Reps Made Before College Coaches at Mustangs Summer Showdown

There will be a lot more dunks in Austin Davis' future if his performance with the Mustangs at the Summer Showdown was any indication.
There will be a lot more dunks in Austin Davis’ future if his performance with the Mustangs at the Summer Showdown was any indication.

Much of Michigan’s young talent was represented at the Mustangs Summer Showdown, an NCAA live period event held at Hype Athletics in Dearborn, and the college coaches in the stands were a testament to the bright future. But it was an out-of-state team, Gary Harris from Indiana, that won the strong 15U field. The 16U field saw a major upset in the championship game when first-year program GreenWood beat the national top 10 Mustangs who earlier in the tournament had pasted Greenwood by 30+. The Mustangs won the 17U division. Here are some of the tournament’s standouts.

Corey Allen  6-3  Sr  Mustangs (Ypsilanti): The guard position for the Mustangs has seen trial by error. In Allen they may have finally found the right fit for July. He saw significant minutes at point guard while also still being able to go to his aggressive, physical, creative scoring game. Changed speeds well on the dribble and has body control once airborne. Good half-court passing vision. Surprisingly athletic and he’s particularly explosive over short spaces which makes you like his defensive potential. His performance in Dearborn earned Allen an offer from Detroit. That’s the third he’s gotten in this live period alone, along with Cleveland State and Kent State.

Levane Blake  6-7  Jr  GreenWood 16U (Flint Beecher): He can be up and down, but really earned his check in the 16U championship final when he fought defensively in the post against the Mustangs’ talented pair of Xavier Tillman and Isaiah Livers. At his best when he focuses on guarding the rim, rebounding and finishing. Can turn his own shots attempts into more complicated than need be. He’s one of the state’s top 10 junior prospects at the 4 position.

2017 Power Forwards

  1. Xavier Tillman  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids
  2. Ikechukwu Eke  6-9  Jr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  3. Greg Eboigdidim  6-8  Jr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  4. Isaiah Livers  6-7  Jr  Kalamazoo Central
  5. Zach Niewkoop  6-7  Jr  Wayland
  6. Jack Ballantyne  6-8  Jr  Warren De La Sale
  7. Will Weems  6-8  Jr  Detroit Edison
  8. Ross Koella  6-7  Jr  Grand Haven
  9. Levane Blake  6-7  Jr  Flint Beecher
  10. Ryan Gamm  6-6  Jr  Rockford

Austin Davis  6-10  Sr  Mustangs (Onsted): The Hype Athletic Center isn’t the Davidson Player Development Center, and their lighter baskets were in dangerous all tournament as Davis was doing chin-ups like it was boot camp. His fitness level is high and it shows in how active around and frequently above the rim he was. U-M’s head coach John Beilein and posts coach Bacari Alexander were at the event, and had to be excited with what they saw from Davis.

2016 Top 10

  1. Cassius Winston  6-1  Sr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  2. Austin Davis  6-10  Sr  Onsted  Michigan
  3. Karmari Newman  6-4  Sr  Detroit East English Village
  4. Brailen Neely  5-9  Sr  Detroit Western  Oakland
  5. Spencer Littleson  6-3  Sr  Rochester Adams
  6. Devon Daniels  6-5  Sr  Kalamazoo Central
  7. Innocent Nwoko  6-10  Sr  New Haven  Central Michigan
  8. Justin Turner  6-3  Sr  Detroit Renaissance
  9. Corey Allen  6-3  Sr  Ypsilanti
  10. Jerry Ben  6-8  Sr  New Haven  Cornell

Jaron Faulds  6-10  Jr  Family 16U (Holt): He missed a layup and one-handed dunk early in the tournament, but got wise and mean from there and it was a barrage of two-handed bangers. A defender, rebounder, rim-runner, post threat with the frame, hands and motor that will keep high majors watching and ultimately offering.

Myron Gardner  6-3  Fr  Judge’s Court 15U (Southfield): He’s one of a number of 14-year-olds playing up for Judge’s Court. They may take a few lickings that way, but Gardner doesn’t hang his head and kept competing. For his age and big body, defenders aren’t expecting Gardner’s shooting touch. And then they aren’t expecting how he can then put it on the floor and create more when they start to play up on him. Uses his strength to get the shot off inside. He looks like one of the early top 10 2019 prospects in Michigan.

Top 10 Incoming Freshmen

  • Terry Armstrong  6-4  Fr  Flint Carman Ainsworth
  • Sean Cobb  6-5  Fr  Williamston
  • Julian Dozier  5-8  Fr  Detroit U-D Jesuit
  • Myron Gardner  6-3  Fr  Southfield
  • Caleb Hodgson  6-8  Fr  Dansville
  • Dreyon O’Neal  6-5  Fr  Detroit Edison
  • Zach Trent  6-2  Fr  Flint Powers
  • Ryan Wade  5-10  Fr  Ann Arbor Skyline
  • Mark Watts  5-9  Fr  Detroit Allen
  • Romeo Weems  6-5  Fr  Detroit Country Day

Danny Kolp  6-8  So  Parallel 45 15U (Petoskey): He’s starting to embrace the physical game, which combined with his skill, length and comfort with the ball out on the floor caught the eye of Big Ten, Horizon and MAC coaches. Kolp throwing an elbow coming up the floor in a chippy silver division championship game with the Markham Gators also got nods of approval from the upper deck. He blocks shots and rebounds like you’d expect of a 6-8 15U player, then will hit shots from the blocks or corner 3s on the other end. The addition of a jump-hook and drop-step will do him wonders. He’s one of the top five forwards in the state’s 2018 class.

2018 Forwards

  1. Brandon Johns  6-8  So  East Lansing
  2. Thomas Kithier  6-8  So  Macomb Dakota
  3. Danny Kolp  6-8  So  Petoskey
  4. Jalen Tobias  6-6  So  Detroit Renaissance
  5. Tristen Mysen  6-6  So  Oxford

Kevin McKay  6-4  Sr  Detroit Showtime (Warren De La Salle): While the buzz was about John Beilein coming in to watch McKay’s teammate, the state’s No. 3 senior Karmari Newman, McKay saw his stock rise as well. He’s a slasher and finisher who will also beat you with the pass, has become a more consistent three-point threat and improved his off hand. But as always what will get him free college are the intangibles, versatility and will for the 50-50 balls.

Christian Rodriguez  5-9  Jr  GreenWood 16U (Godwin Heights): As is his wont, when the dust settled Rodriguez found himself posing with a trophy. He teamed up with another state championship point guard, Beecher’s Malik Ellison, and a former state championship coach, Mike Thomas, to beat the heavily favored Mustangs in the 16U final. A true point guard who, as one coach said, “makes passes most kids can’t.” Has a lefty runner but not yet a knock-down 3 ball. Rodriguez’ ability to run a team and his Just Win Baby resume are particularly impressive since by age he should be in the 2018 class. He’s one of the top 10 point guards in the junior class.

2017 Point Guards 

  1. Jermaine Jackson  5-9  Jr  Macomb Dakota
  2. Darian Owens-White  5-11  Jr  River Rouge
  3. Christian Rodriguez  5-9  Jr  Wyoming Godwin Heights
  4. Shonte Suddeth  5-10  Jr  Jackson
  5. Armonee Felder  5-9  Jr  Detroit Pershing
  6. Jesse Scarber  5-8  Jr  Detroit King
  7. Malik Ellison  5-6  Jr  Flint Beecher
  8. Jesse Hillis  6-0  Jr  Caledonia
  9. CJ Wilson  5-10  Jr  Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
  10. Gunnar Libby  5-8  Jr  Hillman

2017 Guards

  1. Armari Hardy  6-2  Jr  Southfield
  2. Matt Beachler  6-3  Jr  Lowell
  3. Dylan Alderson  6-4  Jr  Clarkston
  4. Greg Elliott  6-2  Jr  Detroit East English Village
  5. Demetrius Lake  5-10  Jr  Holland
  6. Sam Cornett  6-4  Jr  Grandville
  7. Jermaine Goliday  6-3  Jr  Muskegon
  8. Gabe Meriwether  6-2  Jr  Bellaire
  9. Jason Majerle  6-1  Jr  Rockford
  10. Troy Brown  6-1  Jr  Flint Northwestern

Xavier Tillman  6-8  Jr  Mustangs 16U (Grand Rapids): After missing the first day of the tournament with Adidas commitments, Tillman made a rare Eastside appearance and showed the crowd why he’s one of the country’s most widely recruited forwards. A frame that could rebound in any era, hands that catch everything and a vastly expanded offensive arsenal are the why. The one-two of his strength and improved footwork led to a dominant performance in the Mustangs’ blowout of the Family in what many had hoped would be a showcase game. Tillman has a Kentucky offer, and is perhaps closer to Chuck Hayes than the typical Coach Cal 4 recruit.

Ryan Wade  5-10  Fr  Gators 15U (Ann Arbor Skyline): Playing up on  a squad that was the AAU national runner-up less than a week earlier, but fights right in, and more. Teams that focused their defense on the Gators via Skyline backcourt of Jack Ammerman paid the price as Wade calmly drained three upon three. Not the physical drive threat his older brother Brandon is, but we’ll see how that comes as Ryan matures and gets more chances with the ball in his hands.

Mario Whitley  6-3  So  GreenWood 15U (Frankenmuth): An absolute load for the 15U level. He’s physically assertive on the baseline but then brings the next dimension of hangtime and creativity out of that big body. A horse on both ends of the glass. When he shoots it from three-point range like he did in Dearborn, there’s not a lot you can do with him. Over the next three years Whitley will have to add the in-between game.


Growing Up Quick: 15U Prospects Get Taste of NCAA Live Period at Brawl 4 Ball

Two of the top 15U performers at the Brawl for the Ball, the Mustangs' Duane Washington (left) shoots over the Storm's Dallas Slager.
Two of the top 15U performers at the NCAA certified Brawl for the Ball, the Mustangs’ Duane Washington (left) shoots over the Storm’s Dallas Slager.

It was a family feud in the 15U final of the Brawl for the Ball, where the Mustangs coached by Mike Faletti edged the Mustangs coached by James Vallar. Here are some of the top performers from the 15U division, including a couple each from those two clubs.

Kegan Brooks  6-1  So  Parallel 45 (Cadillac): Carrying on the family tradition at Cadillac, where his brother Jalen, now a QB at Ferris State, led the Vikings to a pair of Class B state semifinal appearances. While he won’t be catching oops any time soon, like his brother Brooks is a tough defender and has a higher skill level. He plays with a bunch of other ball-handlers but is good against pressure when called upon. At his best getting out and finishing on the break, and has improved his shot enough to be good for a 3 per game as well as a pull-up shot or two. A  dribble-drive game is next on the docket.

Sean Cobb  6-5  Fr  Mustangs-Haney (Williamston):  His Mustangs team is the tallest 15U group in the state, and Cobb can get it going inside or take it to the wings and show a surprising skill level for an incoming freshman his size and age. Had quite a following of college coaches in GR. One of the top five incoming freshmen in the state along with Mustangs teammate 6-8 Caleb Hodgson of Dansville, 6-4 Terry Armstrong of Flint, 6-5 Romeo Weems of Detroit and 6-3 Myron Gardner of Southfield. He’ll give Williamston a nice pair of forwards going ahead with 6-7 junior Derek Nicholson.

Keshaun Hayes  6-2  So  Playmakers (Southfield Bradford): No real stars but this Playmakers squad is a tough out because they come with a collective chip on their shoulder and keep coming at you; hard to break. Hayes and Damond Gilmore give them a couple of tweener slashers who can break you down then are athletic and tough enough to pursue and put in their misses. Has to be accounted for because he can flash to block a shot or dunk.

Artavious King  6-0  So  Titans (Holt): The Titans took the eventual champion Mustangs to the brink in bracket play, which was a surprise only to those that didn’t see how much this group improved in the spring. If he’s matched up with a guard, King becomes buckets in action going downhill at 220 pounds. Basically a 4 a year ago, he’s clearly worked hard to become a guard.

Tristen Mysen  6-6  So  North Oakland Wolfpack (Oxford): My favorite sequence of the tournament may have been when Mysen missed a dunk, then instead of succumbing to 15-year-old emotions he sprinted back and blocked the would-be layup. The Wolfpack run a lot of sets and do a good job of getting the ball to him — who makes it easy because while it’s built from the blocks he’s comfortable with the ball in a number of spots. He’s a miniature Brad Daugherty operating a sophisticated low block game at his own pace. Mysen has expanded his perimeter with a sweeping hook shot and soft shooting touch. He’ll need a couple inches or a fuller wing conversion to get the mid-major offers his frame, improvement curve and skills suggest.

Lamar Norman's plume of hair is battle ready.
Lamar Norman’s plume of hair is battle ready.

Lamar Norman  6-1  So  Mustangs-Vallar (Godwin Heights): He’s the best guard prospect from Grand Rapids in a dozen years, and like David Kool was the key member of a Class B state championship team as a freshman. He has an offensive game similar to Keith Appling’s at the same age, with a smooth jumpshot the foundation of scoring flurries with a knack for making tough moves look easy in close quarters. He cuts with purpose in the half-court and can get out and finish above the rim in the full-court. He plays with good point guards in both high school and AAU so that part of his game remains to be seen, and will be necessary because sans hair he’s not particularly tall; certainly has the skill level for it. Like Appling did, Norman will have to stop floating and get serious about defense to become a Big Ten player.

Tanner Reha  6-4  So  Mustangs-Faletti (DeWitt): No one on this balanced Mustangs squad puts up gaudy stats and Reha is one of the steady many. He’d finish his high school career with 20 and 10 averages on athleticism and baseline antics alone. But he has gotten much more consistent with his range and gets good elevation and arc when shooting mid-range. A three-point play waiting to happen because of how he can handle a hit. As one coach said, Reha is part of the “one percent of high school players in this country who catches with two hands and jumps off two feet.” Takes toughness and physical play to the defensive end of the court where he’s good in running and trapping game and can also grind it out in the half-court.

Dallas Slager  6-3  So  Grand Rapids Storm (Grandville Calvin Christian): Where have you gone Drew Naymick and Kyle Visser? There are no tall Dutchmen on this 15U Storm team, but Slager is a very productive frontcourt player. Going back to the Nate Verbeek and Duane Bosma, you tend to associate Calvin Christian players as tall and lanky. Slager is built more like a football player, and calls to mind more so a former Unity Christian star Tom Snikkers. Rebounds like a forward, handles like a guard. He showed up big against Mustangs-Vallar in the playoffs, it seemed like a layup or free throws when he touched the ball.

Jalen Tobias  6-6  So  Mustangs-Faletti (Detroit Renaissance): He was hurt in the spring and the Mustangs are a much better team for having him healthy. Tobias is deceptively athletic because he plays upright. All-around utility forward who is active on the glass, defends the back line, runs the court and can attack and score from either wing. He got time as a freshman for Renaissance because he was big and could jump. The 10th-grade version of Tobias be a significantly more polished and aware player with a key role on a top 10 Class A team.

Duane Washington  6-1  So  Mustangs-Vallar (Grand Rapids Christian): He injured his knee in the semifinals, but thankfully it turned out to be a sprain and no tears. A combo guard in the good sense of the term, not an undersized shot jacker but a kid with point guard skills and mentality, with the frame and shot of a 2G. Plays with an efficiency and maturity, knows how to work the angles, and that’s not surprising considering his father of the same name had a stint in the NBA and decade in Europe, and his uncle is Derek Fisher.

King James Wins but Local 16U Teams, Players Make Names at Brawl 4 the Ball

Nick Welch (left), defending REACH's Todd Burgan, was a frontcourt stalwart for the 16U runner-up Mustangs.
Nick Welch (left, defending REACH’s Todd Burgan) was a frontcourt stalwart for the 16U runner-up Mustangs at the Brawl for the Ball in Grand Rapids.

While the shadow of a dominant out-of-state team, the King James Shooting Stars, winning the division loomed over the 16U field at the Brawl for the Ball, the tournament was not without impressive performance from Michiganders. ACB/Bank Hoops in the semifinals and the Mustangs in the championship game both tested King James. Here are some of the standouts from those and others teams.

Brady Boothe  6-6  Jr  West Michigan Flight (Hudsonville): Fittingly given the team name, the Flight’s firepower is found on the wings in 6-5 Byron Center junior Brayden Smith and 6-3 Wyoming junior Chase VanderKlay. Though a finesse forward himself, Boothe is the pivot by default and is productive in the role. He pulls out defenders with his three-point shooting, and is active helping his teammates get theirs via screens. Not a brawler in the paint, but a good rebounder when coming high to low because he moves well. Tends to get too high and jumpy on defense.

Sam Cornett  6-4  Jr  ACB/Bank Hoops (Grandville): A physical guard in the Brian Snider mold. He showed his versatility on D by fighting inside against 1Nation’s tall, talented frontline at the beginning of the tournament, then matching up with King James’ All-American point guard Markell Johnson in the semifinals. Squares and uses his body well against dribblers, his wingspan against shooters. A work in progress offensively, with an odd but effective, for now, outside shot.

Armonee Felder  5-8  Jr  1Nation (Detroit Pershing): Always on to the next play, he’s unfazed and confident which allows Felder to get buckets in crunch time. As dangerous a defender on the ball as there is in the junior class. Sometimes lets it get personal and the one-on-one takes over, but is at his best when being aggressive while still making all the basic point guard passes.

Jermaine Goliday  6-3  Jr  ACB/Bank Hoops (Muskegon): A retro pure scorer who can get hot from three-point range as well as beat you with a deceptive first step and assortment of funky runners, bank shots, hop steps  and finger rolls. Fearless and at times unguardable against the likes of 1Nation, Playmakers, Stackhouse Elite and King James. A month of team stuff with Muskegon served Goliday well, as he played stretches of defense with conviction, showing his athletic ability blocking shots and jumping passing lanes.

Brandon Johns  6-8  So  Triple Threat (East Lansing): Three different members of Michigan State’s staff as well as Alabama, which has offered Johns, followed the state’s top sophomore and he didn’t disappoint. It never fails to impress how smooth he looks when he puts the ball on the floor, and shoots it so easily. Moves easily defensively too, and is dangerous coming from the weak side to block shots. Virtually never sees the ball in the post as there are stretches where Triple Threat’s guards seem to forget about him.

Demetri Martin, a junior from Big Rapids, was a leader on both ends for the Grand Rapids Storm's 16U team.
Demetri Martin, a junior from Big Rapids, was a leader on both ends for the Grand Rapids Storm’s 16U team at the Brawl for the Ball.

Demetri Martin  6-4  Jr  Storm (Big Rapids): The frame, and increasingly the game, of a D1 wing prospect. Can turn the corner and cause problems on the baseline. Stronger than he looks and gets physical and battles on the glass or when matched up with bigger forwards. Talks on D. Terrific body control around the hoop.  If he’s added the in-between guard stuff by the next Brawl for the Ball, the offers will come.

Westin Myles  6-4  Jr  Triple Threat (East Lansing): He has a great looking shot and size of a 2 guard, but can handle and make things happen with the ball. While brother Mikhail, an East Lansing 2015 grad, is more explosive, the younger Myles will end up with a more expansive game.

Jordan Roland  5-11  Jr  Mustangs (Flint Beecher): He led the Mustangs to the championship game where they gave King James its toughest game of the tournament. Roland has Beecher written all over him with how he gets after it defensively, whether closing off the lane to penetration or getting the layup line rolling out of the run-and-jump. This Mustangs team has to get by on team play and not star power, and Roland establishes how they want to lay with his unselfishness. While he may make a mistake, has the composure to not let it snowball. Scores in the lane when there’s daylight. Flipshot jumper needs consistency.

Will Weems  6-8  Jr  1Nation (Detroit Edison): When he keeps it basic and around the hoops, Weems really produces. Smart help defender who walls off well and takes charges. Moves his feet well enough that he can also guard out on the floor. Dangerous when he’s cutting and getting open at the basket, a liability when he settles for the easy outside ones.  Needs more explosion as smaller players can get to his shot.

Nick Welch  6-7  Jr  Mustangs (Temperance Bedford): He went against bigger players inside much of the weekend, from Triple Threat’s 6-8 soph Brandon Johnson all the way to the championship game with King James, but proved a matchup dilemma himself on the other end. Welch knocked down shots from the short corners and wings and was able to put the ball on the floor going left or right from 20 feet. He helped himself as much as any prospect in the 16U division.


17U Prospects Leave Impressions at Brawl 4 the Ball


The Detroit Stars' Jamal Cain, a junior from Detroit Cornerstone, was the top prospect in the 17U championship game at the Brawl for the Ball.
The Detroit Stars’ Jamal Cain, a junior from Detroit Cornerstone, was the top prospect in the 17U championship game at the Brawl for the Ball.

The Detroit Stars beat the Michigan Playmakers in the 17U final of the Brawl for the Brawl, thanks to a game-winning three-pointer by Stars junior guard Greg Elliott. Here are some of the 17U division’s top performers in Grand Rapids.

Joan Andoni  6-1  Sr  REACH (Livonia Churchill): Underutilized in the spring, Andoni stood firm through the roster flux and looked like the deadeye from his 16U days with the Warriors. He hit some big shots as REACH made a late push on the Playmakers in the championship game. Rhythm guy great elbow mechanics. Good frame, won’t have to work OT to get college rugged. An ideal complement to a guard like his teammate Terrence Sewell, who is conversely all drive and no shot. While his game lacks diversity, “You can’t have enough shooters in small college basketball,” one WHAC coach likes to say, and Andoni should get multiple offers from that league.

Jake Brubaker  6-2  Sr  HoopGrind (Marshall): HoopGrind has a GLIAC-caliber backcourt in Brubaker and Yale’s Cody Kegley, with Brubaker the perfect complement to the pure point guard. He’s a true scorer with range beyond the three-point line but also a drive game to finish through contact. His defense needs some focus, but showed he has the ability to do it in HoopGrind’s bracket win over the Storm.

Petoskey senior Jason Bur has been a standout for Parallel 45 all season.
Petoskey senior Jason Bur has been a standout for Parallel 45 all season.

Jason Bur  6-4  Sr  Parallel 45 (Petoskey): While he’ll be finishing out the liveperiod with Camp Darryl, Bur was a leader and stalwart amidst a sometimes stormy season for P45’s 17U. He’s just a reliable, all-around player who competes and improves. His versatility, competitiveness and defensive focus have made him an MIAA recruiting priority and help make Petoskey a top 20 team in Class A.

Jamal Cain  6-6  Jr  Detroit Stars (Detroit Cornerstone): We write about him a lot. Because he does a lot. Even playing up on 17U, Cain usually has physical advantages when matched up on the opposing wing forward and makes them pay when he gets going downhill. A rare finisher who is just as smooth as he is explosive. He has mid-major offers. To raise the bar Cain will need to get the motor going with regularity, get a take-over mentality and keep working on his shot, the rotation remains inconsistent.

Bryce Elliott  6-0  Sr  Shoreline Hoops (Hudsonville): A much improved and more confident player over the past year. If you’ve hit clutch buckets in a 4OT regional game against the defending Class A state champion, like Elliott did in March before the largest crowd in the history of West Ottawa’s gym, an AAU game won’t faze you, even if it’s against 1Nation and their D1 backcourt. He was strong on the defensive end and smart with the ball as Shoreline’s West team pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset in Saturday night bracket play. It culminated when 6-4 Grand Haven junior Zac Holman banked in a three-pointer after catching a three-quarters, cross-court pass from Bucs teammate Jason Long on an in-bounds play that began with 0.7 seconds on the clock.

Antwan Johnson  6-5  Playmakers (Detroit Henry Ford): The Playmakers don’t have a true big man on their 17U, but Johnson gave them enough up front, combined with superior guard play, to reach the championship game. High-point rebounder with the wheels to get out and finish on the other end. One of the tournament’s leading dunkers. Ran hard in defensive transition too. Moved well enough to defend out on the floor. In the halfcourt, was a capable passer or driver from the elbows and was active off the ball, but poor footwork on the jumper limit his as a 6-5 scorer. Looks like a GLIAC utility guy.

Zeale McCullough  6-5  Sr  Triple Threat (Lansing Eastern): Triple Threat doesn’t have legit 17U size, but the trio of McCullough, Midland’s Virgil Walker and DeWitt’s Evan Conn got the job done before running into the most talented frontcourt in the field that of the eventual champion Detroit Stars in the quarterfinals. Old school baseline forward who played above the rim. Good feel for the game and played well off of Triple Threat’s talented guards.

Karim Murray  6-1  Sr  REACH (Detroit Western): He was the starting 3 and defensive stopper on Detroit Western’s Class A state championship, able to get physical with any position on the court. With the Cowboys’ Horizon-bound backcourt of Josh McFolley and Brailen Neely, it was hard to tell what, if any, guard skills Murray possessed. In Grand Rapids, REACH called upon Murray to carry ball-handling and scoring responsibilities, and he led them to the 17U semifinals. Was able to break down defenders going left or right and showed his shooting range expands beyond 15 feet. No player in the 17U field helped himself more with the college coaches. If Murray can repeat this performance again this month, mid-major offers will ensue.

Daniel Pippen  6-8  Sr  Detroit Stars (Detroit Allen): The Stars have a terrific frontline with Pippen joining a pair of 6-6 juniors, the aforementioned Jamal Cain and Donnie Tillman of Findlay Prep via the Motor City. The two younger players both get more offensive chances than Pippen, but the slender 4 was still productive all-around. Very quick off the floor for second and third efforts. The simpler he makes his game, the more productive Pippen becomes. MIA in the spring, it looks like the light may have come on and he’s ready to get the offers rolling. Uses his length to protect the rim, and consistently ran hard rim-to-rim.

David Rinke  6-7  Sr  TEAM Basketball (Rochester Adams): Rinke has added strength and it showed in his confident play. Really made his bones with how he competed fearlessly against ACB/BankHoops’ 6-10 pair of Braden Burke and Ryan Schuller. Rinke was aggressive attacking the rim and was also able to step out and hit shots against the taller defenders. More of a wall-off position defender and grinder than shot-blocker, Rinke also took a charge in that opening-round playoff game.

Shooting Pool: Early standouts from the Brawl for the Ball

We’re midway through the Brawl for the Ball in Grand Rapids. Below are some breakout performers from pool play.

Tournament bracket play begins Saturday afternoon at MVP Fieldhouse and Cornerstone University.

Randy Gilbert  6-5  So  Superfriendz 15U (Detroit Cass Tech): One of the greatest shooters in Cass Tech history, Youngstown State assistant coach Steve Hall, was at Cornerstone University to see perhaps another. Gilbert his deep 3s off the dribble from the top of the key or the wings, with defenders draped all over him. Used a big first step and size to score at the rim easily when he was overplayed. Active rebounder. As incredible as Gilbert was, somebody forgot to tell him Parallel 45 hasn’t lost a pool game since April, and they pulled it out here when another 2018 D1 prospect, 6-8 Danny Kolp from Petoskey, scored the winning and-one layup with 10 seconds to play.

Jesse Hillis  6-0  Jr  Grand Rapids Storm 16U (Caledonia): Shouldered even more responsibility for the ball with Jason Majerle out and was up to the task. A true point guard and passer with a quick, long first step that gets it all going.

Treveon Orr  6-8  Jr  Playmakers 16U (Detroit King): True post with no qualms about throwing his weight around. Finds a body when a shot goes up, and takes up so much space teammates can get the rebounds he doesn’t. Has learned a number of moves, next is concluding them with true release and touch. If Orr can kick it out and walk his man down, would be layups galore instead of forcing bad shots. Does a decent job with the first defensive rotation but the quickness to recover is lacking.  More fitness and speed as he matures and he’s a top 10 overall prospect in 2017. He plays for George Ward at Detroit King, so expect there to be Percy Gibson comparisons.

Ben Ritsema  6-4  Sr  West Michigan Lakers (Zeeland East): He kept the Lakers in the game then poured on the gas to fire a big comeback win for the Lakers on the Storm. Shooter, slasher, dunker. Has the tools for it, but colleges will want to see what positions he can check at their level.

Ryan Schuller  6-10  Sr  ACB/Bank Hoops 17U (Sturgis): He’s improved significantly since spring AAU began. College coaches love his frame and enthusiasm for the game. A hard worker in games as in practice. Defensive lane clogger who is getting more comfortable with the ball; will still bring it too low. Can rebound outside his area.  Schuller was solid and 6-10 Stevensville Lakeshore senior Braden Burke showed a terrific offensive arsenal in ACB/Bank Hoops’ win over Triple Threat.

Brayden Smith  6-5  Jr  West Michigan Flight 16U (Byron Center): Great physical tools, plays above the rim. Uses live body to make plays on both ends of the court. Scholarship athlete in basketball or football. Consistent shooting touch from 20, but it’s a set shot. A MAC player if it becomes a jumper and Smith gets a creative, attacking game from the wings.

Richard Talley  6-0  Sr  Playmakers 17U (Detroit Renaissance): A key member of a Renaissance team that looks like preseason top 10 in Class A. It’s hell bringing the ball up against him. Explosive enough to score around the rim — when he chooses to look at it. As a point guard prospect, more facilitator than creator which may make him a defensive specialist at the next level. Will have to find some kind of a jumper to play in the modern college game.

NCAA July Open Period Commences in Grand Rapids

Brawl_for_the_Ball_largeMost of the state’s top programs and prospects, and college coaches from throughout the Midwest, will converge on Grand Rapids this week for the Brawl for the Ball, an NCAA sanctioned tournament. It runs Thursday, July 9 — Sunday, July 12.

Click here for the full schedule.

Read below to discover what are some of the best games for fans and coaches to check out. All are at MVP Fieldhouse unless otherwise noted.

17U Grand Rapids Storm vs West Michigan Lakers, 3:30 pm Thursday: There are always some healthy hard feelings when the two longest-running teams on the Westside hook up. Love the matchup of athletic, lanky, bouncy wings, the Storm’s 6-4 East Kentwood senior Micah Rosser and the Lakers’ 6-4 Zeeland East senior Ben Ritsema.

17U Mustangs (Woodruff) vs Impact Elite, 4:45 pm Thursday: This is a rematch of the championship game of the Camp Darryl Classic in May. It may be on Court 4, but small schools and D2s need to be all over this matchup.

16U ACB/Bank Hoops vs 1Nation, 6 pm Thursday: If these two guys played at different local schools, they’d be household names. But 6-5 ACB/Bank Hoops junior Riley Fairfield is at North Muskegon and not Muskegon High, and 6-4 1Nation junior Austin McCullough is at Portage and not Kalamazoo Central. Both are athletic, tough wings and top 20 overall prospects in the 2017 class. The similarities don’t end there, as both could be scholarship football receivers if they chose that route, and they play for Michigan’s two Under Armour-sponsored teams. Fairfield’s ACB/Bank Hoops squad is coming off a strong spring in which they won gold bracket titles at King James and the Chicago Classic.

17U ACB/Bank Hoops vs REACH 2:15 pm Friday: These programs played two great 17U games in 2014, and all the perimeter talent and athleticism from both teams promises another fun one on Court 1.

15U Family vs Mustangs, 8:30 pm Friday: Any time the state’s most storied programs meet, it’s appointment viewing. The Mustangs are bolstered by the arrival of one of the state’s top sophomore guards Davion Williams of Belleville. The two early candidates for the state’s top 2019 recruit will be in the 15U field here, the Family’s 6-4 Romeo Weems and Mustangs (Haney) 6-5 Sean Cobb from Williamston.

16U Family vs Triple Threat, 11:45 am Saturday: Lansing area big men seem to come in pairs. Grand Ledge’s Al Horford and Everett’s Goran Suton were the real deal. Jon Horford and Eaton Rapids’ Alex Gauna were a flimsy facsimile. Hopefully the newest pair, 6-9 Holt junior Jaron Faulds of the Family and 6-8 East Lansing sophomore Brandon Johns of Triple Threat, trend towards the former.


Oakland Team Camp: State’s top junior point, senior combo guards in the crowd

With teams from all over metro Detroit and beyond, and with all six courts under one roof, Oakland’s team camp has been an annual Bank Hoops venue for over a decade. Here are some of the standouts from the 2015 version.

Corey Allen  6-2  Sr  Ypsilanti: While Ypsi’s new guard, Belleville transfer Mike Bruce, has the flashier first step, Allen is more of a bottom line guy. Can shoot it but also can cobble together a 20-point line using his strength to get into the paint and onto the line. Produces enough to keep MAC and Horizon schools on him.

Matt Beachler  6-3  Jr  Lowell: Lived up to his shooter’s rep with Oakland coach Greg Kampe watching, with a six three-pointer game. Beachler has an Oakland offer, along with CMU, Northern Illinois, Toledo and VCU

Braden Burke  6-10  Sr  Stevensville Lakeshore: He may have had a wake-up call, and played with direction and focus for Lakeshore. Took no mercy matched up against normal sized high school posts, burying and finishing over them; used his length over them in pursuit of rebounds. Burke has the hands and feet coaches’ covet in their bigs. The key is getting them in synergy with his heart and head.

Jermaine Jackson  5-9  Jr  Macomb Dakota:  Tum Tum Nairn with a jumper. Keeps constant pressure on defensive opponents, and does it with the next-level gear you need to become a high major point guard. Explodes into lane and will be even more dangerous there when he uses the backboard more consistently than trying to go over the top. Jackson does a good job of setting up Dakota’s standout big man, 6-8 sophomore Thomas Kithier, while also playing well off of his post. Passes with either hand and is smart about feeding the hot hand. There are a number of D1 guards in the 2017 class, but at the point Jackson is on a tier by himself.

Troy Lattimore  5-11  Fr  Walled Lake Northern: Northern was due, having lost Tabin Throgmorton to Clarkston. A year later here comes an influx of talent in Lattimore, another freshman 6-5 Spencer Brown and Ethan Ancick a 6-5 sophomore who played last season in Manton. Lattimore looks like a top five 2020 guard as their high school careers commence. He’s able to create and hit shots and the ball usually got to teammates crisply.

Orlando Little  6-4  Sr  Kalamazoo Central: The Maroon Giants played well even without their top player Devon Daniels. Little is a great high school player who can beat you up on the blocks and hit shots from various spots on the floor. Coaches may fret his tweener status, but production should win over enough of them.

Spencer Littleson  6-3  Sr  Rochester Adams: He earned an offer from the home team, and has been shooting it like we’ve come to expect from Oakland guards. Because he has tools at his disposal and is assertive and confident, Littleson is able to still score it with defenses geared at him. Better point guard than some may realize.

Jaylin McFadden  6-5  Sr  Detroit East English Village: It’s tough to find a team that’s clicked quite like East English Village in June. They have four players any of whom can be the star on the floor for stretches. McFadden is one of them because he can rebound like a forward and push the ball like a guard, but is even more dangerous running the lanes. High IQ team player who has a radar for the ball and cuts down the floor on defense.

Karmari Newman  6-4  Sr  Detroit East English Village: Fearless shooter who hasn’t seen a line or landmark on a court he didn’t want to test as a launching pad. Long lefty and versatile streak scorer with some Mo Pete in him. Some coaches prefer Spencer Littleson to Newman because of his consistency, while I still give the latter a brief edge as the state’s top senior combo guard:

  1. Karmari Newman  6-4  Sr  Detroit East English Village
  2. Spencer Littleson  6-3  Sr  Rochester Adams
  3. Trishton Jackson  6-2  Sr  West Bloomfield (MSU-fb)
  4. Justin Turner  6-3  Sr  Detroit Renaissance
  5. Terrance Sewell  6-3  Sr  Detroit Northwestern

Danny Pippen  6-7  Sr  Detroit Allen: He’s one of the most enigmatic talents in the state, and showed the full spectrum at Oakland getting better as the weekend went on. Pippen is a rare athlete who can guards the rim and also step out on the floor and defend. Will have to get bigger to be a college forward, because he’s not a natural with the ball such as a slender guy like Paris Bass. At times settled for turnarounds and 3s instead of attacking.


Michigan Prospects Making Most of Toledo Elite Camp

Ypsilanti junior Darian Owens-White earned a scholarship offer from Toledo after their elite camp.
Ypsilanti junior Darian Owens-White earned a scholarship offer from Toledo after their elite camp.

Being just south of the border, Toledo’s elite camp always attracts talent. Here are some of the best Michigan prospects who competed there Sunday, including one who earned his first D1 offer afterwards.

Collins  6-7  Sr  Adrian Lenawee Christian: Does enough good that he’ll have various small college options. Very good going to get the ball, needs to get stronger with it once there. Most often shot from the elbows but when he found a couple unselfish teammates in 5-on-5 Collins also started cutting to the hole. Mastering basic post and finish moves would double Collins’ scoring.

Austin McCullough  6-4  Jr  Portage Central: Stood out with size, athletic ability and aggressive play. Hitting three-pointers while going to his left was a nice addition and one of the more big-time looking plays of the camp. Can turn the corner and used those same physical traits to compete on the defensive end. Trending like Taylor Perry was going into his 16U July, when he received an offer from WMU. If he keeps producing McCullough could pull a mid-major offer next month himself.

Darian Owens-White  6-0  Jr  River Rouge: He’s been delivering through the college camp circuit and cashed in on the final weekend with his first offer, from the Rockets. While he didn’t shoot it as well as he has recently, Owens-White executed in drills and when it opened up in 5-on-5 he really thrived running a team. A rare vocal leader and defender for these type of games.

Logan Ryan  6-7  Sr  Canton: Interesting because he has length, offensive potential and consistently produces in the one category that often translates he rebounds. A newly sheared stretch 4 who produced from the high post and hit an occasional three-pointer. Guards the rim and moves well enough that he could defend more of the court but doesn’t utilize his wingspan away from the basket, allowing opponents to shoot over him just as easily as Ryan does on his turn.

Shae Somers  6-0  Sr  Elk Rapids: He’s played to a draw the past three guards with D1 offers he’s faced, Haslett’s Brandon Allen and East English Village’s Chris Rollins at the Up North Challenge, and Sunday a nice 3-on-3 matchup with Darian Owens-White. Somers used his strength against the length of the junior (though they’re the same age). He was the best guard at camp at getting to the rim and drawing fouls. That’s not as easy to do when the shot’s not falling.



Rollins’ Commitment Caps Flurry of Offers

East English Village senior point guard Chris Rollins, at his future home IPFW.
East English Village senior point guard Chris Rollins, at his future home IPFW.

Mastodons could reach nearly basket height and weighed up to five tons. Chris Rollins is 5-10, 140. But his heart is mammoth sized which helped give him the chance to rep the Mastodons of IPFW, where the Detroit East English Village senior point guard committed Sunday. That came after another at times dominating camp performance by EEV, at Oakland, where Rollins gets it rolling a great brand of fast, unselfish ball. His is tempered aggression on both ends of the floor. Rollins is an embarrassment of point guard cliches, but the overall theme is, his teams win. Detroit Showtime has been the most consistently successful team in their age group for years with Rollins in the lineup along with other D1 basketball recruits EEV teammate Karmari Newman and former Warren De La Salle teammate Kevin McKay. It’s been a good recruiting season for small point guard, with Rollins joining Detroit Western’s 5-9 Brailen Neely who is pledged to Oakland, and Haslett’s Brandon Allen who is 5-9 with an offer from Long Beach State.

Oakland offered a couple of players this weekend. The Gospels say no prophet finds honor in his hometown. So it seemed to play out with Rochester Adams’ 6-3 senior Spencer Littleson, who emerged a year ago as a D1 prospect at a school just a couple miles from Oakland’s campus. His first offer came in the spring from St. Joseph’s, and now Littleson finds Oakland on board after he held his own against the best guards their team camp had to offer. Not just an unrepentant scorer, the Grizzlies envision him seeing time at point guard too. Behind Cassius Winston he’s as, if not more, consistent than the other guards in the seniors class and could have double-digit offers by the end of July.

Oakland’s other offer was to Jamal Cain. It was a busy weekend for the 6-6 top 10 junior from Detroit Cornerstone, who also received an offer Sunday at Kent State’s elite camp. He’s a rare finisher with hands, balance and smooth steps,  a Jason Morehead like swooping wing who could end up the next Vincent Hunter out of the Detroit Stars program.

Another junior with an Oakland offer is 6-9 Jaron Faulds from Holt. His second came from Central Michigan last Thursday. No big man puts it all together quite as often as Faulds, which is why he’ll get significant high major looks the next two summers. He played well at Oakland’s camp, as did 6-3 Lowell junior Matt Beachler. The Grizzlies are one of four offers to date. He made six three-pointers in a game watched by Oakland coach Greg Kampe.

6-7 senior Danny Pippen produced inside and outside both offensively and defensively for Detroit Allen at Oakland’s camp. He earned an offer Friday from Northern Kentucky.

Like Cain a 2017 prospect who received his first offer was Darian Owens-White. A 6-0 junior point guard from River Rouge, his came from Toledo following his performance Sunday at their prospects’ camp.


Calihan Call-Outs: Strong Performances at U-D Elite Camp

The University of Detroit's venerable Calihan Hall played host to the Titans' elite camp.
The University of Detroit’s venerable Calihan Hall played host to the Titans’ elite camp.

The University of Detroit’s Elite Camp has annually provided a spotlight for prospects on the verge of securing their future. Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson and Georgia’s Yante Maten in 2012; two years ago it was Paris Bass, not an NBA prospect for the Titans; last June Josh McFolley, now also at U-D, and Mike Edwards, like Maten now a UGA Bulldog. Here’s who got it done this time around at Calihan Hall.

Calvin Blaydes  6-5  Sr  Belleville: After his performance at the Izzo Shootout and now Detroit, Blaydes has solidified his place as one of the state’s top forward prospects. Athletic and plays hard, which can cover any number of flaws. Can guard the rim or check on the perimeter. A motor and quick second bounce on the glass. Lacks a back-to-the-basket game and struggles to multi-task when he puts it on the floor. Can see him fitting on probably half the GLIAC teams.

Brent Davis  6-2  Sr  Canton: There was a seemingly endless lineup of guards going one-on-one trying to get theirs. Davis was one of those with the actual size and athletic pop to most likely continue doing so in college. Slasher who turned heads with a big two-handed dunk. If he keeps playing like this, could see him again doubling his scoring average for Plymouth, where his clutch play helped give them their first district title last March.

Tray Jackson  6-6  So  Ypsilanti Lincoln: The surprise breakout prospect. He has the body, athleticism and shooting range of an older player. I coached 40 15U AAU games in the spring and rarely saw a member of the 2018 class who had Jackson’s combination of size and shot. Missed a dunk attempt but on another showed good hands and coordination to bring it in and put it down. You’d like to see him discover a post game and consistently embrace the dirty forward work, though his length provides a defensive presence.

Deante Johnson  6-6  Fr  Detroit Edison: It was pretty easy to forgive his faults when you look at the roster and see he’s just entering high school. Moved easily for his size and age. Needs some rudimentary post footwork, to remember to keep the ball high from the guards, go downhill and not fade, and figure out how hard you have to play at the varsity level … if that happens by March, Johnson could be turning in double-double efforts for what is one of the state’s top 10 Class C teams.

Luster Johnson  6-0  Sr  Detroit Consortium: He looks poised for the all-state campaign many were predicting following his state tournament run as a sophomore. Does some of everything and has springs, you just wish he were 6-3. Gets 50-50 balls, can score on the drive or shot and has vision to kick out for jumpers.

Reese Middleton  6-5  Jr  Perry: A former NBA player said he was the best shooter in the camp. Middleton certainly looked it in drills. When it was time for games someone should have given his teammates the memo, as in a one-on-one environment he was often left on the outside looking in. He was one of the biggest players at camp but more a de facto than passionate rebounder. Scholarship wing shooter, best case scenario Corey Redman.

Tristen Mysen  6-6  So  Oxford: He runs with a bunch of Clarkston kids in AAU, so Mysen may be more comfortable with some structure, particularly as a forward who builds his offense from the block outward. When his teammates did get him the ball, and cashed in with a patient and skilled game around the rim. Nice touch on the offensive glass. Sometimes goes too daintily or short-arms it, would like to eventually see a two-footed, above-the-rim power game. Good fundamentals rebounding in how he hits and pursues, and changes ends quickly.

Darian Owens-White  6-0  Jr  River Rouge: Picked right up from his outstanding Izzo Shootout performance, and is one of the state’s fastest climbing 2017 prospects. Has an Appling-esque quality where he’ll lull his defender then beat him with smooth over explosive moves. High-end point guard skills and he gets the ball where he wants. Lots of subtle, sophisticated stuff going on here, like just a look-off to give DOW an instant to stick a three-pointer. MAC or Horizon teams would love this kid running their team.

Miguel Priest  6-4  Sr  TBD: This was the second year in a row he’s been really good here. Shadowed the passing lanes leading to a number of breakout dunks. With a good frame and wingspan and no fear of physicality, Priest worked on the glass and proved able to push the ball and finish it himself. More than just an open court slasher, in one game he sank back-to-back left-handed three-pointers. Could see him eventually finding a mid-major roster. But via where? Priest played last season at Southfield, last week with Detroit Loyola and has been rumored to be headed to South Carolina.

Davion Williams  6-2  So  Belleville: Looks like the next coming of Rico Harris and is the most likely high-major prospect in the field. No player in camp had more dunks. Nice combination of size, playmaking, athleticism and a nose for the hole. Aggressive on defense and rebounds like you’d want from an athletic 6-2 kid on a high school court. Is the best guard in the 2018 class Clarkston’s Foster Loyer or Williams? It’s looking more and more like a dead heat.

2018 Guard Rankings:

  1. Foster Loyer  6-0  So  Clarkston
  2. Davion Williams  6-2  So  Belleville
  3. Brandon Wade  6-1  So  Ann Arbor Skyline
  4. David DeJulius  5-10  So  Detroit Edison
  5. PJ Mitchell  5-10  So  Detroit Loyola