There was a significant contingent of Michigan teams traversing Interstate 94 in the first live period session of July, playing in the NY2LA event in Milwaukee and the Chicago Summer Challenge and Chicago Summer Jam respectively. Here are some who made it a worthwhile trip tolls and traffic be damned.
Jack Ammerman 5-10 Jr Gators 16U (Ann Arbor Skyline): On a team full of shooters Ammerman is the most prolific. He had a 29 spot in the quarterfinals and the final bucket, a fadeaway 3 from the corner, in the Gators’ 70-67 loss to the Illinois Wolves in the Chicago Summer Challenge semifinals. His alignment and follow through are pure and consistent. Much improved scoring game off the dribble and plays with blue-collar grit and edge that belie the pretty jumpshot and Ann Arbor stereotypes. At times Ammerman and backcourt mate Brandon Wade play near psychic basketball together. A scholarship waiting if coaches feel he can check explosive, bigger point guards.
Jimmy Bell 6-10 Jr GreenWood 16U (Saginaw Arthur Hill): A valuable recruit for more traditional offensive teams, a true big who you can dump it down to for points at the rim or on kickouts. Plays with some edge and intent that most young bigs don’t. His addition has made GreenWood a much better team now than in the spring live period.
Bryce Drews 6-4 Jr Mustangs 16U (Hillsdale): The Mustangs-Hogan team has some smaller, talented guards, so Drews doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much as he does in the winter, but made good things happen when he did. Can board and go end-to-end, and uses his size to get to the hole against smaller defenders. He hits enough shots of his own to be a true triple threat.
Jordan Graham 6-5 Jr Warriors (Farmington): A poor man’s CDR or Jaquan Hart, an extra lanky wing with the feel and passing to play both guard positions. Long-term D1 upside, a late bloomer like a former Warrior, Paris Bass. Nowhere near his potential now because he’s too light, got knocked around on both ends in the Warriors’ semifinal loss to the hometown Illinois Wolves.
Caleb Hodgson 6-9 So Mustangs 15U (Dansville): A healthy Sean Cobb playing tough on the blocks had a trickle down effect for the Mustangs, the All-Airport team that is up and down but had some great moments in Milwaukee. Chief among them it allowed Hodgson to play his all-around game, because he can both shoot it and pass it around or away from the basket. Good hands and feel, inherent traits you look for in big men. When he shows he can turn ends to run-catch-dunk, myriad high-major offers await Hodgson.
Tray Jackson 6-8 Jr REACH 16U (Detroit Western): Similar game — skills and pace — to Tommie McCune. A left-hander who can hit three-pointers and is particularly dangerous when he’s also using that big first step to get to the basket. Can envelop opponents on defense with his wingspan. No one will confuse him for Mr. Mean on the boards.
Traveon Maddox 6-3 Jr Warriors (Novi): One of the wildest games of the early session came Sunday in Chicago, where Maddox helped key a 20-point comeback after a miserable first half against MoKan. While WB junior Tre Harvey was going wild with seven three-pointers, Maddox made the Warriors an impossible cover hitting a pair of 3s of his own from the corners, finishing with authority on the break and creating some in-between buckets as well. Has the tools to be a top-shelf defender, but not yet the focus. Should get lots of MAC, Horizon looks.
Mason Pline 6-6 Jr Elite Nation 16U (Fowler): Plays similar to the power- dunking junior from Illinois that WMU just took a commitment from, TJ Clifford, only Pline is a more consistent three-point shooter. Stands out to see such a big-bodied kid moving so easily and playing hard all over the court.
Delano Swift 6-1 Sr Camp Darryl (Kalamazoo Loy-Norrix): Have watched him for years, and he’s continued to steadily improve. Effective point guard with the high ball screen because he will burn you with the shot if you go under and created easy shots for teammates in the lane when he drove. Newfound defensive intensity makes him a legit small college prospect, and has the grades for it.
Eric Williams 6-4 Jr Playmakers (New Haven): Last July, Green Bay fell in love with a lanky athlete from a Michigan grassroots team, Powerstroke’s Kam Hankerson, and ended up signing him. Now the Phoenix has taken notice of another grassroots wing, Williams. He doesn’t have the wingspan or all-around game of Hankerson, but has a strong build and can bury those high-arcing left-handed 3s. When that’s closed out on, he has a number of counter finishing moves.
CJ Wilson 5-10 Jr REACH (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s): Tough and fast, and contributes well beyond his size would suggest. If the shot’s falling too in addition to the end-to-end show, a small D1 might forgive his stature.