Battle of the Best: 5 Takeaways

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Michigan

Posted On: 12/24/17 10:17 PM

This weekend, Southfield A&T hosted the Battle of the Best Super Saturday tournament. The day featured an 8th grade all-star type game, then 4 matchups between some of Michigan’s top teams: East English vs Chandler Park, Cass Tech vs Flint Hamady, U of D Jesuit vs Flint Beecher and Hazel Park vs DEPSA. Here are 5 takeaways I had from the day:

 

 

1. Hazel Park is legit. I’ve now seen Hazel Park take down two top 5 teams in their respective class, with victories over East English (Class A) and now DEPSA (Class C). In addition to those two victories, Hazel Park also has two more impressive wins over UD Jesuit and Detroit Loyola to give them a 4-0 record on the year. They’re a guard orientated (Carl Bow Jr, Dave Hearns and Devin Pettus) who play extremely fast in order to maximize their overall team athleticism. Also, they have two very underrated forwards in Khari Adams and Kyle Washington who playmuch bigger than their actual size. They will be able to compete with bigger teams given their athleticism and the tempo at which they play with.

2. Kalil Whitehead is a junior to watch. Whitehead is an extremely underrated prospect in the 2019 class. He’s a 6’7″ forward who can do damage inside and out. In the two games I’ve watched this season, Whitehead has put down at a minimum 5 alley-oops in addition to a couple more dunks. Also, he can shoot the three ball well – in Cass Tech’s win over Hamady, he hit 3 trey balls. Whitehead was his team’s leading scorer despite playing a similar game/position as highly touted seniors Randy Gilbert and Jalen Tobias. It will be interesting to see how Whitehead progresses throughout the season as well as how he performs next year without Gilbert and Tobias.

3. Flint Beecher having a rebuilding year? Beecher has been one of the state’s top programs in recent history, as they’ve not only won multiple championships but also have consistently put out college players to every level. Beecher is the defending Class C champion, however, they graduated a bevy of players from last year’s squad including 4-year standout Malik Ellison. Many think Beecher will still be able to remain competitive, however, as they return D1 players Jalen Terry and Ernie Sanders, as well as a couple players who had varsity experience last year. This year, they’ve been blown out by Cass Tech, who, to be fair, is a top-5 team in the state, as well as suffered a loss to a UD Jesuit team missing D1 guard Daniel Friday. With that being said, Beecher is still 4-2 with an opportunity to pick up some big wins against Grand Blanc, Goodrich, Old Redford, New Haven and Detroit Renaissance. Only time will tell, but regardless of how the regular season goes, Beecher is accustomed to a championship or bust mentality. Anything less may be considered a disappointed.

4. East English Village is a D1 guard factory. East English has the best collection of guards of any team in the state. Michigan signee and Mr. Basketball candidate Dave DeJulius is arguably the best guard in the state. Tariq Shepherd received a D1 offer before he started his junior campaign and just picked up another offer within a day of the Battle of the Best tournament. Jayshawn Moore is one of the top 2020s in the state and will surely pick up D1 offers within the year. East English also plays freshman Simon Wheeler, who’s currently a top-5 2021 in Michigan. In addition to these players, they also have a solid guard in Keyon Brown, who may not be D1 but could be a top 2 option on most teams in the state. East English also graduated guard Greg Elliot who’s currently contributing as a true freshman at Marquette.

5. Instituting a shot clock would raise the overall skill level in the state. There are certainly economic obstacles that would have to be overcome in order to institute shot clocks statewide. With this being said, it’s time for us as a state to make it happen. The Beecher-UD Jesuit game was a perfect example why, as both teams took turns passing the ball around the three point line for minutes at a time. At halftime, the score was a mere 15-14: the final was 38-37. While this can partially be attributed to poor shooting on both sides, the bigger issue lies with the length of possessions. With shot clocks, teams who rely on systems/plays heavily will be forced to shoot instead of passing/cutting for minutes at a time. Not only will this force coaches to get better at developing sets/systems, it will also force overall player skill and IQ to increase. Players will have to be aware of the shot clock on both ends of the floor – on offense, teams will be forced to create a shot when the clock is running low, while the defense will be forced to defend. This will also come in huge at the end of games – too many times I’ve seen teams with a lead attempt to hold the ball for the final minutes. A shot clock would eliminate this situation that nobody enjoys seeing take place.