May 2, 2009

Honigford, Appling lead teams on Day 1 at Spiece

FORT WAYNE - In 16-and-under action during the first day of the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-n-Slam All-Star classic, Michigan State recruiting target Paul Honigford helped Ohio Basketball Club to a double-digit victory over Terry Porter (Wis.) Elite, Friday at Carroll High School.

Honigford, often ranked among the top three front-liners in Ohio for the class of 2011, gained a lot of interest from Michigan State last summer and through the fall. It remains to be seen what becomes of Michigan State recruiting at the power forward position for the near term after Thursday's commitment from 2010 prospect Alex Gauna of Eaton Rapids.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-7 Honigford will continue to do his thing and try to attract major college interest. Michigan State talked scholarship with him last year. Meanwhile, Honigford said Xavier, Ohio State and West Virginia have been showing interest. Penn State is also getting into the fray, as well as mid-majors.

"I've been to football games at Ohio State, basketball games at West Virginia, been to Xavier to watch basketball games," Honigford said. "Michigan State is four-and-a-half hours a way so it's harder to get up there."

Coaches are not allowed to call players at this time of year, but Honigford touched based with Michigan States recently.

"We called Michigan State a couple of weeks ago and talked a little bit," Honigford said.

It will be interesting to see where Honigford is on MSU's recruiting radar as scholarship slots begin to dwindle in East Lansing. Coaches are not allowed on the road to evaluate players until July 5, thus it is difficult to track who the coaches are watching and interesting in.

The Spartans have three commitments for the 2010 class in wing shooter Russell Byrd, combo guard [Keith Appling,[/db] and Gauna. Meanwhile, intriguing 2010 prospects remains uncommitted, such as combo wing Trey Zeigler of Mount Pleasant and power forward Jon Horford of Grand Ledge. It's conceivable that Michigan State could load up in 2010 recruiting and go thin in 2011.

Honigford, of Sugar Creek, Ohio, averaged just over 15 points per game at Garaway High School as a sophomore this season.

On Friday, Honigford had seven points, including an early 3-pointer from the right corner.

He played in the middle of 3-2 and 1-3-1 zones for an Ohio Basketball Club squad that has a chance to advance deep into Sunday's final rounds of the 16-and-under bracket.

"Paul's shot has gotten a lot better," said OBC head coach Ken Taylor. "It is more consistent. He has to work on his footspeed and a little bit more on his ball handling. You dont know what position he would play at the next level; right now he is 6-8 and a half with his shoes on. He is like a tweener. He is not a power forward really. He is more like a three and then a four. In a high-low offense, he could do real well. His ball handling in the open court is probably what he is working on.

"What he has improved on in the past year is he has gotten stronger and his shot."

It was a bit difficult for Honigford to show all of his skills on Friday, with the 10:30 pm starting time. The game ended close to midnight, more than 19 hours after his alarm clock went off to get ready for Friday classes at Garaway High.

A couple of Honigford's AAU teammates didn't seem bothered by the late schedule.

  • Cincinnati commitment Chane Behanan had a powerful performance for OBC. At 6-foot-7, 235, he is built like the high school version of former MSU banger Aloysius Anagonye, but Behanan (of Cincinnati Aiken High) is much more fluid than Anagonye, and quicker off his feet. He is predator. Cincinnati has a good one in Behanan. If he grows another inch, he could go from role-playing athlete to potential star.

  • Lead guard Jevon Clark (6-0, Canton Timken) and point guard Stevie Taylor (5-9, Gahanna Lincoln) are ranked among the top five in guards in Ohio for the Class of 2011. Taylor played the point when Honigford was on the court. Then the OBC made a wholesale five-man shift at the midway point of each quarter, and put a team on the floor that had Clark at the point, with Behanan at power forward.

    Taylor is hearing from all of the MACs, St. Joseph's and James Madison.

    Clark is hearing from Kentucky, Dayton, Wisconsin and Xavier.

    "Jevon doesn't have any offers yet but he is probably going to get one quick because he is really good," Taylor said.

    Chase Fisher, who played shooting guard when Honigford was on the court, is committed to Marshall.

    Strong team. Michigan State hasn't shown interest in these players, other than Honigford. We mention them because ... well, we were in the gym, a few miles from the Spiece Fieldhouse tournament headquarters.

    As for players of MSU interest, Appling and the Michigan Mustangs beat Indiana Select, 68-67 in the opening round of pool play in the 17-and-under division, Friday on the IPFW campus. His current AAU teammate and future MSU teammate Gauna did not make the trip to Fort Wayne with the Mustangs. Horford also is absent.

    At the same hour in the opening round of pool play, Byrd and Spiece Indy Heat dropped a 90-85 decision to loaded Seattle Rotary. Byrd had six points. He had a 3-pointer waved off due to an offensive foul away from the ball ... Byrd had the opportunity to guard 6-foot-4 Tony Wroten,'s No. 2-ranked player for the class of 2011. Byrd stood his ground in man-to-man against Wroten. Wroten was highly-impressive at times, with 11 points. But Byrd acquitted himself well against a guy who may be one-and-done at the college level in two years ... Byrd's AAU teammate DeShaun Thomas had 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Josh Smith, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center ranked No. 1 in the class of 2010 by, unofficially had 30 points.

    Byrd's Spiece Indy Heat team will play at 8 a.m. on Saturday against Illinois Old School, and then round out pool play at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday against the West Michigan Lakers. Both games are at the Spiece Fieldhouse, which is regarded as the top grassroots basketball facility in the Midwest, and perhaps the country. It is two hours from East Lansing, straight down I-69 ... Thirty-two teams will advance to single-elimination bracket play at 5 p.m. on Saturday, with Byrd's Spiece team likely to finish second in the pool and play at the IPFW campus.

    Appling's Michigan Mustangs team will play at 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Indiana Tech. They will face the Wisconsin Force at 8 a.m., and the Peoria Irish at 12:30 p.m.

  • There has been some chatter that Michigan State is trying to get into the Adreian Payne sweepstakes. Payne (6-10, 215) is ranked the No. 2 center for the class of 2010, and No. 10 overall. He has been quiet about his favorites, with Dayton, Xavier and Cincinnati regarded as being in the running. will look into the Payne chase this weekend. Payne will be playing for star-studded All-Ohio Red, which is led by Ohio State commitment Jared Sullinger, who is ranked No. 3 in 2010. All-Ohio Red won last month's Boo Williams NIKE Invitational in Virginia and is a favorite this weekend in Fort Wayne.

  • PARALLEL 45: Keep an eye out for 2012 post player Sean Sheldon of Traverse City St. Francis, who is playing for Petoskey-based Parallel 45. The 6-foot-6 freshman played strong against Spiece Indy Heat-Downs 6-foot-9 Travis Carroll, a Purdue commitment who is ranked No. 66 in the Class of 2010.

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