Hoops Overload

After missing Michigan's open gym on Sunday, I spent the last couple of days at a practice with "The Family" and at Thursday's open gym session at Crisler. For details on those outings and latest news, click the link.

Latest News:

After being cut from the U.S. Junior World Championship Team, Daniel Horton will be a counselor at The Nike All American Camp (which starts tomorrow).

We hear from sources that Mohammed Tangara will visit Michigan in August.

Graham Brown has been holding his own with the USA Junior Team. The Red, White, and Blue has advanced to the Gold Medal game after lopsided victories over Team Africa (97-69) and Team Canada (102-71). Their opponent for the top prize will be the Global Games Select Team, a team the US already beat 97-77 a few weeks ago. For links to game stories and box scores, click here.

The Family is in the midst of preparation for the Nike Peach Jam, which will take place in a few weeks in South Carolina. Speedy Walker has taken 5 teams to the event, but has never come up with the win. A big time post presence would certainly increase his chances, but MSU commit Marquise Gray has summer school, as does Detroit MLK sophomore-to-be, Tracy Smith. The following players will "play up" for the tournament:

Chris Douglas-Roberts 6-5 175 Jr. Wing, Detroit Cass Tech
Brandon Wolfe 6-8 220 Jr. PF/C, Detroit Redford
Lionel Sullivan 6-6 215 Jr. PF, Detroit DePorres

I dropped by practice Wednesday to talk to the guys and observe them in their prep work. Joe-Joe seemed to not have cooled down from long range after lighting it up at the hoop festival last week. He was on target from deep from the start of practice. He cramped up a little and sat out the rest of the night. He said that he would be leaving for the All-American camp tomorrow(Satuday), so he's going to rest up a bit.

Ronnie Coleman was really working on putting the ball on the floor and looked pretty good doing it. I talked to him a bit about the upcoming season and he said that he would still be playing the 4, but that he would also be seeing a lot more time at the 3 (as his coach told me earlier in the month). He was really excited about Jerret Smith joining his team. "That's exactly what we needed, " Ron said. "He's really going to open things up down low for me!"

I'm not sure where Jerret will end up ranked. Some don't have a firm appreciation of what this young man brings to the table. He can command a game with his passing ability and that's a trait that some observers take for granted. Other players even take it for granted sometime. When you package his dishing ability with his size (measured in a 6-3 185 at the Hoop Jamboree), you have a kid that I think the UM staff wouldn't mind seeing next year! Jerret can handle the rock like few others, and though he needs to keep improving, he's ALREADY a good shooter from the outside. It's going to be scary to see what he can do at Romulus this year.

I saw Chris Douglas-Roberts for the first time at practice on Wednesday. I have to admit at being a little taken by his skill set. His ability to handle the ball at his size is intriguing. He's also very crafty with the ball near the hoop. Vince Baldwin's comparison to Jamal Crawford is seemingly very apt. (Check that story out here: Michigan Preps Have What it Takes at Jamboree)

I've seen Anthony Sparks (Detroit Murray Wright), Brandon Wolfe (Detroit Redford), Jerret Smith, Jairocey Simpson (Detroit Henry Ford), and Lionel Sullivan (DePorres) in person…and I saw Eric Devendorf (Bay City Central) torch Flint Central on tape. I love Jerret's game, and Devendorf is a dog…but Douglas-Roberts made the best first impression on me. I haven't seen him in a game yet, so it's far too early to proclaim him the best in his class at this point. That said, he's a definite contender IMO. He can run all 3 backcourt positions effectively. He'll need to work on his shot and add some weight, but this young man has the raw tools to be very very good. Speedy told me, "Chris is special. He can pretty much do it all. When Malik leaves next year this is going to be his team." Between Jerret, Chris, and Ramar Smith, the future certainly is bright for The Family.

Another reason I stopped by practice was to get a feel for the way Speedy works. I've already voiced the opinion that he's one of the class guys on the entire summer circuit. Watching him conduct his practice, it was obvious that he's also one of the most knowledgeable. They work a lot on transition offense. They go through all the different scenarios in five-minute intervals. They run 2-man breaks continuously and practice pulling up if the baseline is taken away, going up strong if the defender over commits, or passing it if the defender doesn't play the middle. They also run mock games where alumnae can come in and participate.

One of the treats of the evening was when Mike Helms showed up. For those who don't know Helms, he's the 6' 195lbs two-guard that led the nation in scoring at Oakland University of ¾ of the year. He was casually observing until he got tired of Speedy's ribbing about not being able to play with the young guys. Mike didn't come prepared to play and Speedy claimed that was just an excuse. Mike said, "You know what…you're right!" He told Joe Joe to take off his shorts and his shoes. Here you had these young men in their underwear and socks as they exchanged gym shorts and shoes right there in the middle of the gym! Mike was serious. He went out there and did his thing. He can get up with the best of them. The great thing is he had nothing but positive things to say about the effect Speedy has had on his career and his life. He called Walker "my second father." All of the players pretty much echoed those sentiments. I'll have more on the inner workings of the summer circuit as well as the players' feelings on Walker in the coming months. I think it's important for Michigan fans to get a feel for what Speedy is doing because he's molding young men in a positive way…and many of those young men will matriculate to Michigan. (because Speedy will continue to get top talent).

For more on this practice as well details from the open gym outing, go to our premium message board here.

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