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 Brady Flynn 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.