The third-annual Red Hawks Showcase at Grand Rapids Union didn’t disappoint a sold out crowd, with a pair of overtime games, and some big-time individual performances. Over the course of the Saturday affair, one-loss West Ottawa beat Detroit Old Redford Academy; Grand Rapids Union beat Hazel Park; Wayland Union beat Detroit Cornerstone; undefeated Wyoming Godwin Heights beat Detroit Edison; and undefeated Grand Rapids Christian beat Indianapolis Lawrence North. Here are some of the top performers.
James Beck 6-7 Sr Grand Rapids Christian: Sometimes overlooked as the third wheel with GR Christian’s pair of high-major recruits, as he does the dirty work on the boards and defensively, and none of them, Beck, Xavier Tillman or Duane Washington, really put up gaudy scoring numbers. But the Oakland signee couldn’t be overlooked in the Showcase finale against Indianapolis Lawrence North, keeping the Eagles in it early with his scoring, and playing tough D on the Wildcats’ Kevin Easley, a 6-7 junior committed to VCU. Scored from the block, facing up and driving, and on the break.
Jamal Cain 6-7 Sr Detroit Cornerstone: A tour de force, as even in a losing effort Cain did nothing but impress curious West Michigan fans. The numbers themselves are impressive, 34 points and 14 rebounds. But it was the manner in which he did it — streaking transition dunks, one-man tip drills on the glass, reverse dunk alley-oops, 4-of-6 three-pointers — that left no doubt that Cain is a top 50 national recruit, and one that in the future will having fans of U-M and MSU wondering how the heck did this kid end up at Marquette? Cain is more than a scorer, as there was his effort on the glass, but also how he passed it. A lot of high school stars will just half-heartedly toss the ball to a teammate if they’re not open, but he consistently hit his guys hard and on the numbers. Likely earned some Mr. Basketball votes with this performance.
Jaivian Fowler 6-6 So Grand Rapids Union: Coming off an ankle injury but moved easily once the blood was flowing. Mature build and body control for a sophomore, a true varsity contributor not just a young buck with potential. Played up to his size on the glass and hit double-digit boards. While Fowler’s shot wasn’t dropping consistently he did make a huge one, burying one from the elbow when Hazel Park went zone in overtime; also, a jump hook going body-to-body with 6-10 Hazel Park senior Kristian Lafayette.
Markeese Hastings 6-6 Jr Wyoming Godwin Heights: True winner who’ll get you a double-double without having to run plays for him. Great to see both Hastings and Detroit Edison junior forward Deante Johnson on the same court, as while both are athletic and with physical advantages, don’t get by on those and really hustle. Keese had 15 points and 12 rebounds with two blocked shots, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor. Nitpicking from a recruiting standpoint you wish Hastings were a couple inches taller, but motor and production should ultimately win over some mid-major coaches.
David Hearns 6-1 Jr Hazel Park: A strong, attacking drive-pass point guard, he found some offense of his own in overtime with Grand Rapids Union with a three-pointer and another bucket. Tough lefty who competed on both ends. He has a good role model on the bench in Hazel Park assistant coach Jimmy Twyman, who we loved covering as the point guard on Detroit Central’s 1998 state championship team who went on to play at U-of-D.
Avery Hudson 5-10 Sr Wayland: Detroit Cornerstone sent tough, athletic guards at Hudson in waves, but he kept coming at them, taking no quarter. If anything, he relished the contact and physical play, despite his size. The Davenport signee made his first six shots en route to a 25-point performance. Hudson plays on the razor’s edge and sometimes can try to take on too much, but when he was on the bench in the first half with three fouls Wayland quickly looked like an average team.
Quantes Jackson 6-2 Sr Grand Rapids Union: He’s come out of seemingly nowhere to have a big senior season, as exemplified by Jackson’s 28 points against Hazel Park, the same total he reached the night before against Kenowa Hills. Jackson lives off his explosive first step going right, and it’s not just for show, like some guards, as he separates and repeatedly gets to the rim. He made 10-of-16 field goals and 5-of-6 foul shots.
Deante Johnson 6-8 Jr Detroit Edison: Wingspan and motor equaled big results for “Spider”, with 19 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Shot chart is largely around the rim, and a three-point attempt didn’t have ideal results. Lots of defensive versatility, so could excel at the mid-major level with the right system.
Lamar Norman 6-2 Jr Wyoming Godwin Heights: No one in the state is faster in the open court, and if anyone is close they certainly don’t have the body control that Norman does to finish at full speed. He scored 27 against DEPSA on 12-of-17 shots. To take the jump from mid-major offers to high-major recruit will have to continue developing on the defensive end and become more consistent from range (he was 0-for-3 from behind the arc).
Carter Nyp 6-8 Jr Wayland: The most memorable three-pointer in Wayland’s OT win game from sophomore Jack Donewald (grandson of former WMU coach Bob Donewald), who hit the game-tying rainbow from the corner to force the extra period. But don’t overlook the importance of the shot from Nyp at the end of the first half that sent Wayland to the locker room up 31-30. It was a much-needed momentum swing after they’d lost their lead when senior point guard Avery Hudson’s third foul sent him to the bench midway through the fourth quarter, causing the Wildcats’ halfcourt offense to stagnate. Nyp is an intriguing prospect, as a 6-8 lefty who can shoot. It will be interesting to see if he can keep improving at his current rate (he now starts, which he didn’t when we saw Wayland earlier in the season against Godwin Heights) and what he can get going inside next year when the post is vacated by Zack Nieuwkoop.
Christian Rodriguez 5-10 Sr Wyoming Godwin Heights: He committed to Cornerstone earlier in the week. Quarterbacking this high flying Godwin team is certainly good practice for one season of throwing oops to Kyle Steigenga.
Jake VanTubbergen 6-6 Sr West Ottawa: He has an offensive game unique in Michigan, a creative, unorthodox finisher with the most finger rolls since Ice Man was at Detroit King. JVT flourished on the offensive end with WO’s “one more” passing game, and on defense shut down a lot of area with his wingspan. In three quarters against Old Redford Academy he scored 25 points (10-of-13 field goals, 4-of-4 free throws) with six rebounds, a pair of assists and no turnovers. Top 20 recruit for Grand Valley State.
Xavier Wade 6-2 Jr West Ottawa: The Panthers’ only loss came after Christmas to Grand Rapids Christian, when Wade was out with a broken wrist. Now that he’s back, nice to have an athlete who this fall looked like he’ll be future D1 receiver. On a team with a number of unselfish passers, he’s the best at it with pushing the ball and allows WO to be dangerous in transition as well as half-court offense.
Mark Watts 6-2 So Detroit Old Redford: If you just saw in the newspaper the next day that Watts had scored 26, that might seem respectable enough. But they all came in the second half, after the game had already been decided, with six of his seven three-pointers coming in the fourth quarter against West Ottawa’s reserves (one of whom, senior guard Anthony Charameda, memorably put down a dunk). Watts stayed out there until the very end, shamelessly hunting stats but that’s more on his coaches than the kid. The final count had him making 8-of-24 field goals and 3-of-5 free throws. His best play came when he penetrated WO’s zone and kicked out to senior guard Jawan Snoddy for a three-pointer. But besides that, he was stymied, and ORA befuddled, when the Panthers extended their defense with all that length.