Clarkston hoops star's season in jeopardy

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Clarkston — The boys basketball season is under way.

But not for Michigan State-bound power forward Thomas Kithier of defending Class A state champion Clarkston, which opens at Wayne Memorial on Tuesday night in a battle of top-20 teams.

Kithier, a 6-foot-8 senior, transferred from Macomb Dakota after helping Dakota repeat as MAC Red champion, showing his all-around ability by averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. The MHSAA is looking at Kithier’s transfer as possibly an athletic-motivated move, and he could be banned from playing the entire season. The MHSAA executive committee is scheduled to make a decision by the end of the week on Kithier’s status, but he will not be allowed to play Tuesday.

“Right now, he is ineligible until second semester,” MHSAA communications director John Johnson told The Detroit News on Monday.

Johnson said Clarkston is appealing the ruling of ineligibility. He would not speculate on Kithier’s possible reinstatement.

“It’s gone to the executive committee and a decision will be coming this week,” Johnson said. “The committee is looking at his eligibility not only for the first semester, but also the second semester.”

More:Detroit News' top 20 basketball players

More:Detroit News' top 20 basketball teams

Dakota and Clarkston have been postseason rivals in past years. Kithier put on a show (20 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) in Dakota’s 68-66 double-OT victory over Clarkston in a regional semifinal in 2016 to avenge a 63-58 regional final loss the previous year, Kithier’s freshman season.

Then, last year, Clarkston ended Dakota’s 17-game winning streak with a dominating 68-48 regional semifinal victory on its way to winning the Class A state championship.

Clarkston’s Detroit News Dream Team point guard Foster Loyer scored 31 in the 20-point win, leading Kithier to say, “It sucked that he went off on us like that, but just knowing he can light it up like that gets me all excited to play with him. He’s going to be a great point guard at Michigan State and we are going to have a great connection when we play.”

Kithier and Loyer both committed to Michigan State last year as juniors.

Dane Fife is an assistant coach at Michigan State and the son of Clarkston head coach Dan Fife.

There was a similar situation that took place last year when 6-8, 240-pound Jack Ballantyne left Warren De La Salle to play his senior year at Macomb Dakota, teaming up with Dakota point guard Jermaine Jackson. Ballantyne and Jackson signed with Detroit Mercy this past May.

But De La Salle signed off on Ballantyne’s transfer and Dakota has not done the same on Kithier’s transfer.

Reached by The Detroit News, Dakota coach Paul Tocco would only say that the matter is in the hands of Dakota administrators.