By Jared Purcell | firstname.lastname@example.org
The boys basketball season has arrived and with it, an exciting offering of top teams and Mr. Basketball favorites.
There is a lot to watch as the journey toward March and the Breslin Center begins. As the boys basketball season starts, here are 10 storylines hovering around the hardwood to usher in the exciting winter ahead.
Will Clarkston repeat? Is Kithier eligible?Well, the biggest storyline heading into the boys basketball season around these parts is the transfer of former Macomb Dakota standout forward Thomas Kithier to Clarkston, the defending Class A champions. Last year, Kithier (6-8) averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks per game as he helped lead Dakota to a 20-4 record.
His transfer to Clarkston in August would put the Wolves over the top. A Mr. Basketball candidate himself, Kithier would join Mr. Basketball favorite Foster Loyer (6-0). Both are Michigan State commits too. Then, there is Taylor Currie, the 6-9 power forward who reclassified to the class of 2018, making him a potential Mr. Basketball. He is committed to Wisconsin.
After losing sharpshooter Dylan Alderson, the pickup of Kithier could actually make Clarkston better than the 27-1 team that won the program's first state title last year. However, Kithier has not gotten the OK to play from the MHSAA as his transfer is under review.
According to The Detroit News, the MHSAA is currently reviewing Kithier's transfer to see if it is allowable within state rules. Why it is being looked at now and not sooner is up for debate but it could mean Kithier will sit out the remaining semester and be eligible in January or have to sit out the entire season.
Yet, if Kithier is deemed not eligible to play, it would not derail Clarkston's championship chances. All it will do is make Clarkston one of the the favorites instead of being the clear-cut favorite.
Loyer, the best guard in the state, was the MLive Detroit Player of the Year last winterwhen he averaged 25.1 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals. In the regular season, he shot an astonishing 95.7 percent (135-for-141) from the free-throw line. He went through the regular season shooting 53 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from 3-point range.
Currie averaged 7.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks last year but really found a new level in the state tournament. There is no reason to believe he will continue to build on that.
CJ Robinson is a guard who was one of the best defenders for Clarkston down the stretch last season and he is back for his senior season. He is also a clutch scorer too -- as if Loyer's clutch abilities were not enough. Nicholas Wells returns who was a key starter last year that took care of the basketball. Also, Tristen Mysen (6-7) also has strong talent and is back for his senior year.
So, yeah, if Kithier can't play this season, the Wolves will be just fine. In fact, they will be more than fine.
More on Kithier: Fife makes a statementIn light of the MHSAA investigation into Kithier's transfer, Clarkston coach Dan Fife read a statement in the above video that he wrote following the 65-55 win over Wayne Memorial on Tuesday night.
New Haven is still a top contender in Class B Clarkston was not the only team to win its first state last year as New Haven made history by winning the Class B championship. After 20 district titles and five region titles, New Haven finally claimed the throne.
Now, overthrowing New Haven will not be easy. Led by highly-touted junior Romeo Weems (6-6), New Haven has a lot of talent to work with. Last year, Weems averaged 18.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.9 steals, 3.6 assists and 2.8 blocked shots.
Although the graduation of Eric Williams leaves a crucial hole to fill in the starting lineup, 6-7 shooting forward Ashton Sherrell (12.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2 blocks) will look to do more to fill the scoring gap. Also, Tavares Oliver and Ronald Jeffery are two players with starting experience that return to the floor with good shooting skills. This team is going to be alright and built to defend a title.
This is probably Belleville's best shot at its first state titleBack in 1998, Belleville made it to the Class A state championship for the first time ever but it lost, 63-47, to Detroit Central. Belleville has not been back to the state's biggest stage since then.
Yet, if there was ever a team that could get Belleville back to the title game and finish the job, it would be this year's team. With so much and experience and talent in its roster, it really is Breslin or bust for the Tigers. Led by the return of future Michigan State Spartan Gabe Brown (6-8), Belleville's entire starting lineup is back.
Brown (15.9 points) and guards Delvin Alverson and Davion Williams (Michigan State football commit) each averaged in double figures for scoring last winter. Oh, and Belleville also added sharpshooter Kaevon Merriweather, who transferred in from arch rival Romulus. Merriweather is one of the best 3-point shooters in the state and he was a star in Romulus' state semifinal run last year and he should help push Belleville over the top.
In a field of many Class A contenders, Belleville has all of the ingredients to separate itself from the field. Not having to face any tough opponents in the tournament run until potentially the region championships, Belleville could make history winter. This team should be worth the price of admission as it looks to learn from and erase last year's disappointment of falling to Romulus in the region semifinals.
Cass Tech many not have to wait long to repeat as PSL champCass Tech is coming off of a season that saw it claim its first PSL title since 1998 last winter, bringing back some solid depth after graduating some key guys like Leonard Silas and Micheal Green. Yet, Cass Tech returns six players that had starting experience as three-year starters Randy Gilbert (6-6), Jalen Tobias (6-6) and Matt Richmond (6-2) are all back and each averaged between 10 and 11 points last year.
Also, Chris Murray (6-2) returns for his senior year after adding 11 PPG last year as well. Sophomore Tyson Acuff should get in the starting lineup too while juniors Josh Powell, Tyland Tate and Kalil Whitehead are all potentials leaders of the team as well. Although coach Steve Hall was proud of the accomplishments of last season, he was already referring to this one as "the year" back in April.
Although Cass Tech is a favorite, PSL is still a dogfightAsk any coach or player in the PSL, its a long, tense season. After beating each other up in the regular season, PSL teams often meet again in district and regional play. It really is a grind.
While Cass Tech is in the PSL DI West, the PSL DI East is loaded with Detroit East English Village, Detroit Edison Public School Academy, Detroit Martin Luther King, Detroit Pershing and Detroit Osborn.
East English returns only two starters but one of them is a potential Mr. Basketball front-runner David DeJulius (Michigan). A clear favorite for Mr. PSL this winter, DeJulius returns after averaging 26 points last winter alongside star guard Greg Elliott, who is now at Marquette. Junior guard Tariq Shepherd is the other returning starter for the Bulldogs after having a very productive season last winter. After a great offseason, Shepherd should give East English an excellent duo in the backcourt once again. Overall, East English had to develop a lot of players last year so the Bulldogs should be more polished this season.
Don't forget about Edison. Joining the PSL for the first time last winter, DEPSA made it all the way to the Class C semifinals. Despite going 14-12 last season, the tough PSL payed off in the Class C run. Although key scorer Jamal Keesee and starter Amari Hudson graduated from last year's team, the cupboards are far from bare for the Pioneers. Point guard Pierre "PJ" Mitchell (Central Michigan) will return for his senior season after transferring from Loyola to play at DEPSA as a junior. Also, 6-foot-5 All-State guard Gary Solomon is back. A key paint presence returns as well as 6-foot-8 Deante Johnson (Cleveland State) is be back for his senior season. Don’t be surprised if Edison makes it back to the Breslin Center again and wins it all.
What about PSL finalist King or Pershing? Yep, they will be making plenty of noise as well. King picked up Marcus Gibbs, a player who blew up off of the bench for Cass Tech last winter. He will be a difference maker from the start, joining fellow talented senior Antonio Marshall and junior John Massey on a solid scoring roster. Pershing returns four starters and nine players, including senior guard Ron Hill (17 points) and senior forward Jaylen Benning (11 points, 7 reb.).
State is full of Mr. Basketball potentials, especially Detroit regionTrying to narrow down the field to five or six finalist for Mr. Basketball may prove more difficult than ever this season as the senior talent across the state is staggering. The Detroit area only adds to the issue with as many talented individuals have the potential for great seasons.
- Foster Loyer at Clarkston is probably the smartest player in the state and it just so happens he is one of the most skilled. A machine from the free-throw line, Loyer does everything right, which is why Michigan State is thrilled to have his commitment. He's got the ability to spread the ball around or completely take over a game with the flip of a switch. Despite all of the talent in the state, Loyer should be considered the favorite.
- David DeJulius is one heck of a scoring machine. Multiple 40-plus point games this season will not be out of the question. If you don't respect him beyond the arc, he will make you pay. If you make the wrong move, he will blow right past you.
- Gabe Brown of Belleville is nicknamed "The Problem" for a reason. The 6-8 star is able to play anywhere on the high school court and Michigan State could even have him stretch between 2-3 positions. Last year, he averaged 15.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last season and returns to arguably the top starting lineup in the state this season.
- Trevion Williams will once again be a bright spot for Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies this winter. Last year, Williams averaged 22 points, 25 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals. He had five triple-doubles and had two games of 30-plus points and 30-plus rebounds. A massive 6-foot-8, 260 pound talent that plays all over the floor, he should have no problem putting up massive numbers in the Michigan Metro Conference once again. Outside of conference play, however, it will be tough sledding. He is committed to Purdue.
- Rashad Williams of Wayne Memorial averaged 24 points, 6.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds last winter and is back to improve on those numbers while hoping to lead Wayne Memorial to its second-straight KLAA title and beyond. A Cleveland State commit, he is one of the top talents in the KLAA and is capable of making big shots when his team needs them.
- If Kithier is cleared to play, he will give Clarkston three Mr. Basketball potentials as newly classified senior Taylor Currie has skipped over his junior season. Its kind of unreal to think about a team having three players in the running for Mr. Basketball. It is not likely but its still fun to think about.
- Bryce Washington of Southfield Christian is the returning Associated Press Player of the Year for Class D after averaging 18.5 points and 18.1 rebounds last year. He has already surpassed 1,000 points for his career and will have Southfield Christian focused on another Class D title. As long as he keeps piling on and winning, he will have a good shot to be a finalist.
- There are many more names that can get into the mix, including Gary Solomon and PJ Mitchell of Detroit Edison, Traveon Maddox of Novi and Randy Gilbert of Cass Tech
Southfield Christian will be back at the Breslin in Class DAfter falling in double overtime in the Class D semifinals to eventual champion Powers North Central, the Eagles will be more motivated than ever to return to the Breslin Center this year and complete the job. Although all-round presence Brock Washington is gone, his high-flying brother, Bryce, returns for his senior season.
Also, junior guard Harlond Beverly (12.5 points) returns after an excellent season last year and can be considered the top junior in the state in Class D while fellow junior teammate Caleb Hunter -- the third son of former Pistons star Lindsay Hunter to play for Christian -- is right up there with him. Also, sophomore DaJion Humphrey is shaping up to be the next future star for the Eagles as well. It looks like the Eagles' dynasty is still alive and well.
Wayne Memorial is looking to build on historic seasonLast year, the Zebras rose to prominence by winning the KLAA division, conference and association titles. Wayne saw its season end with an 18-4 record, falling against eventual semifinalist Romulus in one heck of an entertaining district final. Although Wayne graduated star forward Keion Epps, there are a lot of key players coming back, including senior point guard Rashad Williams (Cleveland State), who developed into one of the area's top scorers, especially from 3-point range, where he drained over 70 last year. He has already been mentioned as a possible Mr. Basketball candidate and was an All-State First Team selection by the Associated Press last winter too.
Senior Terrance Williams is another guard who averaged double figures scoring as well, giving Wayne plenty of depth at the position. Also returning is junior guard Isaiah Lewis, who averaged double-figures scoring last year in a great sophomore campaign. He will be asked to have a breakout season to compliment the two Williams as much as possible. This is a deep team that no one can sleep on.