Teams are back off the road after 2 weeks of seeing the college coaches. The Minnesota Heat and Howard Pulley host their annual tournaments. Here's what sticks out to me.
Meg Vang Invitational
This is the Heat's tournament which is more known for its youth level and 230+ teams this year. But not all bad in the upper divisions either. The 16s and 17s will be playing at St. Michael-Albertville for the most part.
Heat Vang the obvious pick over Fury Zurn for the pool A title. Geno Crandall coming off a very good weekend in Denver last week leading coach Vang's squad to a 3-1 record. Heat Frasier and one of the D1 MN squads (15s I assume but I can't imagine its the 17s) in pool B. They meet at 7:40 Saturday night. Second teams from the Fury, WI Playmakers and All Iowa Attack in Pool C. Have to like Fury there after a good weekend in KC last week. Finally in pool D, its WOTN and Heat Reese (Heat's top 16s). That's the 1st game on Friday night and will be at Brooklyn Center. 1st and 2nd place teams move to the title bracket on Sunday. A possible top Heat 16s vs top Heat 17s game in the semis. D1 MN vs Fury 2 projects as another quality semifinal.
In Pool A, Heat Calistro and Southern MN Elite finish Saturday at 8:50 PM in the premier matchup in that pool. GetShook looks to be a winner in Pool C. The 2nd Fury group and the top Heat 15s of Tyler Biwan highlight pool D. That game is bright and early at 8 AM on Saturday. Heat Bui and TC Runnin Rebels meet at 7:40 PM on Saturday in a highlight game in pool F.
These games will be at the Bethel Sports and Rec Center. Great balance in pool A with Heat East, Fury Peterson and my pick MN Swish. Swish is a group of SW Metro (Waconia) kids that played well in the PNR tourney. Keep an eye on Real Athletics Jay in pool E. Fury Altenhofen in pool G and Fury Wilde in pool H are other favorites.
Howard Pulley Invitational
Its the 13th year of the tournament and it returns to High Performance Academy in Eagan. The usual appeal is seeing Tyus Jones play. Get there at least a game early to do it though. Space is tight and parking is just as tough. The smallest field we've seen in a long time. But that's understandable considering that the last 2 weeks were open periods and most teams want this week off. Locally that's very true with the Sanford league and Kings of the Court next week and everybody playing 3 straight weekends (Comets + the 2 open periods)
Pool A highlighted by Tyus, Reid Travis and company. They get MN Basketball Academy's top 16s who went 4-1 in KC last week. (Czar's Note: 5/2 its actually the 1st event for their 17U group with Aaron Workin from Eden Prairie and others, the top 16s are off). Pool B has the Minnesota Warriors as a favorite. Pool C is the deepest pool with KC Run GMC and #61 overall Dom Collier. The guard from Denver has interest from North Carolina amongst others. Then the 24u group from All Iowa Attack led by Darrion Strong and Cullen Russo and TVA. Pool D is the 2nd Howard Pulley 17s which is all of their top 16u guys like Bjorn Broman, Matt Anderson, Sid Tomes etc. Kingdom Hoops brings Jay Knuth (a pair of D1 offers this week) and Nate Gehring who make a quality front line for them. SW MN Stars with D1 propsect Carter Kirk and shooting guard Mitch Pfingsten round out that pool. Gehring vs Kirk 7 PM Saturday night. Darrion Strong vs Dom Collier 4:20 on Saturday. Pigtail games late night Saturday (9:30) with quarters late Sunday and a 3 PM title game.
Only 11 teams in this division All Iowa Attack highlights pool A with a talented group that is trying to quality for the 16U Peach Jam. Keep an eye on Daniel Tillo and Michael Jacobsen for them. KC Run GMC and Kingdom Hoops highlight pool B. KC Run GMC won NY2LA 2 weeks ago and lost by 1 at the end to the Illinois Wolves in the title game last week in KC. Drew Lock and Jimmy Whitt are a pair of kids to watch there. They also have Jarred Dixon, the younger brother of Michael Dixon who was in the KC Run GMC organization (when it was KC PNR) and went on to Missouri. A 3 team pool with a Howard Pulley group with more kids playing up and 2 bad teams rounds out the list.
Jabbar Washington's 15U Pulley group leads pool A. A fun pool B with John Hedstrom (former Tonka coach) leading the Pulley 14s. Edina's Walt McGrory on that group and was 6th man for the Hornets this season. Also in that pool is Power Group, a loaded 14U team from KC. Keep an eye on Michael Porter, a very good talent who can shoot it and athlete Mitchell Ballock. KC Run GMC's 15s highlight pool C. They've handled Net Gain's 15s twice this year. Grassroots, the 2nd Pulley team and All Iowa Attack round out pool D.