Looking Back at Local NBA Draft Prospects

With Thursday’s NBA Draft approaching, let’s take a look back at some local prospects through various Bank Hoops scouting reports from their high school and AAU careers.

Matt Costello  6-9  Sr  Michigan State (Bay City Western ’12)

Matt Costello made the Portsmouth all-tournament team after four years at MSU.
Matt Costello made the Portsmouth all-tournament team after four years at MSU.

He led Dorian’s Pride to the 16-under championship and looked like the best prospect in the tournament for any age. He’s top 50 in 2012 and good enough to play anywhere in America because he has the body of a power forward with the skill of a small forward. Pride was at its best, beating Ohio Basketball Club in the semis then the Mustangs in the final, when it ran its offense through Costello. Whether he was on the wing or on the block, he was able to pass or make scoring moves. Favorite series for Matt came when he bounded out of the paint to block a jumpshot, then on the other end hit the floor for a jumpball and kept fighting after the whistle … and was T’d up. (May 24, 2010)

Would’ve loved to see Costello at the previous week’s prospects camp at U-of-D, in Jay Smith’s big man group. At U-M, all the drills and games involved guards, who control the frontcourt’s fate in these thrown-together camp games and hardly ever get big men the ball where they need it most. That said, Costello was the biggest kid at the camp and he has so much talent it can’t be fully repressed, so it’s not like he was lost. He’s just an all-around big and strong kid for his age and height. Costello went hard after rebounds and shot the three-pointer with an easy touch. To his credit, even when he went yet another series without getting a post touch, he would run hard to get back defensively. (June 27, 2010)

Deyonta Davis  6-10  Fr  Michigan State (Muskegon ’15)

2015 Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis is projected as a late lottery pick after one season at MSU.
2015 Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis is projected as a late lottery pick after one season at MSU.

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 actual 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 Josh Jackson.” (August 6, 2012)

Put an exclamation point on a June which has seen Davis vault to the No. 1 spot in the 2015 class with his performance at Toledo’s elite camp. Toledo’s team only lost one game. That was against DD’s team, thanks in part to a combination of his lucky off-glass three-pointer, and his defensive domination around the basket. His 7-1 wingspan, timing and surprising toughness turned what had previously been a dunk contest, into a physical, chippy, grinding game. Davis could’ve finished better and run the court more consistently, but wow when he did it was so quickly. Didn’t take the drills as seriously as the 5-on-5 — where he was a game-changer. MAC offers and hearing from half the Big 10 and major programs nationally. (July 1, 2013)

He’s one of the trending recruits in the entire country, with 20 offers including MSU, Memphis, Iowa State, Missouri and Xavier. Lumbered at times in drills, but turned it on in games and made a bunch of future college 4s and 5s look silly. His skill level continues to improve, passing the ball smartly on the break or from the block; made a number of three-pointers. Most of those were with a hand in his face but it didn’t matter with Davis’ 7-1 wingspan. (September 26, 2013)

It’s not uncommon for a junior to stamp his name on a state title run, but it’s almost always a junior guard — Mateen Cleaves, David Kool or Keith Appling. Deyonta Davis looked ahead of schedule with head-to-head domination of a series of D1 senior forwards, Ann Arbor Skyline’s Tristan Wilson, Mt. Pleasant’s Jaleel Hogan and finally Blomfield Hills’ Yante Maten in the Class A championship game. He held Detroit-signee Hogan dunk-less and 4-of-13 shooting in the semis. Muskegon won the final in the largest margin of victory since Detroit Pershing whupped Benton Harbor over 20 years ago. Davis made 12-of-14 field goals, from alley-oops to a three-pointer, in the championship game, which solidified Muskegon as a top 20 national team, and DD as a to 20 national prospect. When dialed in like that, Davis looks like a young Marcus Camby or Sam Perkins. (March 25, 2014)

The Michigan State signee recorded a triple-double in the feature game against Arthur Hill — 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. The final block came after running down Eric Davis full court to block a would-be tying layup as time expired, no doubt locking up some Mr. Basketball votes in the process. (December 23, 2014)

Kay Felder  5-9  Jr  Oakland (Detroit Pershing ’13)

Kay Felder left Oakland a year early and is a projected late-first or a second-round pick.
Kay Felder left Oakland a year early and is a projected late-first or a second-round pick.

Which leads us to 5-8 junior Kahlil Felder. He’s the consistent one, the tough one, the leader. He’s Pershing‘s best player, with the heart for competition that his bigger teammates don’t necessarily carry in the same volume. The lefty hits big shots and is able to pull up to get them over taller defenders, has tremendous vision and the knack for delivering the ball in a crowd, gets in there to rebound and even blocked from behind the shot of a 6-4 player. (November 28, 2011)

Lefty never takes a play off. He scored 31 points in REACH’s 72-64 championship game win. He sealed the victory with his clever ball-handling and money free throw shooting.  At the mid-major level could be a star, because he gets a lot done and has the talent to transcend his size if not going up against guys with monstrous physical advantages. (May 1, 2012)

Among college coaches at the Adidas Invitational, the most oft heard sentence regarding Felder was “He’s so good.” This recalls the ranking system of Hope hall of fame coach Glenn Van Wieren: he’s good; he’s really good; Stephen, he’s really good! So it is with Felder. Not many 5-8 guards rebound like this kid against big, and big-time, athletes. Nate Robinson maybe. Plays really hard. (July 16, 2012)

Bryn Forbes  6-3  Sr  Michigan State (Lansing Sexton ’12)

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Bryn Forbes became one of the nation’s top three-point shooters for Michigan State.

The Mustangs beat the Grady Elite Hurricanes for the 16-under title. The best player on the floor in the championship was 6-1 Lansing Sexton sophomore Bryn Forbes. He played a really mature game at the point keeping everyone involved, not sitting on the ball, attacking from various spots on the floor. When he was open, Forbes knocked down the shot. D1 guard.  (April 20, 2010)

He was terrific a couple weeks ago when the Mustangs won the 16-under title at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, and may have been even better in the Stangs’ overtime elimination loss to JP Tokoto’s Wisconsin Playground Warriors team. He had five second-half three-pointers in that game, and all of them seemed to come in rhythm. (May 6, 2010)

Shot the heck out of it in AAU with the Mustangs, and didn’t see him miss a three-pointer here (albeit while trying to see three courts at once). He’s also going to Stanford’s prospects camp. (June 18, 2010)

He just wasn’t ready for the defense of Country Day guards Chris Fowler and Lee Bailey. The majority of Forbes’ value comes from his three-point shooting. But this wasn’t 16U AAU or summer team camp. Those looks were hard to come by, and without the shots Forbes lost all confidence. Country Day owned him physically and mentally, he just shrank. (Nov. 30, 2010)

Forbes played with a local Lansing club and got them to the 17U semifinals. He does a great job mixing up his shots and drives, and he’s not averse to passing. He’s bouncier than you suspect and shoots it somewhere shy of Rodney Monroe. (April 18, 2011)

He’s grown both physically and in terms of maturity in the past six months. Bryn had a 19-point third-quarter as Sexton made its statement against Country Day. He’s always been a high-end shooter, but now up to 6-3, 175 he finished very well. Played with bounce and confidence. Could see him ending up as high as A10. (Nov. 4, 2011)

James Kelly  6-7  Sr  Marshall (Ann Arbor Pioneer ’11)

James Kelly played at Owens, Miami (FL) and Marshall.
James Kelly played at Owens Community College, Miami (FL) and Marshall.

In his first game after becoming eligible for the second semester, Ann Arbor Pioneer’s James Kelly scored 22 points in 15 minutes. A few weeks later the 6-7, 225-pound junior had a game of 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 blocked shots. This past Friday Kelly scored a season-best 25 points in Pioneer’s upset of Ann Arbor Huron. In his abbreviated season, Kelly is averaging 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. (March 1, 2010)

We’ve discussed 6-6 Ann Arbor Pioneer junior James Kelly before, but few have seen him play because of eligibility problems. He’s definitely headed the junior college route and, as he showed at Oakland playing with the y Warriors, he could be the next perhaps Marcus Kennedy. The opposite of Gary Cooper, Kelly is all energy on defense. He is both strong and can jump, and doesn’t shy away from the dirty work, blocking shots, going up a second and third time after the ball. His offense is raw, but is an OK shooter. (April 11, 2010)

The Warriors’ older, bouncier frontline of Kelly and Stephn Edwards won this semifinal battle though, one with a lot of athletic, hard-headed plays around the rim. Kelly plays hard and produces around on the glass, but is maybe 6-7 and has nothing resembling an outside shot. With his grades, will be JC bound which will give him a chance to work on his skills. Kelly just hasn’t played a lot of organized ball. (June 1, 2010)

Jalen Reynolds  6-10  RS Jr  Xavier (Livonia Stevenson ’11)

Jalen Reynolds turned pro with a year of eligibility left at Xavier.
Jalen Reynolds turned pro with a year of eligibility left after graduating from Xavier.

Clarenceville’s 6-7 soph Jalen Reynolds can be awkward with flashes of potential. (Feb. 18, 2009)

Reynolds didn’t play as a junior after transferring. He moves smoothly, generally plays hard and is competitive in the paint. He’s pretty aware and at ease with his back to the basket, A good, if not elite, athlete. (April 20, 2010)

Jalen Reynolds, a 6-8 junior from Livonia Stevenson, has been one of the state’s hottest prospects, and lived up to expectations playing with the Crew at the Camp Darryl/Bankhoops.com Classic. While he may be 6-8, plays more like 6-10 because he has really long arms and is active. Defensively, he’s just all over the place. Offensively, plays over the rim and finishes at a very high rate. Needs a go-to move and to keep his release point in front and not behind his head, but with work ethic the points should come (not that they weren’t there in some cases, Jalen had a couple 20-point games). (May 18, 2010)

Made the all-tournament team the weekend prior in Lansing, and was just as good again, including a triple-double effort. Gets a lot done even with an under-developed offensive arsenal because he’s long, athletic and active. With the lack of quality bigs nation-wide, looking like a high-major lock. (May 24, 2010)

Had to be dragged away from a pool party to put the sneakers on, and big-timed it and joked around for much of the U-D camp. Despite all that, there were flashes of why Reynolds was still probably the most talented one in the gym. He has bounce toward the rim, and no one was stopping his flip hook. Also did a good job sealing for lob dunks. His shooting still needs work, specifically leveling the corkscrew rotation. Reynolds has a slew of turnovers, and with those mitts it’s not because he can’t hold onto the ball. He was just doing silly, sloppy junk with it. (June 18, 2010)

Denzel Valentine  6-5  Sr  Michigan State (Lansing Sexton ’12)

Denzel Valentine will be a first-round pick after an All-American career at MSU.
Denzel Valentine will be a first-round pick after an All-American career for Michigan state.

Denzel Valentine is very skilled for his age, and is a 6-5 guard. He is Sexton’s No. 2 point guard, and can break down smaller guards with the dribble. Valentine is a smart, fundamental and active defender, who knows how to use his reach. He does seem quicker on offense than defense. With his awkward build and big butt, Valentine draws fouls; has a soft and easy free throw touch. Plays heads up and looks to pass. Valentine will take defensive rebounds all the way. As easily as he gets to the rim, doesn’t finish with a lot of power; lacks consistent shooting range. If those improve, he’s a high-major lock. (Feb. 14, 2010)

If those Indiana sophomores have Big 10 offers, then clearly should Denzel Valentine. The son of Sexton coach and ’80s Spartan Carlton Valentine, he  scored 28 in the 16-under final of the Motown Showdown including the seeming game-winning pull-up jumper, only to have Dorian’s Pride win at the buzzer on a banked in three-pointer. He’s nearly exited gawky mode into just being a big-bodied, angular athlete with a big hoops IQ and the drive to make all the shots, from breakout dunks to pull-ups in the lane to three-pointers over a fully extended 6-9 Matt Costello. He looked to have more of an all-around game than Pride’s standout sophomore wings, 6-4 Jovontae Hawkins from Powers and 6-5 Anton Wilson from Flint Carman-Ainsworth. (April 12, 2010)

While no match athletically for highly regarded national recruit JP Tokoto, Valentine more than held his own scoring 22 as the Mustangs 16-under was eliminated in overtime of the Run n Slam by Tokoto’s Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Valentine looks like Mark Aguirre out there, using his big build and old-school post moves to score in the lane again and again. He has a great feel and high hoops IQ, just not high-end athletic ability. (May 2, 2010)

The best high schooler in Calihan Hall was Valentine. He doesn’t have the explosive vertical game that the drive-by national scouts adore, but on substance and production he’s a top 100 recruit like Draymond Green or Antonio Gates. Valentine has the hoops IQ and passing ability to play the 1, a rapidly improving shot to play the 2 and the size to rebound and score inside like a 3. Defensive quickness will be coaches’ main worrying point, but he’s a grower. (June 18, 2010)

No surprise his team won the three-on-three crown at U-M’s camp. One, his teammates were both good and two, Valentine’s old school game was made for the driveway. The do-it-all wing is the best actual basketball player in the class of 2012, a versatile, tough, physical winner in the lineage of Antonio Gates and Draymond Green. It’s not just a grinding thing. Denzel is good at creating triangles and two-on-one space advantages in the halfcourt. (June 27, 2010)

MSU commitment was just dynamic in leading Sexton to the Class B state title. They just took it to Detroit Country Day in the semifinals, with Valentine heading a potent fastbreak game. He’d be a good point guard if he were 5-10, but he’s 6-5 so add in that vision plus the bulk to bully into the lane to make plays. Rare combination of flare and substance, fun and toughness. Better athlete than you think, and had the dunks to prove it. Helped defensively against Muskegon Heights star Deontae Hudson, who had put up 31 in the semifinals but struggled in the final (5-of-25 field goals). He’s the kind of winner and leader the Spartans have been lacking. (March 26, 2011)

A dynamic playmaker and the national scouts who don’t have him top 50 need to keep their day jobs … whatever those may be, to paraphrase Homer Simpson. Questions about Valentine’s athleticism are misguided and increasingly moot. (May 29, 2011)

He’s laughably underrated nationally. Big college-ready body, high hoops IQ, amazing passer — though he’ll have to cut out the Harry High School highlight passes. The indulgent ones, not the creative ones. (Feb. 16, 2012)

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