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Guards Dominate Thanksgiving Showcases

Sexton Forwards Adjust; Consortium Duo Leads; Detroit Returns?

Inside Prep Sports/By TJ Kelley

11/25/12

Excitement, anticipation, basketball junkies reuniting, and season prognostications buzzed throughout Michigan gyms as Lansing Eastern held it’s annual Thanksgiving Scrimmage Saturday Belleville hosted an eight-team scrimmage on Friday.  In total Inside Prep Sports watched 28 teams, plenty of talent from the 2013-2016 classes, and grasped a feel for Michigan’s upcoming 2012-’13 season.

It should be no surprise that the state’s most dominant group of position players were the guards from the 2013 class as signed and unsigned seniors went one on one with each other as well as their younger counter parts.  This group of guards have been highly regarded over the last three years and what were once youthful smiles of friendships on the court have turned into a competitive spirit of sportsmanship hardened by battles of wins and losses on and off the court.

6’1” Michigan-bound point guard Derrick Walton (Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy, pictured) was the dominant guard on Saturday as he made perimeter and mid-range jumpers, got to the basket at will, controlled the tempo, defended on the ball, defended passing lanes, and made his teammates better.  He’ll have plenty of help in the frontcourt as Chandler Park has size with 6’6” ’13 center Tony Stallworth, 6’8” ’14 center Clyde Ayers, 6’8” ’14 small forward Jordan Williams, and 6’5” ’14 wing Deman Muex.  The addition of Midtown Academy’s 6’3” ‘13 Darius Bean adds depth and athleticism on the wing with the ability to make perimeter shots.

Flint Beecher is Class C’s defending state champion and future Iowa State Cyclones’ 6’2” point guard Monte “Man-Man” Morris has what each senior guard or player for that matter wants, a state championship or at least a trip to their class’ Final Four at the Breslin Center.  Morris has taken that step in each year of his college career.  Winning speaks volumes and while he’s going to an out of state school or maybe doesn’t have a number next to his name that says he’s the best going on to the next level, in high school he has been the best and his resume’ is unparalleled amongst his peers.  Expect Beecher to make a return trip as guards win in high school.  This will be shooting guard Eric Cooper’s 4th year on varsity, 6’2” ’14 wing Emmanuel Phifer is athletic and will defend all five positions, 6’ point guard Frank Greene is a transfer from Goodrich and one of the best in the 2015 class, senior guard Jalen Pettis will add depth while Markell Lucas and Dar’Jon Michaels are football players expected to hold down the paint.  Look for 6’3” freshman Quay Burkes to provide versatility.

Lorenzo Bonam is the state’s most wanted unsigned point guard and anyone who didn’t think he wasn’t a point guard over the last couple of years didn’t see him throw alley-oops to Kent State freshman Khaliq Spicer, consistently find teammates for open shots, see him break presses, get into the lane at will, control the tempo, keep turnovers down, or defend the opposition.  His role has expanded for Dearborn Heights Robichaud and he’s provided the rebounding as well as his ability to make mid-range and perimeter shots.  At 6’4”, he’ll at times be expected to defend each position if called upon.  He’ll have early tests out of the gate when the Bulldogs host Westland John Glenn on December 4th, Romulus on December 6 and then on the road against Detroit Southeastern at Pershing, 3pm in the first part of a double-header.  John Glenn and Romulus have multiple division one commits and senior guards who have committed to division one schools in Nick Daniels (Oakland), Wes Clark (Missouri), and EC Mathews (Rhode Island).

Lansing Eastern’s 6’2” combo guard Brian Morton battled against division one point guards in Pershing’s Khalil Felder (Oakland) and Chandler Park’s Derrick Walton (Michigan).  The lefty was able to hold his own and in both of those games.  On Saturday, the lefty didn’t show the consistent jumper that many are used to seeing but his athleticism has picked up as he regularly finished above the rim on the break and defended the opposition’s best player.  Morton mainly played off the ball from his freshman through junior seasons but with the departure of Cha-Cha Tucker he’ll be looked to fill the roll as playmaker as well as scorer.  Morton will handle the bulk of the load until 6'7" '14 power forward Dequandre Dentmond becomes eligible in January after transferring from Lansing Catholic following the school year.

Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard’s 6’ ’13 point guard Kamari Davis is a powerful lefty guard who muscled his way to the basket in Belleville’s scrimmage against Belleville, Monroe St. Mary’s, and Hartland.  He’s a solid finisher around the basket and while his jumper wasn’t as consistent as he may have liked, he didn’t settle and found different ways to score. 

Westland John Glenn’s 6’ combo guard Nick Daniels is one of three left handed Oakland commits from the ’13 class and while he has ability and a host of talent around him, he’ll need to gather everybody on the same page or they’ll struggle in the state’s toughest district (#15 with Romulus, Taylor Truman, and Ypsilanti).  Daniels has elite athletes around him in 6’1” ’13 wing Richie Roberts and 6’6” ’14 power forward James Pruitt as well as 6’9” ’15 Mike Edwards who has Michigan State along with the MAC and Horizon recruiting him.  6’ junior Deshawndre Black makes for a solid back up point guard.

Clark Bishop shot the lights out, went out with a slight leg injury, and returned to finish above the rim regularly in Saturday’s scrimmage as Renaissance won their three games.  He should lead the Phoenix in scoring as he did last two season at 18 points/game and his sophomore season with 15 points/game.  Bishop is on pace to score over 1,000 points for his career.  He’s the #6 unsigned senior in Michigan and has recently had some division one programs such as Drake in to watch him workout.

I don’t know how many times it’s been said over the years that if Oakland University commit and Pershing star Khalil Felder was 6’ instead of 5’9” he would be high major.  The state’s top rebounding guard has all the dog in the world and is presents the poise that coaches want in their floor general.  The lefty is built like a fireplug, tough as nails, plays bigger than what any measuring reads, and shoots it from the perimeter as well as most with a pull up game to match.  He should be a multiple All-Conference player when he gets to college but first he’ll have plenty of help as the Doughboys compete for a Class A state championship 6’5” ’13 shooting guard Martez Walker, 6’8” ’14 power forward/center Justin Tillman, 6’7” ’14 center Dwayne Embry, and 5’8” ’14 point guard Darsean Woodson.

Cass Tech’s 6’1” point guard DeAndre Johnson is the state’s #4 unsigned senior and was designated to the sidelines after taking took a shot above his eye in early action on Saturday.  The Technicians’ floor general won’t let an injury like that keep him from running his team as they are as deep from at all positions as anyone in the state.  His supporting cast is loaded with future college players in 6’5” ’13 fwd and SIU-Edwardsville commit DeAngelo Stewart, 6’8” ’13 skilled four-man Kyle Steward, 6’4” ’13 forward Lenard Hall, 6’4” ’14 combo guard Kenny Carpenter, 6’4” ’14 wing Mike Laster, and 6’6” ’14 power forward Charles Key. 

Jackson lost their leading scorer in Jeremy Williamson to Lansing Sexton and head coach Ramsey Nichols to Kalamazoo Central but 6’4” ’13 guard Tarae Potter ran the show like a veteran and future college player.  Throw in 6’6” ’13 center Cliff Kelly who showed soft hands, toughness, command of the boards, and the obvious wide body on Friday at Belleville, Jackson will make a run in the CAAC-Blue.  I’ll go as far to say that Jackson has enough roll players that new head coach Jeremy Patterson has a serious shot at earning coach of the year in Class A, win a district, and make a charge to the Breslin. 

Can Rockford return to the Breslin?  A year ago no one expected Rockford to make the Class A championship game.  Heck, new coach Nick Allen was replacing a legend in Steve Majerle, they didn’t have the fire-power, and they had to go through two-time defending state champion Kalamazoo Central, or was it going to be E. Lansing, Lansing Eastern, or Okemos. 5’8” ’13 point guard Chad Carlson emerged as a player who knew how to run the offense, provide quickness on either side of the ball, and make plays.  While most knew 6’2” ’13 shooting guard Chase Fairchild could shoot not many expected him to go Brad Redford (Frankenmuth ’08) or Mike Green (Saginaw ’09) from behind the arc.  Whoever comes out of the state’s western bracket in Class A is a crap shoot but Rockford won’t surprise anyone this season just listen to Romulus’ team after last season’s semi-final loss. 

Lansing Sexton’s front-court vs. Detroit Consortium’s front-court was an anticipated match up not only because of all the star power but that it featured what many have considered as the top team in Class C (Consortium) over the last two years vs. the two time defending Class B champion in Sexton.  Consortium has been disappointed each of those years but with recent UTEP commit 6’7” power forward Vince Hunter and top ten national freshman 6’6” Josh Jackson that determination and motor level seemed to have been turned up from 9 to 12.  While Jackson can play the 1-4 and create scoring opportunities on his own, Sexton struggled at the guard spot and opportunities for 6’7” Oakland commit Jalen Hayes and 6’10” ’15 forward Trevor Manuel were missed. Consortium won each of their games when starters played and the importance of Sexton’s graduated backcourt stood out like a Datsun truck at a monster truck rally.  Sexton will need 6’ ’13 point guard Tyson Thomas to provide the ability to get the ball inside to Hayes and Manuel and then he and his back-court mates will have open jumpers all day long.  Jackson transfer 6'1" '13 guard Jeremy Williamson won't be eligible until the end of January so if Sexton looks a little slow getting out of the gate don't fret Big Red fans, help is on the way.

Where some think that athleticism doesn’t matter or isn’t a key factor to high school basketball and college recruiting, it was very difficult to think that the highly athletic senior trio of Harper Woods Chandler Parks’ 6’3” wing Darius Bean, Saginaw Arthur Hills’ 6’4” forward Jalen Adams, or Westland John Glenn’s 6’2” wing Richie Roberts won’t have their share of opportunities to play on the next level.  Coaches love to see the potential and mold super athletes into more skilled basketball players.  I don’t know how often I hear about a player in this regard, “If he develops his ball-handling and shot off the dribble he could be a real player.”  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but don’t believe for a second that coaches see coaching a player up and development isn’t a form of competition.

While the anticipated match-up of the Michigan-bound Walton and Saginaw Arthur Hill’s 6’3” ’15 Eric Davis didn’t happen on Saturday afternoon, it was Adams and Bean who traded highlight dunks and sky reaching rebounds.

At the end of the day, one can determine scrimmages how they want but remember that while the players compete to show that they are dominant, many times coaches are reluctant to show their full hand as they tinker with lineups, sit slightly injured players, and even play possum as they fully expect to see an opponent on a neutral site in March.  It wasn’t long ago that current Northern Illinois assistant and former Saginaw head coach Lou Dawkins sat former Michigan State Spartan and current Sacramento Kings’ rookie Draymond Green in 2007’s Lansing Eastern Scrimmage because of a slight injury.  Saginaw lost each game that day and many were mind-bent in how this team could repeat as Class A Champion especially when Detroit Pershing looked so dominant.  Saginaw went on to beat Pershing in the Class A Championship that season.  Just a reminder of why they play the games.

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