2018-19 Section 5AA Preview

This is the 16th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at section 5AA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 5AA (14 teams)
Defending Champion: Brooklyn Center

Tournament Schedule:
Round of 16: Thursday, March 7th
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 9th at St. Michael-Albertville
Semifinals: Tuesday, March 12th at St. Michael-Albertville
Finals: Friday, March 15th 6 PM at St. Cloud State

Predicted Seeding
  1. Minneapolis North
  2. Maranatha
  3. Breck
  4. Litchfield
  5. Providence  
  6. Rockford  
  7. Blake
  8. Southwest Christian
  9. Holy Family
  10. Watertown-Mayer
  11. Brooklyn Center 
  12. HLWW
  13. PACT
  14. International School
This section had Brooklyn Center repeating written all over it.  Then all their stars ended up at prep school changing the entire dynamic.  That means Minneapolis North despite their youth is the favorite.  Maranatha and Breck with David Roddy will be handfuls again in this section.  Litchfield is poised to make a big jump with Owen Boerema leading a group of returnees.  The next group is very competitive with Providence, Rockford, Blake and SW Christian having solid returnees as well.  Beyond that, teams with plenty to replace.

In 6AA, I see Spectrum winning a 1st round home game before bowing out.

Sleeper: Holy Family.  Yes they lose a ton but playing in the tough Wright County East division always serves them well come tourney time.  With Nick Hendler and Jacob Zay returning that gives them a couple experienced pieces in a very disciplined system.

Section Winner: Litchfield.  Great tradition for the Dragons and tons of experience coming back with a go to guy in Boerema.  David Roddy is a handful for Breck but how much help he gets is a question.  North and Maranatha need to generate offense from the their defense and can be vulnerable in the halfcourt.  Very balanced section where the quarterfinal round on could see anything happen.  Therefore, I'll make another pick outside the predicted seedings

2018-19 Section 4AA Preview

This is the 15th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at section 4AA. For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AA (16 teams)
Defending Champion: Minnehaha Academy (2017 and 2018 State AA Champions)

Tournament Schedule:
Round 1: Tuesday, March 5th
Round 2: Thursday, March 7th
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 9th
Semifinals: Tuesday, March 12th at St. Paul Washington
Finals: Friday, March 15th at St. Paul Washington

Predicted Seeding
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Cristo Rey
  3. St. Croix Prep
  4. Concordia Academy
  5. Trinity   
  6. St. Paul Academy   
  7. New Life Academy  
  8. St. Paul Humboldt
  9. St. Paul Washington
  10. St. Agnes
  11. Minneapolis Edison 
  12. Nova Classical 
  13. Twin Cities Academy/Great River
  14. AFSA 
  15. St. Paul Prep/HSRA
  16. Math and Science
Read yesterday's 4A preview to see the playoff format of byes used in this section.  Minnehaha is still the runaway favorite here.  The group of teams behind them should be a good battle.  Cristo Rey and St. Croix Prep are rock solid at the guard spots.  Concordia has nice balance in their lineup.  After those 4 the section drops off significantly.  The bigger school schedules will move the next group up in the seedings.  The TCAC teams outside of Cristo Rey largely get pushed down the list. 

Sleeper: Twin Cities Academy/Great River.  They will be young but after a full season they may be able to steal a game or 2 before running into the top seeds in the quarters.

Section Winner: Minnehaha.  Its the same story of ridiculous talent.  Anything less than a state title is a disappointment.

2018-19 Section 4A Preview

This is the 14th preview in the 2018-2019 season preview series.  Phase 2 of the previews starts today and over the next 3 weeks I'll cover 14 sections, mostly metro based, including all 8 class AAAA sections.  That will include looks at some section teams that I haven't done yet plus some sprinkled comments about local teams that aren't in the 14 sections being previewed.  Let's start with a look at Section 4A.  If you missed any of the conference previews during phase 1, I previewed 121 metro area teams from 12 conferences and independents.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4A (24 Teams)
Defending Champion: Heritage Christian Academy

Tournament Schedule:
Round 1: Monday, March 4th (number of games will be number of teams in section - 16)
Round 2: Tuesday, March 5th (16 teams left)
Round 3: Thursday, March 7th (12 teams left)
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 9th
Semifinals: Tuesday, March 12th at Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Finals: Friday, March 15th at Anoka-Ramsey Community College

Predicted Seeding
  1. Prairie Seeds
  2. CHOF 
  3. Christian Life
  4. Mounds Park Academy
  5. West Lutheran
  6. Hope Academy
  7. Minnesota Transitions
I'm going to assume 4A (and 4AA tomorrow) both go with the same NCAA small conference tournament format of byes they used last year.  The intent was to avoid the 130-12 type beatdowns that were happening in the 1 vs 16 games.  It actually added to the fun that was 4A last year with the 15 seed winning 3 games to reach the quarterfinals and the 16 seed winning twice to advance.  See if you can keep all of these byes straight.

Seeds 13-lower: Round 1
Seeds 9-12: Byes to Round 2 (play round 1 winners)
Seeds 5-8: Byes to Round 3 (play round 2 winners)
Seeds 1-4: Byes to the Quarterfinals (play round 3 winners)

As is always the case in this section of tiny charter schools, the full list of teams won't be playing in the bracket.  With 20 teams the above structure still works.  However, if there's a 21st team and it looks like there will be, then I'm guessing that the 12 seed would lose their bye and have to play the 21 seed in round 1.

As to the games themselves, this section was a total tossup last year with 6 seed Mounds Park Academy making a cinderella run to the section final with a third of their wins being in the tournament series.  Not to mention 5 seed Heritage making state after not making their own conference tournament.  I think Mounds Park Academy could once again use the tough IMAC schedule to their advantage come tourney time to make another run.  Christian Life and CHOF will be tough outs with plenty coming back.  But its the guard play of Prairie Seeds Academy that sticks out to me here.  They're just so quick compared to everybody else in the section.  But they're also the type of team that keeps the game interesting up 20 or down 20.

A couple other previewed class A teams to note here.  MCAA member Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity is in section 2A.  I'll stick with last year's finish.  The Bulldogs win a 1st round home game but then go out in the subsection semis.  TCAC member Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, if they play the tournament series in section 1A, is likely looking at going out in a pigtail game.

Sleeper:  Minnesota Transitions.  The battle of the mangy coats is Dec 6th at Prairie Seeds Academy but it wouldn't be ridiculous to see these wolf creatures cross paths again come March.  But with everybody coming back and a weak section, another run during tourney time would not be a major surprise.

Section Winner: CHOF.  Prairie Seeds Academy is the pick on paper here.  But that's been the case for the Lycans the last 2 or 3 years.  I think CHOF's schedule will help them and in a wide open section, I'm going to go off the main path for the pick.

2018-19 Suburban East Conference Preview

This is the 13th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, we reach the mid-point of this 6 week series.  The conference previews end here with a look at the Suburban East Conference.  Next week, we start looking at the metro area sections.  For a list of all the season previews and how they were generated, click here.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2017-18 season 30-2, 16-0 Conference, 1st)
The defending champions lose most of their lineup.  That includes 3 division 1 stars in Daniel Oturu (Minnesota), Ryan Larson (Wofford) and Sy Chatman (UMass).  They combined for 47 PPG.  SG Jaeden King returns with 14 PPG.  They reload with transfers G Curtis Jones (Minneapolis South), F Karsten Broadley (Fosston) and frosh star PG Trejuan Holloman (Minneapolis North).  Amari Carter, Lucas Ammons, Tristan Lee and Zion Guerra are others looking for rotation time.

East Ridge Raptors (2017-18 season 23-3, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Raptors look to be a state title contender with their top 4 scorers returning. That includes mismatch combo-forward Courtney Brown (21.5 PPG) and F Ben Carlson (18.8 PPG) on a terrific front line.  The backcourt is solid with soph Kendall Brown (11.1 PPG) and senior Zach Zebrowski (8.4 PPG) both returning.  They'll need to replace the toughness of guards TJ Kelly and Joey Arndt.

Forest Lake Rangers (2017-18 season 20-12, 8-8 Conference, Tie 5th)
Forest Lake needs to replace their top 4 scorers and most of the rotation including SG Manny Jingco (17.4 PPG).  Face up 4 man Cooper Berg and Zach Hailey also graduated costing the Rangers their main size.  Guard Hunter Damon (8.6 PPG) and F John Schrader (8.5 PPG) will be the top offensive options.  Dorell Young also returns as a defensive minded guard.
Mounds View Mustangs (2017-18 season 5-22, 3-13 Conference, 7th)
After a down year, Mounds does have a couple of pieces to work with as their top 2 scorers return. G Josh Albers was the only double figure scorer at 11.5 PPG.  Expect him to get the ball in set play situations.  P Brendan Kauls more than doubled his scoring average to 8.4 PPG.  Juniors Thomas Gebhardt and Jake Radabaugh should also see significant role increases.

Park Wolfpack (2017-18 season 6-21, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
Things looking up this year for the Pack with 5 of their top 6 scorers coming back.  That includes UMD recruit Charlie Gorres (20.6 PPG) on the front line and guard Domenik Block (17.5 PPG).  Marshaun Campbell provides another option.  Joey Toth provides returning length inside.  Soph guards Norman Smith and Kaiah Brady will benefit from the time they saw last season.

Roseville Raiders (2017-18 season 16-11, 9-7 Conference, 4th)
The Raiders return a very experienced perimeter group.  That includes Jovan Hunter, Camryn Walker, Mario Dukes, Yohanes Gebeyehu, John Briggs and Camryn Walker.  I can see Walker or Dukes having a breakout season.  Spencer Nath will man the inside.  Forward Daevonte Monson's 10.2 PPG will be missed.

Stillwater Ponies (2017-18 season 4-23, 3-13 Conference, Tie 7th)
The Ponies have to replace a large chunk of their rotation.  Leading scorer Evan Parker (12.3 PPG) is the main loss.  PG Nate Shikenjanski (11.6 PPG) is the main piece to build around.  Forward Benjamin Recksiedler (6.6 PPG) is another top offensive option.  Trenton Attwood (5.8 PPG) returns to the front line.  Junior Matt Moore should see an expanded role at a guard spot.

White Bear Lake Bears (2017-18 season 15-12, 8-8 Conference, Tie 5th)
Coach Keith Lockwood has been building towards this season.  He has a quality 1-2 punch in PF Jeremy Beckler (19.4 PPG) and G Sam Schwartz (16.7 PPG).  They are part of the 4 returning starters.  Only major rotation loss is F Blake Charles and 10.8 PPG.

Woodbury Royals (2017-18 season 16-12, 12-4 Conference, 3rd)
Woodbury has to replace all everything forward Michael Jones (25.7 PPG) and almost their entire rotation.  Adam Mazur, McK Robertson and Shaheed Muhammed are options at the guard spots.  Junior Drew Bramlett (3.6 PPG) should be the top scoring threat as he's the top returning scorer.  Parker McMorrow is a front line option for a small and inexperienced lineup.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. East Ridge   
  2. Cretin-Derham Hall   
  3. Roseville
  4. White Bear Lake  
  5. Forest Lake 
  6. Woodbury
  7. Park
  8. Mounds View
  9. Stillwater
Conference Overview:
Once again CDH and East Ridge should battle it out as 2 of the teams at the top of a very deep class AAAA this season.  Roseville and White Bear Lake have a bunch coming back and should battle in the 2nd tier.  After that a significant dropoff as Forest Lake and Woodbury have entire rotations to replace.  Park could be a sleeper here if Gorres and Block stay healthy.  Mounds View will be better but will have to grind it out every night.  Stillwater continues to rebuild.

Conference MVP: Courtney Brown - East Ridge

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Trejuan Holloman, Tristan Lee - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Kendall Brown, Kendall Blue, Zac Thomas, Drew Adams - East Ridge
  • Kaiah Brady, Norman Smith - Park
Conference Games to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at East Ridge - Dec 14th
  • East Ridge at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 29th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • East Ridge vs Hopkins - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall) 
  • Wayzata at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 1st (Big 12) 
  • East Ridge vs Prior Lake - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Rochester John Marshall vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • East Ridge at Eden Prairie - Dec 18th
  • Brookfield Central (WI) at East Ridge - Jan 26th (Border Battle)
  • Wayzata at East Ridge - Feb 6th
  • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 14th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 16th

2018-19 South Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2018-19 Season Preview Series.  In this preview, we head south for a look at the South Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Apple Valley Eagles (2017-18 season 27-5, 17-1 Conference, 1st)
The 9 year Jones era is over after a record of 237-38.  The top 9 scorers need to be replaced including Tre Jones (Duke) and Luke Martens (Winona St).  Only Mark Possis (2.2 PPG) has any rotation time.  The foundation has been built but with a lack of experience and a tough league, expect a major dropoff for the Eagles.

Burnsville Blaze (2017-18 season 6-22, 4-14 Conference, Tie 8th)
Rob Mestas comes over from Minneapolis Roosevelt to take the head job.  He has a couple of pieces to work with on the wings in Marcus Shepley (14.6 PPG) and junior Josh Kamara (10 PPG).  Charlie Krekelberg, Sam Bardwell and Hayden Johnson also saw lots of rotation time last year.

Eagan Wildcats (2017-18 season 6-22, 4-14 Conference, Tie 8th)
The rebuild continues for the Wildcats.  PG Jaylen James was the only double figure scorer last year and he is now at Eastview.  The memories of Joey King's transfer come to mind.  Ben Kozemzak (8.6 PPG) and junior guard Kurt Ohlhues (8.4 PPG).  Fellow junior guards Finn O'Malley and Cam House also return to the lineup.

Eastview Lightning (2017-18 season 12-17, 6-12 Conference, 7th)
Eastview is primed for a big jump this season.  The junior front line of Steven Crowl (12.5 PPG) and Tate Machacek (10.9 PPG) leads the way.  Adding junior PG Jaylen James from Eagan gives another ballhandler to go with Izaak Raspberry.  Ryan Thissen and Caden Scales are also juniors who provide depth.

Farmington Tigers (2017-18 season 14-13, 7-11 Conference, 6th)
Farmington was a pleasant surprise thanks to a 1-3-1 zone last year.  2 double figures scorers including leading scorer Caden Freetly (12.2 PPG) need to be replaced.  Adam Weed is the top scoring returnee at 10.2 PPG.  Athletic forward Miles Mendes (8.3 PPG) is another quality option.  PG Jameson Shrum and his 7.9 PPG return to run the show.

Lakeville North Panthers (2017-18 season 27-5, 16-2 Conference, 2nd)
Star forward Tyler Wahl (17.2 PPG) returns and at some point will fill every possible role.  Guard Tommy Jenson (10.7 PPG) gives the Panthers another offensive option.  They do lose a bunch of important pieces around them including 10.9 PPG from F Tyler Lewko.  Tate Staloch should step into Lewko's role on the front line.  The duo of Eli and Will Mosaert provides a physical presence up front as well.  The guards will be inexperienced so expect Wahl to do a ton of ball-handling.

Lakeville South Cougars (2017-18 season 15-13, 11-7 Conference, 4th)
Lakeville South has to replace their top 3 scorers who all averaged double figures.  That includes UW-Milwaukee recruit Shae Mitchell and his 15.2 PPG.  Soph PF Riley Mahlman averaged 10.3 PPG last year and will be a primary option this season.  SG Joe Bachinski and his 5.7 PPG should see a much expanded role as well.   Soph Reid Patterson will also see plenty of time.

Prior Lake Lakers (2017-18 season 22-6, 14-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Lakers have an absolutely huge front line with leading scorer 6'10" Dawson Garcia (21.7 PPG), shot-blocker 6'11" Robert Jones (13.5 PPG) and 6'9" Carson Schoeller.  They've experimented with playing all 3 at once.  Sharp shooting Sam Nissen returns to run the point with 11.6 PPG.  Jackyse Jacox also returns to the starting lineup.  They add Tyree Ihenacho on the wing as a transfer from Burnsville.

Rosemount Irish (2017-18 season 2-25, 1-17 Conference, 10th)
It was a long 1st year for coach Lance Walsten.  Leading scorer Luke Siwek and 16.3 PPG graduated.  2 other double figure scorers do return.  Guards Andrew Reuter (12.5 PPG) and Jacob Siwek (10.9 PPG) return to be the primary options on offense.  Marcus Stephenson provides guard depth.  Keaton Miller (4.5 PPG) is the primary option inside.

Shakopee Sabers (2017-18 season 14-13, 10-8 Conference, 5th)
Shakopee was one of the big stories of the off-season with the surprising firing of hall of fame coach Bruce Kugath.  Wayzata assistant Jake Dammann takes over with a very good junior class to work with.  That includes leading scorer Charlie Katona (19.1 PPG) at a forward spot.  Guards Caleb Druvenga (15.9 PPG) and Will Cordes (10.7 PPG) are also part of that group.  Fellow juniors Tanner Koenen and Brooks Allen also saw lots of time last year.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Prior Lake
  2. Lakeville North
  3. Eastview
  4. Shakopee
  5. Farmington 
  6. Lakeville South 
  7. Apple Valley  
  8. Burnsville
  9. Eagan
  10. Rosemount  
Conference Overview:
With the Jones era over, the league opens up.  Prior Lake is the favorite with most of their lineup returning and a ridiculous amount of size.  Tyler Wahl will keep Lakeville North near the top.  Eastview and Shakopee both return a ton and are poised to move up the standings.  Farmington could be a sleeper to make a run there too.  Lakeville South is young but has nice pieces.  Apple Valley has nothing coming back so they fall far.  Burnsville has pieces coming back but a new system to learn.  Eagan and Rosemount continue to rebuild.

Conference MVP: Tyler Wahl - Lakeville North

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Noah Friedt - Apple Valley
  • Nick Hughes - Burnsville
  • Brock Mogensen - Farmington
  • Riley Mahlman, Reid Patterson - Lakeville South
  • Cade McGraw - Shakopee
Conference Games to Watch
  • Lakeville North at Prior Lake - Jan 22nd
  • Prior Lake at Lakeville North - Feb 22nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake vs Park Center - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Lakeville North at Hopkins - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic)
  • Prior Lake at Chaska - Dec 6th
  • Prior Lake vs East Ridge - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Lakeville North at Chaska - Dec 13th
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville North - Dec 21st
  • Wayzata at Lakeville North - Jan 5th

2018-19 NW Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference. For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Andover Huskies (2017-18 season 13-14, 9-10 Conference, 3rd North)
The Huskies have to replace their top 6 scorers.  That includes 2 double figure scorers in Conner Knoepfle and Mason Heath.  They combined for over 30 PPG last seaon.  Jake Mallett and Matt Brodeur are the main returnees but averaged under 4 PPG.  Brady Garcia (3.9 PPG) also returns to the rotation.

Anoka Tornadoes (2017-18 season 12-15, 6-13 Conference, 5th North)
Both double figure scorers from last season need to be replaced.  That includes main interior option Jake Phipps (16.6 PPG) and guard Addison Ostendorf (11.4 PPG).  Soph Guard Amir Madyun left for Park Center after being a key rotation guy last year.  Joseph Lombard is a big body inside (8 PPG).  Micah Madyun gives them an attacking guard option.  Code Lindenberg and Mac Wieczorek also return to the lineup.

Blaine Bengals (2017-18 season 18-11, 11-8 Conference, 2nd North)
Athletic wing Ray Mitchell and his 19.4 PPG is off to D1 Idaho.  Forward Jason Kaul (9.9 PPG) is a nice inside out option that will be the focus of the offense.  Tony and Tyler Strand also return to the rotation.  Tony averaged 8.6 PPG last year, Tyler provides another option in the front court.  Lucas Larson returns at a guard spot.

Centennial Cougars (2017-18 season 5-22, 3-16 Conference, 7th North)
The Cougars return a couple of double figure scorers.  Carter Anderson (16.8 PPG) and Ricky Eason (12.9 PPG) are a sharp shooting duo.  Riley Van Buskirk (8.3 PPG) returns as a point guard.  Matt Wyffels provides another shooter on the wing.  Not much size or punch on the front line though.  10.1 PPG from guard Andrew Metz is the biggest loss.

Champlin Park Rebels (2017-18 season 22-6, 17-2 Conference, 1st North)
Despite the loss of PG Josiah Strong (22.6 PPG), expect the Rebels to keep rolling.  Wing Bennett Otto (16.5 PPG) leads the way.  Alex John returns to man the post.  Kato Seley also returns to a forward spot in the starting lineup along with shooter Jared Walter.  Senior slasher Juwan Grant also comes back.  Juniors TJ Moberg and Cooper Olson provide rotation options along with soph F Francis Nwaokorie.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2017-18 season 12-16, 7-12 Conference, 4th North)
Captain Marshall Holland (12.4 PPG) is the top returnee for coach Mike Ogorek.  Guard Shyron Sayers (7.8 PPG), Elijah McGrath (7 PPG) and Braden Farley (5 PPG) also come back.  Jackson Aurelius and Reese Mahn saw rotation time as well.  Leading scorer Marcel Winston (14.2 PPG) is the major loss.

Elk River Elks (2017-18 season 10-17, 5-14 Conference, 6th North)
Leading scorer Jack Burger and 14 PPG departs.  Most of the rest of the lineup returns.  Guard Dylan Fruth (13.8 PPG) leads the returnees.  Brock Burdine is an experience guard in the lineup.  Devon Roberts and Alex Eng provide experience on the front line.  Beyond Fruth, they'll need to find scoring punch.

Irondale Knights (2017-18 season 4-23, 2-17 Conference, 7th West)
The Knights return 3 of their top 4 scorers.  That includes 17.3 PPG from Aden Price and 11 PPG from Leighton Glodek.  Iggy Ejiofor and 7 PPG also returns to the starting lineup.  Carter Jorgenson and Carson Schicker also return to the rotation.  Dylan Irvin and Marcus Schramm are the 2 starters lost to graduation.

Maple Grove Crimson (2017-18 season 21-10, 12-7 Conference, 3rd West)
Post Alex Battist (12.4 PPG) and versatile wing Jordan Stensland (11.4 PPG) are major losses from the lineup.  PG Jared Rainey (13.1 PPG) returns after leading the team in scoring last year.  Nate Adams returns as another highly capable shooter on the wing.  Kyle Dreyer and Daniel Walljasper provide other wing options.  Tyler Born could step into a front court role.

Osseo Orioles (2017-18 season 25-7, 15-4 Conference, 2nd West)
Osseo has to replace their entire starting lineup.  That includes the high scoring guard duo of Zach Theisen (20.7 PPG) and Emmette Page (22.9).  Page was an absolute revelation from nowhere last year.  But this is Osseo where they just reload from the next level.  The JV crew was 21-4 last year so don't feel too bad for the Orioles.  Junior PG Cornell Richardson (5.9 PPG) should be their candidate this year to breakout.  Elijah Barlue will be a front line factor.  Terrance Waits, Tariq Henry and Montrell Stokes should also step into perimeter roles.

Park Center Pirates (2017-18 season 24-5, 17-2 Conference, 1st West)
High scoring guard Jarius Cook and DJ Purnell and their combined 30 PPG are major losses but the Pirates are still loaded.  Guards Tommy Chatman (11.2 PPG) and Emmanuel Tamba are very experienced and solid.  Khari Broadway (11.8 PPG) has been around forever on the wing.  Then the big man Dain Dainja (13.6 PPG) is a monster inside.  They have a bunch of depth behind that with juniors Detavious Frierson, Amir Whitlock, David Ijadimbola and Josh Lewis

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2017-18 season 12-16, 10-9 Conference, 5th West)
Former Armstrong star and Wayzata assistant Jon Bryant takes over the program.  He has to replace PG Isaiah Miller along with wings Ben Inniger and Nashiem Lozier.  But there are pieces to work with.  Leading scorer Jake Breitbach (10.7 PPG) returns to the lineup.  Adam Biewen and Cole Priem provide shooting.  Tyler Peterson is developing nicely on the front line.  Cole Schlotthauer also provides size inside.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2017-18 season 12-16, 8-11 Conference, 6th West)
The Panthers lose center Elijah Elkerton and 11.2 PPG.  But they have a talented group of juniors to lead the way.  Wings Blake Remme (17.9 PPG) and Gabe Myren (15.2 PPG) lead the way and are very capable shooters that must be found.  Daydor Phillips provides an athletic driving option.  Senior Mason Johnson provides size in the middle.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2017-18 season 15-13, 11-8 Conference, 4th West)
Interim coach Deon Richardson moves up from assistant role for the season.  He has a big task in front of him having to replace the entire starting lineup and 5 of the top 6 scorers.  Seniors Eric Krieger and Riley Burger are the top returnees.  Then its the sophomore trio of Carter Weierke, Max Hofschulte-Beck and Devin Burger who will need to step up to bigger roles.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Champlin Park   
  2. Elk River
  3. Blaine  
  4. Centennial     
  5. Coon Rapids
  6. Andover 
  7. Anoka
West Division
  1. Park Center
  2. Maple Grove
  3. Osseo 
  4. Spring Lake Park 
  5. Robbinsdale Armstrong  
  6. Totino-Grace
  7. Irondale 
Conference Overview:
In the west, Park Center is the class of the league once again.  Maple Grove with their guard play gets the 2nd nod and I'll complete the district trio with Osseo staying 3rd.  Spring Lake Park is the best of the rest as they look toward a big season next year.  Armstrong has some nice pieces returning as well but a new system.  Totino-Grace has a new coach and a new lineup so expect a drop.  Irondale has a group of returnees that look to fight their way off the bottom.  Overall, a much stronger division in the west than the north.

Champlin Park is the runaway favorite in another very weak year in the North division.  Elk River jumps back up in the division after a down year last year.  Blaine and Centennial should battle in the middle with solid players returning.  Coon Rapids I see a notch below those teams but with Andover losing everybody and Anoka still rebuilding they stay out of the cellar.

Conference MVP: Dain Dainja - Park Center

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Francis Nwaokorie - Champlin Park 
  • Jatai Dillard, Terence Larmouth - Maple Grove 
  • Don Ferguson - Osseo
  • Amir Maydun - Park Center
  • Kaleb Skelly, Trey Johnston - Spring Lake Park
  • Carter Weierke, Max Hofshulte-Beck, Devin Burger - Totino-Grace
Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center at Champlin Park - Jan 31st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center vs Prior Lake - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Park Center vs Eden Prairie- Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Champlin Park vs Minnehaha - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Wayzata at Champlin Park - Dec 13th
  • Champlin Park at Hopkins - Jan 3rd
  • Wayzata at Park Center - Jan 16th 
  • Champlin Park at Eden Prairie - Jan 17th

2018-19 Lake Conference Preview

This is the 10th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, let's stay in the west metro for a look at the Lake Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2017-18 season 23-9, 4-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Eagles are loaded with their top 4 scorers returning and all are juniors. Austin Andrews leads the way with 18.6 PPG as a crafty forward.  PG Drake Dobbs averaged 18.4 and can light up the scoreboard in a hurry from deep (see his 39 point outburst at Hopkins last last season).  Connor Christensen and John Henry also averaged double figures as sophomores.  They'll miss the defense and leadership of Kyler Kluge and DJ Johnson.  But there's even more depth in the junior class with players like Brenden Donohue and Lukas Dunford.  Transfer Ariel Bland provides a big athletic wing option.

Edina Hornets (2017-18 season 19-10, 3-5 Conference, 4th)
The Hornets have to replace a pair of quality guards in Anders Nelson (20.7 PPG) and defender Luke Glenna (11.2 PPG).  They'll build around knock-down shooter Jack Middleton (13.3 PPG) and fast-rising junior C Jacob Hutson (9 PPG).  Zach Kloos and Charles Haff also return to the rotation.  They both averaged just under 5 PPG off the bench.  Miles Harrell should step into a guard slot.

Hopkins Royals (2017-18 season 26-2, 8-0 Conference, 1st)
The beat goes on for Hopkins as they reload.  They add Minnetonka transfers PG Jalen Dearring and W Andy Stafford who both have previous Hopkins ties.  That will give the Royals the most talented starting 5 in the state.  That's despite losing 3 quality starters including PG Blaise Beauchamp who left for prep school and Wisconsin recruit Joe Hedstrom.  Top 35 nationally ranked F Zeke Nnaji  (19.9 PPG) leads the way along with SG Kerwin Walton who's recruitment has also skyrocketed.  Dane Zimmer is the other factor in that top 5.  The depth will be young and inexperienced.

Minnetonka Skippers (2017-18 season 14-13, 1-7 Conference, 5th)
Minnetonka has to replace 3 of their 4 top scorers.  That includes the 2 transfers to Hopkins.  Forward Cam Steele  (15.9 PPG) is the main piece to build around.  He can physical inside or step away from the paint.  Gavin Patton (7.6 PPG)  provides another scoring option from last year's rotation.  Aaron Syverson should be a top guard option.  Ike Fuecker, Riley O'Connor and AJ Tolliver are also options at the guard spots.

Wayzata Trojans (2017-18 season 18-13, 4-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Sharpshooter Drew Galinson graduated with 13.6 PPG.  But the Trojans still have plenty of firepower.  Leading scorer Jacob Beeninga (19.7 PPG) is tough as nails at the point.  Luke Paulson (13.3 PPG) is another one of the many shooters available.  Youngsters Camden Heide and Kody Williams return after solid rotation minutes last year.   They fill the middle with role players like Keaton Heide.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Hopkins
  2. Eden Prairie
  3. Wayzata
  4. Edina
  5. Minnetonka
Conference Overview
The top of the league is absolutely stacked.  Hopkins starting 5 is ridiculous and their size gives them the nod here.  Eden Prairie's group of juniors is also state title contender worthy.  Don't discount a very good Wayzata team in a deep year in AAAA either.  Edina is a very solid team but not at the same level.  Minnetonka's losses have to put them at the bottom.

Conference MVP: Zeke Nnaji - Hopkins

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Cole Tiran, Will Foster - Eden Prairie
  • Andre Gray, Jaelen Treml, Elvis Ohagwu - Hopkins
  • Cohen Kellogg - Minnetonka
  • Camden Heide, Kody Williams, Eddie Beeninga - Wayzata
Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Wayzata - Jan 11th
  • Wayzata at Hopkins - Feb 1st
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Feb 8th
  • Wayzata at Eden Prairie - Feb 12th
  • Hopkins at Wayzata - Feb 22nd
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - Mar 1st
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins vs East Ridge- Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Wayzata at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 1st (Big 12)
  • Eden Prairie vs De La Salle - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Lakeville North at Hopkins - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic)
  • Eden Prairie vs Park Center - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Wayzata vs De La Salle - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Hopkins at Minnehaha - Dec 11th
  • Wayzata at Champlin Park - Dec 13th
  • East Ridge at Eden Prairie - Dec 18th
  • Wayzata at Chaska - Dec 21st
  • Chaska at Eden Prairie - Dec 27th (Eden Prairie Holiday Tourney)
  • Wayzata vs St Thomas Academy - Dec 27th (UST Holiday Tourney)
  • Hopkins vs Minnehaha - Dec 29th (Projected Augsburg Tournament final)
  • Champlin Park at Hopkins -Jan 3rd
  • Wayzata at Lakeville North - Jan 5th
  • Minnehaha at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
  • Hopkins vs St. Paul Central - Jan 12th (Super Showcase at Columbia Heights)
  • Wayzata at Park Center - Jan 16th
  • Minneapolis North at Hopkins - Jan 25th
  • Hopkins at De La Salle - Jan 29th
  • Wayzata at East Ridge - Feb 6th
  • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 14th
  • Minneapolis North at Eden Prairie - Feb 26th

2018-19 Metro West Conference Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Now the big schools as this week covers the mostly class AAAA leagues.  In this preview, a look at the Metro West Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Benilde St. Margaret's Red Knights (2017-18 season 15-13, 8-6 Conference, Tie 4th)
Coach John Moore has to replace his top 5 scorers.  Senior wing Dylan Drees  (6.3 PPG) will be a focal point of the offense with his shooting.  Juniors Walker Johnson (6.7 PPG) and swiss army knife Nick Peterson return to the rotation.  Forward Max Bilcik crosses the highway from Groves Academy.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2017-18 season 15-11, 10-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Jags once again look to reload as they again lose most of the rotation.  14.2 PPG from wing Isaiah Watts leads the returnees.  The rest of the rotation will be inexperienced. 

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2017-18 season 4-23, 1-13 Conference, Tie 7th)
Coach Jamin Cook has to replace 2 double figure scores.  PG Markel Aune (16.8 PPG) and Isaiah Stone (11.4 PPG) graduated.  Guard Terrell Barber is the top returnee with 7.3 PPG.  Larontae Mormant (5.7 PPG) returns in the middle.  Guard Jaylen Williams also returns to the rotation.

Chanhassen Storm (2017-18 season 12-15, 6-8 Conference, 6th)
The Storm return 2 of their 3 double figure scorers from last season.  Forward Regan Tollefson (15.9 PPG) and guard Carson Hollowaty (11.9 PPG) make for a solid 1-2 punch.  Junior Luke Gitzen also provides a scoring option.  Charlie Ash is the primary option in the post.  Forward Austin Carter's 11.9 PPG and point guard Chris Wandling will be missed.

Chaska Hawks (2017-18 season 20-8, 10-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Hawks look to reclaim the league throne after a 2nd place finish last year.  Northern Colorado commit Cole Nicholson leads the way with 22.2 PPG.  He's an inside and outside threat who is poised for another terrific season.  Shooter Connor Krenos (11 PPG) also returns to the lineup.  Zach Lea and soph F Spencer Goetz also return.  The length and 16.5 PPG from forward Parker Bjorklund will be missed.  Defensive star Matt Eliason also graduated.

Richfield Spartans (2017-18 season 1-26, 1-13 Conference, Tie 7th)
The Spartans will move to the Tri-Metro next season.  2 of the 3 double figure scorers need to be replaced.  That includes 18.8 PPG from wing Devin Wade-Henderson.  Ethan Quint's 13.8 PPG leads the returning group.  Soph Ryan Miles returns on a wing.  Freshman Mitchell January returns as an option to run the show.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2017-18 season 19-7, 12-2 Conference, 1st)
The Hawks will be led by their talented senior guard duo of Jalen Justice (17.6 PPG) and Jalen Miller (14 PPG).  Senior Cam Vaughn also returns to the lineup with 7.1 PPG.  They do lose all their size along with the toughness of Nate Hill and Onte Burns.  They'll be a small and quick, fast-paced, press and trapping lineup.

St. Louis Park Orioles (2017-18 season 14-14, 8-6 Conference, Tie 4th)
All 3 double figure scorers from last season have graduated.  PG Cire Mayfield, SG Joey Whitlock and F Aiden Doherty combined for almost 45 PPG last season.  Anthony Rayson (8.5 PPG) is the top returnee and he'll man the interior.  Wings Jacob Houts and Anthony Odens also return to the rotation as top offensive options.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Chaska
  2. Robbinsdale Cooper  
  3. Chanhassen
  4. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  5. Bloomington Jefferson 
  6. St. Louis Park 
  7. Bloomington Kennedy
  8. Richfield 
Conference Overview
Its an interesting year in the Metro West.  With plenty of conference realignment going on and Richfield leaving for the Tri-Metro next season don't be shocked to see changes after the season.  The league as currently setup doesn't make much sense anyway.  Chaska sticks out as the favorite to jump back to the top of the league.  Cooper's guard play will keep them near the top of the league.  Chanhassen's returning duo should allow them to battle Cooper in that 2nd tier.  Then the middle of the league has a ton to replace.  Benilde-St. Margaret's gets the nod there with 3 returnees.  Jefferson always reloads so I can't drop them too far and St. Louis Park has some pieces coming back.  Kennedy and Richfield continue rebuilding efforts.

Conference MVP: Cole Nicholson - Chaska

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Spencer Goetz, Luke Strazzanti, Brady Nicholson - Chaska
  • Michell January, Ryan Miles - Richfield
  • Paris Johnson, Will Kietzmann - St. Louis Park
Conference Games to Watch
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Chaska - Jan 15th
  • Chanhassen at Chaska - Jan 22nd
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Chanhassen - Jan 25th
  • Chaska at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 12th
  • Chaska at Chanhassen - Feb 19th
  • Chanhassen at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 22nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake at Chaska - Dec 6th
  • Lakeville North at Chaska - Dec 13th
  • Wayzata at Chaska - Dec 21st
  • Chaska at Eden Prairie - Dec 27th

2018-19 Metro East Conference Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Due to the annual MEA break, I'll also take the 2 day hiatus and end week 2 with a look at the Metro East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and an explanation of how the previews are generated, click here.

Hastings Raiders (2017-18 season 13-14, 9-7 Conference, 5th)
The Raiders have to replace their top 2 scorers in forward Sawyer Levos and Grant Hollar.  They combined for almost 24 PPG last year.  But 3 starters and 2 reserves do return. Junior guard Devon Haraldson provides shooting.  Forwards Matt Schlottman and Isaac Rabaey return to a big front line.  Both scored 9 PPG last year.  Junior guards Dylan Wagner (9.6 PPG) and Colby Zak (5.1 PPG) return to guard spots.  Expect a very balanced lineup once again.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2017-18 season 9-18, 5-11 Conference, 6th)
Coach John Carrier has to replace his point guard and leading scorer Rieshaun Satar (19.6 PPG).  The next 4 leading scorers return to the lineup.  Versatile forward Malik Tschida-Spearman (16.1 PPG) will be the top option.  But he's coming off a football injury which will slow the start of his season.  Ty Zubulake (11 PPG) and Eli Lone Tree should be other primary offensive options. 

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2017-18 season 3-24, 2-14 Conference, Tie 8th)
Jacob Robasse takes over the program with a ground level rebuild ahead of him.  No one averaged double figures last year and 4 of the top 5 scorers are gone.  Guard Kenny Larmie leads the returnees with 7.5 PPG.  Octavius Wilson is the lone returning starter (6 PPG).  Mitch Gutknecht (6.5 PPG) also returns to the rotation.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2017-18 season 21-8, 11-5 Conference, 4th)
Mahtomedi loses 2 double figure scorers in forwards Jack Shay (13.5 PPG) and Karmoga Lero (10.2 PPG).  But 3 starters and 3 double figure scorers return to the lineup along with 2 reserves.  Leading scorer J'Vonne Hadley averaged 15.7 PPG.  Zac Centers averaged 12.2 PPG.  Junior Cole Chapman averaged 5.1 PPG.  Devin Melzer and his 7.2 PPG also returns to the lineup.

North Polars (2017-18 season 23-5, 15-1 Conference, 1st)
The defending conference champs have to replace most of their rotation.  That includes long time starters Goodnews Kpegeol (18.2 PPG) and PG Bryce Phillips (11.1 PPG).  Junior forward Brenden Lankford-Johnson (6.2 PPG) will be one of the ones expected to pick up the slack.  Guard Dajuan Carter will have a perpetual green light so expect volume numbers from him.  He averaged 11.8 PPG in bench minutes last year.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2017-18 season 22-10, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Cadets have to replace their top 2 scorers in forwards Sam Vascellaro and George Stewart.  They combined for almost 30 PPG.  PG Jack Thompson is the leading option with 12.3 PPG last year.  Noah Chamberlain (6.7 PPG) should fit nicely into Vascellaro's role from last year.  The rest of the rotation will be mix and match with players like Tony Wright and Jack Stolpman.

Simley Spartans (2017-18 season 11-17, 3-13 Conference, 7th)
Star forward Jake Binley and 19.8 PPG needs to be replaced.  Isaiah Robinson and his 19.2 PPG do return.  Expect him to have another big season.  Milton Carnes and Cole Tschida also return to the rotation.  Guard Evan Johnson will also see time.

South St. Paul Packers (2017-18 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference, Tie 8th)
A notable improvement for the Packers last year despite playing 6 underclassmen.  That experience will serve them well this year.  Soph Marquise Gleb returns at a guard spot.  Juniors Trystan Patnode and Josh Osborne also return.  Junior Dohntae Vance provides a returning inside presence.

Tartan Titans (2017-18 season 22-5, 12-4 Conference, 3rd)
Coach Mark Klingsporn returns PG Antwan Kimmons who raised his averaged from 6 PPG to 20 PPG last year.  The next 2 scoring options graduated in guard Andre Jenkins-Whitmore and forward Brady Hartman.  That's a problem for a team that had trouble generating offense last year so expect Kimmons to see lots of box and 1 type concepts this year.  But with returnees like Joe Kearney, Dante Aganmwonyi, M'akil Weems and Dorian Singer they have plenty of experience.  Lots of interchangeable pieces on the defensive end for one of the best defensive teams in the metro.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Mahtomedi
  2. Tartan
  3. St. Thomas Academy     
  4. Hastings
  5. North
  6. Henry Sibley 
  7. Simley
  8. South St. Paul
  9. Hill-Murray 
Conference Overview
Mahtomedi and Tartan should battle for the conference title with both returning most of their lineups.  The middle group of St. Thomas Academy, Hastings and North should be very interesting to watch.  They each provide something very different in terms of experience and style of play.  Neighbors Sibley and Simley should battle for the next 2 spots with South St. Paul possibly jumping up into that group.  Hill-Murray starts over at the bottom.

Conference MVP: Antawn Kimmons - Tartan

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Andrew Chambers - Hill-Murray
  • Laron Thomas, Murl Smith - North
  • Yenika Fondungallah - St. Thomas Academy
  • Marquise Gleb, Ishman Ricmond, Kaiden Rucker - South St. Paul
  • Dorian Singer - Tartan
Conference Games to Watch
  • Tartan at Mahtomedi - Jan 3rd
  • Mahtomedi at Tartan - Jan 31st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Tartan vs Edina - Dec 8 (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)

2018-19 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the 7th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  The look at the city leagues continues with the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Edison Tommies (2017-18 season 6-21, 1-11 Conference, Tie 6th)
Coach Ahmil Jihad played a ton of guys last year.  He has forward Jackson Rusnacko and junior Jermain Cornell to build around for this season.  A down year in the league gives them a chance for wins.

North Polars (2017-18 season 23-6, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
Center Odell Wilson (NSDU) and guard Tayler Johnson combined for 40 PPG and graduated.  But don't despair as the Polars are still talented.  Star freshman Trejuan Holloman is now at Cretin-Derham Hall.  Eli Campbell returns at a guard spot (12.1 PPG).  Soph Davon Townley will man the middle.  Omar Brown and Ar'mon Dalton provide experience in the rotation.  Willie Wilson and Clifford Brown are the next wave of youth.  Their conference winning streak stands at 27 games.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2017-18 season 13-13, 7-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Guard Rashaud Rollins (13.4 PPG) and forward Anton Barr are the top returnees.  The Patriots JV squad won the JV Twin Cities Game last season.  That group of now juniors will be their depth.  Glentrell Carter, Mark Campbell and Yusuf Abdullah are the key members of that crew.

Roosevelt Teddies (2017-18 season 17-10, 7-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Head Coach Rob Mestas took over at Burnsville.  Mike Walker takes the reins and has a couple of talented pieces to work with.  High flying guard Deszi Sims averaged 26.4 PPG.  Forward Luke Barnes will be the 2nd option with 8.2 PPG last year.  Feysal Yusuf and frosh Muja Burton also return to the rotation.  They'll miss the shooting of Leo Buchwald (14.6 PPG).

South Tigers (2017-18 season 12-15, 8-4 Conference, 2nd)
The Tigers have to replace their top 3 scorers. That includes PG Curtis Jones (17 PPG) who is now at Cretin-Derham Hall and graduated post Cossy Kowouto.  Jaylen Blakley and Suldan Omar are backcourt options.  Josiah Lossow, Marcus Acha and Phillip Williams also saw time last season.

Southwest Lakers (2017-18 season 6-21, 1-11 Conference, Tie 6th)
Coach Greg Boone has to replace all 5 starters and his top 6 scorers from last year.  That includes the forward duo of Niko Polydorou (19.2 PPG) and Treavon Nystrom (13.5 PPG) who were the double figure scorers.  Nobody else averaged more than 2.6 PPG.  Owen Dean, Casey Peterson, John Clark, Marshall Hawkins and Christo Polydorou look to be the major players in this year's rotation.

Washburn Millers (2017-18 season 10-15, 6-6 Conference, 5th)
The Millers are decimated by transfers with 3 likely starters leaving.  That includes guards Charles and Emmett Johnson leaving for Holy Angels.  Soph Cade Haskins left mid-season last year for De La Salle.  Despite losing Emmett Johnson, they still have a talented sophomore crew that won the league's freshman title last year.  That crew may take over this year as there's no meaningful varsity experience coming back.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. North
  2. Roosevelt
  3. Henry
  4. South
  5. Southwest 
  6. Washburn
  7. Edison
Conference Overview
North is still the favorite.  Roosevelt with league MVP Deszi Sims gets my nod for 2nd.  Henry will give them a run for that spot.  Then South gets the middle spot by default as they at least have players coming back.  Southwest and Washburn have completely new rotations and Edison is still rebuilding.  Southwest gets the nod over Washburn as some of their guys at least saw varsity time

Conference MVP: Deszi Sims - Roosevelt

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Willie Wilson, Clifford Brown, Davon Townley - North
  • Muja Burton - Roosevelt 
  • Damarion Bradley - South
  • Ben Schliemann, Sir'vell Miller - Washburn
Conference Games to Watch
  • North at Henry - Dec 14th
  • Henry at North - Feb 1st
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 2nd (at Minneapolis champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • North at De La Salle - Jan 8th
  • Caledonia at North - Jan 12th
  • North at Hopkins - Jan 25th
  • Henry at Hopkins - Feb 5th
  • Minnehaha at North - Feb 19th
  • North at Eden Prairie - Feb 26th

2018-19 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Week 2 begins with a look at the city schools.  That means a look at the St. Paul City Conference here with the Minneapolis City Conference tomorrow.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Central Minutemen (2017-18 season 16-10, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
The Minutemen return everybody and look for a big season after a disappointing 2nd place finish last year.  I expect that memory to run deep.  Forwards Daveonte Davis and Dion Ford combined for almost 43 PPG last year.  The big and athletic duo is a handful to matchup with.  The backcourt is also rock solid with defensive pest Ronelle Porter (12 PPG) at the point and shooter Luke McElroy.  Soph Jaelen Thomas gives them another option in the post.

Como Park Cougars (2017-18 season 6-21, 3-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
Leading scorer Donn Ward (16.5 PPG) returns to lead the Cougars.  But most of the remaining rotation has graduated.  Only other notable returner is Donzello Barros.  The rest of the rotation will be last year's JV squad with players like Nikita Benson and Isaiah Long stepping into bigger roles.

Harding Knights (2017-18 season 13-12, 7-5 Conference, 3rd)
Senior PG Jovan Christian (18.6 PPG) once again leads the way. Junior Simeon Sharp also averaged double figures at 12.6 PPG.  2 other starters also return to the lineup for the Knights.  Devonte Bolton and 12.8 PPG will be missed.  No other depth returns to the lineup.

Highland Park Scots (2017-18 season 10-17, 5-7 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Evan Brodtman returns as a shooter with 17 PPG.  Abdalla Mohammed and Mustafa Aden also return to add length to the front line.  Benny Hughes also returns to a guard spot.  Expect depth to come from a talented sophomore class that won the Twin Cites Freshman game last season.

Humboldt Hawks (2017-18 season 9-17, 3-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
The Hawks lose 3 of their 4 double figure scorers.  That takes 41 PPG out of the lineup.  But are still pieces to work with thanks to 2 starters and 4 reserves coming back.  Darnell King leads the way with 14 PPG.  Soph Brian Williams averaged 8.8 PPG last season.  Freshman Alonzo Dodd returns to run the point.

Johnson Governors (2017-18 season 21-6, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
The Govs reclaimed the league throne after a 13 year streak of titles was broken.  Now coach Vern Simmons has to replace 2 top guards and his top post player.  They combined for over 41 PPG last season.  Jordan Mobley returns at a guard spot with 10.4 PPG.  Terrel Turner, Lamont White, Sean Hubbard and 8th grader DeWayne Givens also return to the rotation.  They won't have any notable size but expect the usual pressing and trapping style to again be successful.

Washington Eagles (2017-18 season 6-22, 2-10 Conference, 7th)
Assistant Mark Bauch takes over the program after a disaster season and a recruiting fiasco.  That means some of the players may also be gone with North St. Paul being the rumored location.  Last year's lineup was young with 3 of the top 4 scorers being sophomores.  That included G Zaveon Smith (18.4 PPG) and Drewjuan White (14 PPG).  Da'Quan Grimes is a big body in the middle.  Freshman Emmanual Ajayi saw plenty of varsity minutes last season.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Central 
  2. Johnson
  3. Harding
  4. Highland Park
  5. Humboldt 
  6. Washington
  7. Como Park
Conference Overview:
Central is the runaway favorite with the entire rotation coming back.  Johnson is the best of the rest.  Harding gets the nod for 3rd with that same finish last year and plenty coming back.  Highland Park can make a run there too.  Humboldt is a sleeper here to jump up.  Washington is a wild card not knowing exactly what they'll have.  Como Park will struggle again.

Conference MVP: Daveonte Davis - Central

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Jaelen Thomas - Central
  • Isaiah Long - Como Park
  • Carter Owens - Highland Park
  • DeWayne Givens - Johnson
  • Emmanuel Ajayi - Washington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Johnson - Feb 1st
  • Johnson at Central - Feb 26th
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 2nd (at Minneapolis champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central vs Hopkins - Jan 12th (Super Showcase at Columbia Heights)
  • Minnehaha at Central - Jan 31st

2018-19 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 5th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week long series concludes with a look at the Tri-Metro Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2017-18 season 9-19, 3-9 Conference, 5th West)
Leading scorer Ryan Mazurek and his team leading 12.7 PPG have graduated from a guard spot.  Max Gerstner (10.5 PPG), junior Matt Banovetz and Tommy Shelstad also return to the rotation.  They also get 2 important guard transfers from Washburn in Charles Johnson and freshman Emmitt Johnson.  Emmitt saw extensive varsity time for Washburn last year.
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2017-18 season 22-10, 7-5 Conference, 3rd West)
Thanks to the new local prep school, the Centaurs go from being a favorite to return to state to starting completely over with a youth movement a couple of years early.  Lu'Cye Patterson, Amahn Decker, Adreone Sprinkles and Rudy Tahir are all gone because of that.  That means the youth movement of 8th graders Maxsamus Wilson and Quyavant Douglas gets an early chance to contribute.  The schedule was brutal to begin with but now with a young roster, expect many youthful lumps.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2017-18 season 22-7, 9-3 Conference, 2nd West)
What a season for the state AAA runner up knocking off 6 time champ De La Salle in the state semis after an ugly loss in the regular season finale.  They too have to rebuild losing all 5 starters.  Jarvis Wright is the one notable returnee with 10.4 PPG and he can heat up in a hurry.  Amir Davis and Jordan Jones look to take over the guard spots
Concordia Academy Beacons (2017-18 season 16-12, 5-6 Conference, 2nd East)
The Beacons return 2 of their 3 double figure scorers from last season.  That includes 16.3 PPG from senior forward Barnabas Preble and 11.4 PPG from junior guard Aaron TerHaar.  Guard Essay Hagos and forward Luke Raymond also return to the rotation.

De La Salle Islanders (2017-18 season 26-5, 12-0 Conference, 1st West)
The Islanders fell off the AAA throne after winning 6 straight state titles.  They look to make a run back to the top with their dynamic perimeter duo of PG Tyrell Terry (Stanford commit) and W Jamison Battle (George Washington commit).  The rest of the rotation including Minnesota commit Gabe Kalscheur (22.7 PPG, leading scorer) needs to be replaced though.  Jalen Travis looks to get major inside minutes especially with Malik Lamin gone.  But don't be shocked if the Islanders go small.  Washburn transfer Cade Haskins is one to keep an eye on in the 2nd half of the season.

Fridley Tigers (2017-18 season 16-10, 5-7 Conference, 4th West)
Coach Jim MacDonald has to replace his top 3 double figure scorers.  They combined for 48 PPG last year. Junior guard Isaac Burns averaged 10.9 PPG and looks to help make up the difference.  Frosh wing Hassan Kamara averaged 6 PPG and should average double figures this season.  Evan Shaw and Casey Fisher (PG) should see increased rotation time.

St. Agnes Aggies (2017-18 season 6-21, 0-11 Conference, 4th East)
The Aggies lose top scorer Marcus Johnson and 23 PPG.  Nobody else averaged double figures.  But the next 4 scorers from last season do return as part of 6 rotation players coming back.  Norman Strickland, Terrell Jones and Jacob Brezny will need to carry an offense that should be much more balanced than last year.  They also add Sam Masek from Trinity.  Size will again be an issue but junior Luke Plamann could help there.

St. Anthony Huskies (2017-18 season 13-14, 5-6 Conference, Tie 2nd East)
Junior point guard Tair Nelson will once again lead the way (17.8 PPG).  Joe Flett also returns along with a couple of bench guys.  They'll miss the firepower of shooting guard Aaron Smith and driver Mickey Jah.  Those 2 combined for 30 PPG last season.  Abe Jaeger Mountain and Jeremiah Lucas are big options for the center position.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2017-18 season 19-10, 6-5 Conference, 1st East)
The Crusaders lose 5 of their top 6 scorers.  That includes 3 double figure scorers led by North Dakota football recruit Garrett Maag (17.9 PPG).  Senior Ezra Blumer is the main returnee with 8.8 PPG and his shooting.  The cupboard is young but not bare.  Sophmores Zach Longueville (PG) and Xavier Garcia (W) will step into the open roles quite nicely

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Concordia
  2. St. Croix Lutheran 
  3. St. Anthony 
  4. St. Agnes 
  1. De La Salle
  2. Fridley
  3. Columbia Heights
  4. Holy Angels     
  5. Brooklyn Center   
Conference MVP: Tyrell Terry - De La Salle

Conference Overview:
After a banner year for the west division with the 3 top teams making it to state, its time to rebuild.  Heavy losses for last year's top 4 teams.  De La Salle at least has a couple of stars left over.  Not the case for Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights and Fridley (Metro Alliance theme??) who all lost a truck load.  Holy Angels loses their top scorer but will get a huge boost from the Washburn guards transferring in.  De La Salle wins it by default.  Fridley goes 2nd with a couple of pieces coming back.  Columbia Heights takes 3rd because of Jarvis Wright.  Holy Angels could make a run here as they have pieces.  Brooklyn Center has pieces for the future but they will be ridiculously young.  Expect them to takes some youthful lumps.

In the east, I'm looking for Concordia to go from 0-11 in league 2 years ago to winning the division with plenty coming back.  St. Croix Lutheran is in an inbetween year but don't expect major dropoff there due to a talented sophomore group.  St. Anthony gets the nod for 3rd thanks to Tait Nelson.  St. Agnes still brings up the last spot with a lack of size and known go-to scorer.  Expect realignment for next year.  St. Agnes and Concordia depart for the new Skyline Conference.  Richfield enters from the Metro West.

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Maxsamus Wilson, Quyavant Douglas, Akeem Nelson - Brooklyn Center 
  • Spencer Alvarez - Columbia Heights
  • Cade Haskins - De La Salle 
  • Hassan Kamara - Fridley
  • Emmitt Johnson - Holy Angels
  • Zach Longueville, Xavier Garcia - St. Croix Lutheran
  • Max Kachman - St. Anthony
Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Concordia - Jan 15th
  • Concordia at St. Croix Lutheran - Feb 12th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • De La Salle vs Eden Prairie- Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
    • De La Salle vs Wayzata- Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
    • Minneapolis North at De La Salle - Jan 8th
    • Hopkins at De La Salle - Jan 29th 
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 16th
    • Minnehaha at De La Salle - Feb 23rd

    2018-19 IMAC Preview

    This is the 4th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series fully transitions to local class AA and higher schools with a look at the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

    Blake Bears (2017-18 season 11-15, 2-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
    Blake returns their trio of tiny sophomore guards Gabe Ganz, Jasper Liu and Robert Grace.  They combined for 40 PPG last year.  Add in 10.8 PPG from forward Eli Kilpatrick and coach Tyler Biwan has a nice group to build around.  Little firepower beyond that and they weren't deep.  Last year's experience will help them but can they move into the upper half still being so young?

    Breck Mustangs (2017-18 season 17-10, 8-2 Conference, 2nd)
    Forward David Roddy returns with video game numbers (about 25 and 13 last year).  Expect another ridiculous season of stats from him.  30 and 15 is not out of the question.  2nd leading scorer Joey Ganley also returns with 11.9 PPG.  Beyond that only soph guard Jaren Morton returns.  They'll need to find some shooting with Jefferson Slocum being one of the main losses.

    Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2017-18 season 28-4, 7-0 Conference, 1st)
    The 2 time defending conference and class AA champs are once again the favorites to repeat.  That's despite losing 3 big contributors from last season.  Post JaVonni Bickham, G Lorenzo Smith and PG Terry Lockett (now at a prep school in Ohio) all depart after combining for over 30 PPG.  But they still have star PG Jalen Suggs to run the show and expect a much better season for him with the ball in his hands full time.   Skilled forwards Chet Holmgren and Prince Aligbe are amongst the best underclassmen in the state.  Not to mention Kaden Johnson as another forward to give them a gigantic lineup.  Depth will be interesting to watch. They've won 26 league games in a row over the last 4 seasons.

    Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2017-18 season 9-20, 2-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
    Coach Jacob Schwartz turned in a miracle 1st season with a crazy run to the 4A section final and breaking a decade long losing streak in conference games.  3 starters including double figure scorer Nick Guiang have to be replaced.  But there are pieces to work with.  Jumping jack Yahya Madar returns after averaging 16 PPG last year.  Soph Jack Paulson and senior Ben Nippolt should join the starting lineup after being major factors last season.

    Providence Academy Lions (2017-18 season 11-15, 6-3 Conference, 3rd)
    Despite playing a lineup of all juniors, Providence stayed in the middle of the league. That experience will benefit them greatly this year.  Double figure scorers Mark Richelsen and Logan Blomberg both return at the forward spots.  Guards Joey Fafinski and Dylan Servais man the backcourt.

    St. Paul Academy Spartans (2017-18 season 16-13, 2-8 Conference, 6th)
    Leading scorer Gus Grunau and 18 PPG depart from a guard spot.  PF Ryan Moore is the top returnee at 13.3 PPG.  Not much firepower beyond him.  Soph guard Adam Holod and Will Christakos return to the lineup.  Another soft non-conference schedule will help the overall record.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Minnehaha
    2. Breck
    3. Providence 
    4. Blake 
    5. Mounds Park Academy
    6. St. Paul Academy
    Conference Overview
    I don't expect much to change in this year's standings.  Minnehaha is still the clear favorite with their treasure chest of talent.  Breck with David Roddy still has be a pick for 2nd with the rest of the teams having no answer for him.  But with everybody back for Providence and Blake, those 2 could challenge.  Providence with 2 wins over Blake last year and the better finish by a mile gets the nod there.  The gap has definitely narrowed for the 2 thru 4 spots.  Mounds Park Academy and St. Paul Academy take up the last 2 spots.  With Yahya Madar and 4 others returning, I'll give Mounds Park the edge.

    Conference MVP: Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    • Robert Grace, Gabe Ganz, Jasper Liu - Blake
    • Jaren Morton - Breck
    • Chet Holmgren, Prince Aligbe, Donovan Smith - Minnehaha
    • Jack Paulson - Mounds Park Academy 
    • Adam Holod - St. Paul Academy
    Conference Games to Watch
    • Minnehaha at Breck - Jan 29th
    • Breck at Minnehaha - Feb 12th
     Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Minnehaha vs Perham - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
    • Breck at Cristo Rey - Dec 4th
    • Minnehaha vs Champlin Park - Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Hopkins)
    • Breck vs Lake City- Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Hopkins)
    • Hopkins at Minnehaha - Dec 11th
    • Minnehaha at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
    • Minnehaha vs Onalaska (WI) - Jan 26th (Border Battle at East Ridge)
    • Minnehaha at Minneapolis North - Feb 19th
    • Minnehaha at De La Salle - Feb 23rd
    • Maranatha at Minnehaha - Feb 28th

    2018-19 MCAA Preview

    This is the third preview in my 2018-19 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series moves on with a look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

    Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2017-18 season 13-19, 2-8 Conference, 9th)
    Heritage made an improbable run to state in a year where they had lost one of their best senior classes ever.  Now coach Tim Herman has to replace 11 more seniors.  Guards Seth Halvorsen and Ben Allen are significant losses.  Senior Taylor Brodersen is the lone starter coming back.  Junior TJ Guggenberger will be the main offensive option.

    Legacy Christian Academy Lions (2017-18 season 5-25, 0-10 Conference, 11th)
    Crossfire AAU director Nate Bellefeuille takes over as the new AD and 4th head coach in 4 years at Legacy.  The Lions return most of their rotation from a roster than was very young and inexperienced last season.  Senior guards Josh Hinrichs and Justin Demars return after being the top 2 scorers.  Plenty of youth will see time.  But they lose a key piece of youth as freshman Payton Thomsen has transferred to Andover.  They'll continue to build towards the next 2 years.

    Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2017-18 season 12-16, 4-6 Conference, 7th)
    The Bulldogs also have a new coach from the AAU ranks in Andrew Dahl.  He too has most of last year's roster to work with.  That includes senior do everything guard Michael Ziermann and his 16.1 PPG.  He's one of the top players in the league.  Evan Lee and Dylan Ruzicka provide shooting on the wings.  Parker Bayerl returns to man the front line.

    Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2017-18 season 20-8, 10-0 Conference, 1st)
    The league's most dominant player Beijan Newbern and his 20 PPG departs.  But the cupboard is never bare for the Mustangs.  Maciah Harut returns at the point.  The worker duo of Clarence and Hakim Daniels returns up front and they pound the boards.  Justin Mason and Julian Cavan are experienced guards.  Travaris Ricks-Wessah is another effective front line piece.  Shooting is an achilles heel for this crew, especially without a dynamic 1 on 1 option like Newbern.  They will use their athletes to pressure to make up for that.

    New Life Academy Eagles (2017-18 season 20-9, 7-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
    New Life looks at another year where they hope to just reload.  All 5 starters have to be replaced.  That includes their big front line and 2 double-figure scorers of Drew Wynia and Zach Thor.  That's around 26 points and 13 points a game.  Versatile Eli Gorter on the wing is also a big loss.  Junior forward Michael Reader is the top returnee.  Konner Ware returns in the backcourt.  Ben Kaus and Caleb Wall are also expected to be major parts of the rotation.

    PACT Charter Panthers (2017-18 season 8-19, 3-7 Conference, 8th)
    PACT has to replace 4 starters and 5 of their top 7.  That includes the top scorer in the league Cade Johnson and 23.5 PPG.  They do have a nice piece to build around in sophomore forward Jordan Stone.  Parker Maahs is the lone returning starter.

    St. Croix Prep Lions (2017-18 season 18-10, 7-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
    Coach Keven Seim has a loaded backcourt.  Junior sniper Daniel McCarrell averaged almost 18.8 PPG last year and had 10 3s in a game at Johnson last year.  Then you have sophomores Addison Metcalf and Andrew Howard who also can both handle and shoot it.  That doesn't even add in Jayton Metcalf who may return from major injury.  They'll miss the scoring punch (14.8) from Adam Wiering.  Not much size but the shooting makes up for it.

    Spectrum Sting (2017-18 season 13-13, 7-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
    Spectrum is poised to sting once again this season.  Cole Elrod and Matthew Kruse averaged around 16 PPG last season and have a ton of experience.  Most of this roster returns as well. 

    Trinity Tri-Hawks (2017-18 season 18-10, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
    4 starters have to be replaced from a balanced lineup.  Senior Ben Maslow is the lone starter back with 9.2 PPG.  Michael Ennis returns to the rotation as well with 4.9 PPG.  Junior Sam Masek is another option at a guard spot.

    West Lutheran Warriors (2017-18 season 13-15, 1-9 Conference, 10th)
    Senior Brett Volrath leads the way with 13.4 PPG.  Junior Troy Kokkinen should reach double figures in scoring this year as well.  Junior Keshawn Johnson also returns to the rotation.

    Predicted Order of Finish

    Skyline Division
    1. Maranatha  
    2. St. Croix Prep
    3. Trinity
    4. New Life
    5. Legacy
    New Wave Division
    1. Spectrum
    2. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
    3. West Lutheran
    4. Heritage
    5. PACT
    Conference Overview
    Sadly its the end of the MCAA as we know it.  Southwest Christian has left for the Minnesota River Conference.  Maranatha, New Life, St. Croix Prep and Trinity leave next year for the new Skyline Conference.  The schedule breaks the teams into a 13 game schedule via 2 divisions which I randomly named above.  Notable that all the teams leaving are placed together.  But since that doesn't really reflect the strength, I'll evaluate everybody together here.  Its only fitting that the league's traditional heavyweight Maranatha is once again the runaway favorite.  Then there's a clear group of 3 behind them. I love St. Croix Prep's guard play.  But don't discount that spot from Spectrum or LP/HT either.  Elrod and Ziermann respectively will be big factors in the league.  Then a big dropoff to the rest of the league due to heavy losses.  Trinity and New Life are traditionally solid enough to keep them in the middle.  Legacy does have plenty coming back so with the rest dropping back, I can see them being a surprise.  The bottom 3 are a toss up.  Heritage has to take a hit with 2 major years of losses. 

    Conference MVP: Michael Ziermann - LP/HT

    Underclassmen to watch: 
    • Harley Kendall, Trenton Harrison- Legacy Christian
    • Zach Jackson, Tanner Scheevel - LP/HT 
    • Chase Carter - Maranatha
    • Jordan Stone - PACT
    • Addison Metcalf, Andrew Howard - St. Croix Prep 
    • Sam Bjorlin - West Lutheran
    Conference Games to Watch
    • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Spectrum - Jan 3rd
    • Spectrum at Maranatha - Jan 11th
    • St. Croix Prep at Maranatha - Jan 15th
    • St. Croix Prep at Spectrum - Jan 22nd
    • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at St. Croix Prep - Jan 25th
    • Maranatha at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity - Jan 29th
    • Maranatha at St. Croix Prep - Jan 31st
    • Spectrum at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity - Feb 12th
    • MCAA Tournament Championship - Feb 23rd
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • St. Paul Johnson at St. Croix Prep - Dec 8th
    • Maranatha at Cristo Rey - Dec 18th
    • Hudson at St. Croix Prep - Feb 19th
    • Maranatha at Minnetonka - Feb 2nd
    • Maranatha at Edina - Feb 22nd
    • Maranatha at Minnehaha - Feb 28th

    2018-19 TCAC Division 2 Preview

    This is the second preview in the 2018-2019 season preview series.  The 6 week preview series moves along with a preview of Division 2 of the Twin Cities Athletic Conference.  Lots of turnover between the divisions this season so it isn't abundantly clear which is which so I will just label them A and B.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

    These teams will all play each other but it breaks down into 2 subdivisions.  Each team plays their fellow subdivision teams twice with a single crossover game against the other subdivision.  That means a total league schedule of 16 games for these teams.  Not sure how those crossover games will count for purposes of league standings.  For the TCAC tourney, all of these teams (possibly without Shattuck-St. Mary's) will play together.  Its scheduled as a 2 day tourney for both division 1 and 2 so I expect the usual groupings of 4 with the highest seed hosting opening night.  Then all the finals on the 4 courts at Cristo Rey on championship Saturday if its done as in recent seasons.  Metro Schools College Prep is no longer in the league.  Learning For Leadership was closed during the offseason when it was not reauthorized due to poor academic performance.  Hiawatha Collegiate was in the league last year but after I wrote the previews.  Lakes International Language Academy adds varsity basketball this year and joins the league as well.

    Division 2A

    Avail Academy Valor (2017-18 season 15-10, 11-1 TCAC D3, 1st)
    This is the school formerly known as Calvin Christian in Fridley.  Leading scorer Jaedan Schaap is a big loss but they have the next 6 players in their rotation coming back.  That includes a big front line with leading returning scorer Hans Dykstra and junior Kaleb Swensen.  Frosh Josiah Schaap looks to pick up some of the scoring lost.

    Groves Academy Griffins (2017-18 season 10-16, 3-9 TCAC D2, 6th)
    High scoring guard Malik Bodden and 23.2 PPG graduated.  He's the biggest loss from the roation.  Forward Max Bilcik averaged 17.6 PPG and almost 10 rebounds to lead the returnees.  Senior Larry Mohamed will look to fill Bodden's spot in the backcourt.  Nick Maiers gives them more size with Bilcik up front.

    North Lakes Academy Huskies (2017-18 season 13-14, 8-4 TCAC D3, 3rd)
    The Huskies lose 5 seniors to graduation.  Guard Cole Donelan and Ethan Crandell are 2 of the notable returnees.  They lost their size guys on the front line.  The schedule is favorable as 5 of the 6 cross-division games are at home.

    Lakes International Language Academy Dragons (N/A, no varsity program)
    LILA is a charter school in Forest Lake.  This will be their 3rd school year with grades 9-12.  I believe their program was JV only last year.  With it being only year 3 of the high school side of things, expect lots of youth and possibly no seniors.  The girls program will combine with natural rival North Lakes.  The teams could have their 1st official varsity meeting in the North Lakes holiday tourney.

    Liberty Classical Academy Lions (2017-18 season 13-13, 6-6 TCAC D2, 4th)
    Juniors Ben Horn (about 20 PPG) and Graham Pelton form a nice duo for the Lions.  Peter Klarr is an important loss up front.  Guard Noah Nelson along with Klarr averaged double digits and is lost to graduation.

    Shattuck St. Mary's Sabers (2017-18 season 5-6, 5-5 TCAC D3, 4th)
    SSM returns 4 of their top 5 scorers.  That includes double figure scorers Jared Hodge and Matt Cooper.  Peter Xiong and Jadon Antwi also return to the rotation.  Their home game with Calvin Christian on the final night of league play could be for the top seed in the TCAC D2 tournament.

    Division 2B

    Academy for Sciences and Agriculture Eagles (2017-18 season 8-18, 4-8 TCAC D3, 5th)
    AFSA played 5 underclassmen in a 9 man rotation last year.  That gives new coach Steve Lange some experience to work with.  Junior DeAndre Mason and soph Adam Labrie are 2 of those names that will lead the way this season.  Both are ball handlers and scorers for the Eagles.  Other scoring punch will need to be found.  Only 2 seniors depart from the rotation.

    Chesterton Academy Knights  (2017-18 season 6-14, 3-7 TCAC D3, 6th)
    No information available

    Hiawatha Colliegiate Wolves (2017-18 season 0-18, 0-12 TCAC D3, 7th)
    The south Minneapolis charter school moves to a brand new building this year.  Not sure it will help the record though.

    Hmong Academy Warriors (2017-18 season 11-8, 9-3 TCAC D3, 2nd)
    The Warriors spent last season on the road while their new facility was being built.  They return home this year.

    Math and Science Academy Dragons (2017-18 season 1-22, 0-12 TCAC D2, 7th)
    The Dragons have their 3rd head coach in 3 years as Jamey Strand comes over from AFSA.  No double figures scorers in a long season.  They have some experience coming back but it could be a rough year.

    Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Trojans (2017-18 season 9-10, 5-7 TCAC D2, 5th)
    MSAD loses 4 top scorers.  That includes 20+ PPG from Juan Salgado.  Forward Ryan Stumbo leads the returnees.

    Predicted Order of Finish - Division 2A
    1. Avail
    2. Shattuck-St. Mary's
    3. Liberty Classical
    4. Groves
    5. North Lakes
    6. Lakes International Language Academy
    Division 2A Overview
    I think Shattuck-St. Mary's is dangerous here but even without Jaeden Schaap I think Avail has enough to outlast them.  Liberty and Groves have dangerous duos that will need to produce.  North Lakes can't say any of that so they get the 5 slot.  LILA with no team last year by default starts at the bottom.

    Predicted Order of Finish - Division 2B
    1. AFSA
    2. Hmong Academy
    3. Chesterton
    4. MSAD
    5. Math and Science
    6. Hiawatha Collegiate
    Division 2B Overview
    Another year where I didn't see any of these teams.  The bottom of this is going to be ugly.  The bottom 2 combined for 1 win last year and MSAD loses their top 4.  Chesterton went 3-1 against AFSA last year with the loss by 3 at AFSA.  Hmong Academy has had a nice couple of years so I'll take them 2nd.  AFSA with plenty returning so I take them at the top. 

    Conference MVP: Hans Dykstra - Avail

    Underclassmen to watch: 
    • Adam Labrie, Mycah Hernandez - AFSA
    • Josiah Schapp, Josh Kroeze, Evan Olstad - Avail
    • Donovan Bradshaw - Groves
    • Kyu Yang - Hmong
    • Will Krisko, Dylan Goff, Anthony Kamel, Eli Harrison  - Math and Science
    • Matthew Ogunsemi - Shattuck-St. Mary's
    Conference Games to Watch
    • Shattuck-St. Mary's at Avail - Jan 8th
    • Hmong Academy at AFSA - Feb 1st
    • Avail at AFSA - Feb 8th 
    • AFSA at Hmong Academy - Feb 12th
    • Avail at Shattuck-St. Mary's - Feb 26th
    • TCAC Tournament Championships - Mar 2nd
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Avail at Christian Life - Jan 8th (likely to change)