MVP Foster Loyer 5-11 Sr Clarkston: Well, that was something. Loyer carved his name onto the state’s basketball history tablets one jumpshot at a time. Whether from the plume of the Spartans helmet, fading out of bounds in the corner or going off-hand from the baseline. Loyer had 42 on 17 shots in the semifinals against Warren De La Salle then 40 on 19 shots when the Wolves put a running clock on West Ottawa in the Class A championship game. Loyer has now played in four Class A final four games. Clarkston has won all four, and he averaged 35.8 points per game. Which makes him one of the best to ever put ball through basket in the Mitten.
Harlond Beverly 6-4 Jr Southfield Christian: He may have been an MSU ‘plan B’ recruit when he walked onto the Breslin floor Saturday, but Beverly left it an A lister. His 10 a.m. dunks set the energy level for Southfield Christian in the Class D final. Buckley’s zone wasn’t going to do much against a high-major recruit who could elevate over it for jumpers or backdoor it for dunks. Beverly had a two-way motor making defensive plays in the open court pressing or in the half-court defending the rim. He doesn’t have to dominate the ball to do his scoring damage, as he’s a true, rare combo guard. Beverly had 23 points, seven rebounds, eight steals, six blocked shots and four assists in the final after 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals in the semifinal blowout of Dollar Bay.
Marcus Bingham 6-11 Sr Grand Rapids Catholic Central: The state got to see the continued rise of one of the nation’s top prospects. It’s so outside the high school norm to see a 6-11 player shooting and making three-pointers with ease. While he struggled some offensively in the semifinals, Bingham still made his presence known on the other end with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. He had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the final against Benton Harbor.
Shawn Hopkins 6-3 Sr Benton Harbor: This spot could’ve gone to any number of Benton Harbor players, as the basis of its success didn’t change all year — a lot of drive-shoot weapons who share the ball. Hopkins gets the nod in part because of his right place, right time layup to send the state final with GR Catholic into overtime. Hopkins had nine points and 11 rebounds in the championship game and 18 and 13 in the semifinals against River Rouge.
Carlos Johnson 6-5 So Benton Harbor: Acquitted himself better against the frustrating size of GR Catholic Central in the final than New Haven’s Romeo Weems did when facing it in the semis. It helps that Johnson is a better perimeter shooter, now most famously the three-pointer from the top of the key that proved the championship game-winner with 15 seconds to play in OT. Adding to the historic nature of the shot is that it gave the Tigers their first state title since 1965. Lots of schools have gone that long without a championship. But few have had the kind of talent Benton Harbor has had in the interim. In the past 30 years there were three future NBA forwards — Pig Miller, Wilson Chandler and Robert Whaley — and a group with three future D1 players — Prentice McGruder, Corey Childs and Marcus Singer — that twice made the Class A state finals in the early 90s only to run into an even more legendary Pershing trio — Todd Burgan, Carlos Williams and Willie Mitchell. But it’s not just the talent, but the importance of the game in Benton Harbor, few love their hoops like the Tigers, who’d been to the Class B final as recently as 2014 losing to Milan. And who didn’t have long to savor their win over the state’s most historically successful program, River Rouge, before being in the shadow of Bingham’s $100-million wingspan. Johnson plays with a motor and toughness, particularly for a sophomore, that would have made him a match on the ’65 championship team. As a high school player, he can do it all in the frontcourt. He dominated the paint defensively against the Panthers then delivered 24 points and 11 rebounds in the final.
Pierre Mitchell 5-11 Sr Detroit Edison: A state championship was a long time coming for Mitchell, who suffered a buzzer-beater from Malik Ellison and Flint Beecher when PJ was a sophomore at Detroit Loyola. It was Beecher again in the 2017 semis, with Mitchell now at DEPSA but struggling with his shot while Ellison went off. Mitchell will join Ellison next season in the MAC at CMU and EMU respectively, but for this March he had a respite from the diminutive Flintstone. And this time he made championship Saturday. In the second half of the final with Glen Lake he took over, creating quick offense via his aggressive defense then getting hot from behind the arc. Edison was actually trailing in the third quarter before Mitchell rolled off nine straight points. He was the confident, proactive veteran ball-handler and leader at the 1 that neither Edison opponent, Glen Lake nor Covenant Christian in the semifinals, possessed. He had 13 points, three assists and two rebounds against Covenant then a high school career-ending 17 points and three steals.
Xander Okerlund 6-4 Jr Maple City Glen Lake: He was playing in front of Big Ten coaches in AAU before he’d ever played a high school game, facing multiple D1 opponents in the Class C final didn’t faze Okerlund. He used his length to drop deep and mid-range jumpers over 6-5 senior Gary Solomon, 6-6 Brian Taylor and 6-8 Deante Johnson to score a game-high 19 points Saturday. X marked the spot for another game-high in the semifinals against Monroe St. Mary’s with 23 points. Smooth, confident and efficient, showing the state how he’s a 1,000-point scorer as just a junior.
CJ Robinson 5-11 Sr Clarkston: We’ve long awaited the Clarkston boosters’ poster of Loyer and Robinson as Crockett and Tubbs. There were a few Tubbs-driven episodes of Miami Vice, but the real ones already knew Rico was the man without having to dominate the lights. So it is with CJ and the rock, he makes such strong decisions, is the ultimate relief valve for Loyer, saves wear and tear on Mr. Basketball by checking the opponent’s top guard and is an efficient shooter who spreads the floor. Robinson had five assists and three steals against De La Salle then 18 points and three assists in the championship game.
Gary Solomon 6-5 Sr Detroit Edison: He’d struggled with his shot in semifinal games this season and last, but Solomon finally found the range in the Breslin Center against Glen Lake scoring 16 points. What makes Solomon a D1 player is that even if his shot isn’t dropping he still plays hard, defends, rebounds, and has the athleticism to still make game-changing plays because the motor keeps going.
Joey Weber 5-10 Sr Buckley: For the second year in a row Buckley was blitzed in the first quarter of the Class D championship game before finding its sea legs and playing it even the rest of the way. It was Weber steadying the ship in a clutch performance surprising to no one who saw his play in goal during Buckley’s run to a soccer state final in the fall. When his jumper wasn’t falling he went to the dribble drive and carved up Southfield Christian’s defense for clever layups and a game-high 26 points. Weber also grabbed eight boards from his point guard position and made three steals. He had 15 points with nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in a semifinal win over Hillsdale Academy.
- Tyler Bosma 6-6 Sr West Ottawa
- Taylor Currie 6-8 Sr Clarkston
- Luke Pfromm 6-5 Sr Warren De La Salle
- Chase Wasilk 6-5 Sr Clarkston
- Tariq Woody 6-8 Sr Novi
- Elijah Baxter 5-9 Sr Benton Harbor
- Darrell Belcher 6-3 Jr Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- Austin Braun 5-9 Jr Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- Nigel Colvin 5-11 Jr River Rouge
- Jacob Polakovich 6-8 Sr Grand Rapids Catholic Central
- CJ Haut 6-8 Sr Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central
- Deante Johnson 6-8 Sr Detroit Edison
- Hunter Kegley 5-9 Sr Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central
- Carson Meulenberg 6-6 Sr Grand Rapids Covenant Christian
- Cade Peterson 6-5 Sr Maple City Glen Lake
- Austin Harris 6-4 Sr Buckley
- Da’jion Humphrey 6-3 So Southfield Christian
- Caleb Hunter 5-11 Jr Southfield Christian
- Peter Kalthoff 6-7 Sr Hillsdale Academy
- Bryce Washington 6-4 Sr Southfield Christian