2017 Summer Stockraisers

So after watching another season of grassroots hoops here are 10 names that stuck out to me as improving their stock in the recruiting world.  I've limited the list to 17U kids only since that's the vast majority of what I watched.  The names are in no particular order.

Tre Jones - Apple Valley/Howard Pulley
With a very talented point guard class at the national level, where would Tre stand at the end of the season.  Well if you watched the high school season, the end result is no surprise.  He raised his game during the high school season leading the Eagles to a state title.  He continued that momentum into the grassroots season where he repeatedly outplayed his peers.  As has been stated before, you can have any other point guard you want and I'll take my chances (credit Ryan James)

Jarvis Thomas - Orono/Howard Pulley
It was fair to wonder where he would fit in at the start of the season.  After all, with Daniel Oturu already there and Pulley traditionally plays small, how would his minutes turn out?  No questions afterwards.  He hustled and dunked his way up the recruiting charts all season long.  He even showed flashes of a perimeter game.

David Roddy (2019) - Breck/Howard Pulley
Playing up a year didn't hurt Roddy any.  He played a perfect role for the Panthers squad and hit a bunch of big shots.  He definitely progressed faster than expected for a talented Panthers squad.

Joe Hedstrom - Hopkins/Minnesota Comets Lewis
Hedstrom went from being a lower level D1 guy to having Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue following him at different points this season.  He played hard and showed ability to finish in the paint.  And as a biased former coach of his, I'll always say he's more skilled than he appears.

Max Bjorklund - Orono/Minnesota Fury Antl
Bjorklund was the catalyst for the 2nd Fury crew and opened eyes all spring and summer.  He's another guard who took the momentum of a great finish to the high school season and showed it during the spring and summer.  He's a capable ball handler and shot maker.  If there's a vastly underappreciated guy out there, he fits the bill. 

Josiah Strong - Champlin Park/Minnesota Powerhouse Hoops Black
At first glance you wonder is he a 2 stuck in a 1 body.  He proved he too can make big shots and play either guard spot.  Was very impressive in his final game vs EYBL rep Portland BC in Las Vegas.  Played himself into a Missouri-Kansas City offer.  Will get a chance to break out this high school season with all the graduation losses for the Rebels.

Tayler Johnson - Minneapolis North/Grassoots Sizzle
Sizzle was often undermanned on the Under Armour Circuit.  But Johnson did everything he could to keep it from being only the Jalen Suggs show.  He stepped up and became the clear #2 guy for the Sizzle.  His quickness definitely played well on the circuit and he showed he could definitely compete.

Luke Martens - Apple Valley/Minnesota Select Ohnstad
Martens has always been known as a great role player who will defend anybody.  But in Vegas he took his offensive game to another level.  Playing without Beijan Newbern or Christian Dickson, Martens carried the offense in the 1st bracket game and then lit it up for 30 and a buzzer beater on championship day as Select won their bracket

Deaundra Roberson - Columbia Heights/43 Hoops
Roberson definitely helped himself with 43 Hoops this grassroots season.  His athleticism caused fits for opponents all season.  He was definitely the catalyst for his crew.  Its also true during the high school season where the Hylanders will be a team to be reckoned with in class AAA.

Calvin Wishart - Delano/D1 Minnesota
Wishart used his speed very effectively throughout the grassroots season.  That allowed him to be very effective playing on the Adidas circuit.  He looks to have another big season for a dangerous Delano squad in AAA.

Vegas 2017 Part 2 (The Rest)

This is part 2 of my writings on what I saw in Las Vegas during the 2017 recruiting period.  Part 1 was about the Minnesota teams so read that here if you missed it.  In this post, everything else that happened.

Lavar Ball
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the clown show around Lavar and Big Ballers.  I didn't attend the Wednesday night game with Zion Williamson where 80,000+ watched on Facebook and another 3,000 to 4,000 watched in person.  The craziest atmosphere that I can recall in my time covering grassroots hoops.  Fans flocking around his team after each game ended.  Then the whole debacle on Friday where he got a T, had the female official replaced and then forfeited his team after he got another T but wouldn't leave the court.  The national writers have said everything that needs to be said on this and far better so I won't repeat it here.  Shame on Lavar and Adidas for how they both handled it.  Total embarrassment.  Credit to the officials group for backing out of their contract with Adidas.  Part of me is slightly disgusted though that when I did seem them on Thursday he actually behaved himself which seems to more and more rare.  Say what you will about the style of play but I love how they get the ball out of the net and get it to the front court . Either via the pass as a 1st option (super underutilized in today's game) or pushing it hard with the dribble.  After that, the shot selection etc etc leaves much to be desired.

The Other Basketball
Another year like 2015 where Point Guard play was the theme.  I got to see a glimpse of most of top point guards in the country during the week between the 3 events.  That made it clear to me that Tre Jones is the top point guard in the country.  There are scoring point guards (most of the crop) and then floor generals like Jones and Devon Dotson.  Very impressed with both of those generals.  Also impressive, Mac Irvin Fire PG Ayo Dosunmu went off for 40 something in the 3rd place game of Pulley's bracket of The Eight.

Speaking of point guards, when not watching The Eight or The Creators Cup, I took in championship bracket runner up Las Vegas Prospects.  Backup PG Christopher Hawkins is no more than 5'6" but just loved how he got after it on the ball and took FOH Seattle out of their offense. 

Cache Valley of Idaho features one of the top bigs in Idaho in Brayden Parker.  The big bruising forward was dominant in the game against Team 907 of Alaska.  That Team 907 squad knocked out 43 Hoops in the bracket opener to get to this point.  Fun game with a surprisingly athletic Alaska team really getting after it and the fans/bench both being very vocal.  But the big man with the Idaho State offer was just too much.

The championship games of the mini brackets didn't disappoint either.  At The Eight, Team Takeover won the Peach Jam finale rematch with the Oakland Soldiers in a very entertaining game.  Ditto that as the Compton Magic went down to the wire to beat the New England Playaz in the Creators Cup final.  Compton got a couple late freebies from star PG Jules Bernard to hold off D1 in the semis.

The Gambling
Now for the important stuff.  I started my monetary adventures at the Bellagio on Monday night.  It was only after I sat down and started playing that I realized that the table was only paying 6 to 5 for Blackjack.  That's a terrible table when most pay 3 to 2.  Quickly got back to even and got out.  Lost everything for the Tuesday afternoon session.  The regular hotel sessions Monday thru Thursday ended about even.  So down a big number going to the big table on the final night.  Double deck and I couldn't bust.  Poor guy next to me was getting 15 and 16 all night.  Not me as I doubled up and more than made up the early losses to come home a big winner.  Best result ever there and even better cards than 2011 at the Bellagio.

The Hangover
It started on Monday on the strip with sightings of an Austin Powers impersonator and Chewbacca on the way to the Bellagio.  So not only did I break my regular glasses on Thursday morning (so who knows what I actually saw) but after recovering on Sunday from the flight home, somehow I was missing part of a tooth (Chewbacca noise here).  Sad part is I have no idea how.  I had fun but didn't think I had THAT much fun.  No super late nights, just extra good food as I used Tuesday to get some quality Pot Liquor CAS BBQ.  After 5 miles on foot with luggage on my back on Saturday, all I could do is sleep and rehydrate.  Well worth it though to see 5 kids that I once coached.  Spent 3 hours in the dentist's chair getting that fixed to wash away all the winnings.