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BASKETBALL: And they’re off; 2014 Mr. & Ms. Basketball races fixing to go down to the wire

By: Scott Burnstein, December 19, 2013, 9:00 am

The race for the 2014 Mr. and Ms. Basketball Awards began this month.

Unlike in prior years, each race is relatively wide open.

Let’s breakdown the top candidates entering the Holidays;

The Boys (alphabetical)

Darrell Davis (Detroit Douglass) – Dynamic combo guard that can do a little bit of everything for a Douglass squad that is one of the most feared clubs in the PSL. Smart and dogged tough on both ends of the floor, Davis is committed to play in college at the University of Dayton. Guiding Douglass to a second straight Class B district title last year, he tallied 17 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals per game

Jaylin Johnson (Ypsilanti) – Top-rated big man in the senior class who is headed for defending NCAA National Champion Louisville. Sporting a tremendously long, athletic and agile 6-foot-9 frame that can bang and finish near the rim equally well, Johnson averaged 14 points and 10 boards per game last season as a junior when he led Ypsilanti to a Class A regional title. Has a strong mid-range game and soft touch in the lane. Johnson is probably the favorite as the season tips off.

Yante Maten (Bloomfield Hills) – Fundamentally-sound 6-foot-8 menace in the post with a tireless work ethic, Maten is as consistent as they come. Look for him to be an intriguing darkhorse in the hunt for the hardware this winter for a city that has never even really had a candidate for the coveted honor. Totaled a glitzy stat line of 18 points, 15 rebounds and over five blocks per game last year, helping take Lahser (now Bloomfield Hills) to a repeat league and district crown and although currently uncommitted to a college at the next level, will be playing in a major Division I conference in 2015.

Edmond Sumner (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – Pure playmaking and fearlessness in a floor general, has a crafty ability to score, create and lead by sheer power of will. Spearheaded DCD to a final fourth berth and a Class B state crown the past two years, the 6-foot-4 Sumner averaged 18 points, five assists, five rebounds and almost four steals an outing in 2013 and signed with Xavier back in the fall.

Justin Tillman (Detroit Pershing) – Has huge upside at the next level, think “Paul George.” The 6-foot-8 forward can go inside-out with the best in the Midwest. Quietly explosive, whether in the half-court set or on the fast break, to go along with a suddenly deadeye perimeter stroke, Tillman is signed to play at Virginia Commonwealth University. Last season, he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per night. Along with Tillman and Sumner, Tillman is considered an early-on favorite for the award.

The Girls (alphabetical)

Asia Doss (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) – Lightning quick point guard with the ability to both find the bottom of the net and set her teammates up with deadly proficiency. Displaying superior court vision and an intricate understanding of the game, Doss registered close to 20 points, five assists and four steals for a DCD team that raised a Class B district and regional championships in 2013. Considered one of the most dangerous backcourt prospects in the entire Midwest region of the country, she is signed to continue her career on the hardwood in the Big 10 at Ohio State University.

Marte Grays (Detroit King) – The quintessential terror in the paint and the most feared post player in the state’s senior class. Broad and standing an imposing 6-foot-3 ½, Grays can do it all as a “4” or a “5”, adept at the transition game and fiercely protecting and attacking the basket. Signed with DePaul, she put up 15 points and eight rebounds per contest for a Crusaders squad that won a Class A regional last season.

Lexie Gussert (Crystal Falls Forest Park) – An elite scorer, pumping in over 32 points per game last year and the frontrunner out of the gate for the nod. Has size (6-foot-1) and savvy and an ironclad desire that shines through every second she’s on the hardwood competing. While she plays at a small school in the UP, Gussert had an array of legendary college programs coming after her with scholarship offers. She turned down both Connecticut and Tennessee to ink with Michigan State in November.

Asia Robeson (Kalamazoo Central) – The definition of the term “diverse talent,” at 6-foot-5, Robeson can play on the blocks or on the wing and do the same amount of destruction. Moving down South for her college hoops, she’s signed with Auburn of the SEC and will surely increase on her averages last season of 15 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and nearly 10 blocks per night.

Jessica Walter (Midland) – Might be the true sleeper of the candidate crop, Walter is a killer in the open court, unleashing a refined offensive arsenal that allows her to break opponents down off the dribble and tickle the twine from behind the arc. Scored 20 points per game last year and is signed to play in the Big 10 next year with Indiana.