PREP NOTEBOOK: Maten bags major honor, local coaching legend starting to step away WITH PHOTO GALLERY

  • Bloomfield Hills boys basketball star Yante Maten (#11) was given the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of Michigan. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Maten plays defense in the district finals vs. Farmington Hills Harrison. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Maten goes up for a shot against Harrison in the district finals at North Farmington (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Birmingham Roeper's Ernie Righetti, the school's longtime boys and girls basketball coach, is retiring from the boys sidelines, but will stay on with the girls for one more season. (photo courtesy of Birmingham Roeper).
  • Southfield Christian boys basketball star Bakari Evelyn was on fire in the state finals, leading his Eagles to a third straight state title over the weekend, however, wouldn't fully commit to coming back to the team for his senior season in the postgame press conference. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Evelyn was brilliant against Adrian Lenawee Christian at the Breslin Center in the Class D state championship game, scoring 28 points, corralling eight boards, dishing five dimes and picking five pockets.(Oakland Press file photo).
  • Oak Park football star Shahid Bellamy (second from left) committed to CMU this week. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Bellamy, seen here playing nose guard for Oak Park's D-Line, is one of the state's top terrors in the trenches in the Class of 2015. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Southfield Christian's Ben Cookinham dives for a loose ball in the Eagles 63-61 downing of Adrian Lenawee Christian in the Class D state boys basketball finals. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Bloomfield Hills boys basketball coach Duane Graves has his lucky towel on hand at all times. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Bloomfield Hills boys basketball star Armand Cartwright was appreciative of getting the chance to play in the Class A final four. "It's magical," he told reporters after the Black Hawks win in the semifinals. (Oakland Press file photo).
  • Yante Maten was a beast on the blocks all year for Bloomfield Hills (Oakland Press file photo).

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Yante Maten didn’t get doused with Gatorade after leading his Bloomfield Hills boys basketball team into the Class A state finals last week, but the sports drink giant did shower the Black Hawks’ all-state 6-foot-8 center with praise.

On the eve of the state championship game (Maten’s Bloomfield Hills’ club lost 91-67 to Muskegon), he was named the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Michigan.

This is the first time in four years Oakland County has had one of its own honored with the award. Birmingham Detroit Country Day’s Ray McCallum, Jr. (Detroit Mercy-Sacramento Kings) got the nod in 2009 and 2010.

Still uncommitted to a college, Maten was offered a scholarship by Indiana University Sunday night. Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean made a visit to the Maten household on Monday. Other major Division I schools like, Georgia, TCU, Utah, Colorado and Virginia Tech, have already offered as well.

Maten was dominant in the paint this season, averaging 20 points, 17 rebounds, 6.5 blocks and 4.5 assists per outing, wowing the crowd with his efficiency and versatility. He upped it to 24 points and 18 boards a night in the playoffs, scoring 25 points or more in five of the Black Hawks’ eight tournament games.

A Lucky charm

Anyone who has seen Bloomfield Hills boys basketball coach Duane Graves pacing the sidelines these past four seasons, first at Lahser and now with the Black Hawks following the 2013 merger, has probably noticed the orange-spotted black towel draped across his shoulder.

It’s his good-luck charm, a gift from his wife Holly years back when he was coaching freshmen ball. The design is Halloween-themed.

“There’s no real rhyme or reason behind, other than my wife gave it to me one day and its brought me luck ever since”, he said.

Playing it close to the vest

In the wake of leading his team to its third consecutive Class D state crown, after a season in which he missed almost half the schedule due to him leaving the program for unknown reasons, Southfield Christian all-state junior point guard Bakari Evelyn was non-committal with reporters when asked if he’d be returning to the Eagles for his senior year.

“I can’t see past right now…. I don’t know about the future,” he said.

Evelyn, a Division I college recruit and considered by most the No. 1 small-school player in the state, was smoldering in the state finals Saturday, scoring 28 points, hauling down eight rebounds, giving off five assists and swiping five steals in the Eagles' 63-61 edging of Adrian Lenawee Christian.

When further pressed by reporters on his status for his senior season, the lethally smooth 6-foot-2 floor general, remarked that he just wanted another ring.

“I want to win a state title (again), where else can do that but Southfield Christian?”

Partial farewell

Longtime Birmingham Roeper boys and girls basketball coach Ernie Righetti recently announced he was stepping down from the boys job, but will stay on with the girls for one final season in 2015. Righetti was one of the last coaches in the state to still hold the reins in dual hoop programs after the season-switch eight years ago. He's also the school's athletic director and a beloved figure in the community.

Late in the 2014 campaign the small-school bench stalwart went over the 750 career-win mark. The 700-plateau is a feat only accomplished by three people in the profession in MHSAA history (Righetti, River Rouge's Lofton Greene and Auburn Hills Oakland Christian Ed Mehlberg - former Birmingham DCD head boys coach Kurt Keener reached the 700 club this winter, but did it in Arizona).

Landing at Roeper in the early 1980s, Righetti has led his Roughriders clubs to well over a dozen league and district championships apiece. His 2014 girls team went 18-4 and was ranked in the state's Top 10 for much of the winter.

Laddie Andahazy, a Righetti protégé and former all-state forward and captain of his from the early 2000s, is slated to take his place at the helm of the boys program in 2015, while his replacement with the girls program is still undetermined.

The central issue

Oak Park football star Shahid Bellamy committed to Central Michigan last week. Bellamy (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) plays nose guard and is one of the best defensive players in the Class of 2015.

A three-year starter, Bellamy collected 70 tackles and seven sacks in 2012 as a sophomore, helping guide Oak Park to a league and district title, and then 80 tackles and eight sacks as a junior last fall on another Knights playoff squad.

He is the second Oak Park player to commit to a Division I college in the last few weeks. Linebacker Junior McMullen committed to Western Michigan earlier in the month.

Quote of the week

"It's magical," Bloomfield Hills boys basketball star Armand Cartwright explaining what he felt like following his team's defeat of Detroit U-D Jesuit in the state semifinals Friday night.

Tweet of the week

"We really did it...could not be any happier right now ...I love these guys so much! #familyforever #3peat" - Southfield Christian senior guard Ben Cookinham, after his Eagles boys basketball team pulled off the three-peat over the weekend.

Last Updated: 3/26/2014 1:57:45 PM EST

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