Michigan Invitational Day Two Recap

5 Apr

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Championship Saturday action of the Michigan Invitational hosted by Reach.

Michigan Mustangs 15u Roll On

It’s not too often the time a 15u team has the combination of size and skill the Mustangs have.  With four legitimate future division one prospects in the lineup, the Mustangs won all five of their games by at least twenty points, and captured the gold title.

First off, the Mustangs run through 5’8″ Carman-Ainsworth point guard Ja’Kavien Lewis.  Lewis is a pass first guard, as he can make plays in both the full and half-court with stellar court awareness, passing ability, and presence.  Complimenting Lewis in the backcourt is Roseville 6’4″ wing Zavon Godwin.  Godwin is a consistent above the rim athlete at such a young age, he easily skied for rebounds on both ends with ease against helpless opponents.  However, Godwin is versatile as well.  Zavon can handle the ball, shoot, and pass for guard of his size.  He should be able to guard multiple positions, and play the passing lanes due to his freakish length.

For as much talent there is in the back-court, the front-court of the Mustangs is as talented with 6’8″ Thomas Kithier and 6’4″ Jalen Tobias.  Tobias is the more athletic of the two.  He gets up and down the court well for a big, and similar to Godwin, is an above the rim finisher.  Jalen’s length indicates more growth in the future for Tobias, which equals more rebounds and high-flying dunks.

Kithier is already built like a college-level big, but he does not compromise skill level and feel for the game.  Thomas is more often in the right spots on the court than not, defensively for rebounds and offensively for easy buckets.  Kithier is the low-post presence the Mustangs will rely on to win multiple tournament championships in the coming months.

Even more Mustang players, Goliath Mitchell is a 5’8″ point guard that received quality minutes for the Goodrich Martians.  With Mitchell, he sparks instant energy off the Mustang bench.  He can create for himself and teammates, but more importantly, he adds depth to in the early going the top 15u team in the state.

IMG_0400The Playmakers

The 16u Michigan Playmakers were a late add to the Michigan Invitational.  And after a mediocre first day of 1-1, the team rallied to win three straight tournament contests against Reach, Detroit Spartans and Common Bond to capture the 16u Gold title.

5’8″ point guard Jesse Scarber is the leader of the playmakers, with his play and vocally.  Jesse is responsible for most of the ball-handling and decision-making of the team.  He’s strong with the ball, gains separation off a quick first step, and sees the floor well.  But where Scarber made his greatest impact on the tournament was on the defensive end of the floor.  If you’re going to play for George Ward during the high school season and travel season, than you better play defense.  Jesse drew the assignment of shadowing the opponent’s best offensive player, and all three we’re held well below their normal outputs.  You’d be hard-pressed to find another guard that takes pleasure in drawing charges, but that’s Jesse.  Scarber reacts one play ahead of opponents on the defensive end, and results in extra possessions for his team.

Jesse is also not shaken with pressure.  As he connected on crucial free-throws in both the quarterfinal and championship games to salt both away.

Scarber is relatively unknown at this point in the state, but with repeated MVP caliber performances in the future as he did at the Michigan Invitational, expect Jesse to hear from colleges soon.

Scarber is joined in the backcourt by King teammate Keyon Brown.  Brown, a 5’10” freshman, plays up one level, and during flashes does not look phased by older players.  Brown’s best performance came in the championship against Common Bond, 20 overall points, however it was the timing of the points that stood out.  The Playmakers led up until the last two minutes, and the largest deficit was five.  Desperate for points, Brown calmly knocked down a three to get the margin down to two.  Then less than 30 seconds later, Keyon took an outlet off a steal, then finished an and-one to regain the lead for the Playmakers for good.

Brown overall is a combo guard, but with Scarber on the floor thrives more off the ball.  He’s a confident plus shooter in the mid-range and three-point departments.

Other Standouts:

IMG_0395Armani Tinsley 6’0″ Guard Reach Legends 17u

Tinsley scored the game winning three-pointer in the team’s semi-final against the rival Michigan Warriors.  Tinsley is fresh-off a state championship with Detroit Western, and continues to play confidently in the early spring circuit.  Tinsley is a quality three-point shooter from beyond the arch, but also has some flare and creativity to the game.  He can play both on and off the ball, but his best attribute is defense.  Armani takes just as much pride in locking up his opponents as he does scoring on them.  He’s laterally quick, has fast hands, and just an overall nuisance on defense.

Eric Williams 6’1″ Guard Michigan Playmakers 16u

Williams overall had a solid weekend of production.  The St. Clair sophomore guard’s greatest individual output was against the Spartans where he scored 17 overall points.  Eric did his damage off the ball, his coaches like to place him in the middle of the key because he can create for himself and others.  Williams has great footwork in the paint when he sees taller defenders, and despite a slender frame, finished through multiple and-ones on the weekend.  He’s improving defensively, but that shouldn’t be the problem with more practice and games under head coach George Ward.

Leonard Silas 5’10” Guard Detroit Spartans 16u

Quick, shifty, and athletic describe Silas.  Leonard gets into the paint at will when he wants to.  Silas competes with a high-motor and tenacious effort on both ends of the court.  Graceful finisher at the rim.  Fearless, aggressive, and opportunistic defender.

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