This is the fourth in a series of profiles on the six finalists for the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award, which will be announced March 20 at the Free Press.
Another year. Another Hal Scram Mr. Basketball Award finalist.
That’s the state of the boys basketball program at East English Village Preparatory Academy. Greg Elliott, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, helped the Bulldogs wade through injury to emerge as a finalist for the state’s top individual honor this season, a year after Karmari Newman (now at George Mason) finished fourth in voting for the award.
East English Village coach Juan Rickman doesn’t think there’s any debate about who should win the award this time.
“Out of all the Mr. Basketball candidates I’ve had, he’s the most deserving to win it,” Rickman said. “I don’t think there’s a kid better than him in the state right now. It’s not even debatable.
“On top of that, we’ve had the toughest schedule around, and he’s even outplayed a couple of those candidates (in previous years).”
Joining Elliott as Mr. Basketball Award finalists are Grand Rapids Christian’s Xavier Tillman, Powers North Central’s Jason Whitens, North Farmington’s Amauri Hardy, Detroit Cornerstone’s Jamal Cain and Kalamazoo Central’s Isaiah Livers, whom Elliott faced in January. The
Elliott is rated a three-star prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He was the foundation for an East English Village team (14-6) that Rickman says lost four starters, seven of its top nine players.
“We had a lot of guys graduate and only three returning players this year, so he knew he would have to lead the rest of the guys,” Rickman said. “He set the example by working hard and mentoring a lot of the guys and helping them on their game.
Other Mr. Basketball finalist profiles:
Versatility sets apart Michigan State basketball signee Xavier Tillman
Mr. Basketball finalist, U-M commit Isaiah Livers reaching for ‘Level 5’
How Mr. Basketball finalist Jamal Cain became better defender
“He has a good feel for the game, and he’s been with me the longest out of all the kids on this team. They respect him. He’s a better person than a player, and he’s really worked on his leadership.”
Rickman said Elliott can do a little bit of everything well, whether handling the ball as a guard, finding an open shot, getting to the basket, rebounding or playing defense. His versatility was vital to the Bulldogs’ success this season.
“Last year, we had a whole bunch of seniors graduate, so this year we had first-year guys who didn’t know what to do in our program,” Elliott said. “I had to show them the ropes and how we do things. I did that by playing hard because we needed guys to play hard all the time, not just when things were going good out on the court.”
Playing hard 100% of the time is an attitude, Elliot said.
“That’s the biggest challenge,” Elliott said. “Having that attitude is hard. Sometimes you’re not going to like what others say when you’re not playing as good. I do that with my teammates, too. If they’re wrong, I let them know about it. Once they get in the game, and it all works out in the game, then they all understand.”
Elliott averaged 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game.
Cass Tech eliminated the Bulldogs from the Class A district tournament with a 72-67 win in the semifinal March 8.
That means Elliott is focused on his future at the next level, as he’s narrowed down his list of college options to Michigan State, Marquette and Providence College. He wants to go to the best school that fits his playing style. He also wants to win..
“I’m just waiting it out and looking to go wherever I feel the most comfortable before I make a decision,” Elliott said. “Those three schools have got the most to offer, and I like their playing style. I need to have a good coaching staff wherever I decide to go.”
Elliott doesn’t have a timeline set for when he’ll pick a college. Whichever school lands him is getting a winner, Rickman said.
“He’s a kid who can do anything, and he’s a versatile player, and he does everything well,” Rickman said. “He’s competitive and tough. He has a will to win and wants to keep getting better, and it helps with the environment he comes from at East English Village.
“Other guys like Karmari Newman and Cedrick Lattimore (Iowa football) and Nate Boleware (Ferris State football) have helped him because he was growing up with these guys and competing with them night in and night out in practice and in games.”