April 2018 Eye Catchers and Stockraisers

The 2 open periods have concluded and there have been many ups and downs.  Here are some notable team performances.
  • D1 Minnesota is 13-1 and they'll be in the Adidas Finals in New York to start July.  While the bench can be thin at times, the starting 5 is absolutely ridiculous.  Except for 1 stumble vs Exum Elite (formerly known as the Utah Prospects), they have been dominating opponents.
  • Grassroots showed a big improvement from last year's UA performance.  After going 1-15 last year in UA games, they are 4-4 this year.  Its a more balanced lineup than last year.
  • Howard Pulley had a very good win over Spiece Indy Heat in week 1.  But they've lost 5 out of their last 6 and sit dead last in Division C at 2-6 in EYBL play.  Unless they go on a huge run in the 2 May EYBL events, it looks like the Panthers will miss the Peach Jam for only the 2nd time ever.  The speed and athleticism of the EYBL game has been a major adjustment for the starting 2020 guards.
  • Fury Wilde has played in 2 championship games, losing both, and a quality quarterfinal finish in the highly regarded Pitt Jam Fest in the 1st open period.  They sit at 13-3.
  • Comets Lewis made the Comets semis losing to D1 and went on a nice 6-2 run in 2 weeks of NY2LA play.  They sit at 9-3 overall.  Along with Fury and Omaha Sports Academy, they should be one of the top teams in this month's Sanford league.
  • D1 16s lost in the quarterfinals of the Rock Spring Classic in Madison playing up in the 17U division.  They followed that up with an impressive 7-1 run in Adidas Gold play.
  • Fury Zurn is 15-1 with 2 championships (Comets and Proving Ground locally).  Their only loss was a 3 point loss to EYBL rep All Ohio Red.
  • WOTN Davis 16 are 12-1 with their only loss to Fury Zurn at the Comets tourney.  They ran the table 8-0 in 2 weeks of NY2LA play.  I loved Eastview's Steven Crowl last year and he's continued to play very well.
  • Gain Elite 16s are 11-4.  That splits into 7-2 in Adidas Silver play and 4-2 (Gold runner-up) in the Swish N Dish tourney to open the season.
Here are some players, not all inclusive of course, who in my humble opinion helped themselves the most during the April period.
  • Zeke Nnaji - D1 Minnesota.  Scouts were raving over his performance during both open weeks.  That earned him a Minnesota offer amongst others.  No Minnesota player saw his stock jump more this month.
  • Tyler Wahl - D1 Minnesota.  Picked up a Wisconsin offer during the open period.  His versatility to run the point when Tyrell Terry rests (or was out at the Comets tourney) really sticks out.  Perfect complimentary player.
  • Dawson Garcia -D1 Minnesota 16s.  Picked up offers from Texas and Minnesota just to name a couple.  Long, athletic and skilled.  Plenty to be excited about. 
  • Dain Dainja - Grassroots Sizzle UAA.  Showed off his handles in addition to his usual big bodied work and quality feet inside.  His name definitely moved up lots of lists.
  • David Roddy - Howard Pulley.  Far and away Pulley's best player during their difficult 2 week stretch.  As he did during the high school season for Breck, did a bit of everything from ballhandling to rebounding to scoring inside and out for the Panthers.  Picked up a St. Louis offer during the open period.
  • Ben Carlson - D1 Minnesota 16s.  Picked up a Minnesota offer right after the open period.  Long on the radar of teams like Wisconsin, his play has also been a notable part of the hot start for the D1 16s.
  • Jared Rainey - Heat Nelson.  Played very well at both the Comets tourney and at Proving Ground.  D2s have another couple of chances this month to see him locally with the Heat tourney and Battle At The Lakes coming up the next 2 weeks.
  • Brady Williams  - Fury Zurn 16s.  Every time you looked up this month it seems like he was dunking on somebody.  Classic example of a smaller town kid playing on the circuit and getting noticed.  Keep his name in the back of your mind.

2018 Open Period 1 17U Results

So Minnesota teams hit the road for the 1st open period.  Here's how the 17U teams did.

Howard Pulley 2-2
David Roddy and Blaise Beauchamp solid weekends for the Panthers.

Grassroots Sizzle 2-2
That's more games won they all of last year in the UA Association.
Jalen Suggs 12/10/12 in win vs C2K Elite out of Ohio.  Breakout weekend for Dain Dainja

NY2LA Association
Comets Lewis 4-0
Comets DLR 2-2
WOTN Swedberg 1-3
Select Leafblad 1-3

Adidas Silver
Mentality Minnesota 3-1
44 Elite 1-2

D1 Minnesota 4-0, no game closer than 15 points.
They beat the Omaha Crusaders who beat Howard Pulley earlier this month.
Matt Hurt did what he normally does.  Zeke Nnaji with a nice breakout weekend.

D1 Prospects 2-2 in Adidas Silver division

Fury Wilde 4-1 in Pittsburgh, made final 8

St. Louis
Grassroots II 0-4

Crossfire II 2-2

43 Hoops 1-3
Fury Kaupa 2-2
Heat MacDonald 4-1 (lost championship game)
Heat Nelson 2-2
Heat Henderson 3-1 (won their 2nd round losers bracket)
Twin Cities Pirates 3-1 (lost 1st game and then swept their bracket)
MN Magic Team Nike 3-2 (lost 2nd division championship)

Sioux Falls
Crossfire Bellefeuille 4-0 champions
SW MN Stars  3-1
Comets Kirchner 2-2
D1 Rise 2-2
MN Bulldogs 3-1

The 2018 AAU Road Adventure Begins

This weekend marks the 1st of the 5 D1 open periods for the 2018 AAU season.  This weekend and next are the 1st 2 periods with the rest being in July.  No certified events locally so our teams will scatter across the country this week.  I count no fewer than 6 different out of state locations to find our teams this weekend.  Can you say tons of online viewing?  Let's go through all of it.

Dallas is the center of activity this week with no fewer than 5 circuits and 10 different events going on.  Minnesota teams are well represented in the following events.

Howard Pulley
The 16s play an absolutely loaded Phenom U team out of Wisconsin on Friday night.  I saw them in Milwaukee at the start of the month and they are scary good.  The 17s end their 4 game weekend vs one of the top 2 players in the country, Vernon Carey, and Nike Team Florida.

Under Armour Association
Grassroots Sizzle top 17s.  They open vs top 20 player Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and KC Run GMC

Adidas Silver
44 Elite (old Net Gain squad)
Mentality MN
These 2 teams have multiple possibilities of meeting in their final game on Sunday.

NY2LA Association17s
Midwest Unsigned
Comets Lewis
Comets DLR
WOTN Swedberg
Select Leafblad

NY2LA Association 16s
Comets Stumpf
Team GetShook
WOTN Davis
Select Cave

NY2LA Association 15s
Select Ohnstad
Comets Servaty
Team GetShook

Powerade Platform
MN Phenom.  Their 16s and 17s are on the road again this week after playing in Chicago last weekend.  In a bit of interesting scheduling, Pure Prep and elite big guy Xavier Foster from Iowa is in their pool but the teams don't play each other.

St. Louis
Grassroots Sizzle has another team representing Minnesota in the Recruit Look Hoops league.

Adidas is going to 4 regions for the 1st week of play.  Their midwest region visits Indianapolis with everybody else coming to town next week.  All of Adidas visits Atlanta next week.

Adidas Gold
D1 MN 15s, 16s and 17s.  The D1 17s end vs the Omaha Crusaders on Sunday.  Omaha beat Howard Pulley for an Iowa title on the same weekend as the Comets Shootout.  D1 17s also play EG10 (Eric Gordon's team) which tweaks my interest since the Rockets are playing the TWolves right now.

Adidas Silver
D1 Propsects 17s
Gain Elite 16s (old Net Gain)
Gain Elite 15s (old Net Gain)

The Pitt Jam Fest is a very well regarded event for east coast teams.  Its also rare in that the schedule is setup for 2 games on Friday night.  Also rare in that it takes a heck of a run just to have a Sunday game.  Its easy to be out early Saturday afternoon.

Fury Wilde 17s
Fury Zurn 16s
Heat Tauer 15s

Omaha (Midwest Live)
Now 1 of the 2 notable regional events that our teams are attending.
43 Hoops
Fury Kaupa
Heat Macdonald
Heat Nelson
Heat Henderson
TC Pirates (another part of the Net Gain split)
MN Magic (2nd division)

Grassroots Sizzle
Fury Kline
Heat Moberg
Heat Presbi
MN Matrix
MN Suns
Mpls FAB
Heat Lang (2nd division)

D1 Prospects
Heat Bohrer
Heat Johnson
MN Suns
Team Tyus 14s

Sioux Falls (Spring Jam)
Sioux Falls has the shortest trip for our teams going out of town with their annual 1st open period event.

MN Bulldogs
Crossfire I
SW MN Stars
D1 MN Rise
Comets Kirchner

SW MN Stars
WC United

WC United
Crossfire Bertsch
Fury Poppen
SW MN Stars

Minneapolis (Minnesota Select tourney)
This is the 1 local event going on.  You of course have the non-NY2LA Select teams.  But the notables here are in 15U.  Both Howard Pulley 15s are attending along with Fury Syverson.

2018 Comets Shootout Preview

Its the annual kickoff to the AAU season with the 2018 Comets Shootout in St. Cloud.  While its not on ACT weekend, the concepts and scheduling remain the same.  Here's what to look for.

In 17U, there are 40 teams.  That means 16 of them kickoff at 3:00 or 4:10 with pigtail games into the 32 team championship bracket.  The regular bracket games start at 4:10 and end with Round of 16 games at 10:00 Saturday night.  That leads into the quarterfinals starting later Sunday morning.  We'll break this down into the 4 bracket sections of 10 teams that provide 2 teams each to the quarterfinals. 

Section 1:
This section holds the top seeded Comets.  Other teams of note are Crossfire's top team (very underestimated, had a great year last year), Heat Henderson and the top Select squad.  The hosts have to be the favorite to make the semis from this bracket.  I'll take the Comets over Select Leafblad in the quarters.

Players to Watch:
Jack Thompson, Issac Fink, Noah Christensen (NDSU commit) - Comets Lewis 
Jason Kaul - Crossfire Bellefeuille
Jeremy Beckler - Heat Henderson
Malik Willingham - Select Leafblad

Section 2:
In this section you have Fury's 2nd team, the NY2LA team from the WI Playmakers, Heat Nelson and another Select squad.  But the big elephant in the room is D1 Minnesota.  Their loaded 17s are scheduled to attend.  If their 16s show up to play up instead there will be a riot.  That includes Tyrell Terry, Tyler Wahl, Zeke Nnaji, Matt Hurt and big addition Patrick McCaffrey from Iowa who's a top 30 kid nationally.  D1 MN a heavy favorite to advance to play the Comets in the semis.  I'll take them over Fury Kaupa in the quarters.

Players to Watch:
Matt Hurt, Patrick McCaffrey, Tyrell Terry, Zeke Nnaji, Tyler Wahl, Robert Jones - D1 MN
Luke Paulson, Carson Schoeller - Fury Kaupa
Jared Rainey - Heat Nelson

Section 3:
Here you have a solid group of teams as well.  Fury Wilde headlines this quarter.  D1 MN Prospects, Comets DLR and the top ECI crew also lurk here.    Fury is the pick to take out Comets DLR to advance to the semis.

Players to Watch:
Matt Schlottman - D1 MN Prospects
Jacob Beeninga, Cole Nicholson, Dane Zimmer - Fury Wilde
Jenson Beachy, Josh Jeziorski - Comets  DLR
Joe Jahner, Isaac Undlin - ECI Prospects

Section 4:
This is the quarter of death.  There's always 1 round of 16 game that jumps out and its here.  44 Elite, Heat and WOTN top teams and the sleeper Comets 3rd team are here.  44 Elite is the reformation of last year's Net Gain crew with modfications.  They are dangerous and like they've done in past years I'd expect a ringer or 2.  But they have the toughest road as they'll have to take out Heat MacDonald in the round of 16 before a quarterfinal matchup likely with the top WOTN squad.  I'll take them to pull it off.

Players to Watch:
Jalen Dearring - 44 Elite
Cade Goggleye - Comets Kirchner
Sam Schwartz, Malik Spearman - Heat MacDonald
Tyler Robarge - WI City Select
Tyler Kemp - WOTN

As is usual the 16U kids take the stage for the morning and early afternoon sessions.  Always a great opportunity to see some young kids.  There's always somebody who jumps onto the scene.  These games are 2 pool games on Saturday into a 16 team 4 game bracket on Sunday.  D1 MN 15s are playing up.  Team GetShook made a run here in 15U last year and they're back so don't be shocked to see them do that again.  Expect a wide open bracket here with depth being valuable for the championship game (4th game in 9 hours)

Players to Watch:
Jacob Hutson - Fury Kline
Charlie Katona, Cameron Steele - Fury Zurn
Tait Nelson, Cole Chapman, Daydor Phillips - Heat Moberg
Nick Hendler, Walker Johnson - Select Cave
Nate Heise, Tate Machacek, Steven Crowl, Ryan Samuelson - WOTN Davis