A light schedule at the 2011 Timberwolves Shootout and it may be the worst shootout in recent memory, but it's not all bad. Here's what I'm looking for. Next year let's all campaign for Shootout director Jeff Munneke to get Eleate Sports star Jeremy Lieberman in from California to take on Tyus Jones and bring back the old days of the shootout when it was a must see event. Those stars do bring in extra fans contrary to popular belief.
1 PM: Viborg/Hurley, SD vs Roseville
The Cougars make the trip from South Dakota with a record of 5-0 and are ranked #2 in the South Dakota Class A poll. These were separate schools before forming a combined program this season. Their star is 6'1" G Cory Jacobsen. He has over 1700 career points and is averaging 19.4 PPG this season. He also helped lead the Cougars to a state runner-up finish in football.. There are 5 players who were members of the Dakota Schoolers this summer and have appeared locally. 6'9" senior center Zach Kraning is their man in the middle. 5'8" Soph Trevor Jacobsen is having a nice year at the point guard spot. He was one of the members of the very good Schoolers 15s.
Roseville features Wofford signee Lucas Brown on the wing. He's averaging 16.7 points a night. Point guard David Stanley leads the way at 18 PPG. Don't be surprised to see Emeche Wells get the assignment guarding Cory Jacobsen. Wells and Soph Mack Johnson each average 11 PPG. Johnson is one of the top shooters in the sophomore class and has range from anywhere in the building. 8th grader Kobe Critchley may also see time as a reserve guard.
Czar's Pick: Roseville but something tells me this game might be better than expected.
3 PM: Onalaska, WI vs Benilde-St. Margaret's
Onalaska is 8-0 and currently ranked #1 in Wisconsin's Division 2 poll. Coach Craig Kowal returns to the Target Center after leading neighboring La Crescent to the state tournament in 2008. The Hilltoppers star is 6'8" Jr forward Nick Arenz. He's averaging 15.9 PPG and has a handful of D1 mid-major offers already. He was MVP at last week's 3 day WBY Shootout, Wisconsin's top event of the year. 6'1 soph shooting guard Matt Thomas is one of the top shooters in Wisconsin's sophomore class. He's averaging 12.1 PPG. Older brother Tony is a 6'6" senior and does the dirty work up front for the Hilltoppers.
Benilde-St. Margaret's has one of the most loaded classes I've seen in my time. Their juniors lead the way. PG Isaiah Zierden leads the way at 16.2 PPG. 6'8" Kyle Washington has blown up in the last 6 months. He averages 10.4 PPG and is a major presence inside blocking shots with his length. 6'6" Sanjay Lumpkin is used as the defensive stopper on the wing but is capable of going off for 30. These are 3 of the top 2012 prospects in Minnesota. 6'3" Will Dunn averages 11.2 on the wing and is a very good shooter but has been successfully attacking the basket when teams run out at him.
Czar's Pick: Benilde-St. Margaret's in the best game of the day. Washington vs Arenz and Lumpkin guarding Matt Thomas are matchups I'm watching. I think the Benilde depth puts them over the top. Worth noting that both teams have big conference games on Thursday night so hopefully there are no big game hangovers.
5 PM: Cedar Rapids, IA Washington vs Chaska
Washington comes into the shootout with a record of 5-2 and ranked #9 in Iowa's Class 4A. They feature a pair of Iowa Barnstormers that have played locally. 6'6" senior SG Josh Oglesby has signed with Iowa. He's ranked #118 in the nation by Rivals.com. This season he's averaging 21.6 PPG and shooting 29-55 (52.7%) from the 3 point line. That includes 8-10 in a 56-51 to Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Wisconsin signee Jarrod Uthoff. Point guard Wes Washpun is averaging 18.3 PPG but only shooting 16-38 from the foul line (42.1%). He nailed a buzzer beater on Tuesday to beat Iowa City West (video in this article). In a bit of irony, they host Minnetonka on Friday night before making the trip on Saturday.
Chaska features 6'8 Power Forward Jake White inside. He's signed with Wichita State and is having a huge year. He's averaging 27.3 PPG this season and was averaging 12.7 Rebounds through the 1st 7 games. 6'7" Penn State signee Ross Travis is a catalyst on the perimeter. He's averaging 18.1 PPG and has 27 or more points in 3 of his last 4 games, all against quality competition. Shooter Max Watts is averaging 13.3 PPG.
Czar's Pick: Chaska. Jake White is the difference inside and Travis can take over at anytime. But they'll have to keep Oglesby in check.
7 PM: Linn-Mar (Marion, IA) vs Apple Valley
Linn-Mar returns to the shootout (for the 4th time in my memory) at 7-0 and ranked #1 in Iowa's class 4A. They're also #6 in the Midlands region according to PrepNation.com (Hopkins is #1, Johnson is #9 for comparison). 6'1" lefty point guard Marcus Paige is ranked #37 in the nation by Rivals.com. He has numerous high major D1 offers including Kansas and Minnesota. Gopher fans would love for him to fill a desperate point guard need. He put on a show vs Minnetonka last year with his passing and scoring and I expect no less this year. He's averaging 19 PPG this season. But he's not the whole show.
6'4" shooter Matt Bohannon impressed last year. He's averaging 14.7 PPG this season and will attend Northern Iowa next year. 6'3 Shane Benton has only played 3 games this year and is averaging 8.7 PPG. He'll attend North Dakota. 6'6 multi-sport athlete Josh Montague mans the interior. He's averaging 11 PPG and has interest in both football and basketball. A group that is well coached and runs great stuff, a pleasure to watch.
Apple Valley will play the game without star freshman Tyus Jones at the point. His kidney injury suffered on opening night will keep him out until February according to published reports this week. That takes away the star attraction of the entire event. But 6'7" William and Mary signee Thomas Schalk is having a monster year filling in the gap. He's averaging 28.7 points a game this season. He can play inside or out with his 3 point shooting range. Soph shooter Dustin Fronk is averaging 9.3 PPG. Gavin Bronson and Josh Johnson have picked up their game as well.
Czar's Pick: Linn-Mar. Too deep, too talented, too good vs a depleted Apple Valley squad.