Wonders Never Cease: UPer First Rising Frosh Camp MVP since Josh Jackson

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.

6 thoughts on “Wonders Never Cease: UPer First Rising Frosh Camp MVP since Josh Jackson”

  1. I can understand Izzo recruiting Nicholson but Wonders will be a stretch. At 6’3 now he probably will add at least 2 inches before college but for him to be on MSU’s recruiting list would require a lot of great play these next 4 years. Pat Miller is the best upper I’ve seen. Miller also played Class B competition. Hopefully if Wonders wants to be a Spartan he’ll increase his game and maybe receive a preferred walkon. Best wishes to him.

  2. In any athletic endeavor; iron sharpens iron. Elite competition combined with good coaching is a must in today’s ultra competitive world. Hard to imagine playing in the UP and developing the skills needed, no matter how much potential the young man (Wonders) has. But then again, Dan Majerle accomplished the seemingly impossible (Traverse City). I know one thing; a lot of people from the UP will be pulling for him.

    1. Dan Majerle comparison as from an obscure place is erroneous. TC was one of, if not the, largest high schools in Michigan at that time. They played in one of the elite basketball leagues in Michigan, with the likes of Benton Harbor and Muskegon Heights. Majerle wasn’t even the first player from his high school to reach the NBA.

  3. Didn’t mean to imply that TC was obscure. Dan was as you mentioned not the only one to make it big from there. Yet the point is; few, very few have. As near as I could count (and may have missed some) in the 70 year history of the NBA only four players north of Saginaw have made it there. And North of the bridge, I couldn’t locate anyone.

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