Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My 1st visit to the Detroit Public School System

With Michigan not having a game this weekend, the paper wants me to right a feature for Monday's paper. And I figured it was about time I wrote something on Alex Legion and Manny Harris, you know since I write about guys on this year's team all the time. So yesterday I made my way to Detroit Redford High School to watch Manny Harris play in a big time matchup with Detroit renaissance. And let me tell you, this kid Manny Harris is the real deal.

To put it in context, Renaissance is like the perennial power in the PSL (Public School League) and the PSL consistently gets atleast one team to the state semifinals every year. Renaissance featured this guy Karl Williams who is just a junior but already might be the best player in the state. Amaker wants him, Izzo would give a dude a blow job to sign him, and even Roy Williams has made his way up from Chapel Hill to recruit this kid. But yesterday, Corpperyale "Manny" Harris was THE BEST player on the court. In what amounted to the biggest game of his senior season, the kid put up 37 points, dished out 12 assists and for good measure added 11 boards. Now that's what I call a triple double. So after the game I had just one question for him: why did you choose Michigan over Wisco, Michigan State, and Clemson among others. And of course he gave me the protocol answer of staying close to home.

My thoughts on the kid are pretty high right now judging from the performance I saw yesterday. Redford, where Manny plays, is actually the same high school as Dion Harris even though they aren't related. And during the game I happened to be sitting by some of Dion's old teammates so I asked them: Who was better in high school? Of course, all of them answered Dion and the reason they gave was that Dion had better teammates so he didn't need to score as much. But having watched both myself...this kid Manny is definitely better. Renaissance played zone all game yet the kid still found his way into the lane time and time again. And he passes too. He could've had 50 but dished the ball for easy layups instead. And the best part is that he's 6-foot-5 and can play the point alongside Legion next year. When Renaissance finally got out of the zone at the end of the game Manny promptly did this on successive possessions:
1) Broke down his man along the baseline for a huge tomahawk (watch highlights of DeShawn Stevenson of the Wiz against the 'Stons last night for a good parallel of how huge this dunk was.
2) Crossed his man up and then pulled up for a medium range J
3) Banked in a 3-pointer but since he was on my side of the floor I heard him call it. Oh man that was straight baller.
4) Steals the ball and goes coast to coast for a huge dunk — gets a tech for hanging on the rim

Rob Parker of the Detroit News even went to the game, and felt compelled to write an entire column about Manny

Impressive; that's all I can say.

But did I mention I went to this game. Not to start anything here, but I was literally one of two white people in the gym. The other was this guy Abe, one of the most interesting people I've ever met. He's like a 60-year old who teaches at another Detroit public school, and the guy claims to have been watching Detroit area basketball since the 1960s. And here's a direct statement by him about our great coach Amaker:

"I saw Lester Abram and Dion Harris in high school. Those two haven't improved one bit since their senior seasons of high school. And that Sims kid from Boston hasn't improved one bit since the first time I saw him freshman year. What the hell is going on over there at your school? Are they blind about how bad their coach is? You have so many smart people on one campus, yet you may have the dumbest people running your athletic department."

I've been real busy all week with this feature, but because of it I've got some cool stuff to put up here on the blog when I get a chance. This morning I talked to Jerry Meyer, the senior recruiting expert at, so I'll probably post a transcript once I type it out. Man, just thinking about all the stuff I saw simply going to place I would never imagine going to is unbelievable. Redford High, considered one of the better public schools in Detroit, is an absolute dump. It's no wonder half the kids drop out. The AD there was telling me that most of the kids only come to school because the basketball team is good. And since Abe seemed to know so much about the high school basketball scene, I asked him how many of the kids on the court had D-1 potential. His answer:

"If you include MAC schools, probably 6 or 7, but the rest will probably go to jail, not to mention out of that 6 or 7 atleast half won't make it through two years at whatever school they go to. These kids here (in Detroit) don't realize what they are missing. But it's also our fault. Look at this school, does it look like the public high school you went to in Potomac?" (of course the dude knew where Potomac was, so it was a dead giveaway for my wealthy background).

And to be honest the place was definitely subpar. They start the basketball games at 4pm because no one, even the people who love there, want to be outside in that part of Detroit once nightfall hits. To add onto that, I found myself checking my watch once the game ended because as much as I hate to say it, I didn't want to be there once it was nighttime. But it's good to see a kid like Manny — who according to his parents has a 4.0 and has been on the honor roll his whole life — will get a chance to get out of the 'hood and see where it takes him. By the way, did I mention how sick this kid is at basketball?

Oh yeah, forgot to talk about Michigan playing Iowa tonight at Crisler, and I'm going to use maybe the most overused phrase in sports: This one is a must win.

This was the illest dunk of DeShawn's I could find.
Last night, both Manny and Deshawn had sicker jams.
Neither were poster material like this one.

No comments: