Stone II draws comparisons to EMU star Boykins
River Rouge — LaMonta Stone has come full circle, returning to River Rouge High School where he guided the basketball program to consecutive Class B state championships in 1998 and '99 before starting a 14-year coaching career at the college level.
Stone plans to make some memories with his son, LaMonta II, running the offense during his senior year.
If you want a visualization of LaMonta II on the court, just think former Eastern Michigan star guard Earl Boykins, who led the Eagles to their last Mid-American Conference championship in 1998.
"He gets that comparison all the time," said coach Stone, talking about his 5-foot-7, 150-pound son. "People have told me I should bring him to Cleveland to have Earl work him out."
Well, LaMonta II has gotten a lot of workouts and attention while being around the college game for the majority of his life while his father was an assistant at Eastern Michigan in the early 2000s, then at Ohio State, followed by Bowling Green.
Just get a glimpse of LaMonta II and you can tell he has tremendous ballhandling and passing skills, leading the break or setting up the offense in the half-court set. He loves setting up his teammates, but also can drive to the basket, hit the runner in the lane or connect from the perimeter.
LaMonta II was ranked as a three-star recruit by ESPN heading into his senior year. He has received offers from EMU and Detroit-Mercy.
"I feel my strength is getting in the key, then picking teams apart from there, getting my teammates involved, controlling the game, the tempo, that's really my job," he said. "I think being around the college game helped me a ton. At a young age I think I was a lot smarter than a lot of kids who came to the games just from watching what college people did. I've been watching college games since second or third grade."
It wasn't uncommon for him to grab his dad's key and shoot at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green late into the night.
"I had a key so if I wanted to get some shots in, even at 1 in the morning, I could and would," he said. "I took advantage of being around college players, watched, listened and took it all in."
Now, Stone is coaching his son for the first time.
"It's not tough because he's always coached me even when he wasn't my coach," explained LaMonta II. "I remember games when he was on the sidelines, literally yelling and screaming things at me, telling me what to do."
"He's always been a gym rat," Stone said. "I've always worked him out, until really the summer of his junior year when he really knew how to prepare and what to work on. I mean he was always in the gym. There would be days I'd get up and look for my keys (to arena) and they'd be in his room. He'd be working on his game late at night."
Still, things weren't smooth when Stone took over the position as family liaison to the school district at River Rouge, along with the basketball coaching job, charged with getting back to elite status a program that had won 14 state titles — 12 by the late Lofton Greene.
"I'll be truthful, the first two months I didn't know if it would work," Stone said. "He wasn't rebellious, but still .... It was a combination of him trying to fit in and him still wanting to be in Bowling Green. He didn't want to come and I understood that since we had been in Bowling Green since he was in second grade, and it is his senior year.
"He'd come to school every day, but didn't do his work. The teachers didn't know the situation. They'd call and talked to me about him. Once they knew what was going on, they helped him through the transition."
"I look at it as business," LaMonta II said. "It's just a chapter I had to get through. It was tough at first, but I have a lot of family here and that kind of helped. And, now it's on to basketball season and I'm having fun.
"The Cass Tech game (54-50 season-opening victory) was a good win for us. Our defense is our strength. We pressure the ball. My dad always talks on the importance of defense so that's something we really stress. I think this team is capable of winning a state championship. We just have to keep working hard."
LaMonta II had 10 points and six assists in the win over Cass Tech, then 11 points and seven assists in a 58-26 win over Ecorse last Tuesday.
"It's been fun because he's a really good player, probably an extension of me," Stone said. "Really, that's all he knows. When he was born, I was coaching here. Most of his life has been on a collegiate campus, being around college kids and college basketball. Really, all he knows is basketball and basketball being played at a high level.
"He's a coach on the floor, really understands and has a feel for the game and that's one of the biggest advantages I have since I love coaching guards. I had (the late) Brent Darby before (in late '90s) and now my son. If you have a really good guard that understands and has a feel to play the game the right way, it just makes my job easier."
Yes, things have gone better for Stone and LaMonta II, but it's definitely a work in progress. He benched his son and another starter when they were late for practice Friday. River Rouge went on to lose at Grand Rapids Union Saturday, 63-57.
"I sat him and another starter out the entire game," Stone said. "I know it wasn't the popular thing to do, but I feel obligated to teach this generation the right way of doing things."
Cochran playing well
Ann Arbor Huron will play its fourth game in a six-day stretch tonight at Battle Creek Central.
Huron is off to a 3-1 start with its lone loss coming to Detroit Henry Ford, 80-73, mostly due to Josh Davis' outstanding performance (24 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks). Since that season-opening loss, the River Rats have gone on to defeat Ann Arbor Skyline (Wednesday), Saline (Friday) and Westland John Glenn in the Battle of the Best tournament Saturday at West Bloomfield.
Huron is led by forward Xavier Cochran, who is having a strong start to his senior year, averaging 20 points. He had 21 points and eight rebounds in three quarters during the 72-53 win over John Glenn.
"He's a basketball junkie, a 6-foot-6 lefty who does it all, defends well, rebounds well and makes plays for his teammates," Huron coach Waleed Samaha said. "He's the perfect leader for our team. He brings it every day in practice, which is important because we press, trap and play 10 to 12 guys every game, so we have very competitive practices to get us ready.
"Xavier is a four-year kid who has really developed into a strong player. He's long enough where he can defend all three guard positions."
Cochran has been offered by EMU, Western Michigan, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Rhode Island and Cleveland State and is getting interest from Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.
Samaha also has high praise for 5-11 senior point guard Jalen Thompson, who leads the break and is outstanding at getting to the rim and finishing.
"He's really been under the radar," said Samaha. "He's a tenacious defender."
Quarterbacks get it done
We talked about West Bloomfield junior Trishton Jackson's 41-point game last week. Jackson was a standout quarterback for the Lakers this past fall, leading them to their first playoff win. He scored 26 Saturday in a 67-44 win over Berkley in the Battle of the Best tournament to push the Lakers' record to 4-0.
Well, there are a number of other standout quarterbacks who are getting it done on the court as well.
Brandon Childress of Baldwin is off to a strong start, averaging 27 points in his first four games, including a 39-point game. He scored 30 Friday night in a win, getting seven dunks to give him 13 on the season.
Canton senior guard Greg Williams opened the season by scoring 26 — on just 10 shots from the field — in a 71-63 double-overtime win over Ann Arbor Pioneer. He followed that up with another 26-point outing in a 56-50 win over Novi Wednesday to give Canton a 3-0 start.
Then there's Dearborn Fordson senior Muhammed Zahr, who scored 31 this past weekend in a 68-32 win over Livonia Clarenceville. Zahr scored 29 Wednesday in a 63-46 win over Robichaud, showing his ability to score in bunches, 27 in the first half on four 3-pointers.
Deyonta Davis, Muskegon
The 6-foot-9 senior center, who's bound for Michigan State, had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 blocks to help defending Class A state champion Muskegon defeat Saginaw Arthur Hill, 65-63, in a 1 vs. 2 showdown at the Battle of the Best Saturday night at West Bloomfield. Arthur Hill guard Eric Davis, a Texas commit, scored 36 in the loss, getting his shot blocked by Deyonta in the final seconds.
By the numbers
66 – First-half points by Ypsilanti Arbor Prep's girls basketball team in an 82-30 win over Warren Fitzgerald Thursday
13 – Dunks made in four games by 6-4 Baldwin senior guard Brandon Childress
31 – Points scored by Dearborn Fordson senior guard Muhammed Zahr in a win over Livonia Clarenceville this past weekend.
"He gets that comparison all the time."
LaMonta Stone, River Rouge coach, on his son, LaMonta II, being compared to former Eastern Michigan star guard Earl Boykins