Gabe Brown is one of several local players who have made a name for themselves after being under the radar to open the season.
Brown wasn’t even playing varsity at Belleville last January. He was brought up during the final month of the regular season to gain some experience. Now, the 6-foot-7 junior wing is averaging a team-high 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds for an 8-2 team that also boasts highly recruited junior guard Davion Williams on the roster.
College coaches have taken notice. After a 87-53 victory over Redford Thurston on Tuesday, Oakland coach Greg Kampe was waiting to talk with Brown and his coach, Adam Trumpour.
Brown already has nine offers, including Oakland, Detroit Mercy, Central Michigan, DePaul, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Toledo and Loyola-Marymount.
Michigan coach John Beilein also has watched him play, while Michigan State, Kentucky, Xavier and Butler are showing interest.
How did Brown make such strides?
“He played the last eight games on varsity last year and was with us in the summer,” Trumpour said. “He worked really hard in our offseason workouts and we got him with a good AAU situation, playing with the Mustangs and Mike Faletti.”
It also helped that Brown grew several inches, going from 6-3 to 6-7. He believes he is expected to max out at 6-10 before leaving high school.
“He’s great, definitely a D-I player, a Power Five-type of player,” Williams said. “He can shoot, do everything. He got so much better than last year when he played JV ball. Unbelievable, really.”
Brown is shooting nearly 50 percent from 3-point range (19-for-39).
“My family, my teammates have really helped me and I’ve just worked on my own with my trainer, too,” Brown said. “I’ve improved on my shooting, my ball-handling and my rebounding. Really, I feel my shooting is my strength.
“I feel right at home on varsity now. I played AAU ball with the Michigan Mustangs, got a lot of experience from playing with them and now I got nine offers which has been fun to see happen.”
Prieskorn shines for St. Mary’s
Catholic League fans knew all about Orchard Lake St. Mary’s guard C.J. Wilson entering the season, but 6-6 junior Caden Prieskorn? Sure, some would know his name from football, when the quarterback led a comeback win over Muskegon in the Division 3 title game at Ford Field in November.
But Prieskorn hadn’t played a varsity basketball game since his freshman year at Lake Orion, where he averaged four points in a relief role.
Prieskorn had to sit out last year’s high school basketball season after transferring.
This year, he has averaged 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and six assists as a point forward, handling the point-guard duties at times while defending the post as well to help St. Mary’s to a 9-2 start. St. Mary’s was 10-12 a season ago.
Prieskorn always is a threat for a triple-double. He had 18 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 68-44 rout of Detroit Country Day in December. He had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 63-44 win over Dearborn Divine Child earlier this month. He had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a 61-42 win over Warren De La Salle on Friday.
“That Country Day game was memorable, almost got the triple double, and got everybody involved and it was a fun atmosphere,” Prieskorn said. “I felt I had a great basketball IQ so I could make a great impact this season because I space the floor out so well.
“Every time I get on the court I just compete and I just know where everyone is at on the floor. I feel I can pull the bigs out to the perimeter and take them to the basket. I can post up if I have a smaller guy on me and sometimes I can bring the ball up the court, which helps our guards if we can’t get the ball in bounds.”
Prieskorn has worked on his game since grade school while playing AAU ball with The Family since the fourth grade.
“Played with them all the way until last year,” he said. “I always played the guard or the forward position, now I’m like 6-6. My Dad played the post in high school at 6-8.”
Prieskorn has yet to receive an offer in either sport, but said Boston College and Syracuse have talked to him for football.
Numbers up at Nouvel
Christian Haraga has grown multiple inches and is doubling his production at Saginaw Nouvel as a 6-8 senior.
Haraga is averaging 17 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Haraga showed he would be force early in the season with a 24-point, 14-rebound effort in a 62-55 victory over Michigan Lutheran Seminary on Dec. 6.
Earleir this month, he scored 23 and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 64-51 win over St. Charles.