Dave Goricki previews the high school boys basketball season with U-D Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly and River Rouge coach LaMonta Stone. The Detroit News
New Haven – Romeo Weems was an impact player as soon as he stepped on the court for New Haven his freshman year.
Now, Weems is the premier player in the state and a national name as well, earning gold medals while playing on the U.S. national team in Argentina in past years. He is The Detroit News’ preseason No. 1 player in the state.
Weems, who will play next year at DePaul, is the overwhelming favorite to win the state’s Mr. Basketball award, especially with top competitors Rocket Watts (SPIRE Academy), Harlond Beverly (Montverde) and Myron Gardner (SPIRE) transferring to prep schools to finish out their careers.
It’s not that Weems wasn't recruited by a prep academy or two, including Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, but he wanted to remain at New Haven to continue to build on his legacy.
Weems has helped New Haven to a 75-5 record the last three years, winning a Class B state championship in 2017 and advancing to the Final Four a year ago with its school-record 52-game winning streak coming to a close with a loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the state semifinals.
Weems, 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, has played every position during his high school career; he will play small forward in college. He averaged 23.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 4.8 steals and 2.1 blocks last season while playing with an injured elbow.
“I think my IQ got better, my knowledge of the game, knowing what’s going to happen after watching film on our opponent,” Weems said of his 2017-18 campaign. “I feel my shot has gotten better. In the offseason, I got in the weight room, then took a couple of hundred shots (after every workout). I’ve always played with energy so that’s always been a strength.”
Weems also showed his toughness last year, playing with a bone chip in his elbow, suffered in an early-season game against Macomb Dakota. He had surgery in August.
“It was bad pain,” Weems said. “I had a headache it hurt so bad, but I wanted to keep playing.”
2. Carlos “Scooby” Johnson, 6-6, Jr., F, Benton Harbor
Johnson stepped on the big stage last year at the Breslin Center, coming up with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Class B state championship game to lead Benton Harbor to its first state title since 1965 with an overtime win over Grand Rapids CC. He averaged 19 points, 13.9 rebounds and two blocks, shooting 51 percent from the field. Johnson already owns 10 offers, including West Virginia, Missouri, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth, while getting interest from Michigan State.
3. Jalen Terry, 6-2, Jr., G, Flint Beecher
Terry has been a force since he started playing at Beecher his freshman year, when he scored 15 in a 76-68 state semifinal win over Detroit Edison. He also had nine points and six rebounds in a championship game win over Grand Rapids Covenant Christian. Terry averaged 18 points, six assists and 4.4 rebounds last season to help Beecher to the Class C regional finals, a 59-55 loss to Unionville-Sebewaing. He had 39 points against Bridgeport; and 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals against Watts and Detroit Old Redford; and 24 points against Oak Park. The four-star guard has offers from Michigan State, Iowa State, Louisville, Butler, Iowa, Mississippi State and DePaul.
4. Emoni Bates, 6-8, Fr., Ypsilanti Lincoln
Bates is considered the premier freshman in the nation, showing the ability to handle the basketball like a point guard, attacking the basket like a wing, hitting the perimeter shot like a shooting guard and swatting away balls defensively like a post player. Bates participated in the USA Basketball U-15 training camp earlier this fall and is expected to help lead that group to some gold medals in the future. He already has an offer from DePaul and is getting interest from Michigan, Michigan State and other national powers. “He works extremely hard and he’ll bring us size, rebounding and of course scoring,” said Lincoln coach Jesse Davis of Bates.
5. Carrington McCaskill, 6-7, Sr., F, Detroit Renaissance
McCaskill was an outstanding inside-outside player for Renaissance, averaging close to a double-double, and is expected to be among the Mr. Basketball finalists this season. He can dominate inside, is a good perimeter threat and a strong defender. McCaskill, who averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks last season, will play at Florida Atlantic.
6. Jalen Thomas, 6-10, Sr., C, U-D Jesuit
Thomas was a force inside for U-D Jesuit last season, helping his team earn its sixth straight Catholic League title while winning district and regional titles before a Class A state quarterfinal loss to Warren De La Salle. “Jalen’s looking really good, he’s stepping out to 3-point range now, doing a better job of getting post position and having a better understanding of how to use his body in the low post, so we’re excited about what the prospects are for this year for him,” said coach Pat Donnelly. Thomas, who is 6-10 and 225 pounds, who averaged 10.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.2 blocks. He will play next year at UMass.
7. Lorne Bowman, 6-2, Jr., G, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Bowman averaged 22.5 points and 4.9 assists, shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range, to help OLSM advance to the regional final last season. He scored 20 in the regional final against two-time defending Class A state champion Clarkston, making 5-of-8 3-pointers in front of a large crowd, including Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard. Bowman committed to Wisconsin earlier this month.
8. Tyson Acuff, 6-3, Jr., G, Detroit Cass Tech
Acuff has great size and quickness as a point guard. He averaged 14 points and 6.5 assists his sophomore season. He is being recruited by West Virginia, Dayton, Temple and Mississippi State, and has multiple mid-major offers. “He’s a playmaker with great size, makes other players better around him,” coach Steve Hall said.
9. Ryan Rollins, 6-3, Jr., G, Macomb Dakota
Rollins averaged 22.5 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to help Dakota earn its fourth straight MAC Red championship while winning a district title, before a regional final loss to Warren De La Salle. “He’s grown to 6-3, handles the point and is so dynamic as far as he can score and handle the ball,” coach Paul Tocco said.
10. Maliq Carr, 6-6, Jr., F, Oak Park
Carr averaged 17 points and 13 rebounds as a sophomore and is expected to take his game to the next level this season. Carr had a strong season in football, grabbing 21 passes for 815 yards and nine TDs as a receiver, then getting offers from Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State. “Maliq has a high motor,” coach Bobby Thompson said. “He’s just a walking double-double, has the ability to do everything for us.”
11. Chandler Turner, 6-6, Sr., G-F, Detroit Renaissance
Turner teamed up with Carrington McCaskill to form a strong 1-2 punch for Renaissance. He averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists to help Renaissance win a district championship. Turner will play next year at Bowling Green.
12. Daniel Friday, 6-4, Sr., G, U-D Jesuit
Friday has the size to play in the post and the ball-handling skills to run the point. He averaged 15 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists, shooting 64 percent from the field to lead U-D Jesuit to its sixth straight Catholic League title, along with district and regional championships. “He’ll run the point for us, really any position on the floor for us throughout the year,” coach Pat Donnelly said. “He has a 36-inch standing vertical – that’s with no step or no run, so he’ll create a lot of problems for a lot of people.” Friday will play at Brown.
13. B. Artis White, 5-11, Sr., G, Canton
White has been a factor since he stepped on the court at Canton his freshman year. He averaged 16 points, four rebounds and four assists last season to help his team to a 19-2 record, losing to Novi on a tip-in as time expired in a district semifinal. “There are so many things that make B. such a special player,” coach Jim Reddy said. “He has elite speed and quickness with the ball in his hands. He is a knock-down shooter from 3 and he has the ability to impact the game at both ends of the floor. He’s gotten a little taller and a lot stronger, and I expect him to have an outstanding senior season for us.” White will play at Western Michigan.
14. Donavan Moore, 6-3, Sr., G, West Bloomfield
Moore can dominate a game, as he did in a 31-point win over Class D state champion Southfield Christian and Harlond Beverly, scoring 21 with five dunks in the first half. He averaged 18 points. “He’s a big-time athlete,” coach Jeremy Denha said. “He can play multiple positions and is great at attacking the rim. He is one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever coached.” Moore will play at Toledo.
15. Mike Fletcher, 6-6, Sr., F/C, Flint Carman-Ainsworth
Fletcher is set to play football at Michigan State next year, but could also see himself on the court as well, playing for Tom Izzo. He averaged 14 points and eight rebounds last season to help Carman-Ainsworth reach the state quarterfinals, a loss to two-time state champion Clarkston. “He’s good around the basket, but he can also step out and shoot the ball from the perimeter,” Coach Jay Witham said. “He brings a lot of toughness to us.”
16. Sir’Real Smith, 6-1, Jr., Saginaw
Smith had an outstanding sophomore season, averaging 21.5 points, four rebounds and three steals while showing his deep range shooting, making 74 3-pointers. “He’s quick, can get to the basket and is an outstanding 3-point shooter,” coach Julian Taylor said. Smith has an offer from Cleveland State and Toledo has shown interest.
17. Donovan Freeman, 6-5, Sr., F, River Rouge
Freeman came up with several big performances last season to help River Rouge reach the Class B state semifinals, including a 17-point effort in a quarterfinal win over Dearborn Divine Child. He has the ability to make the perimeter shot, as well as finishing at the basket in transition or off the dribble.
18. Drew Lowder, 6-0, Sr., G, Ann Arbor Pioneer
Lowder averaged 19 points and four assists last season, shooting 46 percent from the field while running Pioneer’s offense. His strength is attacking the basket and he also can make the perimeter shot. Lowder will play at Holy Cross.
19. Ryan Wade, 6-3, Sr., G, Ann Arbor Skyline
Wade averaged 13 points to help Skyline to a 23-1 record last season, winning SEC Red and district championships. He is an outstanding defender and dangerous from deep range. Wade will play at Holy Cross.
20. Jordan Whitford, 6-0, Sr., G, Detroit King
Whitford is a three-year starter and expected to be a Mr. PSL candidate. He averaged 12.5 points and five assists last season to help King earn a district championship.
21. Micah Parrish, 6-5, Sr., F, River Rouge
Parrish has impressed during the offseason and is being recruited by Power Five schools, including Wisconsin and Iowa. He also owns an offer from Detroit-Mercy.
22. Earnest Sanders, 6-3, Jr., G, Flint Beecher
Sanders will have a big decision to make a year from now, play college football or basketball. He is an outstanding athlete who is breaking school records as a receiver while also playing at a high level in basketball, averaging 19 points as a sophomore. He has offers from Cincinnati and Toledo in football and one from Oakland in basketball.
23. Caleb Hodgson, 6-9, Sr., Dansville
Hodgson, a 6-9, 220-pound three-star post player, was a dominant force at both ends of the court last season, averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. He will play next year at Central Michigan.
24. Griffin Yaklich, 6-3, Jr., G, Saline
Yaklich, the son of Michigan assistant coach Luke Yaklich, has size and athleticism with great skills. He handles the ball well, can get to the basket or hit the perimeter jumper, averaging 15 points last season.
25. Kalil Whitehead, 6-5, Sr., F, Detroit Cass Tech
Whitehead is expected to be a double-double player for Cass Tech during his senior season after averaging 10.5 points and seven rebounds last year. He will play for Chicago State.
25 more to watch
Players listed in alphabetical order.
Trevor Arico, 6-0, Jr., G, Saline
Austin Braun, 6-0, Sr., G, Grand Rapids Catholic Central (Grand Valley)
Austin Brown, 6-1, Sr., G, Madison Heights Madison
Sean Cobb, 6-7, Sr., F, Williamston (Grand Valley)
Nigel Colvin, 6-1, Sr., G, River Rouge
Julian Dozier, 5-9, Sr., G, U-D Jesuit (Offers from Eastern Michigan, Oakland, Southern Mississippi, Western Kentucky)
Ethan Emerzian, 5-10, So., G, Rochester Adams
Dan Few, 6-6, Sr., F, River Rouge (Lake Superior State)
Zach Goodline, 5-11, Sr., G, Coloma
Kylin Grant, 6-6, Sr., F, Detroit Renaissance (Buffalo offer)
Caleb Hunter, Sr., G, U-D Jesuit
Ronald Jeffery, 6-1, Sr., G, New Haven
Isaiah Lewis, 6-0, Sr., G, Wayne Memorial
Fletcher Loyer, 6-1, Fr., G, Clarkston
Jiovanni Miles, Sr., G, Novi
Matt Nicholson, 7-0, Jr., C, Clarkston
Xander Okerlund, 6-4, Sr., G, Maple City Glen Lake (Lake Superior State)
Kasean Pryor, 6-7, Jr., F, Ann Arbor Pioneer
Kareem Rozier, 5-7, Fr., G, Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Tariq Shepherd, 6-1, Sr., G, Farmington
Vinson Sigmon, 5-11, Sr., G, Canton
Evan Thomas, 6-4, Sr., G, Okemos
Eonte Tornes, 5-10, Sr., G, Muskegon
Jarvis Walker, 6-2, Jr., G, Muskegon
Omar Zeigler, 6-4, So., G, Detroit King