It was a fun time for basketball on Michigan's campus Friday and GoBlueWolverine was there for most of the day. Here are our top ten performers in attendance (which is not the quite the same as the top 10 prospects... more like a combination of performance and potential). Stay tuned tomorrow for our camp overview feature which details the significance of this event as it relates to the future success of the program. With no further delay...here are the top 10 performers based on our in-person observations.
1.) Keenan Coleman - 2009 (Flint Central)
Keenan was probably the most intriguing player at the camp… and as a Flint Central alum, watching this kid obviously hit a little closer to home. At 6-3 185 pounds, Coleman is a combo guard that can be equally adept at running a team or carrying the scoring load. He is a righty that seems to actually prefer going to his left. Most of his basket attacks were to his off-hand side and he was generally strong enough to finish in traffic. He is a good, not great, shooter capable of getting on a roll from long range. He also has a fairly good handle, but it is going to have to get a bit tighter. He often dribbles too high, which could cause problems against quicker-handed defenders. That said, the bigger issue for him at this point is finding a comfortable balance between when to score and when to pass. On a team in which he is so clearly the top talent, and which also lacks size, Coleman often tries to do too much.
The best thing to happen to this kid…and to Flint Central basketball… is the hiring or former Saginaw Buena Vista Coach Chris Chaffer. One of the biggest knocks on Coleman has been that he can be a bit stubborn at times (some high school observers have tagged him with "not-coachable" tag). Chaffer has never been one to bend to the will of a kid…no matter how talented. He didn't do it with Tory Jackson, so there's no way he will do it with Coleman. In his four weeks on the job at Central, he has already shown that he still has the same old-school approach. A few weeks back during a summer league contest in Flint, it appeared that Coleman wasn't passing the ball. Chaffer benched him as result and made it unmistakably clear that the seat next to him would be Coleman's frequent location if he didn't make more of an effort to run the offense. The youngster obviously resisted, claiming that there was no one open to pass to. Chaffer retorted…"you have to be looking for the open man to find him." In a battle of wills with coaches like Chaffer, the kid will have to concede. The veteran coach is willing to lose games to prove a point… and that's what happened when Coleman didn't make the trip to Eastern Michigan's team camp with Central last weekend (by his choice). The good news is signs are pointing to Coleman figuring it out and that he is starting to buy in. Just five days later he was back with Central at Michigan's team camp. If he buys in to what Chaffer is trying to instill, the kid could blow up more than he already has. In addition, he will have instilled in the young man the type of mindset that will make him look even more appealing in the eyes of college coaches.
2.) James Steel - 2009 (Detroit Community)
If Coleman was the most intriguing player at the camp…it was only by the slimmest of hairs over Detroit Community Big Man James Steel. We use the term big man loosely because while Steel stands 6-8, we'd be surprised if he weighs 190 pounds. Despite that slender physique, the youngster has definite upside. He has legit range out to 18-feet, and he is showing an ever-improving ability to put it on the floor. He is more skilled than athletic (in other words he is not an explosive guy), but he is still a good athlete. At the same time, he sometimes gets knocked around in the paint and gets fatigued as a result of the physical pounding. Still, it's easy to see that he is willing throw his boy around inside. It's not the most effective of strategies against burlier big men…but it speaks to his attitude. He has some dog in him…and that means that a college coach could really have a player on his hands with 20-30 pounds of additional muscle.
3.) Nate Lubick - 2010 (Southborough, MA)
We've already talked about one clear 2010 target earlier this spring when we profiled West Virginia PG Noah Cottrill. Well, there was another in attendance at Michigan's team camp Friday, and he traveled all of the way from Massachusetts. Nate Lubick, a 6-8, 215-pound forward from St. Mark's prep in Southborough, MA falls right in line with what we've affectionately dubbed a "John Beilein big man" He can step out and really stroke it all of the way out to the three point line. He'll need to work on his handle, but that's something will likely get better with time. The game where he really impressed was in his squad's victory of Deshonte' Riley and Detroit Country Day. Playing on an all-star squad (of sorts) called Red Oxen (which consisted of players that came in without teams), Lubick was saddled with the stiffest test in his match up with Riley. Despite clearly not being the athlete that his Country Day counterpart is, Lubick gave Riley fits because of his willingness to bang around and hustle down low. In the head to head, you have to give Lubick the nod. Passion and fire sometime outweigh talent. That was the case here. By the way, did we mention that he can shoot it? This is one to watch in the coming years.
4.) Deshonte Riley - 2009 (Detroit Country Day)
There wasn't an athlete in attendance better than Riley. At 6-10, 215-220 pounds, he moves effortlessly around the basket and is an intimidating presence on the defensive end. However, there are sometimes periods where he looks disinterested. If he ever puts it all together he could be a dominant force. As it stands right now, Forest Gump's metaphorical reference to life applies to Riley's game… It's like a box of chocolates…. you never know what you're going to get.
5.) Ben Simons - 2009 (Cadillac)
This young man has an absolutely beautiful stroke. His game will go to another level if/when he gains more strength. On his best day, he appears to mimic Mike Dunleavy's style. To be clear… I am not saying he is as good as Dunleavey was at the same stage, that he is the athlete that Dunleavy was at the same stage, or that he will ever come close to reaching that level. I'm only saying that Ben's style of play is similar. He can put it on the floor, but will need to become more adept at going both ways. Furthermore, he will have to improve his strength because when he does manage to get to the basket, he is often knocked off of his shot because he is so thin. All that said, this youngster could be very very good in a few years.
6.) Donovan Kirk - 2009 (Detroit Country Day)
Ok…This young man didn't play with Country Day at the team camp, but we still had to put him on the list. He missed the trip to Ann Arbor because he took a blow to the chest in a game the night before and went to get checked out on Friday. GoBlueWolverine was on hand to watch him Thursday night at the Romulus summer league, and based on what we saw, we know he would have been somewhere on this list. At 6-7, 215 pounds Kirk is an active player in the paint area that can step out and hit the 15-18-footer. He also can put it on the floor better than most kids his size. But as is the case with every other big man on this list, he will need to improve that aspect of his game to reach his true potential. The best part of Kirk's game is the fact that he is absolutely willing to do the dirty work. Despite his obvious talent level, he is happy to crash the boards, dive for loose balls, and play defense…even if it comes at the expense of his offensive numbers. When it comes to mentality… think Brian Grant. He wasn't hitting his jumper Thursday night in Romulus… but he was knocking them down earlier in the week and has demonstrated the ability to do so consistently. He was on campus for a Michigan visit last Wednesday and appears to be a definite 2009 target. We'll have more on him throughout the summer.
7.) Stuart Douglas - 2008 (Carmel, IN)
This Hoosier State guard is an unknown in most circles, but make no mistake about it… he can fill it up from deep. His stroke certainly caught Lou Dawkins' eye. The Saginaw coach was extremely impressed afterward remarking, "Damn that kid can shoot it!" At a shade over 6-1, he isn't the biggest guy…but he plays with a lot of heart. He is willing to drive in among the trees…but lets make no mistake about it… this kid is a flat out shooter.
8.) Corey Person - 2008 (Kalamazoo Central)
It was Person not Douglas who bombed Red Oxen to victory over Detroit Country Day. The 6-3 guard was being mildy recruited by the former Michigan coaching staff a few years back, but his star stagnated a bit because of how he was relegated to playing in the post for his high school team. Now back at home on the perimeter, his game is starting to flourish. He can fill it up from the outside and was 4/5 from three-point range in the game we saw. In addition he is a 4.0 student. He'd be a solid pick-up for a mid-major team, but also good option for a high major to bring on under an academic scholarship. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop.
9.) Jarvis Wise -2010 (Grosse Point South)
Noah Cottrill he is not, but he is a very solid player. At 5-10, 160 Wise does a little of everything for his team. This youngster really understands the game and excels and getting his teammates the ball in positions where they can do something with it. He thinks the game extremely well for a youngster his age. Teams tried to press him and he showed a good handle...always getting out of it. He can get to the rack and will score will necessary, but looks like he is a passer first. He is definitely a youngster to keep an eye on in the years to come
10.) Jarrell Pratt - 2010 (Detroit Northwestern)
Pratt is an up and coming post player, but he is still pretty raw. We all know it can take a while for big guys to develop... some longer than others. What we know about Pratt right now is he is definitely D1, we just don't know whether it will be mid major or high major.
(Others that we heard perfomed well but that we didn't get a chance to watch at length 2008 G Demetrius Ford from Detroit Pershing, 2009 G Demetrius Ward from Cody, and 2010 G Keith Appling also from Pershing)