PLYMOUTH – The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan recently celebrated its 42nd year – and starting Jan. 1, BCAM will welcome just its fourth executive director.
Tom Hursey, 74, will step down as executive director and hand the gavel over to Dan Young, Hursey’s assistant since 2010.
Young, 50, has been on the BCAM Board of Directors since 1999 and a BCAM member since 1994. He was a boys varsity head coach for 15 years spread over three schools and most recently coached the girls program at Salem (2016-18). He also coaches the boys and girls golf teams at Plymouth.
BCAM got its start in the early 1970s when Hursey, then the boys varsity head coach at Midland High; Ron Vondette, then the boys varsity coach at Carrollton; and other coaches in the Midland-Saginaw area formed the Mid-Michigan Basketball Coaches Association. Hursey and Vondette quickly learned that coaches throughout the state were interested in forming an association, and in 1976 the Michigan High School Basketball Coaches Association was formed. Seven years later, the name changed to what it is known as today – BCAM.
The goal of BCAM and its members is simple – to improve and help the sport grow at all levels.
But the challenges Young faces are quite different from those Hursey confronted when he became executive director in 1997. College recruiting has intensified over the past 20 years, and student-athletes transferring from one high school to another also has become more of a concern for BCAM and the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
In addition, Young said there are other topics his association is currently addressing.
“The buzz right now is seeding,” Young said. “And there’s a committee looking at adding two more games to the season, over the holidays (teams are currently limited to 20 regular season games). Tom and I will meet with (a representative from) the MHSAA to discuss the June camps.”
Though just in its preliminary stages, BCAM, in cooperation with the MHSAA, is seriously considering sponsoring a one-day camp for the top players in the state regardless of class. This is in response to the recommendations made last April by a commission led by Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State, to aid college coaches in the recruitment of student-athletes. Simply put, the NCAA is attempting to limit how much influence AAU basketball has on the recruitment of high school students, and thereby allow high school coaches to have more influence over their players.
These camps, like the MHSAA/BCAM-sponsored Reaching Higher, allow a large number of players, often more than 100, to receive coaching from high school coaches with college coaches in the gym to evaluate. These also feature speakers who address topics such as entrance tests and what it takes to succeed at the next level, academically and athletically.
Young said the next version could be a two-day event, but he does have some concerns.
“We don’t want to disrupt team camps,” he said. “We’d like to run it with the culture of a team camp. It’s still in its early stages, but I think we’d like to get the top 100 or so players, those that are Division I type of players, and have coaches like (Michigan State coach) Tom Izzo, (Michigan coach) John Beilein, Greg Kampe from Oakland and others be there. Maybe it’ll lasts eight hours. Maybe six. We’d have guest speakers, too.
“It’s possible we’d only invite 60 or 70. We’d take the seniors being recruited by Division I schools, as well as the juniors and sophomores.”
The camp discussion is an example of why the transition is sure to be a smooth one. Hursey and Young are of one mind on the vast majority of issues BCAM faces. Though a generation apart, they see eye-to-eye on matters of importance. They discuss which battles should be fought and those they should avoid.
In many ways the transition is similar to that which took place within the MHSAA recently with Mark Uyl taking over for Jack Roberts as executive director. Uyl, 25 years Roberts’ junior, has stated that Roberts has left a legacy, and that he hopes to follow up on that legacy.
“Now that Mark Uyl has taken over, like Dan, a new generation has taken over,” Hursey said.
Hursey and Young are hoping seeding will be introduced within the boys and girls tournaments in the next year or two.
On the subject of transfers, Hursey and Young support the new rule instituted by the MHSAA, which states, in part, that a student who transfers will be ineligible for one full school year at the new school in any sports she or he participated in the previous year at the former school (but eligible immediately in all other sports).
Another concern with regard to transfers is the increasing numbers of top-level players leaving the state and enrolling at prep schools, like Findley Prep in Nevada and others. The most recent top player is Mark “Rocket” Watts who left Old Redford Academy in Detroit and is now enrolled at Spire Academy in Ohio. Watts was considered one of the top candidates for the Mr. Basketball Award, sponsored by BCAM.
Beyond educating players and coaches, and possibly parents, Hursey and Young say there’s little they can do from preventing parents from taking their child out of state.
“It’s a sign of the times,” Hursey said. “Dan and I met with Izzo and we talked for two hours about this. Izzo opened our eyes about it. Take the Old Redford (student). They offer him a beautiful dorm to live in, three square meals and the chance to travel around the country. How are we supposed to compete with that? Izzo said they’re playing 30-to-40 games but that only 10 or so are against the best teams. Those are the ones you see on TV.
“There are a lot of positives for staying with your high school. There’s a lot to be said about high school sports being played at a certain level. And there’s nothing like a Friday night basketball game played in front of 2,000 fans and the place rocking. We just have to keep with what we’re doing. We have to educate the coaches. Some of these fly-by-night operations don’t concentrate on the academic part of school. Yeah, we might lose some of our best players, but there are a lot of good players in this state and there still is great basketball being played. This is not just happening in Michigan. We met with the National (High School) Basketball Coaches Association. It’s a problem throughout the country. How can we compete with millionaires?”
Young said BCAM will continue to do what it does best, and that’s to serve coaches throughout the state and promote and help to improve the game through its many clinics and camps. The website, www.bcam.org, has been improved and updated recently, and provides members and nonmembers alike valuable information.
Tom Markowski is a correspondent for the State Champs! Sports Network and previously directed its web coverage. He also covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at email@example.com with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Incoming BCAM executive director Dan Young speaks during an event. (Middle) Young and longtime BCAM executive director Tom Hursey, far right, with University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein. (Photos courtesy of Dan Young.)
We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA boys basketball season – and while the entertaining part is detailed below in our regular Monday report, there’s some major data crunching underway behind the scenes as well.
Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. More than 720 varsity teams are playing this winter, and we’re in the midst of a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 24-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.
Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – and when Districts are drawn and those top teams seeded Feb. 26, we hope to have every schedule up to date and every score filled in.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. North Farmington 68, Muskegon 55 These two have lived at or near the top of Division 1 MPR all season, making this win by the Raiders (12-1) at the 2K23 Showcase at Aquinas College arguably their best, especially considering it also was the first loss for the Big Reds (13-1).
2. Saline 57, Ann Arbor Huron 47 The Hornets (11-4) saw an eight-game winning streak end three days later, but in this one handed Huron (13-1) its lone defeat of the season.
3. Ann Arbor Huron 67, Benton Harbor 55 The River Rats, meanwhile, rebounded immediately with a 13-point win over Dexter and then a 67-55 victory over Benton Harbor (13-3) at Aquinas.
4. Warren Lincoln 52, Grand Rapids Northview 37 The Abes (12-3) just keep impressing, this time with a big win over a Northview team matching their 12-3 record, also during the 2K23 Showcase.
5. Iron Mountain 64, Powers North Central 58 This matched arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively, with the Mountaineers moving to 13-1 and the Jets to 11-2.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) The Cubs have won outright or shared the last two Detroit Catholic League Central championships, and they’re hoping to run that streak to three by winning Friday’s rematch with first-place Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1). A 68-53 defeat to the Warriors on Jan. 24 and a 67-64 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 6 have left Jesuit a game back, but the Cubs do have a sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate plus early impressive nonleague wins over Clarkston and Ferndale.
Kalamazoo Central (13-2) After just missing the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago – losing to Northview by two in a Quarterfinal – the Maroon Giants are ahead of their 16-win pace from that finish with their only losses to Brother Rice and Battle Creek Lakeview (11-3), the latter by a point. They also defeated Lakeview in the teams’ first meeting, handed Mattawan its only loss and most recently defeated Detroit Renaissance at the 2K23 event.
Ferndale (7-6) Few if any have played a tougher schedule, especially considering Ferndale is Division 2 playing most of the Division 1 powers. The Eagles are No. 5 in Division 2 MPR despite a 1-5 start including losses to Brother Rice, Jesuit, St. Mary’s and Muskegon, and then a two-point loss to North Farmington last week. Meanwhile, Ferndale has defeated Grosse Pointe South (13-3), Flint Beecher (12-3), Clarkston (11-5) and River Rouge (10-5). The North Farmington rematch is Feb. 24, and a Feb. 11 matchup with Port Huron Northern should also boost MPR.
Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) The Eagles may be in fourth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but they are No. 6 in Division 2 MPR. Three of the four losses were to league opponents, but Christian is coming off a 55-53 double-overtime win over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) on Saturday at Aquinas. An early win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a Jan. 21 victory over De La Salle also stand out.
Flint Beecher (12-3) The Bucs are off to another big start after last season’s finish at the Division 3 Semifinals, losing only to Detroit Cass Tech (17-0), Benton Harbor and Ferndale as Beecher also has loaded up its nonleague schedule. Beecher also has four wins over teams with double-digit victories, with an 80-71 defeat of Flint Hamady (14-2) on Jan. 10 putting the Bucs in first in the Genesee Area Conference Red. The Hamady rematch is Feb. 18, before a major regular-season finish against Goodrich (13-1) and Grand Blanc (14-2).
Napoleon (14-0) The Pirates aren’t sneaking up on anyone after going 19-3 last season, but they are dominating nonetheless. All but one win have been by eight points or more, and Napoleon leads the Cascades Conference after finishing second last year with a pair of losses to Vandercook Lake. The Pirates not only defeated Vandercook in their first meeting, by 40, but next defeated Michigan Center by 17 after the Cardinals ended their season last winter. Napoleon also has a 63-45 win over Big 8 Conference co-leader Concord.
Baldwin (13-1) The Panthers are coming off an 18-5 finish and second place in the West Michigan D League, and they lead it this time by two games and with a win over Mesick after losing both meetings to the eventual league champ a year ago. Baldwin also has avenged a 2021-22 loss to Mason County Eastern and could avenge another hosting Traverse City Christian on Tuesday. The Panthers also have given Marion (11-4) half its losses.
Powers North Central (11-2) As noted above, the Jets are at least among the handful of elite small-school Upper Peninsula teams, No. 4 in statewide Division 4 MPR although second in D4 in the U.P. with Painesdale Jeffers in the top spot. Those two wouldn’t see each other until a Regional Final, where North Central’s 19-5 run ended last season. The Jets only defeats this time are to Division 2 Kingsford and Division 3 Iron Mountain, which stand a combined 25-3.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Goodrich (13-1) at Corunna (12-2) – They’re tied atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Goodrich winning the first meeting 69-54 on Jan. 10.
Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1) – As noted above, the Detroit Catholic League Central title will be on the line, as Jesuit can force a shared championship.
Saturday – Hamtramck (10-5) vs. Kalamazoo Central (13-2) at Benton Harbor – The Cosmos have faced their share of statewide elite as well, and will be seeking what would be one of their most notable wins in this Wilson Chandler Shootout matchup.
Saturday – Flint Hamady (14-2) at Davison (10-5) – Old rivals meet again as Davison is coached by longtime Beecher leader Mike Williams.
Saturday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-9) at Saginaw (14-4) – They’ll still have 2023-24 left before one the best rivalries in state history ends with a school merger, but this year’s rematch comes after Saginaw won 57-55 on Jan. 14.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Saginaw player gets to the rim during Friday's 59-54 loss to Mount Pleasant. (Middle) A Montabella player goes to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.(Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)