The state travel season really gets underway with the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, the top event in the Midwest this weekend. C2K from Ohio beat the Mustangs to win the 17U title; the Family defeated another Ohio squad the NEO Shooting Stars in 16U; and the 15U crown also went to the Family, a championship game winner over the Michigan Playmakers. Here are some in-state prospects who helped their cause.
Julian Dozier 5-9 So The Elite 17U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): Did the simple, but rare, things to make The Elite’s high-flying athletes look all the better. Made his plays and deliveries from the foul line instead of over-penetrating and getting swallowed up like so many talented but small point guards. Feel, handle, vision and footwork to slice through traffic. His real playing up, can he grab some of these teammates by the collar, inspire and lead Isiah style? Because talented as they are, there are a couple guys who need a kick in the rear to play team-first, winning basketball.
Justin Fischer 6-3 Jr TEAM Basketball 17U (Warren De La Salle): Helped TEAM Basketball to an opening round win over the host Storm and then one close half, at least, against the Family in the platinum bracket. Point guard with size and slickness, and DLS fundamentals. Shot is unorthodox, but there’s significant range on it. Fischer made a terrific defensive play against the Family, stopping a two-on-one break with a blocked shot. He doesn’t play as low and explosive as you’d expect from a mid-major prospect, but skills and grades will give him ample college options.
Ja’kavien Lewis 5-10 Jr 1Nation 17U (Flint Carman-Ainsworth): 1Nation was at their best going with a three-headed point guard track team Lewis, PJ Mitchell and Brandon Wade. Lewis competes on the defensive end, and if not passing has a real gift for the right angles and spin to finish around the rim. A consistent shot could be all standing between JK and free college.
Traveon Maddox 6-4 Jr Warriors 17U (Novi): It’s been fun to watch his evolution from athlete to basketball player. Maddox has really improved with the jumper — it’s not natural looking but he does a good job of keeping the elbow in — opening it up for strong takes to the hole. Big time finisher off the break. Has the tools and increasingly the mentality to be a lockdown defender.
Nelson McCauley 6-4 Jr Mustangs 17U (Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills): Natural athlete who moves well, elevates from a standing position and changes ends easily. Loved McCauley’s defense in the winter, how he talked, recovered, closed out high, and rebounded to trigger the break. The offense was on display during the Mustangs’ Sunday run to the championship game, with a comeback over 1Nation in the quarterfinals and an annihilation of the Family in a grudge match semifinal. He attacked the rim with abandon and had a flurry of three-pointers. Can get sloppy sometimes with the one-handed passes. If he plays with this kind of energy consistently, and with his good grades, McCauley is closing in on D1 territory.
Matt Nicholson 6-9 Fr North Oakland Wolfpack 15U (Clarkston): PT was predictably sparse for Clarkston’s state championship team, but Nicholson clearly made the best of his time on the JV. Took his offense towards the basket instead of fading away. Not big, but not soft and didn’t shy from other bodies not post-whistle physicality.
Max Perez 5-8 Fr Grand Rapids Storm 15U (Hudsonville): He impressed last fall at both the Bank Hoops All-State Camp and College Guard Workshop. Perez is even more finely tuned now after a year starting in the O-K Red under Eagles coach Eric Elliott. Ace ball-handler who gets it where he wants in generally the most expedient manner. If he didn’t look young, would never guess his age by how he plays. Was particularly strong operating and closing out games in crunch time. Scholarship player, size will ultimately determine level.
Mark Watts 6-2 So The Family 16U (Old Redford Academy): Watts had a score to settle in Grand Rapids, as last he was seen in DeVos Country it was in a blowout loss to West Ottawa at the Union Showcase. In age group competition he proved too tough a matchup, the leading scorer as the Family won the 16U title dropping 37 in the championship game over the NEO Shooting Stars. Terrific range and not shy about pulling it — sunk nine from behind the arc in the final — he s but Rocket was more than just a shot-hunter here as we attacked and scored in the lane all weekend. He’ll be a big league recruit off the EYBL a year from now.
Rashad Williams 6-1 Jr The Family 17U (Wayne): He knocked down eight three-pointers in a Saturday game, and closed out the weekend with 18 points against the Mustangs. Versatile, stone scorer with the mentality to produce regardless the circumstances. Type of Michigan guard who will go mid-major and average 17 his second season.