Michigan’s class of 2018 is one of the state’s deepest in a quarter century. And the book isn’t finished. Here are some of the Great Lakes State’s rising seniors with a chance to improve their college standing when the July evaluation period tips off this week.
Robert Carpenter 6-6 Sr Mustangs (Detroit Cornerstone): He wasn’t particularly memorable when I was coaching against GreenWood at the 16U level last year, then it was the Jamal Cain show in the winter for Cornerstone. That perception has all changed as Carpenter stole the show for the Mustangs at REACH’s July Tuneup tournament. Bouncy, active, finisher, shooter, rebounding outside area, doing so much you want from the forward spot.
Trendon Hankerson 6-2 Sr Detroit Spartans (Novi): The younger brother of Kameron Hankerson, who has a promising future at Wisconsin-Green Bay after closing his freshman season strong. Little bro is just that, a few inches smaller, but still has a nice winsgpan for the backcourt and is filling out through his upper body. Thinking, vocal point guard who does a good job getting the Spartans’ bigs involved, and can kill you with the catch-and-shoot.
Luke Hyde 6-7 Sr Elite Nation (DeWitt): He’s been a terrific addition to what was an already strong Elite Nation squad. Good length, smooth feet to defend or get to the rim, and rebounds at a good rate. Smart in the halfcourt able to back-door for easy hoops, and runs the lanes hard to finish. Hyde’s greatest improvement has been in his three-point shooting. Reminds me of Travis DuPree, who was a D3 All-American for Albion. Before that, the Dutch Dome serenaded him with chants of “Crazy Legs!” for a Holland team that went 20-0 in the 2001 regular season.
Avery Lewis 6-6 Sr 1Nation (Ann Arbor Huron): His stats may go down a bit with a similar player, Markeese Hastings, rejoining 1Nation, but he’ll continue to contribute across the board. He’s evolved from a blue-collar role player to versatile, left-handed offensive threat, without losing the toughness and energy that he had in the first place. Lewis is the kind of big wing coaches are looking for because of all the positions he can guard.
DJ Lundy 6-5 Sr Warriors (Romulus): The grinder complement to the Warriors’ highly athletic D1 wing Traveon Maddox of Novi. Looks like what we’ve become used to, a Romulus kid blowing up as a senior. Lundy has long been a productive, tough presence in the lane and on the glass, active blue-collar guy that always has to be accounted for with a block out. Now he’s shooting it well enough to transition from tweener to wing status.
Cassius Phillips 6-9 Sr Parallel 45 (Lakeland): One of the most productive bigs in the 2018 class because although somewhat raw he’s not settling for jumpers; instead athletic, runs the court, finishes and isn’t afraid to put his body on someone. Moves feet well so can get out to hedge and recover. Stylistically, plays like MSU (not Bay City Western) Matt Costello. High ceiling with reps and diversity of offense.
CJ Robinson 5-10 Sr North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): Doesn’t get nearly the widespread respect warranted a starter and crucial cog in a state champion, nationally ranked team. Which he was as Foster Loyer’s baccourt partner for undefeated Clarkston. Rarely makes bad choices with the ball, will check up like a demon and in AAU can create and make his own shots. Lots of guards like this have thrived in the GLIAC.
Gary Solomon 6-5 Sr Family (Detroit Edison): From Cass Tech to Edison, from the Elite to the Family, the locales may change but Solomon’s m.o. doesn’t, he’s simply one of the toughest kids in the Midwest, a dog who is anathema to the iPhone generation. Big wing who is tough to keep out of the lane with his combination of strength and herky jerky moves, and counters with a jumper from mid- and three-point range. A10 type talent.
Blake Verbeek 6-10 Sr Grand Rapids Storm (Calvin Christian): A year ago at this time, was very similar to his then-AAU teammate Marcus Bingham. Bingham is now a consensus top 100 player in America. So there’s no reason Verbeek couldn’t approach double digit offers by the end of the summer. His shot and footwork at 6-10 are rare, and coveted by the modern game. Coaches want to see him get stronger and tougher.
Rashad Williams 6-1 Sr REACH (Wayne Memorial): Back with his old club after a spring stint with the Family. He’ll thrive with the ball in his hands here. Legit NBA range and more skilled as a playmaker than many realize. Could be huge college scorer with the right fit.