It was a family feud in the 15U final of the Brawl for the Ball, where the Mustangs coached by Mike Faletti edged the Mustangs coached by James Vallar. Here are some of the top performers from the 15U division, including a couple each from those two clubs.
Kegan Brooks 6-1 So Parallel 45 (Cadillac): Carrying on the family tradition at Cadillac, where his brother Jalen, now a QB at Ferris State, led the Vikings to a pair of Class B state semifinal appearances. While he won’t be catching oops any time soon, like his brother Brooks is a tough defender and has a higher skill level. He plays with a bunch of other ball-handlers but is good against pressure when called upon. At his best getting out and finishing on the break, and has improved his shot enough to be good for a 3 per game as well as a pull-up shot or two. A dribble-drive game is next on the docket.
Sean Cobb 6-5 Fr Mustangs-Haney (Williamston): His Mustangs team is the tallest 15U group in the state, and Cobb can get it going inside or take it to the wings and show a surprising skill level for an incoming freshman his size and age. Had quite a following of college coaches in GR. One of the top five incoming freshmen in the state along with Mustangs teammate 6-8 Caleb Hodgson of Dansville, 6-4 Terry Armstrong of Flint, 6-5 Romeo Weems of Detroit and 6-3 Myron Gardner of Southfield. He’ll give Williamston a nice pair of forwards going ahead with 6-7 junior Derek Nicholson.
Keshaun Hayes 6-2 So Playmakers (Southfield Bradford): No real stars but this Playmakers squad is a tough out because they come with a collective chip on their shoulder and keep coming at you; hard to break. Hayes and Damond Gilmore give them a couple of tweener slashers who can break you down then are athletic and tough enough to pursue and put in their misses. Has to be accounted for because he can flash to block a shot or dunk.
Artavious King 6-0 So Titans (Holt): The Titans took the eventual champion Mustangs to the brink in bracket play, which was a surprise only to those that didn’t see how much this group improved in the spring. If he’s matched up with a guard, King becomes buckets in action going downhill at 220 pounds. Basically a 4 a year ago, he’s clearly worked hard to become a guard.
Tristen Mysen 6-6 So North Oakland Wolfpack (Oxford): My favorite sequence of the tournament may have been when Mysen missed a dunk, then instead of succumbing to 15-year-old emotions he sprinted back and blocked the would-be layup. The Wolfpack run a lot of sets and do a good job of getting the ball to him — who makes it easy because while it’s built from the blocks he’s comfortable with the ball in a number of spots. He’s a miniature Brad Daugherty operating a sophisticated low block game at his own pace. Mysen has expanded his perimeter with a sweeping hook shot and soft shooting touch. He’ll need a couple inches or a fuller wing conversion to get the mid-major offers his frame, improvement curve and skills suggest.
Lamar Norman 6-1 So Mustangs-Vallar (Godwin Heights): He’s the best guard prospect from Grand Rapids in a dozen years, and like David Kool was the key member of a Class B state championship team as a freshman. He has an offensive game similar to Keith Appling’s at the same age, with a smooth jumpshot the foundation of scoring flurries with a knack for making tough moves look easy in close quarters. He cuts with purpose in the half-court and can get out and finish above the rim in the full-court. He plays with good point guards in both high school and AAU so that part of his game remains to be seen, and will be necessary because sans hair he’s not particularly tall; certainly has the skill level for it. Like Appling did, Norman will have to stop floating and get serious about defense to become a Big Ten player.
Tanner Reha 6-4 So Mustangs-Faletti (DeWitt): No one on this balanced Mustangs squad puts up gaudy stats and Reha is one of the steady many. He’d finish his high school career with 20 and 10 averages on athleticism and baseline antics alone. But he has gotten much more consistent with his range and gets good elevation and arc when shooting mid-range. A three-point play waiting to happen because of how he can handle a hit. As one coach said, Reha is part of the “one percent of high school players in this country who catches with two hands and jumps off two feet.” Takes toughness and physical play to the defensive end of the court where he’s good in running and trapping game and can also grind it out in the half-court.
Dallas Slager 6-3 So Grand Rapids Storm (Grandville Calvin Christian): Where have you gone Drew Naymick and Kyle Visser? There are no tall Dutchmen on this 15U Storm team, but Slager is a very productive frontcourt player. Going back to the Nate Verbeek and Duane Bosma, you tend to associate Calvin Christian players as tall and lanky. Slager is built more like a football player, and calls to mind more so a former Unity Christian star Tom Snikkers. Rebounds like a forward, handles like a guard. He showed up big against Mustangs-Vallar in the playoffs, it seemed like a layup or free throws when he touched the ball.
Jalen Tobias 6-6 So Mustangs-Faletti (Detroit Renaissance): He was hurt in the spring and the Mustangs are a much better team for having him healthy. Tobias is deceptively athletic because he plays upright. All-around utility forward who is active on the glass, defends the back line, runs the court and can attack and score from either wing. He got time as a freshman for Renaissance because he was big and could jump. The 10th-grade version of Tobias be a significantly more polished and aware player with a key role on a top 10 Class A team.
Duane Washington 6-1 So Mustangs-Vallar (Grand Rapids Christian): He injured his knee in the semifinals, but thankfully it turned out to be a sprain and no tears. A combo guard in the good sense of the term, not an undersized shot jacker but a kid with point guard skills and mentality, with the frame and shot of a 2G. Plays with an efficiency and maturity, knows how to work the angles, and that’s not surprising considering his father of the same name had a stint in the NBA and decade in Europe, and his uncle is Derek Fisher.