DETROIT — It’s six weeks to the kickoff of the high school football season, but basketball, whose tip-off is four months away, is making some early headlines.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-11) caught fire in the state playoffs last year, winning five in a row to reach the semifinal, where they were eliminated by Muskegon. The Eaglets expect to be a more formidable team this winter with the addition of transfers 6-foot-5 forward Jayden Savoury (from Detroit Renaissance) and 5-foot-11 guard Isaiah “Zip” Hines (from Macomb Dakota) after sitting out a sophomore year of ineligibility.
However, St. Mary’s will be in the spotlight with the presence of 6-foot-5 junior phenom, Trey McKenney, selected by the Michigan Associated Press as the Division 1 Player of the Year. He averaged 25.4 points and 11.1 rebounds for his sophomore season, after averaging 16.9 points and six rebounds as a freshman.
He’s gained national notoriety, too, evidenced by the scholarship offers from 33 colleges, starting when he was a freshman: DePaul, Temple, Texas, Texas Christian, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Missouri, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Kansas State, Iowa, Oregon, Miami (Fla.), Stanford, LSU, Providence, Cal Poly, Xavier, Rutgers, High Point, Kansas, Southern Cal, Penn State, Florida State, Creighton, Georgetown, UCLA, Arkansas.
June 15 was the first day college coaches officially were able to directly contact juniors. Reports have come out that both Michigan and Michigan State were the first to contact McKenney. Speculation has it that both U-M and MSU along with Indiana are the favorites to have McKenney join their basketball programs, with a slight edge to MSU.
In a recent interview, McKenney revealed three factors he’s considering for the choice he’ll make:
“Who can get me to the next level after college? How does it feel familywise? How are the academics?” he said. “I feel like I could play in any system. My game doesn’t require any type of system. I can adjust.”
McKenny is playing this summer with an AAU team based in Chicago.
A pair of tall transfers to Rice
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice had a spectacular season a year ago: a 22-2 record, No. 1 ranking in the state, winning its first Catholic League Central Division title since 1996, its first CHSL championship since 1990, and the “Operation Friendship” showdown, 69-68 in overtime, against the Detroit Public Schools champ, Cass Tech, who went on to win the state Division 1 championship.
But the season ended in a crushing disappointment. The Warriors were upset by St. Mary’s, 57-50, at the beginning of the state playoffs.
News has come out of Brother Rice about the enrollment of 6-foot-6 sophomore Elijah Williams, son of Monty Williams, the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons. Last season as a freshman, he played at Scottsdale Christian in Arizona where his dad was the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, averaging 19 points and nine rebounds per game.
Williams already has scholarship offers from Arizona, Washington, Missouri and Notre Dame. His dad played his college ball for the Fighting Irish.
The Warriors will have another transfer on their roster, 6-foot-9 sophomore Trevor Smith, who averaged six points and six rebounds last year at Okemos.
They will help assuage the graduation of Division 1 commits Curtis Williams (to Louisville), John Blackwell (Wisconsin) and Xavier Thomas (Toledo).
Football has three commits
Three football players have made commitments to where they will take their gridiron talent after graduation next June.
St. Mary’s 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensive tackle Josh Janda has committed to the Air Force in Boulder, Colorado, one of 10 offers he had received.
Aiden Pastoriza, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound lineman at Jackson Lumen Christi, picked Central Michigan from five offers he considered. Lumen Christi will be joining the CHSL this fall.
Jaylen Watson, who has transferred from River Rouge to Toledo Catholic Central for his senior year, has selected Iowa from 11 offers he received. Primarily a wide receiver during his first two varsity high school seasons, Watson is slated to play defensive back for the Hawkeyes.
The Toledo Catholic Central Fighting Irish, one of five Toledo Catholic schools that will be competing in the expanded CHSL this coming academic year, will host the Novi Detroit Catholic Central Shamrocks and new head coach Justin Cessante on Friday, Sept. 1.
Warren De La Salle will be seeking its third state championship in a row. Leading the way will be 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive guard/defensive tackle Ryan Ross, who has offers from Valparaiso, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Army, Tiffin, Madonna University, Ashland University, Loch Haven University and Ferris State.
The high school football season officially begins with practices Aug .7.
Rejecting a scholarship to be a walk-on
That’s the nature of scholarship offers colleges make to outstanding athletes: they aren’t binding.
Dearborn Divine Child’s Kennedy Blair rejected her scholarship offer she’s had for a couple of years from Bowling Green, where Robyn Fralick coached for five years, to become a “preferred walk-on” at Michigan State when Fralick signed a six-year $1 million-a-year contract to coach the Spartans women’s team.
Being a preferred walk-on is the highest status a recruit can get outside of receiving an athletic scholarship. No athletic aid is offered, but preferred walk-ons will go into college with a roster spot secured, receive a uniform and have a strong chance of competing for playing time their first year. Scholarships can be earned going into a second season, but nothing is guaranteed.
The 5-foot-9 Blair was a Miss Basketball finalist her senior year and an All State first team selection. In her four seasons, she scored 1,451 career points and pulled down 565 rebounds. She holds numerous Divine Child records, including most points in a game, 46.
Timpf ‘feels amazing again’
Lauren Timpf, a rising senior at Macomb Lutheran North, rallied in the last three holes to win the 45th Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Championship at MSU’s Forest Akers West Golf Course on June 30.
“I kind of went through a little slump last year and I wasn’t playing my best,” she said. “So coming out here and proving to myself that I can win and compete again feels amazing.”
Timpf, who is committed to Purdue, won medalist honors the last two years in the MHSAA Division 3 finals and shot 70-72 to lead her teammates to the Division 3 championship a year ago. She won the CHSL girls championship as a sophomore with a 64 at the Detroit Golf Club.
Four in a row for Marian?
Senior Dani Mertz, who was the goalie for Bloomfield Hills Marian’s soccer squad that won a state district this spring, is the captain and outside hitter on this fall’s Mustangs’ volleyball team that has won three state championships in a row.
“Will you win a fourth consecutive state championship?” she was asked.
She retorted: “Let’s go for the four!”
Sounds like it’d be the perfect team motto.
Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].