It was a fortuitous weekend for Novi Catholic Central senior Brendan Downs, picking up two offers during Oakland’s team camp.
When you can get 70 teams, including most of the top programs in Southeast Michigan, all under one roof over three days, it’s easy to see why Oakland University’s team camp has been a must-scout event for Bank Hoops for the past 15 years. Between Stephen Bell and Braeden Proctor all three days were covered, here are some standout prospects from the last big team event on the state’s June calendar.
Daniel Autry 6-3 Sr Detroit Cass Tech: The ghost of Jay Edwards must have possessed him when Cass Tech played at Indiana’s team camp, because it seems he’s barely missed a three-pointer since including the one where he hit nine in a game in Bloomington. The clip stayed hot at Oakland as Autry hit daggers in transition or in half-court sets. True shooter’s mentality. Solid size on the wing though some defensive sins may be covered up by Cass’ trapping and the length around him.
Noah Baylis 6-0 Jr Flint Powers: He was a serious scorer last season at Holly, where he was the first underclassman in 50 years to lead the Flint Metro League in points. Now Baylis has a chance to do it all in the backcourt after transferring to Powers, where if he can improve as much under Greg Burks as he just graduated Camryn Carpenter did then we’re onto something. Tougher than he looks, as Noah is used to having defenses key in on him. He has serious range and can counter to score with pullup jumpers or get all the way ot the bucket. Baylis had a brilliant forever shining green light playing for his dad at Holly, but can certainly play point guard has the vision and sick potential as an all-around sceener/guard combo with sophomore forward Owen Lobsinger. He scored 20 in a win over Benton Harbor with some gutsy shot-making though he may want to review the clock/score situation late and pull it out instead of shoot.
Jon Brantley 6-2 Jr Birmingham Brother Rice: First-year Brother Rice coach Rick Palmer inherits a talented 2021 backcourt with Brantley, David Jabiro and Rochester Adams transfer Zach Maynard. Brantley has the size, decision-making, shot-making and efficiency of a D1 point guard prospect. Good energy, good talk like you want from the position, confident in his own shot but also his teammates’. Keeps the ball hot and is comfortable playing without it, will back-door you to death. Not high-end explosive but has moves to get by you and can hang and use his big guard build to score at the rim. Solid at either guard spot as a mid-major recruit. If next spring he’s in the lane dunking off one foot it could be higher.
Justin Brown 6-7 Sr Benton Harbor: It was lob city for Brown on Friday as he punished teams in transition. Anything around the rim is a potential body. Blocked shots both chasing down the man or help-side. Can hit the 3 and cut in the half-court. College coaches would like to see more attack off the dribble.
Brendan Downs 6-7 Sr Novi Catholic Central: Has matured from flashes of big-time athleticism to stringing positive plays together. After a game in which Downs had consecutive help-side blocks, he was offered as a walkon by Oakland. After a game in which on successive possessions he hit a 3 then elevated easy for a two-handed dunk he was offered by Saginaw Valley State. Luckier than most high school players his size because with fellow 6-7 teammates Davis Lukomski and Justin Rukat in the lineup Downs is able to play his natural position as a wing 3 man. One of the most athletic players in the 2019 class. Moves easily at 6-7, can be a little slow laterally against quicker guards but he’s not a turtle. Needs to not get caught setting for the deep 3 and expand his repertoire against closeouts.
Myron Gardner 6-6 Jr Detroit Loyola: He’s rounded out his offensive game over the past six months, more diverse and under control. Despite his big body Gardner is shifty with the ball and has a quick first step. He hits shots from all three levels. Finished great around the rim through contact. Stays with shots on offense. Aggressive and physical pursuing the ball for rebounds. He’s Loyola’s biggest player and although he’s often times smaller than opposing teams’ 5, he has learned to play tough and usually out rebounds whoever he matches up against. A tweener size-wise for the next level who will be one of the top scorers in the state and will be one of the most productive players in the state this year.
Kylin Grant 6-6 Sr Detroit Renaissance: Offers from two coaches that know what they’re doing recruiting the Mitten, Buffalo’s Nate Oats and Ferris State’s Andy Bronkema, speak to Grant’s potential. Renaissance has potentially four D1 seniors in its lineup with Grant, Carrington McCaskill, Jiovanni Miles and Chandler Turner. Where Grant, who played at Renaissance as a freshman then two seasons in Texas, separates himself is his aggression on offense, getting a shoulder in, pressuring the lane and getting to the rack and foul line. He doesn’t wait around but makes things happen. Was comfortable shooting the 3 the air ball against Arthur Hill aside and against Country Day settled for a 3 when he could’ve easily gone by their biggest, slowest man. Plays like a forward should on the glass.
Jack Hannon 6-7 Sr Pontiac Notre Dame: A really nice post recruit for a D3, as physically he’s on the border to be a D2 4. Competed well on defense using a low base and long arms to be effective in 3/4 post denial while also looking pretty nimble when guarding up top. Quick, decisive, basic post moves and a decent shot from the short corners.
Caleb Hunter 5-11 Sr Southfield Christian: It took him awhile to not get enveloped by the length of their traps, but Hunter ultimately found his footing against the Technicians. Not the kind of dynamic athlete who could just beat the defense on pure ability. Individually, the size of Cass point guard Tyson Acuff gave him some trouble defensively. Learning to play without D1 wings Bryce Washington and Harlond Beverly, so some of Hunter’s three-point misses can be forgiven as he looks to pick up the scoring load. At his best when he’s a balanced scoring threat because he has good body control in the lane.
Carlos Johnson 6-6 Jr Benton Harbor: Doesn’t wow you physically but backed up top 50 national rep with production, versatility and smart basketball plays. He’s more Lester Abram than Jason Richardson. Scooby gets it all going on the defensive glass triggering the Tigers’ quick guards with baseball outlet passes. Just part of a strong overall repertoire of passes. Scores consistently inside with balance and footwork, using head and shot fakes.
Ja’moni Jones 6-0 Jr East Kentwood: The first school to offer Jones will end up looking pretty smart. To slow-play him because he’s from a grassroots AAU program and West Michigan school is short-sighted. At Oakland he got the best from what we saw of his matchup with another top 2020 point guard Dakota’s Ryan Rollins.
Carrington McCaskill 6-7 Sr Detroit Renaissance: It’s imperative to put a body on him when a shot goes up because if unchecked McCaskill can play on a physical plane few others can reach and it becomes his own personal dunk zone. He fully extends when dunking and will come down on heads it’s a sight to behold. Similar in length and ups to another REACH Legend, Justin Tillman. But doesn’t have the motor and warrior gene like Tillman, significant traits that have helped the former Doughboy parlay his VCU career into a summer contract with the Miami Heat. Against Country Day McCaskill didn’t often enough exploit matchups by getting deep and demanding the ball against undersized forwards. When does make post catches needs to use his off shoulder for more separation which would make the jump-hook un-guardable given his wingspan. Needs to explode not shuffle after the catch. Good long first step when attacking slower forwards away from the basket. When McCaskill is at his best is when he gets a dunk and the energy carries over to the defensive end as he can be a force there with how he can cover space, get out and cause havoc trapping or hedging and recover to defend the rim.
JT Morgan 6-5 Jr Detroit U-D Jesuit: Lanky, smooth forward. Key part of what looks like a possible Class A contending team from the Cubs, who due to some talent attrition now have two of the top 5 seniors in Michigan Daniel Friday and Jalen Thomas.Helps that he looks like he’s put on weight, is thicker and stronger. Has a nice faceup game, easy strides and moves to get it done horizontally more than explosively. Needs a couple inches and more perimeter game to enter the D1 discussion but have to like the trajectory right now looks poised for a breakout junior season.
Matt Nicholson 6-11 Jr Clarkston: Clarkston is a much-improved unit from two weeks prior at MSU’s team camp, as the young guards are coming into their own most notably freshman Keegan Wasilk scoring 35 points against Country Day. Nicholson triggers Clarkston’s transition game, playing up to his height to clean the boards for outlets or even get it going with blocked shots. Produces at a rate not always common for players of his size and age having figured out the secret of staying in his lane, which in this case his horizontal and few and fare between are the high school player that can involve himself with Nicholson at or above the rim. He keeps the ball high on both ends and isn’t rushed by events below him. Composed under the rim and clears traffic with head and pump fakes. Has a soft touch from 8 feet and in and is comfortable going off his left shoulder. Not always pretty, but typically effective. He had a play against Detroit Henry Ford that bespoke Nicholson’s innate talent and burgeoning skill level when he jumped a passing lane to intercept the ball and took it the other way using solely his left hand … before losing the ball under the rim, belied by youth and being nearly 7 feet after all. Similar to Tom Herzog at the same age. Herzog didn’t get it done at MSU because of performance anxiety issues not because of talent. On grades, height and ability he should be heavily recruited by the Ivy and Patriot leagues, and be monitored by top 25 programs that don’t mind a long-term big like Purdue, Xavier, Notre Dame or Wisconsin.
Peter Nwoke 6-7 So Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: Nigerian kid who looks to have absorbed coaching well, knew what he was doing on help-side D and gives the Eaglets a legit rim protector. Had a two-handed block Saturday. Active rebounder. Looked nimble enough on his closeouts to suggest a versatile defensive future in the paint and out on the floor. Not worried about him offensively because he’s got this out of the way — can catch the ball.
Steve Pearson 6-3 Jr Detroit Henry Ford: A transfer who started two seasons at Detroit Northwestern, Pearson looks at home in a more structured environment. His teammates encouraged him to get his offense going and Pearson was a tough cover when downhill off of curls in the half-court. He’s a quick-twitch athlete off of two feet who finishes above the rim with power. One of Henry Ford’s biggest players so the leaping pays off defensively too as a shot blocker. He was better Friday than Saturday, when there were lags in defensive energy, watching rebounds taken in front of him, allowing himself to get face cut in the lane.
Julian Roper 6-3 So Detroit Country Day: He had different roles depending on the day. With Wendell Green there DCD will try to outscore you and Roper’s apt to put up a shot as soon as he touches it. Against Detroit Renaissance, for instance, that approach just ended up giving the more talented overall team too many possessions and Renaissance won by 30; against Clarkston it meant a rising freshman guard scored 35 points often in transition off of Country Day’s quick shot attempts. With Green absent Saturday Roper took on a leadership role and played versatile all-around basketball. When paired with a post it was layup city off the dish as he put so much pressure on the defense getting into the paint. Just as often Roper was the tallest player out there for the Yellowjackets and fighting inside defensively and on the glass, and being aggressive and strong while deceptive with hesitations moves to collect and-ones on the other end.
Earnest Sanders 6-3 Jr Flint Beecher: He probably led the O’Rena in dunks. A little liver, looser and quicker off the floor, Sanders just bests Detroit Henry Ford’s Steve Pearson as the top dunker in the 2020 class. He’s expanded his game offensively, as AAU teammate Benton Harbor’s Carlos Johnson found out the hard way when Sanders buried a 3 in his eye. Beecher is the preseason No. 1 in Class C and this man is a big reason why.
Jake Schuler 6-5 Sr Rochester Adams: Good basketball IQ. Makes the right plays off the ball, though sometimes too much the safe play with the ball would love to see him get more free, loose and creative on offense to maximize his frame, feel and athleticism. Thinks one or two plays ahead so wins the position game. Schuler took a charge against Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Good hands on the cuts, is shot-ready and has good form on it. Uses screens well to find his shot, but if anything was too unselfish. He was more aggressive looking for his shot at SVSU’s camp, and was effective when he did.
Brendan Sullivan 6-3 So Davison: He looks like the next coming of another one-time bouncy Catholic school guard Peter Firlik, who ended up starting in the backcourt on Ferris State’s national championship team. Just a rising sophomore but already one of the more veteran players for Davison’s contingent which even short-handed found Sullivan and company fighting through the fatigue mistakes in a good back-and-forth game with Brother Rice. Sullivan has a smooth and athletic looking jumpshot, with actual separation. Will be more of a dual threat attacking when dribble moves go from pitter-patter to boom-boom.
Gunner Walters 5-9 Fr Rochester Adams: Adams has two strong underclassman options in the backcourt with Walters and sophomore Ethan Emerxian. The Highlanders hadn’t a field goal Friday against Grand Rapids Catholic Central until Walters entered midway through the first half. He gave Adams some life by being aggressive getting into the lane, scoring their first basket of the game and assisting the next. Got a workout on the other end from CC senior point guard Austin Braun but was never intimidated or out of his element. Walters was just as good the next day. He’s smooth with the ball, shows his hoops IQ by not forcing a lot even when a lot of big bodies coming at him. Lefty with good mechanics shooting who can hit it off the dribble from deep. Uses his body well to shield the ball when countering the drives. Main concern would be his slight physique, but given he’s yet to begin high school and his father played in the NBA, helps alleviate that for now.
Reggie Williams 5-10 Sr Saginaw Arthur Hill: He was the best player on the court in Arthur Hill’s upset of a much taller Detroit Renaissance squad. You don’t expect to see a 3-2 zone, especially in the summer, but that was Arthur Hill’s base defense. While that was frustrating Renaissance on one end, the Lumberjacks took on a double-digit lead as Williams piled on bucket after bucket on the other end. Very smooth, quick, confident little guard who had no qualms pulling up and burying 3s. Shoots a true jumper and can really get on a role. Is very slight, which means can get eaten up if in too deep with the drive.