BOYS BASKETBALL: IPS Best of Michigan Classic boasts a cavalcade of stars, helps first-time showcase event go off grandly
DEARBORN – The star-studded cast of playmakers at the first annual IPS Best of Michigan Classic Sunday at the University of Michigan-Dearborn was a ‘who’s who’ of the state’s top senior boys basketball recruits in an inaugural event that also included a slam dunk and 3-point contest.
There were two games sandwiched between the skills competitions.
In the opener, Romulus small forward Jalon Plummer celebrated his recent Division I scholarship to Youngstown State by dropping a double-double of 30 points (6-of-9 from 3-point range) and 12 rebounds in leading his team to a lopsided 101-71 victory.
The finale was the main event, pitting Team Detroit against Team Michigan, the most premiere gunners in the state going head-to-head on the hardwood, Rock City ballers versus the rest of the crop.
Team Michigan, featuring Mr. Basketball Monte Morris (Flint Beecher) and fellow all-staters like Denzel Watts (Flint Carmen-Ainsworth), Jonathon (Jon-Jon) Williams (Southfield-Lathrup) and Romulus’ dynamic duo of Wes Clark and E.C. Matthews, grabbed bragging rights, triumphing in overtime, 113-112, in a back-and-forth epic, highlighted by last-moment heroics.
Watts, signed with Northern Illinois, poured in a game-high 22 points and sank two free throws in the final seconds to win it in the extra session. Clark, a Missouri-signee, buried a 3 at the horn at the end of regulation to force overtime and finished with 11 points five assists and five boards.
Morris, who last month took his high school squad to a repeat Class C state crown and will play in college at Iowa State, put up 12 points, four assists and three steals.
Williams, set for the Mid-American Conference and the University of Toledo at the college level, netted 13 points and Matthews, going out East, penning his National Letter of Intent with Rhode Island back in the fall, scored eight for the winning club. too
Team Detroit was spearheaded by Michigan-signee Derrick Walton, Jr. (Harper Woods Chandler Park) and Oakland-signees Kahlil Felder (Detroit Pershing) and Nick Daniels (Westland John Glenn) in the backcourt and UTEP-signee Vincent Hunter and South Florida-signee Bo Ziegler (Detroit Community) on the wing.
Walton, Jr., the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, scored 15 points in the losing effort to pace the Team Detroit squad.
Felder displayed his excellent floor-general abilities, scoring 13 points and dishing eight assists, including one to himself off the glass that he slammed through the rim for the deuce to the ooos and ahhhs of the crowd.
Ziegler won the slam dunk contest and Birmingham Detroit Country Day sniper Austin Price of Team Michigan took home first-place honors in the 3-point shooting contest, canning a combined 34 long balls over the two rounds.
Price, inked with Lehigh, and Ziegler squared off in March in the Class B state finals with Price’s Yellowjackets coming out in front 60-51.
Plummer, Clark and Matthews navigated Romulus to a state title (Class A) in March as well.
Absent from the festivities Sunday was Rochester’s James Young, a Kentucky-signee and the only player from the state tabbed a McDonald’s All-American this season. Young’s all-star eligibility is all used up, after he played in the McDonald’s game early this month and the Jordan Brand All-American Game Saturday night.
IPS is a well-respected Midwest recruiting service run by T.J. Kelley, the coordinator of Sunday’s Best of Michigan Classic.