As usual, Michigan teams, and players, hopped the border for the GRBA national finals at Spiece in Ft. Wayne, Ind. Here are some prospects who excelled in the third and concluding session of the July live period.
Alec Anderson 6-2 Sr Common Bond (Ann Arbor Huron): Helped Common Bond go all the way to the 17U semifinals, where they fell to Indiana Elite. Just a natural basketball athlete with how smoothly he covers space and gets off the floor. Really dangerous finishing in transition and will also back door you for dunks in the half court. More wing than guard but can put his head down and manufacture points at the rim. Raised in Huron’s 2-2-1 zone press, needs to become more of a man-to-man grinder instead of often escorting his guy to the hoop and then relying on hops to try and make a play. Easily a D2 scholarship player.
Dra Davis 5-9 So Elite Nation 15U (Lansing Sexton): True drive-and-dish point guard that his pretty heady for his age, other than occasionally getting caught too deep in the lane. Good vision. Showed he has the pull-up jumper you have to at that size, position.
Nate Davis 6-1 Jr TEAM Basketball 16U (Stoney Creek): Arrived late due to a wedding but made up for lost time, helping TEAM Basketball all the way to the 16U final. Fast but also changes speeds, and has the extra burst to get to the hole that coaches are looking for, which affords and-one opportunities. Has skill level to play the point at the next level, as his decision-making matures.
Jason Dietz 6-3 Jr TEAM Basketball 16U (Troy): Simply one of the best shooters in the state. Dietz was face-guarded by a quick, tough athlete from TNBA in the 16U championship game, but still shook free to lead TEAM in scoring. Constant movement with a quick trigger off the catch. What separates Dietz from generic suburban shooter territory is that he can get if off with a defender in his face and already has a sophisticated game where it doesn’t take much, like a look-off, for him to create a window.
Nolan Foster 6-9 So Mustangs 15U (Mattawan): Mattawan has a proud lineage of big men in the modern era, such as Nate Loehrke, Marc Larson and Wilbur Ampey. Foster has all the physical tools to continue that tradition, a legit 6-9 with wide shoulders. But those advantages are for naught when he settles for 3s instead of horsing kids on the blocks for dunks. A little nasty goes a long way!
Austin Harris 6-3 Jr Parallel 45 16U (Buckley): A do-it-all type who had to do even more as the Northern Michigan boys rolled with just six before it caught up to them in the quarterfinals. Good on the catch-and-shoot and just as likely to drive-and-pitch. Can handle the ball against smaller, quicker guards, while using his size to score in the lane often courtesy the Cassius Winston-inspired extended scoop. Has improved his poise and ability to play through officials’ calls.
Chris McGaughey 5-6 Sr Ann Arbor Basketball Academy (Pioneer): Short but stout, taller guards looked to post up McGaughey but it was usually a futile effort as he simply rooted them off the block. Looked really good when getting in the lane and dishing, less so with questionable shot selection in the consolation final. Terrific high school player in what should be a great winter of prep ball in Ann Arbor.
Jack Smith 6-2 Sr Common Bond (Ann Arbor Huron): The workmanlike counterpart to long-time River Rats and CB partners Alec Anderson and Lawrence Rowley. Nice rotation on the three-point shot and uses his strong build to bully in and finish buckets. Squares well on defense but doesn’t always have the footspeed to beat man to the spot. There was a contingent of MIAA coaches loving him at every game.
Xavier Tillman 6-9 Sr Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Christian): The uniform may have changed a few times, but there was a theme to Tillman’s long AAU career — team success. So it was fitting that his last game came with a trophy, as the Indy Heat ran away with 17U title. With Purdue coach Matt Painter on hand to see that win and others, it was hard not to envision Tillman as a prototypical Gene Keady power forward, no pretense but muscle upon muscle.
Zach Trent 6-1 So Parallel 45 15U (Burton Bentley): Already one of the more polarizing prospects in the class, he answered some critics by knocking down 32-of-58 three-pointers over six games as P45 knocked off two super pool teams before falling to eventual champion Pro-Bound Ohio Elite in the 15U quarterfinals. Where Trent really impressed was how he performed filling in for as game for a short-handed 16U team. Having fewer responsibilities he played more of what his future college role projects, moving off the ball and knocking down shots to the tune of 6-of-9 from deep, scoring 20. Mechanical more than fluid and natural, so there’s a ceiling but has the work ethic to reach it.
Chaz Woods 6-1 Tri-City Heat (Saginaw): So smooth and smart with the ball, he’s able to catch defenders off guard with his deceptive speed. Shoots it well so can swing to the two. A transfer from Heritage to the High, he should be an ideal complement to Qua Southward in the Trojans’ backcourt.