A look at where we are at this point in the season compared to what we predicted in the preseason.
1. Saginaw Arthur Hill [preseason number one]
The Hill is pretty darn impressive. Dar Tucker, a 6’5” senior, is nothing short of superlative in his senior year. His sophomore athleticism is back with his junior skill making for a terrifying player. Latreze Mushatt, a 6’4” junior, and Tommie Prater, a 6’2” senior, aren’t quite what I expected. I initially thought that they would have big seasons, but their numbers may be affected by a pretty balanced team. Maurice Jones-Cooper (left), a 5’5” guard, has been a big surprise. The little freshman is killing it at the highest level possible. Antoine Lundy has been another source of strength for the Hillites. The 6’7” senior is the post presence this team missed last season. The loss to SWA hurts, but it’s tough to go undefeated and their success against everyone else has been reason to believe that my projection [and about everyone else’s] was correct.
2. Saginaw High [preseason number two]
The High is looking really good as well. They haven’t missed a step in Larry Wright’s absence. Draymond Green, a 6’7” junior, is turning into one of the best players in the state. Meanwhile 6’10” senior Josh Southern has been good, but I was expecting dominance in his final year. The guards are solid, but none have stood out – it would be nice to see a star develop out of this group. Still, their press is fantastic, but proved ineffective against Arthur Hill. In fact, my initial thought going into the season was that Saginaw may be the team to knock off the ‘Jacks. That still might happen, but not if the last game was any indicator.
3. Holt [preseason number eight]
Holt is meeting expectations. I didn’t see as being perfect, by dropping a few they should win, but they’ve played well against tough competition like a star-studded Romulus. Paul Crosby, a 6’7” senior, is getting double-teamed, but isn’t exactly showing resilience. Joe Powers, a 6’2” junior, and Matt Naeyaert (left), a 5’10” senior, are playing very well and 5’10” freshman Donlunto Jackson is a pleasant surprise. I expect them to beat Jackson out for second in conference.
4. Flint Carman Ainsworth [preseason number three]
The Cavaliers have been what I expected, kind of. I didn’t believe they would be world-beaters coming out of the gate, as usual. But I also didn’t expect them to get destroyed at home by Clarkston and Powers. Little by little, however, they are churning out a good record. I thought this would become a run-and-gun team with the playmaking abilities of 6’1” junior Jon Lee and 5’10” junior Kieon Arkwright. Lee is still their most valuable player, but not as a playmaker. Transfer Reggie Stallings, 6’2” junior, still has yet to reach his potential. He’s one of the finest athletes in the state, yet settles for rainbow three-pointers on every possession. He would be a sick slasher with his first step, hops and touch, but whatever. Dee Chapman (left), a 6’5” forward, is one of the best freshmen in the state. Rumors of him being soft are completely untrue. His future is bright under Rory’s guidance. They’re only going to get better, but I don’t know if they can beat Powers in the rematch.
5. Okemos [preseason number five]
The Chieftains are meeting expectations. I’m not sure how they lost to East Lansing and I don’t know too much about Ann Arbor Pioneer, but without Jonathon Jones I can’t expect them to win every game. Their big three started out hot, particularly 6’4” senior Michael Kebler and 6’6” senior Dennis Means (left), but their starting to cool a little. Anthony Ianni, a 6’10” senior, might be the biggest disappointment so far. His game against Arthur Hill last season led me to believe he would become the man; it hasn’t happened yet. Guard is still a bit of an issue. It will be interesting if someone steps up by playoffs.
6. Midland [preseason unranked]
Midland is a good squad. Not great, but good. They’re only as strong as 6’2” senior Kelvin Carter (left) and when he’s off, like against Saginaw, they lose. They’ve got a number of quality guards and run a nice press. They deserved to be top ten.
7. Mount Pleasant [preseason unranked]
Mount Pleasant is built like Midland — a lot of good guards without much of a post to speak of. Andrew Thomas, a 6’2” senior, is the star, but 6’3” junior William Arnold appears to be the steadiest. Watch for 6’3” freshman Trey Zeigler to become an impact player as the season progresses.
8. Lapeer West [preseason unranked]
West has been succeeding on the back of 5’11” junior guard Chris Hutton (left). Hutton can score in a myriad of different ways and has lifted his team through a pretty tough stretch of games. Doug Haggadone, a 6’4” post, has provided excellent support down-low. Their most recent win at Lapeer East was very impressive.
9. East Lansing [preseason unranked]
My initial premonition was to rank EL, but with the decision of likely impact guard Jordan Howenstine to be homeschooled, I decided to drop them. It turns I should have stuck to my initial inclination. They’re an extremely well-coached team in EL and have some cerebral players, like the 6’0″ senior Hollenbeck brothers and 6’3″ senior Alex Schmidt.
10. Swartz Creek [preseason honorable mention]
The Metro sneaks another school in with Swartz Creek. Creek possesses good three-point shooting, solid ball-handling, a scrappy forward in 6’1” senior Ben Cummings and a star in 6’1” senior Trevor L’Hommedieu. I thought they would win the Metro, but I didn’t think they would beat Grand Blanc and Davison. Recent loss to in-conference foe, Holly, puts this team squarely on the bubble.
Davison [preseason number four]
Every year this team starts out tough and then tends to fall as the season progresses. Point guard issues and a lack of leadership seem to be the biggest culprit. David Swain, 6’4” senior, is an intriguing player, but disappears. Juniors like 6’1” guard Tyler Sauer and 6’5” center Trevor Cousineau look good, but don’t seem to get enough touches. Garrett Stephens (left), a 6’5” forward, is a great talent, but might not be assertive enough. They will probably be third in the conference by season’s end, but that’s not to say that they are a top ten team.
Flint Northern [preseason number six]
Northern was a pretty big misfire. They really don’t have an impressive win to speak of. Their top player in 5’10” sophomore Da’Chawn Glover is possibly the best sophomore point guard in the area, but always seems to have an injury or grade problems keeping him out of games. The transfer of 6’1” junior Darius Brady hurts, 6’1” sophomore Alan Sharp has yet to reach his potential and 6’2” junior Michael Parks is a little streaky. Their post is a little different from what I expected. Stanley Beard, a 6’5” senior, shows flashes but not often enough and Damarcus Polite, a 6’5” senior, their top rebounder from last season, seems to be absent from the team altogether. Sophomore Cymiahn Williams, at 6’1”, is a surprise – for some reason I think this school has a dozen good players in the school that just aren’t playing. I hope these guys can get it together by season’s end.
Grand Blanc [preseason number nine]
The Bobcats are worse than I believed. Aaron Hans (left), a 6’6” senior, hasn’t become the slightest of offensive threats; he’s still a valuable player though. I expected Hans and a healthy 6’1” senior Sean Dyer to be guys that could take the pressure off of 6’0” junior Adrian Hunter. Hunter has been fantastic by the way. Matt Serra, a 6’1” senior, is playing well and probably needs to step it up on the offensive end and it would help if 6’5” senior Danny Birch would go inside every once in awhile. Aaron Jackson has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat for the Bobcats.
Lansing Waverly [preseason number ten]
Lansing Waverly, what can I say? At this point in my preseason predictions I was grasping at straws, but Waverly isn’t necessarily disappointing. They had good wins against East Lansing and Jackson Lumen Christi. The Mason loss was a little surprising. Zach Saylor, a 6’8” junior, Bryan Horn, a 5’9” senior, Matt Slater, a 6’3” junior and Tyler Bennett, a 5’10” senior, seem to be the leaders, but none appear to be stars. I expected someone to step up a little more, namely Bennett. They may still win their conference, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a top ten.
Lansing Sexton [preseason number seven]
Sexton is experiencing some difficulties, which were to be expected. Coaching is a concern, but the transfers are not exactly delivering on their hype. Deleon Dearing, a 6’0” junior, DeShawn Jones, a 6’5” senior, and Drew Valentine, a 6’3” sophomore, are all potential stars, but have yet to make serious impacts. They’re only victories seems to be against whipping boys, save for Jackson. There’s still a lot of talent, they just need to get it together. A definite misfire on my part. Javaughn Manuel (left) has been their most consistent scoring option.
1. Flint Southwestern [preseason number one]
The Knights are doing great and easily the number one, maybe overall. They have an uber-impressive win over Arthur Hill and some other good ones over Romulus and Carman Ainsworth. Anthony Crater (left), a 6’2” junior is doing what is expected of him – dominate. Tyrone Ward, 6’4” junior, looks impressive with a series of 20 and 10 games. Leviante Davis, a 6’5” senior, seems to be MIA half the time, but plays well off the bench. I was hoping for greater assists in 5’11” senior Erving McFadden, 6’1” junior Erik Fields and 6’5” sophomore DeMarkus Bracy, but I can’t complain with the Knights results.
2. Flint Powers Catholic [preseason number two]
The Chargers weren’t supposed to be this tough right out of the gate. Their win over Flint Northwestern may just be the most impressive of the season. I expect them to be even tougher when 6’3” senior Spencer Hickoff comes back from an injury. Lava Lucas-Perry, a 6’3” senior, was supposed to be on a Mr. Basketball pace, but double-teams hurt his numbers. However, teammates like the 6’2” junior Tyler Moreland, 6’2” sophomore Shane Moreland (left) and 6’5” senior Andrew Charlesworth are making teams pay for it. Coach Herman looks like a good hire.
3. Bridgeport [preseason number five]
The Bearcats could go undefeated. Their toughest games coming up are against Carman Ainsworth and possibly Alma. They’ve overcame some tough tests and proved they can win the close games. They may be one of the most complete teams from top to bottom. Josh Barnes, a 6’3” senior, and Jeremy Sewell, a 6’0” senior, are vastly underrated. Calvin Green, a 6’5” senior, keeps improving and only makes the Bearcats more deadly. Look out for the Bearcats in March.
4. Lansing Catholic Central [preseason unranked]
I never would have guessed that out of the tough CAAC-3 that LCC would be the top team at this point. Aaron Nichols, a 6’1” senior, is a fantastic guard being at by division one schools. He’s got some great help inside from 6’4” junior Mike Repovz and 6’4” junior Max Gover (left). Gover actually has dropped off a bit, but a big game against DeWitt could be his return to his former status. Lakewood is the only team capable of beating them at this point in conference.
5. Jackson Lumen Christi [preseason unranked]
JLC is the top team in the CAAC-2 and doesn’t appear to be any position to give it up. They’ve played a tough schedule and came out on top. They have a quality starting line-up with guys like 6’1” senior Adam Hiday and 6’4” senior John Guerrero, but depth is a question. Their schedule will get easier as the season progresses so I don’t see them dropping off. Senior Terrence Willis (left) has been a quality backcourt player thus far.
6. Lakewood [preseason number eight]
Lakewood did great in 6’8” senior Alex Erickson’s absence beating some good teams in Bath and Portland. Nic Hilley, a 6’3” junior, has looked great in particular. With the big guy they are undefeated. I am sure they are licking their chops at another shot at Lansing Catholic Central.
7. Hillsdale [preseason honorable mention]
Hillsdale benefited from playing an easy schedule, but one the games that mattered, namely against Leslie and Albion. Tyler Laser, a 6’1” senior, is an absolute star and the SMAA South doesn’t appear to have a contender.
8. Frankenmuth [preseason number ten]
After starting out with two losses, Frankenmuth has been tough ever since. Brad Redford, a 6’0” junior, is clearly the greatest three-point shooter in the state, but his supporting cast is deserving of a lot of credit. Junior guard Eric Nuechterlein (left) has been invaluable this season for Coach Crawford who has turned this undersized team into a real contender. They’ve got a few tough contests away ahead of them. Look for junior Nick Shelton to be the X-factor for this team in the stretch run.
9. Portland [preseason honorable mention]
Portland should have replaced Perry in my initial rankings. Bridger Buche, a 6’5” senior, is one of the top big men in the area and 6’0” senior Michael Margraf is pretty solid. They’ve had some great wins this season and look like the class of their conference.
10.Flint Northwestern Academy [preseason number three]
Northwestern could have been great. Their athletic wings like 6’5” senior Damon Franklin (left) and 6’3” senior Marcus Green would have been unbeatable with the long-range shooting of 5’8” sophomore Deandre Upchurch and post play of 6’10” senior LaMarcus Lowe. From what I understand an opposing coach blew the whistle on Lowe’s eligibility based upon credits earned in night school and in the process ruined what could have been a storied season for the Wildcats. They’re still tough, but I can’t see them making it out of their district anymore.
Birch Run [preseason number nine]
The Panthers were supposed to leap frog Frankenmuth, but it hasn’t happened yet. They are awfully talented with 6’3” junior Jordan Duby (left) and 6’5” sophomore Dakotah Ellis, but have very little depth behind their starting five. The losses to Frankenmuth and Bridgeport were tough to swallow, but are the kind of games they can improve upon, especially with the rematches at home.
DeWitt [preseason number four]
The Panthers are solid, but probably overvalued. Sam Celentino, a 6’5” junior, isn’t quite what I expected – I figured he’d be one of the top players in the conference, but that hasn’t happened yet. He might be too restricted playing center. Cody Worden, a 6’2” senior, Dan VanDreumel, a 5’10” junior and Josh Armstead (left), a 5’9” senior, are all nice, but having a team leader would help. They’re good, but not the best in their conference.
Fowlerville [preseason number six]
I expected Fowlerville to be a lot better. Sean Romsek (left), a 6’2” junior, is still a great player and the return of 5’10” junior Garret St. Charles should improve their chances for the rest of the season. Joe Lane, 6’4” junior, looks good, but needs more consistency. Probably not a top ten team, but better than their record shows with a healthy squad.
Perry [preseason number seven]
The Ramblers aren’t too far from where I expected them. I was surprised they lost to Corunna, but a healthy 6’6” senior in Dennis Meaney should improve their fortunes. They’ve got the toughest part of their schedule ahead of them. Senior Jordan Sipkovsky (left) has been scoring in bunches thus far, and this trend should continue. Cody Metcalf, a point guard transfer from DeWitt, should take some of the pressure off Sipkovsky down the stretch.
1. New Lothrop [preseason unranked]
NL is again one of the best teams in class C. They didn’t lose a lot last season, but they did lose their height so I forecasted a drop-off, but that’s not been the case. They’re undefeated with some wins over class B schools. This could be their year. They’re a good reminder of how far off I was. Seniors Mike Vincke and Brent Ruddy (both left) make this team go.
2. Pewamo – Westphalia [preseason unranked]
PW is another undefeated. They look like the class of CMAC with a very balanced team that is actually missing their top player in 6’0″ junior Chad Piggott. I’m not convinced that they can beat a Bath team that’s at 100%, but they may never have to face that team.
3. Carson City – Crystal [preseason ranked three]
CCC looks really good and seems about right at where they were ranked preseason. Cory Schneider, a 5’9″ junior, is a real player and everyone knows how good 6’10” junior Sean Jones (left) is. They should mop up in their conference, but realistically this should be an undefeated team dropping an embarrassing one to Saranac.
4. Leslie [preseason number two]
Leslie looked like a world-beater until Hillsdale served up a little humble-pie. They are still one of the top class C teams in the area – I don’t expect them lose much more, except against Hillsdale again and one with Albion. Few class C teams have a finer trio then 6’6″ senior Brad Ahler (left), 6’3″ senior Ryan Clark and 6’3″ junior Charlie Snow.
5. Hanover – Horton [preseason six]
The Cascades’ best is rolling on a balanced attack. They’re led by 6’2″ senior Andy Dedrick, 5’9″ junior Nick Schaefer and impressive 6’4″ sophomore Jacob Wild. I don’t seem them dropping a game in conference.
6. Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central [preseason number five]
Nouvel is a very nice team. They play a tough schedule so their record doesn’t indicate their level of play. They’re hard to rank because of their record, but would beat down a lot of the one-loss class C teams. Tim Ryan, 6’3″ senior, has been absolutely killing it.
7. Beecher [preseason unranked]
Beecher wasn’t expected to be good with the loss of 6’2″ junior Reggie Stallings to CA and without their 6’9″ option in Sherrod Word, but here they are killing it. Tyiwan Eason gets most of the credit for averaging 20 points per game, but this is a team loaded with guard talent. Kirby Johnson, a 5’10” senior, is a floor general’s floor general. This is a team that can run you out of the gym. Look for continued improvement out of 6’3″ freshman Taron Boose.
8. St. Louis [preseason unranked]
The Sharks first season in the TVC West has been met with a lot of success. A balanced attack with 6’5″ senior Steve Heitsch, 6’2″ senior Scott Horman and 5’11” junior Mike Davaloz keep this team on top.
9. Brown City [preseason ranked ten]
Big preseason expectations were dashed by an early loss, but they’ve been killing it ever since. Justin McPhail, a 6’0″ senior, is starting to show his old high scoring form and this year he has a lot of help.
10. Burton Bentley [preseason number four]
Bentley suffered understandable losses to Beecher and Goodrich, but I don’t see them sniffing a win against New Lothrop. The Bulldogs were probably over-ranked, but still a very good team. Junior 6’5” forward Patrick Ellison (left) has been putting up some gaudy numbers this season, reminiscent of Marcus Coleman’s senior season at Flint Hamady. Ellison is just a little early. Junior guard Aaron Mangham has also had a breakout season for the Bulldogs.
Bath [preseason number one]
The Bees have been one big disappointment. It seems like there is one big problem after another. Kody Kokx, a 6’6″ senior, can’t seem to stay on the court and when he’s on, he’s not the impact he was expected to be. Eli Redman, a 6’7″ junior, and Brett Monroe (left), a 6’2″ senior, are doing a great job keeping the ship afloat, but they were definitely overrated.
Laingsburg [preseason number seven]
They have one of the finest point guards in the area and a great coach, but that hasn’t been enough to guarantee the same success of last season. They’re still a solid club.
Olivet [preseason number eight]
Well, the days of dominance are over, but 5’10” senior Joe Post, 6’2″ senior Dustin Campbell and company are still keeping this team competitive.
Saginaw Buena Vista [preseason number nine]
Their big problem has been scheduling big schools, even though they’ve faired well against them. They started out hot, but have cooled as of late. An awfully talented team despite the loss Tory Jackson. LaQuintis Madison (left), Joseph Henderson and Torian Oglesby will make the Knights a dangerous team come playoff time.
Unionville – Sebewaing Area [preseason unranked]
USA is again tough. Evidently teams like New Lothrop and USA don’t rebuild, they reload. The Patriots are reloading with another Bitzer in 5’10” sophomore Brandon and other guys like 6’2″ senior Tim Holland. Their last loss, however, stings.
1. Jackson Christian [preseason number three]
Jackson Christian is the number one ranked team, but I believe their conference schedule will hurt them down the road. Still, their undefeated record earns the number one spot. DJ Baisden, a 5’10” senior, just signed with Spring Arbor and is the steam engine behind this balanced senior team. Sharpshooting senior Joel Maybee (left) has also turned some heads south of Lansing this season.
2. Lansing Christian [preseason number one]
Lansing Christian was a fair pick at number one. With one loss to Leslie by two these guys might still be the top class D in the area. Peter Bunn (left), 6’2” senior, is playing well, but teammates like 6’2” senior Joel Hoffman and 5’11” junior DeOndra Callahan are helping him out an awful lot.
3. Kingston [preseason unranked]
Kingston is another team that plays a weak schedule, but hopefully they can learn their lesson from last season’s playoff loss to Genesee Christian. Their size in 6’6” senior Brandon Jones and two others 6’4” or taller is a difficult match-up for any class D school.
4. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart [preseason number two]
MPSH is doing what they do by winning. Can they make it back to the Breslin? They have a good chance in their district and regional, but they are not the deepest of teams out there. Caleb Simons, 6’5” senior, has to put on a big night in order for them to have a chance.
5. Portland St. Patrick [preseason unranked]
St. Patrick is quietly one of the better class D’s around. They have an incredible amount of balance and play in a fairly tough conference. They were vastly underrated.
6. Flint International Academy [preseason number six]
Coach Matheson’s team finally got over the hump with a win over rival Genesee Christan in January. The Phoenix lack the depth that most class D school struggle with, but senior Elvin Caldwell and Ronald Wilson are two athletic scorers in front of Tyler Wilson, IAF’s strong and athletic point guard. Don’t be surprised to see IAF in the regionals of class D.
7. Bay City All Saints [preseason unranked]
Nick Simpson, a 6’0″ senior, has been killing it. Ollie Hull at a bulky 6’3″ is a serviceable big man for this class D school playing in a predominantly class C conference. Their strength of schedule should help come playoffs.
8. Webberville [preseason number four]
There was a fair amount of hype surrounding some of their players at the start of the season, but the bloom is off the rose. Dillion Teague, a 6’3” junior, continues to improve along with 5’10” youngster Jordan Farris.
9. Vestaburg [preseason unranked]
A huge win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart has to make this team smile and a good chance in the playoffs.
10. Genesee Christian [preseason number five]
The Soldiers are still trying to find some identity outside of 6’4” senior Scott Soldan (left). They have players capable of hitting outside shots and fairly large post, but can’t seem to put it together just yet.
Fowler [preseason number eight]
To their credit, Fowler does play in a predominantly class C, but with them returning most of their roster from last season I expected more.
Morrice [preseason number nine]
Morrice, like Fowler, returns most of their line-up form last season; but, like Fowler, the veterans aren’t paying off. Thus far Morrice has only manufactured one win on the season, and just recently managed only two points in an entire half against Webberville. It’s mind-boggling, but I think a team could shoot every shot from halfcourt in the second half and make three.