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A-Listers in Zeeland

Zeeland West beat Coopersville and Zeeland East defeated Whitehall on the first day Zeeland Holiday Basketball Showcase. There were D1-D2-D3 college prospects on the court — all of them with two or three seasons left of high school ball.

Merritt Alderink  6-7  Jr  Zeeland West: When the Dux moved Alderink from the low post to the high post against Coopersville’s zone the offense really started to hum. He made himself an active target, and that opened up Z-West’s shooters, as well as got them some hi-lo looks. His Division 1 physical tools were apparent with how quick a first step he has in the half-court, or how fast he pushes the ball in the full-court, given Alderink’s size. He’s a left-hander who didn’t make either of his three-point attempts, but scored various other ways en route to a team-high 15 points. He was able to clear space with his shoulder so even if he missed, Alderink was the only one around to clean up after and score. Catches the ball on the catch with two feet, allowing him to work patiently from a position of strength into the lane. Utilized the shot fake and big first step to set up scores for himself or teammates. Alderink made a hard cut into a dipsy-doo and-one to help put away the game late. He also made plays on defense, with a help-side block; a turnover caused by wingspan and high hands cutting down opponents’ vision; and the feet to switch onto guards in space.

Luke Bakker  6-5  Jr  Zeeland West: A really good defender on or off the ball, can body up or play the gaps. Defense and his strong, athletic frame — fills the lanes well for power transition finishes — will be his calling card to get him college chances, as the offense continues to become defined and refined.

Eli Steffen  6-2  Jr  Zeeland West: He was an ideal point guard both when Coopersville was in a zone, as he wasn’t baited into dumb shots and kept the ball popping and the defense moving; and when they pressured late because he was a smart and patient passer not afraid to back-dribble, take it all in, and make the right decision. Good athlete with a next-play mentality who consistently sprinted back on defense.

BJ Walker  6-3  So  Zeeland East: He scored a school-record 36 points, and did it the old fashioned way with drives, post ups and free throws. Worked with off-ball or on-ball screens, a good cutter who is bouncy after making the catch. Walker kept his chin to the rim finishing over and through defenders, he’d get downhill momentum then just bully Whitehall at the basket. Had one bucket where he took a rebound off a free throw all the way to the other end for a layup. A knack for being around the ball, and would stick his nose in the glass, giving him more opportunities. On defense is quick getting over screens and had a good closeout on Cam Thompson on a missed three-point attempt; needs to turn and sprint if beaten on the drive not just slide along. College coaches will want to see the guard skills develop, but he has a good physical profile, and can obviously produce, so they’ll be waiting.

Layne Risdon  6-9  Jr  Zeeland East: He started the season with 23 points against Holland Christian, and had another strong effort here. Someone must have reminded him in the locker room that he was the tallest player on the court, as Risdon made an impact on both ends in the second half. He started the third quarter with a flurry, assisting on a high-low bucket; scoring on a smooth catch-hop-finish in front of the rim; then blocking  a drive from Whitehall all-stater Camden Thompson. Post touches were rare but he was direct and effective when he got them. Risdon played big defensively with high hands, was active, and got outside the lane to wall off — helping to contribute to Whitehall’s 20-of-60 field goal shooting. In the first half the Zeeland junior had shown his shooting touch, on a three-pointer off the secondary break and free throws; can also pass and see the floor from the perimeter. When that’s all his game, it’s promising given height and touch; but when it complements the all-around game seen in the second half, Risdon is a real player.

Camden Thompson  6-4  So  Whitehall: It’s a testament to Thonpson’s versatility and athleticism that even on an off night he put up a line of 21 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks (including one-on-one of fellow soph BJ Walker) and two steals. Great first step, allowing him to get into the lane and draw the defense even if starting out from 30 feet. Brought the ball up, but then the offense was usually set up by someone else so may not be the wisest use of energy. Needs to hug his man less on defense, especially as he has the physical tools to easily recover.

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