Early AAU play is always ragged. Lucky are those teams that have a point guard who can get it going. Here are some, known and new, who played well at the Grand Rapids Storm Classic.
Matt Beachler 6-4 Jr Family 17U (Lowell): What? OK, this elite shooter is never going to be the primary ball-handler. That doesn’t mean all he can do is shoot 3s. On a team with a deep backcourt, Beachler led the Family in assists in their 17U championship victory over the Playmakers.
Justin Bradford 5-8 Jr West Michigan Lakers 17U (Sparta): Wayland’s Avery Hudson is the Lakers’ starting 1. Bradford gave them valuable reserve minutes in winning the 17U gold title. Fast, shifty and fun to watch in the open floor.
David Dejulius 6-0 So Family 16U (Detroit Edison): He’s “repeating” the 16U level, and playing against similarly aged players Dejulius’ physical advantages are really apparent. Has some Brent Darby in him with the way he uses his strength to operate when he gets his shoulder into a defender. Oversees a very fast but highly organized transition attack for the Family. He’ll get Big Ten interest this summer.
Michael Littlejohn 5-10 Sr Rare Form 17U (Muskegon): If you want efficiency, Littlejohn probably isn’t your guy. Looking for a no-fear shot creator who lives for the moment? That’s Mikey, and Rare Form’s upset victory in the platinum quarterfinals was the kind of venue he lives for.
Darian Owens-White 6-0 Jr REACH 17U (River Rouge): More cerebral than explosive and rambunctious, Owens-White is more likely to really shine in a structured high school setting than AAU. But if you can play you can play, and few are better at finding the pass/shot balance. Needs to get stronger, as his long passes tend to flutter out.
Jayden Perry 5-7 So Manton 17U (Manton): Little fella who is hard to keep up with, and has a quick trigger and money three-point shot. And he was far from Manton’s only shooter. This school team, plus former classmate Ethan Ancick a 6-6 sophomore now at Walled Lake Northern, made it all the way to the 17U gold championship game. Pencil in Manton as a top 5 Class C team in 2017.
CJ Robinson 5-9 So North Oakland Wolfpack 16U (Clarkston): He was the “other” sophomore point guard in Clarkston’s starting lineup this winter. Robinson makes the right decisions on the fly, will work on both ends of the court, and though not tall he’s strong and quick to the hole where he finishes at a high rate.
Christian Rodriguez 5-9 Jr MBA 17U (Godwin Heights): While MBA has guards who are explosive with the ball, they don’t know what to do with it like Rodriguez does. But smart passing is a given with this prospect we’ve been watching since he was 13. What was particularly promising was how smooth the jumpshot looked.
Jaylon Rogers 6-0 So Parallel 45 16U (Frankfort): He’s improving at a steep incline across the board — physically, skills and decision making — all while playing with the swagger and edge you have to have for this position. Rogers went blow-for-blow with MBA’s Duane Washington, then in the opening round of the platinum playoffs tore through BALL’s full-court press to net a 30 spot.
Jesse Scarber 5-8 Jr Playmakers 17U (Detroit King): He led the Playmakers to the 17U platinum championship game. Does the subtle, winning stuff that may escape fans but makes coaches feel warm inside. Scarber had one assist where his one-handed bounce pass hit the post player right on the money as the big man flashed across the lane; high-end stuff.