Meet the finalists for Michigan’s Mr. Basketball

Meet the finalists for Michigan’s Mr. Basketball

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Meet the finalists for Michigan’s Mr. Basketball

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Renaissance's Daelyn Davis tries to block U-D Jesuit's Cassius Winston as he goes for a shot during a game.

Renaissance’s Daelyn Davis tries to block U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston as he goes for a shot during a game.

Move over Jalen and fellas, we’ve got a new Fab Five.

This Fab Five features a group of five high school players who are not limited to a specific position or role.

In Ypsilanti’s Corey Allen, Onsted’s Austin Davis, Rochester Adams’ Spencer Littleson, Detroit East English Village’s Karmari Newman and U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston, we have five diverse players whose main common denominator is that they are finalists for the most prestigious award a high school male athlete can receive — the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award.

This is the 36th year of the award, given annually by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, in conjunction with the Detroit Free Press, to the top senior. The award is named for the former Free Press sports writer who covered high school athletics for more than 40 years.

Al Snyder is the chairperson of the Mr. Basketball Award and has seen every viable candidate in the state.

“It’s just such a great honor to receive this nomination because BCAM, and I personally, want to be comfortable that any one of these guys can be Mr. Basketball,” Snyder said. “So they need a variety of skills on offense and defense. They have to be an all-around player and show leadership. Looking at the five that we picked, they make their teammates better, and that’s a crucial point. They don’t just shoot it all the time, but they like the ball in the clutch.”

Clutch is a good word to describe the players on the ballot, who have led their teams to outstanding seasons.

In watching them play, Snyder noticed their ability to make crucial plays.

“They execute the fundamentals better and faster than the average player,” he said. “They seem to draw attention to themselves and then pass off. I’ve noticed all of the guys have been double-teamed and triple-teamed. So, they get the ball, and everybody collapses on them and they have to pass off.”

In recent years, the ballot has varied in the number of finalists. Last season, only three players were on the ballot. The key factor is that only players with legitimate claims to being Mr. Basketball are permitted, noting the difference between being an all-state player and a Mr. Basketball finalist.

“Another thing I noticed is they all make free throws and difficult lay-ups,” Snyder said. “They all deserved to be there.”

Only BCAM members are permitted to vote for Mr. Basketball. The winner will be announced March 21 at the Free Press.

HERE IS AN ALPHABETICAL LOOK AT THE FINALISTS

Ypsilanti’s Corey Allen puts up a shot during last year’s Class A quarterfinals at Calihan Hall.

Ypsilanti’s Corey Allen puts up a shot during last year’s Class A quarterfinals at Calihan Hall.

COREY ALLEN

6 feet 3, guard, Ypsilanti

College: Detroit Mercy.

Biggest area of improvement: Free-throw shooting.

Best move: Attacking the basket, he uses a spin move to finish at the rim.

Favorite athlete: Russell Westbrook.

Favorite book: “Twilight,” by Stephenie Meyer.

Top opponent: Cassius Winston, U-D Jesuit.

After my basketball career, I will: “Be an anchor for ESPN.”

Overview: He has improved every area of his shooting, from the free-throw line to the three-point line, where he is making 48% of his attempts. Not only is he running the point, but he leads Ypsi in every statistical category.

Onsted’s Austin Davis lost weight during the off-season and improved his mobility.

Onsted’s Austin Davis lost weight during the off-season and improved his mobility.

AUSTIN DAVIS

6-10, center, Onsted

College: Michigan.

Biggest area of improvement: Mobility.

Best move: Catches the ball in the post and uses a quick drop-step to finish with either hand at the basket.

Favorite athlete: Tim Duncan.

Favorite book: “Tuesdays With Morrie,” by Mitch Albom.

Top opponent: Deyonta Davis, Muskegon (Michigan State).

After my basketball career, I will: “Be the best that I can be at whatever I choose to do when basketball is over.”

Overview: He always could rebound and block shots, but it is difficult to remember a high-profile player who has improved more between his junior and senior years. A lot of it can be attributed to the weight he lost, which has helped make him an unstoppable force in the paint.

Rochester Adams’ Spencer Littleson has moved from shooting guard to point guard.

Rochester Adams’ Spencer Littleson has moved from shooting guard to point guard.

SPENCER LITTLESON

6-4, guard, Rochester Adams

College: Duquesne.

Biggest area of improvement: Passing.

Best move: Dribbles the ball at the top of the key and steps back for a three-pointer.

Favorite athlete: Steph Curry.

Favorite book: “The Glass Castle,” by Jeannette Walls.

Top opponent: Foster Loyer, Clarkston.

After my basketball career, I will: “Be a college basketball coach.”

Overview: This has been a transitional season for Littleson, who always had been a shooting guard. He has adapted to point guard remarkably well, maintained his scoring touch and makes the players around him better.

Karmari Newman led Detroit East English Village to the PSL championship this season.

Karmari Newman led Detroit East English Village to the PSL championship this season.

KARMARI NEWMAN

6-4, guard, Detroit East English Village

College: George Mason.

Biggest area of improvement: Rebounding.

Best move: A step-back three-pointer.

Favorite athlete: Steph Curry.

Favorite book: “Left to Tell,” by Immacullée Ilibagiza.

Top opponent: Cassius Winston, U-D Jesuit.

After my basketball career, I will: “Be a sports broadcaster.”

Overview: He entered the Operation Friendship game as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,591 points. He has become more than just a scorer this season. He is working harder in games and has improved his defense.

U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston is the first to win four Catholic League titles in the top division.

U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston is the first to win four Catholic League titles in the top division.

CASSIUS WINSTON

6-0, guard, U-D Jesuit

College: Michigan State.

Biggest area of improvement: Perimeter shooting.

Best move: Uses a hesitation dribble to create space for a step-back jump shot.

Favorite athlete: Damian Lillard.

Favorite book: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

Top opponent: Brailen Neely, Detroit Western.

After my basketball career, I will: “Be a college basketball coach.”

Overview: He has been the top-rated player in this class since his freshman year, and nothing has changed. He has led the Cubs to their first two state semifinal appearances and is the first player to start and win four consecutive Catholic League championships in the highest division.

McCabe: Richter proved to be a great judge of talent

By the numbers

NAME SCHOOL FG% FT% PTS REB AST STL
Corey Allen Ypsilanti 56 86 24.8 9.3 3.0 4.0
Austin Davis Onsted 77 78 22.3 13.5 1.9 4.4*
Spencer Littleson Rochester Adams 47 70 26.3 8.2 5.3 1.4
Karmari Newman East English 51 81 23.0 6.0 4.0 1.5
Cassius Winston U-D Jesuit 55 88 22.6 5.2 6.8 2.4
*blocked shots

Friday’s girls basketball district finals

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