Michigan native Christian Dawkins, a centerpiece in federal charges from what some are calling the biggest scandal in college basketball history, one which has already cost Louisville’s Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino his job, has turned to the Great Lakes State for his legal representation, with attorney Steven Haney.
“Much has been said about fraud and corruption in college basketball,” Haney said in a press release. “Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the reality of the business of college basketball and the NCAA would question the scope, timing and targets of this investigation. One shouldn’t be prematurely condemned based on speculation, accusations and misinformation. There is a story to tell here and that story is one decades long.”
Dawkins is charged in connection with an undercover investigation that commenced in 2015, resulting in federal charges levied against college basketball coaches, sports executives and financial planners.
Haney, a Lansing native whose practice is based out of Southfield, is a former college basketball player himself and in the past an agent and attorney for NBA Hall of Famers Earvin Johnson and Dominique Wilkins.
Cade Conley 5-10 Fr Williamston: Looked like a junior member of his brother Case’s Parallel 45 16U team knocking down flurries of three-pointers in drills and games. Has a shooters’ mentality that the next one is going in. Moved well off the ball but has to quick-finish because isn’t yet explosive ot the rim. Spaced the floor not just with his shooting and cutting but also ball movement, made smart skip passes. If anything Cade’s game is more similar to another Williamston player Cole Kleiver, whose tough off the dribble repertoire he’ll want to emulate. His brother’s a lanky 6-6 wing, so expect a jump in size and athleticism.
“Makes up for athleticism with a lethal jumpshot,” said one coach. “As they say, if you can shoot it we can use you. Plays hard on defense, just seems to lack physical attributes to stay in front of quicker players. Makes good decisions, plays at his pace and isn’t easily sped up. Very steady and doesn’t get too high or low.”
Owen Lobsinger 6-4 Fr Flint Powers: There were flashes of a smooth skill level for his height and age, that were really intriguing. Nice feel, balance, touch around the rim. Gets to bucket easily, predicated on a long, deceptive first step. Did get enveloped a few times by Matt Nicholson’s 7-2 wingspan, but who didn’t? On the same camp team as Hudsonville soph Max Perez, one of the elite point guards in the building, and no dummy he Lobsinger cut and moved off the ball hands ready. Surprised with one play where he showed a quick step to drive the baseline, then dished it off behind his ear to a cutting teammate. Could invert and find angles with the bounce pass to enter the post. Tended to play upright and coast defensively, escorting his man to the basket instead of getting nasty and in his way. Would expect that after a year with Greg Burks at Powers, those flashes will be extended stretches of dominant play at next year’s camp.
“Versatile big kid,” a coach said. “Showed flashes of being one of the best players in camp, but lacked consistency. Very good player off the baseline. Can knock down the open 3 and will go by and finish if you close out high. Was an adequate passer and had good vision for the position. Will need to improve his motor and toughness to reach his full potential. Didn’t really run to score in transition or get after it on the glass. The tools are definitely there, just need some heating and sharpening!”
Kaleb Mitchelson 5-11 Fr Muskegon Reeths-Puffer: GVSU assistant coach and Rockets legend JR Wallace will be happy reading this to know that Mitchelson was one of two R-P standout guards here, with sophomore Emcee Williams. Kaleb was a ballboy spending his formative years on the Muskegon Heights bench where his dad Tim Mitchelson was an assistant coach with Keith Guy, so he’s been absorbing hoops forever. Loves to initiate the contact whether getting his shoulder into a defender, or dragging the dribble in the open court and letting his man run into him. Did more as a passer than scorer in the lane. Was able to square his body and keep quicker guards from getting into the lane. Needs to get lower and more explosive himself when coming off screens, with our without the ball.
“Heady and scrappy point guard who may lack elite quickness but makes up for it by using his body well to protect the dribble and working in straight lines once he gets an angle,” a coach said. “Can knock down the open jumper and showed a nice floater in the lane. Sometimes got too deep in the paint and was forced into difficult shots. Although physically he doesn’t look like the ‘cut out’ version of a ballplayer, the effort he gave during drills shows why he is able to compete with whoever was on the floor. Seems like a kid who isn’t afraid of hard work.”
KJ Rai 6-4 Fr East Lansing: Stood out at the 2016 camp with his fundamentals, and a year later he’s added strength and athleticism, making him a threat to crack the lineup for a top 10 Class A team in East Lansing. Most dangerous as a catch-and-shoot threat from various angles and distances. Used body, creative release points to score over taller defenders inside. Quick release, and nailed a corner three-pointer over the closeout of 6-10 Matt Nicholson. Consistently ran the court both ways, getting wide on offense, getting back and matching up on defense. Had a hard time defensively staying in front of Kenowa Hills sophomore Isaac Warning, a fitting name as it’s a warning to Rai of what sort of talent he’d face at the varsity level, wide, strong, and a load off the dribble.
“Seems to be steadily improving,” a coach said. “Solid footwork was on display when he was in the post and also showed a respectable perimeter game. He competes hard on both ends of the floor. He was very active and vocal in drill sessions, which tells me he values the opportunity to get better.”
Brendan Sullivan 6-1 Fr Davison: Did a lot of good work off the ball. Like another Davison wing, junior Bryce Lott, plays hard and with winning intentions. Consistently beat the defense down the court for long receptions and layins. Quick to run down rebounds and loose balls, but was rare kid here for whom that didn’t mean he thought it earned him the right to multiple dribbles. Sullivan just got the ball to a point guard and was on his way. Hit some tough turnaround shots with defenders right there. Conversely was hard to shoot against as Sullivan closed out with high hands. Needs to work on keeping chin to rim even with contact, because even if he did draw a foul Sullivan would find himself spun off balance with no chance of a three-point play.
“Seems like the ultimate glue guy, not afraid to do the dirty work,” a coach said. “Athletic power wing who rebounds strong on both ends, defend the 3 and the 4, set solid screens and finished around the hoop. Hit consistently from mid-range in drill sessions. Didn’t shoot a lot during games and could be more aggressive. Need to continue to develop his perimeter skillset to maximize his effectiveness on the offensive end.”
Elijah Beil 5-7 Fr Linden: What this camp is all about, as this kid came in as a relative unknown and exited mentioned in the same breath as the top 2021 guards here like Brody Parker and Trey Gardette. Seemed to always be seeking an advantage. A lagging transition defense, he’d push the ball right past them for a layup. A fresh ball-handler, Beil would pounce him on the in-bounds. Size was a factor when he’d penetrate too deep and disappear among defenders, but one-on-one against bigger players he attacked them and kept them guessing all day. Skilled, crafty and fearless are good attributes for the position. Unlike too many kids didn’t just chuck the ball up to the bigs, but used a bounce pass post entry to feed them moving in rhythm; also gave them catchable balls from the screen-and-roll. Looked long and delivered to guys in stride in transition. Was similarly efficient handling the ball using shoulder fakes and changes of pace to beat his man. Still had his legs and was knocking down jumpers through the very end of his final game.
Trey Gardette 5-7 Fr Ann Arbor Huron: For the second year in a row, turned in a strong camp performance. Quick and competes, the aggressor with the basketball or checking it.
“Smooth penetrating guard,” a coach said. “Plays hard on both, ends of the floor. Finishes through contact in traffic with either hand. Made the right pass when defenses collapsed. Better in transition than in the half court, and consistency from behind the arc is a point of improvement.”
Brody Parker 5-8 Fr Troy: Ballyhooed playmaker from REACH lived up to his reputation. Similar to class of 2020 first-teamer Max Perez, an all-in point guard constantly putting pressure on the defense with penetration and shooting; also comparable to one of last year’s Underclassman Camp stars, Zach Goodline. When Parker’s and Perez’ team played the younger player a couple times was baited in trying to answer a score with one of his own no matter what getting caught in bad spots. Still, loved the confidence when after missing his last two shots, Parker pulled up on the break and nailed a 3 from nearly the same spot as his previous attempt. Hit shots off the dribble and catch, does it confidently and percentages should go up with strength and reps. He was often faster with the ball on the break than the transition defenders without it. Unlike the majority of high school guards who become statues after passing it, Parker’s already an active cutter. Touched the ball every trip but didn’t let it ripen, got teammates involved via various routes. That’s good practice for this winter, as Troy has three college-caliber seniors who’ll need chances. Needs to offer more defensive resistance — decent habits and fundamentals, but executed with more conviction.
Dereck Sackitt 6-6 Battle Creek Pennfield: He was the most regular dunker on the day after only Clarkston’s 6-10 Matt Nicholson and Detroit Western wing Connor Bush, who are both a class older and legit D1 prospects. Sackitt looks like a stretch 4 in the making because he was much more comfortable putting it up from the short corners with his unorthodox shot, sans guide hand, than posting up. Not soft though, did his work on the glass, played up to his height. Defended well around the rim, walling off, extending to block shots without overindulging. It’s a long day especially for the big guys and Sackitt was dragging by the time we saw him in the third game, but he’d already won us over with how he competed and his energy in drills.
David Wilkerson 5-6 Fr DeWitt: The best thing you can say about Wilkerson is his camp team ran smoothest when the ball was in his hands and not some of his better known, older teammates. And just wait until his jersey number, 26 in this case, isn’t wider than his torso. A blur of arms and legs pushing the ball, weaving through the defense calling to mind former Underclassman Camper Darian Owens-White, now a freshman at Wayne State, at the same age. Nice up court vision and delivered passes on the money that surprised given his size, to lay them in over that distance. Made basic point guard plays consistently, getting into the lane and pitching out for shots. Knew when to pull it out, when to get rid of it, when to attack. His eyes lit up when checked by similarly small guards and showed a nice jumper of his own. Looked from some screen-and-roll situations, but didn’t have an experienced post player to run it off. Pretty tricky picking his spots and was able to influence the game defensively jumping it with ball pressure. Also saw him create a turnover by drawing an offensive foul. Had trouble when bigger guards would get a shoulder into him and operate into the lane. In two years there won’t be many schools with better point guards than DeWitt with a then sophomore Wilkerson and senior Nate Flannery, an Underclassman Camp standout last summer.
Here are more of the top rising sophomore performers from the Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp that didn’t already make the top prospect team. The class of 2021 and middle school teams, and other player evaluations, are forthcoming.
Lee Almore 6-0 So Detroit Public Safety: Came in perhaps lesser known than many, but it was impossible to miss this energetic two-way guard. Lanky, live body he pushed defensive rebounds the other way time and again fast and loose with the ball but somehow it would come together to convert as layups. Wingspan and active hands gets to balls, tipping passes, tipping in misses. Took pride in his defense, playing low, with attitude, fighting over screens. May not have all of the skill or acumen of many from Michigan’s deep guard class in 2020, but those can be learned. Almore’s athleticism and enthusiasm can’t be taught, which make him a must follow long-term recruit.
Ryan Corner 6-9 So Allendale: A rare young big man who was actually better in games than drills. The most valuable trait he showed, that he couldn’t really in station work, was his ability to catch and finish on the run. Was efficient doing the same in the lane in the halfcourt. Got all the rebounds you’d expect of the second-tallest player in camp. Challenged, blocked and changed shots while avoiding body fouls or swiping downward. In real life games he’s going to want to hedge, and when switched onto guards Corner was in trouble but did a good job staying in front of and challenging the 6-4 types away from the basket. Needs to work on footwork, body control, not lunge on the closeouts. Thousands of dunks, jump hooks and short corner shots, and he’ll be pondering scholarship offers in two years.
Dallas Green 6-3 So Flint Carman-Ainsworth: Looks like the heir apparent to Omari Duncan in Carman-Ainsworth’s frontcourt, and Green already has the mentality to contribute this winter for a top 5 team in Class A. That was evident here, as he was the most unselfish player in the camp. He looked to get teammates involved in various circumstances, pushing it up on the break, post feeds, kicks to shooters, and he did it democratically. Set ball screens, would cut after he passed. Used size, athleticism, motor on the glass. Created second opportunities when he ran to the rim in transition instead of drifting to the arc. Showed a nice three-point touch stepping into it when ball went inside-out. Ideal free throw line target against a zone with how he shoots and passes from that range. When he looked for his own points Green had a strong first step splitting defenders, but needs to finish more consistently at the rim. Didn’t see him post up often, but had a nice up-and-under and knew how to use the glass when he did. Sometimes got caught upright defensively, but also got quickly to 50/50 balls and had similar bursts on the offensive glass.
Taevion Rushing 5-9 So Flint Southwestern: One-on-one scorer with a quick flick shot with a soft ending of shooters’ rolls in and out. Good at creating space, particularly with his step-back jumper. Particularly dangerous as the pace increases and he can attack downhill. Played with hands by side on defense, yet scrappy and would get on the floor. Liked that Rushing was still playing hard, competing and running the court through his third game.
“Flint guard who shot it from deep and knows how to fill the lane,” a coach said. “Didn’t see much of a mid-range game and that needs to develop as bigs will get better at protecting the rim. Got into the lane at will when I saw him and would like to see him use that skill to create shots for others more. Good on-ball defender but sometimes gambled too much off it.”
Brock Stevens 6-0 So Grandville Calvin Christian: Didn’t handle the ball as much in games as perhaps he’s used to, which ended up showing Stevens’ versatility as he was able to find his spots and knock down three-pointers. One of the most physical guards in camp, on both ends of the floor. Active and vocal on both ends too, not sitting on the ball, screening, cutting; talking as a help defender. Won a lot in AAU and is poised for a breakout season for top 10 Class C Calvin Christian.
“Jack-of-all-trades, high motor guard,” a coach said. “He is a very good defender on and off the ball and isn’t afraid to mix it up. I saw him dive on the floor for loose balls and take a charge, in the same game. Offensively does everything well, but isn’t great at any one thing. Passed up open shots and would like to see him more aggressive, but is ‘system’ type player.”
Here are the top rising sophomore performers from the Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp that didn’t already make the top prospect team. The 2020 second team, 2021 team, middle school team and other player evaluations forthcoming.
Jon Brantley 6-2 So Birmingham Brother Rice: Brantley’s is a name you’ll hear more over the next few years as one of 2020’s elite point guard prospects, as middle school phenoms start to drop off. Because meanwhile Brantley’s size advantage and feel for the game aren’t going anywhere. Didn’t just pass to get rid of the ball, but hitting teammates at the right pace and place. Looked like a vet operating from the foul line on 3-of-2 opportunities. Big first step to accelerate and get to the rim and score himself. Able to finish through contact. When Justus Salaam would handle the ball for their team, Brantley ran the lane hard for transition buckets and in the halfcourt showed motion tendencies without the ball, curling and diving. Good motor matching up in transition D and made smart plays to force turnovers off the ball. Smooth when stepping into the jumpshot with the dribble, needs work off the catch.
Connor Bush 6-4 So Detroit Western: No one wanted to get in his way when he got a little steam going. And no fun when he put it in triple threat. Caused havoc getting into the lane repeatedly in the hunt for dunks, then kept defenders guessing by pulling up for three-pointers. If he wasn’t finishing over the rim, Bush was jump stopping and going through defenders. Played with toughness and an edge. The hops weren’t offense-only as he also blocked shots. Can’t wait to see what three years playing for Derrick McDowell will do to refine his game to go with the physical tools. Everything about this kid says D1 wing recuit.
Justus Salaam 5-11 So North Farmington: All the movements and mannerisms of a Detroit guard — a propensity to check 94 feet, rebounds like a taller player, loves to turn his back and create, and is tough and crafty around the rim. A fitting last name as he’d peace out defenders, lulling to sleep with an inside-out dribble then leaving them with a deceptively quick first step. Moved the ball along at the right time on the break. Liked that he had energy defensively too, with quick feet and active hands. The kind of leader who you want to have the ball, as even in camp games full of new faces his teammates responded to his direction. Salaam was patient finding the angles to feed the post, then was effective in the two-man game because he could also hit the with three-pointer from the kick-back. Can’t get casual with the one-handed passes, and needs to get stronger in the lane to finish directly to the rim and get a reliable runner, pull-up.
Jarvis Walker 6-1 So Muskegon Mona Shores: Relentless scorer who had his radar in tune to mismatches and repeatedly attacked or posted up smaller guards. Walker, already with a Ferris State offer, has a nice assortment of finishing and counter moves when he gets into the paint, and uses his strength to create space for clear looks. Similarly got good looks away from the basket with consistent footwork and elevation on his jumpshot. Able to create some havoc when dialed in defensively able to square and use body and leverage to push his man off the ball. Explosive finishes and point guard instincts would be areas for improvement.
Charles Woodhams 6-2 So Otsego: One of the few kids with the size and athleticism to go against Connor Bush, and he had a few defensive stands in their matchup. On the other end Woodhams did a lot of good work off the ball, cutting for his own jumpshot, setting screens, hunting down rebounds. And what a jumpshot it is, with a tight pocket, quick release, and a follow through that expects them to all go in. Not the fastest kid but plays hard, is smart and fundamental and will still beat you to the spot. Feel and touch with the ball and able to turn the corner and use his strength to finish and draw fouls. Plays the game of a 6-4/6-5 college player so he’ll want to keep going up.
The Bank Hoops Underclassman Camp held Saturday in Lansing was at capacity, and as always some of Michigan’s premier young talent stepped to the fore. Here are the top overall performers, highlighted by Iron Mountain’s Foster Wonders, who came all the way from the central time zone to be the first rising ninth-grader to be named camp MVP since the Phoenix Suns’ Josh Jackson did it in 2012.
MVP Foster Wonders 6-3 Fr Iron Mountain: “No position, but did everything well. Reminded me of Jason Whitens, his toughness and versatility, and Jacob Boonyasith, how he can score it,” one coach said. “He was out there playing for a scholarship.”
Which is ironic, because Wonders has to be the only rising ninth-grader with a scholarship offer. That’s from Northern Michigan, where his brother Carson is a freshman and his parents played. It will be far from the last by the time he’s an upperclassman. Brought energy with how he rebounded and went to the hole with resiliency and touch. Played angles well and understood how to get his shot off inside, and would seek out mismatches to post up. Was in constant motion and scored on off-ball cuts as well. Just like another Yooper, Gladstone’s Reece Castor, did at last year’s camp. Then Wonders would take you outside and knock down a three-pointer, or blow past a bigger defender’s closeout for a layup or dish. Wasn’t rushed with the ball when handling it against smaller guards. Biggest concern going forward may be his playing upright on defense.
Top Prospect Team
Jayshawn Moore 6-4 So Detroit East English Village: All positive energy from the moment he stepped on the court. Worked hard on the glass and consistently snatched the ball outside his area. Huge wingspan helped him haul in a bunch of boards. Great in transition because he could rebound then get wide and finish, or more often push the ball himself showing a nice sense of where everyone was. Unselfish passer in the halfcourt as well. Needs to not settle for three-pointers when there are lanes available, but still made more from deep than he missed. Attacks with long strides and extends well with a nice release point in he lane. Productive already with so much potential yet to realize, Moore could be a special prospect in the 2020 class. Looks like he’ll be the next D1 big guard out of East English, following Karmari Newman (George Mason) and Greg Elliott (Marquette), and we could be talking about a 6-7 point guard when it all shakes out.
Matthew Nicholson 6-10 So Clarkston: Rare physical tools for having turned 15 just in May, at 6-10 sans shoes and a 7-2 wingspan. With the soul of a basketball player inside, a kid who likes to play and compete. Coordinated, an ideal rim protector and lob finisher. Swallowed up the lane defensively. Dunked easy and often all day from drills through games. Smart, patient passer both to the entry man or weak-side cutters. Often threw more catchable passes to his guards than vice-versa, as they tended to often just toss the ball up high in the vicinity of Nicholson and though he retrieved them it was often then off balance. Sometimes Nicholson chased the ball instead of space and position and ended up with it in areas he was less effective. Moves easily enough, so would like to see more rim-runs and dunks. Sometimes dribbled it out instead of making the outlet and running the lane. Similar to Tom Herzog, which doesn’t sound great in retrospect but for the former Flint Powers Mr. Basketball finalist it was from the neck up at MSU keeping him from realizing his talent. And unlike Herzog, Nicholson will have the luxury of banging heads with future Big Ten forwards Thomas Kithier and Taylor Currie in practice, before emerging as one of the state’s best players as a junior.
Max Perez 5-9 So Hudsonville: “Just dynamic all day,” a coach said.
Always on the attack whether miss or make and will just as gladly blow by everyone for a layup as set up a teammate for one. Kept the ball hot and everyone involved, running through the third game because they’d get the ball back. There were stretches where he was just really dealing and was fun to watch. Perez may be the best point guard finisher in the 2020 class not named Jalen Terry, he’s able to come in at full speed on but under control to avoid contact and finish soft at the rim. You rarely see his momentum taking him over the baseline after a shot. The main point of improvement is consistency on his shot particularly the pull-up on the break because like John Beilein says if you can’t make that, you can’t play college basketball.
Noah Pruitt 5-8 So Okemos: There wasn’t a quicker player in the gym, and certainly not one making the right decisions at speed like Pruitt did. This was already his third Underclassman Camp, and performed like you’d expect from a ‘vet’ point guard. He and camp MVP Foster Wonders were on the same team and were productive complements to each other when in the same rotation, same kind of ‘PTR’ shared values. While he looked to pass first, got nice separation and elevation when Pruitt did find his own points, from myriad spots on the floor. Shoots a true jumpshot and was confident enough to even let fly pulling up on the break.
“An old school point guard who kept his teammates involved,” a coach said. “You could tell they respected him and wanted him to have the ball, because they knew they were getting it back for good shots.”
Small, but very sound defensively shading his guy out of the lane, and staying centered and not falling for the funk when checking other talented point guards.
Edwin Victory 5-9 So Grand Rapids Christian: He was considered the top 2020 performer at last year’s Underclassman Camp, and lived up to his reputation with an expanded offensive repertoire. Shot it in rhythm and with confidence throughout the day, three-pointers to pull-ups and fadaways closer in, and layups via either hand. As improved as the shot was, he did short arm it sometimes as the day progressed. EJ has the quickness to break free of the pack, but whereas he got by largely on just quickness last year, really does a nice job of changing speeds now. All this while maintaining a shot-balance that kept his teammates engaged, as for a guy with a bunch of moves rarely set on the ball or overindulged. Nice touch on the move to make life easy for his frontcourt teammates. In the halfcourt also showed he could be a traditional motion guy, passer and unafraid to lay a screen into bigger defenders. All that practice time with Xavier Tillman and James Beck must’ve worn off on Victory, because he also occasionally got in there and hit guys to get rebounds. Showed the same mentality when picking up defensively, but would like to see more consistent defensive engagement off the ball in the halfcourt.
Two programs that have been stalwarts of Michigan grassroots basketball for a decade, TEAM Basketball and Parallel 45 (Green), met in the 17U gold final of the GRBA Nationals at Spiece. Basketball and academic talents combined, these are two very recruit-able groups with over 15 future college players between them. TEAM led by 11 at halftime but had to sweat out a last-second three-point attempt before prevailing 80-77.
The win was bittersweet for TEAM Basketball, as it was the final game for the program. Its rosters have housed the likes of Spencer Littleson, Corey Petros, Joey Asbury and Thomas Kithier. This was their best 17U team, deep in shooters and guard play. 6-4 Troy senior Jason Dietz is one of the top catch-and-shoot threats in the state and has added an efficient, crisp one-dribble into shot. Plays with the attitude you want in a shooter. 6-2 Rochester Stoney Creek senior Nate Davis is the bounciest of the bunch, at the rim or stop-n-pop, active on defense and has extended his range. 6-3 De La Salle senior Justin Fischer is the catalyst, one of the deftest passers you’ll see an operation unfazed by bodies in the lane. While he’s pass first, if you play off Fischer he can make you pay. TEAM may not have won it without the contributions of another guard, 6-3 Milford senior Aidan Warzecha. He was as deadeye from deep as the others, and countered closeouts with some slithery drives. With more strength, can help a lot of small college programs.
TEAM Basketball doesn’t have a 6-9 presence, but do have some solid forwards. 6-5 Luke Pfromm from De La Salle is a three-point shooter who then surprises defenses with how easily he moves. The kind of guy who gets in your head and is hard to play against. 6-5 Seaholm senior BradyFlynn plays below the rim but is strong, walls off on D and is dangerous screening and shooting. This tournament marked the return of 6-6 Troy senior Danny Sully from a torn meniscus. He didn’t quite have his sea legs but there were flashes of what make him still an attractive college prospect, unfurling his serous wingspan to block shots. At 100 percent Sully is an active, tough, above-the-rim forward. Jordan Winowiecki is another De La Salle kid with good intermediate size who makes the right plays and knocks down open shots.
Parallel 45 found itself in the gold bracket after a controversial one-point loss to Indy Ice then again by one due to a half-court shot at the horn, before reeling off five wins. P45’s answer to Warzecha was Zeke Turner, a senior guard from Allegan via Traverse City Central, who came off the bench to make four three-pointers. The core of this team won over 100 games during the past three AAU seasons. Getting NAIA offers to mid-major interest are 6-4 Buckley senior Austin Harris who overcame poor shooting on the Spiece side courts for a monster finally sinking deep 3s and using his size and handle to launch full-fledged assaults of the basket; 6-5 Petoskey senior Seth Mann who is an elite shooter with a high pocket and quick release who seems to add to his off-dribble game every week tough shots to contest due to his wingpan; and 6-9 Lakeland senior Cass Phillips who can be really good when just playing and not thinking and reacting, as fumbles become alley-oops. But Parallel 45’s top performer for the duration on the tournament was Matt Loney, a 6-3 Frankfort senior and fifth-year team member who has added a consistent and confident shot to his already versatile skills as he can play point guard, rebound and thrive on team defense. Uses his reach to shoot pullups over defenders and extend and finish inside. Loney is the smartest, most vocal player in timeouts, and one of the most underrated players in the Midwest.
If they can keep their young talent intact, the Family 17U shouldn’t be missing the Peach Jam in the near future. The Family concluded the NCAA’s July live period by winning the titles at the 14- 15- and 16-under levels of the GRBA Nationals at Spiece Fieldhouse.
The Family annihilated the host team and fellow EYBL club Spiece Indy Heat in the 16U final 74-41. Mark Watts, the state’s top 2019 guard out of Old Redford with an MSU offer, is up on the Family’s 17U. That brought the 16U’s backcourt depth to the fore. 5-11 Ann Arbor Pioneer junior Drew Lowder started with an illness and cold shooting game. That all changed the second day of the tournament when he single-handedly out-scored the Illinois Wolves with a 29-point first half. This gym has seen a lot of great shooting performances over the years, we’re in Indiana after all, and Lowder’s nine three-pointers may rank with any of them. When not going all Jay Edwards from deep, Lowder has a polished pull up game and though not tall is strong and can finish too. A shifty ball-handler who puts pressure on the defense then will compete when the ball is coming back at him. He’s proven he can thrive as both a primary option, and complementary as in the spring when Lowder teamed with Watts in the Family’s backcourt. He received a Toledo offer, and later one from Northern Illinois.
Watts’ vacated minutes have been eaten up by the small but explosive tandem of East English Village’s Tariq Shepherd and Canton’s 5-10 B. Artis White. White has always been able to shoot it. As he’s matured, now he’s able to take the ball more places with authority, quick into the lane to make things happen. Despite his size, is more likely than not the attacker defensively too. Basketball pedigree, as the son of longtime high school and college coach, and former MSU point guard, Benny White, and he earned an offer from Ferris State. Shepherd is just solid all-around offensively with quickness, three-point range and point guard skills. East English Village just keeps the D1 guards coming and Shepherd is trending towards that list.
Even without Watts, the 16U had national-caliber star power in RomeoWeems, the 6-6 state champion from New Haven with an MSU offer. What separates Weems is how hard he plays, which isn’t easy particularly in the last AAU tournament of the year. He’s also put in work via Team USA obligations. A play that sums up Weems from Spiece, he put up a badly missed three-pointer. Instead of moping, he sprinted back on D and blocked the shot. Weems gave the Family an edge in attitude and toughness, as they also did from Taylor Currie. The U-M commitment who has reclassified to 2018 for Clarkston, Currie played in the spring for All Ohio Red. He provided the Family a skill level, experience and confidence that their project bigs don’t. Love how he embraced the role as enforcer and set the tone with powerful finishes. Seems well-suited for what Michigan wants from its posts.
The Family’s 15U won the big one in the first July period, the Peach Jam. They bounced back from a pool loss to win the bracket at the Best of the Midwest in Grand Rapids. They did nothing to diminish their rep as one of the elite young units in America at Spiece, topping Indiana Elite in the final 61-53. 6-7 Rochester Lutheran Northwest soph Isaiah Jackson is an elite national talent. He’ll high-point a rebound, break out with the ball then either attack for a dunk if space opens or make a pass to the wings. His special value is defensively where Jackson can read and extend to block shots, or play out on top to run, jump and get deflections. The Family was without its third national top 50 recruit Carlos Johnson for this tournament, but still found frontcourt production beyond the Benton Harbor all-stater. Oak Park’s Maliq Carr is agile for a healthy 6-5, is a fastbreak trigger man off the glass, makes good decisions with the ball and can score facing or with his back to the basket. His greatest value may be found in his toughness and leadership. That was particularly valuable because Benton Harbor forward Scooby Johnson, who helps set the tone with his energy, wasn’t at this tournament. He has a Power 5 football frame and conceivably Carr could go high major in hoops if he comes in a legit 6-6 and can defend both post and wing. Bryce George is strong at 6-6, able to root out taller centers from the post, and conversely the Family guards look for him in post ups when he’s matched up with a smaller defender. Traditional rebounder/finisher 4 man who can struggle to convert against high-end 6-8 types at the rim, but will be the dominant player in the Thumb the next three years for Marlette.
The Family 15s have three top 50 national prospects for 2020 and rolled out two of them in Ft. Wayne, Jackson and Jalen Terry. Terry is an explosive 5-11 point guard from Beecher who already has an Iowa offer. He’s the amalgamation of the two D1 Beecher point guards before him, combining the swagger and fearlessness of Malik Ellison and the hands and passing of Monte Morris, all with above the rim explosion that’s all his own. There are lots of fast guards, very few that make consistent good choices on the fly, and Terry is one. He made an incredible play in the championship game when he came flying down the lane for what looked to be a dunk, only to duck right to avoid the defender and kiss it off the glass. There are two more Flint area standout starting for the Family. Kevin David-Rice from Goodrich is a lanky 6-3 wing guard and the 15U’s best shooter. He’s active off the ball and utilizes fakes well when he does have it, and doesn’t make it stick will find the next man if a better shot. While he can counter a closeout or use his wingspan on the offensive glass, KDR isn’t an explosive finisher. A Beecher teammate of Terry’s, Earnest Sanders is a powerhouse athlete, a compact and explosive 6-2 wing who is a constant alley-oop threat on the break or backdoor. It’s as a guard and shooter that there are question marks, so it was nice to see the left-handed jumpshot dropping the championship game. 15U is a guards’ game and there are plenty here. North Farmington soph JustusSalaam steady minutes without much dropoff for Terry, he’s particularly good with decision making when teams drop back in a zone to try to slowdown the transition onslaught. Simon Wheeler is an incoming ninth-grader reportedly to East English Village, and checks in at under 5-and-a-half feet. Size and age were irrelevant in the final as he got into the defense to create for teammates, hit shots himself and didn’t get bullied on defense.
It was another incoming freshman guard, East Lansing’s Marcus Wourman, who made the difference for the Family’s 14U title run. He just joined the team for this tournament but changed its dynamic with his playmaking and maturity at the point. Marcus’ father of the same name played for two tremendous coaches Perry Watson at Detroit Southwestern then Mike Turner at Albion College, and Junior is the beneficiary of all that background. The previous weekend in Grand Rapids the 14U lost to Spiece Indy Heat by six points. But Wourman’s unselfishness became contagious and this time around the Family took the rematch, in the championship game, by 15. Their best frontcourt prospect is 6-3 Pierre Brooks, the Family’s leading scorer who has the size to have his way inside at this age, but the skills to transition in high school. 6-2 Julian Roeper from Detroit Country Day was tough on the glass while 6-0 Jaden Akins from North Farmington and Mikkos Stewart also from Country Day had strong runs.
Before the beer. Before the DeVos subsidization. When it was repressed not trendy. Grand Rapids was as solid as the industry it was known for, making furniture. The athletes retain those roots, more action, less talk, than their Eastside cousins. These were some of the top performers from Grand Rapids natives or West Michigan clubs at the Best of the Midwest tournament.
Marcus Bingham 6-10 Sr Spiece Indy Heat (Grand Rapids Catholic Central): Though he seemed to run out of gas as it went on, Bingham had a strong overall tournament, befitting the highest ranked recruit from Grand Rapids since Drew Neitzel in 2004. Every game he hit a couple shots, be they three-pointers or turnaround jumpers, that were rare for a player his size (7-4 wingpsan) and age (just recently turned 17). Was very good on Saturday looking like a true forward with his three-pointers and defensive versatility. Even with his rapid improvement, that first year at MSU will be a tough one for Bingham as he gets stronger and continues to learn the game. Given his track record over the past year, it would be unwise to bet against him.
Jacob Boonyasith 6-3 Sr Grand Rapids Storm (Jenison): Fully recovered from a broken wrist and reclaiming his status as one of the most gifted, easy scoring guards in the 2018 class. Not rushed by defensive pressure, always plays at his own pace as he manufactures points. Feel, skill and pace will allow him to play some stretches of point at next level. David Kool certainly didn’t leave the cupboard barren as with a healthy senior campaign Boonyasith is easily one of the best players in school history. I’d encourage West Coast mid-majors to check him out this week in Vegas, he has the right offensive aesthetic and high grades.
Ryan Corner 6-9 So Impact Elite 15U (Allendale): Nice to see improvement in a young big kid and June appears to have done well by Corner, who moved more confidently than in May AAU. Length looked right at home in IE’s tough semifinal loss to the eventual champion Family. Clarkston’s Matt Nicholson may be the only taller player in the state’s 2020 class. Looking forward to seeing Ryan in a different context at the drill stations of the Underclassman All-State Camp.
Zach Goodline 5-10 Jr West Michigan Lakers (Coloma): He looks like he sneaked over from the 12U court. But once he starts dribbling transforms to a Big3 vet. Paging Special Ed, it was the youngest in charge beginning Thursday when Goodline QB’d a second-half comeback against the Storm keeping the Lakers’ win streak intact against the host team. It ended in a Sunday semifinal when long stretches of this game were controlled by this potential 2,000-point high school scorer. Snap conclusions based on his appearance work to Goodline’s advantage as a defender has to suspend disbelief to deal with the barrage of dimes and free-up moves for shots coming at him in purple. The Brailen Neely playalike claimed status as the top small point guard in Michigan’s 2019 class over Julian Dozier as the Lakers dismantled the Elite (which was loaded at the time with Lamar Norman, Gary Solomon and Terry Armstrong) back at the Run-n-Slam. But it was on another level when he delivered the Goods against the Spiece Indy Heat and Tyger Campbell “DePaul’s top recruit in 20 years.” The Lakers, trying to avenge last summer’s championship game loss to the Indy Heat, led until the final two minutes of the semifinals. The next Laker legend from a program that graduated Kyle Steigenga, Coreantae DeBerry, Korey VanDussen, Jake VanTubbergen and Wes Hudson.
Payton Harley 6-2 Sr Grand Rapids Storm (Godwin Heights): He’s long been teamed with more publicized teammates. Harley has continued to work, improve, contribute to team successes and as things shake out he’s still standing while some more hyped prospects from around the state have risen and fallen. Dials in on defense and isn’t just a gimmick guy getting steals off pressure, will lock in with toughness, see helpside and talk in the halfcourt. He’s really matured as a decision maker when to mix it up and find his own offense, and is money with the pullup.
Markeese Hastings 6-6 Sr 1Nation (Godwin Heights): The 17U final saw 1Nation go super small ball with Hastings at the 5 in a four-guard offense, and they simply ran and shot their way past a Spiece Indy Heat squad starting three players at least 6-8. Hastings, the more renowned prospect for most of their adolescence, took his matchup with Marcus Bingham personally, a couple of times going chest-to-chest to finish over the future Spartan. He was just as good in a pool play loss to Spiece. Hastings can also finesse you and finish going either way, with either hand. It’s rare talent who is a high motor rebounder on defense then can beat you with a euro to finish the break. Combine that ability with a winning background and the maturity to go consistently hard without having plays run for him, thus he’s one of my favorite recruits. For improvement, he’s a good shot blocker but help-side slides need to get sharper; consistency on jumpshots and free throws.
Jamoni Jones 6-0 So Greenwood (East Kentwood): Part of a talented three-headed guard attack with a pair of other Westside sophomores, Mona Shores power guard Jarvis Walker and slight Grand Rapids Christian point guard EJ Victory. Jones isn’t just a system athlete that sometimes excels for EK, he has the basketball acumen to make point guard decisions while maintaining a quick pace. A tough one-one-one cover because he’s quick through the lane to finish and has really improved his shooting, and despite all that doesn’t have to score to beat you.
Conner Kok 6-4 Jr Sporting U (Grand Rapids South Christian): He and another 6-4 Sailor Luke Schrotenboer both averaged 15 points per game as Sporting U reached the 16U gold final. Schrotenboer is more of a strong, athletic slashing wing, while Kok is a lanky point guard. Kok had two older brothers play at Sout Christian with similar physical profiles, but didn’t have the same feel with the ball. One of a number of dangerous shooters who spread the floor for SU, he sets the tone up top playing with an edge and toughness.
Nathan Lauer 6-2 Jr MBA 16U (Caledonia): Nice looking two guard prospect. He beats you from all three levels with an easy release from 20 feet, good elevation on the pullup and some athleticism to finish at the cup. Has the tools to contribute more defensively, strength pending.
Seth Millner 6-5 Sr The Family (Grand Rapids Christian): He scored well in limited minutes on the EYBL and has benefited from a revamped Family lineup, getting more tick and touches. Used to being patient having bid time last year ast GR Christian’s fourth option, Millner has cashed in on the opportunity and offers have come as a result most recently from Toledo. Ideal size on the wing and utilizes it with a versatile, fundamental offensive package. Will beat you off the catch, the cut, the post or attacking with the dribble. Heads up, fundamentally sound on D. Needs to expand range and consistency from deep.
Vernon Nash 5-7 So Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Muskegon): Skill and speed rule the day in 15U ball so it doesn’t matter if the Storm’s backcourt of Nash and Hudsonville’s Max Perez is one of the smallest in the state. It’s also one of the best. Nash is strong with the ball but can just as easily play off of Perez and knock down three-pointers in flurries.
Lamar Norman 6-2 Sr 1Nation (Godwin Heights): A late arrival due to the Under Armour All-American camp, Norman got back home just in time for 1Nation’s track meet win over TEAM Basketball to begin their tournametn run. The following day he proved wrong guy to talk junk to, which apparently happened before the semifinals. Only Foster Loyer has accomplished more than Lamar among the members of the 2018 class, one which includes eight Big Ten commitments. Just look up his name with the Bank Hoops search function. He’s been putting on since he was a freshman winning a state championship. 1Nation beat the Family in that semifinal then won the final putting a running clock on the Spiece Indy Heat. When the jumper is falling to counter the fastbreak blitz, there’s not a high school guard in America who can hold him under 20.
Emcee Williams 5-11 So Impact Elite 15U (Reeths- Puffer): If a tile falls from a gym ceiling, check if Impact Elite is playing it may just be one of Emcee’s jumpshots knocked it loose. Follow the rainbows. That’s the first thing that stands out about his game. Then he counters the three-pointers with a knack for finishing at the basket for a smaller guard, especially beneficial at the 15U level where so much is an adventure and any sort of consistency is treasured. While too many kids try to go over the top and look pretty — an incredible tough angle and shot unless you’re gonna go all the way and dunk it — Williams is able to, even with defensive contact, lay the ball off the glass like your gym teacher taught you. He tortured the Family with both scoring approaches, not backing down athletically or skill-wise against one of the top five 15U squads in America. Impact Elite led at halftime of the semifinal, which was back-and-forth until the closing minute.
A steady flow of D2 and mid-major coaches were on hand to see the Michigan talent and others at the Chicago Summer Jam. Here are some of the Day 2 and 3 17U standouts from the good side of the Lake.
Johnny Davis 6-8 Sr Moneyball East (Detroit Pershing): His father of the same name was a Brad Daugherty-style widebody center from Detroit Douglass who for much of his career was ranked ahead of another in-state center from the 2000 class, Chris Kaman. Johnny Jr’s game couldn’t be more different. He’s mobile and active so when in a generous mindframe one thinks he could become a versatile, impact defender like Spider Johnson. Has the physical tools but kind of a tease when it comes to consistent production. Needs to define himself offensively.
Lawrence DeWolf 6-2 Sr Common Bond (Ann Arbor Huron): A three-point specialist on the outstanding Gators teams from previous seasons, DeWolf is still doing his thing just with more clock and shots on Common Bond. He and high school teammate Lewis Willis play so well off each other. They thrive on the break with DeWolf making a beeline to the arc creating so much space for Willis to attack the paint with his dribble. Shooter’s mindset shrugging off misses and firing away on his next catch. Did a decent job defending often bigger wings and forwards. Coaches will want to see if he can give them a reason to keep him in the game, even when the shot’s not going down.
Marcus Evans 6-3 Sr Mustangs-Hogan (Redford Union): Watch out for RU High they have a number of good players on this Mustangs outfit with including Evans and guard Amir Huston. Evans is the kind of guy you hate to play against but love as a teammate, an undersized forward who will go to many means necessary to compete around the rim. Looks like a fullback rushing downhill when he drives the ball. Not big on “freedom of movement rules,” will nudge a cutter.
Mason Gardner 6-4 Sr Parallel 45-Green (Boyne City): Rubber hit the road for this Rambler at the end of the spring season most noticeably in the Up North Challenge semifinals where Gardner’s athletic bonafides were on display as he twiced blocked REACH’s Djuan Seal, one of Michigan’s top uncommitted seniors. That aggressive play carried over to the central time zone in July, as he attacked the basket overpowering defenders and in one game made 9-of-10 free throws. Vocal defender and strong rebounder who took a rare AAU charge in another. One of the scarcest combinations of vertical and gpa in Michigan. Needs to become a true low, explosive wing slasher and get consistent shooting range to transition to college ball.
Marquez Gordon 6-4 Sr Titans (Lansing Everett): The Titans lack a true post player as Derek Nicholson now plays at Michigan Tech. Gordon does a nice job filling in as a lane scorer though, he can really elevate and has a soft touch on the turnaround jumper. Springy on the boards and really dangerous if you let him hang around the rim. Not as accurate from the baseline as in the paint itself. Fits profile of local schools like Olivet or LCC.
Wendell Green 5-10 So Playmakers (Detroit Country Day): He showed the full offensive repertoire as the tournament went on and was the Playmakers’ leading scorer in their last two games. Can trend towards average when settling for jumpers, but can be special when they’re not just dropping but he’s also creating for himself or teammates going to the basket. Highly skilled, ambidextrous finisher with deceptive athleticism that defenders realize too late when he’s already on top of them.
Austin Harris 6-4 Sr Parallel 45-Green (Buckley): Anyone who saw the Class D finals knows Harris doesn’t shy from the moment, and in Chicago with a slew of D2s following his progress he showed a penchant for knocking down momentum shifting three-pointers. Also a crafty scorer using his size in the lane at nearly 6-5 200, though would be move of a passing threat in traffic if played with heads up on a swivel. Uses his size to rebound on both backboards and loves to push one out to lead the fastbreak.
Antonio Marshall 6-3 Sr Playmakers (Detroit King): Two-way guard, rangy energy guy who doesn’t have to be a big scorer to help you win. Has the tools to check all three perimeter spots. Like the wingspan but it will be more advantageous once he starts playing lower, with the dribble and off the ball on defense where he can get caught upright and lose his man. Not a pure shooter but has put work into it since the school season; gets elevation and has a good-looking release.
Juwan Robinson 5-9 Sr Mustangs-Hogans (Detroit Cornestone): Love his defense and motor, similar in build and competitiveness to Ja’kavien Lewis, but not as skilled as a point guard. Could be the athletic x factor for Cornerstone, a role provided last season by Davion Bradford.
Chaz Woods 6-1 Sr Tri-City Heat (Massanutten Military): One time Heritage and Saginaw High point guard has reclassified at this Virginia school, where Frank Mason is the most prominent basketball alumnus. Doesn’t wow you with explosive quickness but will quietly take apart a defense with smart decision making and getting into the lane via change of speeds. Always a good shooter when catching in rhythm who continues to expand his offense.