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.

1 comment:

  1. Critchley had no business getting any varsity minutes in Roseville- his dad (head coach)brought him up too soon and raised a lot of eyebrows and ire with that move. However, the TC Cyclones have been one of the top teams in the class of 2015 for five years and are only better with the addition of Illikainen. No surprise they won the Comets tournament. Others to watch in this age group are Net Gain (formerly the NWS Panthers), Minneapolis Select, Team GetShook, and TNBA. All have players that should legitimately see some varsity action as freshmen next fall.


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