Brandon Johns had a choice last summer.
He could leave East Lansing to further develop his game at a prep school. Or he could stay put and chase his state championship dreams with his friends.
Johns chose the latter. And he contributed to another strong season for the East Lansing boys basketball team.
Johns played a big part in a second straight perfect regular season for the Trojans and heads the Associated Press Class A All-State squad as the player of the year.
Johns, a 6-foot-8 junior forward who is regarded as one of the nation’s top 50 prospects in the 2018 recruiting class, averaged 20.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks for an East Lansing squad that finished 24-1 and spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 in Class A.
“I thought I had a lot of stuff to bring to the team just to help us be successful,” said Johns, who surpassed 1,000 career points this year and has helped the Trojans compile a 47-2 record the last two seasons.
“I think a lot of stuff I did in the summer really helped me out for my confidence and just my game in general. I thought it helped out a lot for our team. Plus, I had great teammates.”
East Lansing coach Steve Finamore said Johns had a fantastic season and helped dig the Trojans out of holes on a few occasions this season. He also noticed growth from Johns.
“His off-the-ball defense improved a lot,” Finamore said. “A lot of times (in the past) he would just guard his man and think his responsibilities were over. Defense is played by five guys and he helped a lot this year. He would not only block shots, but he would alter shots. I have images in my head when someone would drive to the basket and Brandon would come over and the guy would change his shot.”
Johns believes his growth defensively helped him evolve into a more complete player this season. But he is on a mission to do even more next season after East Lansing’s quest for a title was ended with a regional final loss to Kalamazoo Central.
“It’s been really hard because I know I didn’t play to my full potential (in the regional final),” Johns said. “I knew I was due for a bad game, but it was just bad timing and everything just went downhill from there.
“I’ve been thinking about (that loss) for the past few days, but I’m trying to use that as motivation, for stuff to work on in the summer and just to get bigger and better and stronger. I’m going to try to be an animal when I come out next year.”
Joining Johns on the Class A first team is North Farmington’s Amauri Hardy, Clarkston’s Foster Loyer, Grand Rapids Christian’s Xavier Tillman, Kalamazoo Central’s Isaiah Livers, Saginaw’s Henry Speight, Greg Elliott and David DeJulius of Detroit East English, Holland’s Demetrius Lake and Wayne Memorial’s Rashad Williams.
Flushing’s Adam Smith is the Class A Coach of the Year.
St. Johns’ John Archambault was voted second team all-state as a coach after leading the Redwings to a league title. Holt’s Jaron Faulds and Waverly’s Jaden Sutton were honorable mention all-state selections.
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
CLASS A AP ALL-STATE
The 2017 Associated Press Class A boys basketball All-State team as selected by a panel of 10 Michigan sportswriters.
Player of the Year
Brandon Johns, East Lansing, Jr.
Brandon Johns, East Lansing, Jr.
Henry Speight, Saginaw, Sr.
Greg Elliott, Detroit East English, Sr.
David DeJulius, Detroit East English, Jr.
Rashad Williams, Wayne Memorial, Jr.
Amauri Hardy, North Farmington, Sr.
Foster Loyer, Clarkston, Jr.
Demetrius Lake, Holland, Sr.
Isaiah Livers, Kalamazoo Central, Sr.
Xavier Tillman, Grand Rapids Christian, Sr.
Coach of the Year
Adam Smith, Flushing
(Nominees receiving two or more votes from the 10-member panel)
Jermaine Jackson, Macomb Dakota, Sr.
Brandon Wade, Ann Arbor Skyline, Jr.
Jake VanTubbergen, Holland West Ottawa, Sr.
Steve Hall, Detroit Cass Tech
John Archambault, St. Johns
Obie Ricumstrict, Mt. Pleasant; Noah Ingram, Mt. Pleasant; Ronquavious Southward, Saginaw; Jokwani Moore, Saginaw Arthur Hill; Greg Eboigbodin, U-D Jesuit; Julian Dozier, U-D Jesuit; Gabe Brown, Belleville; Davion Williams, Belleville; Kaevon Merriweather, Romulus; Dylan Price, Romulus; Leonard Silas, Detroit Cass Tech; Keion Epps, Wayne Memorial; Dylan Alderson, Clarkston; Mike Flowers, Southfield A&T; Thomas Kithier, Macomb Dakota; Kevin McAdoo, West Bloomfield; Deric Murray, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Drew Lowder, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Jason Dietz, Troy; Delano Smith, Walled Lake Western; CJ Wilson, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s; Nako Ziegler, Walled Lake Central; Tyler Bosma, Holland West Ottawa; Jermayne Golidy , Muskegon; Markell Jackson, Muskegon; Zac Holman, Grand Haven; Ja’Kavien Lewis, Flint Carman-Ainsworth; Omari Duncan, Flint Carman-Ainsworth; Joe Kujat, Flushing; Austin Roland, Davison; Danny Kolp, Petoskey; Ryan Hayes, Traverse City West; Matt Polzin, Sturgis; Brecken Stewart, Sturgis; Juan Warren, Battle Creek Central; Rog Stein, Kalamazoo Central; Austin McCullough, Portage Central; Gage McGuire, Coldwater; Brayden Smith, Byron Center; Jess Hillis, Caledonia; James Beck, Grand Rapids Christian; Duane Washington, Grand Rapids Christian; Quantes Jackson, Grand Rapids Union; Matthew Beachler, Lowell; Jacob Boonyasith, Jenison; Chase Vander Klay, Wyoming; Shone Suddeth, Jackson; Jaron Faulds, Holt; Jaden Sutton, Lansing Waverly; Steele Fortress, Parma Western.
Sanders Frye, Traverse City West
Dan Fife, Clarkston
Steve Finamore, East Lansing