The “Other Pioneer Guard”:
While Drew Lowder was widely and rightfully praised for his performance at the 14th-annual Bank Hoops All-State Camp, there was some other purple in the Lansing gym doing work. Aidan Wright is a 6-3 Ann Arbor Pioneer senior, a high school teammate of Lowder’s who also played on his camp team. Wright knew how to play off Lowder efficiently, but is talented enough to not have to depend on him. Serious shooter who was smart at getting all the way to the corner in transition to flatten the defense. Washtenaw County’s answer to Cass Tech’s Daniel Autrey but probably more explosive. Wright looked natural and athletic on an up-and-under layup, and when matched up against forwards would attack them off the dribble. Able to do subtle things to get open, and has a soft touch where even misses stay near the rim. As a college guard will have to improve decision-making with the dribble and two-way effort.
Michigan Move-Ins Play the Right Way:
From Spencer Haywood to Foster Loyer, many of Michigan’s greatest prep players didn’t spend their younger childhoods in the Mitten. Between 6-5 Saline junior Grifin Yaklich, 6-7 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 6-7 sophomore Peter Nwoke, 6-3 Mattawan senior Dexter Shouse and 6-5 Ann Arbor Pioneer senior Frantisek Petruv, they’ve played one season of in-state high school ball. But all will have impactful 2018-19 seasons, leaving their marks while they’re here.
Yaklich is the only returning player in the group, as he was a standout sophomore starter for Saline after moving from Illinoins. At camp, Yaklich killed it in drills then was a catalyst of what was the venue’s most talented and unselfish team, using his size to see downhill and get his squad fastbreak buckets with minimal dribbles. Threaded the needle time and again. When not passing in transition, used a long step to accelerate and pressure the defense. Yaklich was just as good in the half-court, using his length to discover creative angles. He did more defensively than we’d seen in the past, poking the ball loose, getting his hand into players’ pockets as they dribbled or went for layups. can extend to block shots. Good size for a guard and decent finisher, but needs strength as he lost rebounds on both ends as well as had a drive stripped. Streaky but solid shooter who hit some perimeter shots but mixed with some wild misses in drills. Didn’t shoot it much in games, as he didn’t have to passing to guys like Grand Rapids Christian All-American Kobe Bufkin, Constantine all-stater Seth Wright and others. Best case scenario as a similar prospect would be post-Fab Five U-M point guard Travis Conlan, but is going to have to score it more than that in today’s game. Because that would make you like David Hart, a former MSU point guard who was tall but no shot creation and that wasn’t cool even in the 90s.
Nwoke was enrolled as a freshman at St. Mary’s — earning a 4.0 gpa — but didn’t play. Now he’ll start for what could be a top 10 Class A team. At camp the Nigerian native was one of the rare true post players who was looking to dunk everything and running rim-to-rim. Knows what he wants to do and keeps his hands ready. Showed some polish in drills, particularly for an underclassman. He went at more established bigs like Nolan Foster, and had his moments. Good touch over his left shoulder and used the rim to protects his finishes by using reverses or just finishing high off the glass. Sealed pretty well and had good footwork to face up to make moves. Overall skills as he gets away from the hoop and feel are works in progress, but as a true old school 4 has value. Can block shots but too upright and out of his element if playing defense on the wings.
Shouse comes to Mattawan from the Hoosier state and Indianapolis Lawrence North. He was explosive in drills, punishing opponents in space around the rim. The Coast Carolina commitment may have been the top pound-for-pound rebounder in camp. Unselfish, will make the extra pass, look to feed the post, directed guys for feeds, looked for mismatches, drove and kicked, rarely forced shots. When driving was crafty, changed speeds. Also scored moving smart and cutting hard without the ball. Gets good elevation on his jumper but is far from a knock-down threat from 3, yet. When that comes it pushes Shouse from legit mid-major prospect, to likely college standout given the rest of his all-around game.
Petruv is a transfer to Ann Arbor from the Czech Republic. He’ll give Pioneer, already a top 10 Class A team, another frontcourt option to go alongside KaSean Pryor — himself a kid who moved into Michigan and was largely unknown before last year’s camp. Petruv has some flair attacking the rim. Good athlete with a “Euro skillset.” Efficient and rarely made mistakes. He needs work on the jumper but was pretty solid at everything else.
Big Willie Style:
Williamston will be a top 5 Class B team. Yeah, so what else is new? Well, how about two freshmen guards who look like locks for the Hornets rotation. 5-11 Williamston freshman Mason Docks and 6-3 Williamston freshman J Wallace were both in the upperclassman division at camp, and neither looked out of place. Docks played on the same camp team as mentioned above with Griffin Yaklich, which meant at times he was running the show and others playing off the ball and being tee’d up by Yaklich. His IQ and composure on the court surpassed nearly ever other guard in attendance, in any grade. While many young guards can fall into “camp style get your own,” he ran the offense well and played a good brand of basketball.
Wallace’s team wasn’t as talented as the one Docks found himself on, so he had more touches and in doing so made the team better. He looked like a point guard with his head up pushing the ball on the break, and like a serious scorer when getting all the way to the hoop for an and-one or pulling up on the break to knock down consecutive 3s, shooting from the chin and going in.
It wasn’t just Williamston’s 2022 class excelling not far from their school at Aim High. 6-7 senior Joseph Hahnenberg was a tough matchup particularly in a small ball lineup, able to beat bigger, slower posts to rebounds then bust out and start the break with his own dribble. He’s gotten better at finding a body and not just relying on his quickness to the ball to rebound. He was playing alongside a talented rebounder in his own right on the same team, Hopkins sophomore Colin Weber, but it was Hahnenberg more aggressive on the glass. Quick leaper who high-points the ball. Kept his hands ready on defense and showed a quick release to finish from various angles. Active, aggressive, cut hard, created his own luck and opportunities. Plays the right way, a positive teammate. Handle can be a little loose and that’s doubly dangerous as he tends to play upright, but Hahneneberg showed some good moves, spin moves in particular. Good touch. Needs to fill out in shoulder and butt for next level, but has the pop and length of a college forward. “Where are the scholarship offers?,” a D3 coach asked. “We’re reluctant to get involved because we assume they’re going to come.”
Southwest Corner Sophomore Thumpers:
6-6 Schoolcraft sophomore Bryce VanderWiere is built like a tree trunk, but he can move. He was able to hold his base and compete as one of the shortest and youngest players in his drill group, then physically have his way against fellow underclassmen once the games began. A solid scorer whether cutting to the basket, cleaning up the offensive glass or stepping out to hit from the short corners or elbows. He should form a terrific young Class C forward duo at Schoolcraft beside 6-5 freshman Tyler DeGroote, a standout himself at our August Underclassman Camp.
6-4 Hopkins sophomore Colin Weber looks more like the kind of talent we’ve come to expect from an Allegan County school on the opposite side of 131, Wayland. He is the most talented prospect from the Vikings since Tim Kisner went to CMU 20 years ago, though with a playing style closer to current Chippewa Kevin McKay. Despite playing up against upperclassman, Weber was right there physically and mentally. Caught a live alley-oop from Zach Goodline like it was no big deal. A left-hander who will take it right at the defense with strong straight-line drives or post seals and finishes. Doesn’t waste much motion. Athletic, changing ends quickly, able to get low on D. A tweener who will have to continue to define and diversify his game.