By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The annual Reaching Higher showcases of Michigan’s top high school basketball players will return for the eighth year beginning Wednesday, July 13, with the boys event and followed by the state’s top girls prospects taking the floor July 25. Both again will be hosted by Milford High School in Highland Township.
More than 200 athletes with aspirations to play 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 all three NCAA divisions, the NAIA and junior college levels. Coaches from 39 college basketball programs, including nine Division I schools, attended the 2015 Reaching Higher events.
An educational effort by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, 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 basketball player and also succeed in college life.
Participants in the program were selected by a committee of BCAM members. The process began in December when local high school coaches submitted nominations to the selection committee. Participants were chosen in February.
A complete list of expected attendees can be found on the “Reaching Higher” page of the MHSAA Website. The boys event begins at 3 p.m. on July 13, with scrimmages running from 5:45 to 8 p.m. The girls event begins at 11:45 a.m. on July 25, with scrimmages from 2 to 4:25 p.m.
Speakers for the boys session include Carlton Valentine, a past standout at Michigan State University and MHSAA championship-winning coach at Lansing Sexton, and father of recent Chicago Bulls draft selection Denzel Valentine; and Justin Jennings, who starred at Grand Rapids Central and went on to play at Purdue University and professionally and currently is the assistant superintendent of special education for Muskegon Public Schools.
Former St. Ignace and University of Michigan standout Nicole Elmblad and Dave Ginsberg, executive director of the National High School Basketball Coaches Association, will speak at the girls showcase. Elmblad was a two-time captain for the Wolverines and finished her career in 2015 as the program’s career leader with 133 games played and 82 wins. Ginsberg has coached at a number of Michigan high schools and also was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Central Michigan University for 16 years.