by J. Gamble

Just what Michigan State haters will want to read the day after Tom Izzo’s gritty bunch punched their ticket to yet another Fional Four…

Not too long ago, Keith Appling was Detroit basketball’s best-kept secret. Now the Pershing High guard is Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan. One college coach even compared him to a young Allen Iverson, but “with a better work ethic.” Appling easily won Michigan’s 2010 Mr. Basketball award, given to the best senior in the state. His 328 first-place votes crushed the next closest candidate, Trey Zeigler of Mount Pleasant [114].

Once an afterthought amongst the State’s elite players, Appling’s notoriety blossomed after he singlehandedly put Detroit basketball back on the map by dropping a record 49 hot ones in Pershing’s 2009 Class A State Championship win.

The legendary performance positioned him for a dynamite 2010 season in the lime light. The Doughboys failed to repeat as champs, but Appling still got busy, averaging 28 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals per game and making history in the process.

Pershing became the first back-to-back winners of the Mr. Basketball award since Lansing Eastern in 1981-82. Derrick Nix, now at Michigan State, won the award last season for Pershing. As I first reported in the SLAM Sept 2009 issue, Appling is following Nix to MSU. A backcourt of Appling and Kalin Lucas should be one of college basketball’s best next season [If Lucas doesn’t go pro].

But before Appling reps the green for Tom Izzo, he will be showcasing his talents at the 2010 McDonald’s All-America Game in Columbus, Ohio on March 31. It’s a can’t-miss. He is sure to have his A game that day. It will be a fitting culmination to the 6-3 scoring machine’s high school career.