MAC Schools Move In on Yeazel

With the July evaluation period now completed, shooting guard Jon Yeazel of Middleville (Mich.) Thornapple-Kellogg High School is among the hottest prospects in the state of Michigan's 2005 class. Central Michigan University was one of the first schools to recruit Yeazel but the Chippewas are not alone.

Jon Yeazel has had a busy week.

Saturday, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard celebrated his 17th birthday. On Monday, Yeazel received a belated birthday present that he'd been waiting and hoping for - a scholarship offer from Central Michigan.

"It's a nice birthday present," Yeazel said. "It's a great option for me. I have a lot of interest in CMU."

And so do many other Mid-American Conference schools have an interest in Yeazel, including Kent State, Bowling Green, and Eastern Michigan. Yeazel said he plans to visit all three schools unofficially this week.

According to his AAU coach, Darryl Matthews, of the Kalamazoo based Camp Darryl program, Yeazel is a very special player.

"My program's been around since 1999 and Jon will be the first one of my players to go D-I," Matthews said. "He's a bona-fide high riser. I liken his game to Rex Chapman. Jon is a slasher who has developed a deep range jump shot."

Perhaps nobody is more qualified to talk about Yeazel's capabilities on the hardcourt than Matthews. He's watched Yeazel blossom in his program the past four years.

"As a 14-year old, Jon played the four for us and he didn't have a jump shot," Matthews said. "He came back as a 15-year old and was one of the best shooters on the team.

"Jon is a gym rat," Matthews added. "He's up at six in the morning at the gym taking 200-400 jump shots."

Camp Darryl recently competed in the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas for the first time, finishing second in pool play (2-1) and a very respectable 3-2 overall.

Matthews said Yeazel averaged about 18 points per game in the tournament, scoring a high of 33 in one game. Yeazel also was great in the clutch according to Matthews, winning two games for Camp Darryl in the closing seconds.

"We were down one (66-65) with less than 30 seconds to go and Jon drove to the hoop and scored, was fouled, then hit the free throw for a two point win," Matthews said.

In another game for Camp Darryl, Yeazel hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 67-65 win against a team from Washington, D.C.

"I've played quite consistent all summer, averaging about 18-20 points per game," Yeazel said. "Although driving to the basket is probably my strongest point, I feel like I can do a little bit of everything."

That "little bit of everything," seems to be very popular with the college coaches right now, including CMU head coach Jay Smith and assistant Lamar Chapman, who's been recruiting Yeazel for the Chippewas.

"CMU's been on him since his junior year last November when they saw him at an open gym at Schoolcraft High School," Matthews said. "Jon is very interested in CMU and they are high on his list."

Yeazel made an unofficial visit to the CMU campus June 12 and liked what he saw.

"I like the smalltown atmosphere, it feels like home," Yeazel said. "We saw the facilities and they looked very nice. I also like CMU's motion offense, which is what we run at Middleville.

"Coach Smith and Coach Chapman are great," Yeazel added. "CMU was one of the first schools to notice me and call me and that means a lot."

Yeazel said he is very thankful for the opportunity to play Division I college basketball. He noted it's the result of "a lot of hard work and some God-given talent."

As of right now, Yeazel said his top three schools are CMU, Kent State and UNC-Wilmington. He added that he'd like to make a verbal commitment before his senior season begins at Thornapple-Kellogg High School.

"I'd definitely like to make a verbal commitment before the season starts and sign in November," Yeazel said.

After that, Yeazel said he has some unfinished business, namely helping Middleville win the O-K Gold Conference and perhaps leading the Trojans to a Class B state title.

"Drew Neitzel is gone, finally," Yeazel laughed, referring to the Michigan State bound star who played for conference rival Wyoming Park. "It should be us, South Christian and Holland Christian all challenging in the O-K Gold. I want to win the conference, win our district and go from there."

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