mason Bakker  6-5  So  Grand Rapids Storm 16U (Zeeland West): Looks cut from the John Shillito lineman quarry in Zeeland. He was a tough cover for Parallel 45 in 15U when they beat the Storm at last summer’s Brawl for the Ball, and nothing had changed when they met again in the championship game here. Horsed kids on the glass but not just a banger, with soft hands and shooting touch.

Isaiah Bridges  6-5  So  HoopGrind 16U (Midland): A mismatch at the high school level. His versatility point towards interesting college possibilities as well. Strong kid who invites contact. Few players in Michigan’s 2019 class can match his post repertoire, motor on the glass or how he triggers the transition game. But he can also step out and keep defenses honest with the shot or pass or pick-and-roll game. Coaches will want to figure out what positions he can guard.

Justin Fischer  6-3  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Warren De La Salle): Coming off a tough weekend at Spiece, TEAM was short-handed to start the tournament, and looked sluggish even as the bracket played out. But by the championship game against the host team they were humming and as always Fischer has a lot to do with it. TEAM Basketball has a wider array of options this season and Fischer knows the personnel and is able to find their sweet spots whether underneath or spotting up. One of the two best passers in the 2018 class along with Trevion Williams. College coaches want to see more consistent scoring threat. You want your ponit guard to win and Fischer does that. With victories over the Storm and Lakers in both teams’ home tournaments, TEAM has solidified its rep as one of the top three unaffiliated 17U teams in Michigan, along with REACH and the Michigan Warriors. TEAM Basketball and REACH will play May 27 at the Up North Challenge in Mt. Pleasant.

Justin Fox  5-11  Jr  MBA  (Grand Rapids Union): Did a lot of things you want from the 1 controlled tempo, was a threat to score from different spots, created in the lane good looks with dishes to his big Hayden Stauffer or pitches to spot up shooters. Union is in a run of seeing guards break out as college prospects during their senior seasons, and Fox is poised to be next.

Bryce Lott  6-3  So  Parallel 45 16U (Davison): One-time hustling tweener and role player who continues to flourish on the wing with offensive confidence. Can shoot it off the catch and also finishes with ups and toughness on the break and halfcourt drives or cuts.

Vernon Nash  5-7  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm (Muskegon): Terrific pushing the tempo. There are a lot of fast 15U guards. Nash is different because he makes smart decisions at full speed. He’s not at a loss as a halfcourt guard either despite his size, tough to find out there. When he and another quick, clever point guard Max Perez were out there together the Storm was hard to handle.

Drew Pedersen  6-3  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (West Ottawa):  One of the reasons West Ottawa will contend for a return to top 10 status. Wing shooter is perfect for the Panthers’ pretty passing offense. Pedersen plays similarly off the ball for the Lakers. Perpetual motion, he wears down defenders working both sides of the offensive court searching for screens and jumpers. Similar to a player he faced in the 17U final TEAM Basketball’s Jason Dietz tough to close out on with their deep releases. Will also beat you with the backdoor. Neither his high school nor AAU teams play full-time man so coaches will want to learn what he can do on that end.

Cass Phillips  6-9  Jr  Parallel 45 (Lakeland): Resurfacing post prospect fit in smoothly, running to the rim, cleaning up the offensive glass and providing a post threat off the left block. Moves easily and should be able to get out on the floor and check stretch 4s. Doesn’t shy from contact and can target the ball outside his area; started rebounding with an attitude as the tournament went on. Spacing, timing, instinct, tentative feet need to improve, but there were enough flashes of potential to intrigue as a next level prospect.

Zach Trent  6-2  So  Parallel 45 16U (Burton Bentley): Broke free of a slump a comeback which found Trent the leading scorer in the 16U final. Even when his shot wasn’t falling found ways to contribute as a physical defender and rebounder. Has the size to bully his way to free throws, and 1s if he looked to complete drives more often. Low risk recruit who will max out talent and star in the classroom.

Solomon White  6-0  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Forest Hills Eastern): Complements Storm point guards Max Perez and Vernon Nash. White keeps the court spread for them with his shooting threat, but isn’t stationary will also cut and score has nice feel and is tough around the rim. Probably projects as college point guard so needs to keep working on ball skills.

Dlano Woods  5-11  Jr  Michigan United (Chippewa Valley): He was a dangerous lefty scorer as a 16U player who has really improved and will now eat you up with passes if overplayed. Battle tested not exactly doing it at Podunk U., Chippewa Valley is one of the state’s 10 largest schools.


Spiece Standouts

He may have a mask and new AAU uniform, but it’s still the same versatile, productive Thomas Kithier, the Dakota forward headed to Michigan State.

We’ve been covering the Spiece Run-n-Slam since before it was the Hensley Memorial, and before there was a Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne, when the tournament was played on campus at Purdue. Even back then it was a proving ground for Michigan players. Though the field lacks the national scope of its peak years, with 250 high school age teams from the Midwest it’s still one of the strongest spring events going outside of the EYBL.

Michigan’s top performing 17U team was the Family, which was knocked out by eventual champion All Ohio Red in the platinum semifinals. The Mustangs won the silver bracket. In 16U GreenWood and the Mustangs reached the platinum quarterfinals .In 15U the Family made the platinum quarters and the West Michigan Lakers the gold final. Here are some local players who performed well.

Marcus Bingham  6-10  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): The Hoosier state has been kind to him. Bingham entertains offers from Butler and Purdue, he became a national name at the Indianapolis EYBL stop, and then came out and furthered his reputation at Spiece. Got the better of ballyhooed 6-9 NBA scion Pete Nance of the Akron Bobcats, who is too stiff and unnatural when pushed away from the basket but was dwarfed by Bingham’s wingspan when he tried to do what he is good at, scoring in the lane. Meanwhile Marcus shot it easily from various spots and even showed flashes of an off-the-dribble game. Later on in the tournament he was reminded even if this isn’t the Nike circuit, talent will always run deep in an event full of Midwestern teams. Watch out below, Darweshi Hunter dunk show coming through.

Maliq Carr  6-6  Fr  Family 15U (Oak Park): Has a Syracuse offer for football so not surprisingly doesn’t shy from contact. One of three Family forwards who can suck down rebounds. Talks and competes with a hoops IQ you don’t necessarily expect at that size and age, but do given his basketball pedigree. Smart, deliberate passer. Loves knocking down shots from the elbow.

Nigel Colvin  5-11  So  GreenWood 16U (River Rouge): Looks like a running back, 5-11 and fast. Uses that speed to get open off screens, close out on shooters and even sprint back on defense after his own misses. Plays more off the ball with River Rouge teammate  Khalid Fleming or 6-6 Cade Coleman the most likely point guards, and Colvin is dangerous shooting or slashing from the wings.

Taylor Currie  6-9  So  All Ohio Red 16U (Clarkston): He’d left a favorable impression as the starting center on Clarkston’s state championship team, and did nothing but help his cause here particularly with a 33-point performance against the Family. Particularly with Romeo Weems in and out of the lineup and not 100 percent with cramps, the Family didn’t have anyone who could handle Currie’s post play scoring off either shoulder. He also made 3-of-4 three-pointers and handled his business on the glass, active and keeps the ball high. The best big in Michigan’s 2019 class, and easy to see the U-M, Wisconsin interest.

Jason Dietz  6-4  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Troy): While TEAM was up and down, Dietz shot it well throughout the weekend. D2 coaches like how he has college wing size.

Zach Goodline  5-10  So  West Michigan Lakers (Coloma): Last we saw the Lakers’ 17U, they were beating the Family in the July 2016 Brawl for the Ball. That group was led by a small guard with a ton of chutzpah, Avery Hudson. The 2017 Lakers turn to a new small but fearless point guard, Goodline. We found them in the gold playoffs against The Elite. And with Elite’s Lamar Norman, Terry Armstrong, Julian Dozier and Anthony Crump on the court, it was Goodline leaving mouths ajar as he controlled tempo while creating space and knocking down shots at will. He scored 28 in the Lakers’ win over Elite, a group which had been playing well nationally on the Adidas “gauntlet.” Goodline is the most skilled score/pass/create point guard in Michigan’s 2019 class. Size will determine his college level.

CJ Haut  6-8  Jr  Mustangs (Monroe St Mary): Really coming on, and it looks like SMCC’s streak of all-staters might continue. Natural shot blocker, changes ends, surprised with shooting touch. Shoots jumphook with either hand. Coachable and quick learner. With academic side will have a lot of options; NAIA floor that GLIACS weren’t saying no to.

Jamoni Jones  5-11  Fr  GreenWood 15U (East Kentwood): Part of a potent three-guard lineup with speedy, slight Edwin Victory and versatile scoring muscle guard Jarvis Walker. Jones is at his best when it gets a bit messy and hectic, jumping passes, turning the ball over for layups and his preferred three-point shot out of transition. Passes on the break when the dribble isn’t necessary and makes smart decisions even if doesn’t always look like a natural playmaker.  Needs to work on getting space against bigger defenders to get the same quality looks in the half court. Does have the requisite point guard runner.

Thomas Kithier  6-8  Jr  All Ohio Red (Macomb Dakota): A statement tournament for AOR, which turned to its depth in winning the 17U title without the services of stalwarts Foster Loyer and Vincent Williams. This was Kithier’s chance to step up with his newest AAU team, and he was particularly good against’s last year’s squad the Family. He looked like a prototype MSU inside/outside 4 who could bang in the post and the glass while having the feet to get out on the floor and defend.

Devin Marshall  5-11  So  MBA-King (Portage Northern): The quickest guard on what will be a 16U team coaches want to see in July. They also have one of 2019’s sleeper recruits 6-9 home schooled sophomore Luke Maranka.

Lamar Norman  6-2  Jr  The Elite (Wyoming Godwin Heights): From Grand Rapids and free from the Detroit media mafia echo chamber, Norman may have been the only one from The Elite who knew what he was getting into against the Lakers, a program of tough Lakeshore kids who love nothing more than to knock off hyped up Eastsiders. Which is exactly what they did. But Norman played hard the whole way. Didn’t let the game come to him, went out and forced the issue and created points by winning 50-50 balls, getting rebounds.

Mark Watts  6-2  So  Family 16U (Old Redford Academy): Even shooters as good as Watts can have their flow go off stream. In two Family losses, he scored two second-half points. As he matures will find ways to make his coach keep him on the court even when he’s not scoring; the rarefied air of the finisher, winner and champion.

Trevion Williams  6-8  Jr  Family (Henry Ford Academy): Finding his wind and touch, coming back from an ankle injury. Williams looked more active than the prior weekend in Indianapolis. The mitts never left and there were flashes showing why he may be the best passer in Michigan regardless position. Williams seemed to find it easier to power and tip his way to points than against EYBL bodies and peaked with a vintage 20-20 effort against C2K.

Wide Awake in Naptown

Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s 6-10 junior Marcus Bingham is one of the hottest recruits in the Midwest for the Spiece Indy Heat.

All recruiting eyes were on Indianapolis for the second and final weekend of the spring live recruiting period. We were able to see Michigan talent at Nike’s 17U and 15U EYBL events, the Under Armour Association tour stop, the Terrific 24 and Adidas Spring Classic. Here are some of the standout performers.

Marcus Bingham  6-10  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): April has been the first time most schools have seen Bingham. The offers are flowing after he followed up flashes at Boo Williams with production in Indy. 7-4 wingspan, runner, shooter who can get the college coaches’ imaginations rolling on the sideline. He’s added offers from a whole new level of programs from Washington then Xavier, Butler and Purdue.

Gabe Brown  6-7  Jr  Family (Belleville): Doesn’t do a bad James Young impression when the lefty gets in rhythm off the catch. Saved his best for last sinking 4-of-5 three-pointers en route to 22 points as the Family got a much-needed win. He does more than that though which really appeals to coaches, able to catch opponents off guard with one-dribble dunks, and using effort, length and athleticism to be a versatile defender. Brown came out of the weekend with now double-digit offers having added Loyola (Chicago), Buffalo and Cleveland State.

Denver Cade  6-2  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Buckley): Plays with competitiveness, toughness, pride. Keeps coming at you and will pile up points and there’s 20 by the end. Is increasingly progressing from prolific streak shooter to a cash machine when left open. Strong going downhill to counter the jumper, but lacks explosion as a finisher. The same traits mentioned above make Cade a competent, plus defender.

Reece Castor  6-5  So  GreenWood 16U (Gladstone): Has improved in two areas we hoped since last seeing him at the fall Bank Hoops All-State Camp — shooting off the catch and squaring and keeping up with athletic wings defensively. Shoots it off the shoulder but with a quick release whether from the corner in halfcourt sets or kickouts to the wing on the break. Counters jumper with strong drives. Not a blazer but good frame, long arms help him defensively. Needs to use that size and toughness on the glass more consistently, keep hands high and resist just being an observer. Looks like MAC/Horizon/Missouri Valley level.

Mike Fletcher  6-7  So  GreenWood 16U (Carman-Ainsworth): His physical advantages are more pronounced in age group play than when we saw Fletcher against upperclassmen in the winter. Has the base to clog the lane and wingspan to defend the rim. Quicker than he looks and can pounce out from the paint to get deflections in passing lanes. Offensively has an effective hook, can pass from the high post and shows touch on his turnaround jumper. Like how he interacts and competes, team player. Will need a couple more inches to truly realize the whole Nick Ward thing.

Luke Hyde  6-7  Jr  Elite Nation (DeWitt): Has put on a lot of good weight and looks more college ready than many of his peers in a deep 2018 forward class. Seems to give him more confidence finishing, playing big. Works hard on the glass and has an easy shot that’s out to 20 feet. Not a wing, not a 4, just a generic, sound, all-around forward.

Brandon Johns  6-8  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (East Lansing): He already has a season of 17U EYBL on the resume, so there was no room in his belly for butterflies, just fire. Gained Memphis, Missouri offers. And for the critics, how “soft” is this move?

Carlos Johnson  6-6  Fr  Family 15U (Benton Harbor): Rebounding is one trait and stat that carries over, trans level and Johnson attacked the glass in age group competition with the same hunger he did in piling up all-state glass numbers in the winter. Like an older Family kid Romeo Weems he’s a plus athlete with early accolades who separates himself to elite status with his motor. The flat, funky shot was dropping from three-point range and other, so we’ll stand by the comparison we stole from a college coach who saw Johnson this winter, Buckets (LaDontae Henton) with a jumper.

Foster Loyer  5-11  Jr  All Ohio Red (Clarkston): Even having cracked Rivals top 100 looked still considerably underrated. Takes everyone’s best shot and against elite national talent continued to wear them down with toughness, poise and uncanny shot making. In command down the stretch, a leader and finisher at point guard when wins are on the line. He’s led AOR to first place in their EYBL division after two weeks, a game ahead of Chicago Mean Streets. He had a 31-point game in Indy and has made 59-of-59 free throws over eight league games.

Austin McCullough  6-4  Sr  GreenWood (Portage Central): With Jason Whitens to WMU, McCullough is the state’s top unsigned 2017 wing prospect. He came out of the live period with his second D1 offer, from Niagara. Though he’s Portage Central’s all-time scorer wasn’t a volume shooter there and was at his best for GreenWood at the Terrific 24 shooting off the catch instead of the dribble in a pretty standard, slow, take turns AAU offense. Raw, rangy athlete who could improve rapidly with college coaching and a college weight program.

Carter Nyp  6-8  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (Wayland): A near 180 from the Lakers’ last 6-8 Wayland power forward, Zach Nieuwkoop whose bury ’em under the basket game has moved just up the road to Davenport. Nyp is a left-handed pick-and-pop specialist who is never shy with the wing three-pointer and is also effective shooting over defenders looking down from a hi-lo. Can be awkwardly effective off the dribble with a long step and extensive release point. Plays too upright and isn’t explosive enough to do that against more athletic wing defenders. To be a shooter you have to be able to guard a shooter, and that’s where Nyp can struggle because he doesn’t close out so much as lunge.

Jayden Perry  5-7  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Manton): Follows in the Parallel 45 lexicon Keegan LaBlance and Gunnar Libby as small guards with big games. Loves pulling up on the break for the 3 or has the ability to create space to get it off otherwise. Good shot selection and gets teammates involve. Size will turn off some but coaches who liked Chad Carlson in the MIAA will give him a a look.

Shayne Scruggs  6-6  Jr  1Nation (Lansing Sexton): Middle school phenom reclaiming his rep. Used strength, leverage, toughness to combat and compete on the glass against bigger kids in the Under Armour league.

Jalen Terry  5-11  Fr  Family (Flint Beecher): The torch has been passed, Terry looks poised to become a three-time all-state point guard for Beecher. Unleashed against age group competition playing at a face pace, was often unguardable with his speed and quickness getting to the rim. With a natural handle and poise, able to keep happy a lineup full of future D1 kids one of the most talented 15U teams in America. Then had the pg bona fides to do like Foster Loyer was doing up with All Ohio Red, making the right plays in crunch time.

Carrington Wiggins  6-1  Jr  Elite Nation (Goodrich): Part of a deep Elite Nation backcourt that includes Malik Jones, Garvin Crout and Matt Havey and helped them to the silver title at the Adidas Spring Classic. Wiggins is physically stronger than last AAU season which helps get things done as he’s long known how to play. Consistent shot, makes smart decisions with the ball, and has active hands on defense.