Michigan’s top 20 boys basketball teams

Michigan’s top 20 boys basketball teams

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Michigan’s top 20 boys basketball teams

U-D Jesuit's Greg Eboigbodin.

U-D Jesuit’s Greg Eboigbodin.

*All players seniors unless noted

1. U-D Jesuit (28-0 in 2015-16)

Outlook: Don’t be surprised if the defending Class A state champs end up at the Breslin Center again. With the graduation of Mr. Basketball Cassius Winston the Cubs lost their GOAT, but they have enough firepower to make up for his scoring. Ike Eke, 6-9, (Marquette) will be more effective in the post and 6-9 Greg Eboigbodin (Illinois-Chicago) is a better shot blocker and more polished offensively. Sophomore Julian Dozier will be a good point guard. Scott Nelson is more aggressive taking the ball to the basket and junior Zach Winston is a solid shooter. Junior Elijah Collins has expanded his offensive game while sophomore Daniel Friday adds another scorer. Look for a breakout year from 6-10 sophomore Jalen Thomas, a budding star.

2. Grand Rapids Christian (22-2)

Outlook: This could be the best team in the state, which will be led by the best player in the state _ 6-8, 270 Xavier Tillman (Michigan State), who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds a game. He is stronger and in better shape and working on a face-up jumper. If Tillman doesn’t get you, 6-7 James Beck (Oakland) will. He is a face-up player who must get to the rim. Junior Duane Washington can be a big scorer, but his main job will be to distribute the ball. Emmett Warners, 6-4, is a four-year player and the team’s top defender. Thad Shymanski hit 45% of his three-point shots last season.

3. Macomb Dakota (26-1)

Outlook: The Class A semifinalist from a year ago should be headed back to the Breslin Center. Jermaine Jackson Jr. (21 points, 6 assists) is more of a vocal leader this season and he has some excellent players to distribute the ball to. Junior Thomas Kithier (MSU) 6-8, (14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 5 assists), has added a perimeter game to his repertoire. Warren De La Salle transfer Jack Ballantyne, 6-9, is another versatile big man that gives the Cougars options. Jaylen Hall, 6-4, is a swingman who played in a lot of big games last season. Chris Magee and Deontae’ Estes give Dakota two solid shooters and Brett Droski can play either forward spot. Sophomore Mark Tocco and freshman Ryan Rollins will come off the bench and help at both guard positions.

4. Clarkston (20-3)

Outlook: With junior Foster Loyer (Michigan State), who is as crafty a point guard as we’ve seen, and 6-5 swingman Dylan Alderson (Milwaukee) this was going to be a good team. When you add 6-9 sophomore Taylor Currie, whose family moved back to Michigan this summer and is a post player that can play facing the basket, the Wolves are one of the top teams in the state. Alderson has learned to play without the ball and is now able to use screens to get open for shots. Junior guard CJ Robinson is a good complement to Loyer and junior Nick Wells adds perimeter scoring.

5. East Lansing (23-1)

Outlook: This should be the best team in the Lansing area again, but the Trojans need to get out of the regional. Junior Brandon Johns, 6-8 (19.1 points, 10.5 rebounds) is the guy to hitch your wagon to. He hit 45 three-point shots last season and now is becoming an unstoppable force in the post. DeAndre Robinson (10 points) is a good shooter and scores on slashing moves to the basket. Caleb Hoekstra shot 42% while nailing 65 three-point shots a year ago. Weston Myles, 6-4, is a four-year play who will be the defensive stopper and team leader. Junior point guard Malik Jones shares the ball well and is a jet in transition.

6. Detroit East English Village (19-4)

Outlook: The defending Public School League champs will be in the thick of things again, although the cast of characters has changed dramatically. One holdover is 6-3 Greg Elliott (19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), who had an amazing run late in the season. Junior David DeJulius, a transfer from Detroit Edison, is a tremendously talented point guard who scores in a variety of ways. Junior Zavon Godwin, 6-6, is a transfer from Roseville who will not be eligible until January and he will be effective in transition. Sophomore Tariq Shepherd plays good defense and can shoot it. Freshman Jayshawn Moore will add scoring from the wing and Samuel Womack is the team’s best perimeter defender.

7. Kalamazoo Central (20-4)

Outlook: This senior-laden team is capable of winning the Class A state title. Led by 6-8 Isaiah Livers (Michigan), who averaged 16 points and 9.8 rebounds. He has increased his shooting range and is capable of playing in the post. Rog Stein, 6-5, can defend inside and on the perimeter. Jeremiah Vincent has a good mid-range game and can play all of the perimeter spots. Bass Ollie is a strong defender and rebounder. Grant Kubiak, 6-6, is the team’s top perimeter shooter and Ontario Burnett can help out at the point. Steve Johnson, 6-9, who missed last season with as serious ankle injury, will be an intimidating inside presence.

8. Wayne (9-12)

Outlook: You can expect a big improvement from the Zebras. Keion Epps (Eastern Michigan), 6-6, averaged 14 points last season and will play all over the court. Junior Rashad Williams will play the point and he is a deadly shooter. Sophomore Isiaah Lewis is another exceptional shooter. Travez Nyx, a 6-4 transfer from Consortium, can play on the perimeter and inside. Terrance Williams was moved from the point to the wing to take advantage of his shooting. Junior Kobe Price, 6-4, is an excellent rebounder. Napier Bryant and Xaiver Moore will provide energy off the bench.

9. Muskegon (20-4)

Outlook: This will be one of the deepest Muskegon teams in years. Jermayne Goliday, 6-4, is an inside-out scorer. Anthony Bethea, 6-5, 230, (Northern Michigan), is an inside force, who can step outside and score. Sam Cornett, a transfer from Grandville, is capable of playing every position the court. Markell Jackson, 6-6, gives the Big Reds a shot blocker and he is an excellent shooter. Sophomore DeAndre Carter will run the point and will be helped by sophomore Eonte Tornes. Jacourey Sullivan and junior Willie Shanks will add toughness to the lineup and 6-7 A.J. Reed, a dominating tackle on the football team, is a tough guy to move inside.

10. Wyoming Godwin Heights (20-4)

Outlook: The Class B state champs from two seasons ago will be contenders again behind the dynamic duo of Lamar Norman (21 points) and 6-6 Markeese Hastings, both juniors. Norman is an explosive scorer from the three-point line in and Hastings is developing a perimeter game. The glue is Christian Rodriguez, an old-school point guard who makes things happen. Kelvin Valdez, 6-4, will be an inside presence and he can float to the outside. Sinque Spienger will apply pressure all over the court. Juniors Payton Harley and Susu Davenport will bring energy off the bench.

11. Belleville (19-5)

Outlook: With six its top six players all juniors, this team may be a year away from contending for a state championship, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen this season. Junior Davion Williams (20 points) makes key shots and is terrific in transition. Junior Gabe Brown, 6-7, is a talented lefty who can hit jumpers and will be difficult to stop inside. Junior Devin Anderson, 6-3, will play everywhere but the point and his strength allows him to be a factor inside. Junior Julian Savory, 6-9, is the team’s only true post player and he is tough to handle inside. Junior Kmare Carey plays solid defense and makes good decisions in transition and junior Cameron Smiley tams with Carey to give the Tigers two effective point guards.

12. Flint Beecher (25-2)

Outlook: The two-time defending Class C state champ, which has won four of the last five titles, will be a factor again behind the play of Malik Ellison (22 points). He is finishing stronger around the basket and has improved his jumper. Levane Blake, 6-8, will protect the paint and is an excellent defender and rebounder. Jordan Roland (15 points) can score from different spot on the court and plays good defense. Sophomore Azon’te Burks will set screes, take charges and help inside. Torren Thomas, 6-4, can handle the ball and score in transition. Two freshmen — Jalen Terry and Earnest Sanders — have skill levels that will allow them to contribute this season.

13. Big Rapids (23-3)

Outlook: Another trip to the Class B semifinals is a distinct possibility for this team, even though there is not a lot of impressive size. Demetri Martin (19 points) attacks the basket line no one else. Christian Hector and junior Braeden Childress, 6-4, are both lights-out shooters. Sophomore Jake Martinson, 6-4, is going to surprise a lot of people with his ability beyond the arc. Dorian Martin is only a sophomore, but he does an excellent job distributing the ball.

14. Saginaw (19-4)

Outlook: The Trojans, a Class B school, are electing to play up in Class A again. The road may be bumpy until Ronquavious Southward (20 points, 8 assists) returns in January from finger surgery. Henry Speight (15 points, 10 rebounds) is a matchup problem, capable of posting up guards and taking bigger players to the perimeter. Eddie Thigpen, 6-6, scorers on slashing moves to the basket and in transition. Freddie Macintosh may be only a freshman, but he appears to be ready to start on the varsity and run the point. Another freshman, 6-5 James Babers, is long and athletic and shows loads of potential on the wing.

15. Ann Arbor Pioneer (19-5)

Outlook: All three Ann Arbor public schools will be good, but sophomore point guard Drew Lowder could be the difference-maker for Pioneer. The Pioneers may struggle a bit until Deric Murray is cleared to play following a broken foot and 6-6 Jordan Currie recovers from a badly sprained ankle. They are two key pieces to the puzzle and Pioneer will be very good when they return. Cedric Benton, a four-year starter, is more of a point-forward and can guard anyone on the court. Noah Osebor, 6-4, is an undersized center, but he will mix it up in the paint.

16. Detroit Cass Tech (11-10)

Outlook: Leonard Sims (15.5 points) and Ronnie Cook give the Technicians a pair of perimeter threats to go with freshman point guard Tyson Acuff, a distributor with excellent vision. Junior Randy Gilbert, 6-6, (12 points, 7.5 rebounds) is strong on the interior where he will team with 6-5 Michael Green, another fine rebounder who will block shots. Junior Marcus Gibbs will be one of the top perimeter shooters in the PSL. Cass will get a big lift from 6-6 junior Jalen Tobais, a transfer from Detroit Western, who will toughen up Cass’ interior defense.

17. Davison (5-15)

Outlook: This will not be the same team that was 5-15 a year ago. First, there is the case of 6-6 Terry Armstrong, one of the top sophomores in the country. He left Flint Carman-Ainsworth for a prep school in Georgia, returned and enrolled at Davison, but still hasn’t practiced with the team. Then comes the additions of Jalen Rutherford and junior Austin Roland, who transferred from Grand Blanc last winter. Rutherford could be the team’s leading scorer. He is good in transition and finds ways to get to the free throw line. Roland is an explosive-type guard who is capable of playing the point. Sophomore Cade Coleman, 6-5, can create his own shot and is now able to play with his back to the basket. The Cardinals also boast a pair of 6-6 juniors — Drew Fleming and Garret Goyette — who can affect a lot of shots. Josh Moriaritey is the team’s floor general and the Cards aren’t the same without him.

18. Detroit Western (20-4)

Outlook: The lone returning starter is 6-5 Josh Long, who should be a double-double guy every night. Latravion Jackson, 6-7, a transfer from Ypsilanti Lincoln, is a versatile player who can hurt teams from the perimeter as well as in the paint. A surprise may be the play of point guard Loren Bowman, who doesn’t play like a freshman. Junior Anthony Roberts could be a big scorer and will help with rebounding and play good defense. Demonis Whitney, 6-5, will be an inside force off the bench for the Cowboys. The best athlete on the team is 6-3 junior Will English, who can jumpstart the offense in a reserve role.

19. New Haven (22-3)

Outlook: The Rockets petitioned to remain in Class B and they will contend for the state title. Sophomore Romeo Weems, 6-7, had a sensational freshman season (16.4 points, 10.3 rebounds) and has come back a better perimeter shooter. Eric Williams (17.3 points), 6-5, is a dangerous shooter. New Haven lost most of its size from last season but with 6-7 junior Ashton Sherrell and 6-5 sophomore Malen Lewis it will be more athletic up front. Junior Ascaun Johnson, 6-5, is a solid rebounder and AJ Crawford gives the Rockets a true point guard to run the show.

20. Detroit Cornerstone (14-11)

Outlook: Any Class C team that begins with 6-8 Marquette-commit Jamal Cain (26 points, 15.7 rebounds) is going to be a contender for a state championship. Then you add combo guard Davion Bradford and junior point guard Alante Coward and you have an outstanding back court, worthy of a state title. Junior DaMon Gilmore is a good shooter. The key may be the development of 6-5 junior Robert Carpenter, a transfer from Berkley, who must help with the rebounding and inside defense.

Marquette-bound Cornerstone senior Jamal Cain on mission

Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or mmccabe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.

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