Michigan will host a number of big time basketball visitors for Sunday's Big Ten title match-up with Indiana, including all three class of 2013 signees. Those notes and more heading into a potential championship weekend …
The Sunday Visitors List was already impressive, and more could join them. Two of the three '13s, meanwhile, are still playing, trying to help their teams to state titles.
One who isn't - Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern's Zakarie Irvin. The 6-6 standout, Rivals.com's No. 47 senior nationally, played well in the first round of the 4A playoffs, scoring 29 points and adding 10 rebounds (including two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation), but it wasn't enough. Southeastern lost a 15-point, third quarter lead and dropped the game, 78-68.
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"It's a special team that worked so hard and could have made a run," Southeastern coach Brian Satterfield told the Indianapolis Star, while Irvin fought through tears.
"After [Eric] Gordon, he's the best high school basketball player I've ever seen," North Central coach Doug Mitchell said. "That guy is unreal. The way he can handle the ball and create shots - he's tireless. He's going to make a lot of money some day playing the game."
Irvin is a top contender for the Hoosier State's Mr. Basketball Award. He scored 20 points in the second half to lead Hamilton Southeastern to a win over Lafayette Jefferson in his last regular season game.
It's better news for Whitehouse (Ohio) Anthony Wayne big man Mark Donnal and his squad. Anthony Wayne defeated Findlay 64-51 to capture a Division I sectional title behind Donnal's 18 points; Donnal then notched 20 points, including three triples, and 11 rebounds in a 58-54 over rival Perrysburg in a district semifinal Thursday night.
The 6-10 signee, Rivals.com's No. 106 senior nationally, knocked down a pair of triples in the first half, the second staking Anthony Wayne to a 26-15 lead. He also blocked a shot that would have cut the lead to three with just over two minutes left to play.
"Luckily tonight, we were four points better," head coach Bryan Borcherdt told the Toledo Blade. "I knew when we got a lead we needed to expand it because they don't go away quietly, and they never do."
Donnal finished with nine points and eight rebounds in a 58-52 win over Maumee in late Feb., his last regular season game, that clinched an outright Northern Lakes League championship, the school's first since 1998. He fought through double teams all night to help lead the win and has averaged 18.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game this season.
Harper Woods (Mich.) Chandler Park Academy's Derrick Walton Jr. is also playing, and also one of five finalists for Michigan's Mr. Basketball award given to the top senior. He scored 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished 11 assists and added five steals in a 78-56 win over Bradford Academy to win the Charter School Conference. He opened district play with 25 points in a blowout win of South Lake and followed up with 21 points and a nine rebounds in a 91-50, Class B win over Center Line March 6.
The 6-0 Walton is No. 47 nationally. McDonald's All-America James Young of Rochester, Kahlil Felder of Detroit Pershing, Dontel Highsmith of Dowagiac and Monte Morris of Flint Beecher join him as Mr. Basketball finalists. The winner will be announced March 18.
Michigan class of 2015 target Luke Kennard (6-5) checks in at No. 32 in Rivals.com's initial class of 2015 rankings, and he's picking up interest. He'll unofficially visit North Carolina this weekend for its game with Duke.
Kennard went toe-to-toe with HCYA, 6-8 standout and former U-M target Justin Jackson last month and more than held his own, scoring 31 points.
"I had heard of him, but I hadn't met him or anything," Jackson told the Middletown Journal. "He was as good as I heard - no, better. He's a great all-around player and he can really shoot. He's a guy who keeps you on your heels."
An outstanding Dayton Dunbar squad that won the Division II tournament last year recently bounced Franklin in the state tournament. Kennard had 16 first-half points and "quickly served notice that Dunbar couldn't stop him," the Journal reported.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys," Franklin coach Brian Bales said. "We come up on a losing end, but I'll take these guys in the Franklin jerseys any day of the week."
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