Archive for the ‘Saginaw Valley League’ Category

By Marcellus C. Miller, Columnist
Great Lakes Hoops

The idea of being a “role player” has been vastly misappropriated and mistreated in my opinion over recent history and it is high time to get back to what it really means…well, at least to me.  Detroit Southeastern star and future MSU Spartan Brandon Kearney was just recently labeled as such in the class A semifinal game because he sacrificed offense for defense, deferred to a dominate teammate, and played a more heady game.  Um, someone help me find where the negative is in that?  However, because he was a Mr. Basketball candidate, many expected him to shoot 20 times and dominate the game offensively.  Did I mention his team won?  It is amazing the standards that some are held to versus others.  But it is astounding to me the negative connotation that being a role player has gotten. So, let’s examine it just a bit from a coach’s perspective.

Every coach on the planet wants role players.  Notice that I did not say players that operate in a role.  Those type of players are categorized by what they do well.  For example, former Frakenmuth star Brad Redford is a great shooter.  Current Mott Community College stud Doug Anderson is a great athlete/leaper.  Anthony Crater at the University of South Florida is a great passer.  MSU frosh Keith Appling was a great scorer in high school.  These are all luxuries to have, but do not epitomize a role player in my eyes.  They are all players who operate inside of a role.  What I mean is something different.  Players that a coach can call into their office or locker room before the game or practice and say to them, “This game I need you to shut down the opposing team’s best player.”  Then the next week say, “I need double-digit rebounds and points from you this game.”  The best role players can even change that role during the game.  The best example that I can think of is none other than Magic Johnson.  Many people understand that he played all five positions in the NBA championship game, but not many understand how each position required a mentality and role change.  No one has done it better on a bigger stage in my eyes.  Coaches appreciate these players more than anyone even knows because the flexibility they allow for is paramount.  If the starting PG gets hurt or in foul trouble in a big game, it is quite the luxury to be able to move the starting SF there is there backup is stronger than the backup PG.  Versatility is essential in the biggest of games.  Just ask the BYU coach who would have loved to see Jimmer Fredette turn into a creator when the 3-pt ball wasn’t falling (4-15).  However, he was stuck in his operation as a scorer and stayed there to the detriment of the team in that game.  There is one player on the high school level in mid-Michigan that I believe was the best role player this year, that is, Dewrell “JD” Tisdale Jr. of Flint Northern.


Left to right, Jon Lee, Anthony Crater and Reggie Stallings.

After checking up on Flint area kids at the JUCO and Division III/NAIA levels, here is a rundown of local kids helping Division I and Division II college teams this season. As always, if we’re missing any, let me know in the comments and I will add them in.


JuJuan Cooley

JuJuan Cooley, a standout at Flint Southwestern and Indiana Tech, has had a solid pro career overseas so far, and after a big game for Mures (Romania) in the Balkan League, he was named Eurobasket’s Player of the Week:

The 28-year old guard got a double-double of 14 points and thirteen assists, while his team crushed Balkan (#5, 1-6) with 16-point margin 95-79. Mures maintains the 4th position in Balkan League group B. Mures is a typical solid league team placed somewhere in the middle or a little bit lower in the standings. They need more victories to improve their 3-4 record. Cooley has many years of experience at Mures, through which he has constantly improved. Indiana Tech graduate has very impressive stats this year. Cooley is league’s best passer with 8.5apg. Cooley is in league’s top in and averages solid 3.0spg.

— Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops

Greg Burks retired from basketball after a productive pro career in Germany.

Because he’s never been the biggest guy on a basketball court, Flint Northern grad Greg Burks has spent his basketball career proving people wrong.

Out of high school, he ended up going to small Prairie View A & M where he turned himself into one of the best guards in the country at that level. His standout college career turned into a successful pro basketball career spent in Germany.

Burks, who is often found working out in Flint area gyms as well as working with the city’s young players, recently decided to retire from basketball. Below are a few questions with him about his career:


Left to right, Vince Adams, Ryan Hickoff, Syrus McDonald and Shaquille Smith.

I’ve been contributing some articles to Michigan Preps, the state’s Rivals-owned, subscription-based high school sports page, throughout the last month or so, and they’re online if anyone has a pays to subscribe and wants to check them out. Here are excerpts from a few recent ones: (more…)

The weekly updates to the Flint area standings and scoring leaders are posted through last Friday’s games. Send any corrections or omissions to patrickhayes13(at)gmail(dot)com or leave them in the comments.

— Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops

Saginaw Arthur Hill’s 6-9 leaper Jordan Hare has reportedly received a scholarship offer from the University of Alabama. The junior is one of the most sought-after prospects in the Midwest because of his raw athletic ability. He also has offers from Rhode Island, Stanford and USC.

Hat-tip to Patrick Hayes for tracking down this photo of Snoop Dogg with the #10 USC jersey that, we all know, belongs to former Saginaw Arthur Hill standout and the people’s Mr. Basketball, Maurice Jones.

Jones, a freshman, is currently leading the Trojans in minutes played, assists and steals. He is also third in scoring.

Shaq Smith‘s name hasn’t gained a lot of traction since he was a freshman on varsity at Flint Northern a few years back. At that time, people talked about Smith like he could be the next great guard out of Flint.

Fast forward to his senior season and he’s certainly not that, but he’s really good.

Smith led Northern to victory last night on the road at Carman-Ainsworth and looked smooth doing it. He’s the most explosive player in the area from point A to point B. He’s still an elite finisher in the lane, but he has added an extra dimension to his game that we’ve only seen flashes of before: peripheral vision.


A resolution to the ever-shrinking Big Nine’s quest to join a league so its remaining four teams don’t have to go to insane lengths just to fill out a schedule every year could be in sight.

The Midland Daily News reports that the Saginaw Valley League will vote in March on whether to accept Big Nine teams Powers Catholic, Carman-Ainsworth, Davison and Flushing as well as independent Flint Northwestern into the SVL next fall. The league would then be divided into North and South divisions. From the report, it seems promising:

“With the two divisions and the proposed makeup of those, there’s going to be cost savings with transportation,” said (Midland Superintendent Carl) Ellinger, whose school district includes SVL members Dow High and Midland High. “Our students can be in the classroom longer, and that’s a good thing.”

The North Division would be: Saginaw High, Heritage, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Bay City Western, Bay City Central and Midland Dow.

The South would be Northwestern, Northern, Southwestern, Powers, Carman-Ainsworth, Davison and Flushing.

The SVL is already a great basketball league. This move would make it even stronger, perhaps making it the best hoops league in the state if it’s not already.

Now all that needs to happen is coaxing Grand Blanc out of the weird KLAA. GB could join the south division, balancing the SVL with eight teams in each division and allowing Grand Blanc to play more natural rivalries. Grand Blanc supposedly left the Big Nine partially because joining the KLAA would help with travel expenses. But wouldn’t playing in a possible SVL south division against other Genesee County schools be better than traveling to Milford and Brighton? And who wouldn’t want to see the GB-Powers basketball rivalry renewed, right?

— By Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops