The 2013 senior class in Michigan is one of the best in recent memory — so strong, in fact, that it lost two top sure Division I recruits, Cha Cha Tucker and Richie Lewis, to prep schools and still remains incredibly deep. Periodically throughout this season, I’ll update this top 10 projecting who could win the coveted Mr. Basketball award. Today’s preseason edition will obviously be prediction-based, since the award is a senior year award. Expect this list to remain competitive all season, but there could also be a darkhorse candidate or two emerge along the way.
Today’s post will just be a list in no particular order since we don’t have senior seasons to go on just yet. Future listings will make an attempt to rank them, 1-10.
There are certainly bigger names on this list than the Iowa State commit, but I dare you to find someone who has had a better high school career to this point than Morris. He’s not only a three-year starter for Beecher, he’s been the team’s best player since he stepped foot on the court as a freshman. He’s led the team to the Breslin Center three times in three season, he led the team to an undefeated season and state title last season and he’s won the Class C Player of the Year award twice.
Beecher is a favorite to win a state title once again, and if the Bucs are successful, it will be hard to deny Morris the Mr. Basketball award.
Young, who transferred to Rochester from Troy over the summer, is the state’s biggest star. The Kentucky-bound wing is one of the top recruits in the country, and anyone recruited by John Calipari is an obvious talent. Young averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Via The Detroit News, teams this season should prepare for a bigger, faster Young:
On top of that, he’s grown. Last season, he was 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds; this year, he’s 6-6-1/2 and 210, with much of his weight gain in upper-body strength.
“It helped my jump shots, pretty much everything,” he said of his offseason weightlifting. “I’m faster now. I’m stronger with the ball. That’s a part of my game I’m working on; handling the ball.”
Walton, like Morris, has been a high school star for some time, and his commitment to Michigan early in 2011 helped bolster his name and credentials. He’s one of the top point guards in the country and — if you can believe it for a player who averaged 26 points per game — he hasn’t even been fully ‘unleashed’ yet, according to his coach and father:
“He’s a stronger kid. Derrick is about 192 (pounds). He’s been in the weight room and he’s a faster kid — he ran cross country,” Walton Sr. said. “I’m going to let him go. Everybody says I handcuff him, but how can I handcuff a kid who’s averaging 26 points a game? So now I’m going to let him go.”
Will the fact that Matthews and Clark are teammates hurt them in Mr. Basketball voting? Two teammates haven’t finished among the five finalists since the voting format went from 10 to five finalists in 2007. The last time two from the same school finished in the top 10 under the old format was 2005, when Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston of Detroit Renaissance finished second and third.
It’s a longshot that both would make the top five under the new format, but if any duo can do it, it’s this one. Clark is already committed to Missouri for next season and Matthews will play at Rhode Island.
Pershing has had its share of Mr. Basketball success of late, with Keith Appling and Derrick Nix both recently winning the award. And with the Doughboys arguably the top team in the state this season, their top senior, Felder, an Oakland University commit, should have plenty of opportunities to impress voters. Via The Detroit News, he’s very mindful of the Pershing legacy:
“It’s the tradition,” Felder said. “I want to be good on and off the court. It teaches you to be a man.”
Price scored 23 points and helped Country Day put up 100 points in the team’s season-opening win over Southfield Lathrup Dec. 4. Like Clark and Matthews above, Price’s numbers could be impacted by the amount of depth and talent Country Day has. Via MLive’s Jared Purcell:
“We feel like we’ve got three guards as good as anyone in the state, with Price, (Mory) Diane and (Edmund) Sumner,” (coach Kurt) Keener said. “All three of those guys are capable of scoring a lot of points and making a lot of plays.”
“Jon-Jon’s just such a great scorer,” Keener said. “We knew he was going to get a lot. We were just going to make it as difficult as possible.”
Hayes is the top returning senior on a two-time defending state championship team, so the Oakland University commit should definitely be considered a contender.
Robinson doesn’t have the Division I offer that a lot of these players have, but he has something else, along with his immense talent as a productive high school player, that could sway voters — an unbelievable success story:
At an age when most young people search for an identity and place to fit, Robinson knows who he is and where he belongs.
“Bishop” has the unforgettable name and basketball game to match. Robinson searched for love and acceptance when he was essentially a homeless Milwood Magnet School eighth-grader, who brought a suitcase to school, while his biological parents were elsewhere battling personal demons. He eventually was welcomed into the home of Frank and April Rocco, both Kalamazoo Public Schools educators, who accept him as one of their own.
Remember, these listings are fluid, and although a few of these names should be expected to be contenders all year long, we should also certainly be prepared for lesser known seniors to emerge and make strong cases for the award.