We (my brother and I) showed up at the gym very early to make sure we got seats that provided an excellent vantage point for the contest. The junior varsity game was still in progress when we arrived. Upon walking into the gym, the nostalgia immediately hit. Not too long ago we were Flint Central Indians (my brother on the basketball squad, and myself on the football squad). Seeing those uniforms brought it all back.
The JV contest wasn't very entertaining, as The Saginaw Trojans were winning big over the Indians. Just as our interest in everything started to diminish, Lloyd Carr and Fred Jackson walked in. They took their seats in the bleachers by Lamarr's mom. After they got comfortable, there was no shortage of visitors who came by to exchange pleasantries. They looked right at home as they fielded questions and shook hands. Both coaches worked the gym quite effectively (even making their way around the gym to rub shoulders with folks).
A little while after the JV contest ended, Saginaw's biggest Michigan fan, LexieGoBlue, showed up. I wasn't at all surprised by her presence in the gymnasium since Lex is on top of all things that have to do with Wolverines in Saginaw! That said, I was VERY surprised to see a few guys that I grew up with show up at the game. Jason Turner (younger brother of former Michigan star hoopster Eric Turner) and Fred "Boo" Jackson Jr. (son of UM coach Fred Jackson) were there to see another in the long line of PG's of Turner lineage at Central, (Jason's nephew) "Little" John Goode. As if the nostalgia wasn't already thick, seeing those guys made it even more so. We all played on Central's 1993 State Semifinal football team (ranked #19 in the nation by USA Today). Another guy I grew up with, Andre Weathers, was also on that team. After talking for a bit, we all prepared for the opening tip.
from left to right (Little John, Fred, and Jason)
Saginaw's Herbert Warren came out on fire as Central left him wide open behind the three-point arc on numerous occasions. He hit 17 of his game high 31 in the first quarter. However, it was fitting that Little John keyed a comeback by the Indians. He hit a few three pointers and pull up jump shots. He then threw a couple of alley oops to Breyohn Watson that had us thinking we were watching Phi Slamma Jamma!
The Central Indians seemed to be controlling the contest with consistent drives to the basket and swarming defense, which forced the Trojans into a lot of turnovers. The Indians were able to expand their lead to 7 points, but the Trojans wouldn't let it go any further.
Lamarr Woodley may not have notched the biggest stats of the night, but his enforcement in the paint (on both ends of the court) changed the complexion of the game. He started to cut off many of the drives that Central had found success with early in the game. He turned in a breathtaking block when one of the Indians came down on a fast break. Lamarr skied and then absolutely cuffed the ball. He also threw his body around, which stymied much of Central's offensive rebounding.
On the offensive end, Lamarr became much more assertive going to the basket. He took the ball up with authority and served notice that he was going to dominate the paint. At one point in the second half Lamarr went up so hard that one of the Central players was bowled over. The player got up and approached Lamarr in a confrontational manner. Lamarr, of course, did not back down. However, just when they were nose to nose … Lamarr gave him a big smirk as if to say, "Are you serious?! I outweigh you by 70 pounds!" The crowd also let it be known that messing with Lamarr would NOT be the smart thing to do!
Lamarr Woodley leads the Saginaw charge
The other Trojans also turned up their defensive effort. This forced Central into a lot of bad shots and turnovers. In turn, Saginaw took command of the game and won 65-54 over the league-leading place Indians. We had Lamarr unofficially for 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 assists, and 1 outstanding block. Much more on Lamarr can be found in this premium report: Lamarr Woodley Scouting Report
During the game, I happened to spot Jerome Jackson across the court in the crowd. I went over to speak with him after the game and we stepped to the side to chat for a bit. He didn't say a whole lot "on the record." That said, the tidbit of on-the-record info that he gave me should be encouraging to Michigan fans. It can be found here: Jerome Jackson update
Based on the entirety of the conversation (along with some pretty candid conversations we've had previously), I feel very good about Michigan's chances with Jackson. We'll know one way or another on February 5.
Finally, I wanted to take the time to express what a great kid Jerome is. Should he choose Michigan, I am certain that most fans will find him to be one of the more pleasant guys to be around. As for those who have questions about his game…let me just say, "Don't sleep on Jerome!" It's true that he isn't one of those kids who will wow you with a 4.3 forty or a 10.5 hundred meter time. But, I've seen this kid play in person a number of times now and what I can tell you is he gets the job done. He's fast enough (legit 4.5 range) to get to the outside and strong enough to NEVER be brought down by one guy. That's one of the many things fans of whatever team he chooses will love. He is NOT going to be brought down by an arm tackle, he is NOT going to be brought down by one guy, and he will always fall forward. Notwithstanding those things, his most impressive attributes are his instincts and vision. He simply has a knack for finding holes and getting positive yardage. Backs slower and smaller than Jerome have had hall of fame careers by possessing those traits. We can't forecast whether Jerome's accomplishments will be as great. But, we can say that this kid has the make-up and work ethic to become very successful in his own right.
Saginaw High vs. Flint Central Recap
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