Andover Huskies (2015-16 season 10-18, 6-13 Conference, 5th North)
Leading scorer Logan Rezac (16.9 PPG) and Jacob Paul return to the starting lineup. Rezac had a productive summer on the AAU circuit. Expect a big season from him. Taylor Rooney should see time on the front line. With most of the rotation graduating, experience will be a concern. Biggest loss is 13.1 PPG from Corbin Johnson.
Anoka Tornadoes (2015-16 season 8-19, 4-15 Conference, 6th North)
Former Maranatha head coach Jeff Wall takes over the program. Double figure scorers Gunnar Ledin and Jackson Sutton combined for over 28 PPG but have graduated. Junior center Jake Phipps takes over for Sutton in the middle. He is the top returning scorer at just under 10 PPG. He looks to take yet another step in a nice development progression. Joey Lohse and Josh Larson return to the starting lineup as perimeter players. Guard Caleb Sieben also returns to the rotation.
Blaine Bengals (2015-16 season 19-11, 10-9 Conference, 3rd North)
The Bengals are coming off a state trip. They'll have to replace UMD recruit Ben Scherer who was their only double figure scorer at 15.7 PPG. 4 other members of the rotation are also gone. But the cupboard isn't bare. Kurtis Weigand and Tim Leo are experienced post players who will step up. Byron Bynum and Sam Gerrity return to the perimeter rotation.
Centennial Cougars (2015-16 season 10-17, 9-10 Conference, 4th North)
South Dakota recruit Tyler Peterson averaged 17.5 PPG last year and was the focus of the offense. But he was injured for most of the season which meant an early season youth movement. That should help coach Travis Bledsoe's crew this year. Forward Josh McGreal had a breakout season with 15 PPG and he's back. Shane Taleen returns to the perimeter rotation. Their fortunes may ultimately rest on how much wing Alex Facon plays.
Champlin Park Rebels (2015-16 season 21-7, 16-3 Conference, 1st North)
Coach Mark Tuchscherer has another state championship contender this season. Seniors McKinley Wright and Theo John make up a great inside out duo. Wright averaged almost 20 PPG running the show while John patrolled the paint to the tune of 13.9 PPG. Wing Aaron Kloeppner is the only notable loss. Depth is plentiful with Josiah Strong and Brian Smith as ball handlers. DJ Hunter is a versatile wing. Marcus Hill and Chris Davis are quality front court options.
Coon Rapids Cardinals (2015-16 season 3-24, 0-19 Conference, 7th North)
Coach Mike Ogorek has to replace leading scorers Nik Keller and Jacob Dujmovic. But he has Dayo Lawal and Tyree'on Johnson returning. They should put up double figures each. Guard Brandon Pratt returns to the starting lineup. Sam Carver returns as an inside body with soph Reese Mahn and Logan Severson on the perimeter.
Elk River Elks (2015-16 season 23-6, 14-5 Conference, 2nd North)
Sharpshooter Matt Keller and forward Trent Pink are major losses for the Elks. The duo combined for over 35 PPG leading Elk River to an impressive 23 wins. Zeke Delain and his 10.7 PPG lead the returnees. Wyatt Morell, Blake Hills and Jack Burger are other significant returning players. No big time scorer so expect the Elks to be very balanced.
Irondale Knights (2015-16 season 10-17, 5-14 Conference, Tie 6th West)
Double figure scorers Uwana Etuk-Akpan and Kevin Schramm are gone with over 29 PPG combined. Guard Sean Sutherlin is the top returning player with 14.4 PPG. He'll need to be the catalyst for the offense while scoring a ton. Sonam Paichang also returns to the perimeter rotation. Junior forwards Daudi Simon and Brendan White will be the main interior guys.
Maple Grove Crimson (2015-16 season 25-5, 16-3 Conference, 2nd West)
Mr. Basketball candidate Brad Davison (20.4 PPG) returns to run the show for the Crimson. They'll also get wing Tywhon Pickford back from injury (18.3 PPG). Maple Grove was a totally different team with him in the lineup. His ability to create for himself off the dribble and be another scoring option took a ton of pressure off of Davison. Jack Hutchinson also returns to the starting lineup after being 1 of 5 players in the lineup to average double figures last year. Center Reed Nikko and wing Taron Pickford need to be replaced. Bubba Horton and Ryan Bredensteiner are productive role players coming back. Max McNellis looks to take over the middle.
Osseo Orioles (2015-16 season 30-2, 19-0 Conference, 1st West)
The Orioles started out a shocking 30-0 before falling in the state semis and 3rd place game. Despite a truckload of graduating players, there is still plenty of talent remaining. Twins John and Matt Bezdicek are just winners and seem to be in the right place at the right time. Mar Mar Hughes and Zach Theisen are a pair of scoring guards coming back. Theisen was the leading scorer at 12.9 PPG. Replacing Kameron Bettie inside is a concern.
Park Center Pirates (2015-16 season 17-11, 10-9 Conference, 4th West)
James Ware's 1st year was impressive taking the Pirates to 17 wins. He has to replace 3 starters but has plenty coming back. PG Losini Kamara averaged over 18 PPG. Derrick Ogechi averaged over 13 PPG as another weapon. Xavier Bonner, Isaiah Simon and Khari Broadway all return to the rotation. The younger levels are full of talent.
Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2015-16 season 15-13, 11-8 Conference, 3rd West)
Don't be fooled by the record as Armstrong lost 5 games by 3 points or less plus an overtime game. Double figure scoring wings Jubie Alade and athlete True Thompson need to be replaced. Junior forward Race Thompson is the monster for the Falcons. He's a bruiser inside who can also step out and play like a guard. DaVonte Said returns at the point. Isaiah Rollins returns to a guard spot
Spring Lake Park Panthers (2015-16 season 12-15, 8-11 Conference, 5th West)
Coach Grant Guzy has to replace 4 starters. But he has big forward Zach Ojile and his 12.4 PPG to build around. He'll need to carry a heavy load as the rest of the rotation is gone. The shooting of Mark Raihle and Aaron Flink will be missed. Ben Whann and Mark Buley are guard options. Sam Gregerson is an inside option.
Totino-Grace Eagles (2015-16 season 13-16, 5-14 Conference, Tie 6th West)
Center James Streeter put up 10.1 PPG and needs to be replaced inside. The Eagles do have a ton coming back. NDSU commit Rocky Kreuser 16.1 PPG and can play inside or out. Nate Kavolak is a big 2 guard who averaged double figures. The key is the health of junior PG Charlie Jacob. He averaged 12.5 PPG but the Eagles season took a tumble when he got hurt (3-13 to end regular season). Granted the brutal west division schedule didn't help that either.
Predicted Order of Finish
- Champlin Park
- Elk River
- Coon Rapids
- Maple Grove
- Park Center
- Robbinsdale Armstrong
- Spring Lake Park
In the west, the top is brutally tough. Maple Grove is the clear favorite with most of their crew returning. Osseo and Totino-Grace will battle for 2nd. I think Park Center maintains their momentum from last year. Plus I think they matchup well with the rest of the division. Armstrong is the best of the rest with Race Thompson. Irondale and Spring Lake Park will struggle.
In the north, Champlin Park is clearly the class of this division. Blaine is the best of the rest with Elk River not far behind. Centennial is the hardest one to pick but regardless I think they end up in the next group with Andover fighting for a middle spot. Rebuilding continues at Anoka and Coon Rapids.
Conference MVP: Brad Davison - Maple Grove
Underclassmen to watch:
- Bennett Otto, Kato Seley - Champlin Park
- Riley Van Buskirk - Centennial
- Reese Mahn - Coon Rapids
- Ian Lim - Maple Grove
- Khari Broadway, Emmanuel Tamba - Park Center
- Cole Priem - Robbinsdale Armstrong
- Walker Steward - Spring Lake Park
- Maple Grove at Totino-Grace - Jan 10th
- Osseo at Maple Grove - Jan 20th
- Champlin Park at Blaine - Jan 20th
- Champlin Park at Maple Grove - Feb 6th
- Totino-Grace at Maple Grove - Feb 14th
- Champlin Park at Elk River - Feb 21st
- Maple Grove at Osseo - Feb 24th
- Elk River at Maple Grove - Feb 28th
- Champlin Park vs Rochester John Marshall - Dec 3rd (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
- Champlin Park vs Apple Valley - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
- Maple Grove vs De La Salle - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
- Maple Grove at Hopkins - Jan 14th (Super 60 Showcase)
- Champlin Park at Hopkins - Jan 26th
- De La Salle at Champlin Park - Feb 23rd