West Bloomfield sophomore guard Tory James attempts a contested layup in West Bloomfield’s game against Birmingham Groves Feb. 14 at Groves High School.

West Bloomfield sophomore guard Tory James attempts a contested layup in West Bloomfield’s game against Birmingham Groves Feb. 14 at Groves High School.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

West Bloomfield basketball retooled and rejuvenated in 2023 campaign

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 2, 2023

 West Bloomfield coach Arnette Jordan looks on during West Bloomfield’s game against Birmingham Groves.

West Bloomfield coach Arnette Jordan looks on during West Bloomfield’s game against Birmingham Groves.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 West Bloomfield senior forward Jayden Jones attempts a free throw.

West Bloomfield senior forward Jayden Jones attempts a free throw.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

WEST BLOOMFIELD — It wasn’t that long ago, six years to be exact, that West Bloomfield boys basketball was one game away from reaching the Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A State Finals.

On the cusp of a state title, what nobody could’ve guessed was that their winning record the following year would be West Bloomfield’s last winning season for four years.

Fast-forward to 2023, second-year coach Arnette Jordan and West Bloomfield are tied for first in the Oakland Activities Association-White and are dominating the competition.

Jordan’s coaching background held collegiate history being a part of Oakland University and Kent State University’s coaching staffs throughout his career in 2000s, but arguably his biggest impact was with the Amatuer Athletic Union basketball organization, The Family.

Senior forward Mitchell Seay, who played under Jordan for The Family, said he knew West Bloomfield basketball was getting the right man for the job.

“When he got the job, I was glad, because he would be a great fit for the program,” Seay said. “I like his style of coaching a lot. He puts every single player in a spot to succeed on offense and defense, has a great personality, and everyone gets along with him.”

Like most coaching changes, West Bloomfield and Jordan both needed time to adjust, and the 2022 season was a casualty because of it.

Finishing 4-16 last year and descending to the OAA-White for the 2023 season, previously playing in the OAA-Red, Jordan said last season’s struggles showed what needed to be done next.

“Last year, I knew we were going to have some bumps and bruises because I got the job in October, and most times, you get your job done in the summer,” Jordan said. “We were really right on the go when I got the job last year.”

With a full season under their belt and ample time to prepare in the offseason, West Bloomfield has put the Division I on notice with its dominant play on both sides of the court.

Averaging just over 56 points per game offensively and allowing just over 50 points per game defensively, West Bloomfield’s 14-6 record has showcased a completely different team this season.

Seay said the team carried a chip on their shoulder coming into the season.

“Our mindset is definitely trying to change the culture,” Seay said. “We’ve been coming together as a team to show everyone what our program has in store. We are a hungry team due to last year’s performance, so we play like we have something to prove.”

Alongside Seay are seniors leaders Dejuan Moore, Jayden Jones, Evan Ammori, Isaiah Bryant, Terrance Curry and Adam Shewcraft, and each have played a role in West Bloomfield’s culture change.

Jordan said the seniors’ contributions have been unmeasurable this year.

“I think the seniors have been really good because of last year not having the success they wanted,” Jordan said. “This year, seeing the success, they just want to make sure guys that are younger work hard and learn what we’re trying to do.”

West Bloomfield’s culture shift took place long before the 2023 season, for a pair of summer camps at OU and Eastern Michigan University played a vital role in developing a team brand of basketball. To top it all off, West Bloomfield took part in the HYPE Athletics Fall League against teams such as Detroit Loyola, Detroit Renaissance and Detroit Martin Luther King.

The competition, mixed with added opportunities to build team chemistry, created a recipe for success.

“It definitely played a big part,” Seay said. “We had some junior varsity guys move up. We have a freshman, Curtis Britton, who is a key factor in our program, and a transfer from Detroit Renaissance, Donnie Watts, who is a key factor. The summer and fall league allowed us to build chemistry and a bond with each other so when we came into the season, we were ready.”

Watts, a junior guard, was a Detroit Renaissance transfer who was sidelined his sophomore year due to injury.

Watts has been at the forefront of West Bloomfield’s offense this season and continues to be a force when West Bloomfield needs him most.

“He has a perfect balance of making sure everyone gets the ball, and when it’s his time to take over and bring us home, he does that,” Jordan said.

Britton, a freshman guard, has been a breakout star for West Bloomfield this season, providing reliable numbers each night.

Britton is the lone freshman on the varsity squad, but proved himself worthy of a spot after a successful offseason both on and off the court,

Jordan said his dedication to the weight room was a key factor in his development.

“Curtis Britton was a total surprise,” Jordan said. “He came here frail in body, and he worked his butt off. He put on 10 pounds of muscle to make his body stronger, he ran a 5-6-minute-mile to get his body in better shape, and he worked really hard in the weight room.”

Alongside Britton in the youth department is sophomore guard Corey Pittman, who is one of two sophomores on the squad alongside guard Tory James.

Pittman and Britton have developed a strong defensive backcourt for West Bloomfield this season, but almost too strong at times, in Pittman’s case.

“Corey comes from a football background, so he’s a little aggressive,” Jordan said. “We call him Chops, so I’m like, ‘Chops, this isn’t football; you can’t run people into the ground.’”

West Bloomfield will need Pittman’s aggressive edge as they currently are tied with Troy for the OAA-White league title. West Bloomfield and Troy are set to play on March 2 at West Bloomfield High School in a league-deciding game.

West Bloomfield defeated Troy earlier this season, but it’s a different type of basketball at the end of the year, and both Jordan and his guys know that.

For all they’ve built this season, Jordan said his guys know the importance of not just the foundation they built this year, but the idea of hanging a league title banner in the gymnasium.

“We just want to go 2-0,” Jordan said. “Let’s just go 2-0 every week. They understand now that it’s coming close and the standings are starting to separate. We talk about leaving your legacy at your high school.”

West Bloomfield was slated to open up their MHSAA Division I State Tournament against OAA-White rival Bloomfield Hills at 7 p.m. March 6 at Bloomfield Hills High School.