Amid some of the top young talent in the state, for just the third time a rising freshman, Grand Blanc’s RJ Taylor, was named the MVP of the Bank Hoops Underclassman All-State Camp. The previous two were the Memphis Grizzlies’ Josh Jackson and Foster Wonders, an Iron Mountain junior with seven Division 1 offers.
MVP RJ Taylor 5-9 Fr Grand Blanc: After a summer of 16U AAU, was able to move the ball and break down defenders at will playing against players of a similar age and class. Has a better off-hand as a 9th-grader than most upperclassman varsity point guards’ strong hand. A good athlete who does a lot of damage with sophisticated moves off of two feet once he’s in the lane. With a dearth of rim protecting bigs it could’ve been a layup drill — and he did make his first eight shots of game competition — but instead consistently got teammates involved, on various spots on the floor not just the obvious ones. Beat up on younger guards for steals, but needs to get more physical against the drive when facing bigger, older guards.
“Very good handle and changes speeds like a veteran point guard,” a coach said. “Get out of your stance for a second and he’s by you. Finishes on all three levels effortlessly. Fantastic court vision and knows how to dribble and pass teammates open. Was very good in transition and could get into the lane with ease. Can shoot it well both off the catch and the bounce; seems to be streaky from deep.”
Ashton Atwater 6-1 So Otsego: Aggressive, physical smart guard. Plays in attack mode but with awareness — give him an inch, and he’ll take a foot.
“Extremely efficient player,” said one coach. “Kills you with fundamentals and a frame that is tough for most guards to handle. Reminds me of a young Damon Bozeman. A good enough athlete to match up with just about anyone his size and be very competitive. Plays hard on both ends of the floor. Can score on all three levels.”
Kaden Brown 5-9 Fr Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Looks like any ol’ freshman guard just happy to be here … until he gets the ball in his hands. Already knows how to create pace and mix in his own offense while keeping teammates happy. Most senior guards don’t know how to do that. A luxury item right now for a loaded Catholic Central program, but a vital member in the future as the Cougars continue to stay relevant on the state stage.
“He’ll have an incredible career at GRCC,” said one coach. “Controls the tempo at the point. Can play fast or in the half-court. Displayed one of the better step-backs at the camp. Knows how to get his shot off in various situations. Hit from beyond the arc when given space. Hit players in stride in transition and hit shooters right in their pocket in the half-court. Plays hard on defense, but had trouble at times handling bigger, more physical guards.”
Isaiah Jones 6-4 So Flint Carman-Ainsworth: Between ups and reaction time to the ball, played more like he was 6-8. Good hands. Didn’t just get by on strength and athleticism — was engaged, competed, played hard. Seems to always produce when we’ve seen him in the past, and didn’t disappoint here.
“Isaiah was the most explosive player at camp, an absolute freak of an athlete,” a coach said. “So much that he reminds me of Doug Anderson. Plays with a very high motor on both ends of the floor. He had no problem finishing against bigger defenders in drill work or in games. A downhill type player with an efficient handle who excels in an up-and-down game. Could be labeled as a ‘tweener’ due to his size, so an improved jumpshot will only help his future recruitment.”
Jack Karasinski 6-5 So Grand Rapids Catholic Central: He already has an offer from Oakland, and plays similarly to another big, athletic wing guard and former Bank Hoops camper now at Toledo, Dylan Alderson. A swooping threat to finish in transition. One of the state’s top 10 prospects in 2022.
“If ‘Jumping Jack’ isn’t his nickname, it should be,” said a coach. “Very athletic and a quick leaper. Finished around the hoop with regularity, and usually with a dunk if he had a step on his defender. Showed a solid mid-range game, but struggled from beyond 15. Good mechanics, so my guess is he just had an off day shooting. That being said, it was nice to see that he isn’t the type of player to allow poor shooting to affect the rest of his game. Defended at a high level and rebounded the heck out of the ball. Huge upside with this kid.”
Nic Stump 6-4 So Grand Haven: Set the tone and was kind of the cornerstone of what was an engaged, unselfish and talented camp team. Finisher. Not a shot creator from the perimeter, but ran hard to score in transition and knew how to play off of talented guards to finds his spots and hit them from the short corners out to even the 3 corners. Tough, battled inside against taller players.
“Might have had the best post footwork at camp,” a coach said. “Very polished down there for a young player. Did a nice job drawing and finishing through contact. Strong rebounder and competitor. Development of a consistent perimeter shot would really make this kid an attractive prospect.”
“All-around, solid player,” said another coach. “Did a bit of everything.”