There are some high school team events where individual game MVP honors have a political tinge, the award going to the ‘name’ recruit regardless of what actually happened in the game. Which made the MVP selections at the MTAG Showcase at Cornerstone University interesting and refreshing. Of the five MVPs, four would not have been the money choice going in, and the fifth, Hamtramck’s Amari Allen, would’ve been at best equal odds with teammate Robert Davis. Yet here they are, honestly earned standouts from Saturday’s event.
Amari Allen 6-3 Jr Hamtramck: The Cosmos’ big win over Godwin Heights featured two of the more highly regarded combo guards in the 2023 class, Allen and the Wolverines’ Jakhary Towns. Allen had 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 three-pointers, with six rebounds and two assists. Towns scored 22 on 9-of-20 shooting, including 2-of-7 from three-point range. Hamtramck’s dribble-drive motion offense was humming, and with his size and explosion Allen is effective triggering it with how he can get to the lane and find shooters. In the open court he’s a load coming downhill, with moves at full speed, or touch on mid-range or three-point pull-ups. A serious defender who squares up and plays with high hands. MAC teams have won for decades with this kind of Detroit guard, and he’d be a nice counter to some of the talented but soft prospects coming into the league.
Phoenix Glassnor 6-0 Fr Warren De La Salle: You can bet he’ll be in the scouting report now. With junior guard Nino Smith out, Glassnor seized the moment for De La Salle, which held West Ottawa to a season-low 39 points. Glassnor played with poise belying his years, hitting a tough shot at the end of the first quarter and rolling from there to score a game-high 22. He was able to find the gaps against WO’s long half-court team defense, or pull the trigger and shoot over Panthers point guard Kobe Haglund. Per the early returns, the Catholic League has three of the top five 2025 players in the state between Glassnor and the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s pair of Trey McKenney and Shamar Barnes.
TJ Nadeau 6-5 So Novi Catholic Central: Now that’s a nice trick, getting taller while adding more guard skills, pointing towards a bright future for Nadeau. And his present is pretty good itself. It helps playing with a size-blessed CC team, allowing Nadeau to get reps at his natural position and not have to ‘play up.’ He scored 24 for the Shamrocks, which held previously unbeaten Rockford to under 50 points, showing a true jumpshot, and hitting key ones when the game was still close. He had 13 in the first half, after which CC led by 10. Not just a shooter, will move the ball and can create and make basketball plays on the fly. And they’re just getting started, as Catholic Central’s other sophomore guard, Chas Lewless, scored 18.
AJ Taylor 6-5 Sr East Lansing: Has a build and three-point penchant to a similarly named player, former De La Salle pilot AJ Turner who would play for Northwestern … aesthetics, not ability. He came out hot, scoring the Trojans’ first points on back-to-back three-pointers, a lift they needed against Kalamazoo Central with senior point guard Mason Woods playing under the weather. He finished with 16 ponits. Taylor is a catch-and-shoot threat, and can also create space with jab steps and pass fakes. If he starts attacking closeouts with purposeful, aggressive attacks and finishes could really be onto something.
Jajuan Walker 6-3 Sr Benton Harbor: The Tigers held it down for West Michigan, as the only team West of Milford Road to get a win at Cornerstone. They have one of the state’s most prodigious backcourts in senior Trucel Singleton and junior Grant Gondrezick, who combined for 30 points, yet it was this heretofore largely unknown wing guard who scored 23 against a never-say-die Flint Carman-Ainsworth squad. He’s an athletic slasher who hit a pair of “no! no! … Yes!!” three-pointers, to go up 10 on the Cavs with 2:15 left in the fourth then up to 11 with 50 seconds remaining in the game. Another Tigers senior who played well was 6-6 senior Marlon Williams, who had a highlight alley-oop dunk and pair of blocked shots.