Romulus — They raised a curtain on the south side of the gym at Romulus High to expose end zone bleachers for an overflow basketball crowd.
Scouts, assistants and fans headed to the stands like bugs to light. Most came to see 6-foot-6 Taylor Truman junior forward Aaron Foster-Smith, who is projected to be the next great to come out of Michigan. You can tell he's got game, but it was a tough night for Foster-Smith as he was buried by Romulus players, many of whom have secured Division I scholarships. He scored eight points during a 90-48 loss on the opening night of Class A districts.
Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State officials are keeping close tabs on Foster-Smith, as are a number of mid-majors, including Detroit. Representatives of a number of those schools were on hand just to let him know he's on their radar.
Foster-Smith doesn't look like ready for prime-time yet, but few do against this team.
"I want to go out there and dominate," said Romulus center Leo Edwards, who's headed to Louisiana Tech. "The quicker you can put a dagger in a team the easier it is going to be and the better you look."
Romulus is a threat to win the state title most years. Truman is not. There was a huge difference in talent, and Foster-Smith was overwhelmed.
Romulus senior guard E.C. Matthews, who had 21 points, put on a 3-point shooting clinic.
But the scouts weren't looking his way — he's committed to Rhode Island.
Teammate Wes Clark is headed to Missouri.
And, Jalen Plummer has an offer from Youngstown State, but has yet to make a decision.
Host has too much talent
The talent is back at Romulus, poised to win its first Class A state title since 1986. The only thing standing in its way is Detroit Pershing, which handed Romulus (20-1) it's only loss.
The only reason Romulus didn't score 100 on Monday night was because of a fourth-quarter running clock.
Coach Nate Oats issued a warning to respect every opponent during his postgame speech. He's seen teams lose after easy victories over the same team. He asked his team to remain focused, but it might be hard — Romulus is just too talented.
It was tough for Foster-Smith. All eyes are on him, and the scrutiny will only intensify his senior season. Right now, he could step in and help Detroit or Toledo or some of the smaller schools that hold out hope of landing him. They like him because he can shoot and has aggressive spin moves and good instincts in traffic.
What he must improve on are his hands and conditioning.
"We got to get in better shape next year," Foster-Smith said. "Every year we have to try harder, especially against a team like Romulus.
"I realized they (were keying on me). I need to be more focused, and come out and dominate."
More work is answer
Foster-Smith is a project. This is all new to him. He's not used to the big stage. It can be overwhelming at times.
"It is a lot of pressure," Foster-Smith admitted. "I have to pretend they (coaches) are not out there."
Edwards already went through this process. The courtship by big-name schools is fun, but the pressure is off.
"It is kind of relief because you can go out there more focused," Edwards said. "You are not trying to impress anybody. You are just looking to play for your team. It's team first."
The pressure will be off Foster-Smith someday.