The NEW Twin Cities Boys Hoops Has Arrived

It is with great joy that I announce the arrival of the new Twin Cities Boys Hoops! I've expanded the layout to allow more information and changed the color scheme to spice it up a bit. Here's a quick tour.

The left hand column has links for year round basketball. The most current season being at the top (in this case the upcoming 08-09 high school season) and the last being at the bottom. I've added 1 click links to all the local teams and conferences so you can your favorite team or conference at a glance via the Schedules & Results or Section and Conference Standings links. That information is courtesy of During the AAU season, the Summer Hoops and Recruiting Resources sections will move to the top. You'll find links to my posts on some of the top local players in the Featured Players section, links to Minnesota basketball info in the MN Basketball Resources section and links to what I read in The Czar's Reading List.

The right hand column is blog information. I've added a section for my schedule so you can see what games I'll be covering at a glance and quickly go read about recent games I've seen. There's a whole section of background information on me in Blog Information. My posts (scrolls as I refer to them) and the ability to search them are the next 2 sections. Finally we have an entire section of miscellaneous basketball links. Other Local Hoops Sites contains links to other local bloggers and/or specific basketball teams . The More Basketball Links section has other basketball links that I occassionally read or purchase from.

The middle section still contains the scrolls, but I've added on there too. Some of you may have noticed that I've started adding labels to posts. For very specific topics or players, I will labeling those. But I'm keeping the number of labels to a minimum and will usually have visible links to those instead of having to read the fine print of the posts to find them. Also, look for many more pictures in the posts this season thanks to Michael J Much of I only got to use a couple of his pictures last season, but I'm looking forward to showing more of them this season as he gets some terrific pictures.

You'll still get the same game coverage and I've kept popular features like the Current Scoring Records tracker that's been tracking Kevin Noreen since the day Cody Schilling broke the record. Many of the links to what I read you've seen before but I have added a few. For example, local coach John Carrier has just started a new blog. He’s been a high school coach in northern Minnesota for the last few years after helping to clean up my alma mater after I left it in shambles. In addition, he’s been published in Winning Hoops and has been an active contributor to the forums there. His 2 page article, “Get More From Your Undersized Post Players”, published in the March 2008 edition of Winning Hoops is a great read. This season he brings his experience to the metro. He’s a smart, up and coming coach and a great student of the game that I think we’ll hear more about in the future. A link to his blog (and other local blogs) can be found in the Other Local Hoops Sites section. You can also read it here. Between his blog and coach Dasovich's blog, I think these will give great coaching insights during the season.

I hope you enjoy the new layout and the new features. I enjoyed putting it together. If you have comments, questions or suggestions on the new site, please feel free to contact me.

ESPN releases end of summer 2009 top 100

ESPN released their end of summer rankings for the class of 2009 last week. Read the full rankings here.

Minnesota Players
  • Royce White #23, Minnesota (up from #61 in last ranking, read why here, was #71 in May)
  • Rodney Williams Jr #29 (up from #66 in May)
Wisconsin Players
  • Jamil Wilson #60 (down from #13 in May)
  • Jeronne Maymon #76, Marquette (unranked in May)
Other players who appeared locally this year
  • DeMarcus Cousins #4, UAB (up from #5 in May)
  • DJ Richardson #56, Illinois (up from #93 in May)
  • Naji Hibbert #59, Texas A&M (down from #47 in May)
  • Michael Dixon dropped out, Missouri (was #49 in May) releases end of summer 2009 Top 100 has released their end of summer 2009 top 100 (read it here). Here are players that caught my attention.

Royce White (#30, up from #32)
Rodney Williams Jr (#32, up from #57)
Trent Lockett (#94, down from #89)

Jamil Wilson (#35, down from #16)
Jeronne Maymon (#75, down from #66)
Johnny Lacy (drops out after being #96)

Others who appeared locally
DeMarcus Cousins (#6, unchanged)
DJ Richardson (#66, down from #46)
Darius Smith (dropped out after being #90)
Michael Dixon (dropped out after being #94)

Scout obviously didn't think Rodney Williams performance at the Nike Global Challenge was an issue (unlike Rivals) as they moved him up 25 spots to number 32 (#5 small forward prospect). I'll agree more with Rivals evaluation right now. #5 SF in the nation for a guy who needs to work on his ballhandling and shooting seems rather high right now. Granted, with his athleticism, Scout could easily turn out to be right down the road. Its bad for Rodney's development for the next level that he plays center for Cooper during the high school season as that doesn't allow him to work on or showcase his perimeter skills. Great for Cooper though as their starting 5 will be close to Hopkins for most athletic in the state. Tough spot for a coach when you have a star like that who is better for the team at a different position than he'll play at the next level.

Why Rodney Williams Ranking Fell

In my last post, I noted that Rodney Williams had a drastic drop in his ranking. I asked what their logic was behind dropping Rodney Williams from #28 to #95 in their latest rankings. Their head scouting guru Jerry Meyer responded with this answer.

"We were giving Williams a big benefit of the doubt with the #28 ranking based on his athletic ability and potential. Unfortunately, we just haven't seen progress. He looked very out of place at the Nike Global Challenge and was just okay at Lebron Skills Camp. Can really jump, but don't know if he'll get the feel for the game and skill level for that athleticism to really translate."

Read the entire thread where my question was posted here.

Williams drops behind Trent Lockett for the #2 spot in the Minnesota Class of 2009.

Rivals releases end of summer top 150 released their end of the summer recruiting period updates today. Read the entire rankings here. Here are the changes to Minnesota players (and others of note) from the last period (July 1, 2008).

Minnesota Players
  • Royce White #19, Minnesota (down from #18)
  • Trent Lockett #73, Arizona State (down from #53)
  • Rodney Williams Jr #95 (down from #28)
  • Sam Dower #119 (up from #130)
  • Mike Bruesewitz #124, Wisconsin (up from #125)
Wisconsin Players
  • Jeronne Maymon #46, Marquette (down from #42)
  • Jamil Wilson #93 (down from #60)
  • Johnny Lacy #110, Prep School (down from #97)
Other players who appeared locally this year
  • DeMarcus Cousins #2, UAB
  • DJ Richardson #57, Illinois (up from #74)
  • Naji Hibbert #88, Texas A&M (up from #142)
  • Darius Smith #113 (down from #80)
  • Joseph Bertrand #116, Illinois (down from #81)
  • Diamond Taylor #118, Wisconsin (down from #86)
  • Michael Dixon #130, Missouri (down from #100)
U of M targets Eric Bledsoe and Matt Vogrich come in at #67 and #131 respectively.

The drop of Rodney Williams is totally shocking (read why here). Sam Dower was the only Wisconsin or Minnesota player to make a noteworthy move upward.

Sam Dower talks about unofficial visit to Minnesota

Sam Dower took an unofficial visit to the U of M yesterday. Gopher Hole interviewed him about it afterwards. A couple of things in the interview that stuck out to me. The rumor mill said Dower was concerned if Minnesota was actually serious about him which may have led to this visit. Interesting that it didn't come up in the interview.

He also mentions that he can play center or small forward. I don't know that you could use him at center right away because of the strength issues, but I can see him playing center in a small lineup or later in his career being used there. The small forward part of the statement was really amusing and surprising. Yes he can step out and shoot it a bit, but I think its very safe to say that the small forward position is not in his future unless its a temporary thing in a big lineup (which is rare these days thanks to the myriad of motion systems used today and a lack of big men). He's being recruited to be an interior presence with his perimeter abilities as an extra asset, not to be a face-up wing player. If I'm a coach watching Osseo this season, I want to see Dower dominating down low on the blocks, not settling for 17 foot jump shots from the high post. Last year the outside game was understandable when you had him and 7 footer Zach Peterson in the game together. This year he'll need to carry a bigger scoring load for the Orioles.

I'd like to see him in George Mason's scramble system as that would give them the type of backline shotblocker that they rarely have. With his abilities, I think that'd be a good fit. Dower mentions that he has family out at Cal, it'll be interesting to see if that's a factor in the final decision.

Read the entire Gopher Hole interview here.

Final results from Rockford and the stars in Portland

In Rockford, 94 FT of Game finished the weekend 2-2 in preliminary play before losing both their Sunday bracket game. In 16U, the Minnesota Xplosion were also 2-2 in preliminary play. On Sunday they won their bracket opener before losing in the tournament quarterfinals.

Royce White and Rodney Williams played in the championship of the Nike Global Challenge in Portland, OR. Interesting that this team is coached by the highly entertaining Otis Hughley of Mobile LeFlore, AL.

Results from the 96-80 semifinal win over Canada.

Royce White: 14 Points, 7 Rebs, 2 Blks, 4 Turnovers, 6-12 FGs in only 17 minutes.
Rodney Williams: 0 Pts, 2 Rebs, 2 Turnovers and 0-2 FTs in 8 minutes.

Once again Harrison Barnes was a monster with 22 points and 8 rebounds. If you missed him at the Sabes Invitational in May, you missed a terrific player. Jamil Wilson also quiet in the win. Corey Joseph with 10 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes for Canada in the loss.

In the Championship game vs USA 2, USA2 wins 117-104 after leading 53-49 at the half.
  • Royce White: 6 Pts, 3 Rebs, 3 Turnovers in only 14 minutes.
  • Rodney Williams: 8 Pts, 6 Rebs on 4-8 FGs in 20 minutes.
  • Harrison Barnes with 11 pts and 7 rebs in 16 minutes.
  • Jamil Wilson with 8 pts and 4 rebs in 13 minutes.
  • Demarcus Cousins the star with 29 points on 12-17 FGs with 6 rebounds in 19 minutes to lead USA 1.

White/Williams at Nike Global Challenge Day 1

The top 2 players in the MN Class of 2009, Royce White (Hopkins) and Rodney Williams Jr (Robbinsdale Cooper) are in Portland, OR this weekend for the Nike Global Challenge. Here's how they did on day 1.

Game 1 vs Senegal (US wins 81-68 by winning the 4th quarter 30-20)
Royce White: 9 Pts, 2 Rebs, 2 blks in 21 minutes. 3-5 FG including 2-2 from 3 pt land and 1-4 FTs.
Rodney Williams: 0 Pts, 2 Rebs in 18 Minutes. 0-1 FG

Other players I saw this past season also played with this USA team (1 of 3 in the event)
Demarcus Cousins: 23 Pts, 5 Rebs, 2 blks in 26 minutes. 9-12 FG including 3-4 3 Pts (wow) and 2-4 FTs.
Harrison Barnes: 6 Pts, 8 Rebs in 16 minutes. 2-8 FG including 0-3 3 Pt and 2-2 FTs
Jamil Wilson: 8 Pts, 2 Rebs in 18 minutes. 2-6 FG including 0-2 3 Pt and 4-4 FTs.

They'll play Corey Joseph and Team Canada next.

MN Results from Rockford 8/8/08

A couple of Minnesota teams still playing this weekend down in Rockford, IL. In 17U, 94 Ft of Game def Chicago Stars 55-35. They have a fun matchup tomorrow with Badger Sporting Good who has the #9 Jr in Wisconsin, Marquis Mason.

In 16U, the Minnesota Xplosion def Future Stars Magic 67-54 and Quad City Select 60-47. Like 94 Ft, they also have 2 pool play games tomorrow. The event website lists Kyle Zimmerman (TNL/MN Magic Elite and Champlin Park) and Jess Briggity (MN Fury and Blaine) as part of the roster which would be very nice additions for the Xplosion for this event.

Sam Dower evaluation article

The Kennel Report (Gonzaga Student Blog) has started to breakdown the 2009 recruits that Gonzaga is after. They started it with a nice breakdown of Sam Dower. Click here to read it.

MN Suns 14U out at AAU Nationals

In championship bracket play, the MN Suns 14U squad lost 79-65 to OKC Showtime. They then lost 63-58 to Hoop Heaven Heat in the opening round of the 7th place bracket. If they stay together, they should remain a top team in MN at the 15U level next summer.

The Consequences of Recruiting

In a case of basketball gone bad, longtime Wisconsin powerhouse Milwaukee Rufus King has been banned from the 2009 WIAA state tournament. Outside "recruits" at open gyms and doctored or incomplete admissions documentation were the reasons. I'm surprised they're still eligible for the Milwaukee City Conference title. Thankfully this doesn't appear to involve longtime head coach Jim Gosz.

I'm surprised they got only a 1 year ban and still get to go play out-state games. After all, there have been complaints to the WIAA that the outstate games the Milwaukee teams play give them a recruiting advantage. Hence the new Wisconsin rule this year that you get to play 22 games if you play all your games in-state or in neighboring states (MN, IA, MI, IL). Otherwise you can only play 20 games (the previous limit).

If I'm running a high school association, I come down much harder as this cannot be tolerated. Considering there are always accusations about the top teams recruiting (and that's true here in the metro) and no charges, this would have been a great time to send a strong message. Especially with a premier program like King's. Granted it appears the coach in question is taking the brunt of the punishment rather than the kids which is good, but I think more punishment should have been handed down to the school. Along the lines of what the NCAA would term "lack of institutional control".

Read the entire article here.

The preps writer who wrote about my high school back in the day wrote this for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

MN Suns 14U advances to final 32 at AAU Nationals

The MN Suns 14U team won 2 out of 3 in pool play to advance to the championship bracket at AAU Nationals. They defeated Dream Vision Basketball 59-51 this afternoon in 1st round bracket play. Next game is vs OKC Showtime at 10:30 AM tomorrow.

Thoughts on the 2008 MN AAU Season

Now that the spring and summer recruiting periods have officially ended, I figured I'd chime in with a few random thoughts on what I saw during my 1st year of seriously following the 2nd season.

If Nate Wolters (St. Cloud Tech) wasn't already on the radar, he should be now. I didn't have the chance to him play in person during the regular season and I haven't watched the state semifinal yet, so this summer was my 1st exposure to him. It was his defense, in particular vs Mike Felt in the Sabes Invitational, that really stuck out to me. I think he'll be a real nice mid-major D1 find for somebody. Other players that jumped on to my radar screen during the summer. Eric Olson (Buffalo, MN Fury 17s), Max Rosenbloom (Johnson, 43 Hoops Harris 16s), Marshall Bjorklund (Sibley East, Magic Elite 16s), Ethan Petrill (Shakopee, Magic Elite 15s), Alex Richter (Lakeville South, MN Heat Elite 15s)

Officiating. I didn't see a coach get tossed at all during the regular season and I saw 3 get tossed during local summer play. (Note: I'm not counting the DLS incident during the sections semis since I wasn't there). Not to mention seeing officials getting into it with fans which I have a huge problem with. I know there's fewer people and closer proximity which leads to a higher chance of this happening, but like the coaches and fans the officials also need to realize that this is for the kids. Also, these officials do a ton of games in 1 day. Bob Knight has talked about college officials doing too many games in a week and I think that's a fair comparison here. Very tall task for anyone to take on.

Scorekeeping. This is a real pet peeve of mine. There were far too many mistakes with the clock, fouls and especially the score in every local event I attended. It's amazing to see all the hard work that goes into putting these events together only to have people at the table who aren't paying attention by talking on cell phones, talking to each other etc etc. That really ruins it. I'm of the thought that we should mandate that basketball savvy adults be at the table.

Loyalty. Who's playing who here. Guys jumping from 1 team to another every week. From Rodney Williams jumping for the State AAU tournament to Raymond Cowles being done for the summer long ago and then all of a sudden showing up with Howard Pulley last week after being a Net Gain player in the spring. Not to mention conflicts with high school teams pulling kids for their events. I don't have a better solution. I don't fault a player for wanting more exposure during the recruiting periods. I don't blame the teams for taking these players in to fill the spots that they lost (see Rodney Williams for Carlos Emory at the State AAU tournament and Cowles last week as Pulley had to mix and match to put a roster together). Call me old fashioned as I think committing to a team actually means something. Does it send the wrong message to the kids to allow them to jump around? All this work for a scholarship which is a huge deal, but at some point aren't we also teaching life skills. I think there's plenty of room to have a system where the high school guys can have their time and the colleges can have their viewing time with the summer teams playing for them to watch and the kids are shown a better example.

Coaches. The coaches have an amazingly tough job. Travel, limited practice time, roster shuffling, dealing with colleges etc all make for some real difficult challenges. I had the great pleasure of watching the Magic 15 Elites practice this summer. To see for myself the very limited time that the coaches have to put in basic offense and defense let alone all of the other basics you need (ex: press break, inbound plays) just to have a chance in any game you play was really eye opening. Guys like Ben Davis (MN Fury 17s and MN Fury South 16s), Andy Birdsong (Mpls Redhawks 16s) and Jake Phillips (MN Magic Black 16s) all did terrific jobs with their teams this summer just to name a few.

Royce White. I hesitate to comment on this as I didn't see the event. It bothered me to see him get tossed from a Pulley Pro Am game. I'm all for giving anyone, especially kids, a second chance. When I look at his track record on and off the court from last season thru this summer season culminating with this ejection, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't feel he's yet taken advantage of the extra chances he's been given. I don't know him and he may be a wonderful person. I give him credit for coming out with a good public face and saying the right things. That's a good start. Its my hope that this upcoming high school season and the people around him help him continue to grow and move beyond these events to help his success down the road in basketball and in life.