Morris & Lubick Shine in Team Camp

GoBlueWolverine's Sam Webb breaks down the notables from Michigan's second annual elite high school. Darius Morris impressed, Nate Lubick took his game to another level, an in-state sleeper rises up, and a young point guard continues to turn heads. Recaps of a few the best games we observed.

Game 1 (Red Oxen vs. Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard)

Darius Morris arrived in the morning and promptly made it over to Crisler jet-lagged, but ready to play.  Little did he know he was walking into a Hornets nest.  He was on the All Star "Red Oxen" team comprised of Morris, Nate Lubick, John Bailey, Corey Person, Stu Douglass, Shea Sumpter, and Vonn Jones.  That team had a target on its back, and their first opponent, Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, took aim at it.

Richard's Josh Herbeck had a non-descript showing during the Elite camp the prior two days, but in this contest, he was on.  His jumper was flowing like water and he benefitted from a number of open opportunities thanks to his teammate, Eso Akunne.  Akunne rained in jumpers and had a number of  strong drives to the basket. He is like a "diet" Jamelle Cornely. His game is built on his strength and versatility and he is an impossible match-up on the high school level.  He overpowers or shoots over smaller quicker players, and blows by bigger, longer ones.  He is not the athlete that Cornley is, so that's where the comparison stops.  All that said, he was extremely effective, and Gabriel Richard needed every bit of his productivity. His coach encouraged him loudly from the bench and even sniped at Morris, which made things even more interesting.

Darius Morris

The 6-3 point guard out of California can't weigh more than 170 pounds, but his swagger adds another 50. This kid was everything you've heard about and more. He wasn't inserted into the game until midway through the first half but he made his presence known immediately with his tremendous ball handling skill and stellar passing ability. He almost pulled off a pass Pistol Pete Maravich style, but it was mishandled by his recipient. That's when he started to look to Nate Lubick for support. Nate ran up and down the floor like a race horse and Morris rewarded him. He also handled the ball well, completed outlet passes, grabbed every rebound in his vicinity, and finished strong at the rim. Morris took a spill on a drive to the basket later in the game.  He fell on his knee, casing a few nervous moments.  He came back, but Richard was able to hold the Oxen off.  They won when Herbeck knocked a clutch three pointer at the end to win it.

Game 2 (Red Oxen vs. Romulus)

Morris entered Red Oxen's second game against Romulus still hobbling from the collision he sustained in game one.  It took him a while to get loosened up (and despite it never being 0 and being clearly fatigued from the five-hour plane ride) he eventually came around.  After getting up a down the floor a little he seemed to get warm and started to defeat his man at will.  He has the full arsenal… a nice cross-over, a hesitation bounce, and a perimeter shot that causes defenders to have to crowd him.  It made for a frustrating coaching day for Romulus head man Nate Oats, who was constantly barking out instructions to his players on how best to defend the California native.  He scolded them for the lack of intensity out on the floor.  Romulus responded with a barrage of perimeter shots, including a few from one of the heroes at Eastern Michigan's team camp last week, senior-to-be guard Rashard Porter (he was the youngster that hit the buzzer beating three that knocked out Keith Appling & Detroit Pershing).  Romulus seemed to make a collective decision to play more physical, and Porter spearheaded that effort against Morris.  At one point he delivered a forearm that sent Morris flailing into the sideline toward the bleachers.  Morris then gathered himself and had a look on his face that said "I'm not going to let this guy punk me."  After calling a foul, an observant ref noticed Morris making a b-line for Porter and ran some interference.  Morris had to be physically restrained from putting his hands on his overly aggressive opponent.  

Darius Morris shoots over Rashaed Porter

You could tell once play resumed that In his second game with a group of unfamiliar teammates, Morris began to get a better feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the guys he was playing with.  He created a number of open opportunities for Douglass on the perimeter and also set up the incoming freshman with the pass of the day.  It came on a drive to the basket in which he drew two defenders and delivered a blind over the shoulder pass to.  It hit Douglass right in the hands and in perfect position to make an uncontested lay-up.  Unfortunately Douglass didn't convert the shot, but that did nothing diminish the beauty of the pass.

Nate Lubick

The other standout performer during the game was Lubick.  He was a true difference maker with his inside-out ability.  Romulus had no answer for it.  He was particularly impressive was his ball-handling ability.  On a number of occasions he grabbed the rebound and triggered the break himself.  It wasn't until game three came around that any opponent was able to truly slow him down he came up against a formidable foe.  The Red Oxen closed this game out at the free throw line to take the record to 1-1.

Game 3 (Red Oxen vs. Clarkston)

We talked about Clarkston's Matt Kamieniecki during the Elite camp as one top performers in attendance.  Well in his squad's match-up with the Red Oxen and Nate Lubick, he was even better.  The 6-7 athlete was aggressive and matched Lubick's physical style.  He also showed his quick feet in beating Lubick off the dribble from the perimeter.  This was a battle... and while Lubick clearly was the most impressive big man over the three days of hoops in Ann Arbor, Kamieniecki unquestionably turned heads.  Amazing considering he hadn't done anything basketball related for over a month.  He had been concentrating on baseball (he is the son of former Yankees pitcher and Michigan Man Scott Kamieniecki). If college hoops are in his future, he'll be a target for a number of schools, including presumably Michigan. Stay tuned.

Match up of the day: Matt Kamieniecki vs. Nate Lubick

When all was said Clarkston did have enough in the tank to pull out the victory.  The Red Oxen's running game proved to be too much and they ran away with the victory.

Game 3 (U of D Jesuit vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill)

The last game of the day we observed was U of D Jesuit versus Saginaw Arthur Hill and Maurice Cooper-Jones.  It was a game that Morgan's team won by three points… and it should have been by more.  Morgan once again showed that he is a capable perimeter shooter.  Down low, however, the Lumberjacks got really physical with him.  That combined with his high degree of unselfishness caused him to defer to his teammates a little more than he had to.   He has shown a great deal of improvement to date in his conditioning and effort.  The next step will be in showing equal growth in his aggressiveness, physicality, and ability to complete plays down low.

Jordan Morgan

The real story of this game, though, was the play of Maurice Cooper Jones.  Anyone who has seen him play for any period of time was not surprised by his performance.  He quite simply gets it done.  GoBlueWolverine's Andre Barthwell first noticed him when Greg McMath introduced "Reese" at the next one in his stable last summer.  This summer we saw him do his thing at the Izzo Shootout, then again at the Elite camp, and then again at the team camp.  The respect that he commands an extreme amount of respect from older more established players like Keith Appling is what's been a little startling.  But like we said after the elite camp, he is making believers out everyone he faces.

Maurice Cooper-Jones

In the game against U of D, the Lumberjacks were down at one point by double digits.  Cooper-Jones then turned into a one-man gang, bringing his team back virtually single handedly.   He showed earlier in the day that he is clearly a better player than Mike Talley (even though they didn't really square off head to head in the game between their two teams).  In the game against Morgan's squad, he was even better.  He attacked the basket completing pull-ups, step back jumpers, fade-aways, and contortionist shots.  U of D tried to get physical, but the diminutive guard just kept coming.  When he left the floor he had the scratches, cutes, and bruises on his arms to prove it.  The difficulty level of his attempts is always high, but he has a great understanding of angles and how to get his shot off.  To top it off, his court vision is extremely good.  He is more of a true point guard than TaJuan Porter was at the same stage of development.  Time after time he delivered crisp passes to open teammates when the defense collapsed on him.  Unfortunately, he is not blessed with a lot of finishers on his team.  Still, his play is/was impressive.  He plays bigger than his size and he does it with swagger.  The smack of the glass on his two-handed lay-up late in the game was quintessential "Reese."  He is definitely one to follow over the years.

Another side note…
Big Will Campbell was there playing the enforcer role next to Shannon Williams on Cass Tech's hoop squad.  He is definitely a football player.

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