Eighth-Annual Up North Challenge All-Tournament Teams

The West Michigan Lakers became the first program to win back-to-back 17U titles at the Up North Challenge. They beat REACH in the final.

17U Champion: West Michigan Lakers

17U All-Tournament

  • Dan Cluster  6-9  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (Watervliet)
  • Zach Goodline  5-10  So  West Michigan Lakers (Coloma)
  • Seth Mann  6-4  Jr  Parallel 45 (Petoskey)
  • Kevin McAdoo  6-1  Sr  REACH (West Bloomfield)
  • Luke Pfromm  6-5  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Warren De La Salle)
REACH was the 16U Up North Challenge champion, a title they also claimed in 2014.

16U Champion: REACH Legends

16U All-Tournament

  • Harlond Beverly  6-4  So  REACH (Southfield Christian)
  • Isaiah Bridges  6-5  So  HoopGrind (Midland)
  • Bryce Lott  6-4  So  Parallel 45 (Davison)
  • Jiovanni Miles  6-3  So   REACH (Novi)
  • Xander Okerlund  6-4  So  Parallel 45 (Maple City Glen Lake)
It was the second straight tournament championship for Impact Elite’s 15U, following the Camp Darryl Classic seen here.

15U Champion: Impact Elite

15U All Tournament

  • Treyvon Gunter  6-1  Fr  Camp Darryl (Kalamazoo Central)
  • Jordan Johnson  5-8  Fr  North Oakland Wolfpack (L’anse Creuse)
  • Matt Nicholson  6-9  Fr  North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston)
  • Brock Stevens  5-11  Fr  Impact Elite (Calvin Christian)
  • Emcee Williams  5-11  Fr  Impact Elite (Muskegon Reeths-Puffer)

14U Champion: Impact Elite

Parallel 45 Locks It Down in Kazoo

Parallel 45’s Green team celebrates its 17U championship with the tournament’s namesake at the venerable Camp Darryl Classic.

If you believe the stereotype that there’s no defense in AAU, you missed Parallel 45-Green’s run to the 17U championship of the 16th-annual Camp Darryl Classic. Only one team in Kalamazoo broke 50 points on their aggressive halfcourt man-to-man, and the Macomb County Cougars lost in the final 60-51. The West Michigan Lakers averaged 96 points in a pair of pool play wins, but saw that output halved in the semifinals with P45 prevailing 65-48.

Austin Harris was named the tournament MVP. The 6-4 Buckley junior averaged over 20 points per game through the semifinals, including his team’s first 16 in a 69-47 quarterfinal win over West Michigan Elite. He shot the ball with the confidence the entire state saw back in the Michigan Class D state finals, and ends the spring AAU season firmly back on college coaches’ radars as one of the most skilled, versatile big guards in the 2018 class.

Joining Harris on the all-tournament team were a pair of Frankfort juniors 6-1 Jaylon Rogers and 6-3 Matt Loney. Not many point guards are as strong and athletic finishers as Rogers, who comes in fast but drops in soft shots at the rim. He was a load in the semifinals attacking the West Michigan Lakers’ 6-8 Carter Nyp and 6-10 Dan Cluster, while taking it personally and competing hard defensively against his ballyhooed point guard opposite Coloma sophomore Zach Goodline. Loney is an aggressive two-way guard Jerry Sloan sort of throwback. Between his wingspan and hoops IQ beats people to the ball defensively and on the glass. He thrived offensively with an old school array of mid-range jumpers and pull-ups off the glass.

The addition of 6-9 Lakeland junior Cass Phillips has been a God-send to a Parallel 45 lineup that’s lacked a true post both in its 16u season then again for most of the spring. That had created a ceiling for what was still a talented team, in 2016 they were eliminated in six straight tournaments by the ultimate champion. But here’s Phillips to trigger the running game off the glass, collapse defenders to open up shooters, defend the rim so the defense can be extended, score off the catch and finish, tips and free throws. Separates himself from a lot of young bigs by how he runs hard and competes consistently. Showed athletic ability when got out on the court to make plays out on the floor for loose balls, a couple times taking it all the way for a score. Similar to Matt Costello, stylistically. Another downstate newcomer this season has proved invaluable. 6-0 Cardinal Mooney junior Daniel Everhart gives P45 another strong, aggressive driver when Rogers isn’t on the floor, or allows him to play off the ball as a scoring wing when paired together. Everhart is a smart A to B point guard who knows when to pick his spots offensively and hit pull-up jumpers throughout the weekend in the halfcourt and out of transition.

Phillips in the lineup allowed a pair of 6-4 juniors Boyne City’s Mason Gardner and Petoskey’s Seth Mann to play their natural wing forward position. Gardner had rededicated himself with a great practice earlier in the week and played hard and produced the entire tournament. A hybrid player who can check out on the floor or block shots; athletic yet may still underestimate physical advantages and could more often go over/through a defender at the rim than around him. Mann gives a clinic on moving without the ball, popping open for timely three-pointers or curling for looks at the rim. Good fundamentals as a defender and rebounder but will take more strength and weight for it to work at the college level. With a true center, 6-6 Boyne City junior Dylon Williams has thrived in his minutes as the backup post, getting better seemingly by the game. He’s raw, eager and just figuring things out, but D3s have expressed interest because he’s built like a college player and puts on a dunk show in warmups.

According to tournament director Darryl Matthews this was likely the best entry the Macomb Cougars have had in the 17U division and was the only team in bracket play to come back and take a second-half lead on P45. Their backcourt carried them for stretches, and were all-tournament picks. 5-11 Arthur Asberry of Warren Cousino and 6-0 Jaylen Blackwell from L’anse Creuse. The Mid-Michigan Lakers won the silver title. Division MVP was their three-point threat guard 6-0 Isaiah Franklin from Holly.

Tulip Tipoff Recruiting Tips

Zeeland West sophomore Mason Bakker is a workhorse forward for the Grand Rapids Storm’s 16U which fell to Parallel 45 in the championship game of the Tulip Tiopff.

While Tulip Time engulfed Holland proper, the Northside once against played host to the Wes Leonard Strength & Honor Tulip Tipoff. TEAM Basketball defeated the home team West Michigan Lakers in the 17U final, Parallel 45 beat the Grand Rapids Storm in the 16U championship game, and in 15U the Storm beat Impact Elite for the crown. These players stood out.

Mason Bakker  6-5  So  Grand Rapids Storm 16U (Zeeland West): Looks cut from the John Shillito lineman quarry in Zeeland. He was a tough cover for Parallel 45 in 15U when they beat the Storm at last summer’s Brawl for the Ball, and nothing had changed when they met again in the championship game here. Horsed kids on the glass but not just a banger, with soft hands and shooting touch.

Isaiah Bridges  6-5  So  HoopGrind 16U (Midland): A mismatch at the high school level. His versatility point towards interesting college possibilities as well. Strong kid who invites contact. Few players in Michigan’s 2019 class can match his post repertoire, motor on the glass or how he triggers the transition game. But he can also step out and keep defenses honest with the shot or pass or pick-and-roll game. Coaches will want to figure out what positions he can guard.

Justin Fischer  6-3  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Warren De La Salle): Coming off a tough weekend at Spiece, TEAM was short-handed to start the tournament, and looked sluggish even as the bracket played out. But by the championship game against the host team they were humming and as always Fischer has a lot to do with it. TEAM Basketball has a wider array of options this season and Fischer knows the personnel and is able to find their sweet spots whether underneath or spotting up. One of the two best passers in the 2018 class along with Trevion Williams. College coaches want to see more consistent scoring threat. You want your ponit guard to win and Fischer does that. With victories over the Storm and Lakers in both teams’ home tournaments, TEAM has solidified its rep as one of the top three unaffiliated 17U teams in Michigan, along with REACH and the Michigan Warriors. TEAM Basketball and REACH will play May 27 at the Up North Challenge in Mt. Pleasant.

Justin Fox  5-11  Jr  MBA  (Grand Rapids Union): Did a lot of things you want from the 1 controlled tempo, was a threat to score from different spots, created in the lane good looks with dishes to his big Hayden Stauffer or pitches to spot up shooters. Union is in a run of seeing guards break out as college prospects during their senior seasons, and Fox is poised to be next.

Bryce Lott  6-3  So  Parallel 45 16U (Davison): One-time hustling tweener and role player who continues to flourish on the wing with offensive confidence. Can shoot it off the catch and also finishes with ups and toughness on the break and halfcourt drives or cuts.

Vernon Nash  5-7  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm (Muskegon): Terrific pushing the tempo. There are a lot of fast 15U guards. Nash is different because he makes smart decisions at full speed. He’s not at a loss as a halfcourt guard either despite his size, tough to find out there. When he and another quick, clever point guard Max Perez were out there together the Storm was hard to handle.

Drew Pedersen  6-3  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (West Ottawa):  One of the reasons West Ottawa will contend for a return to top 10 status. Wing shooter is perfect for the Panthers’ pretty passing offense. Pedersen plays similarly off the ball for the Lakers. Perpetual motion, he wears down defenders working both sides of the offensive court searching for screens and jumpers. Similar to a player he faced in the 17U final TEAM Basketball’s Jason Dietz tough to close out on with their deep releases. Will also beat you with the backdoor. Neither his high school nor AAU teams play full-time man so coaches will want to learn what he can do on that end.

Cass Phillips  6-9  Jr  Parallel 45 (Lakeland): Resurfacing post prospect fit in smoothly, running to the rim, cleaning up the offensive glass and providing a post threat off the left block. Moves easily and should be able to get out on the floor and check stretch 4s. Doesn’t shy from contact and can target the ball outside his area; started rebounding with an attitude as the tournament went on. Spacing, timing, instinct, tentative feet need to improve, but there were enough flashes of potential to intrigue as a next level prospect.

Zach Trent  6-2  So  Parallel 45 16U (Burton Bentley): Broke free of a slump a comeback which found Trent the leading scorer in the 16U final. Even when his shot wasn’t falling found ways to contribute as a physical defender and rebounder. Has the size to bully his way to free throws, and 1s if he looked to complete drives more often. Low risk recruit who will max out talent and star in the classroom.

Solomon White  6-0  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Forest Hills Eastern): Complements Storm point guards Max Perez and Vernon Nash. White keeps the court spread for them with his shooting threat, but isn’t stationary will also cut and score has nice feel and is tough around the rim. Probably projects as college point guard so needs to keep working on ball skills.

Dlano Woods  5-11  Jr  Michigan United (Chippewa Valley): He was a dangerous lefty scorer as a 16U player who has really improved and will now eat you up with passes if overplayed. Battle tested not exactly doing it at Podunk U., Chippewa Valley is one of the state’s 10 largest schools.


Spiece Standouts

He may have a mask and new AAU uniform, but it’s still the same versatile, productive Thomas Kithier, the Dakota forward headed to Michigan State.

We’ve been covering the Spiece Run-n-Slam since before it was the Hensley Memorial, and before there was a Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne, when the tournament was played on campus at Purdue. Even back then it was a proving ground for Michigan players. Though the field lacks the national scope of its peak years, with 250 high school age teams from the Midwest it’s still one of the strongest spring events going outside of the EYBL.

Michigan’s top performing 17U team was the Family, which was knocked out by eventual champion All Ohio Red in the platinum semifinals. The Mustangs won the silver bracket. In 16U GreenWood and the Mustangs reached the platinum quarterfinals .In 15U the Family made the platinum quarters and the West Michigan Lakers the gold final. Here are some local players who performed well.

Marcus Bingham  6-10  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): The Hoosier state has been kind to him. Bingham entertains offers from Butler and Purdue, he became a national name at the Indianapolis EYBL stop, and then came out and furthered his reputation at Spiece. Got the better of ballyhooed 6-9 NBA scion Pete Nance of the Akron Bobcats, who is too stiff and unnatural when pushed away from the basket but was dwarfed by Bingham’s wingspan when he tried to do what he is good at, scoring in the lane. Meanwhile Marcus shot it easily from various spots and even showed flashes of an off-the-dribble game. Later on in the tournament he was reminded even if this isn’t the Nike circuit, talent will always run deep in an event full of Midwestern teams. Watch out below, Darweshi Hunter dunk show coming through.

Maliq Carr  6-6  Fr  Family 15U (Oak Park): Has a Syracuse offer for football so not surprisingly doesn’t shy from contact. One of three Family forwards who can suck down rebounds. Talks and competes with a hoops IQ you don’t necessarily expect at that size and age, but do given his basketball pedigree. Smart, deliberate passer. Loves knocking down shots from the elbow.

Nigel Colvin  5-11  So  GreenWood 16U (River Rouge): Looks like a running back, 5-11 and fast. Uses that speed to get open off screens, close out on shooters and even sprint back on defense after his own misses. Plays more off the ball with River Rouge teammate  Khalid Fleming or 6-6 Cade Coleman the most likely point guards, and Colvin is dangerous shooting or slashing from the wings.

Taylor Currie  6-9  So  All Ohio Red 16U (Clarkston): He’d left a favorable impression as the starting center on Clarkston’s state championship team, and did nothing but help his cause here particularly with a 33-point performance against the Family. Particularly with Romeo Weems in and out of the lineup and not 100 percent with cramps, the Family didn’t have anyone who could handle Currie’s post play scoring off either shoulder. He also made 3-of-4 three-pointers and handled his business on the glass, active and keeps the ball high. The best big in Michigan’s 2019 class, and easy to see the U-M, Wisconsin interest.

Jason Dietz  6-4  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Troy): While TEAM was up and down, Dietz shot it well throughout the weekend. D2 coaches like how he has college wing size.

Zach Goodline  5-10  So  West Michigan Lakers (Coloma): Last we saw the Lakers’ 17U, they were beating the Family in the July 2016 Brawl for the Ball. That group was led by a small guard with a ton of chutzpah, Avery Hudson. The 2017 Lakers turn to a new small but fearless point guard, Goodline. We found them in the gold playoffs against The Elite. And with Elite’s Lamar Norman, Terry Armstrong, Julian Dozier and Anthony Crump on the court, it was Goodline leaving mouths ajar as he controlled tempo while creating space and knocking down shots at will. He scored 28 in the Lakers’ win over Elite, a group which had been playing well nationally on the Adidas “gauntlet.” Goodline is the most skilled score/pass/create point guard in Michigan’s 2019 class. Size will determine his college level.

CJ Haut  6-8  Jr  Mustangs (Monroe St Mary): Really coming on, and it looks like SMCC’s streak of all-staters might continue. Natural shot blocker, changes ends, surprised with shooting touch. Shoots jumphook with either hand. Coachable and quick learner. With academic side will have a lot of options; NAIA floor that GLIACS weren’t saying no to.

Jamoni Jones  5-11  Fr  GreenWood 15U (East Kentwood): Part of a potent three-guard lineup with speedy, slight Edwin Victory and versatile scoring muscle guard Jarvis Walker. Jones is at his best when it gets a bit messy and hectic, jumping passes, turning the ball over for layups and his preferred three-point shot out of transition. Passes on the break when the dribble isn’t necessary and makes smart decisions even if doesn’t always look like a natural playmaker.  Needs to work on getting space against bigger defenders to get the same quality looks in the half court. Does have the requisite point guard runner.

Thomas Kithier  6-8  Jr  All Ohio Red (Macomb Dakota): A statement tournament for AOR, which turned to its depth in winning the 17U title without the services of stalwarts Foster Loyer and Vincent Williams. This was Kithier’s chance to step up with his newest AAU team, and he was particularly good against’s last year’s squad the Family. He looked like a prototype MSU inside/outside 4 who could bang in the post and the glass while having the feet to get out on the floor and defend.

Devin Marshall  5-11  So  MBA-King (Portage Northern): The quickest guard on what will be a 16U team coaches want to see in July. They also have one of 2019’s sleeper recruits 6-9 home schooled sophomore Luke Maranka.

Lamar Norman  6-2  Jr  The Elite (Wyoming Godwin Heights): From Grand Rapids and free from the Detroit media mafia echo chamber, Norman may have been the only one from The Elite who knew what he was getting into against the Lakers, a program of tough Lakeshore kids who love nothing more than to knock off hyped up Eastsiders. Which is exactly what they did. But Norman played hard the whole way. Didn’t let the game come to him, went out and forced the issue and created points by winning 50-50 balls, getting rebounds.

Mark Watts  6-2  So  Family 16U (Old Redford Academy): Even shooters as good as Watts can have their flow go off stream. In two Family losses, he scored two second-half points. As he matures will find ways to make his coach keep him on the court even when he’s not scoring; the rarefied air of the finisher, winner and champion.

Trevion Williams  6-8  Jr  Family (Henry Ford Academy): Finding his wind and touch, coming back from an ankle injury. Williams looked more active than the prior weekend in Indianapolis. The mitts never left and there were flashes showing why he may be the best passer in Michigan regardless position. Williams seemed to find it easier to power and tip his way to points than against EYBL bodies and peaked with a vintage 20-20 effort against C2K.

Wide Awake in Naptown

Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s 6-10 junior Marcus Bingham is one of the hottest recruits in the Midwest for the Spiece Indy Heat.

All recruiting eyes were on Indianapolis for the second and final weekend of the spring live recruiting period. We were able to see Michigan talent at Nike’s 17U and 15U EYBL events, the Under Armour Association tour stop, the Terrific 24 and Adidas Spring Classic. Here are some of the standout performers.

Marcus Bingham  6-10  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): April has been the first time most schools have seen Bingham. The offers are flowing after he followed up flashes at Boo Williams with production in Indy. 7-4 wingspan, runner, shooter who can get the college coaches’ imaginations rolling on the sideline. He’s added offers from a whole new level of programs from Washington then Xavier, Butler and Purdue.

Gabe Brown  6-7  Jr  Family (Belleville): Doesn’t do a bad James Young impression when the lefty gets in rhythm off the catch. Saved his best for last sinking 4-of-5 three-pointers en route to 22 points as the Family got a much-needed win. He does more than that though which really appeals to coaches, able to catch opponents off guard with one-dribble dunks, and using effort, length and athleticism to be a versatile defender. Brown came out of the weekend with now double-digit offers having added Loyola (Chicago), Buffalo and Cleveland State.

Denver Cade  6-2  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Buckley): Plays with competitiveness, toughness, pride. Keeps coming at you and will pile up points and there’s 20 by the end. Is increasingly progressing from prolific streak shooter to a cash machine when left open. Strong going downhill to counter the jumper, but lacks explosion as a finisher. The same traits mentioned above make Cade a competent, plus defender.

Reece Castor  6-5  So  GreenWood 16U (Gladstone): Has improved in two areas we hoped since last seeing him at the fall Bank Hoops All-State Camp — shooting off the catch and squaring and keeping up with athletic wings defensively. Shoots it off the shoulder but with a quick release whether from the corner in halfcourt sets or kickouts to the wing on the break. Counters jumper with strong drives. Not a blazer but good frame, long arms help him defensively. Needs to use that size and toughness on the glass more consistently, keep hands high and resist just being an observer. Looks like MAC/Horizon/Missouri Valley level.

Mike Fletcher  6-7  So  GreenWood 16U (Carman-Ainsworth): His physical advantages are more pronounced in age group play than when we saw Fletcher against upperclassmen in the winter. Has the base to clog the lane and wingspan to defend the rim. Quicker than he looks and can pounce out from the paint to get deflections in passing lanes. Offensively has an effective hook, can pass from the high post and shows touch on his turnaround jumper. Like how he interacts and competes, team player. Will need a couple more inches to truly realize the whole Nick Ward thing.

Luke Hyde  6-7  Jr  Elite Nation (DeWitt): Has put on a lot of good weight and looks more college ready than many of his peers in a deep 2018 forward class. Seems to give him more confidence finishing, playing big. Works hard on the glass and has an easy shot that’s out to 20 feet. Not a wing, not a 4, just a generic, sound, all-around forward.

Brandon Johns  6-8  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (East Lansing): He already has a season of 17U EYBL on the resume, so there was no room in his belly for butterflies, just fire. Gained Memphis, Missouri offers. And for the critics, how “soft” is this move?


Carlos Johnson  6-6  Fr  Family 15U (Benton Harbor): Rebounding is one trait and stat that carries over, trans level and Johnson attacked the glass in age group competition with the same hunger he did in piling up all-state glass numbers in the winter. Like an older Family kid Romeo Weems he’s a plus athlete with early accolades who separates himself to elite status with his motor. The flat, funky shot was dropping from three-point range and other, so we’ll stand by the comparison we stole from a college coach who saw Johnson this winter, Buckets (LaDontae Henton) with a jumper.

Foster Loyer  5-11  Jr  All Ohio Red (Clarkston): Even having cracked Rivals top 100 looked still considerably underrated. Takes everyone’s best shot and against elite national talent continued to wear them down with toughness, poise and uncanny shot making. In command down the stretch, a leader and finisher at point guard when wins are on the line. He’s led AOR to first place in their EYBL division after two weeks, a game ahead of Chicago Mean Streets. He had a 31-point game in Indy and has made 59-of-59 free throws over eight league games.

Austin McCullough  6-4  Sr  GreenWood (Portage Central): With Jason Whitens to WMU, McCullough is the state’s top unsigned 2017 wing prospect. He came out of the live period with his second D1 offer, from Niagara. Though he’s Portage Central’s all-time scorer wasn’t a volume shooter there and was at his best for GreenWood at the Terrific 24 shooting off the catch instead of the dribble in a pretty standard, slow, take turns AAU offense. Raw, rangy athlete who could improve rapidly with college coaching and a college weight program.

Carter Nyp  6-8  Jr  West Michigan Lakers (Wayland): A near 180 from the Lakers’ last 6-8 Wayland power forward, Zach Nieuwkoop whose bury ’em under the basket game has moved just up the road to Davenport. Nyp is a left-handed pick-and-pop specialist who is never shy with the wing three-pointer and is also effective shooting over defenders looking down from a hi-lo. Can be awkwardly effective off the dribble with a long step and extensive release point. Plays too upright and isn’t explosive enough to do that against more athletic wing defenders. To be a shooter you have to be able to guard a shooter, and that’s where Nyp can struggle because he doesn’t close out so much as lunge.

Jayden Perry  5-7  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Manton): Follows in the Parallel 45 lexicon Keegan LaBlance and Gunnar Libby as small guards with big games. Loves pulling up on the break for the 3 or has the ability to create space to get it off otherwise. Good shot selection and gets teammates involve. Size will turn off some but coaches who liked Chad Carlson in the MIAA will give him a a look.

Shayne Scruggs  6-6  Jr  1Nation (Lansing Sexton): Middle school phenom reclaiming his rep. Used strength, leverage, toughness to combat and compete on the glass against bigger kids in the Under Armour league.

Jalen Terry  5-11  Fr  Family (Flint Beecher): The torch has been passed, Terry looks poised to become a three-time all-state point guard for Beecher. Unleashed against age group competition playing at a face pace, was often unguardable with his speed and quickness getting to the rim. With a natural handle and poise, able to keep happy a lineup full of future D1 kids one of the most talented 15U teams in America. Then had the pg bona fides to do like Foster Loyer was doing up with All Ohio Red, making the right plays in crunch time.

Carrington Wiggins  6-1  Jr  Elite Nation (Goodrich): Part of a deep Elite Nation backcourt that includes Malik Jones, Garvin Crout and Matt Havey and helped them to the silver title at the Adidas Spring Classic. Wiggins is physically stronger than last AAU season which helps get things done as he’s long known how to play. Consistent shot, makes smart decisions with the ball, and has active hands on defense.

Podcast: Making Some Sense of Early AAU Scene

Slow EYBL start for Family, but 15U one of nation’s best.

The Elite impresses early; Mustangs in flux.

More Michiganders in the EYBL; 1Nation.

The best unaffiliated 17U, 16U teams in Michigan.

More Storm Classic Standouts

2018 prospect Bryce Washington of the Family via Southfield Christian is one of Michigan’s elite finishers.

Some of the top available college prospects in the state played in the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, included here from the class of 2020 all the way to current seniors.

Christian Agnew  6-1  Sr  Mustangs (Westland John Glenn): One of the state’s top uncommitted senior guards Made key plays in two statement wins for the Mustangs, a comeback elimination of 1Nation then a semifinal blowout of the Family. The Mustangs used four and sometimes five guards against 1Nation, with Agnew exploiting his matchup with forward Shayne Scruggs by ducking under him to get into the lane or shooting before he could close out.

Tevin Ali  6-6  Jr  Elite Nation (Lansing Waverly): Elite Nation may not have a center, but lead the league in 4s — Ali, Mason Pline, Luke Hyde and Josh Perkins. Ali can finish above the rim if you tee him up but is most likely a garbage man on offense. Will step up and block shots on the other end, but got whistled for some cheap ones when we saw Ali against TEAM Basketball.

Terry Armstrong  6-5  So  The Elite (Davison): Everything came a bit tougher for Elite’s offense when Armstrong was either not touching the ball or out of the game. He makes tough free up moves against athletic defenders look easy. Not a ball hog, sees the floor, understands the game. Which makes Armstrong’s shot selection all the more frustrating. A lot of Dion Harris here, from the love of the mid-range shot, to latent athleticism, to court demeanor, and facially. With Jamal Cain matriculating to Marquette, Armstong’s now Michigan’s best combination of natural talent, skill level, and pro size relative to position.

Isaiah Jackson  6-7  Fr  Family 15U (Rochester Lutheran Northwest): Even a team so talented it features over half of Bank Hoops’ top 10 2020 prospects and won the 15U tournament, Jackson stood out. Long, active rim protector. His defense is ahead of his offense — only because he’s already a special defensive presence at this level. He’s not bad at all on the offensive end. Unlike so many young bigs, doesn’t fight the ball and plays right along with the Family’s guards and athletes. All the talent’s there, will be determined internally is Isaiah is the next Deyonta Davis or Dashonte Riley.

Avery Lewis  6-6  Jr  1Nation (Ann Arbor Huron): Forms a pair of forwards with 6-9 Danny Kolp that might be undersized in the EYBL but will help make 1Nation competitive on the Under Armour circuit. A one-time role player whose increased height, athleticism and assertiveness have increased that status. Kolp didn’t play against the Storm with an ankle injury and Lewis gave away height to their 6-10 Blake Verbeek and 6-8 Brandon Paul. But he took the fight to them with strength, leverage and aggression.  Lewis is an active lefty who gets to balls off either backboard. Has body control and talent as a finisher. GLIAC lock with upside and improvement track for higher.

Drew Lowder  5-11  So  Family 16U (Ann Arbor Pioneer): Playing a true 1, with Rocket Watts being the designated gun in this AAU backcourt. Lowder looked great pushing the break and found the hot hand. Good guard size for age group play, which he uses selectively to assert himself defensively. Seems to like the challenge. In the halfcourt, would like to see Lowder more often turning the corner and getting in the lane to create even better shots for teammates on pitches and dish higheres percentage shots than just moving the ball around the horn. Or finish the play himself, as he looks like a natural scorer around the rim.

Brandon Paul  6-8  Jr  Grand Rapids Storm (Sault Ste. Marie): A lot to like once he transitions from UP to AAU basketball, as he was too flat-footed, reaching for rebounds, and was often the recipient rather than distributor of physical play. Even a point guard like Brandon Wade pushed Paul around a bit. However, hard not to be intrigued how easily he steps out and shoots it; keeps the ball high; sees and gets to offensive rebounds.

Kevin David Rice  6-3  Fr  Family 15U (Goodrich): Easy to see how he was the state’s top freshman scorer this winter. Calls to mind the gifted Flint wings we used to cover like Desmon Farmer,  Jaquan Hart and Cory Hightower. Versatile scorer in the lane or from the baseline where he’s ambidextrous. Seemed tuned in and serious on the defensive end for a ninth-grader.

Danny Sully  6-6  Jr  TEAM Basketball (Troy): He has an uncanny wingspan, and reacts quickly. Those impact defensively both out on the floor harassing ball-handlers, or in the paint where at times it looked like Sully just flicked his wrist and blocked a shot. Dunks easily but still a work in progress on offense.

Bryce Washington  6-4  Jr  Family (Southfield Christian): Made an impressive transition from Class D all-stater to all-around efficient role player who didn’t need a high shot volume to contribute. Used his length and athleticism on the glass, getting to 50/50 balls, defending out on the court. Still has rare ability finishing from the wings, extends on the run so gracefully you forget how fast he’s actually moving.

Romeo Weems  6-6  So  Family 16U (New Haven): Played a lot in the post and that proved a tough cover as Weems ran rim to rim repeatedly and eagerly. That effort is particularly noticeable when juxtaposed with the Family’s other 16U star, Rocket Watts, who sometimes just gets back past midcourt on defense. Their closest thing to a 16U center, Sage Walker, didn’t play, and Weems defended the rim with a variety of shot blocks. He was so dominant it wasn’t uncommon to see Weems not just blocking the shot but recovering the ball himself.

Flint’s Finest: Rep Builders

Farmington sophomore Ray Bryant looked like one of the state’s most explosive 2019 guards for the Michigan Playmakers.

While there was name-brand shopping the week before at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, Easter weekend provided a good chance to find college talent from grassroots teams. It’s abundant this spring given the depth of the 2018 class. That was apparent at Flint’s Finest tournament, which included these standouts below. Local team Comrades United beat the Michigan Playmakers for the 17U title; in 16U Championship Sports Gold beat Parallel 45; and in 15U the Playmakers topped the Flight.

Leon Ayers  6-2  Jr  Moneyball East (Troy): The starting point guard from Troy’s Class A regional championship team. Keeps the ball hot, good play running for AAU. Can also play off it and hit his own shots off the catch. Covered space on defense. More strength, explosion will help Ayers rise in a deep 2018 guard class.

Emmanuel Bates  6-4  Jr  Flint’s Finest (Swartz Creek): High energy two-way guy who is a small college recruit for the right system like an Olivet. Turns ends easily, able to play on the top of the press then recover to block the shot. Has physical tools for the next level. Needs to define and refine his halfcourt offense. A passer, cutter, clean-up guy right now.

Noah Baylis  5-11  Fr  Mid-Michigan Lakers 15U (Holly): Did nothing but solidify his name among the deep 2020 point guard class. Toughened up from a year of varsity ball since last we saw him, which dictated the addition of a pull-up mid-range game. Scored 26 against the Playmakers, including five three-pointers.

Ray Bryant  6-3  So  Michigan Playmakers 16U (Farmington): He could jump from All-OAA to all-state as Farmington graduates Jordan Graham and Jay Kirby. Bryant was already a consistent double-double threat and it was easy to see why in the 16U semifinals where he was a finisher and rebounder not afraid to seek out hits. A tough cover on the break coming downhill, either with the ball or running the lanes. Slasher from the halfcourt who ended up spending a lot of time at the line. In that semifinal Bryant was the guy the Playmakers turned to match the toughness and physicality around the rim of Championship Sport’s Blake Charboneau. Not many more talented guards in the 2019 class.

Blake Dockery  6-2  Jr  Parallel 45-White (Baldwin): With 6-7 junior Ethan Ancick injured, P45 needed rebounding where they could find it and Dockery came up big on the glass for the 17U silver bracket champions. Strong first step and finishes well, and is that much more dangerous when playing a half-second behind because the quickness remains a plus even then. Good tools and coachable, but college chances will be as a point guard so needs to work on skill level, decision making, recognizing game situations.

Omari Duncan  6-4  Jr  Comrades United (Carman Ainsworth): Was joined by high school teammate, junior point guard Ja’kavien Lewis, in the final to conclude 17U championship run. Duncan projects as a tweener but is versatile and plays hard. Slasher, active on the glass where he can play bigger than his height, sets tough screens.

Nick Jungel  6-7  Jr  Camp Darryl (Olivet): Went from tall, active 4, to tall, active, strong 4. Cleared the glass and ran rim to rim. Jump hook in the lane off either shoulder. All the MIAA and WHAC will want him, and all the GLIAC will want to see him. Needs to show he can step out and check stretch 4s.

Jalen Kelso  6-0  Jr  Michigan Eagles (Walled Lake Northern): He has more to work with than on past editions of this team, which is coached by his father hall of famer Ben Kelso. The younger version has long played with the right intent, now that he’s matured and filled out physically is able to follow all the way through more consistently. Did a lot of damage once he got a shoulder into his defender, made the Eagles’ fast break hum hitting some athletic but not especially skilled guys on the money so they had no choice but to finish the score. Kelso needs to finish more chin to the rim, off the glass as he’s not big or explosive enough to make his preferred mode, over the time, an efficient shot.

Lucas Lueder  6-4  So  Champ Sports-Gold (Sanford Meridian): This was already a top five 16U team in Michigan based on their 15U resume. The addition of Lueder raises the ceiling. Sees over defenders and passes like a point guard or can hurt you shooting off screens. All kinds of defensive potential with his length and hoops IQ. Tougher than might think at first glance but still lacks physicality, the punch to finish above the rim. Could rank with guys like Reese Castor, Chandler Turner and Cade Coleman in the next group of 2019 wing prospects after Terry Armstrong and Romeo Weems.

Jaylon Rogers  6-1  Jr  Parallel 45-Green (Frankfort): Can be up and down but was all the way dialed in for a bracket play OT loss to FABE. Rogers made three free throws with time expired to force the extra period. Repeatedly abused FABE’s guards off the dribble and mixed in enough drop offs for layups to keep the second row of defense off balance. It’s when there’s a 6-9 type waiting back there that the decision making and expediency can be tested, but in this game at least it was layup city.

Trever Salani  6-0  So  Parallel 45 16U (Manton): Underclassman starter from Manton’s state semifinalist team, and now for an AAU team that reached the 16U final in Flint. Battled on defense, showed a serious vertical on the glass and knocked down timely three-pointers. Needs to work on handle and overall guard game.

Ashton Sherrell  6-7  Jr  Michigan Playmakers (New Haven): Underrated starting center on New Haven’s state championship team; didn’t have plays run for him with all-state scorers on the wings. Plays a similar role for the Playmakers, an active rebounder and shot blocker. Lanky, bouncy, recovers well. Needs some kind of reliable offense as things progress.

Jackarus Smith  6-3  Jr  FABE (Grand Blanc): Wide-shouldered wing guard who could rebound one end the finish at the other. Hard to keep out of the lane. Could square and redirect defensively. Three-point shot seemed to depend on which game.

Nick Wells  6-2  Jr  North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): He’s one of four returning starters for defending state champ Clarkston. And probably the least well-known. Wells is out there for a reason though and thrives at the subtle stuff, in AAU like in the high school season. Combines smart defense between positioning and beating the ball to the spot, and plays with quick hands. Closes out really well just doesn’t give much room off the catch. A spot up shooter whose offense could benefit from fluidity and diversity. Hard not to recruit if MIAA school.

Early Returns: Prospects Help Cause at Storm Classic

Detroit U-D Jesuit sophomore Julian Dozier belied his age running the point for The Elite’s 17U at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic.

The state travel season really gets underway with the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, the top event in the Midwest this weekend. C2K from Ohio beat the Mustangs to win the 17U title; the Family defeated another Ohio squad the NEO Shooting Stars in 16U; and the 15U crown also went to the Family, a championship game winner over the Michigan Playmakers. Here are some in-state prospects who helped their cause.

Julian Dozier  5-9  So  The Elite 17U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): Did the simple, but rare, things to make The Elite’s high-flying athletes look all the better. Made his plays and deliveries from the foul line instead of over-penetrating and getting swallowed up like so many talented but small point guards. Feel, handle, vision and footwork to slice through traffic. His real playing up, can he grab some of these teammates by the collar, inspire and lead Isiah style? Because talented as they are, there are a couple guys who need a kick in the rear to play team-first, winning basketball.

Justin Fischer  6-3  Jr  TEAM Basketball 17U (Warren De La Salle): Helped TEAM Basketball to an opening round win over the host Storm and then one close half, at least, against the Family in the platinum bracket. Point guard with size and slickness, and DLS fundamentals. Shot is unorthodox, but there’s significant range on it. Fischer made a terrific defensive play against the Family, stopping a two-on-one break with a blocked shot. He doesn’t play as low and explosive as you’d expect from a mid-major prospect, but skills and grades will give him ample college options.

Ja’kavien Lewis  5-10  Jr  1Nation 17U (Flint Carman-Ainsworth): 1Nation was at their best going with a three-headed point guard track team Lewis, PJ Mitchell and Brandon Wade. Lewis competes on the defensive end, and if not passing has a real gift for the right angles and spin to finish around the rim. A consistent shot could be all standing between JK and free college.

Traveon Maddox  6-4  Jr  Warriors 17U (Novi): It’s been fun to watch his evolution from athlete to basketball player. Maddox has really improved with the jumper — it’s not natural looking but he does a good job of keeping the elbow in — opening it up for strong takes to the hole. Big time finisher off the break.  Has the tools and increasingly the mentality to be a lockdown defender.

Nelson McCauley  6-4  Jr  Mustangs 17U (Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills): Natural athlete who moves well, elevates from a standing position and changes ends easily. Loved McCauley’s defense in the winter, how he talked, recovered, closed out high, and rebounded to trigger the break. The offense was on display during the Mustangs’ Sunday run to the championship game, with a comeback over 1Nation in the quarterfinals and an annihilation of the Family in a grudge match semifinal. He attacked the rim with abandon and had a flurry of three-pointers. Can get sloppy sometimes with the one-handed passes. If he plays with this kind of energy consistently, and with his good grades, McCauley is closing in on D1 territory.

Matt Nicholson  6-9  Fr  North Oakland Wolfpack 15U (Clarkston): PT was predictably sparse for Clarkston’s state championship team, but Nicholson clearly made the best of his time on the JV. Took his offense towards the basket instead of fading away. Not big, but not soft and didn’t shy from other bodies not post-whistle physicality.

Max Perez  5-8  Fr  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Hudsonville): He impressed last fall at both the Bank Hoops All-State Camp and College Guard Workshop. Perez is even more finely tuned now after a year starting in the O-K Red under Eagles coach Eric Elliott. Ace ball-handler who gets it where he wants in generally the most expedient manner. If he didn’t look young, would never guess his age by how he plays. Was particularly strong operating and closing out games in crunch time. Scholarship player, size will ultimately determine level.

Mark Watts  6-2  So  The Family 16U (Old Redford Academy): Watts had a score to settle in Grand Rapids, as last he was seen in DeVos Country it was in a blowout loss to West Ottawa at the Union Showcase. In age group competition he proved too tough a matchup, the leading scorer as the Family won the 16U title dropping 37 in the championship game over the NEO Shooting Stars. Terrific range and not shy about pulling it — sunk nine from behind the arc in the final — he s but Rocket was more than just a shot-hunter here as we attacked and scored in the lane all weekend. He’ll be a big league recruit off the EYBL a year from now.

Rashad Williams  6-1  Jr  The Family 17U (Wayne): He knocked down eight three-pointers in a Saturday game, and closed out the weekend with 18 points against the Mustangs. Versatile, stone scorer with the mentality to produce regardless the circumstances. Type of Michigan guard who will go mid-major and average 17 his second season.


Storm Classic: Recruit these pool games

Grand Rapids is once again home to the Storm Classic, the most prestigious travel basketball tournament in Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Storm Classic is open to all college coaches except D1. Combine that setup and what continues to be a very deep 2018 class, there will be some serious GLIAC, MIAA, WHAC and juco recruiting being done outside of the super pool games. Below are some pool games ripe with college prospects that coaches should check out. All are in the senior-to-be division.

Click here for the full schedule.

MBA vs. Parallel 45 (White), 6:15 pm Friday Ct. 5: MBA will have a mixed group due to spring break, including Muskegon Heights junior DeCarri Brown, 6-5 East Kentwood junior D’Avery Moore, 6-3 Rockford junior Ty Thiel, 6-9 Harper Creek junior Ryan McCafferty, Portage Northern sophomore guard Devin Marshall and Luke Maranka, a 6-8 home-schooled sophomore from Hudsonville. For P45, D2s will be all over one of the state’s most productive inside-outside forwards this winter, 6-7 Walled Lake Northern junior Ethan Ancick. His teammates are deep at guard, including four who just played at the Breslin Center, Buckley juniors Denver Cade and Joey Weber in the Class D final, and Manton juniors Jayden Perry and Hunter Ruell in the Class C semifinals.

North Oakland Wolfpack vs. The Francise, 8:45 pm Friday Ct. 5: The Wolfpack were a top 10 in-state team at both the 16U and 15u levels, and add some new blood to that original core. There are a number of Clarkston state champions in the mix, most notably junior point guard CJ Robinson whom GLIAC schools will be looking at here. Their top newcomer is 6-6 L’anse Creuse junior Davion Moore, a bull around the basket. The Franchise has one of the state’s most attractive unsigned senior recruits in Southfield A&T’s Brandon Rucker, given his athleticism at 6-7 and good grades.

Grand Rapids Storm (George) vs. Michigan United, 9:15 am Saturday Ct. 1: United likes to play a zone but for how long when the Storm can counter with Forest Hills Central junior Tyler George shooting deep and 6-4 Jenison junior Colton Ritsema in the short corner? The Storm’s top prospect is Forest Hills Central junior Ryan Dunn who is 6-5 and can play the 1, 2 or 3. Small schools will want to check out United’s center Kyle Hensley, a 6-7 junior from Parkway Christian with a strong base, who walls off well on D and hits shots going either way in the lane.

West Michigan Lakers vs. Detroit Spartans, 9:15 am Saturday Ct. 6: The Lakers have their first D1 guard prospect since Korey VanDussen. Like KVD, Coloma’s Zach Goodline will play up on 17U as a sophomore. The Lakers always seem to come up with size for their 17U team that wasn’t there the previous spring. That’s the case again with 6-8 Spring Lake junior Sam Johnson and 6-9 Watervliet junior Dan Cluster. The Spartans rarely play in-state, so this will be a good chance for their players to be seen by schools that actually recruit Michigan.

Michigan Playmakers vs. Parallel 45 (Green), 10:30 am Saturday Ct. 1: The Playmakers may wear green are always one of the most blue-collar outfits in the state. 6-6 Cass Tech junior Randy Gilbert has a plethora of offensive tools and is poised for a breakout summer. 6-5 Detroit King junior Antonio Marshall is a tough, versatile wing defender. Junior guard Tavares Oliver was the sixth man for Class B state champion New Haven. What P45 lacks in size they make up for with passing and shooting, the cornerstone of 75 wins for the core of this group at the 16U and 15U levels. They feature a two-headed point guard in Frankfort junior Jaylon Rogers and Marine City Cardinal Mooney junior Daniel Everhart. 6-3 junior Austin Harris gained GLIAC favor with his performance for Buckley in the state finals and 6-3 Frankfort junior Matt Loney turned heads last week with his defense against Hazel Park all-state guard Carl Bow. 6-4 junior Seth Mann is a coach’s dream, lights out shooter with Petoskey toughness and a 4.0 gpa, bookending as a wing who can play big with athletic 6-4 Boyne City junior Mason Gardner.

Elite Nation vs. TEAM Basketball, 3:30 PM Saturday Ct. 2: Elite Nation returns most of the key parts from what was one of the state’s top 16U teams, and add 6-6 DeWitt junior Luke Hyde and Goodrich guard Carrington Wiggins. EN’s top prospect is 6-7 junior Mason Pline, who didn’t dominate like his physical tools would suggest in the winter for Fowler, where he could be a Class D Charles Barkley, but perhaps has a game best-suited for AAU. He’s a D2 lock with the possibility to move up. TEAM Basketball was also very good at the 16U level and are built around triumvirate of scholarship guards 6-3 point Justin Fischer from Warren De La Salle, 6-2 slasher Nate Davis from Rochester Stoney Creek and 6-4 marksman Jason Dietz of Troy. Also from Troy 6-6 junior Danny Sully is a long-armed athlete whom coaches will hope matches up with the versatile Hyde though he may have to defend up against Pline and 6-6 junior Josh Perkins from Ypsilanti.