Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oakland County Boys Basketball -- Cruise Control

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day
The Yellowjackets haven't left the top spot in the rankings all season long, and that might not change either. Country Day is more complete and dangerous than last year's team which made a run to the final four, and that's saying a lot.

2. Rochester Adams
If any team can knock Country Day out of the top spot, it's the Highlanders. Senior forward Zack Littleson is playing as well as anybody in the state right now, averaging over 30 points and nine rebounds in his last two games alone.

3. Clarkston
After hitting a bit of a bump in the road that knocked the Wolves all the way down to No. 10 in my rankings, Clarkston has surged back into the front with a strong couple of weeks, including an impressive showing in a win over North Farmington.

4. Rochester
The Falcons might have the best rebounding duo in the state with star James Young playing alongside Arben Camaj as both are averaging double-doubles for Rochester. Both have also been menaces on defense with Young averaging nearly five steals and Camaj averaging five blocks per contest.

5. Southfield
It's been a bit of a rough patch for the Blue Jays as of late, but a big reason for that has been a tough stretch in the scheduling. Expect Southfield to once again be back in the fold of the top 2-3 teams very soon.

6. Walled Lake Central
The Vikings have continued to be one of the pleasant surprises in the area this year and have now shot all the way up to No. 6 in the rankings. A big reason for that has been the standout duo of T.J. Warren and Phil Nelson, who have been nightmares for most teams to defend this season.

7. North Farmington
The loss to Clarkston was ugly on Friday night, there's no denying that, but the Raiders still remain as one of the more dangerous teams in Oakland County with seniors Caleb Hogans and Sterling Sharp as well as sophomore Jeron "Buddha" Rogers. Also look for Cameron and Alex Darden to be key X-Factors down the stretch for North Farmington.

8. Waterford Mott
The Corsairs, aside from a minor hiccup against Walled Lake Central, have been as hot as any team in Oakland County over the course of the past month or two. With senior point guard Khalil Malone and forward Quincy Norman, Mott has one of the best inside-outside duos you're going to find.

9. Farmington Hills Harrison
Another pleasant surprise in Oakland County this winter, Harrison has unexpectedly turned the OAA White division battle from a three horse race to a four horse race. With A.J. Freeman and Dorian Fields, who can knock down shots from anywhere along with sophomore forward John Rexroth, Harrison is going to be a team that nobody will want to face down the stretch.

10. Lake Orion
The Dragons are another team with a serious advantage over teams when it comes to inside-outside play. With guard Damonte Kruse and forwards John McCarty and Chaz Miller, Lake Orion is going to be a tough match-up for a number of teams come tournament time.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Stealing Oakland County

There have been plenty of steals throughout the recruiting process so far this season, so here is a list of some of the top Oakland County steals that some colleges have reeled in before National Signing Day.

Anthony Darkangelo -- Novi Detroit Catholic Central (Ferris State)
Darkangelo is an obvious D-1 talent in my opinion and showed it on both sides of the ball this season, proving to be one of the best tacklers around and showing off his ball carrying skills as well.

Jake Slobin -- Farmington Hills Harrison (Grand Valley State)
This might be the biggest steal on the gridiron in my mind. Slobin put up some serious gaudy numbers all season long from his defensive line position as he continued to pile up the sacks and tackles at an impressive rate.

Brandon Bean -- Southfield (Grand Valley State)
Bean was slowed by an injury this season, which may have hurt him in the recruiting process, but when he was healthy, the standout receiver was nearly unstoppable over the course of the past two seasons.

Parker McInnis -- Orchard Lake St. Mary's (Grand Valley State)
McInnis was another D-1 talent coming out of St. Mary's and had a reported offer from Eastern Michigan to prove it, but the star running back, who piled up 270 yards rushing in the state title game, chose to be yet another steal for GVSU.

Greg Weber -- Troy (Wayne State)
Weber was as good as anybody at busting open holes along the offensive line for the Colts this season. When the Colts were healthy this past season, they were as good as anyone at running the ball, and a big reason why was Weber.

Griffin Anderson -- Birmingham Brother Rice (Penn)
Anderson was one of the many unsung heroes for the Warriors over the past couple of seasons as he was one of the best at opening holes for standout running backs Devin Church, Brian Walker and Shon Powell.

Isaiah Gourdine -- Farmington (Bowling Green)
Gourdine was originally committed to play for Cincinnati a couple of months ago, but reopened the recruiting process when Jones accepted the job at Tennessee, which led to Bowling Green getting a big steal here. Gourdine is the definition of a ballhawk and had offers from the Big East and ACC.

Derric Williams -- Lake Orion (Eastern Michigan)
Williams is a hard hitting, sure tackling linebacker, who will likely pile up the tackles in his time with Eastern. Williams helped lead a dominating defense through a long state playoff run to the Division 1 state semifinals.

Collin Buchanan -- Southfield (Miami (OH))
Another dominating offensive lineman that Oakland County had to offer over the course of the past couple of seasons, Buchanan was one of the big reasons why Southfield found open lanes in the running game and kept its quarterbacks upright in recent seasons.

Since it's basketball season as well, I figured I'd include some recruiting steals from the OC hardwood

Jonathon "Jon-Jon" Williams -- Southfield-Lathrup (Toledo)
Williams is as big of a steal as you're going to find. The Lathrup floor general had plenty of interest from bigger schools throughout the recruiting process, but chose Toledo because he felt he could make an immediate impact, and that's probably exactly what he'll do for the Rockets.

Jordan Dasuqi -- Clarkston (Lake Superior State)
Dasuqi is one of the best around when it comes to scoring the basketball. Whether it's from the outside or going to the inside, Dasuqi has shown he can be a D-1 scorer throughout the last couple of years and that's exactly what the Lakers are getting from the Clarkston senior.

Caleb Hogans -- North Farmington (Spring Arbor)
If Williams is the biggest steal on the hardwood, Hogans is a close second. Hogans can do a little big of everything with the ball in his hands, whether it's handing out assists, knocking down 3-pointers (has had eight in a game this year) or drive to the basket and create his own shot. Spring Arbor is getting someone who can do just about anything when he has the ball.

Sydni Davis -- Southfield-Lathrup (Stetson)
Davis has been a player throughout her career at West Bloomfield and Lathrup, who has proven to be as good of a distributor as she is a scorer. Davis has been able to rack up the assists at times over the past few seasons, but has been a lethal scorer as well.

Sami Stormont -- Royal Oak (Northwood)
Northwood is getting as prolific of a scorer as you will find in Stormont, who can just flat out score the basketball. The senior has shown that she can score from the outside as well as the inside and has been a matchup nightmare for just about any opposing team.

Delaney Kenny -- Clarkston (Northwood)
Kenny is a player that can do a little bit of everything, the Clarkston senior has shown her ability to both score and a defend with some of the best, and has proven that she can be a distributor on the floor as well. Northwood has picked up two impressive steals from Oakland County in girls hoops.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Orchard Lake St. Mary's Recruiting Roundup

In case you weren't aware of just how good the Orchard Lake St. Mary's backfield was this past season, consider this:

Senior quarterback Matt Linehan recently committed to play for the University of Idaho at the beginning of this week. (Side Note: Linehan's father and current Detroit Lions offensive coordinator also played quarterback for the Vandals in the early 80's)

Then on Thursday night, running back Parker McInnis also made the leap to the next level, as he committed to play for Grand Valley State, which has continued to load up on Oakland County stars for the 2013 class.
Linehan and McInnis are joining Grant Niemiec as Eaglet backfield members who will be spending at least the next few years playing football at the college level, as Niemiec committed to play for Miami (OH) during the season.

Last season, Linehan was just about as effective as it gets as the St. Mary's signal caller recorded 15 touchdown while throwing just two interception and threw for nearly 1,500 yards on his way to leading St. Mary's to the state title game for the fourth consecutive year.

McInnis put together a memorable performance in the state title game as the senior rushed for 269 yards on just 25 carries on his way to helping the Eaglets break the state finals rushing yards record as St. Mary's finished with nearly 600 yards on the ground in an overtime loss to Grand Rapids Christian.

Niemiec will be joining former St. Mary's running back Spencer McInnis (Brother of Parker) at Miami (OH) next season. McInnis played a key role in the Eaglet's state title run in 2011.

More St. Mary's Recruiting Notes
- Junior Wide Receiver Jalen Watts-Jackson recently received an offer to play for Idaho, shortly after Linehan committed to play for the Vandals. Jackson will likely see plenty more D-1 offers over the course of the next 12-13 months before next year's signing day.

- Just a couple of weeks until National Signing Day, and I can't help but be surprised that offensive/defensive lineman Austin Johnson has continued to fly below the recruiting radar. Johnson proved to be a matchup problem all season long for teams regardless of division. Whoever is able to land Johnson will be getting a steal.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Throwing West

For the second time in as many years, a local throwing star will be heading to a college power to continue their career.

Walled Lake Central's Cullen Prena made the decision last weekend to throw for the University of Oregon, arguably the nation's best track and field program and has been for decades.

Prena will be joining former Birmingham Detroit Country Day girls thrower, Brittany Mann, who is in her freshman season with the Ducks.

Last season as a junior, Prena shattered the Oakland County discus record on multiple occasions, breaking the previous record of 182 feet, set over 30 years ago as he finished with a season best mark, 187-feet-7, which ranked among the top-10 in the nation.

At the Division 1 track and field state meet, Prena finished in second place with a throw of 173-6, just five feet short of the first place throw.

Prena is also one of the state's best shot putters in the state as he put together a third place effort at the state meet as a junior, finishing with a throw of 54-6.5, which measure just over a foot short of the top throw in the event and had a personal best throw of 55-7 during his junior season.

After the high school season, Prena went on to capture a USATF Junior Olympic National Track and Field discus title with a toss of 185-4, which was over seven feet further than the second place finisher.

Without a doubt, Oregon picked up yet another Oakland County throwing gem for the second straight year, first with Mann and now with Prena

Prena's older sisters, Kari (Michigan) and Kelsey (Michigan State), are Division 1 college throwers after finishing their high school careers at Walled Lake Central.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oakland County Boys Basketball Rankings -- New Year, Same Number 1

1. Birmingham Detroit Country Day
Everyone knows about the trio of guards that the Yellowjackets have, but they might have the most underrated forwards around. Don't forget about Christien Wright, Maurice Ways and Poet Thomas, or they'll make you pay.

2. Rochester Adams
Everyone knows just how good guard Akhemji Williams and forward Zach Littleson are, but don't forget about Drew McBride and Ben Limb along with a number of other players that will help put the Highlanders over the top this year.

3. Walled Lake Western
Not often will a team lose a game and still skyrocket in the rankings, but that's exactly what Western has done. After losing a heartbreaker to Country Day on Sunday night, Western proved it's not a team to be taken lightly. Sophomore John Flowers had a breakout game of sorts in Sunday night's loss, showing he's already one of the best at getting to the rim.

4. Southfield
The Blue Jays are one of, if not the deepest team in the state. Southfield has been and will continue to be one of the hardest teams in the area to slow down, simply because there are too many top notch players for one team to handle.

5. Pontiac
It seems like every year Pontiac is a team that is underestimated heading into the season, and that seems to be the case once again this year. The Phoenix have looked as good as anyone this year thanks to players like Dijon Cogdell, Jarod Jones and Vezzie Carthane and a number of others.

6. Bloomfield Hills Lahser
The Knights are as deep and well rounded as any team you're going to find in the area and barring surprise, they will be looking at a long postseason run and possibly a Conference title as well.

7. Rochester
One part of Rochester's game that has gone unnoticed so far this year is its defense, as the Falcons have yet to allow an opponent reach 60 points and only two have reached the 50 point plateau so far.

8. North Farmington
There might not be a better outside shooting team in the area this year. After Caleb Hogans set a school record by knocking down eight 3-pointers a couple of weeks ago, Sterling Sharp matched that effort with eight of his own recently.

9. Troy
Chris Dorsey and Joe Leonard might be two of the best players in the area that you might not have heard of, but both are big reasons as to why Troy has cracked the top 10.

10. Clarkston
The Wolves have struggled from time to time this season, but make no mistake, the Wolves will rebound after their pair of losses.