Posted On: 01/31/18 1:25 PM
10 Best: Ann Arbor Skyline vs. Old Redford Academy
The Fast Break Invitational is one of the top 1 day events in Michigan. Many top teams from the Detroit and Ann Arbor area came to Belleville high school to compete in big games. The biggest game of the event was the Skyline versus Old Redford game. Very rarely do big games live up to the hype, but this one did and then some. The game started off looking like it was going to be a blowout in Skyline’s favor, but Old Redford came storming back in the second half and nearly pulled off a surprising comeback victory. Skyline was able to hold on late and was able to maintain their perfect record. Both teams came into the season as dark horse state title contenders in their respective classes, but after watching this game I think many people will put both teams into the groups considered favorites for Classes A and B.
Below are my 10 best from the game.
Easy choice for this award. Wade was simply sensational from start to finish. Wade scored or assisted more points than Old Redford had at half (22). From start to finish Wade was able to get by his man and force Old Redford to come help side to try and stop him. Once they did he did an excellent job at finding teammates for easy layups or open looks. Wade also was scoring at will using his own dribble. He shot 14 free throws in the game, indicating how effective he was at getting to the rim.
Brandon’s change of direction with the ball and ability to keep the ball on the string are as good as anyone’s in the state. He had a sick ankle breaker into a sweet left handed assist where he did a behind the back step back that had the entire crowd buzzing. He is one of the toughest players in Michigan in any class right now to defend, and there is a reason that Skyline is undefeated.
Duquesne struck gold landing New Haven guard Eric Williams, and although I will not say Wade will have as big of an instant impact as Williams is having (whoever will?), I will say I think Duquesne got themselves a player who is going to have a great overall career in the A-10, and could become a great for the Dukes down the road. It is time for people to seriously put Wade into the Mr. Basketball discussion alongside Dejulius, Loyer and Johns.
Brandon Wade had one of the best first half performances I have seen, but Rocket stole the show in the second half and put on one of the most impressive scoring performances I have seen. At half, Old Redford was down 38-22 and were on the verge of getting ran out of the gym. Rocket only had 1 point. The second half was a different story. Brandon continued to play well, but Rocket was essentially unguardable no matter what Skyline did to stop him.
Once he got the first three to fall, the floodgates poured open, and he turned it on and showed why he is one of the very best guards in the country. Watts hit 4 threes in a row and scored 18 points in the 3rd quarter alone to pull Old Redford within 5 going into the fourth. Rocket continued to torch the nets in the fourth, and even had a big steal and layup with less than 1:30 left in the game to cut the Skyline lead to two.
Rocket also had some great assists too. He was able to throw some true dimes to Jackson and Polk. He was showing great accuracy passing the ball with both hands as well. That ambidextrous passing ability will be crucial for him to succeed at the next level. Rocket finished with 31 points on 11-20 shooting, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. He did all of this in front of Tom Izzo mind you, and reminded everyone why he is such a coveted national prospect at the guard spot in 2019.
Jackson’s ability to impact games without scoring is second to none. A consensus top 40 national recruit in 2020, Jackson’s shot blocking ability has to be considered as good as anyone’s in the country in his class. His length, mobility and athleticism are all elite. Jackson rebounded his area very well, and also outside his area because of his physical gifts and a willingness to play physical against others who might be stronger or taller. Versus Skyline, Jackson was all over the glass and protecting the rim.
Jackson is trending towards being a top unanimous 20 player in the country. The impact he has on games on defense can translate to the next level, so I think he should easily stay a top 100 player in the country at the minimum regardless of if he even develops his offensive game going forward. He finished with 7 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks.
Ammerman did not make the most threes this game, but he might have hit the most jump shots. Old Redford keyed hard on him to prevent him from shooting from deep, consistently running him off his line with hard closeouts and not giving much help side assistance off Ammerman defensively. He did however score on numerous mid-range pull ups and almost every bucket he scored was contested.
You will find very few if any other jump shots anywhere as fundamentally perfect as Ammerman’s. He has the footwork, balance and consistent mechanics that allow him to get his shot off over anyone with minimal space given to him. Ammerman made 1 three to go with his mid-range baskets. He finished with 13 points and also chipped in 5 rebounds to help Skyline overcome the height disadvantage they had. He has multiple D1 walk on offers and an NAIA offer from Lawrence Tech. Ammerman should continue to have colleges at NAIA, D2 and D1 levels on him until he decides where he will go.
Unsung Hero: DeSean Munson- 2019 6’7 F
Statistically Munson didn’t stand out this game, but what he did on the defensive end in limiting Jackson and Polk’s damage inside cannot understated. Since July, Munson appears to have put on a lot of good weight and he might have even grown an inch or two as well. That, combined with his above average athleticism make him one of the better interior defensive prospects in the Ann Arbor area. Munson also set good screens on offense and spaced the floor well to give lanes to guys like Ammerman and Brandon Wade to attack with the dribble. Munson should be considered one of the top frontcourt prospects in the 2019 class in the Ann Arbor area going forward. He can impact the game without scoring any points, and that is extremely rare and valuable.
Top underclassmen: Aundre Polk- 2020 6’9 C Old Redford Academy
When I watched Polk in July, I saw a very raw player who had potential but very little production. Watching him only months later and the strides he has made are simply phenomenal. Polk looks pretty fluid moving around on the floor, and showed that he can play in up tempo games despite his size. He also showed off a very impressive face up game, hitting multiple mid-range shots and looking comfortable taking those shots. Polk also was 3-4 at the charity stripe. At 6’9, being a 70%+ free throw shooter will make him very difficult to defend, and will make him an even more attractive post prospect going forward.
Polk also was more than willing to go inside and use his size to rebound. He dominated the glass, grabbing 14 boards and doing it on both ends. Inside, Aundre needs additional strength to back his opponents down, but that will come in due time. He showed off soft hands and good touch around the rim and showed off some bounce as well, putting down a couple dunks. Polk recently picked up his 2nd D1 offer from LIU Brooklyn, and there should be many more D1 offers on the way. He finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Top intangibles: Darius Hall- 2018 6’4 F
Like Munson, Hall statistically would not wow you. But the difference in this game came down to who had the better role players outside each team’s top 2 or 3 guys. Munson and Hall made a huge difference this game. They took care of the ball and played smart defense, containing Jackson offensively and keeping essentially everyone but Jackson and Polk off the glass. Nobody on Old Redford’s team had more than 3 rebounds outside those two. Defensively, Hall was vital to Skyline’s success. He had a team high 3 steals and chipped in 4 points and 4 rebounds as well. In big games, many times it will come down to who has the better depth. Skyline appears to be in very good shape with Hall and a few others assisting the Skyline big three.
Speaking of the big three, the youngest of that triumvirate had himself an impressive game despite struggling to make a shot. Wade defended Rocket about as well as anyone possibly could, and he made him work to get open looks. Ryan also was impressive in transition. He looked very smooth and comfortable handling the ball in the open floor and had several moves he used to get by defenders and to the cup. Wade only hit one three, but it came at an absolutely crucial moment. He stole the ball and hit a one-foot runner at the buzzer to put Skyline up 2 possessions. That basket was a huge momentum stopper for Old Redford, and helped Skyline survive the second half attack that the Ravens had. Ryan holds multiple D1 offers, and he should pick up quite a few more this summer. He finished with 10 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Best player off the bench: Kabir Bergin- 2020 6’4 SF Ann Arbor Skyline
Skyline’s entire rotation is dominated by juniors and seniors. Bergin is the only sophomore to be in the rotation for them, but he showed he was more than up to the tall task of competing against Old Redford. Bergin found his role in this game as a 3 and D guy, and he provided timely shots and great defense for Skyline. He knocked down three catch and shoot threes, grabbed 4 rebounds and had a pair of steals. Bergin’s size and shooting ability is extremely helpful. Old Redford focused hard on the Wade’s and Ammerman, but when those players attacked the paint, they frequently found the 2020 spotted up and ready to shoot. Bergin has a nice shot that looks consistent and fluid, and he appears to be yet another legitimate shooter in the Skyline offense. His size on the perimeter also proves valuable when defending too.
Biggest takeaways for each team: Old Redford is a legitimate contender in Class B
Old Redford did not have a serious test before this game, while Skyline had multiple battles coming in. At first, the level of competition appeared to rattle Old Redford, but they responded in a strong way in the second half and stretched Skyline about as far as they could go before hanging on. Old Redford’s top 4 players are about as strong as anyone’s in the state in any class. If those guys can stay out of foul trouble, they showed they can outgun any team at any time. They have the size, shooting and athleticism to matchup with anyone.
The big question going forward will be if their supporting cast outside the top 4 will be enough. If one of the main stars (Watts, Jackson, Polk & Lattimore) get in foul trouble, can they step up and help the team? Just a few days following this game, they lost in a shocker to Chandler Park. It was reported that Watts fouled out early in the 4th quarter, and the team lost a 7-point lead with less than 3 minutes to go. If they can get a couple players to step up and help the big four, there is no reason that Old Redford cannot be considered a contender in Class B.
Skyline has the tools to win it all
Skyline has the firepower and the depth around their stars to bring it home in Class A. Many people to begin the season had them on the outside looking in, but it is way overdue to put Skyline up in that top tier of teams in Class A. Record aside, they have solid coaching as well to counter their deficiencies. The only major knock on this team would be their overall size, but Munson and Hall showed they were capable interior defenders themselves. They have the shooters and on ball playmakers to create for others and the team has a great chemistry and cohesion on the floor together. And they also all appear to be very willing teammates who will do whatever it takes to win. It also helps that they have a likely Mr. Basketball finalist in Duquesne commit Brandon Wade. Skyline is not only a contender in Class A, they are one of the strong favorites midway through the season.