Consider this the prep basketball kick-off edition of the recruiting round-up! While recruiting uncommitted players is mostly a quiet affair between coaches, families, and players right now, the Michigan high school basketball season is getting ready to go causing the public spotlight on the players to ramp up. Schools in Indiana are already into their early season and players like Branden Dawson and Gary Harris have hit the court for their respective schools. Local news coverage is one of the best ways to keep track of their teams and we've rounded up recent links discussing their starts and early performances. This edition of the recruiting round-up also has stories talking about committed players like Matt Costello and Travis Trice as well as coverage of the upcoming season here in Michigan. With two years of high school ball to watch Costello, Denzel Valentine, and Kenny Kaminski, the competitive 2011 Mr. Basketball race, and the importance of the 2013 class, this should be an exciting time for Spartan fans.
Details and links (now with player name bolding for improved readability!) after the jump...
NBC 25 out of Mid-Michigan has this short video story on Matt Costello. You can check out a few quick clips of him on the court as well as see an interview talking about his upcoming season and the decision to commit early to Michigan State. He looks a bit like a long '3' in the footage from last season but adding more weight and strength over the next two/three years should prepare him well to contribute at MSU. All of you who read my comments know I'm excited about adding him to the Spartan roster.
Michael Allen Smith over at SpartanNation caught up with Travis Trice and his family around Thanksgiving. The article focuses on the major role faith plays in the Trice family as well as how Travis has developed in a leadership position by knowing how to deal with the different motivational needs of his teammates. Trice also takes "blue collar" as a compliment and that should suit him well playing for Coach Izzo.
Branden Dawson and his Lew Wallace squad had a rough time in starting their season last weekend. They faced Whitney Young HS out of Chicago and ended up on the wrong side of a 53-38 score. Whitney Young features one of 2013's best and biggest post prospects in Thomas Hamilton, Jr. From reports about the game, Whitney Young's size disrupted Dawson and his teammates, especially when Dawson was treated to near constant double-teaming in the post. (Con-T points out to me that Whitney Young is Jahlil Okafor's school, too) The Gary, Indiana team also lost a closer and higher scoring 73-72 contest against Chicago Carver on Friday night with Dawson collecting 24 pts and 16 rebounds.
Ending on a positive note, Lew Wallace did get a win at the very top of their season in the 5th Annual State Farm Tournament of Champions. Here's local news video of the game focusing on BD. Dawson and crew defeated Chicago Perspectives, a team which features Kentucky-bound senior Anthony Davis. You can read Reggie Rankin's take at that much hyped match-up here. Branden was all over the statsheet with 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks.
Gary Harris and the Hamilton SE Royals won a tight game 62-57 on Saturday night. The opposing coach, Pendleton Height's Brian Hahn, described Harris as "a special player" and stated "there’s a reason why every school in the country is after him. He made some huge shots down the stretch, give him credit, but he didn’t beat us." Harris scored 24 in the effort. Earlier in the week, Harris was up and down, being held to 9 points against the Mt. Vernon Marauders after putting up 32 to kick off the season against Indianapolis Northwest. Regardless of individual stats, Hamilton Southeastern won every contest to start 3-0. If you dig the work of the camera lens, here are some nice shots of one of his contests from J. Scott Photography. Harris is #40 and he's featured in many of the pictures.
In terms of his recruitment, I think we're in the midst of an interesting period for schools courting Gary. With the recent commitments of Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell, lots of Indiana fans were speculating/hoping/rumoring that Gary Harris would follow in the weeks of the holidays with a verbal commitment of his own. At this point, a longer recruitment is good for MSU. Any announcement of a date in the near future could be a sign IU is in great shape. For my money, every day that passes is an indicator that Harris's recruitment could continue well into the winter if not beyond as he continues to explore his options.
Back in the state of Michigan, there's a lot to checkout as games begin this week. Steve Bell at Mlive has the word on early season "best-bet's" including games featuring Denzel Valentine, Dwaun Anderson, and others. You can also check out his coverage of the scrimmage at Lansing Eastern I mentioned last month. It looks more and more like Amir Williams is out to prove that he's more than DeShonte Riley 2.0. He had a solid showing for victorious Detroit Country Day and is starting to offer more on-the-court evidence that he's a Top 50 player and a worthy OSU recruit. Bell also compares Steven Haney to Reggie Miller (amongst other players), a comparison that appears to be gaining some traction in scouting circles. This video of Haney's freshman year highlights popped up on YouTube today so you can watch and see if you recognize any of #31.
The Detroit News has coverage of the upcoming season with articles on its pick for No. 1 team as well as rankings by Tom Markowski of the best players in the state. Tom picks Detroit Southeastern as the superior squad this season with credit to its leadership of two seniors - Dayton signee Percy Gibson and future Spartan Brandan Kearney. Amir Williams grabs the top spot for individual acclaim with Izzo's men Kearney and Dwaun Anderson receiving 3rd and 6th place respectively. One interesting note: the 7th position for T.J. Buchanan of Kalamazoo Central. He signed with Rhode Island but has his coach's vote for top player in the state ahead of the Big Ten signees and hopefuls. He could definitely be a factor at the next level. Markowski's Top 9 are all seniors with Matt Costello, only a junior, filling out the 10th spot.
To keep things fair and balanced, you can also find an extensive prep preview from the LSJ here as well as Sam Hosey's take over at LifeInLansing. Hosey has his own rankings of prep players and it looks like his criteria is high school dominance not college potential. From that reason, it looks noticeably different than Tom Markowski's.
Also, Saturday is the Mr. Basketball Tip-Off at the Fieldhouse of (again!) Lansing Eastern. The event carries that title for a reason. The final game of the night pits my (and Hosey's) Mr. Basketball 2011 favorite LaDontae Henton of the homecourt Quakers against Lansing Sexton and Mr. Basketball 2012 candidate/MSU verbal Denzel Valentine. Lansing Eastern is going to be the team to watch for MSU fans with the duo of PG Charles "Cha Cha" Tucker and aforementioned wing Steven Haney. Both players are presumed to be high-up on Izzo's target list and could continue their careers together at Michigan State. Unfortunately, transfer rules will prohibit Haney from playing until January. LifeInLansing.com has the rest of the details on the event.
Before I wrap up, here's a few links sent my way from the desk of Con-T:
NWI.com has this story discussing recruiting in NW Indiana. It includes perspectives from Matt Painter, Tom Izzo, and John Beilein. With Izzo snatching Branden Dawson and John Beilein successfully recruiting Glenn Robinson, Jr., Purdue's hold on the area is becoming rather tenuous. Tom Crean is meanwhile trying (and succeeding) to re-solidify areas of the state once monopolized by Bobby Knight.
Jabari Parker's and his teammates at Simeon high have been getting lots of press. They're number 15 in ESPN's Rise Rankings (you'll find a few MI teams, too), and Joe Henrickson of the Sun-Times believes this may be the best Simeon team ever, even better than the one led by Derrick Rose. He's got 20 (!) reasons why he believes that's true.
All for now. We'll check back in soon and talk about the start of high school hoops here in Michigan. Let us know if you make it to any of the games and remember to keep an eye out for Izzo.