2011 Jayhawk Invite Pools

Its the 2011 Jayhawk or should I say Minnesota Invitational. Here's how Minnesota is represented.

63 total teams, 15 make the trip from Minnesota.  Net Gain matches up with a down KC PNR team in pool A.  3 teams get crazy difficult draws.  Southside with Dream Vision and Pray and Play players.  SW MN Stars with WI Playground Warriors and Colorado Hawks in their pool.  Comets-Seevers with Compton Magic (#2 kid in country not playing with them though) and SYF Players in their pool.  Howard Pulley White has Texas Assault in their pool.  43 Hoops has a winnable pool and should have Sean Scott back from a hand injury suffered in the regular season.  Team GetShook has Colorado Chaos in their pool.  Fury Blue with a workable pool.  EOTO Gold has Iowa Barnstormers in their pool.  MN Select Blue makes the trip.  The White squad has Comets Stock in their pool.  MN Magic Tillman makes another appearance.  Fury Gold in pool O.  Comets Hanson with only a 3 team pool that they should come through.

44 total teams, 10 hail from Minnesota.  SW MN Stars have SYF Players and an outstanding KC PNR squad (semis in Denver, beat Fury Blue in quarters) in their pool.  Howard Pulley Black should battle the WI Playmakers for Pool B's title.  Playmakers won St. Cloud and will have their top kid Matt Thomas back this week.  Great game there.  WI Playground Warriors won the Real Deal In The Rock with Bronson Koenig as MVP, they have to be one of the tourney favorites with KC PNR.  Howard Pulley White matches up with Dream Vision.  MN Select White looks to have a winnable pool.  Select Blue also makes the trip.  Comets Elite and Fury Blue should be a great pool matchup.  The top Kingdom Hoops team is also in that pool.  Ouch.  2nd Comets team also makes the trip.  Fury White takes on Denver Red Shield.  Fury Blue knocked out Red Shield in round of 16 in Denver.  Ultimate Hoops, Fury Gold and the top All Iowa Attack team all get together in another really loaded pool.  Star wing Peter Jok is listed on the AIA roster but I would expect him to be in Dallas with the top 17s for the 2nd session of EYBL play.

32 total teams, 10 of them represent Minnesota.   Howard Pulley Black has the Colorado Hawks in their pool.  Hawks lost to MN PNR in semis in Denver.  MN Rush take on Howard Pulley White in pool C.  Comets Elite has SYF Players in their pool.  MN Heat Select and MN Fury Blue join the 2nd Kingdom Hoops squad in pool F.  MN Fury Black and Comets-Meyer battle in pool G.  TC Force has Iowa Barnstormers in their pool.

Final Rankings for MN 2011 Players

The final 2011 rankings are out for all the big services here how the Minnesota class of 2011 did along with others who appeared locally.

Joe Coleman #121

Others who appeared locally
Brad Beal (#4) - Florida
Cody Zeller (#15) - Indiana
Adonis Thomas (#17) - Memphis
Branden Dawson (#20) - Michigan St
BJ Young (#25) - Arkansas
Myck Kabongo (#26) - Texas
Ky Madden (#32) - Arkansas
Quinn Cook (#38) - Duke
Mychael Henry (#39) - Illinois
Julien Lewis (#57) - Texas
Marshall Plumlee (#79) - Duke
Hunter Mickleson (#100) - Arkansas
Jerome Seagears (#101) - Rutgers
Andre Hollins (#110) - Minnesota
TaShawn Thomas (#113) - Houston
Jarion Henry (#119) - New Mexico
Josh Oglesby (#122) - Iowa
Paul Jesperson (#136) - Virginia
Aaron Ross (#143) - Arkansas
Cedrick McAfee (#145) - Auburn
Spencer Dinwiddie (#146) - Colorado
Jarrod Uthoff (#149) - Wisconsin

No Minnesota players ranked

Joe Coleman #93 behind Paul Jesperson #87

Hardwood Elite
Joe Coleman #80 behind Paul Jesperson #69
Ross Travis #91

Add #61 Todd Mayo (Marquette) to the list of others who appeared locally.
Andre Hollins #46

For the record, I think Coleman and Jesperson will have nice college careers.  I don't think either is quite to the top 100 level.  Coleman consistently dominated his higher level competition both in the winter and the spring.  He averaged 22 PPG while sitting major minutes as Hopkins destroyed people.  Jesperson's team was 11-11 this year in the regular season against inferior competition.  If not for Onalaska's top 2 bigs blowing out knees, Jesperson's Merrill team doesn't get out of section play.  He averaged 22.6 PPG playing big minutes.  While he had 45 in a game here last spring, in the spring games that I saw Jesperson play against our top teams he generally struggled against more physical play.   Coleman also did all of this with a loaded roster where Jesperson's team didn't have nearly that kind of talent.  The general recruiting rule is that you can teach skills but not athleticism.  Schools recruit bigger, stronger and faster because they have to.  So put all of that together and even though I'm clearly no expert on player evaluation, based on the facts above, it really shocks me that at least 2 of the rankings put Jesperson ahead of Coleman.  It proves my complaint with rankings.  Anybody who says they can see kids enough to do an intelligent ranking at a state or national level is full of it.  I spend as much time in the gym as anybody and I know first hand that you can't see a significant amount of any large number of players.  Especially when many of the writers focus mostly on Nike events (but don't get me started on that).  That's why kids like a Gordon Hayward or even Alec Brown fall through the cracks.

2011 PNR Spring Classic Championships

A short PNR Spring Classic thanks to the holiday weekend but Saturday's second day was full of quality championship action.  A quick lunch of a cinnamon roll is a nice way to get through hunger.  It wasn't Cinnabun but having it in plastic did save a major mess.  2 straight days of Mountain Dew (warm coke was the alternative which is like drinking battery acid) was major survival. 

A good weekend for Southside with their close win over the top Iowa Pump N Run team in pool play.  Then they knocked out MN Magic-Tillman and SW MN Stars behind double doubles from Joey King.  Quiet games from Casey Schilling and Zach Huisken in that quarterfinal loss by the Stars.  Very surprising.  Southside had a 15 point lead in the semis against the WI Swing.  Swing managed to cut the lead to 7 at half and then the top halftime speech of the tourney and Swing dominated the second half to win by double digits.  Coach Justin Litscher amazingly restrained to only get 1 T in this one with the refs calling just about nothing.  He was ready to go nuts.  Then they blew out MN PNR in the final.  Swing's only loss this season was to Mac Irvin Fire in the NY2LA Swish N Dish final a couple of weeks ago so they Zak Showalter and both sophs Nick Fuller and Luke Fischer impressed on the weekend. Austin Arians also with a nice weekend for the Swing.  Kyle Bauman from WOTN, Wally Ellenson and Sanjay Lumpkin from MN PNR, Mitchell Kuck from Heat Elite others of note from the 17U division.

IA PNR 1 gave up a 15 point lead to the Dakota Pride in the 16U final before hanging on to win a close one.  IA PNR handled the MN PNR 16s in the semis.  IA PNR knocked out MN Jaguars along the way.  Dakota Pride knocked off a quality Ultimate Hoops squad in the quarterfinals.  Saw Washburn's Nick Anderson playing with St. Paul's Finest in the silver bracket as one of many kids jumping around this weekend.  I know kids want to play but program directors what message does this send to the kids who have shown up to practice, paid the money and actually committed to the full season?

MN Elite came from 4 down in the last minute to beat MN PNR in a quality final.  Andrew Grosz with a 3 and a runner for the last 5 of the game to win it.  PNR missed 2 FTs and had 3 late chances that didn't go in.  Elite had to survive a missed front end late to hold on for the 34-33 win in a surprisingly low scoring game.  MN PNR got all they wanted against MN Heat Frank in the quarters.  PNR trailed by 3 with 7 minutes left and came back with a 7-0 run to take the lead and hang on.  MN Elite another good performance to blow out MN Fury Black in the quarters.

Day 1 2011 PNR Spring Classic

Day 1 of the Pump N Run Spring Classic is in the books.  My thoughts.

I had to partake in the $4 hot dog meal deal which was well worth it thanks to a quality selection of chips.  But no pure cola available (was that true?) so I went with a very rare Mountain Dew (that's more frequent than me drinking diet though). 

Plenty of blowouts to go around but some interesting games too.  MN PNR 17s avoided a major upset by holding off WI Blizzard-Emery 59-54 to win their pool.  PNR trailed by 3 at halftime.  Carnell Sheppard came up with a clutch stretch in the comeback.  WOTN got a post jumper from Kyle Bauman with 50 seconds left to take the lead and win their pool.  MN Southside held off IA PNR #1 by 5 to win their pool.  MN Heat Elite with a good win over WI Blizzard's top team to win their pool.  @KuckyMonster (still the best player twitter ID out there), Mitchell Kuck, shot it well and productive inside play from all their bigs.  Hope WI Blizzard Juac Majok is OK after going down late in their game with the Heat.  He showed some nice flashes in that game.  

SW MN Stars got good work from Zach Huisken as they won their pool.  Ultimate Hoops 16s rolled over a respectable WI Starz squad.  Love their new white uniforms with green and the blue trim.  Dakota Pride 16s very impressive too.  AJ Jacobsen is the real deal for a squad that has plenty of talent.  He flips between ECI and the Dakota Pride.  WI Swing's Zak Showalter with the best dunk I saw of the day with a 2 hander in traffic.  The 6'2 guard has added some real bounce.  Lefty soph star Nick Fuller played well too for the Swing.  After seeing them live, I think they're too deep and athletic for their half of the bracket.  I'd be very surprised if the final isn't MN PNR vs them.  Great to see Wisconsin's top hoops scribe Mark Miller in the building and talk to him for a while.  I grew up reading his work and he's outstanding.  A real pleasure to have him on our side of the river covering the games.

Sioux Falls Washington has 1 kid playing for the top IA PNR team and 1 playing for EOTO Gold (a much improved squad by the way with Trent Pollard and Tim Gill with Dwight Anderson joining them this weekend).  What's up with that?  Minocqua, WI has a 6'10 kid and just down the road Tomahawk, WI has a 7 footer.  New meaning to the term northwoods?  Amazing crowd for that almost PNR upset.  People packed on both side and even standing on the sidelines for that one.  Biggest crowd I've seen watch an AAU game on 1 court in the activity center (here in MN anyway, Denver crowds are bigger)

Gold Bracket matchups
17s) RK Elite vs WOTN and Southside vs ?? in the playin games.  MN PNR vs MN Heat Duberry, WI Blaze vs 1st playin, WI Swing Litscher vs MN Heat Elite, SW MN Stars vs 2nd Playin. 

16s) SW MN Stars vs sleeper MN Jaguars in playin game, winner will face IA PNR #1, MN PNR vs MN Heat Altena, WI Swing-Bench vs WOTN, Dakota Pride vs Ultimate Hoops in outstanding quarterfinal at 11:20. 

15s games, there are 6 pigtail games.

MN Ballers or WI Academy vs MN Heat Frank or WI Starz
Dakota Pride vs MN Heat Gene
IA PNR #1 vs WI Swing or MN Heat Weimar
MN Fury Black vs WOTN
SW MN Stars vs WI Blaze
MN Heat Select vs TNA Brown (14U) or RK Elite.

Winner of pigtail 1 plays MN PNR.
Pigtail 2 and 3 winners play each other in same half of bracket.
Pigtail 4 winner plays MN Elite (projected MN Fury Black is a great game at 1:40)
Pigtail 5 and 6 winners play each other in the other quarterfinal.

2011 PNR Spring Tourney Early Thoughts

Some early predictions for the 2011 Spring Tourney.  Easter weekend hurts the field but still a good group of teams.  Games are Friday and Saturday only.

Pool A
Minnesota Pump N  Run highlights the top pool with Wally Ellenson.  2nd WI Blizzard team (Emery) and a lower MN Heat team (McDonald) are in the pool.  That Heat team is very Richfield based so with Howard Pulley off, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jared Noonan join the Heat again like he did in St. Cloud.  If so, that's makes that team much more dangerous.

Pool B
One of the major contenders is the WI Swing top team led by Justin Litscher.  Very balanced with quality guard play from Zak Showalter, Josh Mongan and David Neis.  Austin Arians is a quality wing.  Then 2013 stars Nick Fuller (wing) and post Luke Fischer also appear.  MN Premiere and EOTO Gold (winner of Spring Jam last week).  Tim Gill and Shawn Atkins from Mpls Henry highlight that squad.

Pool C
The SW MN Stars make the trip with a hopefully healthy Zach Huisken. With the Dakota Schoolers off, I would expect Casey Schilling to appear with this group as well.  Jake Holt and Mitch Weg add to a group with great size.  Brandon Tyler leads the Fox Valley Fire in the pool .  Heat Biwan in the pool with their own nice size.  Very balanced pool.

Pool D
Team GetShook showed well in St. Cloud.  They have quality size up front and should be a factor in the pool.  6'5 forward Elijah Hinze is a scorer who can fill it up for the Wisconsin Blaze.  The 2nd IA PNR squad rounds out the pool.

Pool E
Very little on this pool with RK Elite (WI), QC Elite (IA) and Magic Maroon all here.

Pool F
MN Southside and Joey King is the big name in the pool.  But they won't have it easy as the top IA PNR team is also here.  Hopefully no travel delays for them this week.  Guards Rudy Bentley and Kwame Latimer are 2 notables for WI Streak Select.

Pool G
The MN Heat Elite team is here along with EOTO Black.  The top Wisconsin Blizzard team is here.  One name of note for Blizzard is 6'5 Juac Majok.  6'4 Dylan Heemstra is another to watch. 

Pool H
The 2nd Wisconsin Swing team is here along with pleasant surprise WOTN and the Iowa Heat.

Pool I
WI Starz make their annual trip.  While they've been known for guards in the past, this year's squad is known for their size.  Heat Duberry again lurks in this pool.

Pool J
Very little known here as well with St. Paul's Finest (though they had a surprise or 2 on the roster this fall), IMPACTT Basketball from Iowa and MN Magic Tillman.

17U Bracket guesses
I expect Southside to come through and make the semis against the Swing top team.  MN PNR should come through to the semis in the top half to play Team Get Shook.  I'll take Swing over MN PNR in another epic final between these teams (see 2 years ago here)

16U Thoughts
Minnesota Pump N Run should be a factor with their versatile lineup.  Duez Henderson's top IA PNR squad with twins Michael and Steven Soukop will also be a factor.  Dakota Pride with Moorhead's Aaron Lien will win their pool.  Keep an eye on Ian Taylor of the WI Starz.  Ultimate Hoops opens their season in tough pool F with the Starz and EOTO Gold (3rd last week at Spring Jam).   Ultimate Hoops lined up to meet Dakota Pride in an outstanding quarterfinal.  Winner of that should make the final.  MN PNR vs IA PNR in a possible semifinal would be a fun bragging rights game between PNR organizations.

15U Thoughts
I love that 4 top teams are here (MN Elite, MN Heat Select and MN Fury Black with hosts).  The home team gets a break as the other 3 are all on the opposite site of the bracket.  Fury Black and MN Elite are lined up to meet in the quarters which is a shame since that's a championship caliber game.  The winner then likely runs into MN Heat Select who has won 2 straight tourneys.  That's another outstanding game.  Expect MN PNR to steamroll to the final and then win it.

Diapers, footrubs and hoops in Denver

I had the chance to join the Minnesota Fury on the road for their 1st trip to Denver last weekend and follow the 6 teams there while also playing tour guide.  For those of you wondering about the title, I'll explain it below.  Bottom line is that the title gets me free dinner and if you know I'm all about free food. 

Fury had the 10:40 PM Central time games so the day was already going to be a long day.  Then due to high winds at MSP the plane gets diverted to Fargo.  Ben Davis burning up phone lines left and right.  He may have used the phones of 5 or 6 different players besides his own.  Meanwhile to pass the time the players and I are trying to open something encased in that hard plastic that shreds your hands when you open it.  Of course we're behind security so no knives or anything to help us.  It takes 6 of us and 20 minutes to finally open it thanks to Will Johnson going Superman on it and just tearing it open.  We land at 9:15 Central time, hurry hurry hurry.  Most of the squad makes with just a few minutes to spare.  I pull in 20 minutes before the late games.  Fury 16s roll, Fury 17s win big but understandibly sluggish in 2nd half.  I catch a smidge of the loaded Houston Defenders Select team.  They have a pair of twins who are #1 and #10 in the 2013 class respectively.  Then its Old Chicago after the game.  Ran into IA PNR director Duez Henderson there.  They took the bus out there and ended up detouring around all the snow and just barely making their 6 PM game with 20 minutes to spare.  Then its pizza.  Points of discussion during the post game meal include George Clinton doing a concert in a diaper and a mention that person X has given more foot rubs since getting married.  That's all the sign we need that the day has been WAY too long as its 2 AM Central time.   Net Gain wins their game by 2, the other 5 Minnesota games are blowouts for a 6-0 day

The advantage of having the late game Friday night is that you don't play until later on Saturday.  But no rest for this weary hoops scribe.  Off to one of the remote gyms to see the PNR 16s who just clobbered Shining Stars and rolled over the scoreboard.  Then across town to scout the SF Rebels who ended up winning at the buzzer.  Their opponent took a late momentum killer timeout and got out scored 9-3 the rest of the way.  Quality unis from the rebels.  Red with the Golden Gate bridge on the front and cable car on the back.  A cross between the current and old school Golden State Warriors jerseys.  Then on the way back to see the Fury 17s lunch at Jimmy John's but wait the sign says it doens't open until Tuesday, trash!  But Atlanta Bread Company is right next door and a very good choice.  Honey Ham and cheddar on 9 grain bread, yum! All that running around means I miss a classic.  PNR 17s beat Az Magic PNR 107-104 in double OT.  Arizona was up 22 in that one before needing a 3 to force OT.  MN PNR needed a 3 to force the 2nd OT. 

Fury 17s win their game easily.  #4 ranked Chris Thomas then put on a show for Colorado Hawks against KC PNR.  KC PNR usually strong but their 17s are the weakest team they've had in a long time.  Hawks pound them by 40.  The next 2 sessions see MN sweep their pool games at 12-0.  Fury 17s struggled early in their 1st bracket game but ended up blowing out Step Off Lighting.  Net Gain won big and MN PNR 17s pulled away from KC PNR but had trouble closing the game out.  They ended up winning by 10 but had a bigger lead in the 2nd half.

Then its a couple of sessions to hang out and see the top teams.  Jordan Tebbutt (#54 Rivals) brought PNR Elite back from 9 down with 2 minutes to play against Colorado Chaos to avoid a major upset.  17-3 run to end the game.  DoublePump Elite won their game by 40.  Their 7'6" center has only played 2 years and is very raw but you can't teach size  Also saw the loaded Indiana Elite squad.  Even without 2 top stars, they are ridiculously talented.  Then its the 2nd bracket game of the night for the 17s.  MN PNR moved on in the round of 32.  Net Gain fell behind 14-2 after a late start to their game but ended up winning by 20.  Then they defeated the Colorado Hawks 70-68 in the late game.  Fury 17s were the 1st team out.  They fell to Team Jennings Black.  Fury was up 10 in the first half thanks to 4 3s and 15-17 points from Sander Mohn.  Team Jennings cut the lead to 5 at half and then their athleticism was just too much.  Fury missed 6 free throws late and some easy chances.  Final was 10-15 points but a much closer game than that.

So after the game its food at Buffalo Wild Wings and that's never a bad thing.  On the way out a fellow packer fan comes over (sees my packer jacket) and shakes my hand as I'm the 1st packer fan he's seen in months.  The day is a drain and early games so off to bed at 11:30.  Then again maybe not, the PNR guys are still up so I sashay down the street to their campfire session in the hotel lobby.  Nice to get a chance to make peace with Jay Fuhrman after getting on him via twitter about his cell phone during 8th grade games this winter.  I wander back to the hotel and my shortcut ends up with me at the wrong place.  I walk around the building and find that my hotel is the next one back.  No wonder the hotel key didn't work. 1:30 AM and tomorrow will come way too quick.

Fury 17s have the day off and are heading to the mountains which sounds way cool.  The picture of DeLaSalle's Tyler Moore on facebook with the elk is a poster waiting to happen.  I on the other hand have work to do so 6:50 AM comes really early.  7:30 and I'm off to the Fury 16s round of 16 game.  Nobody at the gym at 7:40 so we wait until 8.  Then the game starts late and its crazy.  Fury coach Matt Christensen is reallly mild mannered and he gets a ridiculous T early and the fans almost get tossed too.  55-60 fouls, 5 technicals, 1 ejection and too many free throws to count.  On the ejection, the kid gets a double T, Fury gets 1 T (not deserved) and somehow we go to the possession arrow.  Unreal.  10:05 the game ends and the next game is across town at 10:50, hustle!  1 parent goes through a light and a police car just so happens to be right there to lay down the law.   One of those days.

Thankfully its a quick trip and the opponent is KC Pump N Run.  Connor Frankamp averaged 28 PPG this season, high of 52 and will play with Tyus Jones on the USA National under 16 team.  He was pretty quiet but Travis Jorgenson was lights out as KC knocked out the Fury 16s 70-58.  That means there's time for me to eat lunch and play fan as the 17U semifinals are up next.  Packed house for those and with 3 of those 4 teams likely coming in July, a real treat.  MN PNR 15s make the semis and run away to win.  Then its off to the airport and I make it 20 minutes before the flight is called.  Smooth sailing the rest of the way.  All in all another fun time out west.  Minnesota teams started 18-0 and then finished 7-6 after that.

What caught my eye
Randomly ordered thoughts from the weekend

  • Brycen Wojta did a nice job running the Fury 16s all weekend.  I had him with at least a handful of assists in more than 1 game I saw.  Got after the ball on defense too.
  • Also for the Fury 16s, Bridge Tusler was impressive closing out the last pool game.  He played well all weekend and his game has really come along in the last year.  With significant losses at Osseo next year, expect him to play a much bigger role.
  • Zach Lindquist stepped up huge in the crazy round of 16 game.  14 of his 18 points on free throws.  He can be a matchup nightmare overpowering smaller players inside but skilled enough to step out and make shots to force bigs to play him.
  • Every team needs an X factor.  Guys like Joe Coleman, Carlos Emory etc have been that guy.  Wally Ellenson is that guy this year for PNR 17s.  Nice pickup for them.
  • Little brother Henry Ellenson for the 15s (2015 though) caught ESPN's eye and rightfully so.  He's already 6'5 and can step out and really shoot it.
  • Speaking of the PNR 15s, they don't have a true post player but they are really athletic (Louis Williams of Richfield, James Lawson of De La Salle really come to mind) with quality point guard play from Jarvis Johnson (2015) and Jordan Dembley. They will be very competitive on the circuit this year.
  • I'm not a football guy so I wouldn't know this, but Andre McDonald of the Fury 17s is a far better athlete than I realized.  He had at least 2 games that he punctuated with high flying dunks and had many more throughout the weekend.  Rather amusing off the court too 
  • The MCAA doesn't get any respect from the big time AAU programs but Fury has done good work getting kids like Michael Lindberg and Tony Kuplic out of that league.
  • Net Gain continues to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  Slow starts and close games but then turn it up later in the tourney.  Very similar to what they did at the Comets.  They only lost by 5 to Cal Supreme (eventual runner up) in the quarters and had their chances.
  • Zach Robertson makes me think of Zach Stahl when I watch him play.
  • Passing of Graham Woodward and Kashif Hayes stuck out in the blowout win I saw.
  • I like that the officials at the event usually do just a couple of games and then they're done but once again the attitudes were surprisingly bad in many of the games I saw.  I saw 1 fan get tossed for no reason and 2 coaches get technicals that were ridiculous.  Its one thing to be cranky after a full day of parents yapping in your ear, but only 2 games that's a bit much.  Also saw an official make a call on the break from the opposite bench when he had 2 refs in front of him.  Even I had to yap a little about that one.  We don't see many female officials here, especially in summer ball but there were a large number at this one including 1 game with a 3 person all female crew which I can't say I've ever seen anywhere here in MN during HS or summer ball.
  • Really fun to talk X & O stuff with the Fury guys.  In the discussions about defending screen and roll, I felt like I was at the Vince Lombardi 8 hour lesson on the power sweep.  Another case of "The more I watch, the less I know".

2011 Week 2 AAU Results

Some results from week 2 of the 2011 AAU Season

At the Great Lakes Shootout in Menomonie, WI, Comets Seevers def MN United to win the top tier title.  Both MN United teams played for the 15U title.  MN United 15-3 on the weekend at the Shootout with 4 teams.

At the Dakota Schoolers Spring Jam, the top 2 Comets 17s lost in the semifinals to the Dakota Schoolers and South Dakota Heat.  2 Points South Dakota.  Comets Stock beat SW MN Stars and Dakota Schoolers earlier.

At the Minneapolis Spring Jam, EOTO Gold won the 17s, Fury Gold won the 16s and MN Heat Select won the 15s for their 2nd straight title (won the Comets too).  Heat Select def Alex Illikainen and the loaded MN Cyclones 14U squad in the semis. 

In Denver, MN Pump N Run 15s made the final with a 6-1 record.  Fury 16s made final 8.  Both lost to very good KC PNR teams that I'm looking forward to seeing again.  PNR 16s lost in final 16 to a ridiculously good Houston Defenders 15U club who won the whole deal.  Net Gain 17s continue to impress as they went out in the final 8.  PNR 17s went out in round of 16s to Double Pump Elite.  Fury 17s lost in round of 32.  Total record 25-6 for a nice performance by the local clubs.  More details of my trip to follow and if you've been following me on twitter (if not, shame on you, start now) you know it'll be interesting.

2011 Week 2 AAU Road Warriors

The spring hoops season is in full swing and this week teams spread out.   We'll start with those who are on the road.

In Brandon, SD its the Dakota Schoolers SpringJam.  All 3 SW MN Stars teams are there to kick off their season (I'm counting their little all-star thing last weekend when they should have played Comets).  The top 2 teams at each level for the Comets are attending with the exception of the top 16s.  The MN Elite 15s are also making the trip.

Speaking of 15s, 43 Hoops and Fury Black both make the trip to St. Louis for the Battle for the Arch tournament.  Fury Black has a tough one against Mac Irvin Fire to end pool play on Saturday night.  43 Hoops has Kingdom Hoops I and All Illinois Ferrari in what appears to be a tough pool.

The Great Lakes Shootout is in Menominee, WI.  Comets Seevers, MN United 16s and 17s are in the top bracket.  MN United also has a pair of teams in the 9th grade bracket.

I'll be in Denver for the Double Pump Spring Tournament.  Its another Minnesota invasion with the MN PNR 16s and 17s opening their season there and the 15s will be along as well.  Net Gain's 17s make the trip again.  This year the Fury Blue 16s and Fury Blue 17s make the trip for the 1st time.  I'll be joining them for the weekend.  Its an outstanding field with all of the Pump teams (KC PNR and IA PNR are 2 that we'll see locally coming up and some of the other PNR teams who will appear here in July).  Indiana Elite, Colorado Hawks, California Supreme, and a pair of Texas D1 Ambassadors teams are just some of the other notables.  MN PNR 17s have AZ PNR and NorCal PNR in their pool.  Fury has 805 PNR in their pool.  MN PNR 15s vs Double Pump 2014 in pool play is a good one that I'll catch the end of late Friday night.

Locally, its the Howard Pulley Jamboree.  Minnesota Lockdown is listed as opening their season there.  Also, the Minneapolis Spring Jam is up and down Lake Street this weekend.  MN Heat Select out of Pool A along with MN Rush and MN Cyclones (playing up) lead Pool C out of the 15U division.  Fury Gold coming off a runner up finish losing at the buzzer in St. Cloud highlights the 16U division.  Magic Superfriends and Team GetShook Black are together in Pool B of the 17s.  The Ultimate Hoops 16s (last year's quality tNBA 15U squad) are listed as opening in another local tournament at Hopkins (not MYAS) but I can't find any info on it.

2010-11 South Suburban All-Conference teams named.

The coaches in the South Suburban named 1st and 2nd team All-Conference and also selected an All-Defensive team for the 2010-2011 season.  Here are the selections.

1st Team
Tom Schalk - Apple Valley
Alex Richter - Lakeville South
Joey King - Eastview
Tyus Jones - Apple Valley
Frank Veldman - Eastview

2nd Team
Jameson Parsons - Eagan
Jon Christensen - Lakeville South
Marcus Alipate - Bloomington Jefferson
Adam Petterson - Lakeville North
Matt Hentges - Eagan

All Defensive Team
Frank Veldman - Eastview
CJ Smith - Burnsville
Gavin Bronson - Apple Valley
Al Erickson - Lakeville North
Riley West - Lakeville South

2011 Comets Shootout Thoughts

Its always draining for everyone involved but always a great time at the Comets Shootout.  My thoughts from the 2011 edition

15U Division
In the 15U title game, MN Heat Select had a 5 second call go against them up 1 with 20 seconds to go but made 2 free throws and got 2 stops to close it out.  45-42 was the final over MN Elite.  Heat Select went on a 14-0 run only to be outscored 19-4 to end the first half.  Heat Select then came from 10 down in the 2nd half for the win.  Having only 7 guys to work with definitely wore on MN Elite over the compressed schedule.  That Heat Select club features Jeff Jones and Quinton Garvis who lead Washburn in the Mpls City this year along with athletic guard Andre Wallace from Eden Prairie.  Coach Leon Garvis said 6'5 Isaac Matthews from Coon Rapids was a beast for him all weekend.

Net Gain 14s played up and finished 1-2 in pool play.  Sam Neumann is major name to remember in the 2015 class.  After Alex Illikainen (14U champ), he's one of the next names to come up in that class.  I also liked 6'6" lefty forward Jim Warmack from East Grand Forks and point guard Hadley Smith from Devils Lake, ND for the Dakota Pride.  MN United nice white uniforms, but the black numbers on navy blue uniforms have to go as they render the numbers unreadable.

16U Division
Amazing ending in the 16U title game with Danny Sullivan (Holy Angels) nailing a 3 for Fury Gold for a 52-51 lead on WI Playmakers.  But David Jesperson (brother of Virginia recruit and Wisconsin's top 2011 prospect Paul Jesperson) knocked down a 3 at the buzzer on the other end to win the title 54-52.  All of that without star shooting guard Matt Thomas.  6'9" Toby Hegner from Berlin was outstanding.  Jump hooks inside over the left shoulder or stepping out and knocking down 3s, love his upside.  For Fury Gold, DJ Pollard played well.  Adam Huessner with a pair of plays to bring Fury back just before the ending.  Keep an eye on cousins Tom and Joe Aase from Austin.  Tom played well in the 2nd half to keep Fury close and Joe is big but mobile and can either step out for 3 or run the floor and finish strong.  He showed that with 1 big run out dunk and was fouled to prevent another occurrence of the same thing during the tourney.

Fury Gold with a great run knocking off Schoolers Blue (semifinalist) during pool play, then they beat the MN PNR 15s, Fury Blue and Select White to make the final.  Great year for Fury at 16s as their White team with Zach Haas and Nick Goldberg of Sibley gave Select White all they wanted in the quarters.  Nate Huot from Dawson-Boyd showed well for Comets-Lewis.  Fury Black (outstanding uniforms) is Nick Carroll's 15U squad who played up in this tourney.  Only fitting that they had the 1st of many meetings with PNR's top 15s who also played up.  Have to give some props to Fury Black point guard Reggie Rabb representing the Old Kingdom (La Crosse Aqiunas).  Looks like the Blugolds have another quality guard coming through the program.  JP Macura (Lakeville North) is a guard who can fill it up in a hurry for a very balanced squad.

17U Division
Opening day at the Whitney for the 17s featured mostly blowouts.  Comets-Hanson blew through their pool to easily move on.  Southside held off Comets Stock in their 1 game at the Whitney to win their pool.  Glory held off a game Heat-Duberry squad but fell to SD Heat in overtime as both of those teams moved on to the top bracket.  Coach Duberry then made a nice run in the Silver bracket.  Net Gain struggled all day.  They beat SW Slam by 13 and then lost by 9 to WOTN (who didn't have a recognizable face on the roster) in the day's biggest upset at the Whitney.  NGS then held off ECI Prospects by 3 to just barely make the top bracket.  In other action that I didn't see, the Dakota Schoolers were impressive at Sauk Rapids to win their pool along with Matt Van Sycoc of the WI Playmakers.  Team GetShook knocked off Fury Blue.  That forced a 3 way for 1st in that pool with Select White and Fury Blue goes out on tiebreaker.  Magic's athletic squad knocked off 43 Hoops in action at Kennedy Elementary to win their pool.

Comets Elite took out Glory, Select White over Playmakers, Net Gain over Southside, Magic over Fury Gold, Comets Stock over WOTN, 43 Hoops over Heat Elite, Schoolers over GetShook and SD Heat over Triple Threat in the round of 16 games.  Comets then got a late 3 and 2 free throws from Tyler Vaughan to hold off Select White.  Net Gain vs Magic had an ugly AAU run and gun first half before Net Gain pulled away in the other quarterfinal at the Whitney.  Net Gain jumped all over the Comets 34-8 and shockingly rolled to a 70-43 win in 1 semifinal.  43 Hoops pulled way from the Schoolers late for a 66-58 win in the other semifinal.

Then Net Gain got a pair of nice drives and an assist from Tommy McDermott and it looked like they'd finish 43 Hoops off.  But Duke Anywanu with a 3 and then a steal that became a Marcus Marshall 3.  59-58 43 Hoops with 25 seconds left in a furious comeback.  NGS with the ball underneath with 5 seconds left.  Ater Mangyang misses a corner 3 but Taylor Stafford puts it back at the horn and Net Gain wins the title 60-59.  How improbable after the day 1 struggles.  2 title games decided at the horn and the other on the last possession.  Johnny Woodard played well for NGS in the last 2 games to lead the way to the title.  Ater Mangyang might be this year's Jonah Travis.  Athletic undersized 4 who can make an impact. 

43's Nate Kratch impressive defensively swatting shots all over the place, especially in the game vs Dakota Schoolers going against 6'9 Zach Kraning.  His D1 interest is heating up and rightfully so.  He has a handful of unofficial visits coming up .  I liked Glory's Chad Poppen as a big pass first point guard (and for kindly putting up with my commentary on other games earlier in the day).  Magic's schedule is crazy but they have a whole bunch of athletes and will be no cupcake on anybody's schedule.  Tyler Flack's athleticism on display for Select White with a picture perfect drop step dunk in the post against the Comets.  Skye Warwick of the Schoolers has ridiculous shooting range. 

People talk about parity at the NCAA level.  Maybe for MN spring teams it applies too.  43 Hoops goes 5-2, Net Gain goes 6-1 so we end up with no undefeated team in the 17s.  Next up, I'm with Fury this weekend as Minnesota invades Denver with Net Gain (17s), Fury (17 and 16 Blue teams) and all 3 Minnesota Pump N Run teams.

2011 Comets Shootout 17U Preview

Its part 2 of my preview of the 2011 Comets Shootout.  My thoughts on the 17U bracket are here (read about 14-16U here).  Games start at 3 PM thanks to ACT testing with 1 stray game to finish up at 10 PM (Will there be more fans awake or sleeping in the gym by the time that one ends?).  Top 2 from each pool advance to the championship bracket on Sunday.

Pool A (Whitney Rec Center at 3:00, 5:20, 7:40 PM)
Comets Hanson is the favorite here and they've upgraded this year with talented wing Jal Rial from Alaska, shooting guard Tyler Vaughan from Braham and center Connor Goodwin from class A runner-up BBE.  Vaughan and Joe Burt will be a fun backcourt to watch.  Expect a long run from this squad in bracket play.  Suns and Triple Threat should battle for the 2nd spot.   Jared Kadrie from LP/HT and Jett Leaf from HLWW are a pair of guards to keep an eye on for Triple Threat.

Pool B (Kennedy Elementary at 3:00, 5:20, 7:40 PM)
Heat Elite team is favored here with sharpshooters Justin Pahl, Mitchell Kuck and Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli.  Emeche Wells is their top athlete.  Zach Meyer and Dave Simmet return to anchor the interior.  Fury Gold (2nd team) won't wow you but they're solid with Anthonie Tholey from state AAA champ Orono and Michael Brush from state qualifier Osseo amongst those on the roster.  They'll battle Comets-Seevers for the 2nd spot in the pool.  The 5:20 game between Comets-Seevers and Heat Elite features Dave Simmet vs Riley Mickelson in a battle of a pair of immovable objects.

Pool C (Kennedy Elementary at 4:10, 6:30, 8:50 PM)
43 Hoops leads this pool as one of the tourney favorites.  Sean Scott and Marcus Marshall return.  They've also added forward Nate Kratch from Watertown-Mayer and will use seniors Adam Hjelter and Roosevelt Scott.  They're athletic with plenty of firepower and with coach Al Harris and his intensity, you know they'll get after it on defense too.  The Heat's 2nd team and Magic Superfriends should battle it out for the 2nd spot when they open at 4:10.  Heat Biwan won't wow you but they have plenty of varsity experience.  Magic Superfriends has a ton of firepower at the guard slots with Darian Pittman, Demetrius Martin, Rodney Owens and Tyson Kalien.

Pool D (Sauk Rapids HS at 3:00, 5:20, 7:40 PM)
Fury Blue and Select White (top teams from both organizations) lead this pool.  Select has quality inside play with Kyle Bauman, Brett Rasmussen and Trevor O'Brien.  Jack Harrison, Matt Nelson and Tyler Flack are big versatile forwards.  WEM's Grant Pope runs the show along with Brady Wohler.  Xavier Hall is a defensive stopper.  Fury has a closer in Marquealis Edwards, Michael Schreiber to matchup with the size, Sander Mohn to shoot it and Tyler Moore to run the show.  Those teams play at 5:20.  Team GetShook will look to jump into the mix with a win in 1 of their last 2 games over those teams.  Alex Stafford, Shelby Ashford and 2011 Kevin Handy will man the interior with Jalen Albritton and Shawn Bear on the wings.  Bear will have a heavy load scoring and handling for that club. 

Pool E (Whitney Rec Center and Sauk Rapids HS at 3:00, 5:20, 7:40 and 10 PM)
The most wide open pool that I see.  Wyatt Krogman leads the SD Heat.  Glory can match that guard firepower with Anders Broman, Carey Woods, Andrew Lindquist and Chad Poppen.  MN Heat Duberry is a sleeper with St. Anthony star Anthony Brama, Chanhassen's Cole Otto and Minnetonka's James Zilverberg.  Select Blue rounds out a very balanced pool

Pool F (Sauk Rapids HS at 4:10, 6:30, 8:50 PM)
The Dakota Schoolers lead this pool with Casey Schilling and Michael Busack on the wings and impressive big Zach Kraning inside.  He impressed at the Timberwolves Shootout against Roseville.  I also liked their waterbug point guard Tanner Odegaard at the Comets camp last fall.  WI Playmakers will be a very good 2nd team in the pool with 6'6" wing Matt Van Sycoc who's received Divison I interest and guard Riley Bambenek from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau (outside of The Czar's old stomping grounds) who recently picked up a pair of NSIC offers.  Van Sycoc was impressive with 25 and 10 when I saw him in my 2010-11 season opener.  Those teams open against each other at 4:10.

Pool G (Whitney Rec Center at 4:10, 6:30, 8:50 PM)
Net Gain and ECI Prospects are the top 2 teams here.  Net Gain looks like they've added Duluth East stars Taylor Stafford and Johnny Woodard while keeping Ater Mangyang and Riley Dearring.  Nick Latzke looks like he'll join them too.  Daniel Yale (ND and NDSU offers) and AJ Jacobsen lead the 2012 ECI group.  2011 PG Josh Rodenbiker is sticking around with this group as well and should get some coaches attention this weekend.  He was a top player last year for them.  SW Slam features Brady Boike from MACCRAY and Ryan Fransen of Renville County West on the front line.  ECI vs NGS at 8:50 for the featured pool game.

Pool H (Whitney Rec Center and Sauk Rapids HS at 4:10, 6:30, and 8:50 PM)
Minnesota Southside with Joey King leads this pool.  They've also added firepower with Deonte Blakemore and Latrell Love.  Comets-Stock has the size to deal with that lineup though with Luke Halbakken of Pelican Rapids and Mike Spoden of Grand Rapids.  Bjorn Bjorklund can shoot it and Scottie Rucks is an athletic forward who would be a reasonable matchup with King.  Southside's 1 game at the Whitney vs Comets Stock at 6:30 should decide the pool.

The Brackets (Sunday 9:10 AM, 12:40, 3:00 and 5:20 PM)
As to bracket play, here's what I see possibly happening.  Fury or Select top teams vs Playmakers in the round of 16 with the winner facing the Comets is interesting.  Southside vs ECI in the round of 16 with the winner to play 43 Hoops.  Winner of that would likely see the Comets top team in the semis.  The top 2 Heat teams could meet in the round of 16 or the Heat top team would see a tough matchup with the Magic there.  Winner of that to play Net Gain who I think makes the semis.  Dakota Schoolers control the bottom quarter of the bracket to play Net Gain in the semis.  43 takes out the Comets and then the Schoolers to win the title.  Nothing like 7-0 in 26 hours, the winner is always well deserving.

2011 Comets Shootout Preview Part I

Its Minnesota's toughest basketball on 21 courts on Saturday, 19 on Sunday.  That means its time for The Czar to once again visit the Comets Shootout.  I'll give my pre-shootout thoughts in 2 parts, starting now with the 14U-16U levels and then 17U in a later post.

16U Division (30 teams)
This division is 10 pools of 3 teams each rather than the 4 team pools seen elsewhere.  In Pool A, Comets Lewis is my pick and I can see their 2nd team winning pool B.  Keep an eye on Nate Huot for Comets Lewis.  Fury Blue has to be one of the tourney favorites out of pool C.  Solid all around with Brycen Wojta at PG, Dustin Fronk to shoot it, Zach Lindquist to score from the wing, Ben Oberfeld to control the paint and Andrew Duxbury to do dirty work.  Heat Reese in the same pool features Tartan's Kharie Kirkland and shooter Beau Smit.  WI Playmakers are my pick in pool D, that's with the assumption they have Onalaska's star guards Matt Thomas (maybe the top 16U kid in the tourney) and Clint Rihn.  In Pool E, Moorhead's lefty star Aaron Lien leads the Dakota Pride to the top spot.

In Pool F an eyecatcher at 1:50 as its the top Heat team against the Pump N Run 15s at St. John's.  Its PNR's only team at the tournament.  The Heat squad is led by Jack Martinek of Irondale and Harrison Lucas of Osseo on the outside.  An outstanding 16U pool game is Schoolers Blue (watch Trevor Jacobsen at PG) vs Fury Gold in Pool G at 5:20 at St. John's.  Its the 2nd Fury team (out of 4 in the 16U bracket), but with shooters Adam Huessner and Luke Scott, DJ Pollard to score and Danny Sullivan inside, that group will not be an easy out. Select's top team is the favorite in Pool H under the tutelage of Mitch Ohnstad and should make a big run.  They're big with Carson Shanks and Jeff Probert, frosh Jon Sobaski and Grant Erickson are solid at PG.  Mack Johnson can shoot from anywhere in the zip code and I haven't even mentioned Kebu Johnson or Shawn Fitzgibbons who are both talented wing players.  SD Heat by default in pool I.  Pool J is very wide open with Heat-Altena/SW Slam/ECI Prospects.  I'll take the ECI top team.

As to bracket play, 3 possible games in the round of 16 stick out and the bottom half is loaded.  First is Comets Lewis vs the loser of Schoolers Blue/Fury Gold (Jacobsen vs Huot possibility) in the top half.  Comets Lewis likely wouldn't be challenged again until the WI Playmakers in the semis.  Second is winner of that Schoolers Blue/Fury Gold pool game vs the loser of MN Heat Elite and MN PNR 15s.  Winner would likely play Fury Blue in the quarters.  Third is on the same side of that bracket with Select White vs Dakota Pride.  Winner of that would likely play Heat Elite/PNR pool winner in the last quarter.  I can't pick against the Comets in the top half.  Select White vs Fury Blue or Schoolers Blue in the other semifinal with that winner being worn out.  I'll take Comets on home turf to win it.

15U Division (20 teams)
Hard to know a whole lot about this division.  In Pool A I'll take the Comets top team.  In Pool B, MN Elite with Minnetonka's Andrew Grosz (8th grader), Maranatha's Josh Goldschmidt and Champlin Park's Matt Juneau (assuming they stayed together) has to be a favorite to win the whole 15U bracket.  Some may remember them from their runner up finish in 15U last year at the Select tournament.  Heat Select were a very good 14U team last year under coach Leon Garvis.  Assuming he kept things reasonably intact, they'll battle the Dakota Schoolers 15 Blues to win the pool.  I won't predict Pool D, but Net Gain's 14U team is in the pool with some talented kids.  Be interesting to see how they do in early pool games at the Whitney.  Pool E is 2nd teams from the Comets and Schoolers.  Again, no prediction.

14U Division (16 teams)
I usually draw the line at 15U, but there are a pair of things at the 14U level that get my attention.  The TC Cyclones with Kobe Critchley (Roseville), Will Culliton (Breck) and Alex Illikainen (Grand Rapids) feature 3 kids who all saw significant varsity minutes this year.  Daniel Hudrlik of Crosby-Ironton might also be in that category for them.  They play their 3 games at St. John's before the 17s get started and (pun intended) could blow people away in bracket play.   Also in the 14s, 6th grader Tayt Vincent is playing with the Dakota Schoolers 14U White squad at St. Cloud St.  If he's the same Tayt I saw play in a 7th grade metro tourney for the Sioux Falls Celtics in January, then I'd love to see him play again as I came away very impressed with my initial viewing of him.

The rest of 2011 opening week of AAU

I'll have more on the Comets Tourney later in the week, but some quick notes on everybody else.

Net Gain started their season in Milwaukee last weekend losing to eventual champion Mac Irvin in the round of 16 early Sunday morning.  They won their initial bracket game after losing 2 in pool play.

Howard Pulley's top 17s open their season with the 1st round of EYBL play in Hampton, VA.  Its their annual Boo Williams trip.  They open at 6:30 Friday night against EYBL newcomer CP3 (A Chris Paul sponsored squad from North Carolina).  Then a pair of games on Saturday with ICP-Portland and the Arkansas Wings.  The Wings just missed out on qualifying for the Peach Jam last year so all they did was come here for the Best Buy Summer Classic and win the whole thing.  Then they ran off and won AAU Nationals if I remember correctly.  Nike Team Florida and Athletes First (OK) are the Sunday opponents.  All of those games are outside of the Panthers Division A.

The SW Minnesota Stars will play in the first annual Worthington Daily Globe Hoops Fest this weekend.  It features their 17U squad taking on a local all-star squad.  Those events are Friday and Saturday at Worthington High School.

Pump N Run 16s and 17s are taking the week off before going on the road to Denver next weekend.