Al Snyder, chairperson for Mr. Basketball, and his staff must have taken a nap, missing out on their chance to put Ann Arbor Skyline point guard Brandon Wade on the list of Mr. Basketball finalists.
Wade, a 6-foot-2 senior, isn’t headed for a Big Ten school, but he certainly has the skills to be playing for a Power Five Conference school.
Wade, who will play next year at Duquesne, has averaged 23.2 points and 7.1 assists to lead Skyline to a 20-0 record, including wins over Belleville, Detroit Pershing, Wayne Memorial, Detroit Old Redford and concluding the regular season Tuesday with a 35-point effort in a 95-53 rout of Romulus, which reached the Class A semifinals last season.
“I’m completely shocked,” Skyline coach Mike Lovelace said of Wade being left off the list. “He has been day in and day out absolutely incredible, every game he does everything for us. If somehow he didn’t beat out one of those guys then you have to go six, but it’s unbelievable they left him off of it.
“He’s just the ultimate team player, grew up with most of his teammates, his brother Ryan, Jack Ammerman and Darius Hall and he’d do anything for those guys. They all just want to win.”
The Mr. Basketball finalist list includes a group of well-deserved candidates with all five players headed for Big Ten schools, led by Clarkston point guard Foster Loyer (Michigan State), Detroit East English point guard David DeJulius (Michigan), 6-9, 230-pound East Lansing forward Brandon Johns (Michigan), 6-11 Grand Rapids Catholic Central forward Marcus Bingham (Michigan State) and 6-9 power forward Trevion Williams (Purdue) of Detroit Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies.
Loyer has to be considered the frontrunner after leading Clarkston to the Class A championship last year and was in the midst of another strong season (18-1) before suffering a slight meniscus tear in his left knee Tuesday night.
Loyer was averaging 26 points and six assists before his injury and had scored more than 2,000 points for his career while leading Clarkston to an 89-6 record, including 24-1 his freshman year before a state quarterfinal loss to Cassius Winston and U-D Jesuit.
Loyer has been an outstanding floor leader for Clarkston while showing his ability to score from the perimeter, making 242 career 3-pointers and shooting 52 percent from deep range. He scored 29 in a 75-69 state championship game win over Grand Rapids Christian last year, making three 3-pointers in the opening quarter to set the tempo.
DeJulius is averaging 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for East English, rallying his team from an 18-point halftime deficit against Clarkston over the holidays to an 80-71 win, scoring 17 fourth-quarter points during a 27-8 East English rally. He followed that up with a 49-point effort, making 9-of-11 3-pointers over Illinois state champion Chicago Orr two weeks later.
Bingham is averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, shooting over 50 percent from 3-point range, for 18-1 Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Johns is averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds for East Lansing (16-3).
“He’s really, really locked in and I’m proud of him because he really gets it now, he’s doing extra, working harder and putting his stamp on games,” said Steve Finamore, who coached Johns throughout his high school career before resigning Sunday. “He’s physically tougher, now playing at 6-9 and 230 pounds, going at guys, going up to block shots at the rim, more physical for sure.”
Williams is averaging 19.2 points, 17.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
The Mr. Basketball award is annually given to the state’s top senior by voting from Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) members. The award will be handed out March 19, the Monday of the state finals.