Michigan Collegiate coach James Scott huddles his players.

Michigan Collegiate coach James Scott huddles his players.

Photo provided by Dana Cito

Michigan Collegiate basketball’s versatility ‘staple’ for success

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published March 8, 2023

 Warren Michigan Collegiate junior Dylan Grant goes for the dunk during Michigan Collegiate’s  game against Farmington on Feb. 2 at Michigan Collegiate High School.

Warren Michigan Collegiate junior Dylan Grant goes for the dunk during Michigan Collegiate’s game against Farmington on Feb. 2 at Michigan Collegiate High School.

Photo provided by Dana Cito


WARREN — It only takes watching one game to realize what makes Warren Michigan Collegiate boys basketball so lethal on the court.

Yes, their offense is explosive and physical, and multiple players can drop 20-plus points at the drop of a hat, but there’s one particular area that has shown why Michigan Collegiate is ranked 13th in Division II, according to Michigan High School Athletic Association rankings.

“To be honest, it’s been our man-to-man defense; it’s been a staple,” Michigan Collegiate coach James Scott said. “We’ve been able to switch one through five because we’re so versatile.”

Led by seniors Rashane Smith and Makell Johnson-Dobbs, Michigan Collegiate has allowed just over 40 points per game en route to their 18-2 record and Charter School Conference-East league title this season.

Michigan Collegiate held a 12-game winning streak during the season, including a league-clinching win over Detroit Edison on Jan. 31 where the defense collected 13 blocked shots in the win over Edison.

Scott said the internal competition on the defensive end has contributed to the team’s success this season.

“I think they bought into it, and now I think they like it,” Scott said. “The competition has made people check (on defense); some of our JV guys would be on varsity at other schools. It makes you want to guard because people are fighting for playing time.”

Spearheaded by a strong defense, Michigan Collegiate’s offensive attack has contributed to just under 67 points per game.

Led by 6-foot-7-inch junior Dylan Grant and Johnson-Dobbs, Michigan Collegiate has averaged just under 71 points per game during their current five-game winning streak.

Grant said their defensive unit has been their strongest offensive weapon.

“I feel like our offense has been triggered by our defense,” Grant said. “We get the stop and drive down and drive into the lane and kick it out.”

Smith and junior guard Nathaniel Savage have been consistent offensive contributors for Michigan Collegiate this season.

With one game left against Port Huron before their state tournament opener against Center Line (16-4), Michigan Collegiate will look to continue the hot streak into tournament play.

Michigan Collegiate is no stranger to elite-level competition, opening their 2023 campaign against Harper Woods, Warren De La Salle Collegiate and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s respectively.

Michigan Collegiate went 2-1 during that three-game span, losing to defending MHSAA Division I state champion De La Salle, but it was a learning experience for Scott’s squad.

“I told our guys, ‘They went to a championship. They went to another level,’” Scott said. “I thought they took their game to another level, and I thought it was good for our guys because we were in a similar situation with Orchard Lake, and we pulled it out.”

While back on the radar, Michigan Collegiate’s accomplishments this season seem to be overlooked in the rankings.

Holding an 18-2 record, a league title and a lengthy win streak should, at the very least, constitute a top-10 ranking, but Michigan Collegiate isn’t worried about that.

Johnson-Dobbs said the team pays attention to the rankings, but said their self-confidence outweighs any rankings system.

“We always talk about the rankings, but the teams ranked ahead of us are teams we know we can beat,” Johnson-Dobbs said. “We definitely haven’t gotten the respect we deserve. We should be top three, if not No. 1.”

Michigan Collegiate will open the MHSAA Division II state tournament against Center Line on March 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Warren’s Lincoln High School.