Young to Lead BCAM's Next Generation
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
November 30, 2018
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 protected] 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.)
Little Provides Major Stride as 1st Woman to Officiate Boys Hoops Final since 1995
By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com
April 13, 2023
Delonda Little was already a trailblazer to many before this year’s MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals.
But what happened last month at Breslin Center made her even more of one on a statewide level.
A referee and assigner for 20 years in the Detroit area, Little is a female boys and girls basketball official who mentors both male and female referees – no matter the gender or level, as she officiates high school and college games.
Officials often go to Little for guidance, direction and assignments, which has made her respected for years throughout Metro Detroit in the prep basketball community. Then, her status as a trailblazer grew even more.
Little was assigned as an official for the Division 3 Boys Basketball Final between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis, and she became the first female referee to officiate an MHSAA Boys Basketball Final since Traverse City’s Barb Beckett 1995.
“It was a very good feeling to know I was the one selected,” said Little, who officiated the Final with Matt Olson and Zach Porritt.
In fact, while attending a Semifinal game the Friday before the Final, Little received a phone call from an area code she didn’t recognize.
She answered, and it was Beckett.
“At first I didn’t know the name,” Little said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t know you, but that’s fine.’”
Beckett then explained she was the first female referee to be assigned a Boys Basketball Final, and just wanted to offer support to Little.
At that point, Little became excited and thankful she answered the call.
“It was very nice to hear from her because she wanted to reach out and if not pass the torch, to congratulate me,” Little said.
Little, 51, said she found out she was going to be refereeing the Division 3 boys championship game just before the start of the postseason when she received an email from the MHSAA.
“I’m looking at the email and I’m like, boys?” Little said. “I was shocked.”
But she was shocked in a good way, and obviously excited for the honor.
Little didn’t find out until a couple of days before the St. Francis/Beecher contest that she would be officiating that specific championship game, but the Monday of boys championship week was when she really started to receive congratulations from friends and colleagues.
That’s when an article came out in the Detroit News detailing her selection, which led to countless calls, texts and congratulatory messages on social media.
“I couldn’t even (keep up with the comments),” she said. “That’s how overwhelming the actual tags were. It came from all across the state with officials, men and women, because I do women’s college (games). Some of the college ladies were reaching out. I was getting all the hoopla before the game.”
Little said she normally doesn’t get nervous for games, but not having some nerves became a bit harder once so many people knew of her achievement.
However, she settled into a normal routine quickly once the game started.
“I wanted to get it done, get it over with and do well,” she said.
Little did do well, which is no surprise to everyone who knew her before she officiated on the boys championship stage.
It was just another feather in the cap for Little, who in 2016 became the first woman to officiate a boys Detroit Public School League championship game.
“Delonda is one of the top officials in the Detroit area, and our staff doesn’t look at Delonda as a female working a boys game – we see one of the top officials in Detroit working a basketball game,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are females officiating in the NBA and female officials in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The aspect that made Delonda’s selection for this MHSAA championship game nearly unique will soon be the norm at all levels of athletics.”
Little graduated from Detroit Osborn in 1989 and starred on the basketball court at Wayne State, earning induction into WSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Her day job is as an officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections, but her passion is officiating. She’s been an MHSAA-registered official for basketball for two decades and also was registered for volleyball for four years. This past fall she registered for football for the first time.
“I get something from it because it keeps me in shape, I love the people I work with and I like the kids,” Little said. “You are always teaching, and I like training the newer officials. I just enjoy it. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t refereeing.”
Going forward, Little hopes her championship game assignment will now be an inspiration for other female referees.
“There aren’t very many women who would like to work boys basketball or feel comfortable,” Little said. “If that’s something they desire, I’m hoping more women are selected to work the games if they feel comfortable.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) Delonda Little takes her position on the court during the Division 3 Boys Basketball Final on March 25 at Breslin Center. (Middle) Little monitors the action between Flint Beecher and Traverse City St. Francis.