Welcome to Czar Season 13

Its a couple weeks late due to my annual visit to Las Vegas happening right after the labor day holiday, but its time for a lucky 13th season.  With the start of a new school year that means we flip the page to a new season for 2019-20.  The usual list of all fall events is now posted on the Fall Hoops page.  That also includes notable local camps/expos/showcases for kids to attend.

The schedule for my annual longest running season preview series in the metro is posted on my Season Previews page. Those previews will begin on October 7th and as always span the 6 weeks leading right up into the 1st week of practice in November.  That link will be in the header menu from now thru the early part of the season.  You can find all 28 previews and when they'll be posted there.  That's where I'll try to make sense of the numerous conference changes this year and the biennial section movement.

15 players from the very talented 2020 class have already committed (behind last year's pace).  That list can be found here.

The list of this season's holiday tournaments can be found here.  As always I'll fill that out with detailed schedules and matchups.as the holidays approach

I've also done all the usual clean up of links.  That includes updating the current recruiting rankings from all the major services.  See that on my Players page.

That cleanup also includes all the links on the left hand side of the main site or for those of you on mobile, check out the Resources page (always 1st in the main menu too).  That includes links to anything and everything you may want to know about Minnesota hoops during the high school or grassroots seasons.  It includes national sites, recruiting calendars, signing dates, records and award winners just to name a few useful things that can be found there.

Toasting the 2010 decade in Vegas

Peppermill Lounge
A different experience in Las Vegas with no basketball going on during my annual visit.  With this year's new rules, we saw the usual events fall during a non-open period that was replaced with camps run by the NCAA.  Then another event that wasn't open to D1 or D2 schools popped up the following week.  That was an invite event trying to determine a mythical national champion from across the shoe companies.  So with the Fab 48/Las Vegas Classic era basically coming to an end, I'll take the opportunity here to look back at the best of what I saw in Vegas during that time from 2011 to present.

This year's gambling came out a reasonable plus at blackjack but lots of meat left on the bone.  Up big at the big table in 2 different sessions on the last day but came back to even.  A memorable jerk taking up 2 spots then refusing to play the 2nd spot plus a foolish drunk make for memorable spots.  The gains made up for a minor loss at the craps table.  A trip to the new Las Vegas Ballpark for the AAA playoffs on an absolutely gorgeous final night.was one highlight.  A trip to T-Mobile Arena for another viewing of Elton John's farewell tour was also outstanding.

The Compton Magic vs Team Takeover game at the Fab 48 Showcase was a monster.  A game with a ton of hype with the best of Adidas vs the best of Nike.  Best part is that it matched that hype at the game, team and individual levels.  One of the top 2020 kids Evan Mobley was outstanding for Compton Magic as they won the battle in an overtime classic.  If its Fury Wilde 17s, that means an upset.  They took out Houston Hoops in a classic opening round bracket game.

The disappointment of seeing Lavar Ball behave.  The night before I saw him was the big LaMelo vs Zion Williamson game that had a ton of people turned away at the Cashman Center.  The following day was the disgraceful event with him demanding the removal of a female referee.  The trip was also memorable on a personal level.  I got to see a group of kids in their final AAU tourney that I had coached in their middle school AAU days.  Not to mention breaking my glasses on day 1 and somehow losing half a tooth on the way home.

This was memorable for the epic travel nightmare getting home with Spirit's flight not showing up.  Needless to say, I've flown Delta on every flight since.  Nothing like having to stay up all night and catch an early morning flight home via Seattle in the middle of row 40.  OOOOOOF!  Our loaded 2017 class had huge success that year.  Pulley made the top championship game.  D1 MN won the Creators Cup.  Comets Lewis won the NY2LA event there.  That included a memorable comeback vs the MN Warriors in bracket play.

This was the 1st edition of seeing Lavar Ball in Vegas.  Opening game at Cashman with Lonzo vs Dennis Smith.  Smith's team won big that night.  No circus, no charade, no media, no big mouth.  Who would have seen the major Lavar blowup coming 2 years later  Fury Wilde 17s took out Meanstreets in a bracket game at Rancho.  One of the final games I saw at that classic Vegas venue that for some reason fell off the top list over the final years.

The MN Cyclones vs Team Loaded 757 game has to get the mention here.  This was a game I didn't even have planned as it was a Friday watching Nike teams at Bigfoot for me.  But a last minute chance to see this 9:20 PM game couldn't be passed on and it didn't disappoint.  Team Loaded coach gets tossed for stepping on the court to tell his point guard a play to run.  Cyclones coach Tom Critchley Sr almost turns into Don Zimmer during a late game melee that somehow ended with no technicals and a mysterious jump ball.  Epic fail of officiating that even had the college coaches howling.

Another classic at the Fab 48 showcase was the top game.  Mo Williams Academy with the loaded backcourt of Malik Newman and Emmanuel Mudiay going up against Belmont Shore and Daniel Hamilton, Tyler Dorsey and home gym guy Stephen Zimmerman (who had played earlier in the night with his normal DreamVision squad).  101-93 Belmont Shore wins in a track meet that was a full time highlight reel.

Fury Dixon buzzer beater over the MN Pump N Run 16s in the round of 16s.  Storm the court Fury guys as they had lost 3 other games vs MN PNR that year.  Fury Davis 17s with a big win over the Dallas Mustangs that year before MN PNR knocked them out in the 17s round of 16 if I remember correctly.  This also had the infamous Urban DFW vs Compton Magic brawl that made it questionable if MN PNR would advance on Sunday by forfeit or if they'd have to play.  Also a story of tragedy on this trip with the deaths of Drake Bigler (SW MN State coach Brad Bigler's son) and former Minneapolis Patrick Henry stars Jordan Hughes and Mandela Jackson

Year 1 memorable for being foolish enough to think I could do all the partying, basketball and gambling.  Rookie!  Marcus Smart and Phil Forte winning the Super 64 with their non-super pooled Texas Assualt squad was super fun.  The loaded super pool of Andre Drummond, Kaleb Tarczewski, Isaiah Austin and Cameron Ridley was crazy good head to head matchups of big guys.  The locals also turned out in force for Shabazz Mohammed.