A.J. Turner of Warren DeLaSalle, left, is likely to be a candidate for the 2014 Mr. Basketball Award. Drake Harris of Grand Rapids Christian, right, might not be in the running. (Bryan Mitchell/Special to The Detroit News)
Grand Rapids -- Drake Harris said last week that he does not intend to play basketball in college. Harris, a junior from Grand Rapids Christian, was the highest-rated basketball player in his class at the start of the season, and you wonder if his ranking will drop now that he's made this decision.
Another point worth addressing is Harris' chances at winning the 2014 Mr. Basketball Award. The voters, who are members of the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, must decide if they will vote for a player who has stated that he will not play basketball in college. Since 1981, the first year the honor was bestowed on a senior, every player who won the award has gone on to play basketball in college.
A precedent could be set. One would hope that those who vote, when the time comes, will vote for the best candidate no matter his future plans.
In alphabetical order, here are some of the other top candidates for the 2014 award:
Darrell Davis, 6-foot-4, Detroit Douglass
Marqywell Jackson, 6-5, Detroit East English Village
Jalen Johnson, 6-9, Ypsilanti
Jamal Poplar, 6-9, River Rouge
Justin Tillman, 6-7, Detroit Pershing
A.J. Turner, 6-6, Warren DeLaSalle
On the subject of Mr. Basketball, the popular opinion is that this year's race is among three players; Monte Morris of Flint Beecher, Derrick Walton Jr. of Harper Woods Chandler Park and James Young of Rochester. But two players should be included in the conversation, especially after two games that were played Saturday as part of the Martin Luther King Day celebration.
Kahlil Felder is Detroit Pershing's 5-10 point guard. He's the leader on the state's top-ranked team, and this was never more apparent than on Saturday at Warren Fitzgerald. Beecher took Pershing to school in the first half and led by as many as 18 points. Pershing's leading scorer, Martez Walker, was saddled with three fouls, played 5:48 of the half and was held scoreless.
Felder is not considered a scorer but on this night he turned it on. Felder scored 10 in the second quarter to keep his team within shouting distance at 48-34. He scored 14 in the third quarter and his putback with four seconds left tied the game at 63-63 after 24 minutes.
At times Felder moved to the power forward position, doing anything he could to help his team win. He had 11 rebounds to go with his 32 points. His basket in the fourth, his only points of the quarter, gave Pershing the lead for good at 67-65, and Pershing won, 81-74.
At Mount Clemens High, Vincent Hunter of Detroit Consortium was the dominant player in his team's 68-62 overtime victory over Detroit Country Day. Hunter scored eight of his team's first 10 points as Consortium led early, 17-5. He had a quiet second quarter and the game was tied at 31-31 at halftime. Hunter, a 6-6 forward who signed with UTEP, took over at the end scoring 16 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He also pulled down 15 rebounds.
It's not likely Felder or Hunter will win the award but they deserve consideration. The award is given to the player who had the best senior season, but we all know voters are influenced by what took place before.
Felder signed with Oakland and some voters might not want to side with a mid-major recruit. But remember, David Kool of Grand Rapids South Christian won the award in 2006 and he signed with Western Michigan.
Walton spent much of Saturday in the hospital after suffering a head injury in his team's 86-61 loss to host Saginaw. His father and coach, Derrick Walton , said he feared his son suffered a concussion but tests were negative, "his vision is good," and Walton added his son required six stitches. He's "good to go" and will not miss the next game.
Mike Covington spent six seasons in Pontiac coaching in the neighborhood he grew up in. His first position as a head coach is far from the streets in Pontiac.
Covington took over the program at Melvindale Academy for Business and Technology this season and ABT is 6-0 (through Saturday's games).
ABT is powered by Taron Ramsey , a physical 6-5 forward. Ramsey is averaging 21.2 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman DeVonte Brooks (6-5) is also in the starting lineup and he's averaging 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The best postseason tournament, other than the state tournament, begins Feb. 1 and ends two weeks later at Calihan Hall. PSL officials must be commended for scheduling both the girls and boys title games on the same day at the same venue. The girls title game is at 5 p.m. with the boys to follow at 7:30. It's good to see at least one league doing its best to showcase girls basketball.
Small but soaring
Coaches will say winning is all about matchups. If true, it must be difficult to match up with East Kentwood.
East Kentwood is 10-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class A. Coach Jeff Anama starts four players whom he said could start at point guard. Jaylen Carter is the starting point guard but others, such as Arthur Pearson , can handle that role, too.
"Our post player ( Ben Hester ) is 6-2," Anama said. "We're a press/running team. We go 10 deep but we're first a defensive-minded team. Our matchups are different. We have good passers, good dribblers and good shooters. Last year, we were more conventional."
Last season, East Kentwood was 17-3 before losing to Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills in a district semifinal.
Macomb Lutheran North kicker/punter J.J. McGrath said he will attend Michigan as a preferred walk-on. McGrath was named to The Detroit News Dream Team this past season after averaging 41 yards on 26 punts. He was 25-of-26 on extra point tries and 7-for-11 on field goal attempts. He made field goals from 53 and 57 yards, the latter being third longest in state history.
… Dream Team defensive back/receiver Darius Phillips of Dearborn Heights Robichaud committed to Western Michigan. He's No. 37 on the Blue Chip list.
… Walled Lake Western receiver/running back/defensive back Josh Jones , another Dream Team selection, has de-committed to Illinois and reopened his recruiting process. Jones was in Boulder this weekend on an official visit to Colorado. He's already made an official visit to Pittsburgh and plans on making an official visit to North Carolina State next week. Jones said it's unlikely he will make his decision before visiting N.C. State.
Jones is ranked No. 16 on The Detroit News Blue Chip list.
Top performance: Mizell Lippett, Warren Fitzgerald
The senior point guard scored five of his 23 points in overtime on Friday, including a free throw that gave Fitzgerald (7-1) a 56-55 victory at Fraser in a game for first place in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division. Lippett then scored 28 in Fitzgerald's 61-58 victory over Troy on Saturday.
"I'm trying not to throw his name out there much but he's playing as well as those other (Mr. Basketball candidates)."
-- Al Anderson, Detroit Consortium coach, on the play of Vincent Hunter (averaging 26 points and 15 rebounds) this season.