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Day Three Standouts for the 2015 GRBA Nationals

27 Jul

Elijah Collins 6’0″ off-guard The Family 15u-

Collins is known for defense.  With a strong build, high-major athleticism, and quickness, Eli is a lockdown perimeter defender guarding both guard positions, causing opponents to catch the ball in uncomfortable positions, and even one day on the tournament guarded a 6’8″ player as effectively he could due to awareness and positioning.  His offensive game has been a work in progress the past couple of months.  Collins attacked the basket aggressively and finished open-court lay-ups in transition.  Although he isn’t a point guard by definition with the ball in his hands routinely, he’s a point guard off-the ball.  Directing players where they are supposed to be and when he gets the ball it doesn’t become stagnant.

Romeo Weems 6’4″ wing The Family 15u-

The Family brought up a few players that had just recently played at a national tournament in Florida; which Weems participated in.  Weems is a power wing in the making; big build, broad shoulders, nice frame.  But The Family played him more as a four on the weekend; and he was effective.  A true stat-sheet stuffer, Weems aside from scoring, blocked shots, rebounded, and came away with steals on the perimeter.  His greatest impact on one game was locking down a fellow 2019 that had absolutely destroyed other teams; not on Weems’ watch.  Romeo played very well of The Family’s talented guards; positioned himself well for dump-ins or backdoored his man to the basket.  Roemo’s offensive game should be one to watch this upcoming season at Country Day.

C.J. Wilson 5’10” point guard The Family 16u-

Wilson’s Twitter name might be Mr. PG, but his defense is rated R.  Wilson covers great amounts of ground for The Family due to lateral speed, agility, and quickness.  He has a knack for speeding the offense up and disrupting timing.  Ball-handlers cannot be lazy around him; it will be a turnover.  Wilson also showed signs of life on the offensive end.  He hit some three-point shots at times, and attacked gaps to the basket.

Logan Ryan 6’7″ forward Michigan Warriors 17u-

Logan finally put together one weekend that the Warriors, college coaches, and scouts had finally waited for.  He continuously made big-shot after big-shot on bracket play Saturday.  One game winning three with 26 seconds, and scoring key baskets down the stretch in on overtime victory for the Warriors. He’s not a back-to-the basket type player just yet, although he did show some signs of growth on that area, however, his 18-20 feet jump shot was nearly automatic on the weekend.  Either spotting-up or flashing to the middle of the court, it was hard to contest one of his shots.  He can also run the floor, and is solid passer as a forward.  The one glaring issue with Logan is his frame.  He has the length, but will need to add at least 25-40 pounds at the next level to continuously battle larger defenders on defense and for rebounds.

Riley Lewis 5’10” off-guard Triple-Threat 17u-

A flat out scorer from anywhere on the court.  Lewis is slithery and energetic with the ball, and can create his own shot off-the bounce.  Very good driver to the basket, uses first step and protects the ball well when in traffic.  Lewis is worth a look for small schools that want a 5’10” guard that easily finish a game with 30.

Daijon Parker 6’5″ forward Michigan Warriors 16u-

Daijon Parker is an unknown prospect from Westland John Glenn.  When Parker stays confident and aware, he can be very effective.  In one game he had 18 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in a victory.  Parker showed a soft-touch on a 10-12 feet jumper, and even had a couple spins moves down low.  Not an exceptionally athlete or grinder by any measure, but uses body and frame to clear space for rebounds when in the paint.  If he continues to work hard and stay within himself, Daijon will no doubt have a big year for Glenn.

Mike Bruce 6’3″ off-guard Michigan Warriors 17u-

Mike Bruuuce as is said along the I-94 corridor.  Bruce has the desirable frame, length, and height colleges look for when evaluating guards.  Mike used to play point guard when he was younger, but currently plays more off the ball and that aspect of his game is still a work in progress.  When he gets into the paint, Bruce can score in the mid-range with runners, floaters, and pull-ups in the paint; although he does need to be careful on ball protection down amongst the trees.  Bruce will have one solid game, then an  o.k game the next outting.  If he puts the pieces together and realizes how much of a special talent he is, Mike will have a huge year for Ypsilanti.

Mumford Senior Takes Unique Route To Basketball Success

29 Jun

IMG_0822It’s not too often a high school basketball player’s first organized competition is at the varsity level.

Nor is it too often the case a player on their first year of varsity averages double-figures in scoring while dishing five assists per-game.

Detroit Mumford senior guard Dwight Burton is no ordinary player.

In the ever-expanding basketball world of placing the nation’s youth into leagues before the start of elementary school, Burton never did experience those luxuries.  He never played “house” basketball, or traveled as a member of an AAU team until sophomore year.  So which begs the question, what was Burton doing before that caused him to become so good?

“Nothing really,” says Burton.  “Just playing with my brothers and a Fisher Price rim my mom bought me.  I used to act like I was in the NBA.  But that’s really it until my tenth grade year.”

From his youth, Dwight wanted to be a member of a basketball team, growing up with brothers who played at the high school level.  Dwight envisioned himself one day forging a path of his own in the game of basketball, but was hesitant on where to start.

While playing in a mere pick-up game with friends at a Church event, an AAU coach noticed a special set of abilities which separated Dwight from his peers, and wanted him to play organized basketball for the first time in his life.

IMG_0823From then on, Burton was a member of the Michigan Hurricanes, who in the last 20 years have been one of the select youth traveling programs in Michigan.  Burton was in the ninth grade at the time, and played 15u.  He notes his first two games on the circuit were particularly rough, even causing him to question was basketball really a career he wanted to pursue.

“I played terrible, I played nervous my first two organized games, but after that third game is when everything started picking up,” said Burton.

“I had a talk with my mom, she told me it’s time to eat son.  ‘You said you were ready to play with the big boys.  I know you can play with them it’s just you have to know that.'”

Dwight listened.  Burton stood out, his team won games, and competed for tournament championships, life was good.  Because of his stellar play on the circuit, the Hurricane 16u coach at the time, Ray Reeves, grew akin to Burton’s game.  Reeves, well-respected in the Detroit prep basketball community with successful stints at Finney and Community, had just accepted the position as the head coach at Mumford High School.  Coach Reeves believed Burton was the ideal center piece he could use to rebuild an ailing Mustang program.  Another stepping-point in Burton’s young career had commenced, transferring from a small charter school on the eastside to a school across the city.

Burton admits he shed tears following his first varsity game at Mumford because of poor play.  But as the season developed, he slowly started to gain confidence.  He became a valued member of a Mustang team which doubled their win total from a season earlier, six to 12, while averaging 15 points and five assists in the process.  All as the lone sophomore on varsity.

Burton followed his stellar 10th grade year with an even more impressive junior campaign.  22 overall points and seven assists, all with no recognition about post-season awards.

“(It) pushes me a lot,” said Burton.  “Even though there are players that get more exposure than me, I have to work hard everyday.  If I don’t work on and off the court, I’m not going to be able to when when the lights are on a and it’s game time.  I have to outwork them.”

He no longer competes with the Hurricanes for AAU, but is in his first year as a Michigan Playmaker.  Burton was a late addition to an already talented Playmaker roster, but his presence has lifted the team to another level.  In his first tournament, the Playmakers won the championship, undefeated with a 6-0 overall record.  Dwight averaged double-figures in each game.  Then in his second tournament, Burton proved himself as one of premier guards in all of Michigan.  In victories against 1Nation, Detroit Showtime, and Grand Rapids Storm, all teams with more highly-touted guards, Burton more than held his own, averaging double-digits repeatedly.  In the last major event of the Spring circuit, Dwight saved the best for last.  6-1 record at the Chicago Classic, silver division champions, and 25 points in the championship game.

Still Burton has found limited collegiate interest, despite holding a reported 3.4 GPA his previous card-marking.  Dwight vows to make the most of his final month of AAU in July, which college coaches may view with intentions of recruiting players.  With tournaments scheduled in Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, and possibly Las Vegas, Dwight will soon recognize how far he’s come in so little amount of time, in life and basketball.

“That God is good, I came from not being known to now making a name for myself,” said Burton.  “If you work hard at something you love it will pay out in the end.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloomfield Hills’ Cameron Dalton Headed to South Beach for Barry University

2 Jun

IMG_0699Bloomfield Hills senior Cameron Dalton has a reputation for switching basketball shoes each game the same way Michigan’s climate changes.  For college, Dalton will still have the opportunity for grabbing the latest sneakers, but won’t have to worry about the weather so much.

Because he’s going to South Beach.

The 6’0″ shooting guard committed to Barry University, a Division II school located in Miami Shores, Florida.  Dalton averaged 17 points per-game last season.

“I didn’t really have a lot of schools looking at me because of the way my school team’s season went,” said Dalton.  “I had very little schools looking at me, but I wanted to go college out-of-state, somewhere warm, so that’s why I picked Barry.”

Dalton’s last season was a disappointing 6-14.  The team graduated a plethora of seniors that contributed to a 24 win campaign a year earlier and a spot in the 2014 Class A state championship game.  Still, Dalton learned the importance of becoming a leader both on and off the floor.

“Losing a lot was something new to me,” said Dalton.  “It was a hard task trying to stay positive all the time.”

However, he doesn’t envision to see much losing in college.  Barry is one year removed from a 25 win campaign and a trip to second round of the NCAA tournament.  Winners attract winners, and Dalton claims he is an ideal fit for the Bucs’ style of play with stellar range of consistency with his perimeter jump shot.

“I would say I’m pretty good at putting the ball in the basket,” added Cameron.  “Barry needed a shooter and I think that’s what I’m best at.”

 

River Rouge’s Amir Poole Commits to Siena Heights

14 May

Gnh7lEkKHow does it feel to commit to Siena Heights?

It feels great to commit to Siena Heights, I’m very excited.

When did you know Siena Heights was right for you?

I knew it was right after I visited and talked to the coaches and they basically said they wanted me there so I made it happen.

Did you visit the campus?

Yes I visited the campus it was nice, I like how it’s not big, it’s a nice size campus with wonderful people on it.

What’s your relationship with the coaches like?

My relationship with the coaches is great I talk to coach Dan Yatzek almost everyday.  They plan to use me as a pass-first shoot-second point guard and to be a ball hawk on the ball.

How would you describe yourself as a player?

As a player I would describe myself as a smart high IQ pass-first guard that can knock down open shots threes or mid-range, can check 94 feet.

What took you so long to commit?

What took me so long to commit was I didn’t know where I was going to go.  I was waiting on things to fall into place and they did when Siena Heights offered me being that I’ve been around this university since I was younger so I was comfortable to the surroundings.

What other schools recruited you and what was different about Siena Heights?

Others schools that recruiting me were Indiana Tech, Albion, Harris-Stowe University, Adrian, and the difference between them and Siena is that I actually want to be here and I love the school and have a great relationship with the coaches.

How did this past high school season go?

This past high school season went well but it could’ve been history if things would’ve went different but I had a good season, I played with more of a purpose this year.

How about your overall high school career?

My overall high school experience was good I learned a lot and I progress since my Freshmen year but I’m glad I have the chance to continue my basketball career on the collegiate level as a Saint.

What do you plan to study in college?

Education wise I plan to be an automotive technician which is in the field of engineering.

Hudonville’s Brent Hibbitts Shows Patience on Commitment To U of M

12 May

Screen-Shot-2012-12-30-at-1.05.42-PM-475x338Patience.  It’s not a word commonly associated with college basketball recruiting.  In the era of spontaneous offers and commitments, few recruits take all factors into consideration when evaluating a college program.

Brent Hibbitts took an opposite route.

The 6’7″ Hudsonville forward committed to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor as a preferred walk-on, ending a long college recruiting process which took longer than usual.

“It feels amazing,” Hibbitts said of the opportunity to play at U of M.   “To be recruited is a blessing, but it’s good to finally have it over with.  On top of that I get to attend my dream school.  It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Hibbitts took a visit recently before committing.  After contemplating various mid-major division one scholarship offers, Brent decided to look for aspects of programs not solely confined to the hardwood.

“I just wanted to take my time and when I found the school for me,” added Hibbitts.  “You can’t beat Michigan academically, and all of the coaches and players are first-class guys.  It is just an all-around great place.”

Hibbits still can play on the hardwood.  With averages of 17 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks per-game during his senior season.

Brent joins 6’10” German prospect Moritz Wagner as the second member of the Wolverine’s 2015 recruiting class.

 

 

EEVP’s Karmari Newman Rising Quickly On Recruiting Boards

29 Apr

0cq4Q48XKarmari Newman, a 6’3″ junior East English Village Prep guard, is among the state’s elite scorers, but there’s something else he’s been able to score in the short off-season, college scholarships.

Newman received two division one college scholarships in less than 48 hours, one from Kent State, while the other was hometown U of D Mercy as well as an offer he previously held from Cleveland State.

Newman convinced many schools of his potential and ability at the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron, Ohio, with a 35 point performance in the gold championship game.  Only a microcosm of how well Karmari has played this Spring.

“I’ve played extremely well,” Newman said of his play so far.  “Actually, I’ve been able to show them (colleges) my ability to play both sides of the basketball, and how bouncy I am.”

Newman mentioned style of play will be a key factor in his recruiting process.

“I want to play at a college that plays up and down,” Karmari added.  “Similar to my high school playing style.”

His playing style has received interest from Xavier, Iowa, Iowa State, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Northern Illinois, and Northern Kentucky.  With two months remaining of tournaments for Detroit Showtime, Newman promises to provide nothing but a show from here on out.

Interview With Jason Williams of Allen Academy

26 Apr

Allen Academy’s Jason Williams has had quite the high school career, 1,000 points before his senior season.  Here, Williams reflects the past regular-season, goals for the upcoming AAU campaign, and talks recruiting.

 

Allen Academy’s Danny Pippen and Jason Williams are “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret”

14 Oct

IMG_0924-1Charter schools are abundant in Michigan, and particularly in the City of Detroit.    A charter school is an independently run public school given flexibility in its operations, in return accountability for performance. The “charter” is the contract detailing the school’s mission, programs, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.

Detroit Allen Academy is one of many charter schools located in Detroit.  The schools sits at the corner of Quincey and Blaine Street on the city’s east side.  A K-12 school, the Wildcats compete in Class C for athletics with an enrollment just barely over 250 in the high school.

Craig Covington Junior is entering his second season as the head coach at Allen Academy.   After coaching for 20+ years out of state, Coach Covington inherited a 13-8 squad, and upped their win total total nine games to 22, as well as capturing a district championship, and a spot in a regional final.

Finding talent in Detroit can be difficult.  Established basketball programs like Pershing, Cass Tech, and Renaissance routinely receive the cities coveted talent pool, leaving it hard for Allen Academy to form an identity athletically.  However, Allen is unique because they are K-12, and start basketball in the elementary school.

“Any time you are the small fish in the big pond,” Covington notes, “it is going to be difficult.  But at Allen Academy a K-12 school with basketball starting with 3rd grade, it’s kind of fun watching your players develop through the elementary and middle school years.”

dannyThen the hard part comes, convincing the athletes to stay for high school.  Family is just as much a part of the Wildcat program as any drill, or offensive play they run.  Covington learned how to develop relationships with his players by watching his father, Craig Covington Senior, who is now the head man at Detroit’s Marygrove College, growing up.  And while Covington values his relationships with all players on his team, he has built a true bond with juniors Danny Pippen, and Jason Williams.

Pippen and Williams have known each other well before high school started, they met one another at a neighborhood Boys and Girls Club.  Jason said he came to Allen Academy to play with his older cousin, Pakiya Ellis, now at Ferris State, while Danny came for the experience of a smaller school with the opportunity to play right away.  After their freshman seasons, Coach Covington was hired.  Danny decided to stay, but it took some consideration on Jason’s part not to transfer.  Coach and player relationships, especially in the early stages, are going to be difficult, full of misunderstandings.  Relationships grow and Danny, Jason, and Coach Covington, have all genuinely developed a relationship that extends deeper than basketball.

“In this year,” Covington says, “I believe I have become very close with both Danny and Jason.  Not just as a player/coach but as a young man/older man.  I believe they understand that there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them or any other player in the program for them to become successful.”

The relationship can be seen in the results on the court.  At 5’10” Jason has developed into an elite scoring option as a combo guard with college interest, while Danny has already received collegiate offers.  At 6’7″ Pippen streches the floor with his perimeter skills, and is a dangerous weapon when he combines an inside presence with three-point range.    Danny and Jason could easily be complaisant given their basketball gifts, however both acknowledge Coach Covington’s commitment to strive beyond average, but to be excellent, and to appreciate the mentality of hard work.

“Coach Covington has pushed me to limits I have never been pushed to before,” Danny notes.  While Jason added he has improved on defense, and becoming vocal leader for the team.

Covington speaks highly of his players athletic skills, but even higher does he speaks of his players off the court characteristics.  He called Danny and Jason “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret” because he admires how they carry themselves as young men within the school, classroom, community, and on the team.  Class C schools draw minimal interests from the media, college coaches, and hoop fans.  Danny and Jason embrace the title their coach has given them, it only gives the duo a greater amount of motivation to compete in Michigan’s most populated city as the proverbial “underdog.”

“I think it means we are the best many people don’t know about,” Jason chimed in, “and it’s time for us to put Allen Academy on in Detroit, as well as the State of Michigan basketball scene.”

Gone from a year ago is Pakiya Ellis, a guard who scored over 1,000 point in his high school career, and later went onto commit to Ferris State.  Allen Academy is among the pre-season favorites to capture Class C this season.  Danny and Jason will be counted upon heavily if the Wildcats are going to march to the Breslin Center this Winter.  Chemistry goes a long way in developing a winning basketball team, and despite the loss of a leader Ellis was, Pippen and Williams are confident the bond they have built with each other, and Coach Covington, separates them from any opposition they will face both on the hardwood this season, and in the endeavors life has to offer them.

“We have great chemistry…,” Danny added, “even though sometimes we (Jason and Coach Covington) don’t see eye to eye, but we both have a passion to win. We understand how each other plays and we will be able to rely on one another during the rough times because we have been together so long.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southeastern 2014 guard D’Cari Charleston Talks Chadron State Decision

7 Jul

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Detroit Southeastern shooting guard D’Cari Charleston was a key factor for his Jungaleers capturing the PSL East Division championship, and PSL League Runner Up.  Charleston will continue his basketball career at Division 2 Chadron State, in Chadron, Nebraska.

 

 

How does it feel to commit to Chadron?

D’Cari: It Felt Great, Knowing I’m Going To A Good Program.

What were the coaches reaction to hearing when you committed?

D’Cari: The Coaches Were Very Excited And Can’t Wait Until I Get There.

What were some other schools recruiting you? And what made Chadron different?

D’Cari: East Central University , Wayne State University And Langston University. Chadron Just Seems To Be A Better Fit For My Style Of Play.

Did you visit the campus? If so, what did you like about it? Do you know any of the players already on the team?

D’Cari: No & There Is One Player From Saginaw That I’ve Played Against During High School .

What is the school’s plan for you in their program?

D’Cari: To Develop Me Into A Better Basketball Player.

How did your senior season at Southeastern go?

D’Cari: My Senior Year Went Well.

What will you bring to Chadron State as far as basketball wise, and off the court?

D’Cari: I Would Bring Energy And Toughness. Also Another Scoring Option. Overall Bring Character To The Team.

Who would you like to thank the most for getting you to where you are today?

D’Cari: I Would Like To Thank God. Also, I Would Like To Thank My High School Coaches And Teammates.

Oak Park Now at Full Strength

20 Jan

mi-mioakparkhighschool-letter-150January 20th is the official start of the second semester for Michigan, and that means that all transfers who sat out the first semester are now eligible if they met specific deadlines.  Teams all across the state will now be receiving key pieces to their squads that just might mean the difference between an early exit loss in the playoffs, or a deep title run in Match.  At one particular school in Metro Detroit, the eligibility of three transfers will not only offer a way to salvage a season, but an opportunity to compete for a state championship.

Welcome to Oak Park High School.  A school where the football program has undergone major changes with former St. Martin De Porres standout coach Greg Carter, who has guided the Knights to two straight MHSAA football state playoff appearances the past two seasons.  The basketball program at Oak Park looks to continue the same model as Carter laid out for the football team.  Bryant Tipton, a long time coach in the Detroit Public School League, left Detroit Cody after last season to rejuvenate an ailing basketball school.  While at Cody, Tipton led the Comets to the 2010-2011 PSL West Division Title, and the city runner ups in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, losing to Pershing and Southeastern respectively.  Two out of the three transfers now eligible, left Cody to follow Tipton to Oak Park.  They are guard Orlando Fikes and forward Kelvon Fuller.  Fuller is a top 10 prospect in the 2016 class, who is already considered a lock to go division one.  While Fikes is the lesser of the known of the three transfers.  For Fikes, the decision to attend Oak Park was not only for basketball reasons, but an opportunity to end his high school career positively.

Fikes says he left Cody for a “Better and safer environment,” where there are “more opportunities, a better school, and more support from the school.”

Oak Park was a top 15 team in Class A during the pre-season, but are off to a shaky 2-3 start to the year, with losses to Romulus and Troy Athens.  However according to Fikes, January 20th could not come any sooner.

“We (Oak Park) will be back in effect, Ja’Christian Biles, Kelvon Fuller, and myself are coming with intensity, hunger, and fight to turn our season back around, the way it was suppose to be from the start.”

Orlando will be the point guard for the Knights, with responsibilities of being “The floor general, and the captain.”  He would rather see his teammates score than himself.  The one player on Oak Park that has had to shoulder most of the scoring load during the early part of the season has been junior Rodney Scales, who like the big three, was a transfer from Inkster a year ago.  Scales is a big, powerfully built forward that commands double-teams down low on the block, and is ready for the three transfers to step in and take some of the pressure off him.

“The three transfers coming back Monday will be a big difference, and will be the last and complete piece to the puzzle, we’ll be much stronger,” says Scales.

It would be foolish to assume that the main players on Oak Park have not played with each other before.  In fact, the three were allowed to participate in the Summer League at Romulus, where Oak Park blew teams away with superior athleticism and talent.  For Scales, each player complements each other, resulting in a team chemistry that has been in place for some time now.

“I think our biggest strength is we all have the mentality of keeping our composure no matter what situation or what the score is,” says Scales.  “Orlando brings that ‘floor general’ trait to the team.  Since he hasn’t been playing there has been numerous guys running sets and bringing the ball up, and now he’s back and he’s gonna take control of that and be the general.”

“Kelvon is just all around good.  He’s so versatile and can play any position from handling the ball to knocking down the three and crashing/getting rebounds.”

The last player to transfer to Oak Park was Ja’Christian Biles, who left Southfield-Lathrup to unite with Coach Tipton.  After a successful summer on the AAU circuit with Dorian’s Pride, one of the elite Michigan Summer teams in the state, Ja’Christian picked up a Youngstown State offer, and committed to YSU shortly after.  Biles would most likely have been a high-major player if he played all four years of high school, but while at Lathrup, he sat behind current Toledo Rocket scoring machine Jonathan Williams.  And with Biles at Oak Park, the Knights just might turn into the famed Harlem Globetrotters.

“Ja’Christian is just a freak man,” says Scales, “he’s so athletic and quick.  And can knock down any shot and finish above the rim.”

Now that the whole team is once again united, expectations are high at Oak Park.  The Knights are looking forward to the possibility of making a trip to the Breslin Center come March, and the three transfers will be key in deciding the Knight’s outcome.

“Me personally,” says Fikes, “I think my team can go as far as the state championship, with the talent we equipped on this team, the sky is the limit.”

Few can match the athleticism Oak Park has to offer on the wings and in the front-court, but that is not the only dimension of Oak Park’s game junior Scales said opposing teams should fear of.

“Opposing teams should fear our presence in that paint area, any team we play, we will dominate the paint offensively and defensively.”

Oak Park opens the second semester with a stiff test in Ohio against Toledo Rogers on Martin Luther King Jr. day.

 

 

 

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