CITYBEAT: Down and out now, city wrap-up and look ahead

Posted: March 23, 2010 by Marcellus Miller in Citybeat, High School

FLINT, Michigan —  Three up, and now three down.  It didn’t take long for the city to lose its last representative in the 2010 MHSAA playoffs.  For those who do not regularly frequent this column, Powers and Beecher do not count toward city basketball (although both may recruit city players, but that’s a different story).  Just after Northwestern ended Northern’s hopes in the district final, they were thumped in the opening regional contest by Mt. Pleasant.  Frankly, I thought they were a better team than the Oilers, but Trey Ziegler made up that gap and then some.  And with that, Flint was relegated to watching the rest of the playoffs from the stands.

Looking back on the 2010 season, it was one filled with predictability and disappointment.  Northwestern was predictable in the sense that they were going to play with heart and desire and finish first in the city race.  They also were undersized which predicted problem defending the post.  The disappointment for them was losing so early to a team they should have beaten in the regionals.  Travon Mitchell’s season was also a disappointment in my eyes.  I expected and wrote before the season that he would be the best player on that team and in the area.  Neither were true.  He did not have a bad season averaging a double-double (which is not frequent in high school hoop), but I and I am sure he expected more.  Nagging injuries plagued him all year as well.  He has a bright future if he can bring his academic side up to meet his athleticism.  Jaylen Magee was the best player for this team all year, but had his two worst games in the final two of the year with 6 and 5 points respectively.  Largely regarded as the city’s most explosive player, Magee averaged over 20 ppg and led his team in fast break points.  He will be looking to have a huge senior season next year.  Deandre Parks was the third head of the NW three-headed monster and he showed he could do more than just shoot a set shot this year.  In fact, he has an uncanny knack of fading to his right and hitting long jumpers.  Like Magee, Parks will be looking at a chance for a big year next year.

Northern’s predictability started and ended with their potential.  At the start of the season, many people thought they had the potential to be great and maybe by the time mid-season transfers became eligible they would be.  Unfortunately, they lost more players (3) than they gained (1) by the halfway point.  With only two returning varsity players to begin with, this made for an interesting challenge and predicted a bunch of inconsistency.  That is exactly what happened.  The Vikings looked great the first 6 games of the year, terrible the next 6, decent in the next 6, and just ok in the last 4.  A sign of inconsistency was that only 3 players played in all 22 games.  That included freshmen Richmond Lewis and Dewrell Tisdale Jr.  While neither was initially asked to step right in and contribute, as the season progressed Lewis became an integral part of the rotation that Tisdale was also a part of as well.  The other predictable thing was that Shaquille Smith would be deadly in the open floor or any one-on-one situation that he is in.  The floater he developed to go with that quickness and killer crossover was a huge bonus as he led this team in scoring, despite not getting the benefit of the referee’s whistle only shooting 77 free throws.  This guy has a load of potential when he finishes developing a consistent outside shot and plays the passing lanes more on defense.  I expect he and Magee to battle for the city’s top honors next season.  Somewhat unpredictable was the emergence of Gerald Williams-Taylor as a real force.  Everywhere they went people said that he couldn’t be the same guy that played for the now defunct Central last year, could he?  Yes, but not nearly the same player.  He became the go to guy to guard the opposing teams biggest scoring threat as well as effective on the offensive glass.  Oh yeah, provided 99% of the teams athletic dunks this season.  He is getting looks from NAIA schools and D-II and III, but I believe whatever school nabs him will eventually have a D-I talent on their hands and will be extremely lucky.  He was second on the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks, FG made, 1st in FT%, 3rd in assists, and 1st in pass deflections and drawing charges.  The best thing about him though is that he is coachable.   Also unpredictable was Douglas Toins’ role as the team’s energy guy off the bench.  He was inconsistent with his play at points during the year, but perhaps their most improved player.  Disappointment runs rampant around Northern.  The year-long absences of Rick Dent, Shaun Coffer, Eric Long, and Donald Fisher rate right at the top.  All four of them could start for many high schools in the state and they led to a lot of the thoughts of potential for the Vikings this year.  Add them to the losses of Lloyd Daggs, Darius Jones, and Chaz Johnson throughout the year and you can see they could have been a different team.  Another disappointment is that they may not be back at all next year and go the way of Central, that is, be contracted.  There is ongoing discussion that would transform Northern into a singular middle school for the whole city and thus leave us with only two high schools left.  Many people say they can’t do that, but those were also the same people who said Central would never close as well.

Southwestern fits the same bill as the other two, predictable and disappointing.  Their predictability starts with my prediction of them finishing last in the city.  I didn’t have to be a great prognosticator to call that one seeing as how they lost two of their most productive players to transfers, the aforementioned Dent and Deparris Gordon.  That hurt the team immensely.  Just as predictable would be the fact that their team would be led by their trio of guards (Josh Young, Chuck McLaurin, and Jojuan Graham).  Young provided a steady pace at the point guard position and really led the team’s ball control after taking a beating against Hamady early in the season.  He had the ability to finish in traffic and his shot is a work in progress.  McLaurin is a natural scorer and a shooter that can change the game when he gets rolling.  After taking a few games to find his place in the offense, he really excelled at finding the open corner to launch his three-point bomb from.  While Graham’s scoring was predictable, the magnitude of it was not.  He was rarely stopped this season despite being the focal point of every defense.  I knew when he played for the Mid Michigan Lakers this summer that he would better than most people expected, but I didn’t see him being this good!  His jumper is not the prettiest thing in the world, but its effectiveness is clear.  I know firsthand that he gave Northern fits in both games this season, nearly stealing the last one.  The future is bright for him as well.  The Knights had to be disappointed to not be contenders after thinking that they may contend coming into the season.  Of course that was before Dent and Gordon left.  They never recovered from that blow and their inside game suffered all season.  They are waiting on Sophomore Cory Jones to emerge there while Marquez Pool and Kendric Roberts showed some flashes in an otherwise limited frontcourt.  To their credit, they never quit.

Next year, here’s hoping we still have three teams…

CITYBEAT ALL-CITY TEAM: (*no particular order)

Jojuan Graham- Southwestern, Jaylen Magee- Northwestern, Shaquille Smith- Northern, Travon Mitchell- Northwestern, Gerald Williams-Taylor- Northern, Deandre Parks- Northwestern, Chuck McLaurin- Southwestern, Darrell Williams- Northern, Josh Young- Southwestern, Richmond Lewis- Northern

CITYBEAT DEFENSIVE POY: Darrell Williams- Northern (3.6 blocks per game and many more altered shots, 6+ rebounds)

CITYBEAT OFFENSIVE POY: Jojuan Graham- Southwestern (20.5 ppg)

CITYBEAT MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jaylen Magee– Northwestern (20.1 ppg and most explosive scorer this season.  Led team to regional semifinal)

CITYBEAT COACH OF THE YEAR: David Bush- Northwestern (team excelled despite youth and lack of size)

CITYBEAT FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Richmond Lewis- Northern (6.6 ppg, led team in assists, second in steals and deflections, became second best on ball defender)

CITYBEAT “GLUE GUY” AWARD: Travon Mitchell- Northwestern (averaged double-double and did the dirty work for the team), Gerald Williams-Taylor- Northern (did a little of everything)

CITYBEAT HEART AWARD: Willis Arrington- Northwestern (played much bigger than his size dictated and was a force on the backboards)

CITYBEAT “LITTLE BIG GUY” AWARD: Shaquille Smith- Northern (no brainer here, he always played bigger than his height and finished in traffic with the best)

CITYBEAT BEST DRESSED COACH AWARD: Just kidding, we’ve already covered that one!

  1. G Mill says:

    Yeah best dressed coach had to be Tuck!!….lol JJJJJJ/KKKKKKKK…

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