Scouting Jon Horford and The Ray McCallum Show

Dylan Burkhardt

I made the journey up to Lansing to take in the Mr. Basketball Classic at Lansing Eastern High School. It was a great event and there was plenty of talent on the floor. The games I caught included Grand Ledge vs. Lansing Eastern, Saginaw vs. Kalamazoo Central, and Detroit Country Day vs. Pershing.

Scouting information on Jon Horford, Ray McCallum, Keith Appling, and others after the jump.

The draw for this Wolverine blogger was obviously to check out Jon Horford. The Grand Ledge senior has quickly risen up Michigan’s recruiting board with the injury of Ben Cronin and need for big men on the future roster.

Horford has been the man for Grand Ledge this season, averaging 24 points per game and routinely putting up double digit rebounding totals. Sadly, Horford and his surrounding cast were no match for LaDontae Henton’s Lansing Eastern squad.

Eastern cruised to a 89-67 victory over Horford’s Grand Ledge team that was outmatched in terms of size and athleticism at just about every position besides the 5.

Jon Horford got a decent number of touches but as really the only option for Grand Ledge he was typically swarmed by multiple defenders. He finished the game with 19 points and was pretty clearly outplayed by Eastern’s LaDontae Henton.

There is plenty to like about Horford’s game. He moves well for a big man and looks very comfortable in the post. Despite being double teamed he had a couple nice spin moves when he got the ball cleanly on the box. He also showed very nice touch finishing around the hoop. He also did a very good job passing out of double teams and finding open shooters (even if they weren’t making shots). Judging by his track record and comments, it’s clear that Beilein is fond of players that can pass the ball at every position on the court.

But at the end of the day he just doesn’t “wow” you like you would expect a high-major big man to. He got ripped of several rebounds and doesn’t appear to be a tremendous shot blocker, despite being the tallest player on the court. He is very slender from the mid-section down and had to pull up his shorts after about every play. Horford’s shooting form is also screwy and will certainly get some attention once he is playing for a division 1 coach.

At the end of the day, Horford is an intriguing prospect with all of these tools that he is just waiting to put together. If it all clicks, he has the potential to be a very good player. At this point, he seems like a good fit for Michigan on a roster that has so few big men. There isn’t much left in the class of 2010 and in Michigan’s situation it just seems to make sense.

Next up was Saginaw versus Kalamazoo Central (without Devin Oliver, foot injury). Saginaw won the helter skelter uptempo game that looked more like football at times.

The opening games were fun but the finale was worth the price of admission by itself. The Detroit Country Day and Pershing game matched up two of the best guards in the state, Keith Appling (MSU commit) and Ray McCallum (final four of Detroit, Arizona, Florida, and UCLA), and they certainly brought their A-games. (DCD ’11 big man Amir Williams was on crutches, recovering from a knee injury)

The stats point to a draw with McCallum scoring 24 points to Appling’s 22 but I have to give the victory to Ray McCallum, the senior point guard simply put on a show in the third quarter.

Appling started out slowly, allowing Country Day to build up a 20 point lead. But then he started heating up, hitting three pointers and scoring in transition to ignite a Pershing run. The Doughboys managed to cut the DCD lead to three with two minutes to play in the third quarter. Then came the Ray McCallum show. McCallum went straight at Appling and scored 10 straight points, bringing the crowd to their feet with every bucket.

McCallum did it all, he busted out an array of crossovers, finishes, and spin moves that left everyone oohing and aahing. Then to close out the half he crossed-up Appling and hit a step back three pointer. DCD never looked back.

Give credit to both kids though, they put on a hell of a show and are clearly two of the best players in the state. So often these type of match-ups are more about hype than substance. Today, both kids had their moments even if McCallum got the last laugh.

Other Notes

Keith Appling (2010, SG/PG, Pershing, MSU Commit)

Appling is a hell of a player. I would call him a combo guard because even though he has a scorer’s mentality, he needs the ball in his hands. He hit a couple three pointers but he can really do his damage driving the lane. His best move of the night was an inside-out dribble in transition that led to a smooth layup. Appling certainly doesn’t look big but he’s strong going to the hole and can finish with contact. To Appling’s credit, Country Day was in a zone for much of the game which I assume was to attempt to minimize the damage that Appling could create. Appling was matched up with McCallum for most of the game and looks to be a terrific defender, something that will fit in perfectly in East Lansing. He ripped McCallum twice in the fourth quarter, including on a fast break.

LaDontae Henton (2011, SF/PF, Lansing Eastern). “Buckets” is a great high school player. He’s big and strong and knows how to score the ball. He shouldered the load for Lansing Eastern, scoring around 27 points but the problem is where does he project at the next level. Not fast enough to play the wing and not big enough to play down low.

Charles Tucker (2013, PG, Lansing Eastern). The freshman point guard is already garnering buzz as one of the top freshman in the state and he certainly has the handle to back it up. He had some great drives and dishes and controlled the game for Eastern but his jump shot needs work.

Tommy McCune (2011, SF, Saginaw High). McCune is an intriguing player. He has a great combination of size (looked all of his listed 6’7 at least) and skill. McCune was forced to play in the post quite a bit but he doesn’t really have much back to the basket game. His length and athleticism got him to a number of putbacks and easy buckets down the stretch that allowed Saginaw to pull away. He also isn’t quite comfortable enough with his handle to put the ball on the floor (although the game was a mess in terms of style of play, turnovers, and just plain sloppiness). Despite searching for his role, McCune’s combination of size, skill, and shooting ability certainly makes him one to watch.

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  • Tremendous reporting, thanks. Just doesn’t seem–after 3 (4?) years–that Michigan is in the running for the top-caliber players, though. Disappointing.

  • Tweeter

    What about Ziegler Mattski? I would say that we are in the running for him. Smotrycz is ranked 52 by rivals, that aint to bad. Also, Mike Gilchrist and Quincy Miller have us on their radar for next year, though both would be a stretch. The bottom line is that this team had and has a lot to overcome in terms of building the program. Although Amaker brought in some decent classes early on, go look at the last several classes. There were really only one top player in D Sims in the classes from ’04 on.

    Coming off such a bad stretch, this program is not just going to go out and bring in another fab 5. They need to establish winning, a style of play, build up the facilities, then kids will want to come play here. Once that has been shown, if UM is still not getting some “top players,” then we can be disappointed.

  • I was there yesterday. Horford supporting cast is weak. I would like to see him play with better players. I agree with Dylan analysis. He could help us down the road but won’t be an instant impact player IMHO.

  • Riz

    I use to live in Lansing Michigan and played alongside Ladentae Henton in middle school at Dwight Rich Junior High. He had great size back than and its real nice to see him mentioned around here. I believe he can play the 3 at the three if he adds quickness to his game. Would love to see him at UM though. :)

  • Pleased about Smotrycz, but when Beilein snagged him he was rated much lower, iirc. And I thought that Zeigler was showing up at all the State games, looking unlikely. Don’t mean to bellyache too much. . .

  • ToBlav

    I can’t pretend to know anything about it but if Zeigler goes to A2 it’s a two hour drive home, Breslin is only an hour. It is possible that it’s just a lot easier to see a Big Ten game that way and it has no reflection on any lean toward one team.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    I have to think that a Horford in the hand is worth a Zeigler in the bush.

  • Dylan

    Michigan has room for both.

  • intrpdtrvlr

    Do they, Dylan? Remind me as a visiting MSU fan (because you do a great job), sorry, is it a maximum of two more in 2010 and that would leave one more for 2011?
    Anyway, I think Horford would be a great grab for UM. He has major potential.

    I don’t say this to be obnoxious but if I were a UM fan, I’d worry that Zeigler is slipping away.

  • Dylan

    With Cronin likely done for his career Michigan has some flexibility. They have two to give this year and if they use both they would have one additional for 2011 to go along with Brundidge.

    Sorry for any typing errors I’m on my phone

  • W3

    Mattski…We are right there for Zeigler. Him showing up for an MSU game dosent mean anything except he has intrest.

    He has been on campus MANY times, more then any other school on his list.

    It depends what happens with his Dad.

  • W3

    Morris top100
    Vogrich top100
    Smotrycz top50
    Hardaway top 100
    Brundidge top50-75

    Going after
    Zeigler top 25
    Plumlee top 25-50
    Zeller top50
    Williams top50-75

    What do you want after a decade of hell?

  • With Manny looking like a late 1st round, early 2nd round pick what do you think are the chances that he stays for his senior year? I don’t feel like him staying in Ann Arbor for another year is going to help his draft stock all that much. It can’t hurt (unless he gets injured) but I don’t know how much higher his ceiling is.

  • RewertsSpartan

    Excellent stuff Dylan, thanks for putting this piece up. I don’t get a chance to watch the high school kids very often so seeing something like this is great. Buckets is a hell of a player and I’m sure he will find a spot to play at the next level, maybe in green and white. I would love to see Zeigler end up in the Breslin, but with The 5-star stud Adrian Payne joining 4-stars Byrd and Appling next year, I’m not sure if Trey will want to come along also. Must remember that Lucious has 2 more years also. I’m sure Izzo will make room for him if he decides he wants to join though.

  • There’s no way Manny goes in the first round.

    As for Henton, he just doesn’t look athletic enough to be an impact player in a major conference. He missed two dunks in that game for God’s sake.

    He’s probably a victim of the hype machine. I could see him being a good mid-major player, which is a far cry from the hype during his freshman season.

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  • d

    i haven’t seen one player or team that was able to shut henton down all season. henton has played a major role in every game he has ever played since elementry i see him getting better and better every year he is definitly one of the greatest lansing has ever seen

  • Rob

    W3, with all due respect, Coach B’s recruiting is still mediocre at best. He’s not getting any better players than Tommy A was and the results show it. A team based on outside shooting with no inside game and no rebounding will never be much more than a spoiler. For all the talk about what he accomplished at WV, it took Huggins one year (scumbag that he is and I do NOT want his type of players!) to create a better team. He didn’t consistently make the tournament, either.

    Smotrycz: #80 on ESPN/Scouts, #52 on Rivals, not a bad fit at all, but read the comments, can’t create his own shot. Yes, more years of our big men shooting outside and Michigan not scoring down low and getting outrebounded all season long…
    Hardaway Jr.: #92 on ESPN/Scouts, not exactly elite…
    Vogrich: Not Top 100; #137 by Rivals, can’t find ranking by Scout but #20 SG there, so borderline Top 100 at best.
    Morris: #77 by Rivals, #20 PG by Scout, fine, will still be a good player when Manny’s done jacking up 5-10 dumb shots a game.

    Zeller isn’t even among the Top 60 prospects for 2011, doesn’t seem to have any interest in Michigan (not one of the five schools listed), and his game doesn’t fit the program, either. I’ve seen Amir Williams play four times and he’s talented, but extremely lazy, with a slow motor. Benefits by playing with a great PG and isn’t a great fit for B’s system. Could be a star in the right system, but it isn’t Michigan, where big men playing down low are superfluous.

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  • i think we can use horford,zeigler,and mccallum all three would give us a big boost and can see admediate playing time……….. They can be the fab 3 from michigan…………..all three are very good and michigan needs them.

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