While the shadow of a dominant out-of-state team, the King James Shooting Stars, winning the division loomed over the 16U field at the Brawl for the Ball, the tournament was not without impressive performance from Michiganders. ACB/Bank Hoops in the semifinals and the Mustangs in the championship game both tested King James. Here are some of the standouts from those and others teams.
Brady Boothe 6-6 Jr West Michigan Flight (Hudsonville): Fittingly given the team name, the Flight’s firepower is found on the wings in 6-5 Byron Center junior Brayden Smith and 6-3 Wyoming junior Chase VanderKlay. Though a finesse forward himself, Boothe is the pivot by default and is productive in the role. He pulls out defenders with his three-point shooting, and is active helping his teammates get theirs via screens. Not a brawler in the paint, but a good rebounder when coming high to low because he moves well. Tends to get too high and jumpy on defense.
Sam Cornett 6-4 Jr ACB/Bank Hoops (Grandville): A physical guard in the Brian Snider mold. He showed his versatility on D by fighting inside against 1Nation’s tall, talented frontline at the beginning of the tournament, then matching up with King James’ All-American point guard Markell Johnson in the semifinals. Squares and uses his body well against dribblers, his wingspan against shooters. A work in progress offensively, with an odd but effective, for now, outside shot.
Armonee Felder 5-8 Jr 1Nation (Detroit Pershing): Always on to the next play, he’s unfazed and confident which allows Felder to get buckets in crunch time. As dangerous a defender on the ball as there is in the junior class. Sometimes lets it get personal and the one-on-one takes over, but is at his best when being aggressive while still making all the basic point guard passes.
Jermaine Goliday 6-3 Jr ACB/Bank Hoops (Muskegon): A retro pure scorer who can get hot from three-point range as well as beat you with a deceptive first step and assortment of funky runners, bank shots, hop steps and finger rolls. Fearless and at times unguardable against the likes of 1Nation, Playmakers, Stackhouse Elite and King James. A month of team stuff with Muskegon served Goliday well, as he played stretches of defense with conviction, showing his athletic ability blocking shots and jumping passing lanes.
Brandon Johns 6-8 So Triple Threat (East Lansing): Three different members of Michigan State’s staff as well as Alabama, which has offered Johns, followed the state’s top sophomore and he didn’t disappoint. It never fails to impress how smooth he looks when he puts the ball on the floor, and shoots it so easily. Moves easily defensively too, and is dangerous coming from the weak side to block shots. Virtually never sees the ball in the post as there are stretches where Triple Threat’s guards seem to forget about him.
Demetri Martin 6-4 Jr Storm (Big Rapids): The frame, and increasingly the game, of a D1 wing prospect. Can turn the corner and cause problems on the baseline. Stronger than he looks and gets physical and battles on the glass or when matched up with bigger forwards. Talks on D. Terrific body control around the hoop. If he’s added the in-between guard stuff by the next Brawl for the Ball, the offers will come.
Westin Myles 6-4 Jr Triple Threat (East Lansing): He has a great looking shot and size of a 2 guard, but can handle and make things happen with the ball. While brother Mikhail, an East Lansing 2015 grad, is more explosive, the younger Myles will end up with a more expansive game.
Jordan Roland 5-11 Jr Mustangs (Flint Beecher): He led the Mustangs to the championship game where they gave King James its toughest game of the tournament. Roland has Beecher written all over him with how he gets after it defensively, whether closing off the lane to penetration or getting the layup line rolling out of the run-and-jump. This Mustangs team has to get by on team play and not star power, and Roland establishes how they want to lay with his unselfishness. While he may make a mistake, has the composure to not let it snowball. Scores in the lane when there’s daylight. Flipshot jumper needs consistency.
Will Weems 6-8 Jr 1Nation (Detroit Edison): When he keeps it basic and around the hoops, Weems really produces. Smart help defender who walls off well and takes charges. Moves his feet well enough that he can also guard out on the floor. Dangerous when he’s cutting and getting open at the basket, a liability when he settles for the easy outside ones. Needs more explosion as smaller players can get to his shot.
Nick Welch 6-7 Jr Mustangs (Temperance Bedford): He went against bigger players inside much of the weekend, from Triple Threat’s 6-8 soph Brandon Johnson all the way to the championship game with King James, but proved a matchup dilemma himself on the other end. Welch knocked down shots from the short corners and wings and was able to put the ball on the floor going left or right from 20 feet. He helped himself as much as any prospect in the 16U division.