Player Of The Year Watchlist

Written by
Tate Baker
Photo Credit
Kyler Vanderjagt

There’s less than a month before the high school basketball season tips off as teams across the state have begun practice and are starting to get a sense of what their lineups and rotations will look like. The player of the year race suddenly became wide open when Grand Blanc star Ty Rodgers opted to leave the state to play for his grassroots coach, Tai Streets at Thornton Township High School in Illinois.

Nonetheless, there is a healthy crop of athletes with bright futures ready to take the next step and stake their claim as the best player in the state. Below are 16 players who are poised to do just that. Check out my thoughts on their game and their highlights below.

Players are listed in alphabetical order

Kaden Brown, 6’0 G, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 2023”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Western Michigan, Oakland University.

Kaden Brown emerged as Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s unquestioned floor general a season ago as only a sophomore, playing and resembling an upperclassman in about every facet of his game. Kaden plays with great pace and has the quickness to blow past opposing guards in transition. In Catholic Central’s halfcourt sets, Kaden does a great job of facilitating the offense by sucking in the defense and finding his teammates for open looks. Expect Kaden’s list of college suitors to blow up this season as the Cougars compete to defend their state championship.

Max Burton, 6’10 F, Williamston 2022”

Committed to Western Michigan

Max is arguably the best shooting big on this list and can do so off the bounce and in spot-up situations. Max has a clean and consistent shooting form and doesn’t have a problem getting his shot off due to his size and length. Max has a solid post-up package due to his quick feet, good footwork, and ability to finish with both hands near the basket. Defensviely, Max erases a lot of shots with his length and does a job coming over from the weak side to take away high percentage shots. Williamston is one of the most talented teams in the state this season and should be a true contender for the Division 2 state championship thanks to athletes such as Max.

Cooper Craggs, 6’8 F, Detroit Catholic Central 2022”

Committed to Oakland University

Cooper Craggs is one of the most efficient playmakers in the state and is a guy who can score in a variety of ways, causing matchup problems for defenses on a nightly basis. The Oakland commit averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a junior, shooting 40% from 3 and 60% from the field. Standing at 6’8, 235, Cooper can bang with bigs in the post and can stretch the floor and knock down perimeter jumpers with consistency. Cooper has a high motor on both ends of the floor and makes a lot of effort plays that don’t go unnoticed.

Robert Davis Jr., 6’6 SF, Hamtramck 2022”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Eastern Michigan, Detroit Mercy, University of Denver, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts, Bryant, Central Michigan

Robert is one of the purest shooters in the 2022” class with mechanics that allow him to get his shot off in a hurry. Robert can knock down shots off the dribble and in spot-up situations. Robert’s pull-up game in the midrange stands out as a consistent plus to his game, as is his ability to find his shot off the dribble in the half-court. Standing at 6’6, Robert has the length to be a disruptor on defense, clogging passing lanes and forcing opposing guards and wings into contested shots. Expect Robert to fill up the state sheet on a consistent basis this season.

Mason Docks, 6’0 G, Williamston 2022”

Committed to University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Mason returns to Williamston after a one-season stay at Cypress Ranch High School in Houston, where he averaged 15 points and five assists per game. The playmaking point guard rejoins an already loaded Williamston team and will elevate the Hornets to legitimate contenders in Division 2. Mason is one of the quickest guards in the state with the ability to take any guard off the bounce and attack the lane. Mason is a good shooter from the perimeter and creates for others with the best of them. His in-game leadership and decision-making are qualities that jump off the tape and translate to wins in crunch time.

Jason Drake II, 6’2 G, Ferndale 2022”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Toledo, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Purdue University Fort Wayne, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Northern Illinois.

Jason has one of the most diverse offensive games as anyone on this list. He’s a guy that can stroke it from three, finish through contact in the paint, and knockdown pull-up shots in the midrange. His crafty ability to finish unorthodox shots is a trait you don’t often see as polished as his at this level. Jason has a deadly step-back jumper that he hits with consistency and a hesitation move that he uses to freeze, split, and penetrate past on-ball defenders. Jason is a proven gamer who shines on the biggest stage, which was made evident in his 27-point showing in the Division 2 State Finals a season ago.

Ja’Vaughn Hannah, 6’5 G, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 2022

Committed to Western Michigan

Western Michigan landed a top-notch recruit in Javaughn Hannah, a physical guard with elite scoring potential. Ja’Vaughn has a deadly midrange. Due to his quickness, Ja’Vaughn has a knack for getting defenders on their heels and then pulling up with a quick and clean release from 15 feet. Ja’Vaughn is one of the shiftiest guards in the 2022 class, and his ability to keep the ball on a string while changing speed and direction makes him one of the hardest ballhandlers to guard in the state. Expect Ja’Vaughn and his backcourt teammate Kareem Rozier to turn heads and fill up the stat sheet on any given night.

Jack Karasinski, 6’7 SF, Grand Rapids Catholic Central 2022”

Committed to William & Mary College

Jack is one of the more unique athletes in the 2022 class due to his ability to play multiple positions, and thrive doing so playing in both the frontcourt and out on the wing. As a junior, Jack averaged 19 points, five rebounds, and three assists per game on a loaded Grand Rapids Catholic Central team. Jack runs the floor extremely well and has the athleticism to finish plays above the rim. Jack also has great touch on his jumper from the midrange extended and is also a good passer out of the high post. Expect Jack to be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams as the Cougars look to defend their Division 2 state title this season.

Treyvon Lewis, 6’5 G, Ferndale 2022”

Committed to Loyola Chicago

Treyvon is a deadly shooter from the perimeter who excels in isolation-based sets. His ability to lull the defense to sleep, create space and knock down shots is a key to his game and Ferndale’s overall success. Treyvon also shows great vision in both transition and in the halfcourt. He does a great job of sucking in help-side defenders and finding his teammates for open looks. Defensively, Treyvon has the quickness and length to disrupt opposing ball handlers. Ferndale will be a legit contender in Division 2 thanks in large part to Treyvon and Jason Drake II.

Orlando Lovejoy, 6’3 G, Summit Academy 2022”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, University of Detroit Mercy, Mississippi Valley State, Morehouse, Long Island University.

Orlando is another player on this list that can score at a high volume on a consistent basis. Orlando plays in control, does a great job of feeling the defense and attacking weaknesses. He has a smooth pull-up jumper that he knocks down consistently in the midrange. His perimeter jumper is also a strength of his game, especially in spot-up situations. Orlando has a lanky frame that he uses effectively on both sides of the court. Expect Orlando to be near the top of the list of point scorers in the state once again this season.

Kareem Rozier, 5’10 G, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 2022”

Committed to Duquesne University

Kareem might be the most gifted pure point guard on this list and a big reason why he was one of the most sought-after recruits from the state in the 2022 class. Kareem has great vision and sets his teammates up with pin-point passes, often through crowded spaces. Kareem has a great handle and keeps defenders on their heels due to his quickness and ball control when he’s attacking downhill. Kareem can also change speeds while staying in control, leading to open shots in the midrange.

RJ Taylor, 6’0 G, Grand Blanc 2023”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Rhode Island, Oakland University, Northern Iowa, Elon, Southern Illinois.

RJ played a vital role in the Bobcats Division 1 State Title run last season, running the offense as only a sophomore. He enters his junior season as Grand Blanc’s centerpiece and should see a big leap in usage. Defensively, RJ has the quickness to pick up and pressure opposing guards full court. He plays with a level of energy that makes life hard on opposing guards. Offensively, RJ does a good job of taking what the defense gives him and doesn’t force the issue. RJ is a good facilitator and sets up his teammates well in the halfcourt.

Brady Titus, 5’10 G, Tri-Unity Christian 2022”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Bethune-Cookman, Olivet, Indiana Tech, Coastal Alabama Community College, Southwestern Michigan College, Cornerstone University.

Brady Titus went from a relatively unknown name playing for a D4 school to being one of the must-watch players in the state. Much of that is due to the tenacity that Brady plays with. Brady has one of the highest motors I’ve seen, which often translates to making life difficult for opposing point guards. Offensively, Brady has the ball on a string and can break down the defense to set himself or teammates up with clean looks. As a junior, Brady led the Defenders to a Division 4 state finals runners-up finish, leading his team with 21 points, six assists, and five steals. Expect that type of play on a consistent basis from Brady this season.

Kyler Vanderjagt, 6’4 G, Northview 2022”

Committed to Belmont University

Kyler comes into his senior season fresh off a commitment to Belmont University ready to lead a highly talented Northview team to new heights. As a junior, Kyler averaged 23 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists per game. Kyler’s combination of physical tools, athleticism, and in-game IQ is a large part of what made him a priority for several Division 1 college programs. In my opinion, Kyler’s in-game demeanor, and his ability to never get too high or too low during the flow of the game is what makes him one of the top prospects in the state’s 2022 class.

Chansey Willis Jr., 6’2 G, Detroit Martin Luther King 2022”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from University of Detroit Mercy and Sienna.

Chansey has been lighting up defenses across the state since his freshman year with pure shooting and a unique dribble-drive package that gives defenses fits. Chansey plays with a good amount of energy and always seems to be active offensively. He does a great job of controlling the pace of play when the ball is in his hands but also works effectively in the half-court without the ball. His offensive game has a natural feel to it and doesn’t appear like he has to go out of his way to make his presence felt.

Sonny Wilson, 6’0 G, University of Detroit Jesuit 2023”

Uncommitted. Holds offers from Detroit Mercy, Mississippi Valley State, Oakland University, Central Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Cleveland State, Akron, Western Michigan.

Sonny’s list of suitors continues to grow and the reasons are clear. He plays an intense brand of basketball that pops out on film. He doesn’t hesitate when he attacks the lane and seems to thrive with contact. He has good finishing skills in crowded spaces and can convert tough shots against bigger bodies. In the halfcourt, Sonny moves with a purpose and does a good job of creating driving lanes with his ballhandling. An undervalued part of his game, in my opinion, is his willingness to get after rebounds.