Chicago Classic Recap

26 May

chicagoclassiclogo-10700The Chicago Classic is always one of the top Spring AAU tournaments towards the end of the circuit.  Here is a look at a few Michigan players that stood out over the weekend.

Ty Groce 6’6″ wing Michigan United 16u (Ypsilanti Lincoln)– Groce is a athletic, long, and skilled versatile wing for Michigan United.  He came alive in United’s second pool play game vs. Kessel Heat.  Groce showed off his range from the perimeter, hitting a couple threes off the kick-back from the posts.  Ty was also able to score inside, using his length to get putbacks on the offensive side of the glass.  Overall, Groce can handle to ball well for his size, have the IQ and unselfishness to run the point guard position and get others involved, and shut down positions 1-3 on defense.

Mike Bruce 6’2″ point guard Michigan United 16u (Belleville)– Bruce is quite the unknown prospect for guards in Michigan’s 2016 class, but if he continues the production he had at the Chicago Classic, he will no doubt draw college attention in the month of July.  Bruce was full of energy throughout the tournament.  He’s a strong ball handler with either hand that allows him to attack the lane and create for either himself or teammates.  But when opponents started to sag off him, he showed a good mid-range pull-up jump shot from the elbow.  On defense, he’s a good defender, with length that causes problems for guards with a weak handle.

Rashaan Pope 6’5″ wing Michigan United 16u (Belleville)– Like his teammate Bruce, Pope is still a relatively unknown prospect for Michigan’s 2016 class.  Regardless, Pope was still one of the best wing guards at the Chicago Classic over the weekend.  At 6’5″, Rashaan showed a unique skill set to his game that will one day transition well to the college. Pope with his size, length, and ball handling can create his own shot at any point of the game.  He’s a scorer, Pope loves to attack to lane, and get to rim to draw fouls.  Very good isolation player on offense, variety of moves and counter moves to beat his defender.

Donnie Tillman 6’5″ power forward Detroit Stars 15u (Cass Tech)– In a highly anticipated contest vs. the Michigan Mustangs with double-digit top 30 prospects for Michigan’s 2017 class, Tillman proved a point in separating himself from the competition.  First off on the most important side of the floor, defense, Tillman drew the tough assignment of containing another highly touted power forward, Xavier Tillman.  Donnie did not mess around with Tillman at all, flustering, and harassing Xavier throughout the game, challenging every shot that wasn’t difficult enough already.  Once Donnie was able to clear the rebound, he showed his versatility with ball handling skills most forwards for his size and body don’t have.  He pushed the ball on the break like a point guard, and attacking the rim in the full court coming up with some impressive athletic finishes at the rim.  But in the half-court set, Donnie was still a problem for defenses to hold.  He can score on the block with post moves around the basket, hit some mid-range elbow shots, and got second-chance points attacking the offensive glass, getting second and third opportunities for his team.  Overall, Donnie played the tournament with great energy on either side of the game, and will only become a greater handful for teams if he continues to grow and develop his body even more.

C.J. Wilson 5’6″ point guard Detroit Stars 15u (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s)- C.J. might be diminutive in size, also weighing in at 140 pounds, but skills and ability are not confined to weight and height.  Also in the game vs. the Mustangs, vs. some of the best young guards in the state, Wilson held up his own and made a name for himself.  Wilson played under control the whole game, he wasn’t relied upon to handle the ball the entire game, but when the opportunity came upon him, Wilson was able to break the Mustang trap and get the ball into the front court and set up the offense.  C.J.also knocked down some big shots for his team down the stretch, including a huge three late in the second half that for all intensive purposes put the dagger in the hopes of the Mustang comeback.  He’s a pass first guard, that got his teammates involved when he was playing more of a off-guard role.  On defense, Wilson was pesky throughout the Star’s Sunday tournament run to the Gold semi-finals, he likes giving opposing guards havoc just bringing the ball up the floor and forcing them out wide in the half-court.  Overall, Wilson competes, and plays with a great poise that will soon start to become apparent in the 2017 class.

Antonio Capaldi 6’5″ wing Michigan Playmakers 17u (Bishop Foley)- Antonio didn’t put together an offensive output he is capable of producing, but made his presence made on the defensive side of the floor this tournament.  With long arms, and quick foot work to get around screens, Capaldi made it tough for perimeter players to create air space and create high-quality shots.  In one game vs. the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, Capaldi drew the tough assignment of guarding Wisconsin commit Brevin Pritzl, and held him to three points, all on free-throws, and no field goals.

Elmelik Martin 6’0″ point guard Michigan Playmakers 17u (Melvindale ABT))– Martin overall had a solid weekend for the Playmakers.  At 6’0″, Martin makes up for the lack of size at the point guard position with extreme quickness and agility.  He’s a blur with the ball in his hands, with killer crossovers and hesitation moves that allow him to drop defenders in their tracks and create opportunities to score from anywhere on the court, he’s especially dangerous in transition. Over the course of the Spring circuit, Martin at times played out of control, forcing turnovers that ultimately hurt his team, not in Chicago.  Martin played with a quick, but not in a hurry mentality, maturing into a true point guard, that ran to pick and roll effectively at times, and looked to get his bigs involved with some creative passes.  A streaky jump shooter, Elmelik showed his range with a couple of three pointers, and high difficulty floaters in the lane.


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