With half the JUCO season now behind us, it’s time to start nailing down some top-tier talent for the next level. Certainly there are more than 10 players in Michigan at this level who will be on college rosters next season, but here are ten who I think can make an instant impact. They are in no particular order, though I tend to think the first two are the best two:
1.) John Taylor, 6-1 guard, Mott Community College: Big-time player in the clutch. Taylor, from Chicago, is the best ballhandler I’ve seen at this level and is fearless attacking the basket. He averages 24 points per game on the no. 1-ranked team.
2.) Jody Hill, 6-0 guard, Delta College: He’s slight, but an absolute killer on the offensive end. He can score in a multitude of ways. He made seven 3-pointers in a game against Glen Oaks earlier this season. He’s not a prototype point guard in any sense, though.
3.) James Still, 6-10 Center, Henry Ford: The D-1 transfer of “shaking the stigma” fame is now the man in the middle for Henry Ford. It’s rare to find quality big men at the JUCO level, but Still is about as close as you’ll get. He leads the Hawks with 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game. He hasn’t filled out as much as one would hope, but it’s hard to go wrong with a man his size at this level.
4.) Njoku Ugochukwu, 6-11 center, Oakland Community College: Ugochukwu seems to be a little under the radar at this point. He’s not flashy, but with his size and length he can be very effective in the middle. Thus far he has averaged 10 points, eight rebounds and more than four blocks per game. Even after two years at the JUCO level, I don’t think he’s physically ready to have a significant impact at the D-1 level.
5.) James Johnson, 6-5 guard, Jackson Community College: The kid who always had the upside is starting to meet my expectations. Johnson left Saginaw Heritage as raw and a bit passive. Today he’s much stronger physically and mentally and may well be the “Saginaw surprise” at the D-1 level. He leads Jackson with 16 points and six rebounds per game. He has also made 34 percent of his 121 3-point attempts.
6.) Jonathan Edwards, 5-9 guard, Kirtland Community: To put it plainly, he is Mr. Everything for Kirtland, no longer a gimme ‘w’ from the great white north of Michigan. Edwards can kill you with his quickness going to the basket and his perimeter game. He leads Kirtland in scoring (17 ppg), assists (5 apg), steals (2 spg) and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.
7.) Nate Duhon, 6-2 guard, Lansing Community College: Really solid all-around guard. He was a handful in high school at Lansing Sexton with his size an athletic ability. Since joining the JUCO ranks, he has been a consistent scorer for the Stars. I’ve never considered him to be a shooter, but he has developed a pretty decent outside shot. Duhon and freshman Cameron Sanchez make up a killer guard combo for LCC.
8.) Tim Bates, 6-6 guard/forward, Lake Michigan College: I was actually more impressed with Bates when I saw him last season. Early this season, he looked listless and seemingly out to lunch. There’s no denying his talent, though. He an all-around scorer with excellent shooting range. He is leading a mediocre LMC squad with 23 points and eight rebounds per game. He might be the first player I’ve ever seen actually taller than his listing (he’s listed at 6-5).
9.) Jared Mysliwiec, 6-0 guard, Grand Rapids Community College: I must admit, I wasn’t over the moon for this kid in high school, but he has come off an injury and been dynamic in his first five games back. In those games he has scored 100 points with 22 rebounds and 18 assists. The MCCAA Western Conference may well boil down to a battle between the aforementioned scoring tandem at LCC and Grand Rapids’ duo of Mysliwiec and Alex Lyle.
10.) Karl Moore, 6-7 forward, Schoolcraft College: Moore is a scoring machine. Earlier this month he scored 25 points with 15 boards against Henry Ford. On the season he is averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds for an improved SC squad.