If you believe the stereotype that there’s no defense in AAU, you missed Parallel 45-Green’s run to the 17U championship of the 16th-annual Camp Darryl Classic. Only one team in Kalamazoo broke 50 points on their aggressive halfcourt man-to-man, and the Macomb County Cougars lost in the final 60-51. The West Michigan Lakers averaged 96 points in a pair of pool play wins, but saw that output halved in the semifinals with P45 prevailing 65-48.
Austin Harris was named the tournament MVP. The 6-4 Buckley junior averaged over 20 points per game through the semifinals, including his team’s first 16 in a 69-47 quarterfinal win over West Michigan Elite. He shot the ball with the confidence the entire state saw back in the Michigan Class D state finals, and ends the spring AAU season firmly back on college coaches’ radars as one of the most skilled, versatile big guards in the 2018 class.
Joining Harris on the all-tournament team were a pair of Frankfort juniors 6-1 Jaylon Rogers and 6-3 Matt Loney. Not many point guards are as strong and athletic finishers as Rogers, who comes in fast but drops in soft shots at the rim. He was a load in the semifinals attacking the West Michigan Lakers’ 6-8 Carter Nyp and 6-10 Dan Cluster, while taking it personally and competing hard defensively against his ballyhooed point guard opposite Coloma sophomore Zach Goodline. Loney is an aggressive two-way guard Jerry Sloan sort of throwback. Between his wingspan and hoops IQ beats people to the ball defensively and on the glass. He thrived offensively with an old school array of mid-range jumpers and pull-ups off the glass.
The addition of 6-9 Lakeland junior Cass Phillips has been a God-send to a Parallel 45 lineup that’s lacked a true post both in its 16u season then again for most of the spring. That had created a ceiling for what was still a talented team, in 2016 they were eliminated in six straight tournaments by the ultimate champion. But here’s Phillips to trigger the running game off the glass, collapse defenders to open up shooters, defend the rim so the defense can be extended, score off the catch and finish, tips and free throws. Separates himself from a lot of young bigs by how he runs hard and competes consistently. Showed athletic ability when got out on the court to make plays out on the floor for loose balls, a couple times taking it all the way for a score. Similar to Matt Costello, stylistically. Another downstate newcomer this season has proved invaluable. 6-0 Cardinal Mooney junior Daniel Everhart gives P45 another strong, aggressive driver when Rogers isn’t on the floor, or allows him to play off the ball as a scoring wing when paired together. Everhart is a smart A to B point guard who knows when to pick his spots offensively and hit pull-up jumpers throughout the weekend in the halfcourt and out of transition.
Phillips in the lineup allowed a pair of 6-4 juniors Boyne City’s Mason Gardner and Petoskey’s Seth Mann to play their natural wing forward position. Gardner had rededicated himself with a great practice earlier in the week and played hard and produced the entire tournament. A hybrid player who can check out on the floor or block shots; athletic yet may still underestimate physical advantages and could more often go over/through a defender at the rim than around him. Mann gives a clinic on moving without the ball, popping open for timely three-pointers or curling for looks at the rim. Good fundamentals as a defender and rebounder but will take more strength and weight for it to work at the college level. With a true center, 6-6 Boyne City junior Dylon Williams has thrived in his minutes as the backup post, getting better seemingly by the game. He’s raw, eager and just figuring things out, but D3s have expressed interest because he’s built like a college player and puts on a dunk show in warmups.
According to tournament director Darryl Matthews this was likely the best entry the Macomb Cougars have had in the 17U division and was the only team in bracket play to come back and take a second-half lead on P45. Their backcourt carried them for stretches, and were all-tournament picks. 5-11 Arthur Asberry of Warren Cousino and 6-0 Jaylen Blackwell from L’anse Creuse. The Mid-Michigan Lakers won the silver title. Division MVP was their three-point threat guard 6-0 Isaiah Franklin from Holly.