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Jam bands: bad, Jam Fest: good

Standouts from the Michigan Warriors JamFest, where the winners were 17U Michigan Playmakers, 16U REACH Legends and 15U Playmakers.

REACH 16U point guard Tyson Acuff, a sophomore from Detroit Cass Tech.

Tyson Acuff  6-2  So  REACH 16U (Detroit Cass Tech): He took over in overtime of the 16U championship game, asserting himself physically and getting to the rim against Ann Arbor Basketball Academy. Strength and body control benefited him finishing and drawing fouls. Smart recognizing various mismatches attacking slower bigs and smaller guards alike. Would really benefit from a consistent pull-up game.

Kabir Bergin  6-6  So  AABA 16U (Ann Arbor Skyline): While he doesn’t get off the floor particularly high, Bergin is a terrific fundamental rebounder who worked hard horizontally and had two quick hands to the ball. Controlled the glass for guard-heavy Ann Arbor Basketball Academy, which fell in the 16U final to REACH, in overtime. Bergin is also a high skilled back-to-basket scorer with patience and secondary and even third moves off his pivot foot that left defenders lunging and jumping at the wrong time. Smart passer all over the court, strong option against pressure. Athletically limited, but has some natural talent with his balance and feel and has clearly worked on his game. Similar prospect to Chris Dierker, who played at Salem then Madonna and was the first selection in the Vietnamese league draft.

Chris Frank  6-1  Jr  Michigan Rising (Detroit Henry Ford Academy): Frankly speaking, when Chris played with energy, Michigan Rising was at its best reaching the silver final. Good at getting the shoulder in and turning the corner, setting up pitch-out three-pointers. One-on-one scorer. Could push it up or finish himself on the break. Perimeter shot had screwball tendencies and sometimes jogged in transition.

Anthony Honkala  6-3  So  TC Elite (Howell): Josh Palo isn’t the only college guard prospect at Howell. Honkala converted big drive after big drive in a back-and-forth 17U silver semifinal game. Despite playing up a year didn’t look out of place at all physically. Played in attack mode and finished with either hand. Able to rebound and take it end-to-end. Squared his body well defensively. Jumped passing lanes to get a pick six. Sprinted both ways, once catching up to block a fastbreak layup attempt. More wing forward than guard, so will have to work on expanding perimeter and ball skills.

Michigan Playmakers 17U point guard Wendell Green, a sophomore from Detroit Country Day.

Wendell Green  5-11  So  Playmakers (Detroit Country Day): Really tightened and elevated his game when it mattered most. He scored nine points in overtime as the Playmakers finally pulled away from Sporting U in the 17U semifinals. Then in the the championship game, over a five-second stretch with under a minute to play against REACH, Green made two free throws, stole the in-bounds, and made three more free throws. Volume shooter bit retro in how he can dominate the ball with the dribble, but also gave a different look when Green went to the wing to playoff the ball. Fearless driver who as a legit threat to finish was able to suck in REACH’s backline defenders and get easier shots for what in many cases were his physically overmatched teammates. Talented enough to play in the MAC or Horizon, with high-major potential with the right system fit.

Myren Harris  5-11  So  North Oakland Wolfpack (Macomb Dakota): The Wolfpack was without its 6-11 high-major monster Matt Nicholson, who was at his brother Mike’s college graduation after four years playing center for Lake Superior State. That brought their backcourt talent to the fore, leading the Wolfpack to the 16U semifinals. Jaiden Wasilk and Cole Donchez are lanky 6-2 Clarkston shooters. Harris is compact and athletic, able to get his own shot or play off the other shooters and was their leading scorer.

Cody Kok  6-5  Jr  Sporting U (Grand Rapids South Christian): A true guard at 6-5. Gave Wendell Green problems with his wingspan just closing off so much for the Playmakers’ all-state point guard. Drive and kick artist who is good at either, pitching or shooting, and can also get in all the way to extend and score. Plays with an unselfishness and pace that defines both this Sporting U team and the South Christian squad that knocked off more talented Godwin Heights in the state tournament in March. Covers more space than a defender expects then just kind of unfolds, like GVSU’s star freshman Jake VanTubbergen another Dutchman, from West Ottawa. Best trait may be how he is sticky around the ball, anticipating on both hands. Kok needs strength and can tend to play upright.

Dreyon O’Neal  6-7  Jr  Playmakers (Old Redford): One-time top 10 underclassman who has been in school transfer, AAU team hop limbo. In the championship game O’Neal oftehn found himself going it alone under the hoop against REACH with both 6-9 Jalen Thomas, Michigan’s top 2019 cetner prospect, and Carrington McCaskill, a springier version of O’Neal. Yet he pulled in rebound after rebound. In the semifinals it was he who presented the mismatch, collecting a number of clutch buckets posting up against Sporting U’s center-less lineup. Moved well off the ball, able to cut and dunk. Similar to Randy Gilbert, who is headed to national champion Ferris State via Cass Tech.

Luke Schrotenboer  6-4  Jr  Sporting U (Grand Rapids South Christian): Sporting U can bury a team when it has multiple shooters feeling it, like happened in the 17U quarterfinals against the host Warriors. Or it can shoot itself out of a game. The latter didn’t quite happen in the semis with the Playmakers, as SU started going downhill to counter the slow start and Schrotenboer is just as capable grinding it out as he is putting up shots. Has college build. Will coaches at that level view him as a guard or a tweener?

REACH 17U center Jalen Thomas, a junior from Detroit U-D Jesuit.

Jalen Thomas  6-9  Jr  REACH (U-D Jesuit): Michigan has four 2019 6-9s with offers — Thomas, Dansville’s Caleb Hodgson, Mattawan’s Nolan Foster and Hoop Heaven’s Luke Maranka. None are givens, all with their flaws. Thomas is a traditional big, defend the rim, run to the other, score off the blocks. Fastbreak triggerman who is good at the one clearing push dribble into the initial pass. Plays with some toughness, willing to get on the floor for 50/50 balls. Able to catch and finish, with face-up touch or dunks. Likes his hook, more comfortable off the left shoulder. Doesn’t shoot it like the other bigs can, but they don’t defend like Thomas can. Will have to play a 5, could be nice drop-off catch-and-finish post in a four-out offense.

Ann Arbor Basketball Academy 16U point guard Mac VanRenterghem, a sophomore from Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Mac VanRenterghem  5-10  So  AABA (Ann Arbor Pioneer): A craftsman who dribbles just enough, beats you with the pass and gets both regular and hockey assists, tone setter for a very unselfish club. High skill level allows Mac to create shots off the baseline or under the rim. Has touch, body control and calmness breaking traps. As good as he is, will have to be able to shoot it to play at the next level. Otherwise, born in the wrong century.

Jordan Whitford  6-0  Jr  Playmakers (Detroit King): Thrived in his role as complementary guard to Wendell Green, because he does a lot of things well and is efficient in his scoring chances. Good athlete who can defend. Knocked down open shots while also looking for his teammates.


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