Underclassman All-Camp Team

The first installment of coverage from the Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp, here are the top five overall performers. More players will be profiled, including All-2018 and 2019 teams.

MVP Lamar Norman  6-0  So  Godwin Heights: No one shot it or finished better than Norman, and certainly no other camper did both as seemingly effortlessly. He had a next gear that recalled some of the top past performers from the Underclassman Camp. And he’s smooth in going through those gears which is why he’s a high-major talent, offensively. Piled up points while still getting his teammates involved. Defensive efforts and habits still have a long way to go. One could make a righteous case for Norman being the best guard in the 2018 class.

“Could get a bucket whenever he wanted to,” a coach said. “Finished at the rim and was lights out from deep. Extremely smooth with the basketball.”

Caleb Hodgson  6-8  Fr  Dansville: Got the upper hand over another touted big man, Petoskey sophomore Danny Kolp, when he decided to stop settling for outside shots and took the game to the defense. At the same time, you have to like Hodgson’s potential as a pick-and-pop 4. Terrific passer, he made a one-handed feed on the move that was particularly surprising coming for a kid that size and age. Then he can pick you apart from the high post with the shot or pass. Needs to work on his left hand to become an even greater threat around the hoop, and can’t wait to see him drop-step dunking.

“Cerebral big man with a nice rotation,” said one coach. “Understands the game. As his athleticism improves so will his rising stock.”

Willie Shanks  5-11  So  Muskegon: Plays closer to 6-4 with the way he rebounds, finishes and draws fouls. Seemed to be around every missed shot or 50/50 ball. Repeatedly took rebounds end-to-end and made the right decision as a disher or converter. An OK shooter from 20.

“A mini version of Joeviair Kennedy, a lefty with a ton of energy and not just for himself,” a coach said. “Gets everyone involved and likes to pass. Very good athlete who you would like to see gain a few more inches, but he has what everyone wants these days — a motor.”

Blake Verbeek  6-9  So  Calvin Christian: Give this kid some muscle along with his projected 6-11 height and he’s a top 10 prospect in the 2018 class. Good hands, finished high, and was comfortable with the ball away from the basket. He and Lamar Norman had a nice O-K Silver chemistry going in games. Lack of weight limits him as a post threat, and he seemed disinterested from guarding the rim. Agile enough to have made some defensive plays out on the floor. Verbeek’s name is nearly synonymous with Calvin Christian hoops, and his father Nate is a top 10 scorer at Grand Valley State.

“Lanky post with the ability to develop into a stretch 4 at the next level,” a coach said. “Knocked down multiple 3s in games. Has a nice jump-hook in the post. Would like to see him develop a counter move to go with it.”

Bryce Washington  6-4  So  Southfield Christian: Slasher with the hangtime you need to be a scoring threat when confined by the baseline. Built for up-and-down basketball. Triple threat with a good first step and slippery through the lane. Odd looking flip shot but it goes in.

“Fast, fast, fast,” a coach said. “High skill level plus athletic. For as good a scorer as he was he played within himself and made great passes. Star status coming.”

Top Underclassman All-State Camp Performances: First Four Years

The fifth-annual Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp goes 10 am-4:30 pm Friday at Aim High Sports in Lansing.

For more information and to register click here.

Before many of them were household names, world champions, All-Americans, Mr. Basketballs, state champions and high-major recruits they were putting in work at the Underclassman Camp. Here’s a look at the top dozen performances from the first four camps. Included is verbatim of what we wrote about these players after the camp.

Josh Jackson went from Detroit Consortium to world champion with Team USA.
Josh Jackson went from Detroit Consortium to world champion with Team USA.

1. Josh Jackson, 2012: He’s a consensus top 10 prospect in 2016 (as high as No. 2) nationally and certainly did nothing to dissuade that notion. Jackson is a smooth, Scottie Pippen style forward who would take rebounds end-to-end, and just make it look so easy. It’s surprising to see a player so young, move and handle the ball like that. Great attitude and teammate. An unselfish passer and big-time finisher — on his last play of the day he caught a half-court alleyoop pass from Shae Somers. The main point of improvement is his shot. He puts one foot forward, and releases it from nose level. It works when he’s open, but will have to become a jumpshooter over the next few years for when he’s going up against wings of similar size and athleticism.

“Beyond his years athletically and understanding the game,” a coach said. “Stacy Augmon clone potential for a better shot. Has the tools to be a great one. Needs to concentrate on getting the proper rotation on his shot to make him the complete player with a spot on mid-range or deeper shot.”

2. Miles Bridges, 2013: Were he staying in-state, Bridges would be the No. 2 2016 behind national No. 1 Josh Jackson. The Flint native is top 25 in the country himself. When the games started, the light went on and he dominated. Including when he won the tip then caught the ensuing alley-oop. A willing and capable rebounder and passer, which set the tone for what was not just the most talented, but most unselfish team in the camp.

“Athletic and physical freak for such a young kid,” a coach said. “Long and fluid athletic step in transition and in the half-court. Smart player who is always looking to make the right play. Plays stronger and bigger than his 6-5 frame. Nice handle in the open court and he was able to push the ball when he got it off the glass. Has a little hitch and corkscrew release from outside but showed an ability to make shots form the perimeter in addition to drives and scores around the basket. Also covers a lot of ground on the defensive end. Really high ceiling in terms of talent and potential at his current size and/or if he stretches out a few more inches. Great attitude as well.”

“No one was close to as explosive and athletic as this kid,” another coach said. “He can handle the ball very well for his size and get the the hoop at will. A menace in transition who can also knock down the open jumper. Rebounds with reckless abandon and will try to dunk on anyone! Would like to see him work on his perimeter game in order to be a true 2 guard.”

State champion and McDonald's All-American Deyonta Davis with his Mr. Basketball trophy in this Detroit Free Press photo.
State champion and McDonald’s All-American Deyonta Davis with his Mr. Basketball trophy in this Detroit Free Press photo.

3. Deyonta Davis, 2012: 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 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 Joshua Jackson.”

4. Eric Davis, 2011: May be the early choice as the state’s top 2015 prospect, and did nothing here to dissuade that position. At 6-2 already and a propensity for getting to the rim at will, could see him as a Calipari point guard at the college level. Because he’s smooth and long, was deceptively athletic off the dribble and lived at the rim. Davis made a bunch of tough and-1s, but also missed layups because he needs to get a lot stronger to finish instead of contorting to avoid contact every time. Scored on misses — his and others. Though he dominated the ball, he passed it unselfishly to set up teammates — drive-and-dish, give-and-go. In addition to the strength issue, will have to improve as a shooter and vocal leader to realize what is a whole lot of potential.

“Athletic finisher and slasher,” said a coach. “One of the top two or three drivers at the camp. Got to the basket at will either in transition or in the half court. He didn’t always finish at the rim but no one could really stay in front of him when he was attacking from the wings. Multi-skilled player that likes to get up and down the floor. Looks like he could be a high level defender as well. He will need to add strength  to be able to finish off his drives. Has the potential to live at the free throw line because he’s got a killer first step.”

5. Cassius Winston, 2011: One of the Family’s rising stars, and it’s easy to see why. Going into eighth-grade but already this was already his second Bank Hoops camp and he was all business. One of my favorite players in drills because of his seriousness, quickness, footwork and dribbling. His handle was such that it was free-flowing while staying strong and close to the body. That only happens with some long hours in the gym and it translated to situations where he was guarded as Cassius took good care of the ball. He was equally impressive in games, playing the point guard spot with his head up and bright eyes. His teammates were already good — he made them better with his passing and unselfishness.

“One of the youngest kids in attendance but he definitely didn’t play like it,” a coach said. “Played comfortably against older players and he didn’t let his older teammates like Lindsey Hunter get all the shine. Mature beyond his years. Made shots all day as well from different places on the floor.”

6. Jaron Faulds, 2013: Legit big with the rare combination at his age of being well-coached and energetic for the game. Soft touch to 12 feet. Owned the glass — going to get the rebound — like a guy who will eventually have half the Big 10 calling.

“Most dominant player at the camp from the class of 2017,” one coach said. “Rebounded well on both ends and showed very good timing on his shot blocking. Probably had 20+ points 20+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in a game I coached against him. Fundamentally sound and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Not sure about his perimeter game, cause he never really had to use it.”

Still, with four years of high school ball ahead there’s much to improve on. Said another coach: “Big kid that kept the ball high on the blocks for scoring positions but would sometimes turn into trouble, instead of away, when going into his move. Needs to improve basket orientation to maximize opportunities. Showed off a good hook when going middle. Tended to swat down on shots instead of going straight up to block them.”

7. Trevor Manuel, 2011: Equally as good away from or around the basket. Focused, mature player for his age, by all indications he’ll be a high-end national recruit.

“Tall, lanky, 6-8 player that is skilled,” a coach said. “He may be the best future prospect in the state based on age, size and skill. Can handle, shoot and run the floor.”
“He handles the ball like a guard and made three-pointers easily in shooting drills,” said one coach.
“Intriguing prospect,” another said. “Seems to be figuring out his body and height. First player I thought of after seeing the kid was Loren Woods — sans six inches. But in due time he might grow to about 6-10 or 6-11 if his feet and arms are any indication. Really nice touch out to about 19 feet and moves well. Still developing a post game and body needs to mature. He looks like he wants to be coached so the ‘sky could be the limit’ for him.”
8. Deleon Brown, 2012: Brown has been on a roll. He was one of the best players at U-M’s “college practice camp,” then at the Izzo Shootout some observers thought he must be that Drake Harris kid everyone was talking about. What makes Deleon such an attractive prospect is his length, helps him look like a college guard already. He’s a smooth combo guard who plays under control, and has that coveted mid-range game. He should thrive playing for Steve Majerle at GR Christian.

“Long, smooth lefty who found space around the rim,” a coach said. “Played point and was equally impressive setting up teammates. Will be interesting to see how he progresses when adding strength in years to come.”

“Just a hard and tough-nosed kid,” said another. “One of those multi-skilled players that does a little bit of everything. That’s certainly not a dis because he does everything at a high level. Has prototypical combo guard size and game that can be a nightmare to game plan against. Rebounds really well for a guard and just has a knack for making plays.”

9. Austin Davis, 2013: Knows how to play, cashing in on a season of 17U experience with the Southern Michigan Lightning. Legit post at 6-9, 235. Did a good job of establishing deep post position. May have to improve athletically, but has size and feel for the game going for him. Could be the top prospect for the 5 spot in the soph class.

“Methodical, but got the job done,” a coach said. “He’d go right to the block and put work in.”

“Plays big!,” said another. “A true post with a nice game with his back to the basket. Had the best “seal” of any big man at the camp and maybe in the state for that matter. He sits down in the paint with a wide base and offers a big target with hands always up calling for the ball. Could really cause problems in a 4-out-1-in set if you aren’t going to bring help. Finishes with both hands around the hoop. Rebounds very strong on both ends. Needs to develop his mid-post game for when he faces defenders that he can’t simply overpower. Loved his motor, he played hard all day long.”

10. Alegvon Eichelberger, 2012: He was strong at the spring camp and came back four months later an improved player. Saw him knock down a three-pointer, which was new. A gym rat type with a good hoops IQ. Well-schooled and stood out in drills with his footwork, hands and fundamentals. The next step is to start finishing above the rim. When going against more athletic forwards, like Josh Jackson, or a true post, like Justin Greason, Eichelberger went into blue-collar mode, showing good second and third effort on the glass.

“Easily my favorite player,” said one coach. “What’s not to like about the kid? He plays much bigger than 6-5, and much smarter than 14. He loves to grind it out and play the blocks but has range out to the three-point line. He defends and rebounds like a big. Most importantly he has a high motor and doesn’t shy away from the challenge.”

11. Devon Daniels, 2013: Ran and finished all day long, at and over the rim; good legs, strong body. Live motor (come game time) and could go get it even if the shot didn’t fall the first time. Did nothing to dissuade anyone from his consensus top 10 status in what is a deep, talent Michigan class of 2016. The next star out of K-Central (formerly Battle Creek Lakeview) as long as his guard skills and shoot continue to improve.

Said a coach: “Athletic wing player with good hops. Very active around the basket.”

“Explosive athlete!,” said another. “He went hard in the drills and finished with authority any time he was around the rim. He had incredible body control in the air and pushed the ball very well in transition. Distributes the ball well and was a very good defender who goes to the glass on both ends once a shot goes up. A more consistent jumper would put him in the talks for Mr. Basketball in a couple years, in my opinion.”

12. Davion Williams, 2014: You don’t expect a rising ninth-grade guard to dunk it like Williams did. Got into the lane with a big first step and could finish off one or two feet. He was a key player going up a grade on Michigan United’s 15U and looks varsity ready.

“Most athletic kid at the Underclassman Camp,” one coach said. “Very dangerous running the wing in transition as he seems to be smart and elusive enough to avoid picking up charges while still finishing at and above the rim. Can defend any position on the perimeter. Usually young guys that play as fast as him have trouble slowing it down in the halfcourt, but not Davion. He exhibited well-timed cuts off the ball and always going into triple threat with catches off the wing. A consistent jumpshot and this kid could really be special.”

Michigan Represents at Spiece GRBA Nationals

The Family celebrates their 17U toitle at the GRBA National Championship at Spiece.
The Family closed out the NCAA live period by celebrating their 17U title at the GRBA National Championship at Spiece in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Michigan was well-represented in the GRBA National Championships at Spiece. The Family won the 17U championship, and also had teams in the 16U and 15U semifinals. The Mustangs also reached the 15U final four, while Camp Darryl was the 17U silver division runner-up. Here are some of the Great Lakes State’s standouts from this NCAA live period event.

David DeJulius  5-11  So  Family 16U (Detroit Edison): Even playing up a grade, he had a physical advantage against most of the point guards he went up against. Has the build and athleticism that high-major coaches are looking for at the position. When DeJulius gets a shoulder into a defender, it’s all over. Finds shooters both the with kick-ahead and the kick-out. Looks confident at the line. A top three point guard in the state’s 2018 class along with Foster Loyer and Brandon Wade.

Caleb Drumm  6-4  Sr  Camp Darryl 17U (Homer): He’s long had to “play up” in position for an undersized 2016 class for Camp Darryl, so knows the tricks and uses his athletic ability to compensate for lack of size. Has multiple quick hops on the offensive glass which allow stick-to-it and-ones. A poor man’s Kyle Steigenga, with some float-ability as the Family found out first hand:

Jaron Faulds  6-10  Jr  Family 17U/16U (Holt): Written about last week for his strong play in Detroit, Faulds went out and again earned the accolades. He played significant minutes for both the Family 16U that reached the semifinals and the 17U that won it all. Even when the legs faded he continued to play hard, though the dunks sometimes morphed into layups. Faulds also shot it well from the elbows and short corners, to the likely pleasure of Michigan coach John Beilein who was at many of his games. Active off the ball as a screener and rebounder. Well on his way to Big Ten offers.

Amauri Hardy  6-2  Jr  Family 17U (Southfield): Despite being just a rising junior, he stood out with his physical strength at even the 17U level. Able to get in the lane, absorb contact and still get the shot off cleanly, bringing to mind another Southfield power guard Carlton Brundidge, then counters that when he’s able to step out into college three-point range and drop left-handed three-pointers. Showed maturity in confidence in how he sunk crunch time foul shots. Also uses his big build to be disruptive on defense and can quickly turn it into buckets on the other end.

Quintin Johnson  6-4  Sr  Oakland County Ballers (Clawson): Somewhat obscure toiling in the MAC Silver in the winter, and the grassroots OC (don’t call it that) Ballers in the off-season, but has legit talent that GLIAC schools should be following. Passes the looks test as he’s long and athletic. Hard to guard because he also has some of that left-handed awkwardness. Great first step and can dunk in the half-court. With his activity inside, needs to become better with the resulting free throws. Looked like one of three likely college players on the Ballers’ roster along with 6-6 James Jenkins of Hazel Park and 6-0 Kevin Woodmore from Wayne Memorial.

Riley Lewis  5-11  Sr  Triple Threat (Williamston): Underestimate Triple Theat’s backcourt of Lewis and Haslett’s Brandon Allen at your own risk. They turned a lot of heads the previous weekend in Milwaukee when they controlled the game against national power Dream Vision, and continued their strong play at Spiece. When defenses concentrate on one, the other is bound to go for 20, and often both will do it. Lewis has chutzpah, slithery moves with the ball and consistent range well beyond 20 feet; nearly automatic if left open. For his part, Allen is a true point guard who has improved his left hand and can score with the mid-range pull-up which you have to do at his height.

PJ Mitchell  5-10  So  Family 15U (Detroit Loyola): Added strength (he’s on Loyola’s small school state power football team) had only accentuated Mitchell’s already intact point guard skills, as he can get the ball wherever he wants. Smart, vocal and knows how to control pace, the leader you want at the position. The Family 15U have what looks like the state’s top pure point guard prospect in the 2019 class as well, Julian Dozier, and Mitchell showed he could hit some shots playing off the ball. Helped the Family to the 15U semifinals.

Innocent Nwoko  6-11  Sr  Spiece Indy Heat (New Haven): Something of a forgotten man playing for an out-of-state team, but he’s improved in just his two years of playing basketball and is making Central Michigan look pretty smart with their early offer and commitment from him. He’ll be a rim protector and rebounder early for the Chips, but there are signs on the offensive end as well. Nwoko had stretches at Spiece where he looked like a native-born player with activity and feel around the hoop. Liked how he posted up frequently and getting that tall body wide, though he was rarely rewarded with touches.

Qua Southward  6-0  Jr  Family 16U (Saginaw): The Family’s 16U has three scholarship point guards — Darian Owens-White, CJ Wilson and sophomore David DeJulius — and Southward though undersized is a very dangerous scorer off the ball. He’s efficient and smooth in his footwork coming off the screens, no wasted motion as he goes right from the catch to the shot. When he’s with his high school teams, has showed he can create points with the ball in his hands himself. A small two guard, perhaps, but good enough to get it done at the mid-major level. Central Michigan was the first to offer after a strong July.

Brandon Wade  6-0  So  Gators (Ann Arbor Skyline): The previous tournament didn’t end like Wade wanted, getting k.o.’d with an injury to his mouth at the Mustangs Summer Showdown in Detroit. He arrived in Ft. Wayne with a new mouth guard, and the same aggressive attitude that has made him one of the state’s top 10 overall prospects in 2018. Ideal mix of true point guard handle and a nose for the hole, Wade loves to initiate contact and can get into the paint at will. Not automatic from range but when he’s on watch out, as he had a 40-point game doing inside and out. Wade has a special chemistry with teammate Jack Ammerman, making them one of the top backcourts both in AAU and the high school ranks with AA Skyline.

Cassius Winston  6-1  Sr  Family 17U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): Heavier and not all the way back after missing some time with a broken wrist, but Winston delivered when it mattered, with a 30-point game in the quarterfinals en route to leading the Family to the 17U championship. Hit shots from deep and mid-range and made the game easy for his bigs whether on the break or in the half-court. Coaches from Michigan and Michigan State — often the head men — followed the state’s No. 1 senior all tournament.

 

Underclassman All-State Minicamp July 31 in Lansing

The fifth-annual Bank Hoops All-State Minicamp will be held 10 am-4:30 pm Friday, July 31 at Aim High Sports in Lansing. The camp is for boys players entering 8-10th grade.

In its first four seasons, the camp has served as an early look at All-Americans like Miles Bridges, Josh Jackson and Deyonta Davis as well as D1 players such as Matt Beachler, Deleon Brown, Devon Daniels, Eric Davis, Seth Dugan, Algevon Eichelberger, Bakari Evelyn, Austin Davis, Jaron Faulds, Devin Haygood, Brent Hibbitts, Lacey James, Joeviair Kennedy, Spencer Littleson, Trevor Manuel, Corey Redman, Billy Thomas, Jaylin Walker, Davion Williams and Cassius Winston.

The camp features instruction from high school and college coaches, games with MHSAA certified officials and evaluations provided to over 150 college programs by the Bank Hoops staff, as well as online coverage. Jerseys and lunch are provided.

Click here to register.

You can pay online, or pay via check or money order $100 payable:

Bank Hoops

PMB #177   430 E 8th St   Holland, MI  49423

Reps Made Before College Coaches at Mustangs Summer Showdown

There will be a lot more dunks in Austin Davis' future if his performance with the Mustangs at the Summer Showdown was any indication.
There will be a lot more dunks in Austin Davis’ future if his performance with the Mustangs at the Summer Showdown was any indication.

Much of Michigan’s young talent was represented at the Mustangs Summer Showdown, an NCAA live period event held at Hype Athletics in Dearborn, and the college coaches in the stands were a testament to the bright future. But it was an out-of-state team, Gary Harris from Indiana, that won the strong 15U field. The 16U field saw a major upset in the championship game when first-year program GreenWood beat the national top 10 Mustangs who earlier in the tournament had pasted Greenwood by 30+. The Mustangs won the 17U division. Here are some of the tournament’s standouts.

Corey Allen  6-3  Sr  Mustangs (Ypsilanti): The guard position for the Mustangs has seen trial by error. In Allen they may have finally found the right fit for July. He saw significant minutes at point guard while also still being able to go to his aggressive, physical, creative scoring game. Changed speeds well on the dribble and has body control once airborne. Good half-court passing vision. Surprisingly athletic and he’s particularly explosive over short spaces which makes you like his defensive potential. His performance in Dearborn earned Allen an offer from Detroit. That’s the third he’s gotten in this live period alone, along with Cleveland State and Kent State.

Levane Blake  6-7  Jr  GreenWood 16U (Flint Beecher): He can be up and down, but really earned his check in the 16U championship final when he fought defensively in the post against the Mustangs’ talented pair of Xavier Tillman and Isaiah Livers. At his best when he focuses on guarding the rim, rebounding and finishing. Can turn his own shots attempts into more complicated than need be. He’s one of the state’s top 10 junior prospects at the 4 position.

2017 Power Forwards

  1. Xavier Tillman  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids
  2. Ikechukwu Eke  6-9  Jr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  3. Greg Eboigdidim  6-8  Jr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  4. Isaiah Livers  6-7  Jr  Kalamazoo Central
  5. Zach Niewkoop  6-7  Jr  Wayland
  6. Jack Ballantyne  6-8  Jr  Warren De La Sale
  7. Will Weems  6-8  Jr  Detroit Edison
  8. Ross Koella  6-7  Jr  Grand Haven
  9. Levane Blake  6-7  Jr  Flint Beecher
  10. Ryan Gamm  6-6  Jr  Rockford

Austin Davis  6-10  Sr  Mustangs (Onsted): The Hype Athletic Center isn’t the Davidson Player Development Center, and their lighter baskets were in dangerous all tournament as Davis was doing chin-ups like it was boot camp. His fitness level is high and it shows in how active around and frequently above the rim he was. U-M’s head coach John Beilein and posts coach Bacari Alexander were at the event, and had to be excited with what they saw from Davis.

2016 Top 10

  1. Cassius Winston  6-1  Sr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  2. Austin Davis  6-10  Sr  Onsted  Michigan
  3. Karmari Newman  6-4  Sr  Detroit East English Village
  4. Brailen Neely  5-9  Sr  Detroit Western  Oakland
  5. Spencer Littleson  6-3  Sr  Rochester Adams
  6. Devon Daniels  6-5  Sr  Kalamazoo Central
  7. Innocent Nwoko  6-10  Sr  New Haven  Central Michigan
  8. Justin Turner  6-3  Sr  Detroit Renaissance
  9. Corey Allen  6-3  Sr  Ypsilanti
  10. Jerry Ben  6-8  Sr  New Haven  Cornell

Jaron Faulds  6-10  Jr  Family 16U (Holt): He missed a layup and one-handed dunk early in the tournament, but got wise and mean from there and it was a barrage of two-handed bangers. A defender, rebounder, rim-runner, post threat with the frame, hands and motor that will keep high majors watching and ultimately offering.

Myron Gardner  6-3  Fr  Judge’s Court 15U (Southfield): He’s one of a number of 14-year-olds playing up for Judge’s Court. They may take a few lickings that way, but Gardner doesn’t hang his head and kept competing. For his age and big body, defenders aren’t expecting Gardner’s shooting touch. And then they aren’t expecting how he can then put it on the floor and create more when they start to play up on him. Uses his strength to get the shot off inside. He looks like one of the early top 10 2019 prospects in Michigan.

Top 10 Incoming Freshmen

  • Terry Armstrong  6-4  Fr  Flint Carman Ainsworth
  • Sean Cobb  6-5  Fr  Williamston
  • Julian Dozier  5-8  Fr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  • Myron Gardner  6-3  Fr  Southfield
  • Caleb Hodgson  6-8  Fr  Dansville
  • Dreyon O’Neal  6-5  Fr  Detroit Edison
  • Zach Trent  6-2  Fr  Flint Powers
  • Ryan Wade  5-10  Fr  Ann Arbor Skyline
  • Mark Watts  5-9  Fr  Detroit Allen
  • Romeo Weems  6-5  Fr  Detroit Country Day

Danny Kolp  6-8  So  Parallel 45 15U (Petoskey): He’s starting to embrace the physical game, which combined with his skill, length and comfort with the ball out on the floor caught the eye of Big Ten, Horizon and MAC coaches. Kolp throwing an elbow coming up the floor in a chippy silver division championship game with the Markham Gators also got nods of approval from the upper deck. He blocks shots and rebounds like you’d expect of a 6-8 15U player, then will hit shots from the blocks or corner 3s on the other end. The addition of a jump-hook and drop-step will do him wonders. He’s one of the top five forwards in the state’s 2018 class.

2018 Forwards

  1. Brandon Johns  6-8  So  East Lansing
  2. Thomas Kithier  6-8  So  Macomb Dakota
  3. Danny Kolp  6-8  So  Petoskey
  4. Jalen Tobias  6-6  So  Detroit Renaissance
  5. Tristen Mysen  6-6  So  Oxford

Kevin McKay  6-4  Sr  Detroit Showtime (Warren De La Salle): While the buzz was about John Beilein coming in to watch McKay’s teammate, the state’s No. 3 senior Karmari Newman, McKay saw his stock rise as well. He’s a slasher and finisher who will also beat you with the pass, has become a more consistent three-point threat and improved his off hand. But as always what will get him free college are the intangibles, versatility and will for the 50-50 balls.

Christian Rodriguez  5-9  Jr  GreenWood 16U (Godwin Heights): As is his wont, when the dust settled Rodriguez found himself posing with a trophy. He teamed up with another state championship point guard, Beecher’s Malik Ellison, and a former state championship coach, Mike Thomas, to beat the heavily favored Mustangs in the 16U final. A true point guard who, as one coach said, “makes passes most kids can’t.” Has a lefty runner but not yet a knock-down 3 ball. Rodriguez’ ability to run a team and his Just Win Baby resume are particularly impressive since by age he should be in the 2018 class. He’s one of the top 10 point guards in the junior class.

2017 Point Guards 

  1. Jermaine Jackson  5-9  Jr  Macomb Dakota
  2. Darian Owens-White  5-11  Jr  River Rouge
  3. Christian Rodriguez  5-9  Jr  Wyoming Godwin Heights
  4. Shonte Suddeth  5-10  Jr  Jackson
  5. Armonee Felder  5-9  Jr  Detroit Pershing
  6. Jesse Scarber  5-8  Jr  Detroit King
  7. Malik Ellison  5-6  Jr  Flint Beecher
  8. Jesse Hillis  6-0  Jr  Caledonia
  9. CJ Wilson  5-10  Jr  Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
  10. Gunnar Libby  5-8  Jr  Hillman

2017 Guards

  1. Armari Hardy  6-2  Jr  Southfield
  2. Matt Beachler  6-3  Jr  Lowell
  3. Dylan Alderson  6-4  Jr  Clarkston
  4. Greg Elliott  6-2  Jr  Detroit East English Village
  5. Demetrius Lake  5-10  Jr  Holland
  6. Sam Cornett  6-4  Jr  Grandville
  7. Jermaine Goliday  6-3  Jr  Muskegon
  8. Gabe Meriwether  6-2  Jr  Bellaire
  9. Jason Majerle  6-1  Jr  Rockford
  10. Troy Brown  6-1  Jr  Flint Northwestern

Xavier Tillman  6-8  Jr  Mustangs 16U (Grand Rapids): After missing the first day of the tournament with Adidas commitments, Tillman made a rare Eastside appearance and showed the crowd why he’s one of the country’s most widely recruited forwards. A frame that could rebound in any era, hands that catch everything and a vastly expanded offensive arsenal are the why. The one-two of his strength and improved footwork led to a dominant performance in the Mustangs’ blowout of the Family in what many had hoped would be a showcase game. Tillman has a Kentucky offer, and is perhaps closer to Chuck Hayes than the typical Coach Cal 4 recruit.

Ryan Wade  5-10  Fr  Gators 15U (Ann Arbor Skyline): Playing up on  a squad that was the AAU national runner-up less than a week earlier, but fights right in, and more. Teams that focused their defense on the Gators via Skyline backcourt of Jack Ammerman paid the price as Wade calmly drained three upon three. Not the physical drive threat his older brother Brandon is, but we’ll see how that comes as Ryan matures and gets more chances with the ball in his hands.

Mario Whitley  6-3  So  GreenWood 15U (Frankenmuth): An absolute load for the 15U level. He’s physically assertive on the baseline but then brings the next dimension of hangtime and creativity out of that big body. A horse on both ends of the glass. When he shoots it from three-point range like he did in Dearborn, there’s not a lot you can do with him. Over the next three years Whitley will have to add the in-between game.

 

Growing Up Quick: 15U Prospects Get Taste of NCAA Live Period at Brawl 4 Ball

Two of the top 15U performers at the Brawl for the Ball, the Mustangs' Duane Washington (left) shoots over the Storm's Dallas Slager.
Two of the top 15U performers at the NCAA certified Brawl for the Ball, the Mustangs’ Duane Washington (left) shoots over the Storm’s Dallas Slager.

It was a family feud in the 15U final of the Brawl for the Ball, where the Mustangs coached by Mike Faletti edged the Mustangs coached by James Vallar. Here are some of the top performers from the 15U division, including a couple each from those two clubs.

Kegan Brooks  6-1  So  Parallel 45 (Cadillac): Carrying on the family tradition at Cadillac, where his brother Jalen, now a QB at Ferris State, led the Vikings to a pair of Class B state semifinal appearances. While he won’t be catching oops any time soon, like his brother Brooks is a tough defender and has a higher skill level. He plays with a bunch of other ball-handlers but is good against pressure when called upon. At his best getting out and finishing on the break, and has improved his shot enough to be good for a 3 per game as well as a pull-up shot or two. A  dribble-drive game is next on the docket.

Sean Cobb  6-5  Fr  Mustangs-Haney (Williamston):  His Mustangs team is the tallest 15U group in the state, and Cobb can get it going inside or take it to the wings and show a surprising skill level for an incoming freshman his size and age. Had quite a following of college coaches in GR. One of the top five incoming freshmen in the state along with Mustangs teammate 6-8 Caleb Hodgson of Dansville, 6-4 Terry Armstrong of Flint, 6-5 Romeo Weems of Detroit and 6-3 Myron Gardner of Southfield. He’ll give Williamston a nice pair of forwards going ahead with 6-7 junior Derek Nicholson.

Keshaun Hayes  6-2  So  Playmakers (Southfield Bradford): No real stars but this Playmakers squad is a tough out because they come with a collective chip on their shoulder and keep coming at you; hard to break. Hayes and Damond Gilmore give them a couple of tweener slashers who can break you down then are athletic and tough enough to pursue and put in their misses. Has to be accounted for because he can flash to block a shot or dunk.

Artavious King  6-0  So  Titans (Holt): The Titans took the eventual champion Mustangs to the brink in bracket play, which was a surprise only to those that didn’t see how much this group improved in the spring. If he’s matched up with a guard, King becomes buckets in action going downhill at 220 pounds. Basically a 4 a year ago, he’s clearly worked hard to become a guard.

Tristen Mysen  6-6  So  North Oakland Wolfpack (Oxford): My favorite sequence of the tournament may have been when Mysen missed a dunk, then instead of succumbing to 15-year-old emotions he sprinted back and blocked the would-be layup. The Wolfpack run a lot of sets and do a good job of getting the ball to him — who makes it easy because while it’s built from the blocks he’s comfortable with the ball in a number of spots. He’s a miniature Brad Daugherty operating a sophisticated low block game at his own pace. Mysen has expanded his perimeter with a sweeping hook shot and soft shooting touch. He’ll need a couple inches or a fuller wing conversion to get the mid-major offers his frame, improvement curve and skills suggest.

Lamar Norman's plume of hair is battle ready.
Lamar Norman’s plume of hair is battle ready.

Lamar Norman  6-1  So  Mustangs-Vallar (Godwin Heights): He’s the best guard prospect from Grand Rapids in a dozen years, and like David Kool was the key member of a Class B state championship team as a freshman. He has an offensive game similar to Keith Appling’s at the same age, with a smooth jumpshot the foundation of scoring flurries with a knack for making tough moves look easy in close quarters. He cuts with purpose in the half-court and can get out and finish above the rim in the full-court. He plays with good point guards in both high school and AAU so that part of his game remains to be seen, and will be necessary because sans hair he’s not particularly tall; certainly has the skill level for it. Like Appling did, Norman will have to stop floating and get serious about defense to become a Big Ten player.

Tanner Reha  6-3  So  Mustangs-Faletti (DeWitt): No one on this balanced Mustangs squad puts up gaudy stats and Reha is one of the steady many. He’d finish his high school career with 20 and 10 averages on athleticism and baseline antics alone. But he has gotten much more consistent with his range and gets good elevation and arc when shooting mid-range. A three-point play waiting to happen because of how he can handle a hit. As one coach said, Reha is part of the “one percent of high school players in this country who catches with two hands and jumps off two feet.” Takes toughness and physical play to the defensive end of the court where he’s good in running and trapping game and can also grind it out in the half-court.

Dallas Slager  6-3  So  Grand Rapids Storm (Grandville Calvin Christian): Where have you gone Drew Naymick and Kyle Visser? There are no tall Dutchmen on this 15U Storm team, but Slager is a very productive frontcourt player. Going back to the Nate Verbeek and Duane Bosma, you tend to associate Calvin Christian players as tall and lanky. Slager is built more like a football player, and calls to mind more so a former Unity Christian star Tom Snikkers. Rebounds like a forward, handles like a guard. He showed up big against Mustangs-Vallar in the playoffs, it seemed like a layup or free throws when he touched the ball.

Jalen Tobias  6-6  So  Mustangs-Faletti (Detroit Renaissance): He was hurt in the spring and the Mustangs are a much better team for having him healthy. Tobias is deceptively athletic because he plays upright. All-around utility forward who is active on the glass, defends the back line, runs the court and can attack and score from either wing. He got time as a freshman for Renaissance because he was big and could jump. The 10th-grade version of Tobias be a significantly more polished and aware player with a key role on a top 10 Class A team.

Duane Washington  6-1  So  Mustangs-Vallar (Grand Rapids Christian): He injured his knee in the semifinals, but thankfully it turned out to be a sprain and no tears. A combo guard in the good sense of the term, not an undersized shot jacker but a kid with point guard skills and mentality, with the frame and shot of a 2G. Plays with an efficiency and maturity, knows how to work the angles, and that’s not surprising considering his father of the same name had a stint in the NBA and decade in Europe, and his uncle is Derek Fisher.

King James Wins but Local 16U Teams, Players Make Names at Brawl 4 the Ball

Nick Welch (left), defending REACH's Todd Burgan, was a frontcourt stalwart for the 16U runner-up Mustangs.
Nick Welch (left, defending REACH’s Todd Burgan) was a frontcourt stalwart for the 16U runner-up Mustangs at the Brawl for the Ball in Grand Rapids.

While the shadow of a dominant out-of-state team, the King James Shooting Stars, winning the division loomed over the 16U field at the Brawl for the Ball, the tournament was not without impressive performance from Michiganders. ACB/Bank Hoops in the semifinals and the Mustangs in the championship game both tested King James. Here are some of the standouts from those and others teams.

Brady Boothe  6-6  Jr  West Michigan Flight (Hudsonville): Fittingly given the team name, the Flight’s firepower is found on the wings in 6-5 Byron Center junior Brayden Smith and 6-3 Wyoming junior Chase VanderKlay. Though a finesse forward himself, Boothe is the pivot by default and is productive in the role. He pulls out defenders with his three-point shooting, and is active helping his teammates get theirs via screens. Not a brawler in the paint, but a good rebounder when coming high to low because he moves well. Tends to get too high and jumpy on defense.

Sam Cornett  6-4  Jr  ACB/Bank Hoops (Grandville): A physical guard in the Brian Snider mold. He showed his versatility on D by fighting inside against 1Nation’s tall, talented frontline at the beginning of the tournament, then matching up with King James’ All-American point guard Markell Johnson in the semifinals. Squares and uses his body well against dribblers, his wingspan against shooters. A work in progress offensively, with an odd but effective, for now, outside shot.

Armonee Felder  5-8  Jr  1Nation (Detroit Pershing): Always on to the next play, he’s unfazed and confident which allows Felder to get buckets in crunch time. As dangerous a defender on the ball as there is in the junior class. Sometimes lets it get personal and the one-on-one takes over, but is at his best when being aggressive while still making all the basic point guard passes.

Jermaine Goliday  6-3  Jr  ACB/Bank Hoops (Muskegon): A retro pure scorer who can get hot from three-point range as well as beat you with a deceptive first step and assortment of funky runners, bank shots, hop steps  and finger rolls. Fearless and at times unguardable against the likes of 1Nation, Playmakers, Stackhouse Elite and King James. A month of team stuff with Muskegon served Goliday well, as he played stretches of defense with conviction, showing his athletic ability blocking shots and jumping passing lanes.

Brandon Johns  6-8  So  Triple Threat (East Lansing): Three different members of Michigan State’s staff as well as Alabama, which has offered Johns, followed the state’s top sophomore and he didn’t disappoint. It never fails to impress how smooth he looks when he puts the ball on the floor, and shoots it so easily. Moves easily defensively too, and is dangerous coming from the weak side to block shots. Virtually never sees the ball in the post as there are stretches where Triple Threat’s guards seem to forget about him.

Demetri Martin, a junior from Big Rapids, was a leader on both ends for the Grand Rapids Storm's 16U team.
Demetri Martin, a junior from Big Rapids, was a leader on both ends for the Grand Rapids Storm’s 16U team at the Brawl for the Ball.

Demetri Martin  6-4  Jr  Storm (Big Rapids): The frame, and increasingly the game, of a D1 wing prospect. Can turn the corner and cause problems on the baseline. Stronger than he looks and gets physical and battles on the glass or when matched up with bigger forwards. Talks on D. Terrific body control around the hoop.  If he’s added the in-between guard stuff by the next Brawl for the Ball, the offers will come.

Westin Myles  6-4  Jr  Triple Threat (East Lansing): He has a great looking shot and size of a 2 guard, but can handle and make things happen with the ball. While brother Mikhail, an East Lansing 2015 grad, is more explosive, the younger Myles will end up with a more expansive game.

Jordan Roland  5-11  Jr  Mustangs (Flint Beecher): He led the Mustangs to the championship game where they gave King James its toughest game of the tournament. Roland has Beecher written all over him with how he gets after it defensively, whether closing off the lane to penetration or getting the layup line rolling out of the run-and-jump. This Mustangs team has to get by on team play and not star power, and Roland establishes how they want to lay with his unselfishness. While he may make a mistake, has the composure to not let it snowball. Scores in the lane when there’s daylight. Flipshot jumper needs consistency.

Will Weems  6-8  Jr  1Nation (Detroit Edison): When he keeps it basic and around the hoops, Weems really produces. Smart help defender who walls off well and takes charges. Moves his feet well enough that he can also guard out on the floor. Dangerous when he’s cutting and getting open at the basket, a liability when he settles for the easy outside ones.  Needs more explosion as smaller players can get to his shot.

Nick Welch  6-7  Jr  Mustangs (Temperance Bedford): He went against bigger players inside much of the weekend, from Triple Threat’s 6-8 soph Brandon Johnson all the way to the championship game with King James, but proved a matchup dilemma himself on the other end. Welch knocked down shots from the short corners and wings and was able to put the ball on the floor going left or right from 20 feet. He helped himself as much as any prospect in the 16U division.

 

17U Prospects Leave Impressions at Brawl 4 the Ball

 

The Detroit Stars' Jamal Cain, a junior from Detroit Cornerstone, was the top prospect in the 17U championship game at the Brawl for the Ball.
The Detroit Stars’ Jamal Cain, a junior from Detroit Cornerstone, was the top prospect in the 17U championship game at the Brawl for the Ball.

The Detroit Stars beat the Michigan Playmakers in the 17U final of the Brawl for the Brawl, thanks to a game-winning three-pointer by Stars junior guard Greg Elliott. Here are some of the 17U division’s top performers in Grand Rapids.

Joan Andoni  6-1  Sr  REACH (Livonia Churchill): Underutilized in the spring, Andoni stood firm through the roster flux and looked like the deadeye from his 16U days with the Warriors. He hit some big shots as REACH made a late push on the Playmakers in the championship game. Rhythm guy great elbow mechanics. Good frame, won’t have to work OT to get college rugged. An ideal complement to a guard like his teammate Terrence Sewell, who is conversely all drive and no shot. While his game lacks diversity, “You can’t have enough shooters in small college basketball,” one WHAC coach likes to say, and Andoni should get multiple offers from that league.

Jake Brubaker  6-2  Sr  HoopGrind (Marshall): HoopGrind has a GLIAC-caliber backcourt in Brubaker and Yale’s Cody Kegley, with Brubaker the perfect complement to the pure point guard. He’s a true scorer with range beyond the three-point line but also a drive game to finish through contact. His defense needs some focus, but showed he has the ability to do it in HoopGrind’s bracket win over the Storm.

Petoskey senior Jason Bur has been a standout for Parallel 45 all season.
Petoskey senior Jason Bur has been a standout for Parallel 45 all season.

Jason Bur  6-4  Sr  Parallel 45 (Petoskey): While he’ll be finishing out the liveperiod with Camp Darryl, Bur was a leader and stalwart amidst a sometimes stormy season for P45’s 17U. He’s just a reliable, all-around player who competes and improves. His versatility, competitiveness and defensive focus have made him an MIAA recruiting priority and help make Petoskey a top 20 team in Class A.

Jamal Cain  6-6  Jr  Detroit Stars (Detroit Cornerstone): We write about him a lot. Because he does a lot. Even playing up on 17U, Cain usually has physical advantages when matched up on the opposing wing forward and makes them pay when he gets going downhill. A rare finisher who is just as smooth as he is explosive. He has mid-major offers. To raise the bar Cain will need to get the motor going with regularity, get a take-over mentality and keep working on his shot, the rotation remains inconsistent.

Bryce Elliott  6-0  Sr  Shoreline Hoops (Hudsonville): A much improved and more confident player over the past year. If you’ve hit clutch buckets in a 4OT regional game against the defending Class A state champion, like Elliott did in March before the largest crowd in the history of West Ottawa’s gym, an AAU game won’t faze you, even if it’s against 1Nation and their D1 backcourt. He was strong on the defensive end and smart with the ball as Shoreline’s West team pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset in Saturday night bracket play. It culminated when 6-4 Grand Haven junior Zac Holman banked in a three-pointer after catching a three-quarters, cross-court pass from Bucs teammate Jason Long on an in-bounds play that began with 0.7 seconds on the clock.

Antwan Johnson  6-5  Playmakers (Detroit Henry Ford): The Playmakers don’t have a true big man on their 17U, but Johnson gave them enough up front, combined with superior guard play, to reach the championship game. High-point rebounder with the wheels to get out and finish on the other end. One of the tournament’s leading dunkers. Ran hard in defensive transition too. Moved well enough to defend out on the floor. In the halfcourt, was a capable passer or driver from the elbows and was active off the ball, but poor footwork on the jumper limit his as a 6-5 scorer. Looks like a GLIAC utility guy.

Zeale McCullough  6-5  Sr  Triple Threat (Lansing Eastern): Triple Threat doesn’t have legit 17U size, but the trio of McCullough, Midland’s Virgil Walker and DeWitt’s Evan Conn got the job done before running into the most talented frontcourt in the field that of the eventual champion Detroit Stars in the quarterfinals. Old school baseline forward who played above the rim. Good feel for the game and played well off of Triple Threat’s talented guards.

Karim Murray  6-1  Sr  REACH (Detroit Western): He was the starting 3 and defensive stopper on Detroit Western’s Class A state championship, able to get physical with any position on the court. With the Cowboys’ Horizon-bound backcourt of Josh McFolley and Brailen Neely, it was hard to tell what, if any, guard skills Murray possessed. In Grand Rapids, REACH called upon Murray to carry ball-handling and scoring responsibilities, and he led them to the 17U semifinals. Was able to break down defenders going left or right and showed his shooting range expands beyond 15 feet. No player in the 17U field helped himself more with the college coaches. If Murray can repeat this performance again this month, mid-major offers will ensue.

Daniel Pippen  6-8  Sr  Detroit Stars (Detroit Allen): The Stars have a terrific frontline with Pippen joining a pair of 6-6 juniors, the aforementioned Jamal Cain and Donnie Tillman of Findlay Prep via the Motor City. The two younger players both get more offensive chances than Pippen, but the slender 4 was still productive all-around. Very quick off the floor for second and third efforts. The simpler he makes his game, the more productive Pippen becomes. MIA in the spring, it looks like the light may have come on and he’s ready to get the offers rolling. Uses his length to protect the rim, and consistently ran hard rim-to-rim.

David Rinke  6-7  Sr  TEAM Basketball (Rochester Adams): Rinke has added strength and it showed in his confident play. Really made his bones with how he competed fearlessly against ACB/BankHoops’ 6-10 pair of Braden Burke and Ryan Schuller. Rinke was aggressive attacking the rim and was also able to step out and hit shots against the taller defenders. More of a wall-off position defender and grinder than shot-blocker, Rinke also took a charge in that opening-round playoff game.

Shooting Pool: Early standouts from the Brawl for the Ball

We’re midway through the Brawl for the Ball in Grand Rapids. Below are some breakout performers from pool play.

Tournament bracket play begins Saturday afternoon at MVP Fieldhouse and Cornerstone University.

Randy Gilbert  6-5  So  Superfriendz 15U (Detroit Cass Tech): One of the greatest shooters in Cass Tech history, Youngstown State assistant coach Steve Hall, was at Cornerstone University to see perhaps another. Gilbert his deep 3s off the dribble from the top of the key or the wings, with defenders draped all over him. Used a big first step and size to score at the rim easily when he was overplayed. Active rebounder. As incredible as Gilbert was, somebody forgot to tell him Parallel 45 hasn’t lost a pool game since April, and they pulled it out here when another 2018 D1 prospect, 6-8 Danny Kolp from Petoskey, scored the winning and-one layup with 10 seconds to play.

Jesse Hillis  6-0  Jr  Grand Rapids Storm 16U (Caledonia): Shouldered even more responsibility for the ball with Jason Majerle out and was up to the task. A true point guard and passer with a quick, long first step that gets it all going.

Treveon Orr  6-8  Jr  Playmakers 16U (Detroit King): True post with no qualms about throwing his weight around. Finds a body when a shot goes up, and takes up so much space teammates can get the rebounds he doesn’t. Has learned a number of moves, next is concluding them with true release and touch. If Orr can kick it out and walk his man down, would be layups galore instead of forcing bad shots. Does a decent job with the first defensive rotation but the quickness to recover is lacking.  More fitness and speed as he matures and he’s a top 10 overall prospect in 2017. He plays for George Ward at Detroit King, so expect there to be Percy Gibson comparisons.

Ben Ritsema  6-4  Sr  West Michigan Lakers (Zeeland East): He kept the Lakers in the game then poured on the gas to fire a big comeback win for the Lakers on the Storm. Shooter, slasher, dunker. Has the tools for it, but colleges will want to see what positions he can check at their level.

Ryan Schuller  6-10  Sr  ACB/Bank Hoops 17U (Sturgis): He’s improved significantly since spring AAU began. College coaches love his frame and enthusiasm for the game. A hard worker in games as in practice. Defensive lane clogger who is getting more comfortable with the ball; will still bring it too low. Can rebound outside his area.  Schuller was solid and 6-10 Stevensville Lakeshore senior Braden Burke showed a terrific offensive arsenal in ACB/Bank Hoops’ win over Triple Threat.

Brayden Smith  6-5  Jr  West Michigan Flight 16U (Byron Center): Great physical tools, plays above the rim. Uses live body to make plays on both ends of the court. Scholarship athlete in basketball or football. Consistent shooting touch from 20, but it’s a set shot. A MAC player if it becomes a jumper and Smith gets a creative, attacking game from the wings.

Richard Talley  6-0  Sr  Playmakers 17U (Detroit Renaissance): A key member of a Renaissance team that looks like preseason top 10 in Class A. It’s hell bringing the ball up against him. Explosive enough to score around the rim — when he chooses to look at it. As a point guard prospect, more facilitator than creator which may make him a defensive specialist at the next level. Will have to find some kind of a jumper to play in the modern college game.

NCAA July Open Period Commences in Grand Rapids

Brawl_for_the_Ball_largeMost of the state’s top programs and prospects, and college coaches from throughout the Midwest, will converge on Grand Rapids this week for the Brawl for the Ball, an NCAA sanctioned tournament. It runs Thursday, July 9 — Sunday, July 12.

Click here for the full schedule.

Read below to discover what are some of the best games for fans and coaches to check out. All are at MVP Fieldhouse unless otherwise noted.

17U Grand Rapids Storm vs West Michigan Lakers, 3:30 pm Thursday: There are always some healthy hard feelings when the two longest-running teams on the Westside hook up. Love the matchup of athletic, lanky, bouncy wings, the Storm’s 6-4 East Kentwood senior Micah Rosser and the Lakers’ 6-4 Zeeland East senior Ben Ritsema.

17U Mustangs (Woodruff) vs Impact Elite, 4:45 pm Thursday: This is a rematch of the championship game of the Camp Darryl Classic in May. It may be on Court 4, but small schools and D2s need to be all over this matchup.

16U ACB/Bank Hoops vs 1Nation, 6 pm Thursday: If these two guys played at different local schools, they’d be household names. But 6-5 ACB/Bank Hoops junior Riley Fairfield is at North Muskegon and not Muskegon High, and 6-4 1Nation junior Austin McCullough is at Portage and not Kalamazoo Central. Both are athletic, tough wings and top 20 overall prospects in the 2017 class. The similarities don’t end there, as both could be scholarship football receivers if they chose that route, and they play for Michigan’s two Under Armour-sponsored teams. Fairfield’s ACB/Bank Hoops squad is coming off a strong spring in which they won gold bracket titles at King James and the Chicago Classic.

17U ACB/Bank Hoops vs REACH 2:15 pm Friday: These programs played two great 17U games in 2014, and all the perimeter talent and athleticism from both teams promises another fun one on Court 1.

15U Family vs Mustangs, 8:30 pm Friday: Any time the state’s most storied programs meet, it’s appointment viewing. The Mustangs are bolstered by the arrival of one of the state’s top sophomore guards Davion Williams of Belleville. The two early candidates for the state’s top 2019 recruit will be in the 15U field here, the Family’s 6-4 Romeo Weems and Mustangs (Haney) 6-5 Sean Cobb from Williamston.

16U Family vs Triple Threat, 11:45 am Saturday: Lansing area big men seem to come in pairs. Grand Ledge’s Al Horford and Everett’s Goran Suton were the real deal. Jon Horford and Eaton Rapids’ Alex Gauna were a flimsy facsimile. Hopefully the newest pair, 6-9 Holt junior Jaron Faulds of the Family and 6-8 East Lansing sophomore Brandon Johns of Triple Threat, trend towards the former.