2012 Timberwolves Shootout Preview

The Timberwolves Shootout returns to a 6 game schedule this year with the game schedule compressed to 90 minute intervals so expect things to run way behind later in the day.  An outstanding field of Minnesota stars, Gopher recruits (signed, wanted or missed) and quality teams.  Let's dive deeper into the games.  Worth noting for all of the Non-MN teams that they'll have to contend with the 4 extra minutes of game time and halves.

Note: All records and rankings through January 1, 2012

11:00 AM - St. Thomas More (SD) vs Benilde-St. Margaret's
The day begins with a battle of number 1s.  St. Thomas More is out of Rapid City, SD and they're ranked number 1 in South Dakota's class A (enrollment 90-449) with a record of 6-0.  The Cavaliers are also the defending state champs.  6'1 G Skye Warwick leads the way.  He's a shooter with range beyond the NBA line.  He'll attend Northern State next year with Rogers center Mike Schreiber.  Eric Hensch mans another guard spot while 6'6 Kirby (KJ) Rech and 6'5 Jeremy Henderson man the front line.  Benilde St. Margaret's is ranked number 1 in class AAA with a 7-1 record and has already knocked off class AAAA state favorite Hopkins and fellow Shootout member Minnetonka.  They're only loss is to #1AAAA Eastview.  They feature 3 division 1 stars.  6'6 Forward Sanjay Lumpkin (Northwestern) is a wing who plays some inside.  Sharpshooter Isaiah Zierden (Creighton) can match Warwick's shooting.  Will Dunn (IPFW) is a power wing.  Keep an eye on guard Isaiah Gray who's been outstanding for the Red Knights.  BSM isn't deep or big so we'll see if that becomes a factor on the NBA size court. 

Czar's Pick: Benilde-St. Margaret's, too talented and they've proven this year they're tough enough to win the big game.

12:30 PM - Rice Lake (WI) vs Duluth East
Rice Lake comes into the Shootout 8-0 and ranked #3 in Wisconsin's Division 2 (2nd largest class).  They feature the 3 Ellenson brothers.  They'll be familiar to locals who follow the summer scene as they all played with Minnesota Pump N Run last summer.  Senior Wally is a 6'5 lefty who will attend Minnesota next year.   He's an explosive wing who has high jumped 6'11.   6'6 Junior Ellwood mans the middle and can block shots.  Freshman Henry is a 6'7 wing who may have the highest upside of the 3 brothers.  Senior Alex Cuskey is also one to keep an eye on.  Duluth East was ranked #10 in AAAA to start the season but they've played the entire season without their star wing Johnny Woodard due to a shoulder injury that he re-injured in July.  He won't return until February.  They're 2-6 but have played a brutally tough schedule.  Senior point guard Taylor Stafford has been lighting up opponents for 30 a game this season.  He scored 38 a night in 3 games at the Best Buy Holiday Classic last week.

Czar's Pick: Rice Lake (WI), too much from the Ellenson trio and East not enough firepower

2:00 PM - Pelican Rapids vs Minnetonka
This is the 1 Minnesota vs Minnesota matchup of the day.  Pelican Rapids comes into the game 6-2 and ranked #2 in the class AA poll.  They'll likely drop after a loss at Moorhead over the holidays.  They feature forward Luke Halbakken and guard Casey Bruggeman who provide scoring and senior leadership.  Soph guard Ryan Bruggeman is also one to watch.  Minnetonka is 8-2 and ranked #9 in the AAAA poll.  The Skippers are deep on the perimeter.  Junior wing Riley Dearring is one of the top juniors in the state and averages 16.1 PPG.  Senior guard Tommy McDermott can score in bunches.  He averages 16.2 PPG.  Senior wing Joe Risinger has had a breakout season.  Latrell Love scores 15.9 a night and is a crafty long-armed post

Czar's Pick: Minnetonka wins with their depth and too much perimeter firepower.  No good matchup for Risinger means he has a big day.

3:30 PM - Cedar Falls (IA) vs Prior Lake
Cedar Falls is ranked #7 in Iowa's top class.  Their star guard James Harrington averages 21.8 points a night.  He'll run track at Alabama next season.  6'2 Senior Caleb Konieczny averages 14.6 points a night.  Their record is 3-2 but the 2 losses are to the #1 and #3 teams in the state.  Prior Lake is 4-3 and was once ranked #10 in the class AAAA poll.  7'0 junior center Carson Shanks has committed to Utah State.  He averages 10.1 points a game.  Cedar Falls doesn't have any real size to deal with him so they'll have to be physical and see if they can bump him off the block.  Sophomore point guard Jon Sobaski is the straw that stirs the drink.  He averages 17.1 points a game.  The Lakers can go huge up front with 6'5 senior Jack Harrison and 6'10 Jeff Probert if they so choose.

Czar's Pick: I like Cedar Falls in this one.  They pounded a quality Austin team 74-41 and beat #9 Linn-Mar by 1.  Harrington vs Sobaski will be fun to watch.

5:00 PM - Sioux City East (IA) vs Hopkins
Sioux City East is currently 7-1 and ranked #5 in Iowa's top class.  They feature 7'1 lefty center Adam Woodbury who will play at Iowa next season.  He's ranked #42 nationally in the class of 2012 by Rivals.com. Minnesota did attempt to recruit him.  He averages 17.4 PPG on 66% shooting with 11 rebounds a game.  6'3 Senior JC Fuller averages 16.8 a night.  They can also throw 6'7 and 6'8 on the floor with Woodbury.  Hopkins has a record of 9-1 and suffered their only loss to Benilde-St. Margaret's.  They're currently ranked #2 in the class AAAA poll.  Point guard Siyani Chambers is a great leader and will attend Harvard next season.  He's also stepped up his scoring this season.  6'6 Forward Zach Stahl is a division 1 talent who missed the first 6 games of the season (including the Benilde-St. Margaret's loss).  Since his return, he won the MVP at the Best Buy Holiday Classic with 28 points in the championship victory over St. Paul Johnson.  They have a load of guards and play at as fast a pace as anybody in Minnesota.  But besides Stahl there's no real size in their rotation.

Czar's Pick: Hopkins.  I think their pace is too much on the big floor with 4 extra minutes.  If East is forced to put Woodbury on the floor with 4 guards to keep up with Hopkins and a fast pace, that's to Hopkins advantage.  The longer East can stay big and at a slow pace, the better it is for them.

6:30 PM - Onalaska (WI) vs Apple Valley
Onalaska is ranked number 1 in Wisconsin's Division 2 with a record of 7-0.  They feature 2013 star shooting guard Matt Thomas who's averaging 21.4 points a game.  He's considered the best shooter in Wisconsin.  They also feature UW-Green Bay signee 6'8 Nick Arenz up front (12.4 PPG).  After playing in the Shootout last year, Arenz blew out a knee in the next game and is still trying to get back to 100%.  Guards Clint Rihn and Ben Socha are quality contributors.  Apple Valley is 6-1 and ranked #6 in the class AAAA poll.  They feature sophomore point guard Tyus Jones who's currently ranked #7 in the nation in the class of 2014 by Rivals.com.  He played with the USA national team this summer.  You'll be hard pressed to find a better passer anywhere in the high school game right now.  He also adds in 28 points a night.  Expect to see Tubby Smith and who knows what other high profile coaches in attendance to watch him.  He's surrounded by sharpshooter Dustin Fronk at 19 points a night and guard Harry Sonie at 11.7 a night.  Its a small and mostly young Apple Valley lineup that will get a serious test from the experienced Hilltoppers

Czar's Pick: Tyus Jones has had a ridiculously huge year.  Also note that Onalaska has a huge conference game the previous night vs La Crosse Aquinas and a tough one at Eau Claire Memorial earlier in the week plus the long game day travel and I think its too much to overcome.  But Tyus and Thomas will put on a show.

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