The Grand Rapids Storm Classic continues to be one of the top events in the Midwest. This year’s winners were The Family over the Playmakers in 17U, C2K Elite over The Family in 16U and The Family over Bates Fundamentals in 15U. Here are some interesting prospects from various ages for every level of college ball.
Tyan Barnes 5-9 Fr UTS Elite (Grandville): There’s a precedent for big-time if not big statured guards at Grandville, where David Thompson starred a dozen years ago. Barnes is the engine that makes fastbreak happy UTS go, with some serious talent running with him on the wings GR Christian’s Kobe Bufkin and East Lansing’s Andrel Anthony. Nearly averaged a double-double for one of the state’s top 15U teams which lost by a bucket to eventual champion The Family in the platinum bracket. Aces on the 3-on-2 because he can bury the elbow shots. The kind of leader and defender you want running a team.
Caleb Bates 6-6 Jr Mustangs (St. Clair Shores Lakeshore): Physical, steady, blue-collar forward who will find a way to produce. Can set up for the 3 and must be accounted for as a weakside rebounder. Deceptively quick jumper who has second and third effort on the glass. Bates can beat a zone because he can shoot and make plays from the elbows. Recovers well as a help-side defender. If he’s just as good against longer, athletic forwards on the Adidas circuit, mid-major offers should ensue.
Emoni Bates 6-8 8th Bates Fundamentals 15U (Ann Arbor): Looks every bit the part of the top 2022 prospect in the country. Middle schoolers that height just aren’t supposed to move so easily and be so comfortable with the ball. Able to shoot the 3 off the catch or bounce. The main drawback right now is that lack of strength causes Emoni to settle for low percentage shots because he can’t get all the way to the rim, but that’s nothing growing up won’t cure.
Jadon Bettinger 6-7 Jr Macomb Cougars (L’anse Creuse): Champ Sports’ Blake Charboneau is a strong, explosive finisher. So it was impressive to see Bettinger block his shot twice, on the same play, corralling the ball himself the second time. Charboneau was far from the only to see his shot returned by Bettinger’s defensive activity around the bucket. He aggressively pursued rebounds, two-handed them. Showed the hands and composure to catch and finish. If he can show some shooting range in July, becomes a real sleeper in the 2019 class.
Isaiah Bridges 6-5 Jr HoopGrind (Midland): He’s HoopGrind’s best prospect since Jaleel Hogan. Combination of size, wingspan and hoops IQ let him play the 1-4 at this level. Much improved shooter, but doesn’t fall in love with it at the expense of paying the bills on the glass. Combine that game with grades and test score, and Bridge’s is one of the most recruit-able players in Michigan for 2019.
Cameryn Carpenter 6-1 Sr GreenWood (Flint Powers): It’s a testament to the depth of the senior class that he’s not more highly regarded or have more offers. No way was anyone missing Carpenter in GR — he took off from the third hash for what was the dunk of the tournament. Competes with a toughness you expect from a Flint kid. Able to play the point because he can turn the corner without losing his vision. Shot release can be a bit slow, but strong form; doesn’t maximize his vertical on jumper because tends to get off balance. Able to push weaker guards off the ball and snatch it up with quick hands. Among the first acts on the job for the University of Detroit’s new coach, whomever that might be, should be to offer this Catholic schooler.
Blake Charboneau 6-4 Jr Champ Sports (Gaylord): His athleticism and toughness inside separate him in stretches, but Charboneau also fits in well and blends on this top 10 17U team that’s played together seemingly forever. He’s unselfish and makes the extra pass. Field goal efficiency goes up because Blake uses the glass. Like his effort on D. GLIAC caliber athlete though tweener; star potential at the level he just received an offer, UW-Stout.
Caleb DeKryger 6-7 Jr APT (Allegan): After his first year as Allegan’s coach Jeff Turner is stressing AAU reps to his players. This one is the best prospect. DeKryger is solid all-around off of two feet — rebounding, dunking, playing position defense — and stays in his lane, doesn’t over-extend himself beyond his talent. Very good grades and frame explain while he’s already getting strong small college interest.
Julian Gardner 5-6 Fr BiggTen Hoopstars 15U (Beecher): Little guy who played with a big chip on his shoulder. Strong and explosive. Tough to handle one-on-one, because he has some ball skills in addition to his athleticism, and can hang in the air and create once he gets there. Lots of positive energy and toughness in this one.
Jovaughn Hannah 6-4 8th Bates Fundamentals 15U (Mt. Clemens): Bates Fundamentals is far from a one-man team despite the namesake. Hannah is just a load, physically resembling an upperclassman. Nearly impossible for underclassmen to defend when he’s in attack mode and going downhill, so physical and aggressive, seeks out contact. Jovaughn maintained Friday night energy deep into Sunday’s tournament. Can finish above the rim. Shot selection is, well, like an eighth-grader’s. I also really liked 6-5 eighth-grader Genesis Kemp from Grand Rapids, who could block shots or hit 3s.
Isaiah Jackson 6-8 So The Family (Old Redford): He played up for the 17U championship team. Refs don’t have a horse in the race, so when they go out of their way to tell you a kid’s good, it bodes well for said prospect. Jackson was that player in GR. Able to take a defensive rebound and with minimal strides finish himself on the other end with finesse or power. A likely NBA prospect because of his defensive potential — Jackson can play out on the floor and then recover to protect the rim with timing, instinct and wingspan. Now he needs to mirror that ability on the offensive end, with an improving post/finishing game and expanding perimeter. Expect him to have some serious flashes on the EYBL.
Marco Lucchesi 6-3 So Ann Arbor Basketball Academy 16U (Dexter): AABA had a number of guys stepping up to make big plays taking The Family down to the wire in the 16U semifinals, like Saline’s Trevor Arico, Chelsea’s Adam Hauser and Pioneer’s Mac VanRenterghem as well as Lucchesi. The latter is very efficient because he moves smartly without the ball and cuts hard for quality shots. Smart enough that he can invert things and feed the cutters himself, hit shooters off his jumpstops or make quality decisions on the break. Left-handed shooter who can bury the open ones. Quick hands and knows how to pick his spots defensively, though plays a bit high and awkward which will give some college coaches pause.
Kaleb Mitchelson 5-11 Fr GR Storm 15U (Reeths-Puffer): Alex Briggs has coached some terrific 15U Storm teams through the years and it looks like he may have another one. They lost a close semifinal contest to eventual champion Family. He likes a physical game and Mitchelson went right at the talented Family guards. Able to get into the lane to operate and set up teammates; will knock down shots. Really liked another Storm 15U point guard as well, Forest Hills Northern’s Ethan Erickson, and 6-3 Trip Riemersma from Zeeland East is a good athlete.
Jayshawn Moore 6-4 So REACH 16U (East English Village): As an underclassman playing during David DeJulius’ senior season at EEV, clearly Moore wasn’t going to be a prime offensive option, but found his niche as a defender and energy role player. Now it’s his time to shine, and showed he has the offense coming along to solidify himself as the next D1 guard out of East English. Can handle it himself and cover a lot of ground in the open court. Can score one-on-one in the halfcourt with a big first step going right or left. Wingspan aids Moore in some tough finishes as well as rebounding. Lower mechanics on his three-point ball can be goofy, but up top it’s OK. Good but not elite athlete, so has to keep the motor revving.
Matt Nicholson 6-11 So North Oakland Wolfpack 16U (Clarkston): Every time you turn around, he’s collecting hardware. Nicholson went from the bench of Clarkston’s state championship team to the guy all opponents had to account for as the Wolfpack won the 16U silver title. Not many young big men had the luxury Nicholson did this winter, playing against two Big Ten forwards, Taylor Currie and Thomas Kithier, every day in practice. Even in fast, up-and-down games, he was able to keep up and contribute. Smooth and natural catching and finishing. A defensive presence thanks to a 7-2 wingspan.
Vincent Overway 6-4 Jr MBA (Holland Christian): A tweener, but strong and productive. Uses body well on both ends of the court. Does little things that keep him on the floor. Hits the glass, offensive and defensive. Not a smooth shot, but can knock down the open ones to 20.
Jeremiah Pittman 6-3 So GR Storm 16U (Grand Rapids Union): Reminded me why I liked him so much in the winter — Pittman just plays damn hard. Throw in some athletic ability to that hustle, and he makes plays for you in the open court, on the glass, getting to 50/50 balls. Guard size, so needs to keep polishing the handles.
Julian Roper 6-3 Fr The Family 15U (Detroit Country Day): Came up big in the 15U final to lead The Family past future EYBL cousin Bates Fundamentals. He created shots, hit from deep and cashed in at the stripe to close out the championship game. Just like the cut of the jib here. Level-headed, steady competitor. As talented as he is, will share the ball and plays with some investment on D. High school lifting has done him good, strong for a 15U guard now.
Earnest Sanders 6-3 So The Family 16U (Beecher): May have the best standing vertical in the state, can go straight up from beneath the hoop and throw it down with ease. Saw Sanders hit a left-handed 3 which was exciting to see, but overall still an interior guy offensively, more of a forward than a guard a’la former Syracuse star Stevie Thompson.
Jimmy Scholler 6-3 So GreenWood 16U (Forest Hills Central): Plays like a young Derek VanSolkema, who at the same age was leading the Mustangs to the 16U AAU state championship. Has a nice feel for the game and plays with a lot of confidence. Scholler’s able to work his way into the lane and maintain peripheral vision to tee up GreenWood’s shooters. Has really nice form on his own shot. Can get tougher, more explosive as a finisher.
Jake Zuiderveen 6-7 So Camp Darryl 16U (Kalamazoo Christian): Increased strength from last spring has helped his game, and paid off as he was able to score against a high-major football recruit on the blocks for the Storm, 6-6 Muskegon sophomore Billie Roberts, and a 6-11 high-major recruit for the North Oakland Wolfpack, Clarkston sophomore Matt Nicholson. Contributed on both sides of the floor.