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Answering the Bell at Brawl for the Ball

Michigan teams fell short in the Brawl for the Ball 17U final with Spiece Indy Heat beating theWest Michigan Lakers, and 15U where King James topped the Family. In 16U it was an all out-of-state EYBL deal with King James over Indy Heat.

Here are Michigan prospects who improved their chances with college coaches as this NCAA live period event in Grand Rapids.

CJ Baird  6-5  Sr  Team Michigan (Novi Catholic Central): Big in-between forward whom one might overlook on the first pass, then the more he’s watched the positives start to add up. Best as a catch-and-shoot deep threat, needs to improve his attack game off the dribble.

Mason Bakker  6-5  So  Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Zeeland West): Tough matchup for 15U. Bakker looks cut from the John Shillito football line quarry in Zeeland, and plays with good hands, passing vision, while using his size to finish inside.

Jimmy Bell  6-10  So  GreenWood 16U (Saginaw Arthur Hill): Looked really good early in the tournament, showing nice lateral mobility for his size going to get rebounds beyond his immediate area. He also split some time with the 17U and was dragging some as he got into bracket play. Needs to work harder to establish initial post position. When he’s taking multiple dribbles to back his man down he’s susceptible to guards diving down, then makes rushed passes or forced shots from the double team. If in a year from now Bell is instead drop-stepping and hammering it, then he’ll be recruited by top 25 college teams given his rare combination of size, hands and feet.

Tyler Bosma  6-6  Jr  Goog’s Gamers 16U (West Ottawa): Composed solely of West Ottawa players, GG showed why the Panthers will be a top 10 overall high school team for 2016-17. Goog’s Gamers was making a cameo appearance, their only tournament of the summer. They made the most of it, reaching the 16U final four, a platinum bracket run that commenced with a manic comeback over Elite Nation. Bosma was taking a break from his baseball schedule to get some hoop in, yet was far from rusty. He’s a major matchup problem at 6-6, a lefty with bounce who can rain three-pointers and mid-range shots or score at the rim. Tyler is better at the same age than his father, Duane Bosma who went on to be an All-American center at Hope.

The big stage doesn't faze Amauri Hardy, the Family guard who is a veteran of the Class A state finals and the Nike EYBL.

The big stage doesn’t faze Amauri Hardy, the Family guard who is a veteran of the Class A state finals and the Nike EYBL .

Amauri Hardy  6-2  Sr  Family (North Farmington): Explosive left-hander who will beat you going to either side of the hoop. Two-time physical in that he can get a shoulder into his initial defender then invite the contact and finish through rim protectors. Sometimes gets a bit too much steam going and ends drives over the baseline ratherthan chin to the rim. Not just single minded, Hardy will get in and rebound and will move the ball around and finds points within the offensive flow. Could see him putting up numbers this winter where Hardy will place himself in the Mr. Basketball discussion.

Avery Hudson  5-10  Sr  West Michigan Lakers (Wayland): Fearless, hurricane, the sob no one wants to play against. Which made for one of the most entertaining matchups of the tournament against another sub 6-foot gunner the Family’s Jermaine Jackson. Hudson and the Lakers won that one, in a super pool showcase game, then made it all the way to the platinum championship game, falling to Spiece Indy Heat. Give the Family its full lineup with Jamal Cain and the U-D bigs and they likely win that game. That still means the Lakers are the second-best 17U squad in Michigan, and Hudson is at the heart and guts of that success. More two than one depending on the matchup. The conventional wisdom that Avery was destined to Cornerstone where brother Wes Hudson played may have been premature. He received an offer from Ferris State after his Brawl performance.

Brandon Johns  6-8  Jr  Spiece Indy Heat (East Lansing): Some around the program think Johns has the most potential on the Indy Heat roster, even when 6-10 senior Jaren Jackson is in the mix. Rare mix of size, skill and feel. Has the potential to be one of the great modern forwards in Michigan history, like LaVell Blanchard or Winfred Walton. That said, didn’t dominate just did his job along the deep Spiece frontcourt.


Matt Loney doesn’t do much losing whether with Frankfort or Parallel 45.

Matt Loney  6-3  Jr  Parallel 45 16U (Frankfort): Michigan’s class of 2018 is deep and talented. Few of its members do more to help his team win than Loney. By knocking off GreenWood in the first round of the platinum tournament before falling to eventual champion King James Shooting Stars, Loney’s 15U/16U P45 teams have now won a combined 70 games. Between his motor and 6-8 wingspan gets a lot done rebounding, making defensive plays out on the floor or in the lane, finishing fast breaks, passing, knocking down corner 3s. All the while getting into opponents’ heads with unrepentant energy and talk.

Austin McCullough  6-4  Sr  GreenWood (Portage Central): Coaches who thought he was just another corner shooter were in for an awakening, as McCullough had a number of dunks in additions to 3s and pull-ups. Runs hard both ways, scraps and guards a bunch of positions. Can have trouble staying in front of high-end guards, which sets a ceiling but has the floor of a scholarship player. He’s being recruited by some Southern schools, but is open to play anywhere.

Xander Okerlund  6-3  So  Parallel 45 15U (Maple City Glen Lake): He’s already three inches taller than listed on the NCAA roster submitted in April, and doesn’t look like he’ll stop at 6-3. Balances a lineup with some volume shooters as the percentage guy. He played a masterpiece of a 15U game in the platinum opener against the Storm, with poise, skill and a three-point barrage that just seemed to come from another plane. Point guard who can play the 1-4 and is one of the team’s best rebounders. Okerlund has a savant basketball IQ and gets a hand on seemingly every live ball. Has to learn to play faster, more freely, with urgency, a pace he saw firsthand when the Family blew by Parallel 45 in the semifinals.

Dreyon O’Neal  6-6  So  Family 15U (DEPSA): A load at the 15U level running the wings, which is impressive enough as the Family’s guards can go. Good hands, finishes with consistency and authority.

Christian Rodriguez  5-10  Sr  GreenWood (Godwin Heights): Put together a big game against one of the top young point guards in the state, Indy Heat’s Tyger Campbell. Rodriguez’ game is as utilitarian as Campbell’s mane is obtuse. Put him with talented teammates and he makes them look even better — and both happened with GreenWood’s Matt Beachler, Terry Armstrong and Austin McCullough. Just when you think he’s maxed out, Rodriguez still gets better, as he has with his shooting and defense. Next up should be his right (off) hand finishes.

Chase VanderKlay  6-3  Sr  West Michigan Flight (Wyoming): He’s twice won the 3-point contest at the MHSAA state finals. But VK is more than a carnival show. WM Flight is bloated with shooters, and he’s the best at creating the jumper off the dribble. Good backcourt size and athleticism, could make a nice future running high ball screens in the MIAA.

Jake VanTubbergen  6-6  Sr  West Michigan Lakers (West Ottawa): Put him at an equally big school in Detroit, and JVT is a household name in Michigan hoops. Don’t confuse thin with soft, he competes on both ends. Funky offensive game vacillates between awkward and creative which makes him an even tougher cover when he gets in the lane and just unfurls like a Dutch Jaquan Hart. Can pull up and extend over bigger defenders, and uses his wingspan to get to offensive boards. Will have to find a position he can guard in college.

Mario Whitley  6-3  Jr  Family 16U (Frankenmuth): We’ve compared Whitley’s inside-outside offensive arsenal to one time Muskegon Heights phenom Mike Davis, but Davis never played this hard. It was refreshing to see Whitley go with just as much urgency and instinct after a loose ball as he does hunting for dunks. Needs to keep working on his guard skills, but is already a plus recruit for the mid-major level.

Carson Wonders  6-4  Sr  Northern Michigan Drive (Iron Mountain): Plays like a poor man’s Antonio Gates from his Detroit Central days, all-around player with some physicality. Could play a forward in the modern MIAA.

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