‘Reaching Higher’ expands to serve basketball, volleyball prospects

The 2019 Reaching Higher Boys’ Basketball Team. Photos courtesy MHSAA

The 2019 Reaching Higher Boys’ Basketball Team. Photos courtesy MHSAA

EAST LANSING –The annual Reaching Higher showcases of Michigan’s top high school basketball players returned for their 10th year June 23 at Milford High School in Highland Township, and for the first time volleyball players will take part in the Reaching Higher experience during a showcase July 18 also at Milford.

Nearly 200 athletes with aspirations to play basketball and nearly 80 with hopes of playing volleyball at the college level will train and scrimmage under the tutelage of high school coaches from across the state and in front of college coaches expected to represent a number of NCAA, NAIA and junior college programs.

Imlay City athletic director Don Gauthier is in charge of the Reaching Higher program and noted some key changes to the program.

“It is now a NCAA-certified event with all the college basketball recruiting changes,” said Gauthier. “We had over 50 colleges and universities represented, probably over a 100 college coaches total in attendance.” The boys’ basketball segment had 54 college representatives amounting to 78 people and the girls’ segment, 14 colleges with 21 people on hand. That doesn’t include the number of players who took part. Tom Izzo, head coach of the Michigan State men’s program brought two other coaches and Juwan Howard, the new skipper of the men’s program at the University of Michigan was also on site with one of his assistants.

The 2019 Reaching Higher Girls’ Basketball Team.

The 2019 Reaching Higher Girls’ Basketball Team.

For both sports, the Reaching Higher experience includes classroom sessions for student-athletes and their parents as well as on-court drills and scrimmaging. The events aim to give athletes a vision of what it takes to become a college player and also succeed in college life. Reaching Higher is a combined effort by the Michigan High School Athletic Association with the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association.

For both sports, participants were selected by a committee of coaches association members based on nominations by member basketball or volleyball coaches. A complete list of June 23 expected attendees can be found on the basketball Reaching Higher page of the MHSAA Website (www.mhsaa.com/sports/Girls-Basketball/ Reaching-Higher), while a complete list of expected attendees for volleyball will be posted closer to that event on the Reaching Higher page for that sport (www.mhsaa.com/Sports/Girls- Volleyball/Reaching-Higher).

Locals from our View Newspapers coverage area that took part in the basketball portions included: Cam Baker and Brendan Sullivan of Davison, Isaiah Jones and Jayden Nunn of Carman- Ainsworth, Mark Miller and Kevin- David Rice of Grand Blanc, Aiden Rubio and Colby Wiggins of Goodrich and Landen Moore-Pierce of Flushing. None of our local girls’ players took part.

The basketball event included scrimmages running from 1-3:30 p.m. Speakers for the boys’ session included Reggie Butler, a standout at Southfield- Lathrup High School who went on to play at Xavier University and professionally overseas. Girls’ session speakers include Cassie Breen, who starred for Brownstown Woodhaven High and Central Michigan University and played professionally this past season in Spain.

Longtime coach Dave Ginsberg spoke with athletes; he coached at a number of Michigan high schools and also was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Central Michigan University for 16 years, and he currently serves as the secretary/treasurer of the National High School Basketball Coaches Association. Longtime high school and college coach Marc Comstock – currently the boys’ varsity coach at Grass Lake High School – and former Saginaw Valley State University and current Flint Powers Catholic athletic director Mike Watson conducted sessions with parents during players’ drill and practice sessions.

The volleyball event begins at 9:30 a.m. on July 18, at Milford High. A schedule for the day including speakers and players committed to taking part will be added to the volleyball Reaching Higher page of the MHSAA Website closer to the event.