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BURNSTEIN COLUMN: Maten snubbed, Bloomfield Hills superstar gets robbed of Mr. Basketball candidacy

By: Scott Burnstein, March 6, 2014, 10:00 am

Bloomfield Hills boys basketball star Yante Maten might be the most dominant player in the state.

He does everything.

One thing he won’t be doing though is accepting the state’s annual Mr. Basketball award.

Maten, a 6-foot-8 monstrosity of a presence in the post, was snubbed from being a finalist for the honor last week (five were named).

Now, this is not to say, Maten should have definitely won the prize. He very well might not be the No. 1 player in the senior class. There’s no question though he’s close.

In this writer’s humble opinion, Maten was robbed in not getting onto the “final five” list of candidates.

Okay, then, who should we bump?

Out of the remaining candidates, Detroit Pershing power forward Justin Tillman (VCU) and Birmingham Detroit Country Day point guard Edmond Sumner (Xavier) are untouchable. They’re the frontrunners heading down the stretch and rightfully so.

We should probably put Detroit Douglas combo guard Darrell Davis (Dayton) right besides them, he’s electricity personified on the hardwood.

That leads us to Ypsilanti center Jaylen Johnson (Louisville) and Muskegon floor general, Deshawn Thrower (Stoney Brook).

This is written in all due respect to Johnson, the state’s top recruited player in the senior class, and Thrower, the captain of the state’s No. 1 team, but Maten should be on that list in front of them.

Johnson’s recruiting status is due to his potential, not necessarily his overwhelming production on the court. In his favor, his Ypsilanti squad is ranked No. 4 in the state and finished the regular season 18-2, on the heels of a quarterfinal campaign last year.

But Maten plays the same position and in a better league and is straight putting the opposition in a strangle hold, averaging 20 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks and four assists per outing and has dropped numerous triple-doubles this winter.

On Wednesday, in 19-3 Bloomfield Hills’ 65-50 win over North Farmington, he went for 26 points, 20 boards and eight swats.

Thrower is a magnificent talent, both on the hardwood and the gridiron (he quarterbacked Muskegon into the state championship game at Ford Field as a junior and senior), and his Big Red cage crew is currently undefeated. I get it.

From some, you’ll hear the argument that the most powerful squad in the state (Muskegon) and the class’ most-coveted talent (Johnson) deserve representation in the group of finalists.

However, is that etched in stone? Furthermore, Thrower isn’t even the top player on his own team, that’s junior center and Michigan State-commit Devonta Davis. And why should we just have five finalists? If there deserves to be more, we should let there be more.

Although Maten isn’t signed with a college right now, he has a slew of major Division I programs in pursuit of his services. When he gets to the next level, he’s going to make a name for himself. I know a Blue Chipper when I see a Blue Chipper.

There’s not a shred of doubt in my mind Maten got a raw deal in this situation and should still be in the running for Mr. Basketball in 2014.