Matt Costello, 6'8, Dorian's Pride, 2012
Costello was a stat sheet stuffer for his team this week. He didn't always register huge point totals, but he was always a presence for his team. He made a lot of hay in the post, but was didn't hesitate to pull the trigger from deep when the opportunity presented himself. Costello has a tremendous basketball IQ. He routinely passed out double teams and found open teammates. On a number of occasions he keyed fast break opportunities with perfect outlet passes. An unfortunate elbow to the face during Thursday's championship game ended his week early. But Matt is the epitome of "John Beilein" big man. He didn't necessarily have the blow-up type of showing that he had at other events this summer, but he was still very solid and his stock is definitely still rising.
Ray Lee, 6'3, Dorian's Pride, 2012
If you want to see someone put on a ball handling show, look no further than Ray Lee. He was definitely among the most fun players to watch. The cliché "he had the ball on a string" definitely applies. Whoever is able to take the ball from this kid deserves a medal. He put on a dribbling clinic during the championship game on Thursday. The loss of his big man, Matt Costello, proved too much for his team to handle, but Ray did all he could. His ball handling skill allowed him to get into the lane at will and show off his superb passing ability. On the flip side, there was a lack of focus at times. In addition that outstanding dribbling was sometimes a double-edged sword. He over-dribbled at times and tried to do too much. That said, when he was on…he was on. A little work on his jump shot and sharpened sense of awareness will put Ray higher on the radar of all the high majors
Monte Morris, 5'10", Team Detroit, 2013
Mighty Mouse has nothing on this kid. It was amazing how a 5' 10", 150 pound kid (soaking wet) could turn out to be the biggest man on the court. We last saw him stand out at Michigan's elite camp, but he was even better this week. Basically, if you need a bucket then give it to "Man Man" as he's affectionately nicknamed. Whatever you need on offense, this kid can do. If his team needed a three pointer, Monte got it. If the needed a jumper from 15 feet, Monte made it. When the team needed a drive and lay-up, Monte got it. He let the beast loose in Thursday afternoon's championship. After a slow start, he found his Team Detroit squad down by 20 in the first half. After a few buckets, the little giant woke up. With help from teammates Denzel Watts and JaVontae Hawkins, Team Detroit was able to claw their way out of the hole. The driving force that day was definitely Mr. Morris. Word is this youngster should have a growth spurt in his future with a father that stands well over six-foot. He's going to go from a problem to a nightmare for opponents if that happens. Monte was the most impressive player of the week. The Wolverines will have some work to do if they decide to prioritize Morris, as he grew up a Michigan State fan.
Denzel Watts, 5'10", Team Detroit, 2013
This kid should win everyone's tough man award. The performance this Flint native put on was tremendous. What makes it even more special was that he did it on a severely injured knee. Denzel just has a nose for scoring. He has the strength to get to the cup and the ability to knock down the three. It doesn't end at just scoring though. The ability to run the point is also in his repertoire. The exhibit he presented this week should earn him even more looks. He was in obvious pain all week but he gutted it out. There is a toughness to him and it showed on Thursday. Three days of basketball did nothing to ease the pain of his injured knee. But, Denzel's unwillingness to quit was instrumental in the championship. His contribution of timely buckets and the awareness to find open teammates sparked a massive comeback and would solidify the eventual victory for his team.
JaVonate Hawkins, 6'4", Team Detroit, 2012
Have you ever wondered what the top of the rim looked like while it was still ten feet high? Ask Hawkins because he saw it quite frequently during the tournament. Floating through the air is no problem for him. He displayed a descent handle and a streaky jump shot, but his main weapon was definitely his ability to get off the ground. JaVontae is a pedal-to-the-metal type of player. Whatever he's doing is going to be at 100 miles an hour. That can lead him to play erratically at times, but once he puts it all together, he could be special. Thursday he played in both the 16 and under championship and the 17 and under championship. It seemed like he felt as though he had to do more during the 16 and under game, and that led to him trying to do too much at times. Still, he played a key role with a few dunks that disheartened the Dorian's Pride team. JaVontae was much more reserved and under control while playing with the 17 year olds. Once he figures it all out, look out!
Brandan Kearney, 6'5", Team Detroit, 2011
This kid may be on his way to East Lansing, but we still have to give credit where credit is due. This wasn't the same Brandan Kearney from past years. Yes, he can still handle the ball extremely well for his size and he still has an uncanny passing ability. How is that different you ask? Well, don't even think about playing off of him now. Mr. Kearney has put in major work on his jumper and it paid off all week. Now, Brandan steps into a jump shot and he knows it's going in. He was money from the three point line to the mid range game. Opponents had to respect his marksmanship and that mitigated the quickness advantage some of them may have had. That made slithering by them and finishing at the rim still a great deal easier. The fluidity with which he played in the championship game Thursday was a calming influence on his entire team. Kearney was arguably the next best performer after Morris. If his level play at this tournament continues and carries over into the high school season, he'll be a much more viable candidate in the Mr. Basketball discussion.
Anton Wilson, 6'4", Team Detroit, 2012
Prepare to see Carmen-Ainsworth High School do damage once again this year. Wilson, a 6' 5" swing man, and Watts will be a year older and a year better. This guy is solid in all facets of the game, but his primary asset is his silky smooth jumper. He drained threes with regularity throughout the week. He's a tall, lanky kid but definitely isn't afraid to drive in among the trees. He went to work in Thursday's championship match-up against Team Detroit. He started the game off on fire with a series of three point shots. Then, in an instant he switched to getting to the hole. A mild injury would sideline him for a moment which helped turn the tide in Team Detroit's favor. He'll need to add some muscle to his frame and correct his tendency to press at times, but those things will come with time.
Dante Williams, 6'6", Dorian's Pride, 2011
This week Williams played both wing positions and even ran a little point despite standing 6' 6". His jump-shot is a thing of beauty when you see him pull up. Dante's handles have shown steady improvement. He can get off the floor and above the rim with ease. No one should question why Huron went so far in the playoffs last year with what this kid brings to the table. All that said, you would have been hard pressed to pick him out of the crowd this week. He was very inconsistent this week, and it clearly wasn't his best tournament. But his game isn't defined by this single outing. He remains a huge priority for the Eastern Michigan Eagles (who have already offered), but the Wolverines have been keeping watch.
Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for video highlights and interviews in the coming days.
Blog by Rock Hill