The Michigan basketball program held its Elite Camp Thursday, and it was a bit different than last year. The first thing you notice is the camp has been broadened to include even those prospects that won't be playing college basketball. As a result, the talent disparity on the floor was immense at times, but the effort given by some of the youngsters that won't be playing on a college floor was many times better than that of those that will.
We tried to limit most of our evaluations to the instances when the college prospects were on the floor against similar talents.
As to be expected, there was a huge emphasis on players in the 2012 class.
Austin Angel, Rockford (IL) Boylan Central Catholic, SG, 2012
In Austin's second year at Michigan's camp, he was noticeably bigger compared to the last time we saw him. He has definitely been busy in the weight room, and that appeared to make him more confident when utilizing his underrated off-the-dribble game. He is overly athletic and won't make a living going to the hole, but opponents have to respect that ability, especially when you take into account his sweet perimeter shot. The biggest knock on him right now is he still takes too long to get his shot off. If he quickens his release, his effectiveness could rise dramatically.
D.J. Balentine, Kokomo (IN), PG, 2012
D.J. played very solidly Thursday, which shouldn't come as a surprise. The 6-1, 175-pound floor general is a great leader on the floor. He made buckets and scored well, but his jumper wasn't as consistent as we've seen it. On defense the effort was there, but he is not as quick as many scouts would like him to be. That's likely what separates him from Kevin Ferrell on Michigan's 2012 recruiting board right now. Once again, though, he does everything else well at the point guard position. He definitely is one to keep on the radar.
Dan Chilcote, Jackson (MI) Lumen Christi, SF/PF, 2011
It was the usual stuff from Chilcote Thursday… hustle points, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, versatility and jumpers continue to be a part of his game. College coaches are starting to call daily and inquire about this improving talent. He may not dazzle you, but at the end of the day he is a stat sheet stuffer that can drain the three..
Matt Costello, Bay City (MI) Western, PF, 2012
Costello is a very versatile player that can handle the ball, is a threat to shoot from 15 and out, block shots, runs the floor, and is a willing defender. What's most impressive about him is not the points, rebounds or blocked shots... it's his non-stop motor and pure hustle. He is a coach's dream in that respect. He still needs to get a lot stronger, but he is the quintessential "John Beilein big man" that can shoot, does all the dirty work, and is unselfish. He's not Evan Smotrycz putting it on the floor, but if he gets crwded on the perimeter, he can make opponents pay. The Wolverines are extremely high on the Bay City native, and the feeling on the part of Costello and his family is definitely mutual.
Markus Crider, Huber Heights (OH) Wayne, SG/SF, 2011
Physically, Crider was probably the most impressive player in attendance. At about 6-5, 205-lbs, he just looks the part of a high major player. What was missing from his game was consistent effort. There were a number of non-college bound players in attendance at the camp, and that could have contributed to his lack of vigor at times… but that certainly is no excuse. He should have frequently dominated play (during one game there was a kid on the floor that was about 4-11 and 130-pounds). On a more positive note, when he put his mind to it he was very adept at getting to the basket and was excellent in transition. Not the most explosive athlete, but certainly athletic enough to get his shot off in traffic.
Sharon Dorsey-Walker, Detroit (MI) Pershing, SG, 2012
Dorsey-Walker was one of the more surprising players at the camp, not because of his ability to get to the rack… which we knew he could do … but because of his ability to drain deep jumpers. This 6-4 combo guard kept opponents off balance with his double faceted attack. He proved to be one of the better scorers on the day.
Sean Grennan, Toms River (NJ) Monsignor Donovan, PG, 2011
Grennan was the most effective point guard at the camp. The Jersey native displayed outstanding court vision in the halfcourt and in transition. He was adept a delivering the ball in a variety of ways. Bounce pass through traffic? Check. Behind the back pass? Check. His deceptive quickness and strong handle helped him beat a number of unsuspecting opponents off the dribble as well. Top it off with a strong three point shot and you have a good explanation for why the Wolverines appear to be fairly high on him. He reportedly made it to campus a day early to check out Michigan's program more in depth. Stay tuned.
Javontae Hawkins, Flint (MI) Powers, SG, 2012
Hawkins is a big time player. He continued to show he is a high major prospect in the class of 2012 and will easily be among the Mr. Basketball candidates, if not the winner. He can get any shot on the floor he wants and gets to the rack with ease. He can also go on torrid runs from beyond the arc. Furthermore, his long arms and quickness could allow him to become an excellent defender. This will only add to his impressive game. The comparisons to Durrell Summers are apt when you look at their physical attributes. Hawkins, though, is better off the dribble at the same stage of development. Will he ever become as good as Summers overall? Time will tell.
E.C. Matthews, Romulus (MI), PG, 2013
E.C. is a sophomore- to-be that you will hear about for years to come. He has great size for a point guard at 6-4 and has a very high basketball I.Q. He is a hard worker, has very good handles, and an ability to get in the lane and finish. Coming from Nate Oats' program, it's not surprising that he also has a strong work ethic. Hs jumper will need to become more consistent, but he has plenty of time to hone that skill. Easily, E.C. is one of the top players in his class.
Monte Morris, Flint (MI) Beecher, PG, 2013
Wow! To actually see a young player that understands the game to the degree that Monte does, especially at point guard position, is amazing. He has easiness about himself out there and the way he handles his team. He is very good at seeing the floor and getting others involved. Getting to the rack and finishing is not a problem for him. At this stage, he seems like he is going to be a speed demon. As should be expected, he needs a little work on his game. He is a young man who can put up points when needed. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product in 2013.
Glenn Robinson III, St.John (IN) Lake Central, SF, 2012
This kid has big shoes to fill. The son of Glenn Robinson Jr., the former Purdue standout and NBA All-Star, has a game much like his Dad's. Just like the "Big Dog", Robinson III isn't a big time run-jump athlete, but at 6-5, 195 lbs. he is a skilled inside/outside player that can put it on the deck, is strong enough to finish amongst the trees, and can rebound in traffic. Also worthy of note is his in-between game. On a few occasions he showed a feathery touch on his runner. He took it right to a more athletic youngster in Kaleq Spicer, and got the better of the match-up. Glen is still growing and is a young man to certainly keep an eye on. Michigan certainly is.
Sean Sheldon - Traverse City (MI) St. Francis, PF 2012
Sheldon is a workman down low. He was the more tenacious rebounders present, played tough defense in the post, and converted the majority of time that he got the ball around the basket. He was ignored at times by the guards and didn't show the sort of inside-out proficiency that Costello did (which served to further limit his offensive touches), but he still turned in a solid effort.
Khaliq Spicer – Dearborn Heights Robichaud, PF, 2012
Spicer is a big man that plays a center now, but he will be a four when he gets to college. He is an explosive leaper that rebounds and scores well in traffic. He has solid footwork that allows him to create shots that otherwise wouldn't be there. His energy level never waivers, and for a big man, that's a beautiful sight. Would like to see him develop and right or left hand hook shot. As a matter of fact he'll repertoire of post moves is fairly limited at the moment. That will come with time, as will the added muscle to his 6-6, 190-lb. frame. That said, even at his current size you have to like his aggressiveness in the post. He never backs down and is always moving forward. His personality may be laid back, but his game is in your face.
Denzel Valentine – Lansing Sexton, SG/SF, 2012
Watching Denzel, he is not very athletic, but he gets the job done. He makes plays off the dribble, going to the basket, and finishing at the rim. As a passer, he is elite. With a high basketball IQ that allows him to see the game that others don't, his lack of athletic ability is mitigated. That said the athleticism factor appears to have others higher on the board at the moment.
Anton Wilson – Flint Carman Ainsworth, SG, 2012
Anton is definitely one of the hot names on Michigan's 2012 recruiting board. The 6-5, 170-poinder pairs a strong handle with a deft shooting touch. He rotated seamlessly between the one and the two throughout the day, but he most impressive as a two guard where he showed outstanding range. He was particularly adept at pulling up from three in transition. He also could put it on the floor and get to the cup, but his slender frame sometimes inhibits his ability to finish. Opponents would often bump and ride him off of his path to the basket and other times he wasn't able to finish because of contact. That, though, is likely a temporary issue. Strength and mass will certainly come over the next few years, and definitely will increase when he gets into a college strength & conditioning program. Did we mention this is a hot player on Michigan's board?
Dante Williams – Ann Arbor Huron, F, 2011
This versatile youngster has really seen his stock rise in the aftermath of Huron's state tournament run. The 6-6, 185-pounder was effective off the bounce and was decent from long range. He needs to get stronger to take the pounding in the lane, but he has ability. Michigan definitely appears to be tracking him.