Archive for September, 2012

Former BV and Notre Dame standout returns to coach at alma mater

Posted: September 28, 2012 by Jared Field in College

Tory Jackson, a tough-as-nails power guard who has been lighting up scoreboards in Flint recently, will return to his alma mater as head basketball coach this year.


For more than 20 years, Tory Jackson found joy on the basketball court.

This year, however, he hopes to find some peace on the sidelines.
Jackson, the former Buena Vista High School and Notre Dame standout, announced Monday that he is retiring from basketball and will take over as the head coach for the Buena Vista boys basketball team.
Jackson is 24.
I had the opportunity to see Tory play in high school on numerous occasions before he ultimately graduated and starred at the University of Notre Dame. Trust me when I say this kid had the heart of a lion and the mouth of a hyena. He’s one of the best scoring guards I’ve seen in high school, though he didn’t beef up into the player you see today until college.
The article’s author wrote about Tory’s struggles with the death of his mother not long after his graduation from college. I actually remember sitting near his mother in the stands at a couple games, and I can’t imagine Tory had a more vocal supporter.
I wish Tory nothing but the best at Buena Vista, a school with a great tradition of quality basketball.

I heard from a couple friends in the last two days that the health of Dave Barns, the son of Goodrich basketball coach Gary Barns, is rapidly deteriorating.

There’s no need to get into specifics, but this is a family that needs even more support than they have already received from the basketball community. I don’t have a relationship with Coach Barnes or his son, but people I care about and respect think the world of both of them.

Dave Barns, who coached the JV team at Goodrich, was was diagnosed last year with cancer and has faced a long and difficult road.

To make matters worse, the Barns family has had to deal with what many people, myself included, believe to be a self-serving, trumped-up controversy that led some in the small town to call for his resignation last school year. The issues, it seems, stem from a few players and parents who were jealous of some “Schools of Choices” players who started on the team and played a lot of minutes, ostensibly because they are better at basketball. There were other complaints as well about players being talked down to by the coach, but they are dubious, to say the least.

Here’s what I know: This is a good family, a good man and a situation that demands our prayers and concern.

Hat tip to Prep Hoops TV:

Excellent tribute to local coaching legend Jack Pratt

Posted: September 25, 2012 by Jared Field in High School

The late Jack Pratt, left, pictured with another longtime coach, Fred Rademacher in 2011.

My friend Patrick Hayes wrote a great tribute to local coaching legend Jack Pratt in his blog.

Pratt, who coached one sports or another locally since the 1950’s (St. Matthews, Flint Powers, Grand Blanc and Kearsley), died on Monday. He was suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.

In his piece, Patrick mentioned one opportunity he had to interview Coach Pratt about former Powers basketball standout Tom Herzog:

When I talked to Pratt and told him I wanted to ask about Herzog, who he hadn’t coached in about five years at that time, he immediately started telling me how much he loved coaching ‘Tommy.’ Here was the comment I used:

“He’s the kind of young man who will give his all and ask for nothing in return,” said former Powers coach Jack Pratt. “He hasn’t played a lot (at MSU), but he’s been an inspiration to the kids on the basketball team. It’s that innate quality that people sometimes have that make other people respect them.”

Pratt would’ve willingly talked to me about him or anything else all afternoon if I didn’t have a deadline to meet.

My earliest memories of Coach Pratt are, of course, his iconic bright orange — or other bold color depending on who he was coaching at the time. But, Like Patrick, I can remember the last time I interviewed Coach Pratt. It was right after an ugly, ugly football game (a victory for Powers) in the freezing rain. I recall being quite nervous to do a post-game interview, on the field, in such awful conditions — “here comes the big blow off,” I thought. That would have made sense, of course, and I’d would have understood noting that I didn’t want to be out there either.

Well, like Patrick, my last interview with him was as cordial as any I ever had. I remember wondering, as I watched his whole body shake from what must have been the affects of both his physical condition and the weather that night, why this man at nearly 80 years old was still on that field. The answer, I know now, is simple: It was his life. His calling.

I was fortunate to be in the audience sitting next to another local coaching legend, Mott’s Steve Schmidt, at a Rotary Club meeting last spring at which Pratt was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow — the highest honor Rotary bestows. Several people spoke about Coach Pratt’s influence on their lives, and I must say it was truly amazing. Grown men, men in their 50’s, still thinking through life with “what would Coach do?”

A friend of mine, a longtime friend and one of Coach Pratt’s former players, Dallas Gatlin, wrote this to me about his legacy last night:

He deeply influenced the trajectory of my life….as he influenced thousands of other young athletes and coaches and anyone who crossed his path. He was special. Jack was the greatest, by every metric; but, you wouldn’t have to talk wins and championships for that to still be true. He won as a byproduct of doing everything right for young men.

I can’t imagine a more fitting tribute to a great coach. He had more wins in the lives of young people than he did on the football field or basketball court; and, as you know, he did pretty well there, too.

Mott to play home/away series against Daley College

Posted: September 20, 2012 by Jared Field in JUCO

Mott basketball fans should take notice of a new foe when the school releases its 2012-13 schedule. The defending national champion Bears will play a home and away series with Daley College (Chicago). The game in the Windy City will give fans the opportunity to watch a couple of their own including sophomore Kory Billups (Crane Tech) and freshman Devin Foster (Curie).

Mott will have a few more games versus out-of-state competition including Moraine Valley (Illinois) and Sinclair (Ohio). Mott will also have a home and away series against Owens (Ohio) coached by former Mott assistant Dave Clark.

The Bears will compete in a pair of preseason jamborees (in Illinois) and will play in exhibition games against Albion College and Mid-Michigan CC.

The season will begin at home on November 3rd versus Grand Rapids.

The recently reclassified 6-foot-6 2014 forward Kyle Kuzma, the most well-traveled high school player I’ve ever seen, threw his former conference and Flint basketball under the Greyhound on his way to prep school in California.

From Mlive:

Burton Bentley star Kyle Kuzma has followed a recent hoops trend by transferring to La Jolla Prep Basketball Academy near San Diego, Calif. His eligibility status has also been reclassified to the class of 2014 – which isn’t allowed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Kuzma would have graduated in 2013 if he had stayed in Michigan.

“If I would’ve went back to Bentley this year I probably would’ve dominated the (Genesee Area Conference Blue) because the league is really weak, so I wanted better competition,” Kuzma said. “I also wanted to play against better players and get more college looks. The competition in the Flint area has been going down for high school basketball and the Flint teams mixed with the overall crime rate of the city is really tough.”

A couple things: It’s a little weak to clown the conference that put you and your numbers on the map. Also, it’s odd that his former class (2013) is probably the best in Flint in a decade and yet he cites the weakness of the competition. That’s fine if you want to go on diminishing your former conference, but don’t lump other conferences in with it.

Somehow the competition level is good enough for Monte Morris, Denzel Watts and JD Tisdale. Go figure. And if better competition was the goal, why drop down to play U-16 ball in the summer?

If Kuzma really is still growing, he may end up as a D-1 player; heck, he could end up being an impact player at that level (he can shoot the heck out of the ball from 3-point range). That being said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take the prep school route: Just say you’re looking for a better opportunity.

Or, try to put up GAC numbers in the SVL.

WOTS: C-A coach now plans to stay for 2012-13 season

Posted: September 15, 2012 by Jared Field in High School

The most recent news regarding the future of Flint Carman-Ainsworth head basketball coach Bob Root is reversal from the word on the street last week. Apparently Root, who is also the athletic director at C-A, alerted members of his program staff that he ultimately decided not to resign, choosing to stay on another season.

The word last week that he had decided to resign caught many off guard, coming in the first week of the school year.

This situation is an excellent example of why athletic directors shouldn’t be their own bosses (noting that former head coach Rory Mattar, a highly successful coach, resigned when he became a principal in the district). This situation sounds more like a hostage crisis than a coach uncertain about his future in the program.

The word on the street that longtime Flint Carman-Ainsworth basketball coach Bob Root will resign should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the program. What would surprise many, however, is the timing. A resignation in the first week of the school year puts the program in a bit of a bind, and one can only speculate as to why he would choose to wait so long to call it quits.

Root has been flirting with hanging it up for a couple years, though most of the people I’ve talked to expected him to stay on one last season with his top senior Denzel Watts, a recent UAB commit.

The Cavaliers are loaded up for a nice run this season with guards Watts, Cameron Morse and Flint Powers transfer Justice Green.

Root, who is also the school’s athletic director, had two stints as  head coach with the Cavs. He coached back in the 1990s with (Chuck Thrash, Jon Runyan, Nick Stapleton, Calvin Sims, etc.) before a long furlough prior to taking the reins following the departure of highly-successful head coach Rory Mattar, who is still a principal in the district.

Mott basketball: First look at the 2012 class

Posted: September 3, 2012 by Jared Field in College, Mott

This afternoon I got my first look at the 2012 recruiting class at Mott and I wasn’t disappointed. Chicago freshman Devin Foster is everything people say he is: quick, crafty with the ball and an exceptional passer. The 6-3 combo guard is probably the most highly-regarded of Mott’s 2012 class, and for good reason.

Detroit freshman Malik Albert was not at today’s open gym, but very clearly he will have his hands full competing for his spot in the backcourt with Foster and former Flint Northwestern point guard Sy McDonald. The 5-11 McDonald is built like a running back, but is light on his feet and has lockdown potential defensively. He had the play of the day early on, when he shed his man on a one-on-one fast break with a spin move into a two-handed slam. As good as he is, I’d consider starting three guards — McDonald, Albert and Foster.

That trio would start alongside the biggest and most impressive frontline I’ve ever seen in the MCCAA — Coreante DeBerry (6-9) and September surprise Fred Mattison (6-7). DeBerry is a known quantity in Michigan, having played high school ball and AAU on the state’s west side. Mattison, on the other hand, is from South Carolina and came to Mott after one season with Kilgore College in Texas. His cousin, Chavis Mattison, is a sophomore at Mott. DeBerry has monster potential with his size and mobility. He’s a pure five man, a rarity at the JUCO level. Fred Mattison is a prototype SF/PF at this level and I expect him to be a double-double guy.

Another forward with starter potential is 6-4 transfer Chester McFadden. Unfortunately, McFadden was moving in today and only played in the last game or two. He certainly looks the part, though.

One final player who caught my eye is 6-5 forward Travon Banks (Detroit Cass Tech). I think he could help fill the void left by the transfer of 6-2 forward Ralph Eason. Banks is all over the floor, very active on the glass and a quick-jumping shot blocker. His offensive game is actually better than I expected.

I enjoy speculating about starters, but ultimately it doesn’t matter that much. Head Coach Steve Schmidt will got at least 10 deep into this roster.

This is the biggest, most athletically gifted team I’ve seen at Mott. Coach Schmidt went 35-1 and won the national title last year with half as much talent.