Mr. Basketball candidates: Which senior will lead his team in state tournament?

Mr. Basketball candidates: Which senior will lead his team in state tournament?

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Mr. Basketball candidates: Which senior will lead his team in state tournament?

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Al Snyder knows what it takes to be Mr. Basketball.

Snyder is the chairperson for the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, and over the last couple of decades he has noticed a common link between the past winners.

“I was thinking about it and I realized March is the time when Mr. Basketball puts his team on his back and carries them to the state finals and the championship,” he said. “About these guys it could be scoring, but just as easily it could be defense, rebounds or assists. It’s March Madness. Which one of these guys is going to put the team on the back and carry them? That’s Mr. Basketball.”

This season there are five finalists for the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan’s Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, sponsored by the Free Press and named for the former Free Press sports writer who covered high school athletics for more than 40 years.

Detroit Pershing’s Justin Tillman and Ypsilanti’s Jaylen Johnson do the majority of their work in the post; Birmingham Detroit Country Day’s Edmond Sumner, Darrell Davis of Detroit Douglass and Muskegon’s Deshaun Thrower are perimeter players.

“Each of these guys could to it a number of ways,” Snyder said. “Darrell Davis might do it with his defense and leadership. Sumner might do it with is scoring and Jaylen Johnson with his rebounding and Tillman scoring and rebounding and Deshaun scores and plays great defense, and I think he’s got some leadership there. They’re still undefeated.”

Who winds up holding the Mr. Basketball trophy will be decided by BCAM members’ votes. The award will be announced Monday, March 17, at the Free Press.

Here is an alphabetical look at the finalists:

Darrell Davis

6-5 GUARD, DETROIT DOUGLASS

College: Dayton.

Biggest area of improvement: Passing.

Best move: Uses a hesitation dribble to get open for a step-back jump shot.

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant.

Favorite class: History.

Favorite book: “The Pact” by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt and Lisa Frazier Page.

Top opponent: Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif.).

After my career is finished I will: “Be an engineer or an architect.”

Overview: He is a true combo guard, capable of being a point guard or shooting guard with equal effectiveness. He is now the school’s all-time leading scorer, and he has no difficulty getting to the basket against anyone. He handles the ball flawlessly and gets the ball to open teammates.

Jaylen Johnson

6-9 CENTER, YPSILANTI

College: Louisville.

Biggest area of improvement: Passing.

Best move: Catches the ball at the elbow and uses an up-fake to get past his defender and drives and finishes at the basket with either hand.

Favorite athlete: Kevin Durant.

Favorite class: Math and science.

Favorite book: “Driven from Within” by Michael Jordan with Mark Vancil.

Top opponent: Cliff Alexander (Chicago Curie).

After my career is finished I will: “Be an athletic trainer or sports announcer.”

Overview: He is as comfortable on the perimeter as he is inside. He sees passing lanes well and finds open teammates. He has extremely long arms, which helps him defensively. He is the fastest player on the team so he is effective in transition. He is a remarkably quick jumper, which explains his rebounding success.

Edmond Sumner

6-5 GUARD, BIRMINGHAM DETROIT COUNTRY DAY

College: Xavier.

Biggest area of improvement: Scoring areas.

Best move: Hesitation cross-over dribble and drive to the basket.

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant.

Favorite class: Algebra.

Favorite book: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.

Top opponent: Josh Jackson (Detroit Consortium).

After my career is finished I will: “Probably pursue my engineering career.”

Overview: Nobody in the state is better at getting to the basket. He is a tremendous ball handler, and he has a variety of moves to get himself open. He has excellent body control to get off shots in traffic. He is also a solid three-point shooter. His best games come in the biggest games.

Deshaun Thrower

6-1 GUARD, MUSKEGON

College: Stony Brook.

Biggest area of improvement: Passing.

Best move: He uses an in-and-out dribble to get past his defender for a lay-up or step-back hump shot.

Favorite athlete: Dwyane Wade.

Favorite class: Forensics.

Favorite book: “Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream” by Deloris Jordan with Roslyn M. Jordan.

Top opponent: Cliff Alexander (Chicago Curie).

After my career is finished I will: “Want to be a personal trainer or an athletic trainer.”

Overview: He is the one who makes No. 1 Muskegon go. He directs traffic and is a talented passer. But he can score with anyone. He has had four games of 30 or more points, and when it is time to take a clutch shot he is going to take it. More often than not he will defend the other team’s best scorer.

Justin Tillman

6-7 CENTER, DETROIT PERSHING

College: VCU.

Biggest area of improvement: Perimeter game.

Best move: Catches the ball in the low post and uses a drop step to get to the basket for a dunk.

Favorite athlete: Paul George.

Favorite class: Pre-calculus.

Favorite book: “A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive” by Dave Pelzer.

Top opponent: Ethan Happ (Taylor Ridge, Ill).

After my career is finished I will: “I will own my own business clothing and graphic design company.”

Overview: He was voted the top player in the Detroit Public School League. He missed most of last season with a broken foot, but he has improved steadily and now has a mid-range game to go with his dominating inside presence. He is the best shot blocker in the PSL and controls the backboards.

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

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Mr. Basketball candidates: Which senior will lead his team in state tournament?

Al Snyder knows what it takes to be Mr. Basketball.

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