Regularly, BallinMichigan.com will look back at the yearly Mr. Basketball award with the benefit of hindsight. These posts will look back at the top five finishers at the time, provide updates on what they’ve done since and, for the fun of it, let readers re-vote to see if the results would be different if we include their full college and professional bodies of work. Thanks to Ron Pesch, MHSAA historian, for the great Mr. Basketball voting database he provides online.
- Manny Harris, Detroit Redford
- Dar Tucker, Saginaw Arthur Hill
- Kalin Lucas, Orchard Lake St. Mary
- Durrell Summers, Redford Covenant Christian
- Laval Lucas-Perry, Powers Catholic
I don’t like when people devalue non-NBA professional basketball leagues by acting like players ‘didn’t make it’ because they ‘only played overseas.’ It’s not only annoying, but also ignorant of the fact there are really good professional leagues all over the world where American players go and make very good livings and get the opportunity to see the world as a result of the work they put into becoming good at basketball. So I won’t look at this class, with four of the five players currently playing professionally (Lucas-Perry just finished his college career at Oakland) as a disappointment. But I think it is fair to say that expectations were higher for all of these players at one time.
So far, Harris is the only one in this year’s top five to spend any significant time in the NBA, just finishing up his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers after making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2009. Harris has performed about as well as you’d expect a rookie free agent thrust into minutes on a bad team to perform — up and down. In his second year, he improved his shooting slightly (37 percent to 40 percent), got to the line more, turned it over slightly less and rebounded slightly more on a per-minute basis. He’s lanky enough and athletic enough to be a solid perimeter defender/role player, particularly if he can shoot the three as well as he did his rookie year (37 percent).
Harris was a sometimes dynamic player at Michigan, if an ill-fitting one in John Beilein‘s offense. Credit to Beilein for trying to tailor some things he probably wasn’t comfortable running to fit Harris and credit to Harris for sticking it out and playing for a coach who didn’t recruit him. In parts of two seasons in the NBA, Harris hasn’t clearly established himself as a surefire player in the league just yet, but the fact that he’s hung around on a roster for parts of two seasons is more than many predicted he’d do when he decided to leave Michigan early. Regardless, he’s a definite professional player whether his long-term future is in the NBA or in a top league in Europe.
Tucker didn’t hang around at DePaul long enough to develop the all-around game necessary to land him a spot in the NBA out of college. But let’s just say his NBA-level athleticism remains — he did things like this in the NBA D-League and like this in France.
Tucker averaged 14.5 points per game in nearly 100 career D-League games and was always capable of providing breathtaking plays, but his perimeter shot (29 percent from 3-point range) didn’t develop enough to get him any kind of long-term shot on a NBA roster. He played last season in France, where he averaged 13.4 points per game and shot 59 percent. The knock on Tucker has always been that on and off jumper, and he’ll certainly need it to improve to get a look in the NBA, but his freakish physical tools will at the very least keep him on the radar for a bit. If he shows he can shoot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the NBA someday. And if he doesn’t, he’ll be a big star in Europe for a long time because of the dynamic way he plays.
After his sophomore season at Michigan State, Lucas looked like a sure-bet NBA player. He was an elusive, quick guard who could hit the three and was an immediate impact player on good teams at Michigan State. But an Achilles injury late in his junior season, along with the fact that Lucas kind of became a prisoner to the lofty expectations of others, kind of derailed that dream.
It’s not that Lucas didn’t improve at Michigan State — he did. It was just incremental. He started off as a pretty good college basketball player, which surprised many who didn’t expect him to contribute as much as he did as a freshman and sophomore. So naturally, that ratcheted up expectations, particularly at a school that has produced point guards like Magic Johnson, Scott Skiles and Mateen Cleaves. Lucas didn’t get worse (although, understandably, his recovery from that Achilles injury caused a slow start statistically to his senior season), he just didn’t become the era-defining warrior at the position people expected him to. And that’s not Lucas’ fault. He had a good college career and played last season in Turkey, averaging 9.6 points and 2.2 assists per game.
Unlike Lucas, who had physical disadvantages when it came to getting the attention of NBA scouts (Lucas was small even for a point guard and didn’t have the same explosiveness as other small guys), Summers was physically pretty much a prototypical looking NBA wing. At 6-foot-5 with long arms and the ability to do things like this, after a strong tourney run as a junior, Summers looked to be on the verge of turning in a big senior season and potentially even getting picked in the first round.
Instead, Summers went into a still-mysterious season-long slump and was often lost both offensively and defensively for the most disappointing Michigan State team in Tom Izzo‘s coaching career.
The good news, though? Those physical attributes for Summers still exist. Summers played briefly for Maine in the D-League this season before signing with a team in France. He’s still young and has enough tools to have a chance to put things together and get another look by NBA teams as a summer league or training camp invite down the road.
Lucas-Perry had the least stable college career of the guys on this list. A big-time scorer in high school, he committed to an Arizona program that was in disarray with the Lute Olsen-Kevin O’Neill situation. Lucas-Perry didn’t last long and transferred to Michigan. He had a solid first season at Michigan, but slid back some in his second season with the team, then was mysteriously dismissed from the program. He ended up finishing his playing career as a reserve at Oakland. He averaged 7.7 points per game this season.
Lucas-Perry struggled shooting the ball pretty much his entire college career, which is strange, because he was a fantastic shooter in high school. I don’t know what his professional aspirations are, if any, but I do know that the pros he’s played with in pickup games in Flint and Oakland County over the last two summers have raved about how good he is in those games. His college stats aren’t all that impressive, but if he’s connected enough and has the desire to play somewhere, he might get a chance.
There are quite a few big names on this list on the strength of their college careers. I think Lucas had the best college career of the group, but Harris playing two years in the NBA probably gives him the best pro career so far. I’d say the remix award for the best post-high school career is definitely between those two.
- 2003 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 2000 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1983 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1994 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1985 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1991 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix
- 1987 Michigan Mr. Basketball Remix