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Justin DeGraaf’s return from Indy should help boost Hudsonville among hoops elite

By: Scott Burnstein, May 23, 2019, 2:55 pm

Returning from Indianapolis to finish up his high school hooping days in Michigan, Justin DeGraaf joins a Hudsonville hardwood crew that should contend for a spot in the Division 1 final four next winter. 

Hudsonville went 22-3 in 2019 and won league and district titles before falling 61-60 in a heartbreaker of a regional final to OK Red Conference-rival East Kentwood.

The 6-foot-8 DeGraaf is a fierce competitor out of the front court, averaging 12 points and eight boards per night during a junior season in which his Center Grove squad made a deep run in the IHSAA state tournament (semifinals) and he broke out as a baller in a major way. He’ll make a serious impact right off the bat for his new club. He can play on the wing and bang inside. His family is originally from the Grand Rapids area. At Center Grove High School down in Indy, DeGraaf played alongside McDonald’s All-American and Indiana University-signee Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosier State’s reigning Mr. Basketball.

Hudsonville has an All-League backcourt composed of point guard Max Perez and shooting guard Stone Smeenge, who will be seniors in 2020. Perez is one of the West side’s elite floor generals, the type of kid ready to run through a wall to get a dub. Another half-dozen players from Hudsonsville’s 2018-19 rotation are slated to be back as well. Throw in the addition of a game-changer like DeGraaf and its Breslin or Bust baby!!

Indianapolis has been kind to the Mitten over the last decade. Dexter Shouse, Jr. landed at Mattwan last summer from Lawrence North and teamed with Ohio-bound center Nolan Foster to take the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season and league and district title banners. Shouse is signed with Coastal Carolina.

In 2011, the Price brothers, Jodan (DePaul, Eastern Michigan) and Austin (Lehigh) enrolled at Birmingham Detroit Country Day after previously prepping at Lawrence Central. Austin Price helped lead DCD to a Class B state crown as a senior in 2013.

If trends are any factor, expect DeGraaf and Hudsonville to follow suit and have a superb 2020 campaign. DeGraaf is already making waves with his rugged and efficient effort on the local AAU circuit. Playing for the Grand Rapids Storm, he had a 30-point, 15-rebound outing in a tourney earlier this month.