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Boys Basketball Preseason Top 25 Players: Tillman of G.R. Christian is at the top, Cain is No. 2

By: Scott Burnstein, December 1, 2016, 8:26 pm


1. Xavier Tillman (Grand Rapids Christian 6-8 Sr. F) – Maybe the No. 1 power forward prospect in the Midwest, a true “4” and menace on the blocks.  He averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds last season. He blasted onto the scene two summers ago when he won MVP honors at Duke’s big man camp.  The frontrunner for Mr. Basketball, Tillman signed with Michigan State.

2. Jamal Cain (Detroit Cornerstone 6-7 Sr. G/F) – Possibly the highest upside at the college level of any player in the state, the silky-smooth Cain is the prototypical swingman with a smooth stroke and a quick first step to the basket. He averaged 26 points, 16 rebounds and four assists last season and eclipsed the 40-point plateau three times. He signed with Marquette.

3. Brandon Johns (East Lansing 6-8 Jr. F) – Arguably the best junior in the state and a consensus 4-star college recruit, the explosive, fundamentally-sound forward put up 20 points and 10 rebounds last winter, leading his East Lansing team to an undefeated regular season and a district title.  He currently has offers from Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Alabama and checks in at No. 40 in the country in ESPN’s Class of 2018 rankings.

4. Isaiah Livers (Kalamazoo Central 6-8 Sr. F) – A long and versatile wing with a nasty streak, Livers made a giant jump in his game from his sophomore to junior seasons, earning a 4-star prospect ranking and a bevy of scholarship offers. Signed with Michigan. He averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and 2.5 blocks an outing in 2016.

5. Amauri Hardy (North Farmington 6-2 Sr. G) – Lightning-quick lefty combo guard coming off a dynamite junior season where he averaged 21 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals a game and helped take North Farmington to the Class A final. Most likely he’ll be play in the south in the ACC, SEC or Big 12, with word out of the Raiders program that he’s deciding between scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma State. 

6. Romeo Weems (New Haven 6-6 So. G/F) – The top sophomore in the state and one of the most-acclaimed tenth graders in the country (ESPN ranks him a 5-star recruit and the No. 13 player in the nation’s Class of 2019), Weems is a diverse and dynamic talent at the off-guard spot. As a freshman he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

7. Trevion Williams (Detroit Henry Ford Academy 6-8 Jr. F) – Fresh on the heels of a tremendous offseason on the showcase camp and AAU circuit, Williams is cerebral, athletic and aggressive on the boards, drawing comparisons to a young Draymond Green. His stellar summer garnered him a 4-star ranking and scholarship offers from Michigan State, Illinois, Xavier, UNLV, DePaul and Detroit. He averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

8. Jermaine Jackson, Jr. (Macomb Dakota 5-10 Sr. G) – The definition of crafty and spunky in the backcourt, Jackson is simply a winner on the hardwood in every sense of the word. The three-year all-state pick, Jackson has never lost a league game in his career and led Dakota into the Class A final four in 2016. He averaged 22 points and almost 7.8 assists last winter and has scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Auburn, SMU, DePaul, Detroit, Eastern Michigan and Florida A&M.

9. Foster Loyer (Clarkston 6-0 Jr. G) – The quintessential floor general, Loyer might have the highest basketball I.Q. in the state. Last season, he averaged 22 points, six assists, five rebounds and 2.8 steals a night and Clarkston is 44-4 with him in the lineup at point guard. A two-time first team all-state selection in Class A, he committed to Michigan State in November.

10. Thomas Kithier (Macomb Dakota 6-8 Jr. F) – Agile and rangy post presence with the ability to step out and connect from outside with his soft touch, Kithier averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore on a Dakota club which made a run into the Class A final four. Committed to Michigan State, he’s a gym rat type with a high hoop IQ, so expect him to keep improving.

11. Ike Eke (Detroit U-D Jesuit 6-9 Sr. F/C) – Active post prowler with mega hops and wingspan to spare who practically averaged a double-double last season (10 points, 9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) on a U-D Jesuit squad that won the Class A state championship and should see an increased stat line this year. He’s signed with Marquette.

12. Greg Elliott (Detroit East English Village 6-4 G) – Poised for a big senior year after an impressive string of showcase camp appearances in the offseason, Elliott will probably be the No. 1 player in the PSL. A cagey and relentless competitor on both ends of the court, he pumped in 16 points per night last winter for PSL-champ EEV.

13. Dylan Alderson (Clarkston 6-5 Sr. G) – Equally lethal at either guard position, Alderson has size, instinct and elite finishing skill going to the rim. He had such a sensational summer, he’s already created a buzz as a potential sleeper candidate in the race for Mr. Basketball.        The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee-signee collected 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per outing in 2016 as a junior.

14. Greg Eboigbodin (U-D Jesuit 6-9 Sr. F/C) – High ceiling, high motor and a pair of soft hands is the most accurate description of this fierce frontcourt recruit. Averaged eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks as U-D won the Class A title. He’s signed with Illinois-Chicago.

15. Gabe Brown (Belleville 6-7 Jr. G/F) – Just began scratching the surface on his growth as a player last season as a part-time starter at Belleville before an exceptionally productive summer playing AAU ball brought a drove of high-major Division I college scouts to this hardworking inside-outside threat’s doorstep. Don’t be shocked if Brown is a Top 5 player in the state in 2018.

16. David DeJulius (Detroit East English Village 6-0 Jr. G) – Natural playmaker and the consummate point guard, DeJulius, a transfer from Detroit Edison, will show off his wealth of wares in the backcourt in the PSL. He currently has a slew of mid-major scholarship offers and DePaul recently added its name to the list.

17. Terry Armstrong (Davison 6-3 So. G) – The nationally-ranked bulldog floor general (ESPN tabs him No. 18 overall in the Class of 2019) is back in the state after spending half of a semester at Wheeler High School in Georgia. He played his freshman season at Flint Carman-Ainsworth (16 points, five rebounds, four assists) and should be eligible in January.

18. Marcus Bingham (Grand Rapids Catholic Central 6-9 Jr.) – An intriguing prospect on the wing, Bingham transferred from Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills and is beginning to attract high-major college interest with his blend of power and finesse in the frontcourt. He seems bound for a Top 10-ranking in the state for 2018. 

19. Matt Beachler (Lowell 6-5 Sr. G) – Could easily be the preeminent 3-point shooter in the state, Beachler has outstanding range (over 50 percent from beyond the arc), but also gets to the bucket and to the free throw line (shot 88 percent). The iron-willed Red Arrows’ sharpshooter averaged 19 points and led Lowell to the program’s first district title in 21 years as a junior last season. He signed with Central Michigan, choosing the Chippewas from among two dozen mid-major and small Division I colleges.

20. Lamar Norman (Wyoming Godwin Heights 6-2 G Jr.) – Scouting services rank this electrifying combo guard anywhere between a three- and 4-star recruit and anticipate a knockout junior season from him. Last year he posted 19 points, four assists and three rebounds a night.

21. Duane Washington (Grand Rapids Christian 6-3 Jr. G) – A slick and savvy point guard with fabulous court vision and magnetic leadership qualities, Washington averaged 16 points, four assists and three steals per game and is starting to attract the attention of both Michigan and Michigan State, as well as other Big Ten schools. 

22. Jack Ballantyne (Macomb Dakota 6-9 Sr. C) – Coming over from Warren De La Salle following an injury-plagued junior season, Ballantyne has excellent footwork around the basket and is adept at the “pick and pop,” possessing a nice touch from mid-range with an increasing ability to score from beyond the 3-point line. Boston College recently came in with a scholarship offer.

23. Jaron Faulds (Holt 6-10 Sr. C) – In an era of post players who want to play on the perimeter, Faulds is an old-school shot blocker and banger in the paint. He averaged 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He turned down a number of Division I scholarship offers and has been accepted at Columbia and is one of the Lions’ top recruits.

24. Brandon Wade (Ann Arbor Skyline 6-3 Jr. G) – A fast-rising prospect out of the backcourt, Wade is in the process of coming into his own and becoming an alpha dog on the floor. Last season he tallied 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. He has several mid-major scholarship offers right now.  

25. Michael Flowers (Southfield A&T 6-2 Sr. G) – You can make a strong case for Flowers being the state’s purest scorer. He averaged 25 points per game and displayed a wide arsenal of offensive maneuvers and shooting range that extended well past the 3-point line. Flowers signed with Western Michigan.

26. Davion Williams (Belleville 6-2 Jr. G) – This speedy combo guard with a penchant for scoring outbursts and flashy finishes at the basket has been turning heads for two years and doesn’t appear ready to stop. The mid-majors are in the mix now but bigger college programs should be coming into the picture with another fine season. He averaged 18 points, four assists and three steals per game last year.

27. James Beck (Grand Rapids Christian 6-7 Sr. F) – Beck (signed with Oakland) can do a little bit of everything from his small forward slot and is still polishing his game. Last season Beck recorded 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

28. P.J. Mitchell (Detroit Edison 6-0 Jr. G) – Gutty and intelligent point guard who played at Detroit Loyola the last two years, leading the Bulldogs into the Class C semifinals last season, Mitchell should take the Charter League by storm. He committed to Central Michigan after his freshman season. Last season he averaged 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

29. Keion Epps (Wayne Memorial 6-7 Sr. F) – Epps is a lanky and defensive-minded wing with an unselfish game and highlight-reel leaping ability. He’s the kind of forward who plays bigger than their actual size and is a coach’s dream with the amount of intangibles he brings to the table. Signed with Eastern Michigan, Epps averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game.

30. Kevin McAdoo (West Bloomfield 6-4 Sr. G) – Hidden in the shadows the past couple seasons behind high-scoring point guard Trishton Jackson (playing football at Michigan State), the dogged McAdoo, is a slasher with a steady shooting touch from the 3-point range. He’s primed for a prolific senior season.


The next 5 in alphabetical order

Zavon Godwin (Detroit East English Village 6-5 Jr. F)

Tray Jackson (Detroit Western 6-6 Jr. G)

Jalen Tobias (Detroit Cass Tech 6-9 Jr. F/C)

Mark (Rocket) Watts (Old Redford Academy 5-10 So. G)

C.J. Wilson (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 6-0 Sr. G)