Any number of forwards and centers who became pros in the 21st century developed at the grassroots, and not shoe-sponsored, AAU level — guys like Shayne Whittington, Justin Keenan, Holden Greiner, Jalen Reynolds, Zach Hankins, Nick Perkins or Sean Sheldon. Coaches with an eye towards the future and an allergy to groupthink may have been able to find the next one out of a surprisingtly deep group of 17U and 16U frontcourt prospects at the Brawl for the Ball.
Kareem Aburashed 6-8 Sr M&M Boyz (Detroit Country Day): Has college range and beyond from the top of the key. Once he hits one of those, then the defense has to react to a pump fake and drive form 24 feet, and suddenly the floor really opens up for all of M&M Boyz’ guards. Can get the 3 off quickly if under duress. Good hands, and gets up easily to dunk if given a big of daylight. Has to be accounted for on the offensive glass and keeps concentration to finish through the slapping lilliputians. Patient enough to go to a secondary post move if the first is stymied. Doesn’t dribble much when he does it’s for a reason, to find a better angle and look. Looks like a Patriot League type 4 man if Kareem increases his overall physicality, and more often — high-points and two-hands defensive rebounds, sprint in transition D, gets meaner when guards come in the lane.
Zavier Banks 6-6 Jr North Oakland Wolfpack 16U (Detroit U-D Jesuit): A big by default for his high school and AAU squads and embraces that role fully with effort on the glass , wiry toughness and post touch. Yet he still flashes for the future with how Banks covers the court so easily, can get out and finish or lead a fast break
Omari Byrd 6-7 Sr Michigan Playmakers (Arbor Prep): Have to love the defensively versatility from a guy who played tough defense against the tallest player in the 17U division, 6-10 Kaden Johnson, and against one of the best shooting guards in the state, Joe Francis. Rudimentary in the post but that can work in high school with a big butt and wide shoulders. Good rebounder who consistently two-hands it off the defensive glass, and will get balls outside his immediate area.
Jon Coffee 6-6 Jr Michigan Playmakers 16U (Detroit King): Matthew Coffee had some big moments for the Playmakers’ 17U, as did Jon Coffee for the 16U. Jon is a widebody who clears space, draws fouls, gets extra possession. Can invert on offense and hit cutters. Not bad feet defending out on the floor and can also defend the rim. Not big or explosive enough to not hit someone or dig out every time a shot goes up.
Brady Ewing 6-7 Sr Parallel 45 (Petoskey): Looks like twice the player as when he played back at the Storm Classic in April. Now a top 10 combo forward in the 2022 class who will aggressively block shots, then get on the floor for a loose ball. Played active defense against 6-10 Kaden Johnson. Offense foundation is based on a jumphook, then he’ll take it out to 20 and hit shots. Can be overshadowed by bigger, stronger guys on the glass when gets too deep.
Haidyn Garrison 6-8 Sr MBA (Gull Lake): At 270 with little body fat, like a baby Steve Scheffler out there. It takes a looong time to get around Garrison’s screens. Not a bevy of moves, but big and strong and executes the basics, or can kick out for 3s, when gets you in the kill zone. Showed athletic potential when he checked 6-foot guard Tariq Humes for a long defensive possession, even stoning a dribble drive.
Kaden Johnson 6-9 Sr Anchor Basketball Academy (Hartford): Intriguing long-term prospect that coaches are just learning about, playing for an Indiana-based travel club. As slender as he is tall, kind of a knockoff Dylan Carl. Nothing came of it, but had to like the potential when Johnson flashed a cross-over dribble and huge first step. Good second and third efforts on the glass and keeps the ball high. Very hard to stop his hook given his wingspan and release point, and can hit it from beyond the blocks.
Logan McKenzie 6-7 Sr West Michigan Lakers (Byron Center): Every July the Lakers seem to have a 17U forward emerge as a legit college prospect. McKenzie looks like that guy in 2021. Efficient and creative on the baseline as a scorer or passer. Crafty and beats bigger, more athletic guys around the rim.
Jalen Overway 6-9 Sr MBA Lakeshore (Holland Christian): In sheer size and soft hands, stylistically Overway recalls some terrific bigs from Michigan high school hoops past like Nick Perkins, Arthur Johnson and Ben Handlogten. Can score with hooks, patient pump fakes, little face-up drives and fades for 3s. A very good passer often used as the hub of Lakeshore’s offense, but not just when kicking out from double teams, as Overway can deliver the ball from various spots. Had a play Saturday where he hit a cutter from the top of the key, then put-in the ensuing miss. Not a shot-blocker per se but can be a plus defender just by clogging the lane to make guards avoid it, and pushing opposing posts outside their typical scoring perimeter. D1 big as the puppy fat fades and he gets more explosive over the rim. Given the weird recruiting landscape, being kind of slow-played now … if he were to sign with a juco and play in a summer showcase next July would have MVC schools offering left and right.