Detroit — Tyson Acuff has already earned more than his share of PSL championships as point guard of Detroit Cass Tech.
Now, the 6-foot-3 Acuff is looking forward to leading Cass Tech to a long run in the state tournament in his senior year while also making a run at the title of Mr. Basketball along the way.
Cass Tech coach Steve Hall started Acuff as a freshman and he helped his team to PSL titles in 2017 and again last year, but Cass Tech was sent to the sidelines in a Division 1 pre-district game to rival Detroit King.
Acuff should be among the half dozen or so Mr. Basketball award finalist, averaging 27.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 7.5 assists for Cass Tech, 11-1 (6-0 PSL West) and ranked No. 9 in The News Super 20 poll. He had a career-high 44 points, nine rebounds and five steals, making the winning basket in a 65-64 win over Detroit Henry Ford back on Dec. 17.
“I have goals, but it’s really like team goals, bringing my team along since we have a lot of young guys, so I want to bring them along and make them better,” Acuff said. “I definitely have a bigger role, I’m a leader and my scoring has increased, my teammates are depending on me to knock it down so that’s what I have to do.
“I also feel my IQ got a little higher, passing and rebounding is playing a big role on my part too, but I’ve improved the most with the perimeter shooting. My shooting has come a long way from ninth grade, so I’ve been able to knock down more shots which is good.”
Acuff has developed into an outstanding all-around player, showing his ability to get things done on both ends of the floor.
On offense, Acuff still gets his teammates involved while also scoring from the perimeter or by taking the ball to the basket. Defensively, he causes problems out of Cass Tech’s press while also getting steals due to his quickness and great hands in the halfcourt game.
In Friday’s 72-47 win over a Detroit CMA team which defeated Ferndale and Ypsilanti, Acuff scored 27, making five 3-pointers, including 11 with three 3-pointers in Cass Tech’s 29-point first-quarter.
“What he’s doing night in and night out is just remarkable because he makes plays for himself, he makes plays for other people, he scores from outside, he’s posting up, he’s playing great defense, just impressive,” said Hall of Acuff who averaged 16.6 points, 7.1 assists and 5.8 rebounds last season to earn first-team All-Detroit honors by The News, also finding a spot as a third-team Division 1 all-stater.
“He’s bringing leadership, but it’s also about how certain he is and how experienced and polished he is at this stage of his career, but that was an investment that was made four years ago, and this is the return on the investment. He’s been a starter since his freshman year, and he’s been a starter on two PSL championship teams already and that speaks volumes.
“He’s always been able to coexist with other high-level players and this year he’s able to show some dimensions that people haven’t seen. I’ve coached at the next level and I think I know what it takes. I’ve told a lot of people about him, that he’s a special talent, and I don’t say that very often, but just the size, the IQ and the dimensions that he has, you just don’t see that every day.”
So, can Cass Tech win another PSL title and challenge for the Division 1 state championship?
“We can definitely win another PSL championship,” Acuff said. “We have all the right pieces. We have shooters, we have ball handlers, we have bigs, the best backcourt. We depend on (Kalen King) as a knock down shooter. I can dribble and draw the defense and he can knock them down.”
And, on Mr. PSL and Mr. Basketball?
“I’m definitely shooting for Mr. PSL and Mr. Basketball, that’s something that hasn’t been going on in my family a lot,” Acuff said. “I have a few family members that almost got it, so I’d be really glad to have it.”
Acuff’s uncle, Darius Acuff was PSL runner up while playing for Detroit Pershing in the mid-‘90s. Tyson’s father Tyrone played at Detroit East Catholic.
Acuff talked on his decision to play for LeBron James’ former high school coach, Keith Dambrot at Duquesne next year.
“I really like Coach Dambrot as the coach, I feel like it’s my second home, I just feel comfortable there.” Acuff said.
Edison among nation's best
Three-time defending girls basketball state champion Detroit Edison has taken on all challenges and passed in impressive fashion.
Edison — which won Class C state championships in 2017 and ’18 and won the Division 2 state title last season — is 10-0 with one-sided wins over No. 2 East Lansing (65-48), No. 7 Birmingham Marian (54-32) Friday and No. 12 Grosse Pointe South (81-46) Saturday.
Oh, and Edison is ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today and for good reason since it has wins over other state powers, including a 68-59 win over Columbus Africentric Early College, which defeated Edison last year, also winning an Ohio state championship.
Edison will host No. 14 Detroit Renaissance Saturday at 2.
There will be a number of other showdowns in girls basketball this week, starting with No. 5 Farmington Hills Mercy (11-0) playing at No. 7 Birmingham Marian (9-2) Tuesday and No. 18 Detroit Cass Tech (10-1) playing host to Detroit King (9-0) Thursday afternoon.
Hamtramck ready for No. 1 River Rouge
Hamtramck is quickly becoming the surprise team of the boys basketball season, the same way Roseville was a year ago when it won its first regional championship in program history before a state quarterfinal loss to U-D Jesuit at Calihan Hall.
Hamtramck’s last district title came in 1985, but it will be a threat to win one this season in the competitive district at Detroit King.
Hamtramck pushed its record to 9-2 Friday with a 79-28 win over a Harper Woods team which consistently beat them in past years. Its lone losses came at Warren De La Salle (65-62, overtime) back in December and to No. 1 River Rouge 54-49 earlier this month.
Hamtramck will play at River Rouge Tuesday night in the rematch.
Hamtramck forces turnovers at an alarming rate in its man defense or in its press due to its quick guards and aggressive play. It also showed it can knock down the perimeter shot, making 11 3-pointers against Harper Woods.
Hamtramck showcases one of the top freshmen in the state in guard Amari Allen, along with veteran guards Javier Whitaker and junior point guard James Clay. Sophomore guard Hershel Marion, senior guard Jadon Tillman, 6-5 Michael Lewis and 6-7 center Noah Burns are other key players.
“Amari Allen can make plays, makes everyone around him better,” said Hamtramck coach D.J. Foster of Allen. “He plays within what we try to do. He’s not a selfish player. He makes plays for everybody and is looking to pass before he’s looking to get a shot himself.
"He has a high basketball IQ and he’s just 14. He says he wants to come off the bench, learn from the older guys.”
Ypsilanti Lincoln sophomore sensation Emoni Bates was heartbroken after receiving the news of NBA legend Kobe Bryant's tragic death from a helicopter accident.
Bates, a 6-foot-9 guard who is considered the top high school player in the nation, put together a strong showing this past week. He scored 34 to rally No. 4 Lincoln back from a 66-62 deficit to defeat No. 15 Detroit Edison, 75-68, at Eastern Michigan on Monday before rallying Lincoln (7-1, 5-0 SEC White) back from a fourth-quarter and scoring 31 in Friday's 68-64 win over Chelsea.
Bates got his work ethic from watching and learning about Bryant, then putting together a training format that Kobe would be proud of.
Bates put together his thoughts on Instagram.
Lincoln will play rival Ypsilanti next Friday at Eastern Michigan before a showdown against Mr. Basketball candidate Carlos "Scooby" Johnson and No. 8 Benton Harbor Saturday night in the Redhawk Showcase at Grand Rapids.