Kook G Rap: Furniture City Homeboys Represent

Before they made beer, they made furniture. They’ve always made basketball players in West Michigan.

Before the beer. Before the DeVos subsidization. When it was repressed not trendy. Grand Rapids was as solid as the industry it was known for, making furniture. The athletes retain those roots, more action, less talk, than their Eastside cousins. These were some of the top performers from Grand Rapids natives or West Michigan clubs at the Best of the Midwest tournament.

Marcus Bingham  6-10  Sr  Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): Though he seemed to run out of gas as it went on, Bingham had a strong overall tournament, befitting the highest ranked recruit from Grand Rapids since Drew Neitzel in 2004. Every game he hit a couple shots, be they three-pointers or turnaround jumpers, that were rare for a player his size (7-4 wingpsan) and age (just recently turned 17). Was very good on Saturday looking like a true forward with his three-pointers and defensive versatility. Even with his rapid improvement, that first year at MSU will be a tough one for Bingham as he gets stronger and continues to learn the game. Given his track record over the past year, it would be unwise to bet against him.

Jacob Boonyasith  6-3  Sr  Grand Rapids Storm (Jenison): Fully recovered from a broken wrist and reclaiming his status as one of the most gifted, easy scoring guards in the 2018 class. Not rushed by defensive pressure, always plays at his own pace as he manufactures points. Feel, skill and pace will allow him to play some stretches of point at next level. David Kool certainly didn’t leave the cupboard barren as with a healthy senior campaign Boonyasith is easily one of the best players in school history. I’d encourage West Coast mid-majors to check him out this week in Vegas, he has the right offensive aesthetic and high grades.

Ryan Corner  6-9  So  Impact Elite 15U (Allendale): Nice to see improvement in a young big kid and June appears to have done well by Corner, who moved more confidently than in May AAU. Length looked right at home in IE’s tough semifinal loss to the eventual champion Family. Clarkston’s Matt Nicholson may be the only taller player in the state’s 2020 class. Looking forward to seeing Ryan in a different context at the drill stations of the Underclassman All-State Camp.

Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp August 5

Zach Goodline  5-10  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (Coloma): He looks like he sneaked over from the 12U court. But once he starts dribbling transforms to a Big3 vet. Paging Special Ed, it was the youngest in charge beginning Thursday when Goodline QB’d a second-half comeback against the Storm keeping the Lakers’ win streak intact against the host team. It ended in a Sunday semifinal when long stretches of this game were controlled by this potential 2,000-point high school scorer. Snap conclusions based on his appearance work to Goodline’s advantage as a defender has to suspend disbelief to deal with the barrage of dimes and free-up moves for shots coming at him in purple. The Brailen Neely playalike claimed status as the top small point guard in Michigan’s 2019 class over Julian Dozier as the Lakers dismantled the Elite (which was loaded at the time with Lamar Norman, Gary Solomon and Terry Armstrong) back at the Run-n-Slam. But it was on another level when he delivered the Goods against the Spiece Indy Heat and Tyger Campbell “DePaul’s top recruit in 20 years.”  The Lakers, trying to avenge last summer’s championship game loss to the Indy Heat, led until the final two minutes of the semifinals. The next Laker legend from a program that graduated Kyle Steigenga, Coreantae DeBerry, Korey VanDussen, Jake VanTubbergen and Wes Hudson.

Payton Harley  6-2  Sr  Grand Rapids Storm (Godwin Heights): He’s long been teamed with more publicized teammates. Harley has continued to work, improve, contribute to team successes and as things shake out he’s still standing while some more hyped prospects from around the state have risen and fallen. Dials in on defense and isn’t just a gimmick guy getting steals off pressure, will lock in with toughness, see helpside and talk in the halfcourt. He’s really matured as a decision maker when to mix it up and find his own offense, and is money with the pullup.

Markeese Hastings  6-6  Sr  1Nation (Godwin Heights): The 17U final saw 1Nation go super small ball with Hastings at the 5 in a four-guard offense, and they simply ran and shot their way past a Spiece Indy Heat squad starting three players at least 6-8. Hastings, the more renowned prospect for most of their adolescence, took his matchup with Marcus Bingham personally, a couple of times going chest-to-chest to finish over the future Spartan. He was just as good in a pool play loss to Spiece. Hastings can also finesse you and finish going either way, with either hand. It’s rare talent who is a high motor rebounder on defense then can beat you with a euro to finish the break. Combine that ability with a winning background and the maturity to go consistently hard without having plays run for him, thus he’s one of my favorite recruits. For improvement, he’s a good shot blocker but help-side slides need to get sharper; consistency on jumpshots and free throws.

Jamoni Jones  6-0  So  Greenwood (East Kentwood): Part of a talented three-headed guard attack with a pair of other Westside sophomores, Mona Shores power guard Jarvis Walker and slight Grand Rapids Christian point guard EJ Victory. Jones isn’t just a system athlete that sometimes excels for EK, he has the basketball acumen to make point guard decisions while maintaining a quick pace. A tough one-one-one cover because he’s quick through the lane to finish and has really improved his shooting, and despite all that doesn’t have to score to beat you.

Conner Kok  6-4  Jr  Sporting U (Grand Rapids South Christian): He and another 6-4 Sailor Luke Schrotenboer both averaged 15 points per game as Sporting U reached the 16U gold final. Schrotenboer is more of a strong, athletic slashing wing, while Kok is a lanky point guard. Kok had two older brothers play at Sout Christian with similar physical profiles, but didn’t have the same feel with the ball. One of a number of dangerous shooters who spread the floor for SU, he sets the tone up top playing with an edge and toughness.

Nathan Lauer  6-2  Jr  MBA 16U (Caledonia): Nice looking two guard prospect. He beats you from all three levels with an easy release from 20 feet, good elevation on the pullup and some athleticism to finish at the cup. Has the tools to contribute more defensively, strength pending.

Seth Millner  6-5  Sr  The Family (Grand Rapids Christian): He scored well in limited minutes on the EYBL and has benefited from a revamped Family lineup, getting more tick and touches. Used to being patient having bid time last year ast GR Christian’s fourth option, Millner has cashed in on the opportunity and offers have come as a result most recently from Toledo. Ideal size on the wing and utilizes it with a versatile, fundamental offensive package. Will beat you off the catch, the cut, the post or attacking with the dribble. Heads up, fundamentally sound on D. Needs to expand range and consistency from deep.

Vernon Nash  5-7  So  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Muskegon): Skill and speed rule the day in 15U ball so it doesn’t matter if the Storm’s backcourt of Nash and Hudsonville’s Max Perez is one of the smallest in the state. It’s also one of the best. Nash is strong with the ball but can just as easily play off of Perez and knock down three-pointers in flurries.

Lamar Norman  6-2  Sr  1Nation (Godwin Heights): A late arrival due to the Under Armour All-American camp, Norman got back home just in time for 1Nation’s track meet win over TEAM Basketball to begin their tournametn run. The following day he proved wrong guy to talk junk to, which apparently happened before the semifinals. Only Foster Loyer has accomplished more than Lamar among the members of the 2018 class, one which includes eight Big Ten commitments. Just look up his name with the Bank Hoops search function. He’s been putting on since he was a freshman winning a state championship. 1Nation beat the Family in that semifinal then won the final putting a running clock on the Spiece Indy Heat. When the jumper is falling to counter the fastbreak blitz, there’s not a high school guard in America who can hold him under 20.

Emcee Williams  5-11  So  Impact Elite 15U (Reeths- Puffer): If a tile falls from a gym ceiling, check if Impact Elite is playing it may just be one of Emcee’s jumpshots knocked it loose. Follow the rainbows. That’s the first thing that stands out about his game. Then he counters the three-pointers with a knack for finishing at the basket for a smaller guard, especially beneficial at the 15U level where so much is an adventure and any sort of consistency is treasured. While too many kids try to go over the top and look pretty — an incredible tough angle and shot unless you’re gonna go all the way and dunk it — Williams is able to, even with defensive contact, lay the ball off the glass like your gym teacher taught you. He tortured the Family with both scoring approaches, not backing down athletically or skill-wise against one of the top five 15U squads in America. Impact Elite led at halftime of the semifinal, which was back-and-forth until the closing minute.

More Windy City Winners

Michigan Playmakers sophomore Wendell Green showed at the Chicago Summer Jam why he has offers from Cleveland State, Detroit and Eastern Michigan.

A steady flow of D2 and mid-major coaches were on hand to see the Michigan talent and others at the Chicago Summer Jam. Here are some of the Day 2 and 3 17U standouts from the good side of the Lake.

Johnny Davis  6-8  Sr  Moneyball East (Detroit Pershing): His father of the same name was a Brad Daugherty-style widebody center from Detroit Douglass who for much of his career was ranked ahead of another in-state center from the 2000 class, Chris Kaman. Johnny Jr’s game couldn’t be more different. He’s mobile and active so when in a generous mindframe one thinks he could become a versatile, impact defender like Spider Johnson. Has the physical tools but kind of a tease when it comes to consistent production. Needs to define himself offensively.

Lawrence DeWolf  6-2  Sr  Common Bond (Ann Arbor Huron): A three-point specialist on the outstanding Gators teams from previous seasons, DeWolf is still doing his thing just with more clock and shots on Common Bond. He and high school teammate Lewis Willis play so well off each other. They thrive on the break with DeWolf making a beeline to the arc creating so much space for Willis to attack the paint with his dribble. Shooter’s mindset shrugging off misses and firing away on his next catch. Did a decent job defending often bigger wings and forwards. Coaches will want to see if he can give them a reason to keep him in the game, even when the shot’s not going down.

Marcus Evans  6-3  Sr  Mustangs-Hogan (Redford Union): Watch out for RU High they have a number of good players on this Mustangs outfit with including Evans and guard Amir Huston. Evans is the kind of guy you hate to play against but love as a teammate, an undersized forward who will go to many means necessary to compete around the rim. Looks like a fullback rushing downhill when he drives the ball. Not big on “freedom of movement rules,” will nudge a cutter.

Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp August 5 

Mason Gardner  6-4  Sr  Parallel 45-Green (Boyne City): Rubber hit the road for this Rambler at the end of the spring season most noticeably in the Up North Challenge semifinals where Gardner’s athletic bonafides were on display as he twiced blocked REACH’s Djuan Seal, one of Michigan’s top uncommitted seniors. That aggressive play carried over to the central time zone in July, as he attacked the basket overpowering defenders and in one game made 9-of-10 free throws. Vocal defender and strong rebounder who took a rare AAU charge in another. One of the scarcest combinations of vertical and gpa in Michigan. Needs to become a true low, explosive wing slasher and get consistent shooting range to transition to college ball.

Marquez Gordon  6-4  Sr  Titans (Lansing Everett): The Titans lack a true post player as Derek Nicholson now plays at Michigan Tech. Gordon does a nice job filling in as a lane scorer though, he can really elevate and has a soft touch on the turnaround jumper. Springy on the boards and really dangerous if you let him hang around the rim. Not as accurate from the baseline as in the paint itself. Fits profile of local schools like Olivet or LCC.

Wendell Green  5-10  So  Playmakers (Detroit Country Day): He showed the full offensive repertoire as the tournament went on and was the Playmakers’ leading scorer in their last two games. Can trend towards average when settling for jumpers, but can be special when they’re not just dropping but he’s also creating for himself or teammates going to the basket. Highly skilled, ambidextrous finisher with deceptive athleticism that defenders realize too late when he’s already on top of them.

Austin Harris  6-4  Sr  Parallel 45-Green (Buckley): Anyone who saw the Class D finals knows Harris doesn’t shy from the moment, and in Chicago with a slew of D2s following his progress he showed a penchant for knocking down momentum shifting three-pointers. Also a crafty scorer using his size in the lane at nearly 6-5 200, though would be move of a passing threat in traffic if played with heads up on a swivel. Uses his size to rebound on both backboards and loves to push one out to lead the fastbreak.

Antonio Marshall  6-3  Sr  Playmakers (Detroit King): Two-way guard, rangy energy guy who doesn’t have to be a big scorer to help you win. Has the tools to check all three perimeter spots. Like the wingspan but it will be more advantageous once he starts playing lower, with the dribble and off the ball on defense where he can get caught upright and lose his man. Not a pure shooter but has put work into it since the school season; gets elevation and has a good-looking release.

Juwan Robinson  5-9  Sr  Mustangs-Hogans (Detroit Cornestone): Love his defense and motor, similar in build and competitiveness to Ja’kavien Lewis, but not as skilled as a point guard. Could be the athletic x factor for Cornerstone, a role provided last season by Davion Bradford.

Chaz Woods  6-1  Sr  Tri-City Heat (Massanutten Military): One time Heritage and Saginaw High point guard has reclassified at this Virginia school, where Frank Mason is the most prominent basketball alumnus. Doesn’t wow you with explosive quickness but will quietly take apart a defense with smart decision making and getting into the lane via change of speeds. Always a good shooter when catching in rhythm who continues to expand his offense.

Chi-On You Crazy Diamonds

Traveon Maddox of the Michigan Warriors via Novi is one of the state’s to uncommitted seniors and did nothing to change that status on the first day of the Chicago Summer Jam.

Michigan is well-represented at the Chicago Summer Jam. Here are some of the Great Lakes State’s 17U standouts from the opening day of the tournament.

Brent Bosert  6-4  Sr  Moneyball East (Bloomfield Hills): Isn’t going to be your leading scorer, but gets right down to the real nitty gritty to do the things you need to win. Which MBE did, twice on Friday. Blue collar in Bloomfield Hills? You betcha. Bosert got on the floor to corral 50/50 balls, or to save the ball and pass to a teammate for a shot. Lefty who can block shots and scored on the other end with a half-hook.

Sam Johnson  6-9  Sr  West Michigan Lakers (Spring Lake): Great build for a rising senior with a solid base and some upper-body strength. Nice catch-and-shoot option from the short corners. Showed good hands working off of talented point guard Zach Goodline or high-low action with 6-8 Carter Nyp. Defensively more of a root out and wall off guy, than shot blocker. A little dainty finishing around the hoop, would like to see more attitude in the kill zone.

Traveon Maddox  6-4  Sr  Warriors (Novi): Formed a potent Oakland County combo with West Bloomfield’s Tre Harvey. Had a dominant offensive stretch in the Warriors’ first of two wins where the refinement of Maddox’ offensive game was evident over four successive possessions. He drove and pitched to Harvey for a three-pointer; nailed a heavily defended fadeaway from 17 feet; made a three-pointer after going between his legs for a stepback; then another three-pointer pulling up from the top of the key. Still more wing than guard and needs to become consistent from college range and improve snap decision-making on the break. Given his rate of improvement, expect that to happen soon.

Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp August 5

John Mason  6-4  Jr  Playmakers (Detroit King): Strong kid who plays hard like you’d expect of a George Ward minion from MLK. Can score via the post up, attacking from the elbow or running down offensive rebounds. As just a rising junior playing up, one would expect his offensive repertoire and range to expand. Helped the Playmakers win both their Friday games.

Hunter Ruell  5-9  Sr  Parallel 45-White (Manton): Turned college coaches’ heads with a three-point shooting display. Did it off the drive-and-pitch, coming off screens or pulling up in transition. Confident, smooth player with the range and skill to compensate for height at the small school level. Whom he can guard at his size will be a determining factor.

Lewis Willis  6-1  Sr  Common Bond (Ann Arbor Huron): He led a short but scrappy CB squad to a 2-0 start. Can beat his man going right or left with hesitation moves then uses his strength to finish and draw fouls in the lane. Good enough shooter to also play off the ball.

One From the Vault: Brian Snider

Brian Snider traveled South on 131 from Cadillac to Kalamazoo after graduating in 2002. At Western Michigan he started for three years, including on the 2004 NCAA tournament team, and finished fourth all-time for assists in the Broncos’ record book.

Brian Snider  6-5  Jr  2G  Cadillac: A number of fine guards have come from Up North recently, like Trevor Huffman (Petoskey/Kent State), Jason Rozycki (Boyne City/Oakland), John Flynn (Petoskey/Grand Valley) and Luke Johnson (Gaylord/CMU). Snider is bigger both physically and in reputation at the same age. He plays like a taller, left-handed Dane Fife, he competes and defends. A true triple threat from the free throw line extended. Snider’s a crafty faker with the vision to pass and the body to finish plays. He’s dangerous from three-point range though he doesn’t yet bring an entire game out to that perimeter. MVP of the 16U AAU state tournament playing for the GR Storm. Also plays nationally for the Storm 17U.

-The Bank, July 3 2000

Carpe Mensem: Class of 2018 Tackles One Last July

Back with REACH, Wayne Memorial senior Rashad Williams is poised for some serious scoring exploits in the July live period.

Michigan’s class of 2018 is one of the state’s deepest in a quarter century. And the book isn’t finished. Here are some of the Great Lakes State’s rising seniors with a chance to improve their college standing when the July evaluation period tips off this week.

Robert Carpenter  6-6  Sr  Mustangs (Detroit Cornerstone): He wasn’t particularly memorable when I was coaching against GreenWood at the 16U level last year, then it was the Jamal Cain show in the winter for Cornerstone. That perception has all changed as Carpenter stole the show for the Mustangs at REACH’s July Tuneup tournament. Bouncy, active, finisher, shooter, rebounding outside area, doing so much you want from the forward spot.

Trendon Hankerson  6-2  Sr  Detroit Spartans (Novi): The younger brother of Kameron Hankerson, who has a promising future at Wisconsin-Green Bay after closing his freshman season strong. Little bro is just that, a few inches smaller, but still has a nice winsgpan for the backcourt and is filling out through his upper body. Thinking, vocal point guard who does a good job getting the Spartans’ bigs involved, and can kill you with the catch-and-shoot.

Luke Hyde  6-7  Sr  Elite Nation (DeWitt): He’s been a terrific addition to what was an already strong Elite Nation squad. Good length, smooth feet to defend or get to the rim, and rebounds at a good rate. Smart in the halfcourt able to back-door for easy hoops, and runs the lanes hard to finish. Hyde’s greatest improvement has been in his three-point shooting. Reminds me of Travis DuPree, who was a D3 All-American for Albion. Before that, the Dutch Dome serenaded him with chants of “Crazy Legs!” for a Holland team that went 20-0 in the 2001 regular season.

Both physically and skill-wise, few seniors have improved as much the past few years as Ann Arbor Huron’s Avery Lewis, who plays for 1Nation in the Under Armour Association.

Avery Lewis  6-6  Sr  1Nation (Ann Arbor Huron): His stats may go down a bit with a similar player, Markeese Hastings, rejoining 1Nation, but he’ll continue to contribute across the board. He’s evolved from a blue-collar role player to versatile, left-handed offensive threat, without losing the toughness and energy that he had in the first place. Lewis is the kind of big wing coaches are looking for because of all the positions he can guard.

DJ Lundy  6-5  Sr  Warriors (Romulus): The grinder complement to the Warriors’ highly athletic D1 wing Traveon Maddox of Novi. Looks like what we’ve become used to, a Romulus kid blowing up as a senior. Lundy has long been a productive, tough presence in the lane and on the glass, active blue-collar guy that always has to be accounted for with a block out. Now he’s shooting it well enough to transition from tweener to wing status.

Lakeland’s Cass Phillips (No. 14) has been an ideal complement to Parallel 45’s roster full of future college guards.

Cassius Phillips  6-9  Sr  Parallel 45 (Lakeland): One of the most productive bigs in the 2018 class because although somewhat raw he’s not settling for jumpers; instead athletic, runs the court, finishes and isn’t afraid to put his body on someone. Moves feet well so can get out to hedge and recover. Stylistically, plays like MSU (not Bay City Western) Matt Costello. High ceiling with reps and diversity of offense.

CJ Robinson  5-10  Sr  North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): Doesn’t get nearly the widespread respect warranted a starter and crucial cog in a state champion, nationally ranked team. Which he was as Foster Loyer’s baccourt partner for undefeated Clarkston. Rarely makes bad choices with the ball, will check up like a demon and in AAU can create and make his own shots. Lots of guards like this have thrived in the GLIAC.

Gary Solomon  6-5  Sr  Family (Detroit Edison): From Cass Tech to Edison, from the Elite to the Family, the locales may change but Solomon’s m.o. doesn’t, he’s simply one of the toughest kids in the Midwest, a dog who is anathema to the iPhone generation. Big wing who is tough to keep out of the lane with his combination of strength and herky jerky moves, and counters with a jumper from mid- and three-point range. A10 type talent.

Blake Verbeek  6-10  Sr  Grand Rapids Storm (Calvin Christian): A year ago at this time, was very similar to his then-AAU teammate Marcus Bingham. Bingham is now a consensus top 100 player in America. So there’s no reason Verbeek couldn’t approach double digit offers by the end of the summer. His shot and footwork at 6-10 are rare, and coveted by the modern game. Coaches want to see him get stronger and tougher.

Rashad Williams  6-1  Sr  REACH (Wayne Memorial): Back with his old club after a spring stint with the Family. He’ll thrive with the ball in his hands here. Legit NBA range and more skilled as a playmaker than many realize. Could be huge college scorer with the right fit.

One from the Vault: Al Horford

Al Horford, seen here getting coached up at Florida by Billy Donovan, played high school ball for Grand Ledge before winning two NCAA titles with the Gators and becoming an NBA All-Star. From his 2004 senior class in Michigan, Wyoming Park’s Drew Neitzel (MSU) won Mr. Basketball, while from Detroit Renaissance Joe Crawford (Kentucky) and Malik Hairston (Oregon) were McDonald’s All-Americans

Al Horford  6-8  Jr  Grand Ledge: Like most big men, his best basketball is a long way down the road. With an earlier start in the game, Alfred has a chance to be better than his father, Tito Horford, who went from the Dominican Republic, to Miami (FL), to the NBA for a minute. At the Spartan Shootout the younger Horford, despite giving up a couple inches and 40 pounds, played senior Drew Naymick no worse than even as Grand Ledge blew out North Muskegon. Then a week later he was getting schooled by regular high school players at the Aim High summer league. Such is youth. Horford has long arms and nimble feet. He gets to the ball quickly and doesn’t rush things.

–The Bank, July 29 2002