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.