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Grand Rapids Christian 2017 center Xavier Tillman

Batmen of Michigan
You’ve heard of them, but who are they

Inside Prep Sports/By TJ Kelley


Believe it or not, Michigan high school basketball still has talent and college coaches as well as fans are turning over some rocks to find hidden talent in many non-traditional basketball schools with success.  These aren’t considered the mainstream for those that are used to hearing Detroit Southwestern or Cooley, Flint Northern or Central, either of the Pontiac power houses, Grand Rapids Creston, Detroit East Catholic or St. Martin de Porres, Highland Park, as well as a number of other basketball rich schools that have closed over the past twenty-plus years made great hoops an easy find and exist best through word of mouth from those on the scene for the past 20, 30, 40, and 50 years who best describe Michigan basketball.

It’s not hard to walk in a gym and hear the “old schoolers” or “basketball junkies” talk about the good old days and how you could walk in any gym to find talent.  Good stuff!  But, it gets old or maybe that’s not the word, however it is a place that is best described in stories.  Great times indeed and yes, Michigan was the premier destination for fans, college coaches, and professional scouts.

Here’s a great list of what Inside Prep Sports is calling Michigan’s Batmen as you may have heard of them, but have never seen them similar to the DC Comic’s superhero.  Michigan has had a fortunate tradition and for those that track college players’ stats, it’s not hard to find that the Great Lakes State has talent that is producing from each corner of the state.  Take the trip North, South, East, and West as the next Deyonta Davis, Yante Maten, Chris Hass, Paris BassKenny Goins, Kyle Steigenga, Jalen Reynolds, Josh McFolleyTaylor Perry, Coreontae Deberry, Josh Kozinski, and many others from non-traditional basketball schools are waiting for fans to carry on Michigan’s legacy to those who may be able to google names, but the spoken word from those who have seen has a way of growing from one person to the next.

Make a trip to the Irish Hills between Adrian and Jackson and fans will find Onsted’s 6’10” senior center Austin Davis, a Michigan commit, and the state’s most dominant big man who averaged over 25 points and near 15 rebounds per game as a junior.  That was 40 pounds ago and the Mr. Basketball candidate is that much more polished, athletic, and prone for season averages of 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks per game as a senior.  A strategically scheduled game this Saturday, December 19th, at Belleville High School will be his closest game to Ann Arbor and the Detroit area when they face Riverview Gabriel Richard team at 6pm in the Fastbreak Invitational.

While the name Kelser is a name familiar throughout the state, Walled Lake Central isn’t at least not for basketball and that’s where fans can find one of the most dynamic scorers in 5’10” senior guard Walter KelserHe’s led the Vikings in scoring as a junior and is one of the state’s top two or three unsigned guards.  With a smooth jump shot and handles that allow him to get in the paint, his oncoming athleticism has him scoring “college like baskets” at the rim.  Check out Kelser in on December 30th in the Motor City Roundball Classic against Detroit Western!

Rochester Adams has a top ten Class A team and one of the best teams in school history led by 6’2” senior guard Spencer Littleson, a Duquesne commit.  As a freshman he was as an energy player, his sophomore year he added play-making, the 2014-’15 season saw his scoring take off especially his shooting which was showcased on the big stage with a 34-point performance at the 20th annual Motor City Roundball Classic vs. Toledo Rogers.  Adams’ December 29th meeting with Novi at 7:20pm in the 21 annual Motor City Roundball Classic at Harper Woods High School could feature a matchup with two of the state’s best players, Littleson and Wisconsin-Green Bay commit Kameron Hankerson.

6’4” junior shooting guard Matt Beachler is trending towards the top of Lowell’s all-time scoring list and his 44-point game last season put him at the top of the Red Arrows single-game scoring list.  With a quick trigger from the perimeter and mid-range, defenses must play him tight.  However, his improved ball skills make him a tough stop as Beechler’s versatility and athleticism come along.

Plenty of talent went through St. Martin De Porres for the latter part of the 20th century and after the closing of the basketball powerhouse Detroit Cornerstone is looking to build its own identity.  The school located in northwest Detroit has one of the nation’s best in 6’7” junior small forward Jamal Cain.  With length, athleticism, basketball IQ, and versatility that is often followed with “high-ceiling” Cain holds mid-major offers from MAC and Horizon schools with numerous coaches from the power conferences following his progress after each game.

Mostly known as a football powerhouse, Macomb Dakota is finding success on court and much of that can be attributed to 5’9” –maybe 5’10” when standing next to the right person- junior floor general Jermaine Jackson, jr.  Jackson holds multiple Division I offers and will look to achieve success on the high school level as he looks for a Class A Championship and has a win percentage over 90% as a starter over the last two seasons with Mt. Clemens as a freshman and last season with Dakota.

Grand Rapids Christian has had some recent success with a trip to the Class A semi-final in 2014, but 6’7” junior center Xavier Tillman will introduce a different type of basketball after the semester break in mid-January when he becomes eligible due to his transfer this summer from Forest Hills Central.  There are very few in high school who can match up with Tillman as he blends a physical post play with agile foot work.  He’s regarded as one of the nation’s best and has the big-time offers to back his production.

David Dejulius, jr. played beyond his years as a freshman in leading Detroit Edison Public School Academy to a district title.  He’s off to a great start as a sophomore where he’s already logged a 40-point game vs. Novi in Michigan’s opening week.  The relentless 5’10” point guard plays great defense and will hit the perimeter, pull up jumper in the mid-range, score at the basket, and get teammates involved.  He holds mid-major offers.  DEPSA plays Detroit Northwestern on December 28th in the Motor City Roundball Classic at Harper Woods High School!

6’8” sophomore forward Brandon Johns, jr. is special and made it through the first round of cuts in the USA 16u national team in the spring of 2015.  He has size, skill, athleticism, feel, and the ability to score anywhere on the court from 21’ and in.  It doesn’t stop there as he is one of the best passing big men not only in Michigan, but the country.  He will be a driving force behind East Lansing High School’s success and it should be no surprise that the school down the street has offered the home grown talent.  He also holds offers from schools in every other major conference.

What do scenery, 94-pound federally seized rocks, and 6’8” sophomore power forward Danny Kolp have in common?  Petsokey.  There’s not really an easy way to get to the “Up North” destination driving north along Lake Michigan or southwest if you’ve crossed the Mackinac Bridge.  Kolp moves very well and can get off the floor quickly.  As he gets stronger his offensive game will expand in the paint, but for now he’s a solid mid-range and in scorer who runs the floor like a deer while looking to rattle home and away rims.  He holds an offer from Central Michigan.

Hazel Park is best known for going to see the ponies and trifectas, however, Carl Bow, jr. and David Hearns, make up one of the state’s top back-courts as only sophomores.  The scoring/play making combination received offers from St. Peters (NJ.) this fall and will drive the Vikings to be a force in Class B through 2018.  See Hazel Park’s young duo go head to head against another talented sophomore duo in Ann Arbor Skyline (Jack Ammerman and Brandon Wade) in the 21st annual Motor City Roundball Classic on December 29th at Hazel Park High School.

So Dansville is southwest of Lansing, MI. and not and town in Indiana?  Yes, and this Class C school has one of the top freshman prospects in the state in 6’9” center Caleb Hodgson.  Agility, athleticism, and skill have already drawn the attention of Big Ten schools with hopes that he keeps developing and eating his mashed potatoes.

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