Basketball season is right around the corner, so it’s time to rank ’em:
1.) Beecher: Buctown might not finish undefeated again this season, but Monte “Man Man” Morris, Markell Lucas, Emanuel Phifer, Eric Cooper and company have the tools to be a top 10 team in the state, regardless of class. Mike Williams is one of the top coaches in Michigan and has a record over the last few seasons to prove it. And while we’re thinking about Beecher, let’s start a trend: #ManMan4MrBasketball
2.) Flint Carman-Ainsworth: The Cavs lost Dorian Grady to Southwestern, but they still return two of the top ten players in the area — guards Denzel Watts and Cam Morse. This could be a breakout season for senior guard Jaylen Randle, who showed some signs of breaking out last season. Flint Powers junior transfer Justice Green will halve to find room in a crowded backcourt, but he has the talent to be a difference maker.
3.) Fenton: The Hickoffs are gone, but (in case you didn’t know) scoring guard Eric Readman is really, really good — just ask Clarkston. Senior Cory Cox is the best frontline player in the Flint Metro League, but his game extends to the perimeter. Senior two-sport standout Mitch Shegos also returns. Fenton was the best passing team I saw last season, and I don’t expect that to change
4.) Goodrich: The Martians, under first-year head coach Tim Tenneriello, have a very talented starting group including Grant Smith, Alec Myers, Mitch Rubio and Carlos Fordham. I think this team can win 17 games this season, and certainly no less than 15. Rubio might be the most talented of the group, but Smith is probably the highest impact returner after the loss of all-everything senior Nathan Landsgaard to graduation. Myers may well lead the team in scoring from his point guard spot. Goodrich vs. Beecher, home and away, are must-see games this season.
5.) Swartz Creek: J.D. Tisdale, recent Bowling Green commit, leads the Dragons and has a little more help this season. Junior Marquavian Stephens probably would have started last season if not for a scary medical emergency that required surgery last winter. Tisdale and fellow senior guard Max Cummings make up one of the top backcourts in Mid-Michigan. The Dragons will play for first-year head coach Scott Wright.
The Rest (in no particular order)
The rest aren’t nearly as clear cut. Grand Blanc has senior guards Bart Williams and TJ Nichols as well as Jake Daniels, a sophomore and one of the area’s best up-and-coming guards; but, will the Bobcats continue to underwhelm in a conference they should be winning on a semi-regular basis?
Holly has talent, but it’s probably a year away. Morgan Baylis, Isaac Casillas and Parker Rowse are a trio of sophomores that will be a force to be reckoned with in the Flint Metro League in a year or two. Teams coached by Lance Baylis are always competitive and, no matter what, Holly’s horseshoe will be rockin’.
That term can be used just as well to describe the three city schools in Flint, where the coaching carousel spins and the athletic programs can, at times, appear to be in disarray. I think Flint Southwestern may have the most talent, led by Malik Young and the aforementioned Dorian Grady, but Flint Northwestern top to bottom should be able to compete with the Knights even without the services of last year’s seniors including Andrew Wooten, Rod Adair, Edward Smith and Mike Henry who led the team to the regional finals. Senior Andre Yancy will have to step up, being one of a only a couple remaining impact players from last season.
With the loss to transfer of Richie Lewis, who would have been the top player in the city, Flint Northern will rely on his younger brother Ray Ray along with Amariontez Thomas, a 6-3 junior wing, to carry the scoring load. Thomas will probably be the most talented player in the city this season– and you’ve probably never heard of him. He is a transfer from International Academy of Flint, a pure inside-outside scorer with nice handle.
Flint Powers head coach Jeremy Trent, one of the area’s top coaches, has very little talent at the varsity level this season, but that’s not a major concern for the former Bentley and Swartz Creek coach. Perhaps no coach in Genesee County has won more with less talent than Trent. He has size, some football toughness and the right system to carve out victories in the school’s first season in the Saginaw Valley. The Chargers’s top players are 6-1 point guard Nick Sullivan and 6-4 wing Erick Thompson, both seniors. Trent has only five upperclassmen this season — four seniors and one junior.
Montrose, a school tucked in the northwest corner of Genesee County, isn’t known as a basketball school and, quite frankly, never has been; but the Rams, under head coach Rick Ustishen, are a sleeper team in the GAC Red this season. The team is led by junior forward Jimmie Hodges and sophomore shooter Antonieo McMillion. I hear there may also be a talented transfer in the mix there, but more on that later.