Posted On: 01/9/18 10:26 AM
This past Friday, Godwin Heights hosted conference foe Grandville Calvin Christian. This game drew some immediate interest due to the matchup between 6’7″ Butler-signee Markeese Hastings and 6’10” unsigned senior Blake Verbeek. Also, the electric unsigned senior guard Lamar Norman Jr. is always entertaining to watch. In addition to these three better-known names, this game featured some talented under-the-radar prospects such as Godwin Heights’ Leo Jimenez and David Kellah, as well as Calvin Christian’s promising underclassman guard Brock Stevens.
Godwin Heights came out of the gate sluggish compared to previous games I’ve seen this year and Calvin Christian used it to their advantage by taking it right at the Godwin Heights defense, drawing a collection of fouls early. The whistle-happy refs, however, were not biased and handed out a plethora of fouls to Calvin Christian as well, including a pair early on Blake Verbeek. After sitting on the bench for a few minutes, Verbeek re-entered the game in the second quarter and immediately made a big impact. He caught fire and was hitting pull-ups, step-backs and fade-aways in the teeth of the Godwin Heights defense. Such would be the story of the game, Verbeek vs Godwin’s uber-talented duo of Lamar Norman Jr. and Markeese Hastings. One man, however, isn’t enough to beat the pair, and, despite a double-digit third quarter from Brock Stevens, Godwin Heights outpaced Calvin Christian almost every step of the way. Senior Markeese Hastings put the nail in the coffin with 10 fourth quarter points, giving Godwin Heights a 74-62 victory.
Below is a breakdown on some potential college players for both teams:
Blake Verbeek (6’10 forward, 2018) – Verbeek has been an interesting prospect for some time now. He’s 6’10 and his jumpshot is as good as anybody’s from anywhere on the court. He has a nice touch inside which he uses to finish off several different post moves. Overall, he has good feet work and is fundamentally sound. However, he’s still super wiry and is often easily pushed around by stronger opponents. In this game, nonetheless, he showed promise to overcome the physical limitations in two ways: 1. He did a good job at times of holding his ground against one of the strongest players in the state in Markeese Hastings. 2. He showed an ability to fade-away or step-back and hit the shot even if he does get bumped off his path by a stronger opponent. Verbeek will likely be redshirted his first yearunless he goes JuCo or NAIA, and still maybe then he’ll take a year to focus on gaining weight.
Brock Stevens (5’11 guard, 2020) – I saw Stevens a time or two during the AAU season and was impressed. To start this game, Stevens was quiet and a relative non-factor. This, however, can easily be chalked up to Verbeek catching fire in the first half and the team focusing on feeding him. Stevens made an impact in the third quarter with back-to-back threes that sparked a Calvin Christian run to tie the game. In this game, he showed once again his ability to run an offense while still being able to put up points efficiently due to a consistent jumpshot. Also, Stevens did a solid job on the defensive end of the ball, showing that he’s capable of moving his feet with some of the most athletic players in the state. His dad is the coach and is a few inches taller than his son, so it’s possible Stevens has some growing to do over the next couple years. Currently, he’s looking like a promising D3/NAIA guard. He’s young, so time will tell how he develops not only physically but skill-wise as well.
Lamar Norman Jr (6’1′ guard, 2018) – At this point, Norman is a household name for midwest schools. He was committed to UTEP before the leaving of their head coach, but now he’s back on the market. Before committing, he held offers from a variety of mid-major schools. After a hot start to the season, Norman took visits to high-major schools in Michigan State and Butler, so he’s likely in search of that high-major offer. In this game, Norman showed that he’s certainly a high-major level athlete – to end the second quarter, a Calvin Christian player was shooting free throws with 4 seconds on the clock. He missed his second foul shot, which Godwin forward Markeese Hastings rebounded, turned and threw nearly a full-court outlet to Lamar Norman streaking down the court. Norman caught the ball several feet behind the three-point line and took it to the rack for an and-one. This whole sequence took a total of 3 seconds, a testament to just how fast Norman is. Also in this game, there were several possessions Norman used his elite athleticism to lock up on defense.
Leo Jimenez (6’5″ forward, 2018) – Jimenez has been consistently solid as a third or fourth option for Godwin Heights all year. He does all the little things needed to glue together a team – he plays hard on both sides of the ball, rebounds, plays defense, makes the extra pass, etc. It’s important to note, however, that Jimenez is not simply just an energy player. He’s a capable jump shooter, can handle the ball and get to the rack comfortably. He does a good job drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. In this game, Lamar Norman was on the bench for a long stretch in the second half due to foul trouble and Godwin Heights was struggling to generate offense Jimenez stepped up big during this stretch, giving Godwin 8 points to go with some solid rebounding and defense. At this point, it looks like Jimenez is going to make a JuCo very happy next year.
David Kellah (6’3″ guard, 2018) – Kellah is another solid third or fourth option for Godwin Heights. He has good size and length at the guard spot and uses it well to pester opposing ball-handlers on defense. He’s not just a defensive specialist, however – in this game he gave Godwin a much-needed 7 points in the first half to help fight against Verbeek’s onslaught of points. Kellah does a great job attacking the basket, again taking advantage of his length and athleticism. He’s a guy JuCo’s should keep an eye on for the remainder of the season.