While there was name-brand shopping the week before at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic, Easter weekend provided a good chance to find college talent from grassroots teams. It’s abundant this spring given the depth of the 2018 class. That was apparent at Flint’s Finest tournament, which included these standouts below. Local team Comrades United beat the Michigan Playmakers for the 17U title; in 16U Championship Sports Gold beat Parallel 45; and in 15U the Playmakers topped the Flight.
Leon Ayers 6-2 Jr Moneyball East (Troy): The starting point guard from Troy’s Class A regional championship team. Keeps the ball hot, good play running for AAU. Can also play off it and hit his own shots off the catch. Covered space on defense. More strength, explosion will help Ayers rise in a deep 2018 guard class.
Emmanuel Bates 6-4 Jr Flint’s Finest (Swartz Creek): High energy two-way guy who is a small college recruit for the right system like an Olivet. Turns ends easily, able to play on the top of the press then recover to block the shot. Has physical tools for the next level. Needs to define and refine his halfcourt offense. A passer, cutter, clean-up guy right now.
Noah Baylis 5-11 Fr Mid-Michigan Lakers 15U (Holly): Did nothing but solidify his name among the deep 2020 point guard class. Toughened up from a year of varsity ball since last we saw him, which dictated the addition of a pull-up mid-range game. Scored 26 against the Playmakers, including five three-pointers.
Ray Bryant 6-3 So Michigan Playmakers 16U (Farmington): He could jump from All-OAA to all-state as Farmington graduates Jordan Graham and Jay Kirby. Bryant was already a consistent double-double threat and it was easy to see why in the 16U semifinals where he was a finisher and rebounder not afraid to seek out hits. A tough cover on the break coming downhill, either with the ball or running the lanes. Slasher from the halfcourt who ended up spending a lot of time at the line. In that semifinal Bryant was the guy the Playmakers turned to match the toughness and physicality around the rim of Championship Sport’s Blake Charboneau. Not many more talented guards in the 2019 class.
Blake Dockery 6-2 Jr Parallel 45-White (Baldwin): With 6-7 junior Ethan Ancick injured, P45 needed rebounding where they could find it and Dockery came up big on the glass for the 17U silver bracket champions. Strong first step and finishes well, and is that much more dangerous when playing a half-second behind because the quickness remains a plus even then. Good tools and coachable, but college chances will be as a point guard so needs to work on skill level, decision making, recognizing game situations.
Omari Duncan 6-4 Jr Comrades United (Carman Ainsworth): Was joined by high school teammate, junior point guard Ja’kavien Lewis, in the final to conclude 17U championship run. Duncan projects as a tweener but is versatile and plays hard. Slasher, active on the glass where he can play bigger than his height, sets tough screens.
Nick Jungel 6-7 Jr Camp Darryl (Olivet): Went from tall, active 4, to tall, active, strong 4. Cleared the glass and ran rim to rim. Jump hook in the lane off either shoulder. All the MIAA and WHAC will want him, and all the GLIAC will want to see him. Needs to show he can step out and check stretch 4s.
Jalen Kelso 6-0 Jr Michigan Eagles (Walled Lake Northern): He has more to work with than on past editions of this team, which is coached by his father hall of famer Ben Kelso. The younger version has long played with the right intent, now that he’s matured and filled out physically is able to follow all the way through more consistently. Did a lot of damage once he got a shoulder into his defender, made the Eagles’ fast break hum hitting some athletic but not especially skilled guys on the money so they had no choice but to finish the score. Kelso needs to finish more chin to the rim, off the glass as he’s not big or explosive enough to make his preferred mode, over the time, an efficient shot.
Lucas Lueder 6-4 So Champ Sports-Gold (Sanford Meridian): This was already a top five 16U team in Michigan based on their 15U resume. The addition of Lueder raises the ceiling. Sees over defenders and passes like a point guard or can hurt you shooting off screens. All kinds of defensive potential with his length and hoops IQ. Tougher than might think at first glance but still lacks physicality, the punch to finish above the rim. Could rank with guys like Reese Castor, Chandler Turner and Cade Coleman in the next group of 2019 wing prospects after Terry Armstrong and Romeo Weems.
Jaylon Rogers 6-1 Jr Parallel 45-Green (Frankfort): Can be up and down but was all the way dialed in for a bracket play OT loss to FABE. Rogers made three free throws with time expired to force the extra period. Repeatedly abused FABE’s guards off the dribble and mixed in enough drop offs for layups to keep the second row of defense off balance. It’s when there’s a 6-9 type waiting back there that the decision making and expediency can be tested, but in this game at least it was layup city.
Trever Salani 6-0 So Parallel 45 16U (Manton): Underclassman starter from Manton’s state semifinalist team, and now for an AAU team that reached the 16U final in Flint. Battled on defense, showed a serious vertical on the glass and knocked down timely three-pointers. Needs to work on handle and overall guard game.
Ashton Sherrell 6-7 Jr Michigan Playmakers (New Haven): Underrated starting center on New Haven’s state championship team; didn’t have plays run for him with all-state scorers on the wings. Plays a similar role for the Playmakers, an active rebounder and shot blocker. Lanky, bouncy, recovers well. Needs some kind of reliable offense as things progress.
Jackarus Smith 6-3 Jr FABE (Grand Blanc): Wide-shouldered wing guard who could rebound one end the finish at the other. Hard to keep out of the lane. Could square and redirect defensively. Three-point shot seemed to depend on which game.
Nick Wells 6-2 Jr North Oakland Wolfpack (Clarkston): He’s one of four returning starters for defending state champ Clarkston. And probably the least well-known. Wells is out there for a reason though and thrives at the subtle stuff, in AAU like in the high school season. Combines smart defense between positioning and beating the ball to the spot, and plays with quick hands. Closes out really well just doesn’t give much room off the catch. A spot up shooter whose offense could benefit from fluidity and diversity. Hard not to recruit if MIAA school.