Tag Archives: Detroit Stars

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.


Cass Tech’s Donnie Tillman to Transfer to Findlay Prep

1 Aug

14152556-standardThe out of state transfer route hit Michigan the hardest in July.  Soon to be junior and number one player in the class of 2016 Josh Jackson decided to return to his home state of California and compete at Justin-Siena High School, senior Bakari Evelyn transferred from Southfield Christian to Gilbert Christian in Arizona to play for former Country Day head coach Kurt Keener, while senior Jaire Grayer made his intentions clear of not returning to Flint Southwestern.  However, the most surprising was the fourth transfer announced this month.  As class of 2017 6’6″ forward Donnie Tillman of Detroit Cass Tech, a top five player in Michigan’s rising sophomore class, made public he will not return to the Technecians for his 10th grade year.

Search Findlay Prep basketball alumni on Google, and a long and distinguished list of players who have made a living in the NBA come up.  2013 NBA overall number one pick Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtic’s Avery Bradley, and NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs Cory Joseph all hail from Findlay Prep, a program located in the city of Henderson, Nevada, roughly a 20 minute drive from Las Vegas.  The Pilots have claimed three high school national championships since 2009, while producing seven McDonalds All-Americans and Jordan Brand Classic participants respectively.

“I’m really excited to be accepted into Findlay Prep,” Tillman had to say, “it was a really hard decision (to leave Cass) but with support from friends and family there’s no worries.”

The MHSAA for years has imposed strict rules on schools on who they can and cannot play out of state  The state must share a border with Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and/or the schools must not be more than 300 miles apart from one another.  The rule prevents teams from traveling the country to showcase their skills on the national stage, which opposite to Michigan values, is the entire basis for Findlay Prep.

There name Findlay Prep only signifies the ten member basketball team, there is no such traditional high school that exists called Findlay Prep.  The players enroll in classes at the nearby Henderson International School, a preschool through 12 grade fully-accredited private school.  When the players are out of class, their in either practice or a jet to participate in tournaments both nationally and internationally.

Playing 30-40 games is appealing to most high school players, in particular Donnie’s case coming from a state with a limit of only 20 regular season games.  And a handful of the Pilots games are nationally televised on ESPN or CBS Sports, whereas in Michigan players would be lucky just to see their face on local cable.  Tillman embraces the challenge of showcasing his abilities on the national stage, and admits there will be a learning curve of playing the premier talent the nation has to offer on the highest stage.

“It will be difficult at first, but after going through the strength and conditioning skills training, I’ll be more than ready to play on national TV and against some of the best.”

Tillman over the Spring/Summer of AAU, competing with the Detroit Stars and The Family, was already beginning to catch the eye of many college coaches nationally only as a freshman.  Donnie noted colleges took interest in his ability to rebound the ball at a high level, score inside and in the midrange, display ball handling ability for a forward, and play well defensively in both the post and perimeter.  Cleveland State, UNLV, and Iowa State all extended offers to Tillman in about a month long period, while schools like Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State were keeping tabs on the young forward.

Donnie’s reason(s) for leaving are no different than every player that has left Michigan before or will be in the future unless the rules change.  Players want exposure, they want to challenge themselves against the “so-called” top players in the country.  Who wouldn’t?  Scholarship and college opportunities are at stake, and more important the life lessons that can be learned when facing difficult challenges on a repetitive basis.  Perseverance, determination, resolve, and commitment are all valuable teaching points of the game that can be transitioned to daily life as well.  Donnie won’t be the last player to leave Michigan, but hints there are fellow players like him who share common desires to prove themselves on the national level.

“My thoughts are they (other transfers) wanted the same thing as me, to gain exposure and become a better player and play on a national schedule,” Donnie had to say.  “And I won’t be surprised if more players transfer to prep schools in the future.”



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.


Wyandotte 2014 Jacob Lavis’ Profile

15 Oct

image​•​Height, Weight, and position?
6’4 , 190lbs , Wing/SG

​•​High School, Summer team and Graduation Year?
Wyandotte Roosevelt High School, Detroit Stars, Class of 2014

​•​Players you try to model your game after?
I try to model my game mostly around Chandler Parsons and also Kevin Durant in some ways.

​•​Important Stats
12 PPG 6 RPG 4 APG

​•​Most memorable game in your career so far?
Wins against Ypsilanti and River Rouge last year

​•​Colleges that you would like to attend?
Many Mid Major Schools. I’m very interested in the Patriot League

​•​Colleges that have shown interest in you so far?
West Point, Navy, EWU, U of Pitt-Johnston, Notre Dame College, Multiple GLIAC

​•​What makes you unique from other players at your position?
I like to get an assist just as much as a basket and I like to play very physical.

​•​Strengths and areas you are improving in?
My biggest strength is my shooting and I am really looking to improve my ball handling the most.

​•​How did the offseason go?
The offseason went very well. I played in a lot of tournaments and attended many camps and showcases around the country.  Not only did I spend a lot of time on the court, but I also worked hard in the weight room too.

​•​Goals for the upcoming season?
My goals for next season are to be a great leader on and off the court for my team and  also to win our district.

​•​What role do you see your self having this year for your team?
I will have the most experience on our team, so I will definitely be a leader in many ways

​•​What will a coach be getting out of you at the next level?
He would be getting a very smart, hard working player that will do whatever it takes to win

​•​What will will go into your decision about choosing a college?
It must be a school where I can get a good education in my field of study and I must feel at home at the school

​•​Most influential person in your life? Why?
My parents because they taught me about hard work and how it would pay off

​•​Legacy you want to leave at your school?
I want to be remembered as the guy who made Wyandotte a basketball school again.

​•​Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
Probably in a men’s league at the local YMCA where ever I am at

​•​Highlight Tape

​•​Fun/ interesting fact about you?
If I’m not in the gym chances are I’m either on the field or in the weight room for football.

​•​Awards, Accomplishments, other comments?
All League Honorable Mention, 3 Year Varsity Starter

​•​Academic Information
4.0 GPA , 23 ACT (retaking), Also taking SAT

​•​Contact Information
Jacob Lavis

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