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The top 25 Michigan high school boys basketball teams for the 2021 season

By: TJ KELLEY, February 15, 2021, 11:36 am

The STATE CHAMPS! boys basketball team rankings are back and it’s great to be back in the gym, albeit a shortened regular season of only six weeks. With little time to prepare, expect a roller-coaster season as teams look to hit the usual mid-season stride just before the playoffs start on March 23.   

There are great league and non-league matchups daily and here’s a look at the top 25 teams in the state regardless of division.  

State Champs will have small school rankings every other week to give the Division 3 and 4 teams their just due. In parentheses, you will find each team’s 2019-’20 record and their final scheduled playoff game.

1 Ann Arbor Huron (Division 1, 18-1) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 7

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The River Rats are loaded with scholarship players and experienced seniors that will be key as they look to hoist their first state finals’ trophy on April 10 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.  Look for 6-foot-6 senior forward and William & Mary signee, Julian Lewis, to lead the way.  Waleed Samaha is the Huron’s head coach.

2 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (Division 1, 18-1, 8-0 CHSL-Central) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 2

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The defending Catholic League Champions are very similar to Ann Arbor Huron as depth, experienced upperclassmen, and a lot of talent should help pave their way to April 10. The Eaglets are led by a strong backcourt, size, and versatile 6-5 senior Julian Roper Jr., who has signed with Northwestern.  Todd Covert will man the sidelines for OLSM.

3 River Rouge (Division 1, 18-1, 10-0 MMAC-Blue) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 4

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Panthers had a big district final set up against the Detroit Public School League Champion, Detroit Cass Tech, and from there the path to the Breslin looked smooth before games were halted 11 months ago. They arguably have the state’s top big man in 6-8 senior power forward Legend Geeter, a Providence College commit, as well as the experience of playing for recent a recent state championship in Division 2 in 2019. Lamonta Stone will seek his second state championship as coach of River Rouge.

4 Grand Blanc (Division 1, 18-3, 8-0 SVL-Blue) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 6

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Winner of the always tough Saginaw Valley League a year ago, the Bobcats had enjoyed two months of undefeated basketball before their season was interrupted headed into the district finals. Six-foot-5 junior wing Ty Rodgers is one of the nation’s best and can defend all five positions. Mike Thomas is one of the state’s top coaches and has two previous state championships, when he led Kalamazoo Central to State titles 10 years ago.

5 Detroit King (Division 1, 14-6) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Crusaders were set to match up in last season’s district final against an upstart Hamtramck team which ranks just below. Six-foot-6 forward Omar Zeigler is the state’s top unsigned senior and, like O-Lake’s Roper, he is versatile and helps his team win on either end of the court. Head coach George Ward will look to lead his players to what he accomplished as a state champion player in 1988 and 1989 for Detroit Cooley, but one season at a time.

6 Hamtramck (Division 1, 17-3, Michigan Metro Athletic Conference) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Versatile community, versatile food, and a versatile Comets team that plays 94-feet has the ingredients to shock a lot of unsuspecting teams that might look at Hamtramck as a team from yesteryear but before the city housed some of the state’s top talent like Rudy Tomjanovich 50 years ago. Get your paczkis and check out head coach DJ Foster’s squad through a streaming app, if you can’t get there in person. 

7 Grand Rapids Christian (Division 2, 20-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 19

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Six-foot-5 senior guard Kobe Bufkin will wear the Maize and Blue in Ann Arbor next season, but not before he leads the Eagles to new heights this season. GR Christian’s head coach Eric Taylor has a strong competitive athletes and basketball players who can hold their own, as Bufkin can score with anyone in the Midwest.

8 Zeeland East (Division 1, 16-6) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Arguably the state’s top front court with the Claerbaut twins, 6-11 Nathan and 6-7 Brandon, who have signed with Ferris State, and 6-5 senior small forward Trip Reimersma, a Saginaw Valley State signee. The Chix will more than likely meet Muskegon in the playoffs before they look towards the Breslin Center.

9 Grand Rapids Catholic Central (Division 2, 19-3) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 14

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Cougars were less than a second away from raising the Division 2 state championship in 2018 and head coach TJ Meerman has the players and chemistry to make another deep run if not win it all in 2021. Six-foot-6 junior small forward Jack Karasinski already has one buzzer-beater this season. Look for him to earn a rep statewide and possibly contend for Mr. Basketball in 2022.

10 Warren De La Salle (Division 1, 13-8) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Catholic League Central is arguably the top league in the state as things are shaping up now it will be for the next two seasons as the league is loaded with sophomores that could start for any school in the state.  The Pilots’ new head coach, Gjon Djokaj, moves over from Walled Lake Northern, where he has had success the past three seasons. Unsigned senior point guard Linden Holder is tough as nails and just as productive on either end of the ball.

11 Detroit Douglass (Division 4, 17-5) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 16

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The PSL runner-up a season ago is now in Division 4 and has Michigan’s top player in 6-foot-6 senior small forward Pierre Brooks Jr., a Michigan State commit. Six-foot-9 senior center Javontae Randle is one of the state’s top big men and has offers from the University of Detroit-Mercy and Norfolk State. The Hurricanes are the front-runners to win the Division 4 state championship, led by Pierre Brooks Sr. on the sideline. 

12 Detroit Cass Tech (Division 1, 20-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 5

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

A year ago, Cass Tech won its third PSL title in four years, and this season head coach Steve Hall doesn’t have the all-state point guard, Tyson Acuff (Duquesne), that he did over that four-year span but he does have a strong crew of Technicians that experienced many wins over the last two seasons. Six-foot-6 junior Rylan Bowens, a center/power forward, is a three-year varsity player who can dominate the boards and defend the rim. A deep bench is Cass’ biggest weapon.

13 Benton Harbor (Division 20-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 8

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Head coach Corey Sterling has had a lot of success with Benton Harbor in leading them to a Class B title in 2018 with 2020 Mr. Basketball winner Carlos “Scooby” Johnson (Butler). Senior guard Kentrell Pulliam hopes to continue the Tigers’ success this season.

14 Muskegon (Division 1, 20-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 11

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The OK Black champs graduated a talented backcourt, but the Big Reds keep the cupboard full. Head coach Keith Guy has about as much experience as any coach in the state going to the Breslin over the past 20 seasons, mostly with Muskegon Heights, before winning a state championship in 2014 with Muskegon. Lake Superior State is getting a good one in 6-9 senior center Michael Reed, who will man the post for the Big Reds.

15 East Lansing (Division 2, 19-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 25

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

Another team chock full of juniors a year ago, the Trojans have one of the state’s top floor generals in unsigned senior Marcus Wourman Jr., who is arguably the state’s top backcourt defender. Head coach Ray Mitchell will look to lead East Lansing where Lansing Sexton was 10 years ago, when he was an assistant coach.

16 North Farmington (Division 1, 15-6) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

North Farmington will look to dethrone perennial OAA Red champion Clarkston this season and with a strong tandem of seniors, 6-foot Deon Hayes (unsigned) and 6-8 power forward/center Basheer Jihad (Ball State), they have experience and production to make that happen. Head coach Todd Negoshian is also aiming for a return trip to the Breslin with the Raiders as he did in 2016 but with different results.  

17 Detroit Edison (Division 2, 17-4) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 12

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

They might not have two boys varsity teams over by Eastern Market in Detroit but the Class C/Division 3 champions of 2018 do have head coach, Bo Neely, and depth as the move up to Division 2 this season. Six-foot-5 senior center David Hughes is a terror on the boards and rims for the Pioneers.

18 Williamston (Division 2, 20-2, District Final) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 22

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Hornets have fallen short of expectations in 2018 and 2019, and who could have suspected that everyone’s tournament would end early in 2020? Tom Lewis’ bunch can hurt you with versatile bigs and a bevy of shooters who will have announcers saying T-H-R-E-E multiples times each game. Six-foot-8 senior power forward Brandon Hunt (Bethel College) is surrounded by a very talented group of juniors.

19 Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy (Division 2, 15-2, 8-0 Charter School Conference-East) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 24

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Eagles were looking to be the surprise team to many that made the trip to last season’s Division 2 state semi-finals and final. Head coach James Scott will have that chance again in early April, as 6-4 senior wing Jayland Randall is one of the state’s most explosive players on the court and the stat sheet.

20 Troy (Division 1, 16-5) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

While the OAA Red has earned the nod as one of the best, if not the best, league in the state, the OAA White will be led by the Colts this season and 6-foot senior guards Brody Parker (Oakland), Ethan Emerzian (Madonna) and Jake Emerzian, who put together one of the best perimeter operations in the state. Gary Fralick’s squad will win with guard play.

21 University of Detroit-Jesuit (Division 1, 15-7) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Cubs’ stretch of seven straight CHSL Central titles came to end last season, but not before head coach Pat Donnelly set the benchmark with a state championship in 2016 with a Class A state title. Six-foot sophomore point guard Sonny Wilson is one of the state’s best, regardless of class, and he’ll find juniors Charles Turner and Nick Motebi plenty this season.

22 Iron Mountain (Division 3, 21-1) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 21

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

More than any team that had its playoff run cut short last season, the Mountaineers wanted a chance to erase the memories of a 2019 season ended shockingly in the Division 3 state championship game. Good thing for Iron Mountain is they have one of the state’s best in 6-5 senior wing Foster Wonders, a Southern Illinois signee. Iron Mountain’s head coach is Harvey “Bucky” Johnson.  

23 Birmingham Brother Rice (Division 1, 12-9) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Lost to Farmington in district opener

The youngest team in the top 25, as they start three of the state’s top sophomores in 6-6 small forward Curtis Williams, 6-3 guard Jonathan Blackwell, and 6-6 power forward Xavier Thomas.  Head coach Rick Palmer won state championships as a player and coach at Detroit Country Day and hopes to bring the Warriors back to their winning ways of the 20th Century.

24 Flint Beecher (Division 3, 20-2) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: 1

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

It would be silly to count out Point Guard U from the top 25, as they have head coach Mike Williams and a culture that spells out winning over the past 10 seasons. Six-foot unsigned senior Keyon Menifeld Jr. is one of the state’s best and ready for the big stage on April 10.  With five state championships, the Bucs were the team of Michigan’s last decade; no reason for them not to continue.

25 Croswell-Lexington (Division 2, 20-1) 

Last year’s final SC! ranking: N/R

2020 postseason finish: Still alive in district finals at COVID-19 pause

The Pioneers will look to become the first Thumb Area team to reach the state championship game area since Unionville-Sebawing in 2005. Four-year varsity star Hunter Soper is one of the state’s top unsigned seniors and his production should be through the roof. Head coach Lance Campbell should be on back-to-back seasons of reaching the Breslin.