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D1 Showdowns: Titus & Taylor, Turnquist & Rembert

Grand Blanc 2023 point guard RJ Taylor, earlier this summer playing for Parallel 45 against the Grand Rapids Storm’s Marcus Wourman at Trine University (photo courtesy Lenny Padilla).

UTS Elite’s Brady Titus and Minor Threat’s RJ Taylor didn’t disappoint when the two preeminent 16U point guards dueled in the first round of the Great 8 in Ft. Wayne, which began with two of what have to be among the best 14-year-old forwards in the Midwest, REACH’s Andrew Turnquist and the Grand Rapids Storm’s Christian Humphrey-Rembert, matched up in 15U action to begin the tournament. Titus, 2022 from Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian, and Taylor, 2023 from Grand Blanc, already have D1 offers, from Bethune-Cookman and Rhode Island respectively, while Turnquist, a 6-7 2023 from White Lake Lakeland, and Rembert, a 6-6 2024 from East Kentwood, have college futures awaiting them as well.

Hurt the previous weekend in Wisconsin, Titus looked no worse the wear, as he came out hot, leading UTS Elite to a one-point win over Minor Threat and eventually the Great 8 16U championship. He has a combination of speed and shot rarely seen in a Class D guard outside of Andrew Mitchell, Bakari Evelyn or Eric Evans; or maybe the best guard to ever do it for HOF coach Mark Keeler at Tri-Unity, Bryan Foltice now two decades ago. Taylor saw high-end guards throughout his freshman year at Grand Blanc, such as Jalen Terry and Lorne Bowman, but none hit as many tough, contested shots as Titus did in this one. Despite the degree of difficulty on some of the buckets, Titus didn’t take bad shots, and kept teammates involved with a true point guard balance, with a particular synchronicity with his 2022 lookalike/playalike from East Lansing, Mason Woods; Titus made a money fastbreak assist that covered 3/4 of the court; classic drive-draw-dish guy in half-court scenarios.

Titus and Taylor traded hoops throughout the game, the latter showing three-point range well beyond the college arc, as well as burst and finishing ability some may not expect from a 5-11 underclassman guard. While Titus’ chemistry with his UTS teammates was apparent, Taylor and the rest of the Minor Threat squad had just learned each others’ names 30 minutes before tip-off yet they made it a game the whole way, his three-pointer cutting it to one as time expired. He’s a rare true point guard who impacts the game with positive energy whenever he touches the ball while making his teammates better. A high-major point guard prospect now, one for even blue blood programs to recruit with a couple more inches.

While UTS Elite was claiming the Great 8 16U crown, REACH was doing it in 15U, winning a tournament at that level for the second week in a row. Like the 84 Tigers, REACH has all-stars up the middle with Turnquist and Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s 2023 point guard Kaden Brown. They put a running clock on Rembert’s Storm team — with the caveat that it was a 14U team playing up. It was impressive that both big men were still playing hard even to the end of that one. Turnquist, a young sophomore himself, could be a dominant high school post player because he doesn’t just like to rebound but is a quick leaper and keeps the ball high; guards the rim; soft hands; wants the ball and uses the glass. At the same time, he’s a true modern forward prospect because he can already knock it down from 20 feet and can face up and drive. Great fundamentals on this kid, and if he grows into that noggin will end up 6-10.

Turnquist played well defensively against Rembert, who is used to having his way at the age group level, though to his credit Rembert had a block of Turnquist as well. Even when playing from behind, Rembert had energy and was always around the ball, hunting it down whether off the rim or loose on the floor. He has a long first step and is creative attacking the hoop, while also showing an easy touch later in the day on a catch-and-shoot 3. A slinky wing scorer similar to Jamal Cain. Sometimes uses a jump stop when he gets into the lane, but should more often. There are flashes of defensive brilliance though he’ll need more consistent focus on that end for the varsity level. Rembert will be the best ninth-grade prospect in the O-K Red since Devin Booker was at Grandville, and East Kentwood’s best prospect since Loy Vaught in the 1980s.

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