Select area high school basketball players attend Reaching Higher today downstate

Westwood’s Madelyn Koski, left, has her shot contested by Negaunee’s Abby Nelson during their Class C district girls basketball tournament game played at Ishpeming High School on Feb. 28. Both players are scheduled to attend the Reaching Higher initiative downstate today. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Five high school basketball players from the area — all from Marquette County — will be the among representatives from the Upper Peninsula at the Reaching Higher showcases to be held in the greater Detroit area today.

Senior-to-be Marius Grazulis of Marquette Senior High School will be joined by four girls players — juniors Madelyn Koski and Tessa Leece of Westwood and seniors Abby Nelson of Negaunee and Avery Ledy of Marquette — at Milford High School.

As of June 25, they are the main part of the contingent of seven U.P. players and more than 200 athletes from around the state who have aspirations to play collegiately.

The boys starting in the morning and the girls beginning in the afternoon will train and scrimmage under the tutelage of high school coaches from around the state and in front of college coaches who represent NCAA, NAIA and junior college programs, according to a news release from the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

The intent of the program is to give these athletes a vision of what it takes to become a college basketball player and also succeed in college life.

Marquette's Marius Grazulis, right, puts up a layup against the defense of Escanaba's Peyton Fedell in their high school boys basketball game played at the Redmen gym on Feb. 8. Grazulis is scheduled to attend the Reaching Higher initiative downstate today. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

It’s an effort put forth by the MHSAA and Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.

It includes classroom sessions for student-athletes and their parents as well as on-court drills and scrimmaging.

This ninth edition of the program has become an annual event, though it went on hiatus in 2017.

Participants were chosen by a committee of BCAM members based on nominations by its member coaches. The full list is available on the MHSAA website at www.mhsaa.com/sports/girls-basketball/reaching-higher.

Boys begin their day at 11 am. with scrimmages from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Girls open their program at 3 p.m. with scrimmages from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Marquette's Avery Ledy, front left, pulls the ball away in a high school girls basketball game played at Kingsford on Feb. 9. Ledy is scheduled to attend the Reaching Higher initiative downstate today. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Burt Angeli)

Boys session speakers include Travis Bader, who was a standout at Okemos High School and Oakland University who played professionally last season in Greece.

For the girls, speakers include Crystal Bradford, who starred at Inkster High and Central Michigan and was selected in the first round of the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Last season, she played as a pro in Israel.

Also speaking to both groups will be longtime coach Dave Ginsberg about social media and the recruiting process.

He’s coached at a number of state high schools and also was an assistant men’s coach at CMU for 16 years and currently serves as secretary-treasurer of the National High School Basketball Coaches Association.

Conducting sessions with parents while the players practice and drill will be longtime high school and college coach Marc Comstock, currently boys basketball coach at Hudson High School, and recently retired Saginaw Valley State University athletic director Mike Watson.

Westwood's Tessa Leece gestures to teammates after intercepting an Ishpeming pass with time running down and the Patriots up three points in a high school girls basketball game played Jan. 26 at Westwood. Leece is scheduled to attend the Reaching Higher initiative downstate today. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.