Archive | October, 2015

Mayor’s Notebook: The Empty Halls of “The ‘Run”

24 Oct

WillowRunHighSchoolFlyersbrick-thumb-200x188-115753Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, and Lansing are cities noted as hotbeds for prep basketball talent in Michigan.  However, one area with an unappreciated tradition of excellence is the Willow Run portion of Washtenaw County.  Due to funding issues, Willow Run Community Schools dissolved in the late 2000s, with students re-zoned to multiple school districts along the I-94 Corridor.  While open, the Flyers repeatedly fielded a stout ball club and produced the likes of Jessie Davis (now coach at Ypsilanti Lincoln), Dion & Jason Drake, Tony Jackson, Marcus Anthony, and Donvell Patterson during the 1980s and 90s.

Transitioning into the 21st century, Willow Run potentially could have been a top program in the state if it not for the various enrollment standards set by school boards along the region.

After careful review and investigation, here are a couple possible combinations the could have happened at Willow Run.

A Dynasty That Could Have Been

The Trees

Jaylen Johnson 6-8 2014 Power Forward Ypsilanti (Louisville)- Starting at Louisville, Johnson was a Mr. Basketball candidate his senior year and one of the most nationally coveted prospects for the 2014 class.

Justin Tillman 6-8 2014 Power Forward Detroit Pershing (VCU)- Spent his freshman campaign at Willow Run, before transferring to Detroit Consortium and Pershing.  There was no better back-line defensive stopper in the state than Tillman his junior and senior campaigns.

Jamal Poplar 6-7 2014 Wing River Rouge & Various Prep Schools- Tillman and Johnson would both be forces on the interior, now add Poplar.  Poplar started at Willow Run as a freshman, with stops at John Glenn and River Rouge in Michigan and eventually leaving the state prior to his senior year.  His talent and potential were never the issue.  A tough cover due to versatility on the offensive end of the floor.

The Milan State Champion Duo

Nick Perkins 6’7″ 2015 Power Forward Milan (Buffalo)- This ferocious lefty was given the nickname “Baby Z-Bo” with resemblance of Zach Randolph for the Memphis Grizzlies; the MAC is about to find out why for themselves.

Latin Davis 6’1″ 2015 Point Guard Milan (Youngstown State)- A 1,000 point scorer in his high school career, Latin stood out in the 2014 state championship with a state-record seven three-pointers, the most for a final.

More Pieces to the Puzzle

Mike Bruce 6’4″ 2016 Combo Guard Ypsilanti- His best basketball is ahead of him. A quiet junior season at Belleville should be followed by a breakout senior year at Ypsilanti.

The next two are debatable about whether or not they would have been Willow Run Flyers.  They are from the Sumpter area, not too far from the old Willow Run High School.

Corey Allen 6’4″ 2016 Combo Guard Ypsilanti (U of D Mercy)- Physical, aggressive and brute define Mr. Allen’s game.  When his shoulders get square to the basket, put two points on the board.

Xavier Cochran 6-5 2015 Wing Ann Arbor Huron (Owens CC)- Heard Cochran went the private school route.  But what if?  Cochran had a stellar career at Huron, and is now a division one prospect waiting in the reigns at Owens.

A Couple Young Bucks

Josh Perkins 6-6 2018 Power Forward (Brother of Nick Perkins)

Garrett Gardette 5-10 2017 Point Guard Ypsilanti Arbor Prep

James “Big Game” Davis 6-0 2017 Combo Guard Ypsilanti

I am sorry if this piece causes controversy regarding the enrollment of the aforementioned student-athletes at any of the said schools.  This was only to create attention for a talent-rich section of the state.  These possible teams would have been something to watch.  Instead the halls and trophy cases of Willow Run remain empty.

-The Mayor

Special thanks to Dre Gardette, Rockey Black, and Nate “The General” Oats.

Contributed by Adam Troia



Mayor’s Notebook: Owens Jamboree Recap

15 Oct

First off, I would like to extend a gracious thanks to Owens coaches Keith Raine and Dave Clarke for the invite.  It was chow time for this hoop junkie in more ways than one.  Four courts of competitive games for six-plus hours, it was time to eat.

Top Teams

Schoolcraft- This squad was loaded last year and enjoyed a deep playoff run, finishing sixth in the national tournament.  The new-look Ocelots have several new faces for head man Abe Mashhour and his line of all-star assistants Mike Allie and Corey McKendry.  One key to their success was the up-tempo style, which was a lot of fun to watch.  What will be the Ocelots’ keys to success this year?

Owens- The Express added a great deal of size especially, on the wings with Charles Penn 6-7, Brain Walker 6-6, Xavier Cochran 6-6, and Derrik Jamerson 6-5.   Coach Clarke will have plenty of match-up problems this winter.

Mott- Not the tallest team in attendance, but Coach Schmidt year after year has scrappy guards that will guard the length of the court.  Lorenzo Collier, Diandre Wilson, and St. Bonaventure transfer Jalen Adams will be a solid trio this season.



Jordan Blount

Jordan Blount Spire Academy Geneva, Ohio 6-7 Wing- Jordan is in his first year of post-grad ball.  Originally from Ireland, Blount is an excellent passer with good court-vision.  He continually knocked down open threes and his hustle was infectious to his teammates.  Blount recently visited Valparaiso, and has interest from Georgia Tech, Toledo, Baylor, and Ole Miss.


Lorenzo Collier

Lorenzo Collier Mott 6-4 Guard- Can get end to end in a heartbeat.  Finished well after contact on his way to rack. A low-major steal with upside as he continues to progress his guard skills.

Derrik Jamerson Owens 6-5 Wing- Michigan knows this kid is a knock-down three-point specialist, but the Owens staff has made it a point to round out Jamerson’s game.  His foot-work and laterally speed has greatly improved, and he showed signs of scoring not solely with the three.  Holds an IPFW offer with more on the way.


Diandre Wilson

Diandre Wilson Mott 6-3 Guard- Must be pretty good to come all the way to Flint via Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Consistently made tough shot after contested shot with numerous defenders draped on him in the lane and at the rim.  Division one talent and attitude schools want in a scoring lead-guard.

Dilyn Good Owens 6-9 Power Forward- Good is a sophomore, and at the community college level that usually indicates a veteran.  And with so many freshman and first year players on Owens Good played with poise and control.  He projects as a stretch-four at the moment as he did work on the outside, but strong enough to bang with bulkier opponents.  Understands spacing and where to be on the floor.


R.J. Coil

R.J. Coil Schoolcraft 6-9 Center- “I need a big” was the common theme out of most of the coaches present at the jamboree.  Mr. Coil is not short of 6-9, and he is no stick by any means.  Really active on the glass and did a good job scoring on put-backs without plays called for him.  Red-shirted a season ago at Marist.


Kash Blackwell

Kash “Money” Blackwell Cuyahoga CC 6-4 Guard- Mr. Kash has definitely got some dog in his game.  Soild scorer with a good mid-range feel.  Hit the glass well from the guard spot as well.

Ja'Christian Biles

Ja’Christian Biles

Ja’ Christian “Rocket Man” Biles 6-3 Schoolcraft Guard- “Rocket Man” can definitely fly.  However, he had his outside game on display Sunday nailing the threes consistently with his pure stroke. This makes him a really tough cover because he can make you the THAT GUY underneath the basket in his highlight reel.  Mid-major plus no doubt.  Love his motor and energy on both ends of the court.

Bryan Collins 5-10 Schoolcraft Guard- Lito Booth has departed Schoolcraft after one season.  Collins will more than likely fill the role left by Booth as lead point guard and pressure defender.  With teams opting to focus attention on Biles, Collins will get a good amount of open looks this year.  He made more than he missed on Sunday.

Xavier Cochran

Xavier Cochran

Xavier “X” Cochran 6-5 Owens Wing- Recently picked up an offer from Bethune-Cookman.  More are on the way with some added development and seasoning in a college program.  A little streaky on the day, but the upside is there as a wing with size that can handle and score.

Other Strong Performers On The Day

Keion Farrington Mott 6-5 Forward

Tyrese Searles Owens 6-3 Point Guard

James Kodet Lansing 6-4 Forward

Charles Penn Owens 6-7 Forward

Contributed by Adam Troia



Mayor’s Notebook: Top Uncommitted Seniors

8 Oct

Seniors available as of 10/8/15

Karmari Newman 6-3 shooting guard Detroit East English

Call him knock-down.  Newman is a lefty marksman that excels playing off-the-ball and snipping from beyond the arch.  High ceiling as body fills out.

Schools interested: Cleveland State, Buffalo, George Mason, Duquesne, Eastern Michigan, St. Bonaventure, Robert Morris

Justin Turner 6’2″ combo guard Detroit Renaissance

Dynamic three-level scoring guard with college-ready size and skill set.  A type of guard a school can run an offense through with his ability to create his own shot with or without the ball.  Hope he stays healthy this year.

Schools interested: U of D Mercy, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Toledo, Oakland, Central Michigan, Fairfield.

Ty Groce 6-8 forward Ypsilanti Lincoln

Unreal potential.  Presents a multitude of dilemmas for defenses at 6-8.  Can step out a little, and put it on the floor.  Needs to play hard all the time and beef up a little.

Schools interested: Illinois State, Oakland, Rice, U of D Mercy, Akron, Toledo, Cornell, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northeastern, Kent State, Buffalo.

Dwight Burton 6’2″ combo guard Detroit Delta Prep

July’s biggest stock riser with the Michigan Playmakers.  Might have the fastest first step in Michigan with ability to blow past defenders and score in mid-range.  Still learning a feel for the game.  Has only played organized basketball since ninth grade.

Corey Allen 6-2 combo guard Ypsilanti 

Physical, aggressive, down-hill attacking guard for Steve Brooks’ Grizzlies.  Proved in July he would be a solid mid-major get.

Richard Talley 5-10 point guard Detroit Renaissance

Pesky defender that will fit in well at whatever defense a college wants to run.  Holds an offer from the Northwood (MI).  Absolute steal for any division II school at this point.

James Towns 5-9 point guard Detroit Henry Ford

The heart and soul of the Trojans.  Towns will be relied on to score a great deal this season.  Aggressive above the rim finisher and improving perimeter game.  Like Talley, his strength is ballhawking defense.  U of D Mercy has made Towns the main Titan point guard prospect in 2016.

Emmanuel Gildo 6-5 forward Lansing Waverly

Kid has some serious bounce.  Most impressive player at Bankhoops minicamp.  Dunks, rebounds, and overall dominated the paint.

Dylan Carl 6-10 center Alma

Vegetables, milk, and iron will help take his game to the next level.

Schools interested: U of D Mercy, IPFW.

Logan Ryan 6-8 forward Canton

Consistency on 15-20 foot jumper made Ryan an intriguing look at for small schools towards the end of July.  Getting a little bit nastier and embracing the dirty work it takes to be a successful scholarship player.  On the verge of division II but a nice steal for a division III or NAIA with exceptional grades.

Schools interested: Albion, Adrian, Alma, Madonna, U of M Dearborn, Goshen, Lake Forest.

Calvin Blaydes 6-6 forward Belleville

Runs the floor like a deer, and leaps like a pogo stick.  Ozzing with potential with some more seasoning and work by Coach Trump.

Schools interested: Lake Superior State, Northwood, Rochester, Barton CC..

Stephen “The Falcon” Umfress 6-3 wing Monroe St. Mary

For a guard, he jumps out of the gym.  Maybe if the school’s football team threw a little more he could help out at wide receiver.  Good teammate and kid to have in a program.

Brent Davis 6-3 guard Plymouth

Division I athletic ability illustrated with his 44-inch vertical.  Struggles to shoot it at times, but excels in transition when attacking the rack.  Lock him in a gym and watch what he looks like from now in two or three years.

Don’t forget about:

Kyle Hayes 6-8 forward Ypsilanti Arbor Prep

Terrance Sewell 6-2 guard Detroit Northwestern

Armani Tinsley 5-10 guard Detroit Western

Kareem Murray 5-10 guard Detroit Western

Nate Moore 5-9 guard Saginaw Arthur Hill

Ethan Dixon 6-6 forward Detroit Cornerstone

Ja’Myrin Jackson 6-0 guard Lansing Eastern

Dequan Powell 5-11 shooting guard Detroit Loyola

Ojani Echevarria 5-8 guard Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills

Jeremiah Richard 5-9 guard Kalamazoo Central

Anthony McInstosh 6-0 guard Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills

Billy Thomas 5-10 guard North Farmington

Justin Penn 6-0 point guard Ferndale University

Mike Littlejon 5-10 guard Muskegon

Jaton Gunn 6-1 guard Benton Harbor

Curtis Dawson 5-10 guard Benton Harbor

Tabin Throgmorton 6-3 wing Clarkston

Luster Johnson 5-11 guard Consortium

Hunter Page 6-0 guard Parma

James Jenkins 6-7 forward Hazel Park

Joan Andoni 6-3 shooting guard Livonia Churchill

C.J. Marshall 6-0 guard Macomb Dakota

Rayjon Williams-Jackson 6-0 Ypsilanti

Sameer Jabbo 6-5 forward Bedford

Ryan Stevens 6-0 point guard Lowell

Andrew Kline 6-0 point guard Waterford Our Lady

Contributed by Adam Troia


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