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Top players in Class of 2018 for boys basketball say they’ll remain loyal and stay

By: Jeff Dullack, February 28, 2016, 10:10 am



While many have said that the talent level in boys basketball in this state has decreased over the years, the perception could be the fact that many of the top players have left.

Josh Jackson (Detroit Consortium) and Miles Bridges (Flint Southwestern), two of the best seniors in the country both transferred to prep schools out of state. Brian Bowen (Saginaw Arthur Hill), one of the top players in the country in the class of 2017, transferred out of state after last season.

But the top players in this year’s sophomore class, highlighted by East Lansing’s Brandon Johns, Clarkston’s Foster Loyer and Detroit Edison’s David DeJulius, have the look of players who are here to stay.

Not only are they here to stay in Michigan, but the three players have no intentions of even transferring to a different school, something that has become an epidemic of sorts throughout the state.

Johns, the No. 4 player in the State Champs! top 25 rankings, said that continuity is something that’s important to him and the chemistry he has with his teammates and coaches at East Lansing is what has him staying put.

“It’s pretty important,” he said. “If you’re transferring or hopping teams, you don’t really know how each other plays, but playing with each other for a while is different and the team chemistry is there.”

Loyer has spent much of his life on the go. His dad is former Detroit Pistons coach John Loyer. Foster Loyer was born in Cincinnati and has moved several times since.

When discussing his star point guard’s situation, longtime Clarkston coach Dan Fife said that when Loyer was let go as coach in Detroit, his family still made the decision to find a home in the area so Foster could attend high school in Clarkston.

“Foster can probably tell you, but they went around to a lot of high schools and saw lots of teams play and he came here,” Fife said. “They rented here, but when he lost his job and they brought in Van Gundy, his dad got a job and they bought a new home in Clarkston.”

As any coach can probably admit to, the discussion of transfers surrounding star players can make for an uneasy feeling for them, but Loyer chimed in mid-sentence while his coach was talking with some reassuring words.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Foster noted.

Fife responded with a laugh.

”Oh God, that made me feel better, I can sleep better tonight, Foster.”

For the Loyer family, when it came down to choosing a high school, they were looking for a stable program and school for him to complete high school.

“We moved here because my dad just liked the area,” Foster Loyer said. “We knew coach Fife was a great coach when we first moved here and ever since I started playing for him. I think he’s the best coach in the state of Michigan and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s going to do his best to help make me the best player I can be and the best person I can be, and that’s something that’s very important to me.”

And now, after almost two full seasons in the Clarkston program, Loyer, the No. 7 ranked player in the State Champs! rankings, is enjoying the stability he’s had with the Wolves.

“It just gives you the thought of stability in the back of your head,” he said. “I’m here, I’m going to do my job and I don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s just a great feeling knowing that.”

Much like Loyer, DeJulius was a highly sought after player entering high school before deciding to play for Edison, a charter school located in the Eastern Market area. DeJulius said he’s staying put.

“I’m all about family and I’m all about loyalty as well,” DeJulius said. “I’m staying here and I don’t plan on transferring. I’ve been with the family for a few years now and I feel like that’s big.”

State Champs! had DeJulius ranked as the No. 8 player overall in the preseason.

While the members of the sophomore class don’t plan on transferring, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand the motives behind players changing schools.

Johns, who played AAU Basketball over the summer with Loyer, noted that every case is different and it depends on how comfortable someone is with their school and team.

“Sometimes I question it and sometimes, I understand it,” he said. “It depends on if I know the person and I know why they did it. Otherwise, I feel it’s unnecessary unless you’re in a situation where you’re not comfortable with where you are.”

DeJulius echoed Johns’ sentiment and added that often times, players find out that transferring doesn’t always turn out to be the best decision

“I think it’s because they think that the grass is greener on the other side, and I think in a lot of cases, it’s not and they notice that,” he said. “I think they’re looking for more exposure so they leave.”

While much has been said about the declining level of basketball talent in the state of Michigan, coaches continue to contend that the state continues to produce high level players on a regular basis.

One of those coaches is East Lansing’s Steve Finamore, who has one of the nation’s top players in the gym every day in Johns, a member of the 2015-16 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team roster.

“I don’t want to sound condescending, but I really don’t listen to that kind of stuff because I believe in our guys and what we do is just coach them,” Finamore said. “I’m so happy to have a Brandon Johns on my team, I get a chance to coach the best player every single day. So I don’t care when they say the talent level is down, I come to work and practice every day with an All-American.”

With the top sophomores firmly planted in the state of Michigan, could this be the new trend as we see more players choose to stay put instead of transferring?

It will take time before that question is answered, but DeJulius understands the perception of the declining talent level, but said that he and the other sophomores in the state are motivated to repair that image.

“It shows that we’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We’re still here. We have fallen off a little bit, but we’re coming back up.”

The only thing that is for certain is that these sophomores are here to stay and out to prove that Michigan high school basketball still has plenty to offer.

“It’s pretty stacked,” Johns said. ‘We have one of the best classes out there. Especially when we get to be seniors, it’s going to be wild.”