STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Burney’s Bball notebook has Nicholson to NW, Bubba & Brantley to Patriot League
Northwestern University came into Metro Detroit last week and nabbed Clarkston senior center Matt Nicholson. The 7-footer with great footwork, soft hands and sterling fundamentals is the top-rated big man in Michigan. As a junior in 2019, he was a picture of consistency and production in the paint, posting 15 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks per night on an 18-3 Wolves squad. He played sparingly as a freshman and sophomore on repeat Class A state championship clubs.
NU assistant coach Jon Borovich prepped at Birmingham Seaholm in the 1990s and played in college at Central Michigan. The Wildcats’ No. 1 player is Metro Detroiter A.J. Turner (Warren De La Salle/Hampton Prep).
Nicholson is the second straight starting center from Clarkston to head to the Big Ten. Taylor Currie signed with Wisconsin in 2018 (Currie played a year in Madison but he’s now at Mott CC and committed to Akron). Nicholson’s big brother Mike, currently an assistant at Clarkston, manned the middle for the Wolves and in college at Lake Superior State during his playing days.
The jump-starter with the smooth jump shot jumps to the next level
If things keep tracking in the direction they seem headed and Birmingham Brother Rice returns to prominence on the hardwood, history will point to Jon Brantley as the player who jump-started the resurgence. The 6-foot-2 Brantley, a workhorse in the backcourt who can shoot the lights out equally efficiently from deep and mid-range, committed to Lafayette this week, becoming the first Brother Rice hoopster to snare a Division I scholarship since 1992 (Paul Grant-Wisconsin/Boston College).
Lafayette is located in Easton, Penn., and competes out of the Patriot League. The Leopards are coached by Fran O’Hanlon (24 years, 3 league crowns, 3 trips to the NCAA Tournament, most recently in 2015).
Brantley led the Catholic League in scoring as a sophomore. Last year, he averaged 22 points a game and took Brother Rice to a Division 1 district title.
Holy cow, the trend continues
Southfield Christian senior Da’Jion (Bubba) Humphrey committed to Holy Cross this week, becoming the fourth player from the Mitten to land at the Patriot League school in Massachusetts since 2018. Humphrey is a tenacious 6-foot-4 wing guard who knows how to win – he likes state titles, as in pocketing two Class D/D4 crowns in the past two years. The elite finisher pumped in 18 points per game last season to add to his 6 boards and 2 steals per outing.
Ryan Wade (Ann Arbor Skyline), Drew Lowder (Ann Arbor Pioneer) and Blake Verbeek (Grand Rapids Calvin Christian) are on the 2020 Holy Cross roster. Holy Cross is coached by former All-SEC guard Brett Nelson (Florida).
— SCOTT M. BURNSTEIN