It's no surprise that Josh Jackson of Detroit Consortium was named Associated Press Class C basketball Player of the Year this season.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, is thought by many, if not most, to be the state's top player regardless of class.
Jackson was an AP All-State pick last season and was the lone unanimous selection this season. He'll be playing against Negaunee this afternoon in a 2:50 p.m. MHSAA Class C semifinal game at Michigan State University.
Negaunee senior Tyler Jandron drives down the floor against St. Ignace in an MHSAA Class C regional semifinal on March 10 at Marquette Senior High School. Jandron received 10 of 11 first-place votes and was named to the Associated Press Class C All-State team this morning. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
One of the players Jackson will face is Miners 6-2 senior guard Tyler Jandron, who nearly matched Jackson in the AP balloting by getting 10 of a possible 11 first-team votes.
Like Jackson, Jandron is also a repeat selection to the AP all-state team.
In addition, 5-10 senior point guard Noah Bacchus of East Jordan, the team Negaunee defeated in Tuesday's Class C quarterfinals, had nine first-team votes.
Jandron's coach, Mike O'Donnell, says it's no coincidence that the Miners have reached the quarterfinals all four of his star player's high school years.
"The big thing that jumps out at me is that he's a winner," O'Donnell said. "Obviously it shows in his record; we're something like 72-9 since he's been on the team."
Jandron was averaging 17.2 points per game through last week's regionals, making 43 percent from the field, including 50 percent on 2-pointers, and 86 percent at the free-throw line.
Even on nights he's not lighting up the scoreboard, he makes other significant contributions as he averages 4.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 steals and barely two turnovers a game. He's even found time to block a dozen shots this season.
"No. 1, he's a winner and very competitive; and No. 2, he plays at both ends of the floor," O'Donnell said. "He looks forward maybe even more to trying to stop somebody than he does to trying to score.
"That shows what a complete player he is."
Consortium coach Tobias Tuomi has some similar sentiments about his lanky sophomore who plays both forward and guard.
"He's surpassed expectations, at least by my estimation," Tuomi said. "He's more of a leader. Whereas he deferred to his teammates last year, Josh has taken more of an ownership of this team.
"He's gotten stronger over the course of the season and become an absolutely dominant rebounder. He's very unselfish and a great passer. We've seen all kinds of junk defenses, and he's figured it all out."
Jackson is averaging 28 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, four steals and four blocks.
He's being recruited by all of the top schools, including Michigan and Michigan State. On a Saturday in mid-February, both Michigan coach John Beilein and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo were in Detroit at a Consortium game - Beilein at one end of the court, Izzo at the other.
Seven other seniors were selected to the first team, including Colin Lake of Ottawa Lake Whiteford, Amariontez Ivory of Flint Beecher, Malik Taylor of Montrose, Bernard Smith of Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, Eddie Tornes of Muskegon Heights Academy, Nick Spitzley of Pewamo-Westphalia and Luke Meyer of Addison. Lake and Meyer are repeat picks.
The other underclassman to be selected is freshman Jermaine Jackson Jr., a coach's son who plays point guard for Mount Clemens, the team unanimously picked No. 1 in the final AP state poll of the season.
The Battling Bathers fell to Consortium 67-60 in a Tuesday quarterfinal. Despite being in his first year of high school, Jackson has received a handful a Division I scholarship offers and averages 18 points, seven assists and three steals.
Lake averaged 31.5 points this season and is Whiteford's all-time leading scorer. With 692 points this season, Lake also holds the single-season record. He scored 47 points in his team's 91-61 regional final loss to Consortium last week.
Meyer is a 6-10 center who signed with Central Michigan. He averaged a double-double.
Ivory, a transfer from Flint Northern after that school closed, led a balanced Beecher scoring attack by averaging 15 points, and Spitzley is a versatile 6-2 wing who averages 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Del Stewart of Muskegon Heights Academy was selected Class C Coach of the Year. In his second season, Stewart has guided his team to today's early semifinal at MSU against Pewamo-Westphalia. Not blessed with much height, Muskegon Heights is a team that excels in transition.