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1s of March: High-end pg matchups 2022-23-24

Your odds go up in March if you have a guard who can handle pressure, create pressure, and hit breakdown shots and free throws. The regular season concludes with a final week including matchups of Michigan point guards who have that kind of pedigree, all unsigned but for Kareem Rozier who is going to Duquesne.

Mehki Ellison & Carmelo Harris: These two, Ellison a senior from Carman-Ainsworth and Harris a senior from Beecher, have strong in them the tradition of athletic, fearless, entertaining Flint point guards. Ellison just surpassed 1,000 career points. It could’ve been many more as he’s been very good for three seasons now, but always with other good teammates. Even this year with a freshman guard, Chris McLavish, sharing the backcourt, the senior lets the ninth-grader get his. Ellison is a streak-shooting lefty that is hard to hold when he gets rolling, as he can be relentless and creative getting to the cup. He’s athletic and maxes out as a finisher. He has the talent, college coaches want to know if he can be a higher percentage player. Harris isn’t 6-feet tall yet he’s just as likely to catch an alley-oop dunk as throw the lob for one. He has multiple GLIAC offers and is the kind of guard you can win with in that grinder of a league. Carman and Beecher play Saturday afternoon at Beecher.

Kareem Rozier & Chas Lewless: These guys don’t need volume shots to make shots and they aren’t afraid to step up and take big ones. Lewless the Detroit Catholic Central sophomore did just that for the Shamrocks in their Catholic league semifinal win over De La Salle with fourth-quarter jumpers after others had carried the scoring load earlier as they led the whole way. It’s no surprise as his teammates have prospered as prospects under Lewless’ point guard watch, senior Cooper Clapp with an expanding D1 game, 6-5 senior Kam Mayes the state’s breakout 2022 recruit and fellow soph TJ Nadeau already shooting it like a scholarship wing. Against the Pilots senior guard Kevin Wendt went off for 10 first-half points.  Lewless is smooth with the ball with light touch both with hands and feet, so can surpise opponents with explosive bursts with the ball, covering space defensively or getting to loose balls — is a good defensive rebounder. He has some slither and change-of-pace getting into the lane and pressuring a defense, and knows his teammates sweet spots. As a scorer in the paint himself can be the rare times his size and age show, getting unbalanced shots. De La Salle was the second-straight postseason win for CC over a team that finished ahead of their fifth/last place in the regular season tally, after besting Brother Rice in a rubber match quarterfinal. Rozier is to be credited with molding a nearly brand new St. Mary’s roster into one peaking at the right time. There was just too much talent clicking in the Catholic league semifinals when OLSM took it to regular season league champion U-D Jesuit 65-43. The Eaglets and Shamrocks meet Saturday evening for the Catholic League championship from EMU.

Mehki Ellison & Wade Robinson: Mehki’s older brother Malik Ellison was a great point guard on three Beecher championship teams. Wade’s father, Notre Dame coach Whitney Robinson, was a great point guard for the other Notre Dame in Harper Woods at the turn of the century. After starting his career as a big scorer for EKU, Robinson was a standout sixth-man for Central Michigan’s last NCAA Tournament team, which lost to Duke in the second-round of 2003.  Wade Robinson is a sophomore for Notre Dame, whose improvement and maturity has coincided with the rise of an otherwise already very veteran squad. They’re 13-6 and a darkhorse in the Division 2 tournament, with wins over Rochester Adams, Arbor Prep, Davison and Okemos; and losses to the likes of Beecher, U-D Jesuit and Saline. Robinson doesn’t just pass it, he passes to teammates in rhythm hitting their sweet spots. Knows how to take advantage of those upperclassman bodies as screeners to spring free his 5-10, 145 frame. Given that size Robinson does a good job getting off his three-point shot quickly. Carman-Ainsworth plays Tuesday a short drive down 75 in Pontiac.

Carmelo Harris & RJ Taylor: If Beecher gets past Carman-Ainsworth on Saturday, this Thursday game at Grand Blanc would be the de facto Flint area championship. Harris is in contention for Bank Hoops player of the year not just for Division 3 but overall, and he can continue to help his cause as the Bucs punch up against bigger schools. They’ve already beaten a defending and contending state champion, Grand Rapids Catholic, and get the same chance here. Grand Blanc already beat Carman-Ainsworth, with a game-winning shot then game-clinching block from Taylor. After a slow start shooting the ball he’s been playing as well as any guard in the state. Taylor followed a career-high 36 points against Powers with 33 in an OT loss at Muskegon. There’s a reason his game is respected, from the hood to the EYBL metrics, to the five D1 offers. Beecher and Grand Blanc play Thursday at GB.

Kareem Rozier & Chansey Willis: The state’s top senior point guards square off in Operation Friendship, Friday at Calihan Hall, with Mr. Basketball implications. Willis is coming off a triple-double in the Detroit PSL championship game, a lopsided defeat of Detroit Western for King’s second-straight league crown. Willis was the centerpiece and leading scorer of both. Now his recruitment is finally advancing, and in the future we can learn that instead of finding scapegoats when frustrated, understand that recruiting is an organic process which can’t be forced and there is new terrain in said organic farm for the transfer portal era. Especially for six-foot point guards. It’s not like Willis hasn’t been seen, either in one of the nation’s legendary though now depleted leagues, or playing for the Family in the EYBL, the top youth basketball league in the world. Said a Midwest mid-major coach about Willis, “We don’t need a point guard. But if we did, we wouldn’t recruit one from high school.” Those are the dynamics of the market, and as business never personal it’s not a slight of Willis. EMU and North Carolina AT&T do want a high school point guard, and both recently offered.

 

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