MVP Marcus Wourman 5-8 8th East Lansing: Bank Hoops camps have seen their share of young point guard prodigies. Wourman is the next one. Time will tell, will he end up the next Cassius Winston, or Juwan Moody? High IQ and skill set, he handled the ball and ran the show at his own pace, mixing in his own buckets while finding the open man. Should work on his floater in the lane that he’ll need as a small, young guard when he reaches the varsity level.
“One of the best point guards in camp regardless of age,” a coach said. “You can tell this kid is going to be a player. Never seemed rattled and scored with ease despite being one of the smallest kids on the court. It says a lot when you’re the youngest guy out there and players two years older are still giving you the ball to bring it up the court. Haven’t seen a middle schooler this good at camp since Cassius Winston.”
Pierre Brooks 6-2 8th St. Clare Montefalco: Nice combination of size and skill, as he could rebound it then bring it up and make a play with the ball. Advanced feel for the game, and able to see things happen over smaller guards defending him. Shot selection left something to be desired.
“Long, big guard who certainly has a couple inches of growth left in him,” a coach said. “Played like a seasoned guard against older competition. Certainly a gamer. Sneaky in the passing lanes, but one area of improvement would be his defense on the ball.”
Trey Gardette 5-9 8th Ann Arbor: Terrific pushing the ball in games, we also liked how Gardette did his business in drills. Not a few guards, when pushed out of their comfort zone in some stations, look lost without the ball in their hands. Not this kid, who embraced rebounding, setting screens, just a well-rounded player. When he did have the ball, had a nice mix of shoulder fakes, change of speeds, to create space against older defenders.
“Extremely fast guard,” a coach said. “Will be very dangerous once he uses his speed on both ends of the court.”
KJ Rai 6-4 8th East Lansing: Always seemed to pop into play with a nose for the ball and rebounded it all day long. Good size for his age, and used it on the glass. Fought for position defensively and blocked shots.
“Another reason East Lansing High School will be in good shape even after Brandon Johns graduates in a couple years,” a coach said. “Good footwork for his age. Gets pretty good position in the post and found a body when a rebound came off. Needs to improve quickness, but that should come with time and coaching.”
Ayden Rutan 5-5 8th Leslie: Alma College assistant coach Ryan Clark, a Leslie HS grad, ran a drill station at the camp. He had to be a proud and optimistic alumnus seeing the talented trio of Leslie eighth-graders, Rutan, 5-7 Tristan Feighner and 5-6 Nolan Frohriep. Rutan was the smallest player at camp. He controlled tempo and made right decision after right decision.
“Young, fearless lefty that acted like he belonged with the older guys despite his smaller stature,” a coach said. “Excellent shooter and passer.”
“The future of the Leslie backcourt is good with them waiting in the wings,” another coach said. “Feighner is a streak shooter from 3 who is better in the half-court than an up-and-down game. Rutan is a small guard with a big heart! Very strong handle. Knows how to finish on bigger defenders by using the rim to protect his shot. Changes pace very well, keeping defenders on their toes.”
These were some of the standout wing forwards, combo forwards and tweeners from the Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp.
Preston Briggs 6-5 So Traverse City Central: On measurables one of the top prospects in camp. He has the length and bounce to cover space, the versatility with which you can do so much. Coachable, engaged, played hard. Still young in that Briggs will look so smooth and natural then suddenly the finish might be awkward.
“Long and athletic wing who was all over the court,” a coach said. “His strengths could be in one possession as I watched him come out of nowhere to get a defensive rebound, lead the break then finish with an ‘and-one.’ Very good finisher on the move both in transition or the half-court. Needs to get stronger and improve his shot behind the arc.”
Ryan Dorff 6-4 Fr Mattawan: Nice looking shot for his size and age. Legs weren’t all there by the time we saw him in the last round of games, but Dorff hit well in drills. Didn’t look like a kid who hasn’t yet attended high school with the way he moved off the ball and spaced the floor. Came shot ready on his cuts and used his body to make space and finish under taller defenders, and to back down and shoot over smaller ones.
Logan LePage 6-3 So Corunna: Corunna is joining the basketball mainstream, and a possible gem may have been uncovered in the process. Just looks the part as an athlete more than 90% of the players at camp.
“Big guard who is dangerous in the open court and has a variety of finishes at the hoop,” a coach said. “Has a game reminiscent of Dylan Alderson at the same age. Plays very hard on defense and showed he was capable of guarding the 2-4. Rebounds well on both ends. A streak shooter from outside. Improved jumper will increase his recuitability.”
Brandon Michrina 6-2 So Sterling Heights Stevenson: In the final round of games, Michrina seemed to find a second wind that others didn’t have. Sporting the grey tee under the jersey Georgetown style, the darker it got the better he played. Beat bigger players for rebounds, and smaller players for layups. Knocked down open 3s and also a tough step-back from the corner over the camp’s biggest player Nolan Foster.
Nate Nemens 6-3 So Sterling Heights Stevenson: No one at camp seemed to enjoy running out and setting screens quite like Nemens. That same workmanlike energy translated to the glass, where he rebounded outside his area. First on the floor after loose balls. Will need to become an offensive threat as an upperclassman — had a nice half-hook into the lane, but was inconsistent finishing at the rim or hitting from the short corners.
Jason Raedy 6-3 So Saginaw Nouvel: Invaluable because he likely led the camp in offensive rebounds. Totally instinctual and energetic hunting down misses or working for two, three, four tips before it goes down.
Prince Rush 6-2 So Muskegon: The Muskegon program continues to churn out talent. Three of the top 25 overall players at camp were Big Reds, sophomore guard DeAndre Carter, freshman guard Vernon Nash and this guy. Rush has a nice combination of strength and length so rebounded well on both ends. Moved well off the ball and was a willing screener. Ran the floor. Flip shot 3 but it went in. Can he guard 2s and 3s?
Thomas Sylvester 6-4 So Novi Catholic Central: Took advantage of playing with a 6-9 passer in Caleb Hodgson by making strong cuts and inverting the offense to post up. Triggered the break with quick outlet passes.
Tyler Welch 6-3 So Monroe St. Mary Catholic: “I liked him,” a coach said. “Long and rebounded well outside his area. Doesn’t always look athletic, but plays very hard.”
MVP Edwin Victory 5-9 Fr Grand Rapids Christian: Looks ready to give some minutes to spell D1 junior Duane Washington for the No. 3 Class A team in Michigan. As fast as any guard at camp with the ball. Country Day’s Wendell Green scores it better, though Victory has similar talent as a small guard and like Green is a top 10 overall incoming freshman.
“No one could stay in front of him, he got to the rim at will,” a coach said. “Great in an open court game. Was especially efficient in the pick-and-roll game. Sometimes got caught too deep on over penetration. Streak shooter with awkward form who needs to work on consistency in his form from long range to get better results.”
Noah Baylis 5-11 Fr Holly: Played with freedom, feel and deep eager range. Mixed in some slick passes amidst the jumpers.
“Will he be the next big scoring frosh for Holly?” a coach asked. “He shot the hell out of it all damn day.”
“A solid all-around player,” said another coach. “Had no problem knocking down the open J. Very high IQ. Could sacrifice some flash for efficiency in certain situations. Needs to play harder on defense.”
“This incoming freshman was finally playing against his age group,” added a third coach. “He shot the ball extremely well all day including 5-for-5, most off the dribble, in one game. Had his teammates standing cheering by the last one. Also mixed in some floaters and dimes to big man Nolan Foster.”
Mark Miller 6-3 Fr Grand Blanc: Tough, talented Flintstone.
Said one coach: “To be blunt and to the point, he was very good. Total package.”
“A poor man’s version of a young Lamarcus Aldridge,” said another. “Very smart running the floor. He’s smart and elusive enough to avoid picking up charges while still finishing at the rim. Very nice inside-outside game in the half-court. Can defend any position on the perimeter. Continued growth and athletic development, and this kid could be special.”
Vernon Nash 5-7 Fr Muskegon: A clerical error had him in the wrong drill group, but once we saw how Nash was competing even against opponents a year older and eight or nine inches taller. Typical tough Muskegon kid that way. Skilled and smart enough to make the right decisions and pass on the move. Also able to run a half-court offense patiently, though he too often settled for shots in the last game.
Noah Pruitt 5-8 Fr Okemos: He was talented but young and small at last year’s camp. Now with a bit of size and a summer season of varsity ball behind him and Pruitt is tougher and more able to execute. Projecting how much experience he’ll get over the next four years in one of the state’s top three leagues, Pruitt should be highly recruited as an upperclassman.
“Quick, very solid pass-first point guard,” a coach said. “He was very scrappy on defense and didn’t seem to mind mixing it up with anyone. One of the best on-ball defenders in camp. Knocked down open shots. Sometimes got caught inside with nowhere to go because of over-penetration.”
“Very heady, solid, quick point guard that plays hard,” said another. “Plays excellent defense. Needs a little work on the 3 ball to round out his superior all-around game and athleticism.”
Jarvis “Jay” Walker 6-0 Fr Muskegon Mona Shores: Comes from a basketball family, a pedigree which was apparent with how he attacked drills and competed in games. Baby faced Laval Lucas Perry type who thus surprises you making athletic plays.
“Maybe not in the layup line, then wows you once the game starts,” said a coach. “Very steady guard who is not afraid of anything. One of the best on-ball defenders at camp. Has a knack for getting his shot off in traffic and displayed a solid mid-range game. His shot from deep will have to improve for him to thrive at the varsity level, and beyond.
MVP Xander Okerlund 6-2 So Glen Lake: It’s probably 50/50 that nine months from now Okerlund will be 6-4 and coming off a high school season that saw him average at least 20 a game. If that comes to pass, Northern Michigan will have the closest thing to Chris Hass. Plays with the same kind of feel and smoothness, with points from pull-ups, 3s, fastbreaks and free throws. Scores while still making more smart passes than taking poor shots. When your initials are X and O you’d better be a smart player, which he is residing a couple plays ahead of his young high school peers. Which is why no one in camp go their hands on more balls. And experience helps. Over the past two seasons he’s a veteran of over 100 15U AAU games, likely the most among campers at that level. He embraced his matchup with AAU teammate Cade Coleman, in one stretch Xander extending at the basket to score over the camp’s top wing prospect, setting off a flurry of another layup, then a jumper, then an assist. Needs to sometimes play outside himself, sprint more and harder, as well as he’s playing the potential is so much more.
“My choice for camp MVP would be DeAndre Carter, or Xander,” a coach said. “He’s improved as much as any kid in the state over the past year. Competes all the time. He seems to have a fire in his eyes when he plays and leaves it all on the floor. A lanky, true scorer who can hit the open shot or finish at the hoop. He has a nice mid-range game off the dribble. He rebounds well for a guard and isn’t afraid of a little contact.”
Elijah Bell 5-9 So Detroit Consortium: Attack mode point guard who had a strength advantage on most defenders, so if he got his shoulder in them or all the way past them kept the pressure on all afternoon with how he was able to get into the paint. Even when he was going hard was able to maneuver the momentum, a rare trick for talented but youthful guards.
“One of the top three point guards at camp,” one coach said. “A shorter version of John Bagley. Can handle, defend, and shoot the open shot in a controlled way with great rotation.”
“Strong at the rim with either hand and makes the right pass when things close down,” said another. “Seems to score in bunches. Nice looking shot from 21 feet and in. Good rebounding guard who isn’t afraid to lead the break. Plays tough on ‘D,’ but sometimes got caught gambling off the ball.”
Isaiah Bridges 6-3 So Midland: Outstanding high school player. He was as productive as any kid at camp, with at least 20 and 10 in all three games, with a high of 32 points. If a year from now he’s either finishing above the rim or playing guard full time, it will be easier to project Bridges to the college rank. Could end up like CMU’s Kevin McKay.
“Not many of the campers or coaches would get this, but Bridges played like a Wes Unseld clone,” a coach said. “He went ‘hard as a mofo’ in drill stations, and harder in the games. Offensively Bridges has the skill set to play all five positions, complete with a nice mid-range game as well as a vast array of post moves and good court vision.”
“Undersized big, with a high motor!,” said another coach. “Runs the floor in both offensive and defensive transition. Has enough skill to lead the break if he sees daylight, or finish on the move. If he didn’t get to the rim immediately, did a good job moving without the ball. An improved jumper and this kid could be a matchup nightmare.”
Reece Castor 6-4 So Gladstone: It’s a long trek from the U.P., and Castor was all business making it a worthwhile trip. He was engaged and competitive throughout drills and that carried over to games. Would have loved to see his shot chart, as he was always using footwork and strength to get an even better look. Quick hands and instincts, allowing him to beat smaller guards to 50/50 balls. Similar to former Grand Valley State star Justin Ringler, with a mix of Jordan Bitzer. To project as a guard at the next level, will have to improve defensive quickness.
Said one coach: “Castor scored the ball whenever he wanted. At times it even appeared that guys were a bit scared of him.”
“One of the top three forwards at the camp,” said another. “Plays extremely hard and strong. Takes it to the basket and finishes. Great body for an incoming sophomore. Mature mind and body. Plays beyond his years.”
“Athletic guard who can lead or finish transition with the best of them,” added another. “Sneaky athlete, may have had the best first step at camp. Can score off the wing and even saw him play with his back to the basket and display a nice up-and-under move off the post catch. Finishes with contact and was consistent from 22 feet and in. I feel like his handle hasn’t caught up to his athleticism. But when it does, look out!”
Zach Goodline 5-10 So Coloma: Light on his feet and strong with either hand. As skilled as any player at camp, able to get the ball where he wanted. Small but hit some tough shots when he chose to drive while keeping defenses honest with the jumper. But where Goodline really shines is as a playmaker.
“Smart and tough point guard who got to the rim at will, as no one at the camp could stay in front of him,” said a coach. “Finished in a variety of ways when help didn’t come and found the open shooter when help did. Deadly in an open court, fast paced game, and poised enough to slow things down when numbers weren’t in his favor. Teammates seemed to like playing with him. Defends and plays the passing lanes very well, but could be more aggressive on the ball.”
“Goodline had a lot of fun making sweet highlight type passes during the games,” a second coach said. “He can also score the ball effectively.”
“Great vision,” another said. “Understands the game. Needs to make the easy, open pass when it presents itself.”
Dayton Keller 6-4 So Jackson Lumen Christi: Widebody post player with toughness and skill of the type who should average 20 and 10 as an upperclassman. While he doesn’t project like the 6-9 types in attendance, he produced against them in drills and games.
“He’s grown taller and filled out, to make a very interesting power player with skill,” a coach said. “Could turn out to be the skilled, tough enforcer type who can shoot, that every coach would love to have playing for them. He’s on his way.”
“Strong banger who may have been the surprise of the camp,” said another coach. “Can knock down jumpers from the ‘L’ or the corners, while having the most polished post game in camp. Defensively and offensively rebounds very well. Ceiling is limited due to height, but is a high school post that any coach in the state could build a team around.”
The top overall performers from the sixth-annual Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp. Further camp coverage will include the 2019, 2020 and 2021 all-camp teams, and more player evaluations.
MVP Davis Lukomski 6-7 So Novi Catholic Central: The next Quinn Blair out of REACH and the Catholic League. He battled defensively against bigger post players in drills, then showed his versatility in games playing inside and out. Ran the floor well, finishing with soft hands. Good effort and timing on the offensive glass. Needs to become more comfortable finishing with his left hand.
“He looked like John Simons in the games I saw,” said one camp coach. “He must’ve had nearly 10 3s over three games, and that’s with just watching a few minutes at a time. He also put it on the floor and drove it well, absorbing contact and finishing.”
“Versatile!,” a second coach said. “Very active off the ball and crashed the ‘O” board every time a shot went up. Runs in transition very well and is smooth for his size when he catches the ball going downhill. He’s lanky and uses his athleticism to finish in the open court. Nice jumper all the way out to the three-point line and drives the baseline well. Game is reminiscent of CC alum Kyle Cooper.”
“Big-time motor that never stops, and finishes,” added another coach. “Also has a nice shot.”
“I played with two Catholic Central forwards in college, and if he turns out anything like them he can’t help but be good,” another coach said.
Kind of like if you’re on this list …
- Underclassman Camp MVPs
- 2016: Davis Lukomski, Novi Catholic Central
- 2015: Lamar Norman, Godwin Heights
- 2014: Davion Williams, Belleville
- 2013: Miles Bridges, Huntington Prep
- 2012: Josh Jackson, Detroit Consortium
- 2011: Eric Davis, Saginaw
DeAndre Carter 5-10 So Muskegon: Some may have forgot about him since he played out of state with the Spiece Indy Heat, but they’ll remember Carter this winter. No guard at camp was faster end-to-end, as Carter proved often impossible to keep off the rim. He also advanced the ball with some long and on-time passes. Positive, vocal and confident like you want for the position. Still needs to work on the nuances of the 1, his half-court decision making, getting the right pass-shot balance.
“One of the top three points guards at camp,” a coach said. “Quick, quick, quick. Shake and bake, can finish, and hit the 3. He’s already a very dangerous cover, needs to learn change of speed and direction.”
“Fast as lightning point guard who gets into the lane at will,” said another. “Shows leadership and teammates definitely like seeing the ball in his hands because he drives it well enough to draw help and regularly finds the open man. Streaky shooter from the perimeter who seems to be hot more than he is cold. Plays tough defense on and off the ball. Reminds me of a less flashy version of Maurice Jones.”
Cade Coleman 6-5 So Davison: Rare combination of true college wing size and the ability to create for others or himself. With one notable exception, Coleman’s team may have been the most unselfish at camp and that was largely thanks to how he set things playing point guard. Rebounded, pushed it, got teammates easy looks. Also hit step-back and other closely guarded three-pointers. Best case scenario Travis Conlan or Derrick Dial — if he keeps the drive alive, stays motivated and plays with an edge, exploiting his physical advantages from the backcourt.
“Big guard who is dangerous in the open court,” a coach said. “He knows how to put a defender on his hip and finish through the contact he creates. Does a nice job of getting into the lane and creating for others. Sometimes struggles when being defended by quicker guards, and his ability to guard them will have to improve.
Nolan Foster 6-9 So Mattawan: He has as much potential as any power forward to come through the camp outside of Deyonta Davis and Trevor Manuel. More along the Mike Edwards tier. Legit height, frame, wingspan, and a big kid who just seems to enjoy the game. Even though he had the longest trip down, Foster probably led the camp in diving on the floor for balls.
“Foster likes the block area, on offense as well as defense,” a coach said. “He will run through screens, signifying that he’s not soft. He was also a great teammate during camp.”
“Most big man upside at the camp,” said another. “‘Biggest big’ there, nice high ceiling. Sometimes foot-awkward but he makes up for it with his confidence and perseverance. Good hand-eye coordination with aggressive moves around the basket. Made put-backs and used the backboard with short mid-range shots.”
Added a third coach: “Raw big who plays very hard. Was the least polished of the 6-9 guys, but probably has the most upside. He boxes out well when shots go up and aggressively pursues rebounds. Needs a lot of work on his offensive skill set, but judging from the effort on the court he will probably put the work in. Good finisher and footwork in the lane with his right, but much improvement is needed when defenders play over his left shoulder and make him go left. Would like to see him try to block more shots from helpside.”
Caleb Hodgson 6-9 So Dansville: Hodgson makes a repeat appearance on the top camp honor team, as he was the only rising freshman to crack it in 2015. As productive as any frontcourt player at camp. He made skilled offensive plays whether from the blocks with spin moves, unlikely extensions and backboard finishes, to away from the basket as Hodgson’s passing and shot-making to 20 feet allowed his team to invert the offense. Had a serious, competitive approach in his game matchups with other D1 power forward prospects Nolan Foster and Sage Walker. Would like to see him control more real estate in rebounding range and concede fewer boards.
“Caleb Hodgson was ‘blue collar tough’ when I watched him extensively during his second game,” a coach said. “Mixed it up constantly on both ends of the floor.”
“Most polished of all the bigs at camp,” another coach said. “Active and always working to get open in the post. Can finish with both hands around the hoop and uses his body well to create space. Boxes out every time a shot went up. Hit some from the high post. An improved jumpshot and quickness could definitely help him take his game to the next level.”
Sage Walker 6-9 So Ithaca: If you were judging AAU teammates Walker or Sean Cobb this spring and summer, you weren’t getting the healthy versions. Walker came in and reminded everyone why we had him a top 10 prospect in 2019 after last year’s Underclassman Camp. Thinnest of the lot, but more likely than the other post players to get a tough rebound in traffic or pick and roll instead of pop (though hit shots from just inside the arc with no problem). Needs to work on basket orientation, feel for the post game, when to drop step, when to spin.
“He seemed to leave an impression on his drill coaches,” one coach said, half of them wanting to know who was this bouncy stretch 4. “Walker went hard in every station, and harder in the games. He played as if there were a scholarship on the line every play, all day.”
“Cerebral big man can run the floor and finish with either hand,” said another. “Has a very nice mid-range touch. Crafty around the rim. Top three big man at camp.”
“Good height and length, with the ability to play offensively from 17 feet and in,” another coach said. “Works hard on both ends of the floor, but can be moved out of post position by stronger bigs. Rebounds well on both ends, runs the floor and finishes in transition. Needs to get stronger, but despite his slender frame he doesn’t shy away from contact. Very high ceiling!”
Devin Alverson 6-3 Jr Warriors (Belleville): Role player deluxe, a heck of a third option whether after Traveon Maddox and Tre Harvey for the Warriors or Davion Williams and Gabe Brown for Belleville. Good athlete who works the boards like a forward (though he forgets to box out), gets garbage points and can create scores within a couple dribbles. Alverson scored 14 in the Warriors championship game loss to JDIA.
Wendell Green 5-10 Fr Playmakers (Detroit Country Day): Facing older competition didn’t faze him, if anything it inspired him. Green had games of 29 against the Gators’ loaded backcourt and 24 points in a shootout with TEAM Basketball’s Jason Dietz. And it wasn’t just the scoring totals, but how he went about it repeatedly answering other teams’ big shots with those of his own in close, back-and-forth game. Passed it well and willingly to complement the scoring exploits. He was unstoppable for stretches and will be the best guard to matriculate to Country Day since Ray McCallum.
Derek Nicholson 6-7 Sr Titans (Williamston): The Titans are guard-heavy which makes Nicholson valuable even when he’s not scoring. At Olivet he was also a threat as a consistent low block finisher as the Titans lost in the third-place game to the Gators. Nicholson scored 16 in their opening win against the North Oakland Wolfpack, in a nice matchup with 6-6 junior Tristan Mysen.
Dreyon O’Neal 6-5 So SAFE (Detroit Edison): The energy and athleticism to really produce from the forward spot. O’Neal slashed and drove for scores, was active on the glass and blocked some shots. Wasn’t shy about getting up shots. Borderline top 5 prospect in Michigan for 2019.
Chase Wasilk 6-4 Jr North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): Thought he played well the prior week at Spiece and followed that up at Olivet. A lot of winspan to close things off defensively, and it adds a half step when he unfurls it to finish at the basket. Good looking form on his shot, but isn’t always shot-ready off the catch and isn’t aggressive looking for it. Looks on the verge of some big things as he realizes just how good he could be.
The inaugural Bank Hoops 16U state final delivered on the concept promised — no weak sisters and a full day of competitive hoops between a plethora of future college players. Of these 10 teams, it was a retro unit, former Just Do It Again teammates from Grand Rapids, that claimed the title, going 4-0 on the day at Olivet College. JDIA led by one at the half before defeating the Michigan Warriors 68-55.
MVP Lamar Norman 6-2 Jr JDIA (Godwin Heights): Did nothing to dispute his reputation as the state’s top pure scorer in the 2018 class. Norman scored 27 in the championship game against the Warriors. In the quarterfinals he blistered the Gators’ backcourt, one of the state’s best, for 30. Even when the three-point touch eludes him, Norman manufactures points because of his explosive and creative game off the dribble and ability to draw fouls. He’s just so fast, you’re out of luck asking a high school kid to stay in front of him. He makes difficult moves and finishes look easy which had even college coaches shaking their heads. All this while by no means a selfish player, he makes the extra pass, and is starting to stoke some competitive fire on the defensive side.
Terry Armstrong 6-5 So SAFE (Marietta, Ga. Wheeler): After getting Hoosier’d to death by Parallel 45 in the first game, SAFE, a 2019 “super team,” regrouped and got better as the day progressed to finish 3-1. Armstrong was the most talented player in the field, with an All-American gear beyond some of the regular ol’ D1 recruits. The best player from Flint since Miles Bridges, Armstrong combines the big guard size and skill of Desmond Farmer, with the athletic pop and flair of Anthony Pendleton. A couple times every game he got off a shot the release, timing, extension of which were simply unguardable. He plays AAU the way it was meant to be — fast — yet generally made good decisions while pushing the pace.
Jason Dietz 6-3 Jr TEAM Basketball (Troy): He can for sure play in the America East, GLIAC or Patriot, and the way he’s shot it this summer should have Dietz on Horizon, Ivy, MAC radars. As a catch-and-shoot threat, maybe Jenison’s Jacob Boonyasith is better in the 2018 class. It’s a short list if not. In the 16U state final, after a slow start in the opener against JDIA, Dietz scored a tournament high 32 against the Playmakers and 23 against SAFE.
Payton Harley 6-1 Jr JDIA (Godwin Heights): One of the most improved players in the 2018 class. He’s channeled his talents, playing with ease and confidence. A heads up point guard in an up and down game, Harley kept JDIA’s myriad shooters happy while burying shots off the catch himself.
Nikc Jackson 6-8 Jr JDIA (Tuscon, Az. Sunnyside): Like Armstrong, Jackson was bidding farewell to Michigan basketball before heading to the Sunbelt, though his move from Cedar Springs isn’t basketball based. He’ll be a Mountain West recruiting target in short order. On a JDIA team full of guards Jackson did the dirty work, defending and rebounding one rim, finishing at the other. He produced against a talented lineup of forwards including REACH’s Tray Jackson, the Gators’ Avery Lewis and TEAM Basketball’s Danny Sully, Not an explosive athlete but produces thanks to his wingspan, touch and effort. Lefty who can knock down shots from the elbow. He
Traveon Maddox 6-4 Jr Warriors (Novi): The Warriors represented with well-earned wins over Parallel 45, a top 10 16U team in the state, then the Titans, a top 5 squad, before falling in the final to JDIA. The following day Maddox received an offer from Ferris State, which will be the first of many. The Warriors are as aggressive, physical and athletic as any 16U team in Michigan outside the Family. And this Novi kid fits right in. He’s aggressive going to the lane and that much more effective for his sometimes awkward and unorthodox shoot releases. Can pull up, range to 3, can finish the break or in the half-court, gets to the line.
Ten of the state’s best 16U teams will have one more go at it for the 2016 AAU season when they meet in this Bank Hoops event Saturday, July 30 at Olivet College. Games begin at 9:45 am and the championship game is 7:15 pm. To avoid the “Fireman’s Festival” take exit 48 off of 69, which will go right to the Culver Center. Also note that there is construction on 69 South between Lansing and Olivet.
Opening round schedule (all bracket play, no pools)
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 is 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.