College Alumni Sophs Step Up

Louisville's Jaylen Johnson, a sophomore from Ypsilanti, may have more to personally celebrate in his second college season.
Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson, a sophomore from Ypsilanti, may have more to personally celebrate in his second college season.

Michigan’s class of 2014 has already had players start in the NCAA Tournament, and win an NAIA championship. Here are some of them ready for breakout college campaigns.

Darrell Davis  6-4  So  Dayton (Detroit Douglass): Like fellow Michigan 2014 high school grads who left the state like Yante Maten and Deshaun Thrower, Davis saw over 18 minutes a game as a freshman. He scored 4.8 points per game while shooting .383 overall on the strength of a .452 three-point percentage. That gave him a true shooting percentage of .57 and a .55 effective field goal percentage. Davis made all five three-point attempts against Boston U for a season-best 19 points and in A-10 play made 4-of-6 3s and scored 12 at St. Louis.

Jaylen Johnson  6-9  So  Louisville (Ypsilanti): He didn’t get started until late because of an NCAA clearinghouse issue, then had 13 DNPs. An opportunity arose for Johnson when Montrezl Harrell passed up his senior year for the NBA Draft. In Louisville’s exhibition win against Bellarmine he had 14 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting.

Yante Maten  6-8  So  Georgia (Bloomfield Hills): He played consistently and got better as his freshman season progressed highlighed by 13 and 10 against South Carolina in the SEC tournament. He averaged 5.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots. Now Maten is Georgia’s top returning big after losing Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic.

Darohn Scott  6-9  So  Central Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian): He appeared in 29 games for CMU and averaged 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. An active and aggressive dunker for years, Scott’s touch and the polish on his post game in the Chippewas’ exhibition win over Ferris State pointed to an expanded offensive future.

Kyle Steigenga  6-6  So  Cornerstone (Holland Christian): A throwback to when West Michigan high school stars spurned D1 opportunities for the local colleges and proved he was a lot more than just the best dunker in the state’s 2014 class. Steigenga was an All-American and Tournament MVP for Cornerstone’s NAIA D2 national championship team after averaging 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds on .682 shooting (the second-best mark in the country).

Deshaun Thrower  6-1  So  Stony Brook (Muskegon): Like many freshman guards, Thrower couldn’t find the hoop. At first. Then the still just 17-year-old Mr. Basketball from Muskegon’s 2014 state champion found himself in the starting lineup of a Stony Brook team that was a miracle shot from playing in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. He had season/career-highs of 18 points and seven rebounds in the America East semifinal with Vermont. Thrower made 7 assists against Maine and had a 2.8 assist-turnover ratio in conference play. He shot better in league play than overall, .333 to .301 field goals and .367 to .311 on three-pointers.

Justin Tillman  6-7  So  VCU (Detroit Pershing): After initially asking for his scholarship release when coach Shaka Smart left for Texas, Tillman is back at VCU.  This after a freshman year in which he flashed the motor and athleticism that made him Mr. Basketball runner-up as a Doughboy,  averaging 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in over a dozen minutes per game. As well as he shot from the floor, .538, Tillman was bad from the line, .484.

Always one of the toughest dudes on the court in his time with Pershing and REACH, little has changed for VCU's Justin Tillman.
Always one of the toughest dudes on the court in his time with Pershing and REACH, little has changed for VCU’s Justin Tillman.

 

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