Posted On: 12/20/17 1:14 PM
The Horatio Williams Tip Off Classic has always been filled with some of the state’s top talent. This event has the format of Detroit Public School league teams versus other schools. PSL basketball has always been special. This year the event took place at the historic Cass Tech High School, reigning city champions. As usual, this event did not disappoint.
While some may have considered the Southfield Christian versus Detroit Pershing game to be the headline game, many others would say that the game following that one between Belleville and Detroit Edison was in fact the headliner. Belleville is a contender in Class A with as much individual talent as any other team in Michigan, while DEPSA can also make that claim, and can be considered the favorite in Class C as of today. Both teams have multiple future division one players, as well as multiple other players that will play college ball at some level.
This game on paper should have been a track meet similar to the previous game. But DEPSA came out much more focused and ready, and dominated the game from start to finish. When the final whistle sounded, DEPSA came away with a comfortable 65-48 win. Belleville was not even close to full strength though. MSU football signee and top 25 player in 2018 Davion Williams did not play due to being on his official football visit at MSU, and top 20 6’5 2020 Connor Bush had to sit out due to his transfer not completely being finalized yet. DEPSA looked really good and had a very balanced attack. Below are my five takeaways from this big showcase game.
Belleville is better than this game showed
As stated above, Belleville was not even close to full strength. They were missing two of their 5 most talented players, and both were D1 type talents. The team that was there showed glimpses, but seemed a long ways from firing at all cylinders. Gabe Brown looked rusty, maybe partially due to his knee injury that kept him out most of the summer. Yet he still finished with a double double. Cam Smiley looks like a underrated point guard who can dictate and control most games himself. He is quick, a plus playmaker and a very good on ball defender. Merriwether also looked off until late. He settled for way too many jump shots early on, and when he began to put the ball on the floor and attack, he was lethal at the rim. He is a plus athlete with great size and strength and if he attacks the rim from start to finish, he could live at the free throw line. Belleville is fine and come the end of the season, they will be a team most teams will not enjoy facing.
Brian Taylor is the next big thing out of DEPSA
He has flown under the radar for way too long, and it appears he is beginning to get his name out there finally. He looked good at the Prep Hoops Top 250 event last year, but he sort of dipped off the radar come highschool season. AAU was the turning point and in the scrimmages leading up the season, he played very well. Against Belleville, he showed some very good physical tools that could leave D1 programs salivating if he can continue to improve through the AAU season into March. He has a great looking shot, is a plus athlete and has great size at 6’6. Taylor is a great supporting piece to Mitchell, Solomon and Spider, and he could be the X factor for DEPSA this season. Expect Taylor to begin picking up interest and offers from D2 and D1 programs going forward.
DEPSA’s Big Three will have a big senior season
This DEPSA squad seemed to be almost toying with Belleville during this game. That is not an easy feat considering how good they are. The firepower DEPSA possesses between Taylor and the 3 senior D1 commits is staggering.
Mitchell is known to be a great shooter and that did not change. But what was surprising was his overall composure and ability to score some at the rim or from mid range. If he can score from all three levels like he did against Belleville, he will have a huge season. Solomon continues to look like a steal for LIU-Brooklyn. He has great size and his skillset allows him to play 1-3 with ease for DEPSA. He did not make any threes this game, but he is a very capable shooter as well. And he is an excellent defender as well. Solomon turned a sub .500 DEPSA team into one of the top team’s in Michigan last year once he became eligible. What he will do playing the entire season will be a scary sight for the rest of Michigan.
Spider continued his dominance on the defensive end, as he swatted 5 shots and altered several more. He also dominated the glass once again. The way he alters games without scoring is amazing to me. He only had 5 points in this game, but he had 13 rebounds and 5 blocks and did things that are valuable that are not counted in stats. He should be a great player at Cleveland State.
Gabe Brown will be a lot better
As stated above, he seemed a bit rusty. I will put it down to him missing much of July and the fall with a knee injury. But he did show some serious flashes as to why he was such a highly sought after in-state prospect before committing to MSU. His length is ridiculous and he used it to put a few impressive dunks down. His jump shot was a little off too but he is a very capable shooter most nights. His length and athleticism should naturally make him a player capable of pulling down 10+ boards every game. I think even he would admit he did not play his best, yet he still had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Once he gets into full flow, he should be a frequent threat of posting 25+ points, 10 rebounds and multiple blocks every single game. MSU got a great player with his best years ahead of him.
How big of an impact will Bush and Williams have on the team?
As stated above, Belleville was missing two big time players for this game. I was referring to MSU football commit Davion Williams and recent transfer Connor Bush.
Davion Williams missed the game due to being on his official visit at MSU for football. He is still considered a top 25 prospect in Michigan in hoops, and his athleticism at the guard spot makes him an elite defender and rebounder. He has been a star for Belleville for several years and not having him had to of made a difference. Also, they did not have Connor Bush, a top 20 player in the 2020 class who is a great athlete and has good size as well at 6’5. Bush transferred from Plymouth high, where he made a big impact as a freshman last year. He could play the 2-4 positions, so that versatility surely would have helped. Bush reportedly is being held out because the details of his transfer are being finalized, but he should be eligible to play very soon.
If Belleville was at full strength, you wonder if this game would have been different. They do not have the chemistry as DEPSA, but the raw talent should have been pretty close to equal. Going forward the big question is can all these talented players gel together and share the ball? Because if so, they have the raw talent and firepower to beat most, if not all teams in the state.