CITYBEAT: Is It OK to skip 2012 class?

Posted: October 4, 2011 by Jared Field in High School

Somewhere near Flint— After the departure of the Flint-area’s most promising class of 2012 basketball prospects, frankly I question whether it is even worthwhile to discuss the upcoming year in great detail. In fact, a D-1 college head coach that I spoke to recently said, “If you’re going to lose scholarships, this is the year to do it because the 2012 class is weak, but the 2013 class is loaded.” So, with that said, I am asking today if it is ok just to skip that year entirely. Ok, so I know that is not possible, but for the purposes of this column the answer is yes.

The basketball crop in the Flint-area has been down for years, but the class of 2013 is angling to be on of the best ever as a whole. There were classes in the 80’s and 90’s that would beg to differ, but this one is as deep as ever, well at least on the wing. I will preface this discussion by saying I will focus only on the Flint-area as it is defined in my mind, which will include one long distance shout out. Here are the best of the best in no particular order:

Anton Wilson (Macdonald Academy, NC) – Some of you still don’t know, so today I will let you in on a secret. You ready? Anton has found a way to travel back in time! How did he do it? Prep school of course! Transferring from Carman Ainsworth to Northwestern (briefly) and then to MacDonald Academy has allowed him to re-classify himself from the 2012 class to the 2013 one. Having already been receiving offers from D-1 programs, this will only serve to help him, as he will have a whole extra year to develop his game and his strength. A prep school schedule and exposure will aid him as well. I am going to still count him as Flint-area because that’s where he was groomed. He is the best wing prospect of the group right now.

Monte Morris (Beecher) – “Man Man” is fresh off of an unofficial visit to Arizona State as well as picking up a recent offer from USC to add to his collection. Michigan, Indiana, Georgetown, Xavier, Syracuse, CMU, etc. have all shown interest or offered as well. It is a safe bet that he will grace a D-1 floor with potential to have an immediate impact right away. lists his shooting as “developing” but clearly they must haven’t seen him play recently as his shooting is already there. has him ranked number 11 at point guard in the class. He thinks the game like few at his age and rarely makes poor decisions with the ball. Even with his smallish frame he still finishes well, but will certainly need to work on eating something that will put some meat on his bones. What I do know is some college coach is going to be really lucky to have him. He is humble as well and seemingly refuses to let all of the attention go to his head. That will serve him well as the recruitment chase increases throughout the year.

Richmond “Richie” Lewis (Flint Northern) – The recently tabbed “momma’s boy” (Flint Journal) is much more than that as an up and coming point guard. Tasked with leading a Flint Northern team this year that lost the other four starters from last year and a highly touted 2014 prospect for various reasons, Richie’s work will be cut out for him. However, the task doesn’t seem to faze him one bit. He has added some strength to his frame by also being the team’s starting quarterback for the last couple years, which also has helped him develop as a leader. He has even started to pick up serious looks from D-1 schools on the gridiron as well. On the court, he has drawn interest from Dayton, CMU, WMU, and Providence. Being the focal point of his team this year will only serve to increase those very soon. He’s a scrappy defender for his size and is coming along as a deep threat. As he gains more control during games, his stock will continue to rise. Clearly being a momma’s boy is not half bad.

Denzel Watts (Carman Ainsworth) – In my opinion, Denzel has the most college-ready physique of all the 2013 class of guards. Having played football earlier in his career and being dedicated to personal training, he has the strength to bully smaller guards on the court. As perhaps the leader of the three-headed guard attack with Team Detroit/Dorian’s Pride this summer (along with Lewis and Morris), Denzel helped propel his team to multiple championships and a trend of winning that we had not seen in some time. Like Lewis, he will have to lead a high school team that lost its other best players from last year (led by the aforementioned Wilson) and will be largely inexperienced. The spotlight will be solely his and what he does with it will determine how high he goes. At one point compared to former Flintstone Mateen Cleaves, Watts has garnered the attention of UM, MSU, Purdue, Florida State, USC, and Dayton amongst others. As his shot selection becomes more consistent, his stock will continue to rise.

Dewrell “JD” Tisdale Jr. (Swartz Creek) – Much to the chagrin of Flint Northern staff and supporters, JD has decided to take his talents to South Beach, I mean, Swartz Creek. In a move that for a variety of reasons has gotten more attention than many other recent transfers, he ad his mom decided that the education he was receiving was not sufficient enough for his future (considering Northern was ranked LAST of ALL the Genesee County schools academically in a recent Flint Journal article, I would suggest there was good reason). As for basketball, he has been sort of a late bloomer. Forced to play inside most of his career because of playing with the likes of Morris, Lewis, and others, he had to blossom on the AAU summer circuit primarily. Starring for the grassroots Mid Michigan Lakers AAU club, he made the successful switch from undersized big, to big (6’4.5”) point guard. A huge break came for him being named MVP, MOP, and seemingly every other award you can think of at a regional prestigious Five Star Camp in PA. At the follow-up elite invitation-only version of that same camp in Chicago, he was touted as the breakout player of the camp. At a recent workout, one D-1 mid-major college coach said, “If he grows 2 inches and gets stronger, we won’t have a chance to get him.” At the 2011 camp, one college coach said, “All I wrote was- ‘Wow, he’s gotten better’.” A recent unofficial visit to CMU helped him realize how far he has come. JD is the most athletic of the bunch, regularly throwing down 360 dunks and making the spectacular pass look easy. He will need to work on his ball control and decision-making to really solidify his position in this class. Drawing his most recent interest from Wichita State (who doesn’t normally recruit this area) to add to EMU, Oakland, Drake, CMU, Toledo, Bowling Green, Holy Cross, and more, a permanent switch to PG at Creek will only serve to increase his stock. If he establishes that he has developed a consistent jump shot, look out because the sky is the limit.

And now let me touch on a few names that are lesser known, but maybe shouldn’t be:

Cullen Turczyn (Lapeer West) – Here is a name that hasn’t been mentioned enough with the best of the group. After a solid year with West after starting his career at the rival Lapeer East High School, Cullen also joined the Lakers and had a breakout summer. Armed with a dead-eye jump shot from behind the arc and cat-like quickness, he more than makes up for his short stature. A unique ball handling ability that surprised many at tournaments allowed him to get to the basket a lot more than anyone expected. He has been a starter on AAU teams before that included Morris, Lewis, Tisdale, Grand Blanc football stars Jordan Fields and Lester Liston Jr., and others, so clearly talent is not his issue, but rather maybe exposure. That changed this year and I don’t believe that it was nearly the end for Cullen.

Zeshawn Jones-Parker (Lapeer West) – The big man of this group (not really, since he may be 6’3” tops) plays the game with almost an innocence about him. That is, until you have to face him on the court. He is quiet, even seeming aloof at times, but will battle like a junkyard dog in the post if pushed. He plays well above his size and regularly out dueled those who were up to ½ foot taller. He led his AAU team in blocks and rebounds and was near the top in steals (he sealed their first tournament win with a steal and lay up in OT at a tournament in Saline). In a tournament this summer in Lansing, he was named to the all-tournament team, but probably should have earned the MVP despite his team’s loss in the championship. That is how much he dominated play there as a member of the Lakers. He may choose to go the football route (as Fields and Liston above) because he is a monster at wide receiver and running back for West on the gridiron. But if he chooses basketball he will have a chance at doing some big things on the next level as his guard skills continue to improve and he moves his game outside on the perimeter. I know I would not want to face the combo of he and Cullen for their high school anytime soon.

Max Cummings (Swartz Creek) – Often forced to play outside his normal position last year with Creek, Max still excelled on the court. And like Jones-Parker, Liston, Fields, and Lewis, he can flat-out bring it on the football field as well as a start wide receiver. Max is a great shooter and has a knack for making shots in the lane that can only be described as “squirrelly” around the big trees on the court. In the summer, he was able to move back from PG over to his more natural position at the 2 (SG) and therefore not be the primary ball handler. This freed him up to play more loose on the court and be more comfortable with his game. Despite breaking a toe, he still came back to compete in the team’s final summer tournament in Grand Rapids. Being able to continue at SG during the season (Tisdale will spend much time at PG) will allow Max to grow into possibly the biggest surprise of them all.

Eric Cooper (Beecher) – After a serious knee injury kept him out much of last season and pretty much the entire summer, Eric begins his athletic quest back as a quarterback/wide receiver on Beecher’s football team. Before the injury though, he was starting to make serious noise on the hardwood. He spent the latter part of the prior summer teaming up with Tisdale and forming a defensive backcourt that was difficult to deal with. He is tenacious on defense and will mix it up with anyone. A quiet kid off of the court changes dramatically once he steps on it. By him working his way back from the injury and heading right back out onto the football field shows his toughness. If he can further develop his ball handling and passing as a PG, he can surprise a lot of people. However, playing behind Morris doesn’t help much in the way of getting a chance to show the development there. Hopefully, he will shine again in AAU as there is still much inside this kid that has yet to come out.

Other names in the class that could be on the cusp of making noise; Bart Williams (Grand Blanc), Rayshon Thomas (Northern), Framar Harris (Southwestern), Raheen Dudley (Northwestern), Cal Henry (Creek), Jequarius French (Beecher), Jaylen Randle (Carman).

 — By Marcellus C. Miller, Columnist

  1. Flint Fan says:

    The city beat and we talked about people from Lapeer and Swartz Creek…. man the city is down…

  2. Unfortunately…you’re right…

  3. WEH says:

    I didn’t really have any other topic to post this to yet, but here are some “Way to early predictions” for the SVL.

    LegendsHigh Chalk Talk- For a website that isn’t much basketball involved (especially yet), I think with as good as the Valley has been (although it’s down Valley-wise, it’s still one of the toughest conferences in the state of MI) I think the word needs to get out more about the basketball part of this message board, just like these message boards in general. It’s a great website, and a great way to find out info, spread the word LegendsHigh!!!

    I’m also going to post this on GreatLakesHoops and get an actual Flint perspective, and hopefully shed some light on the rest of the Valley as well. But those guys are good, and if you don’t know about them, although it’s a lot of Flint, Monte Morris, and Mott, they know what they’re talking about, even when it comes to Saginaw, and Bay City!

    But, here are my predictions for this upcoming season:

    #10- Bay City Central–
    – I couldn’t get a copy of their full schedule, but they open up at home against Chippewa Hills (Remus, MI), have a game against Millington, and play Pinconning twice. Their win total should be higher than last year’s 1 win season, just based off of those games alone, but BCC is really gonna struggle against the Valley this season. They don’t have much height for their forwards/centers, and their guards aren’t varsity level guards by any stretch. They haven’t beat rival Bay City Western since 2008, (9 games), and that won’t change this year. Post class of 2008 BCC has fallen fast, and I don’t see anything changing this season.

    Player to Watch: Stephon Hardwick, G

    #9- Mt. Pleasant–
    – Mt. Pleasant is not in the Zeigler-era anymore, and it’s time people move on from that. It could be some time before there is some basketball prominence in the Oilers school again. Not to say Mt. Pleasant is bad, they play hard, they just don’t have the speed, height, talent, etc. to be a good basketball team. They should notch a few wins this season, but expect basically what you saw last season, unless there is some transfer that I don’t know about. The plus side is they play hard defense, the minus side is they aren’t quick enough to keep up w/ most of the Valley, and their offense struggles to put points on the board. Out of conference they play at Shepherd, and home against Gaylord this season.

    Player to Watch: I honestly don’t know.

    #8- Midland High–
    – They play Traverse City West twice, Traverse City Central at home, Nouvel and Flushing on the road. I don’t think there is much to be expected this season from Midland, as they lost their best player Tony Johnson to graduation. They also lost starting point guard Kinny Morr, who at least got the ball past half court if not to do anything else. Losing Tony Johnson was the real killer though, because he was how they scored any points whatsoever. Like Mt. Pleasant, I would say expect more of the same from the guys left, which without Johnson, is going to mean a few more losses. I expect them to play hard, and make some of the games close, but in the end, they just don’t have enough.

    Player to Watch: Alex Johnson, G

    #7- Flint Southwestern–
    – The old Class B powerhouse has really suffered in recent years due to the lack of enrollment in the school. There are no more Anthony Craters’, Erik Fields’, Tyrone Wards’, heck there are no more JoJuan Grahams’. The program will get wins, based solely on their athletic ability, and just the fact many of them have played basketball for a good part of their lives. In the end though, Flint basketball (to me), has gotten too friendly with their opponents, and don’t respect the coaching enough anymore to win the big games. I can’t speak for all of the players, but I can speak from an outside perspective, and as of RIGHT NOW, the Valley schools in Flint are not what they used to be. Some talented players, yes. Talented as a team… not yet. They play Flint Beecher this year though, so maybe seeing a player who has a lot going for him FROM the city, will put some fire back into the guys at SWA. All I can say is, play D, and start scoring again!!

    Player to Watch: Whoever steps up.

    #6- Midland Dow–
    I never in my life though I would rank a Midland school higher than a Flint school, but these are different times for Midland Dow. They play hard hard Defense, and they finally have a capable point guard who is only a sophomore to lead the charge. Midland Dow is going to surprise some people this year, and they could end up even higher than this. They play Saginaw BV at home towards the end of the season, and that could be an eye-opener heading into the playoffs! I like Dow’s team this year, and I have never said that in my life. Hopefully in a couple of months they don’t make me look like a fool!

    Player to Watch: Malik Garner, PG

    #5- Flint Northern–
    Flint Northern is not bad. The Valley is down this season, and I think these top few teams could all be very even. Northern is well coached, IMO, and all that need to happen is the players need to stop playing for their stats, and start playing for each other, and for their city. They have all of the necessary ingredients to be a good team. They might not have height, and they lost one of their better players, Tisdale (transfer), but they have the athletic ability, the bball IQ, and the skills, to make up for it. It’s all a matter of how bad they want it. Their guards could form the best overall backcourt in the Valley, and they could end up as #1 or #2 by the end of this year if they play for the TEAM and not for the statline.

    Player to Watch: Richie Lewis , G

    #4- Saginaw Heritage–
    They play Powers early in the season, but I think this could be their year. They have extremely athletic guards, and a true SG, in P.J. Walker. They shoot the ball well, and will live and die by how their jump shots are going down that day. They are long and athletic, and will be match-up problems for a lot of teams in the SVL. They could lose some games against the other top 5 teams, but they will be in all of those games til the finish. Their season depends on their attitude, where I know some of them get caught up in how good that they ‘think’ they are. A team effort from them, much like Flint Northern, is going to equal WINS though.

    Player to Watch: P.J. Walker , SG

    #3- Saginaw High–
    New coach, new players, new team. I don’t know why I have them ranked this highly. Probably because at the end of the day they are still THE HIGH. They lost a lot of talent to graduation, i.e. Tommie McCune (West Virginia), Qua Ford (Northern Illinois), Trey Babers (D3), amongst others, and their standout sophomore from last season Dominic Jackson moved to Louisiana. I may have them ranked to high with all of this going against them, but they’ve always been a safe bet to give Valley teams problems. They still return a few guards from last season, so the leadership will be there. On the short schedule, they play Ypsilanti, Powers, and Northwestern this season too, so they aren’t taking the easy way out. Come playoff time, they will be a team to beat, I’m sure of it.

    Player to Watch: Travontis Richardson , G

    #2- Arthur Hill–
    They really aren’t that talented to me this season either. Which is why a shake up in the 1-6 schools could go any which way. Senior Jordan Hare, who has been an impact player since he was a freshman has recently made a verbal to attend Rhode Island next season. He has supposedly improved the weaker areas of his game too (shooting, fundamentals), so that only helps. It is HIS team this season, and his statline WILL be impressive. It’s the rest of the team that I’m worried about. They lost long time PG Dell Simon to graduation, and without a point guard, they are going to have to find some way to get Hare the ball. Lucky for them, ball handling guards are a dime a dozen in Saginaw, so I’m sure they will be okay. Good schedule though with Ann Arbor Huron and Country Day making the trip up, and then away at Muskegon Heights. Can’t wait to see who the new face is going to be for when Hare graduates.

    Player to Watch: Jordan Hare , PF

    #1- Bay City Western–
    Let’s get it out of the way now. They are NOT as good as last year. Their record will NOT be as good as last years. But, Matt Costello, the #1 ranked player in the state IS better this year, and statistically for Western to win, he will have to have a monster season, and he is perfectly capable of that. Expect at least a few 50 point games, as BCW lost 4 starters, and their 6th man. With that said, Costello will be good enough, in a pretty down year team-wise in the Valley to propel Western to win the Valley. He is head and shoulders better than Hare, is up to 240 lbs. and virtually unguardable in the MHSAA across the state. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run a little PG this season too, since that is gonna make or break BCW, based on how the guards handle the loss of Ellis, and how they make up for the shooting of a Tithof. Western lost a lot, but their defense will be good enough, and Costello will be great enough to be at the top this upcoming season, and for the last time in a Western while. Scheduled games are away at Frankenmuth (to play Redford’s younger brother), and home against Kellen McCormick and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and then against Detroit M.L. King at the Breslin Center. Expect a MONSTER statline from Costello this season, as he is the Saginaw Valley League, and Mr. Basketball. (unless it goes to Valentine). If the rest of the guys can step up, I say it’s Western’s to win.

    Player to Watch: Matt Costello , F

    With this all said, it is going to be a fun year, there are players yet to make a name for themselves who will, and as always, teams that surprise and teams that disappoint. This is going to be a very equal year I expect among the top teams, and the bottom teams will equal each other out pretty well too. But as always, we have something to look forward to!

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