Foster Loyer exploded onto the high-school basketball scene as a freshman at Clarkston during the 2014-15 season, leading his team to its first unbeaten regular season in more than 20 years.
And Loyer continued to improve over the years, helping Clarkston earn its first state championship last season, when he scored 29 in a 75-69 victory over Grand Rapids Christian in the Class A title game at Breslin Center.
Loyer was giving the fans in East Lansing a glimpse of what they are going to see in the future since the 6-foot point guard will play for the Spartans after completing his senior season.
“I expect to get great effort, great leadership out of him, that’s just who he is and has always been,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “He’s been a three-year captain with us. He has an understanding of every position, what the kids are doing and what they should not be doing. Really, he’s a coach on the floor.”
Loyer is one of many outstanding players throughout the state, including several who could be considered for Mr. Basketball, when that winner is announced in March.
Brandon Johns, a 6-8 senior forward, averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists to help East Lansing to a 24-0 record before a regional loss to Kalamazoo Central and Mr. Basketball award winner Isaiah Livers.
Johns will be joining Livers at Michigan, leaving East Lansing to play for Michigan State’s biggest rival.
“Brandon Johns has improved so much from last March,” East Lansing coach Steve Finamore said. “He’s matured, has improved his ball handling and he’s focused in on his senior season. He has been dominating in practice. He’s making threes, from deep, which makes him a multi-purpose player. John Beilein is getting an incredible player.”
And don’t forget 6-10 senior small forward Marcus Bingham of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, who has grown by leaps and bounds both on and off the court in the last two years, using his 7-4 wing span to average 16 points and 10 rebounds to help his team to a regional-final appearance.
Bingham will be joining Loyer at MSU.
“He can play inside or outside and he’s a good kid who is working really hard to get better every day,” said coach TJ Meerman, who ran CMU’s offense when 7-footer Chris Kaman played in 2003 before a long NBA career.
Catholic Central will open its season at Detroit Country Day Saturday night and Bingham can’t wait.
“I want to lead my team to a state championship and just be a great leader,” Bingham said. “We’ve worked hard and can’t wait to start the season. I hope it ends with me being named Mr. Basketball, then helping my team win a state championship.
“I didn’t even play basketball my freshman year, then started my sophomore year at Ottawa Hills. I’ve transformed myself into a big wing. I’m really long so I can shoot, dribble, guard any position, I can play defense, block shots, rebound. When I was younger and shorter I worked on a lot of ball-handling skills so it really just tied into the growth spurt.”
THE BEST OF THE REST
4. Romeo Weems, 6-7, Jr., G-F, New Haven
Weems averaged 18.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and four steals last season to help New Haven win the Class B state championship.
“Romeo is a great leader both on and off the court,” coach Tedaro France said. “He also had a great summer, winning a gold medal as a starter on the USA (U16) national team. He has stayed in the gym and has really taken his game to another level. He has improved his shooting; he can step out and knock down the 3-point shot with consistency and ease.”
Weems already has multiple offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Missouri.
5. Gabe Brown, 6-9, Sr., F, Belleville
Brown has the size of a post player and skills of a guard where he can take the ball to the basket or make the perimeter shot. He averaged 15.9 points and 5.7 rebounds last season, shooting 60 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range.
“Gabe Brown emerged last season and has practiced well and he’s completely healthy -- no issues with the knee or anything,” coach Adam Trumpour said of Brown, who suffered a knee injury during the summer while playing AAU ball. “He’s continued to elevate his game, which is exciting for all of us.”
Brown will play at Michigan State.
6. David DeJulius, 6-1, Sr., G, Detroit East English
DeJulius averaged 25 points and six assists last season and showed his ability to take over a game on several occasions, including a 46-point performance in which he was 9-of-11 on 3-pointers against Macomb Dakota to get an offer from Michigan coach John Beilein. He has signed his letter of intent with the Wolverines.
“He’s a great example of hard work, always trying to outwork people to become the complete player,” coach Juan Rickman said.
7. Trevion Williams, 6-8, Sr., C, Henry Ford Academy
Williams is a physical 6-foot-8, 260-pound post player who is a strong rebounder, can score inside and pass the ball well, too. He averaged 18.6 points and 24 rebounds last season and signed with Purdue last month.
8. Thomas Kithier, 6-8, Sr., F-C, Clarkston
Kithier showed the ability to dominate at each end of the court during his junior year at Macomb Dakota, averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to help his team repeat as MAC Red champion while advancing to the regional semifinals, where it lost to Clarkston.
Kithier, a great defender and shot blocker, will play at Michigan State.
Clarkston's Taylor Currie enjoys a lighter moment during a recent workout. (Photo: Max Ortiz, Detroit News)
9. Taylor Currie, 6-9, Sr., F-C, Clarkston
Currie elevated his game during the postseason of his sophomore season to help Clarkston win the Class A state title, contributing double-doubles in the semifinal (10 points, 16 rebounds vs. West Bloomfield) and the state-title game (16 points, 10 rebounds vs. Grand Rapids Christian). He re-classified this past summer and is now a senior.
“Taylor has come a long way,” Fife said of Currie, who has put on 10 pounds and will now play at 220.
Currie committed to Michigan this summer, then decommitted and will play at Wisconsin.
10. Rocket Watts, 6-2, Jr., G, Old Redford Academy
Watts is nicknamed the Rocket for a reason with tremendous quickness to go along with his ball-handling skills and ability to score in multiple ways. He averaged 26.4 points and 5.3 assists last season and is considered a four-star recruit by 247Sports.
Watts already has received offers from Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Alabama and Georgia Tech.
11. Harlond Beverly, 6-4, Jr., G, Southfield Christian
Beverly averaged 14 points, including 20 points and 10 assists during the second half of the season after returning from an ankle injury, to help Southfield Christian advance to the Class D Final Four. He then put on a show in the state semifinal game when he showed his ability with an outstanding all-around effort (22 points, seven assists, six rebounds, six steals) in a 84-83 double-OT loss to Powers North Central.
Beverly, a four-star recruit, has offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Baylor, Missouri and Xavier.
12. Brandon Wade, 6-2, Sr., G, Ann Arbor Skyline
Wade had an outstanding junior season, averaging 21.4 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds to help Skyline win its first SEC Red Division title in school history. He had his top performances against the best teams, coming up with a 35-point, 12-assist effort in a loss to eventual Class A state champion Clarkston.
“Brandon is an outstanding all-around player who I feel should be a candidate for Mr. Basketball,” coach Mike Lovelace.
Wade will play at Duquesne.
13. Lamar Norman, 6-4, Sr., G, Wyoming Godwin Heights
Norman had a strong junior season, averaging 21.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists to lead Godwin Heights to a 22-2 record and district championship.
“Lamar is a very dynamic athlete who can score from all over the court,” coach Tyler Whittemore said.
Norman will play at UTEP.
14. Mario Whitley, 6-4, Sr., G, Frankenmuth
Whitley put up huge numbers, averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds, to help Frankenmuth earn a district championship and a share of the Tri-Valley Conference East Division title. He showed the ability to score from the perimeter or by taking the ball to the basket.
Whitley decided to stay close to home and will play at Saginaw Valley State. He also had offers from Oakland, Toledo and Detroit.
15. Davion Williams, 6-2, Sr., G, Belleville
Williams averaged 12.5 points to help Belleville to a 20-3 record and district final appearance.
“Davion is a four-year varsity player for us, obviously locked up with Michigan State for football,” Trumpour said of Williams, who will play football for Mark Dantonio. “He’s quick, athletic and very versatile.”
16. Kavon Merriweather, 6-2, Sr., G, Belleville
Merriweather averaged 16 points and six assists to help Romulus win district and regional championships, defeating U-D Jesuit in a state quarterfinal for the right to play in the Final Four at Breslin Center. There, it lost to Grand Rapids Christian in a state semifinal.
“He is a tremendous player and competitor who is going to be a college point guard, just a great kid and a great addition,” said Trumpour, whose team lost to Merriweather and Romulus in the district finals.
Merriweather has multiple Division II offers and is getting interest from Division I schools including Western Michigan for basketball and Purdue for football.
17. Bryce Washington, 6-3, Sr., G, Southfield-Christian
Washington showed his ability to put up big numbers last season to help Southfield Christian reach the Class D state semifinals. He averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds.
18. Rashad Williams, 6-2, Sr., G, Wayne Memorial
Williams averaged 24 points, 6.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds to help Wayne earn its first KLAA championship. He is an outstanding perimeter shooter, making 78 3-pointers, including 7-of-11 while scoring 29 in a district final loss to Romulus.
Williams will play at Cleveland State.
19. Markeese Hastings, 6-8, Sr., F, Wyoming Godwin Heights
Hastings has the ability to score inside, from the perimeter or by taking the ball to the basket. He averaged a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) last season and will play next year at Butler.
“He’s 6-foot-8, very versatile and impacts the game greatly on both sides of the court,” coach Tyler Whittemore said.
T20. Carlos Johnson, 6-6, So., C, Benton Harbor
Johnson was a freshman phenom last season, using his physical style to help put Benton Harbor back on the map. He averaged 14.2 points, 14.1 rebounds and three blocks to lead the team to a state semifinal run.
T20. Pierre Mitchell, 6-0, Sr., G, Detroit Edison
Mitchell helped Edison reach the Class C state semifinals a year after he led Detroit Loyola to a Class C Final Four appearance the previous year. He has great ball-handling skills and will play his college ball at Central Michigan.