The Detroit Stars beat the Michigan Playmakers in the 17U final of the Brawl for the Brawl, thanks to a game-winning three-pointer by Stars junior guard Greg Elliott. Here are some of the 17U division’s top performers in Grand Rapids.
Joan Andoni 6-1 Sr REACH (Livonia Churchill): Underutilized in the spring, Andoni stood firm through the roster flux and looked like the deadeye from his 16U days with the Warriors. He hit some big shots as REACH made a late push on the Playmakers in the championship game. Rhythm guy great elbow mechanics. Good frame, won’t have to work OT to get college rugged. An ideal complement to a guard like his teammate Terrence Sewell, who is conversely all drive and no shot. While his game lacks diversity, “You can’t have enough shooters in small college basketball,” one WHAC coach likes to say, and Andoni should get multiple offers from that league.
Jake Brubaker 6-2 Sr HoopGrind (Marshall): HoopGrind has a GLIAC-caliber backcourt in Brubaker and Yale’s Cody Kegley, with Brubaker the perfect complement to the pure point guard. He’s a true scorer with range beyond the three-point line but also a drive game to finish through contact. His defense needs some focus, but showed he has the ability to do it in HoopGrind’s bracket win over the Storm.
Jason Bur 6-4 Sr Parallel 45 (Petoskey): While he’ll be finishing out the liveperiod with Camp Darryl, Bur was a leader and stalwart amidst a sometimes stormy season for P45’s 17U. He’s just a reliable, all-around player who competes and improves. His versatility, competitiveness and defensive focus have made him an MIAA recruiting priority and help make Petoskey a top 20 team in Class A.
Jamal Cain 6-6 Jr Detroit Stars (Detroit Cornerstone): We write about him a lot. Because he does a lot. Even playing up on 17U, Cain usually has physical advantages when matched up on the opposing wing forward and makes them pay when he gets going downhill. A rare finisher who is just as smooth as he is explosive. He has mid-major offers. To raise the bar Cain will need to get the motor going with regularity, get a take-over mentality and keep working on his shot, the rotation remains inconsistent.
Bryce Elliott 6-0 Sr Shoreline Hoops (Hudsonville): A much improved and more confident player over the past year. If you’ve hit clutch buckets in a 4OT regional game against the defending Class A state champion, like Elliott did in March before the largest crowd in the history of West Ottawa’s gym, an AAU game won’t faze you, even if it’s against 1Nation and their D1 backcourt. He was strong on the defensive end and smart with the ball as Shoreline’s West team pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset in Saturday night bracket play. It culminated when 6-4 Grand Haven junior Zac Holman banked in a three-pointer after catching a three-quarters, cross-court pass from Bucs teammate Jason Long on an in-bounds play that began with 0.7 seconds on the clock.
Antwan Johnson 6-5 Playmakers (Detroit Henry Ford): The Playmakers don’t have a true big man on their 17U, but Johnson gave them enough up front, combined with superior guard play, to reach the championship game. High-point rebounder with the wheels to get out and finish on the other end. One of the tournament’s leading dunkers. Ran hard in defensive transition too. Moved well enough to defend out on the floor. In the halfcourt, was a capable passer or driver from the elbows and was active off the ball, but poor footwork on the jumper limit his as a 6-5 scorer. Looks like a GLIAC utility guy.
Zeale McCullough 6-5 Sr Triple Threat (Lansing Eastern): Triple Threat doesn’t have legit 17U size, but the trio of McCullough, Midland’s Virgil Walker and DeWitt’s Evan Conn got the job done before running into the most talented frontcourt in the field that of the eventual champion Detroit Stars in the quarterfinals. Old school baseline forward who played above the rim. Good feel for the game and played well off of Triple Threat’s talented guards.
Karim Murray 6-1 Sr REACH (Detroit Western): He was the starting 3 and defensive stopper on Detroit Western’s Class A state championship, able to get physical with any position on the court. With the Cowboys’ Horizon-bound backcourt of Josh McFolley and Brailen Neely, it was hard to tell what, if any, guard skills Murray possessed. In Grand Rapids, REACH called upon Murray to carry ball-handling and scoring responsibilities, and he led them to the 17U semifinals. Was able to break down defenders going left or right and showed his shooting range expands beyond 15 feet. No player in the 17U field helped himself more with the college coaches. If Murray can repeat this performance again this month, mid-major offers will ensue.
Daniel Pippen 6-8 Sr Detroit Stars (Detroit Allen): The Stars have a terrific frontline with Pippen joining a pair of 6-6 juniors, the aforementioned Jamal Cain and Donnie Tillman of Findlay Prep via the Motor City. The two younger players both get more offensive chances than Pippen, but the slender 4 was still productive all-around. Very quick off the floor for second and third efforts. The simpler he makes his game, the more productive Pippen becomes. MIA in the spring, it looks like the light may have come on and he’s ready to get the offers rolling. Uses his length to protect the rim, and consistently ran hard rim-to-rim.
David Rinke 6-7 Sr TEAM Basketball (Rochester Adams): Rinke has added strength and it showed in his confident play. Really made his bones with how he competed fearlessly against ACB/BankHoops’ 6-10 pair of Braden Burke and Ryan Schuller. Rinke was aggressive attacking the rim and was also able to step out and hit shots against the taller defenders. More of a wall-off position defender and grinder than shot-blocker, Rinke also took a charge in that opening-round playoff game.