2019-20 Metro West Conference Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  Its now time for the big schools with the mostly class AAAA leagues featured in this 3rd week of previews.  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 (2018-19 season 9-19, 4-10 Conference, 6th)
Hans Hoeg takes over the head job from longtime coach John Moore.  He spent time as an assistant at Augustana.  While leading scorer Dylan Drees (13.5 PPG) departs from a wing spot, most of the rest of the rotation returns.  Seniors Walker Johnson (9.1 PPG), Nick Peterson (10.2 PPG) and Nels Birkeland provide scoring punch on the wing.  Junior Derric Standifer returns at the point.  There's no clear post presence but there's plenty of scoring elsewhere.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2018-19 season 11-15, 7-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
Wing Isaiah Watts and his 12.5 PPG are the biggest loss.  Soph Hayden Holland runs the point.  Evan Lind will man the middle.  Manny Montgomery is a lanky wing who lead the team in scoring last year at 15.9 PPG.  Hunter Burgess also saw rotation time last season.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2018-19 season 7-21, 2-12 Conference, 7th)
The Eagles lose their man in the middle Laronte Mormont (8.6 PPG).  Top scorer Jaylen Williams and his team high 16.6 PPG also needs to be replaced.  Isaiah Subah returns at the point along with junior Amarion Hanspard.  Tyvan Klinger is another perimeter option.  Habil Farah gives them length inside.  Jake Husting is another returning frontcourt option.

Chanhassen Storm (2018-19 season 17-10, 10-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Storm have to replace 4 starters.  That includes the duo of Regan Tollefson and Carson Hollowaty who combined for over 26 PPG last year.  Guard Luke Gitzen (12.2 PPG) is the key returnee.  Guard Vincent Manuel is the only other rotation guy coming back.  Juniors Ben Giles, Ryan Maschka and Adam Strobel are options to fill the open spots.  Seniors Sawyer Smith and Spencer Dieken are also rotation possibilities.

Chaska Hawks (2018-19 season 21-6, 13-1 Conference, 1st)
Coach Dana Kallman has to replace his high powered duo of Cole Nicholson (23 PPG) and sharpshooter Connor Krenos (13.1 PPG).  But the Hawks will still be a force in the league thanks to the next 7 leading scorers returning.  Guards Zach Lea and Ben Kallman return to the backcourt.  Junior Spencer Goetz and big soph Brady Nicholson will hold down the frontcourt.  Juniors Jack Frick and Luke Strazzanti are solid perimeter role guys.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2018-19 season 13-12, 7-7 Conference, Tie 4th)
Coach Bo Powell needs to replace lots of guard offense.  The top 4 scorers including Jalen Justice and Jalen Miller are gone.  That's almost 50 PPG that needs to be replaced.  Junior guard Bo Powell Jr (8.8 PPG) will see a much increased role to replace that.  Damarri Bankhead (6.9 PPG) is a big body to move around inside.  Juniors Majay Murphy and Tyson Dallas will also slot into the rotation.

St. Louis Park Orioles (2018-19 season 19-9, 12-2 Conference, 2nd)
St. Louis Park has to replace 4 of their top scorers.  Junior wing Paris Johnson was tops on the squad last year with 15.6 PPG.  Cole Ewald and Erik Piehl will man the guard spots.  Aaron Ellingson and soph Deontez Ross also return on the wings.  Big man Anthony Rayson inside (14.8 PPG) is the toughest one to replace.  Junior Will Kietzman is an option there.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Chaska
  2. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  3. St. Louis Park  
  4. Chanhassen
  5. Robbinsdale Cooper 
  6. Bloomington Jefferson  
  7. Bloomington Kennedy
Conference Overview
Richfield leaves the conference but no other realignment so far.  Chaska is the heavy favorite with a ton coming back.  Benilde-St. Margaret's has a lot of good pieces returning so I'll pick them to be the best of the rest.  St. Louis Park also has notable pieces back so I'll give them the nod for the 3rd spot after underestimating them last year.  Chanhassen and Cooper have lots to replace.  Coin flip that for the middle spot.  Jefferson is well coached and boring enough to squeeze out a few wins.  That's a running joke here for those of you who are new readers. I respect the methodical style and think its a good fit for the talent available.  Kennedy remains at the bottom.

Conference MVP: Zach Lea - Chaska

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jack Kinsey - Benilde-St. Margaret's
  • Hayden Holland - Bloomington Jefferson
  • Ben Giles, Adam Strobel - Chanhassen
  • Brady Nicholson - Chaska
  • Davion Evans - Robbinsdale Cooper
  • Deontez Ross - St. Louis Park
Conference Games to Watch
  • Chaska at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Feb 4th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Chaska - Feb 28th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Chaska at Eastview - Dec 5th
  • Chaska vs Shakopee - Dec 27th (Eden Prairie tourney)
  • Eden Prairie at Chaska - Jan 3rd

2019-20 Metro East Conference Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2019-2020 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 (2018-19 season 9-18, 7-9 Conference, 5th)
The big front line of Isaac Rabaey and Matt Schottman along with Sully Levos are gone.  That costs the Raiders their top 3 scorers from last year.  Guard Devon Haraldson returns from injury to lead the offense.  Colby Zak (7.6 PPG) and Trey Swanson (8.0 PPG) return to the lineup.  Jackson Kirchoff and Izzy Arnold also saw rotation time last year.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2018-19 season 6-21, 6-10 Conference, 6th)
Its a rebuilding year for the Warriors.  7 of the top 8 scorers are gone.  That includes 16.4 PPG from forward Malik Spearman.  Junior forward Cameron Latvis averaged 5.9 PPG last year to lead all returnees.  Dewayne Thompson is the only other returnee with significant experience.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2018-19 season 3-24, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
Scott Wadie comes over from the Park of Cottage Grove girls program to be the 3rd head coach in 3 years for the Pioneers.  Leading scorer Octavius Wilson and his 14.6 PPG graduated.  Forward Kenny Larmie (13.3 PPG) and guard Mitch Gutknecht (10.7 PPG) lead the group of the next 5 top scorers coming back.  Most of the roster back but its a major rebuilding project.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2018-19 season 25-7, 15-1 Conference, Tie 1st)
The Zephyrs lose 4 starters including star wing J'Vonne Hadley who transferred to Cretin-Derham Hall.  His 28.6 PPG leaves a big hole in the lineup along losing 2 other double figure scorers.  Center Cole Chapman (5.5 PPG) returns inside.  Forward Luke Ricker will be a primary option on the front line.  Forward Cal Greene and guard Brody Fox are options to fill the open spots.

North Polars (2018-19 season 16-11, 11-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Coach Damien Johnson has the Polars primed for a big year and a brutally tough schedule in the first 2 weeks of the season to prove it.  Bombadier Dajuan Carter's 28.4 PPG need to be replaced.  Expect Shaheed Muhammed to step right into the main offensive role after averaging 15.1 PPG last year.  The rest of the roster is a bunch of athletic interchangeable pieces that can give a team fits.  Forward Brendan Lankford-Johnson is the most versatile of those pieces.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2018-19 season 17-12, 11-5 Conference, Tie 3rd)
The Cadets have to replace almost everybody.  That includes Sioux Falls recruit Jack Thompson 18.4 PPG at the point and 16.1 PPG from Noah Chamberlain (now at SW MN State).  Yenika Fondungallah is the only notable rotation returnee at 3.7 PPG.  Stephen Betts and Jamie Smith will look to fill guard spots.  Soph Nathan Johnson and junior Ryan Chamberlain look to fill frontcourt spots.

Simley Spartans (2018-19 season 10-17,4-12 Conference, 7th)
Longtime coach Ben Bushaw recently resigned so there's no head coach at the time of this writing.  Guard Isaiah Robinson (17.2 PPG) departs but there are a couple double-figure pieces to work with.  Soph RJ Jioklow (15.8 PPG) returns on a wing.  Junior guard Breyton Buysman (13.5 PPG) is another double figure scorer coming back.  Junior Luke Vandermeer takes over in the middle.  Junior Ben Vujovich and soph Devin Robinson will also contribute.

South St. Paul Packers (2018-19 season 8-19, 3-13 Conference, 8th)
Coach Matt McCollister hits the ground running after coming over from Brooklyn Center.  Talented soph guard Alonzo Dodd (14.4 PPG) and wing Marquise Gleb (16.8 PPG) lead a group that graduated only 1 player.  Freshman wing Maximus Wilson transfers in from Brooklyn Center and will be a significant piece as well.  The group will still be young but very dangerous.

Tartan Titans (2018-19 season 25-3, 15-1 Conference, Tie 1st)
Star point guard Antwan Kimmons and his 20.8 PPG needs to replaced.  Defensive minded forwards Dante Aganmwonyi and M'Akil Weems also graduated.  This year's offense will be more balanced that we've seen in a while with point guard Dorian Singer (11.3 PPG) and wings Joseph Kearney (11.6 PPG) and Langston Binns (7.9 PPG).  Beyond 6'10" junior Evan Meskill there's little size on the roster.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. North
  2. Tartan
  3. Mahtomedi 
  4. South St. Paul
  5. Hastings 
  6. Simley 
  7. St. Thomas Academy     
  8. Henry Sibley 
  9. Hill-Murray 
Conference Overview
North is just too deep for everybody else in the league.  Tartan's perimeter play and tradition keep them second.  In a very down year for the league, South St. Paul makes a big jump despite their youth.  Mahtomedi and Hastings are top half quality as well.  Simley with their returnees looks to jump into that mix.  The Mendota Heights neighbors both have years where they'll be starting fresh.  Hill-Murray presses the reset key once again but will have experience coming back.

Conference MVP: Shaheed Muhammed - North

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Rashad McKinley Nino Johnson - Hill-Murray
  • Shawn West-Zimpel, Kenny Daily - North
  • Nathan Johnson, Michael Kirchner - St. Thomas Academy
  • RJ Jioklow, Devin Robinson - Simley
  • Alonzo Dodd, Maximus Wilson - South St. Paul
  • Jaylon Washington- Tartan
Conference Games to Watch
  • Tartan at North - Jan 14th
  • North at Tartan - Feb 14th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at North - Dec 3rd
  • De La Salle at North - Dec 5th
  • North vs Spring Lake Park - Dec 7th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Minnehaha at North - Dec 11th
  • Eden Prairie at North - Dec 17th
  • Tartan at Mound-Westonka - Feb 6th

2019-20 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the 7th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  The Minneapolis City Conference is up next as we move west across the metro.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Edison Tommies (2018-19 season 15-10, 8-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Tommies were a great story last year jumping all the way up to third in the city.  Forward Jackson Rusnacko, guard Tenzin Oden and Antonio Simmons graduate from that roster.  Jermaine Cornell, Jabari Langley and Jeremiah Thompson lead the returnees.  8th grade guard Hanif Muhammed also returns to the rotation.  No dynamic scorer with lots of interchangeable parts

North Polars (2018-19 season 23-10, 12-0 Conference, 1st, Class AA Runner-Up)
The leadership of guards Eli Campbell (18.4 PPG) and Nasir El-Amin (12.1 PPG) will be missed in addition to their scoring.  Sophomore Willie Wilson and junior Clifford Brown are next up to fill those spots.  Junior center Davon Townley will man the middle after putting up 12 PPG last year.   Its a young group but all 3 levels won the Twin Cities game last year so don't expect much decline.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2018-19 season 16-12, 9-3 Conference, 2nd)
Coach Jamil Jackson returns most of his roster.  He has a talented guard group led by seniors Glentrell Carter (14.9 PPG), Mark Cambell, Jamar Gardner and Yusuf Abdullah.  Anton Barr gives them an effective option inside.  Biggest loss is guard Rashaud Rollins and his 13.8 PPG.

Roosevelt Teddies (2018-19 season 10-14, 4-7  Conference, 4th)
All the starters depart and only a couple of reserves return.  High scoring wing Deszi Sims and forward Luke Barnes are the major losses from the roster.  Montgomery Booth and Nelson Ladd are the returnees at the perimeter slots.  The JV roster was tiny last year so expect very little size to be available.

South Tigers (2018-19 season 8-17, 4-8 Conference, 5th)
PG Jaylen Blakley (11.5 PPG) and Deshawn McArthur lead the returning starters.  Soph Lukas Johnson returns at a power forward spot.  Junior Demetrius Seay will see time at a guard spot.  Soph guard James Misterek will also see minutes.

Southwest Lakers (2018-19 season 4-22, 3-8 Conference, 6th)
Former Rosemount coach Keenan Shelton takes over the program.  Leading scorer Christo Polydorou is back to lead the offense.  Kentrell Gaulden and soph Camden Holter are other offensive options.  Guard Ben Elias also returns to the starting lineup.

Washburn Millers (2018-19 season 3-23, 1-11 Conference, 7th)
Washburn had to go young last year and now most of the roster returns.  Wing Josh Rogers is a league MVP candidate after averaging 15.1 PPG last year.  Guards Jamar Nelson and Sir'vell Miller also averaged double figures.  David Worman returns in the post.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. North
  2. Henry
  3. Edison
  4. Washburn 
  5. South 
  6. Southwest  
  7. Roosevelt
Conference Overview
North is still the favorite.  Henry and Edison will be a fun battle for second.  Then it drops off to Washburn and South fighting to stay out of the bottom 3.  Southwest will try to jump up into that group but I think they're just a step behind the previous 2.  Roosevelt looks like they'll struggle.

Conference MVP: Davon Townley - North

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Hanif Muhammed - Edison
  • Willie Wilson, Mario Sanders - North
  • Lukas Peterson, James Misterik - South
  • Camden Holder - Southwest
Conference Games to Watch
  • Henry at North - Dec 14th
  • North at Henry - Jan 25th
  • Twin Cities Game - Feb 29th (at St. Paul champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • North vs Lake City - Dec 7th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • North at St. Croix Prep - Dec 13th
  • De La Salle at North - Jan 7th
  • Mound-Westonka at Henry - Feb 3rd
  • Hopkins at North - Feb 24th
  • North at Minnehaha - Feb 27th

2019-20 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  Week 2 begins with a look at the city schools.  That starts with a peek at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Central Minutemen (2018-19 season 22.7, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
Central loses almost the entire rotation from last year but they'll reload with a JV squad that won the conference last year.  Caron Crowe and Gavin Gothard will man guard spots.  Curtis Favors gives them a solid wing.  Jaelen Thomas is a breakout candidate inside.

Como Park Cougars (2018-19 season 6-21, 3-9 Conference, 6th)
Mike Landers was going to take over after being an assistant with Edina.  He got an assistant AD job at Maranatha.  So now JV coach Donnell Gibson is the head man.  All 3 double figure scorers including 18.8 PPG from guard Josh Ward need to be replaced.  Tyroun Sain provides an option at the point guard spot. Isaiah Long provides length up front.  Soph Jountay Kibble is a young piece to build around.

Harding Knights (2018-19 season 14-11, 8-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Assistant Kenny Olafeso takes over for long time coach Dean Keenan.  Point guard Jovan Christian graduated in a tie for the school's all-time scoring record.  Leading scorer Simeon Sharp (18.8 PPG) returns on the wing.  He'll pair with forward Alex Addai (8.7 PPG) to form a nice 1-2 punch for the Knights. No experience coming back beyond those 2 however.

Highland Park Scots (2018-19 season 8-19, 5-7 Conference, 4th)
Jesse McCann takes over the Scots program.  The top 3 scorers depart but 5 juniors and freshman Ishmael Powell saw a ton of time last year so expect much of the same.  Forward Carter Owens averaged 9.4 PPG to lead the returnees.  Joey Kottke averaged 8.8 PPG and Powell put up 5.5 PPG. This group of juniors did play in the Twin Cities freshmen game so that gives the Scots hope.

Humboldt Hawks (2018-19 season 11-16, 4-8 Conference, 5th)
Junior Brian Williams almost doubled his scoring output to 16.8 PPG to lead the Hawks.  Two other double figure scores are back for the mostly intact rotation including the guard duo of Desmond Lugo (12.9 PPG) and A'Kei Pippins (11.6 PPG).  Tom Hobday and Andre Johnson fill in the interior spots.

Johnson Governors (2018-19 season 15-11, 8-4 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Leading scorer Jordan Mobley (11.7 PPG) graduated and freshman DeWayne Givens (11.6 PPG) is now at Minnehaha.  Guard Terrel Turner also graduated.  Larry Harris is the top returning scorer at 10.6 PPG.  4 other underclassmen from last year will see big minutes at guard slots.  That includes Jordan Gaultney, Treyvon Mollette and Julian Borney.  Jeremiah Knox and Daniel Foster will be the interior bangers. 

Washington Eagles (2018-19 season 6-19, 2-10 Conference, 7th)
Center Da'Quan Grimes needs to be replaced.  PG Zaveon Smith (21.6 PPG) and wing Drew White (17.2 PPG) are the offensive spark.  Guard Kshui Harris provides another offensive option.  La'Kendrick Reed (6.4 PPG) will take the power forward spot.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Central 
  2. Johnson
  3. Harding
  4. Humboldt 
  5. Highland Park
  6. Washington
  7. Como Park
Conference Overview:
I'm picking Central here despite the lack of experience.  Still plenty of talent.  Johnson and Harding should hold their spots as well.  Humboldt with all they have back gets the nod.  The bottom 3 are going to struggle.  Washington is far more talented than 6th but last year was a disappointment.  I'm putting them behind a Highland team that they should beat.  Como Park is in a rebuilding year.

Conference MVP: Simeon Sharp - Harding

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Adam Belden, Jaylen Cardenas - Central
  • Jountay Kibble, Amir Plair, Jermaine Walker - Como Park
  • Ishmael Powell - Highland Park
  • Jordan Gaultney - Johnson
Conference Games to Watch
  • Johnson at Central - Jan 10th
  • Central at Johnson - Feb 4th
  • Twin Cities Game - Feb 29th (at St. Paul champion)
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Croix Prep at Central - Dec 17th
  • Central at Minnehaha - Feb 6th

2019-20 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 5th preview in my 2019-2020 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 (2018-19 season 26-5, 9-3 Conference, 2nd West)
The Stars were a big improvement story of last season going from 9 wins to 26 wins and a trip to state.  Three double-figure scorers from a very balanced lineup need to be replaced including interior presence Thor Holien (14.5 PPG) and defensive ace Charles Johnson (11 PPG).  Wing Matt Banovetz (14.2 PPG) and star soph guard Emmett Johnson  (13 PPG) return to the starting lineup.  3 members of the 4 man bench mob return as well.  Aaron Engel is one of those and will be a very productive replacement for Holien inside.
 
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2018-19 season 10-17, 4-8 Conference, 5th West)
Justyn Burgess comes over from the Tartan girls to take over a program in major flux.  With Matt McCollister taking the South St. Paul job, there's been an exodus from the program so who knows what's left from last year's youth movement.  2 major pieces of the movement, Maxamus Wilson and De'Mari Larkins are definitely gone.  Ben Wehyee is one of the notable returnees after averaging 5.7 PPG last season.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2018-19 season 10-15, 5-7 Conference, Tie 3rd West)
Coach Willie Braziel has to replace 3 members of his rotation.  That includes forward Jarvis Wright and his 11.3 PPG.  Leading scorer Jordan Jones and his 14 PPG return at the point.  Then you add in the talented sophomore trio of W Muja Burton  (12.3 PPG), F Spencer Alvarez and Jamez Garner.  Elijah Williams (8 PPG) also returns to the rotation.
 
De La Salle Islanders (2018-19 season 27-5, 12-0 Conference, 1st West, AAA State Champs)
De La Salle returned the AAA title to the island last year.  Now they have to replace a pair of 21+ PPG scorers in Tyrell Terry (Stanford) and Jamison Battle (George Washington).  While the offense may not have a clear go to guy, the Islanders reload and will look to make another run.  Seniors Amir Whitlock, Andrew Irvin and Semaj Hart will combine with talented juniors Keijuan White and Cade Haskins on the perimeter.  Those juniors could very well be  their top offensive options. Jalen Travis returns in the middle after almost averaging double figures last year.

Fridley Tigers (2018-19 season 9-17, 5-7 Conference, Tie 3rd West)
New Hall of Fame coach Jim MacDonald needs to replace 5 of his top 6 scorers.  That includes star soph Hassan Kamara (15.8 PPG) who transferred to Osseo.  Lefty guard Isaac Burns (15.4 PPG) will be the focus of the offense.  Junior guards Micah Niewald and Christian Crockett along with soph guard Eli Nelsen will see bigger roles as well.  No real obvious size option to replace Harrison Blum  (6.9 PPG) inside.

Richfield Spartans (2017-18 season 6-21, 1-13 Conference, 8th Metro West)
Richfield will open their Tri-Metro run in rebuilding mode.  They added 5 wins last year and they have some young pieces to build with.  Junior wing Ryan Miles returns after leading the team with 13.7 PPG last year.  Fellow junior Lamar Grayson is also a top scorer for the Spartans.  Junior Isaiah Casey Hammond provides size.  Sophomores Mitchell January at the point and Jaden Wollmuth will be big contributors as well.

St. Anthony Huskies (2018-19 season 13-14, 4-7 Conference, 2nd East)
Chris Satterlie returns to Minnesota to take over the program after coaching in Arizona.  He'll have a small shooting backcourt of Tait Nelson and Max Kachman to build around.  Nelson averaged 20.9 PPG and Kachman 8.9 PPG.  Dylan Manning is another guard who will see time.  Junior Luke Omodt will man the middle.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2018-19 season 15-13, 8-3 Conference, 1st East)
St. Croix Lutheran returns 4 of their top 6 scorers from last season.  That includes the talented perimeter trio of PG Zach Longueville and wings Xavier Garcia and Owen Bushaw.  They combined for 37 PPG last year.  Mert Cula provides defense and another perimeter shooter for this 3 point reliant sharp-shooting squad.  Last year's JV squad will provide solid depth.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. De La Salle
  2. Holy Angels
  3. St. Croix Lutheran 
  4. Columbia Heights
  5. St. Anthony 
  6. Fridley
  7. Brooklyn Center    
  8. Richfield     
Conference MVP: Matt Banovetz - Holy Angels

Conference Overview:
The league is now at a nice even number of 8 teams.  Concordia and St. Agnes moved to the new Skyline Conference.  Richfield joins from the Metro West to make a league that is now almost all AAA schools..  The schedule returns to a standard 1 division round-robin format after being a 2 division setup in recent years.  De La Salle is too deep for the rest and have to be the pick until they are knocked off.  Holy Angels and St. Croix Lutheran will battle not only for 2nd but for the top seed in section 3AAA.  Columbia Heights is another year or 2 away from a high level season but they'll make you work for it.  St. Anthony's solid guards put them in a battle with Fridley for the next spot.  Brooklyn Center and Richfield continue with youth movements and will battle each other to stay out of the cellar.

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Muja Burton, Spencer Alvarez, Jamez Garner - Columbia Heights
  • Eli Nelsen, Daniel Pobuda - Fridley
  • Emmitt Johnson Aidan Smith - Holy Angels 
  • Mitchell January, Jaden Wollmuth, Joe Miller - Richfield
Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 16th
  • Holy Angels at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 21st
  • De La Salle at Holy Angels - Jan 31st
  • St. Croix Lutheran at De La Salle - Feb 11th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Holy Angels - Feb 14th
  • Holy Angels at De La Salle - Feb 25th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle vs Waseca - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park)
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Mound-Westonka - Dec 3rd
  • De La Salle at North St. Paul - Dec 5th
  • De La Salle vs Mankato East - Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Holy Angels at Cristo Rey - Dec 12th
  • De La Salle at Minneapolis North - Jan 7th
  • De La Salle at Hopkins - Jan 10th 
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Feb 1st 
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 15th
  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - Feb 22nd

2019-20 IMAC Preview

This is the 4th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series chugs along 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 (2018-19 season 13-15, 3-6 Conference, 5th)
The Bears 3 amigos, Gabe Ganz, Jasper Liu and Robert Grace all return on the perimeter.   They combined for almost 42 PPG last year.  Soph Theo Liu fills in nicely when 1 of those 3 gets a breather.  Sam Deignan and David Bix also return to the lineup.  Size and depth remain an issue.

Breck Mustangs (2018-19 season 22-6, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
Tim Sension returns to lead the program after most recently spending time with the St. Louis Park girls.  He had the head job previously from 1996-2002.  He has to replace beast forward David Roddy and his huge numbers.  No double figure scorers return but the cupboard isn't bare.  Junior PG Jaren Morton returns along with wings Andy Ott and Jimmy Koch.  Alex Demaris returns inside.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2018-19 season 29-2, 6-0 Conference, 1st)
The 3 time defending conference and class AA champs once again have an embarrassment of riches.  Isaiah Davis comes in from Apple Valley and soph Chase Carter (son of former Gopher Randy Carter) comes over from Maranatha.  Guard Terry Lockett returns after a year at prep school.  Not to mention the big 3 high-major trio of PG Jalen Suggs (24.2 PPG), SF Prince Aligbe (10.5 PPG) and F Chet Holmgren (18.6 PPG) all returning.  Plus a shooter in soph Donovan Smith and football star Kaden Johnson to do dirty work.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2018-19 season 4-20, 0-9 Conference, 6th)
The Panthers have to replace 2 of their top 3 scorers.  That includes high jumping forward Yahya Madar and 17 PPG.  Junior Jack Paulson is the top returner with 14.9 PPG  Senior guard Shane Fruchterman will provide most of the rest of the scoring.  Austin Lee, Ayoub Mahamoud and Hunter Erickson also return to the rotation.

Providence Academy Lions (2018-19 season 16-12, 6-3 Conference, 3rd)
Ariel McDonald moved on to take the head job at Maranatha so the Lions don't have a coach as of this writing.  7 of the top 8 scorers graduated including forward Mark Richelsen (17.3 PPG) and 2 other double-figure scorers.  Guard Jacob Halek and forward Sean Rocheford are the only 2 returnees that saw significant minutes.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2018-19 season 17-11, 4-5 Conference, 4th)
Kevin Keto takes over the program.  He was recently an assistant at Forest Lake.  Junior guard Adam Holod and his team high 15.7 PPG return to the lineup.  The next 3 scorers, including 2 double figure scorers, need to be replaced.  That includes power forward Ryan Moore.  Liam Will, Alex Herrmann and Griffin Thissen all return to the rotation.  Sophs  Clarke and Brandt Baskerville could step into contributing roles.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Breck
  3. Blake 
  4. St. Paul Academy 
  5. Providence 
  6. Mounds Park Academy 
Conference Overview
Half of the league has new coaches.  As to predictions, everybody is just playing for second here.  Minnehaha arguably the best team in the state regardless of class.  I think that race for second comes down to rivals Blake and Breck.  Call that a coin flip as I can make a case for either here.  Then it progressively drops off.  St. Paul Academy has more back than Providence and Mounds Park Academy will find it hard to match last season.

Conference MVP: Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Theo Liu - Blake
  • Jimmy Koch- Breck
  • Prince Aligbe, Donovan Smith, Chase Carter, DeWayne Givens - Minnehaha
  • Brandt Baskerville, Clarke Baskerville - St. Paul Academy
Conference Games to Watch
  • Breck at Blake - Jan 7th
  • Blake at Breck - Jan 24th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha vs Cretin-Derham Hall- Dec 7th (Tipoff Clasic at Hopkins)
  • Minnehaha at North St. Paul - Dec 11th
  • Minnehaha at East Ridge - Dec 28th
  • Park Center at Minnehaha - Jan 3rd
  • Sierra Canyon (CA) at Minnehaha - Jan 4th
  • Eden Prairie at Minnehaha - Feb 18th
  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - Feb 22nd
  • Minneapolis North at Minnehaha - Feb 27th

2019-20 Skyline Conference Preview

This is the third preview in my 2019-20 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series moves on with a look at brand new Skyline Conference in the east metro.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Concordia Academy Beacons (2018-19 season 11-17, 3-8 Conference, 3rd Tri-Metro East)
Concordia has to replace the front line duo of Barnabas Preble (16 PPG) and Luke Raymond (11.5 PPG).  But they return sharpshooter Aaron TerHaar (12.9 PPG) and guard Essay Hagos (11.6 PPG). Gary Legvold will look to replace the front line minutes lost.  Brandon Bonk returns in the backcourt and junior PG Thomas Ghidey adds depth.

Cristo Rey Jesuit Pumas (2018-19 season 19-8, 12-0 Conference, 1st TCAC D1)
Cristo Rey's high-powered backcourt is back for another season.  Senior PG James Sommer leads way with 23.8 PPG.  Wings Derek and Erick Burgess combined for over 28 PPG.  Most of the front line is gone though including Victory George and center John Williams.  But the backcourt was tops on the team in rebounds anyway.  Expect them to play small and fast.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2018-19 season 23-6, 12-0 Conference, 1st MCAA division)
Former Gopher Ariel McDonald takes over from Providence Academy after Rob Ware moved on to an admin job.  He played a very slow style last year but don't expect that with this group.  Its a team that needs to play fast and create turnovers.  5 seniors plus forward Chase Carter, now at Minnehaha, have to be replaced.  PG Maciah Harut (7.2 PPG) and F Hakim Daniels return to the starting lineup.  Daniels was the team leader in scoring and rebounds last season.(11.3 and 7.9).  Forward Tristan Lee should expand his role into being a double-figure scorer as well.

New Life Academy Eagles (2018-19 season 11-16, 6-8 Conference, 4th MCAA division)
New AD Jed Moseman also takes over the head coaching duties.  Its a logical fit since he has spent time as an assistant at Bethel.  He has plenty to work with since the top 5 scorers all return.  Senior forward Michael Reader averaged 16.4 PPG.  Konner Ware added 13.8 PPG.  Soph wing Kollin Kaemingk will see a significant offensive role as well.  They'll miss the leadership of Colin Quirk at the point.

Nova Classical Academy Knights (2018-19 season 13-13, 8-4 Conference, 2nd TCAC D1)
The 40+ point a night duo of Mathieu LaFrambois and Shae Nelson needs to be replaced.  Junior Jack Monroe is the top returning scorer at 4.7 PPG and nobody else listed at higher than 2.7 PPG.   It will be an inexperienced roster of largely sophomores and juniors building for another season.

St. Agnes Aggies (2018-19 season 8-19, 2-9 Conference, 4th Tri-Metro East)
It could be a rough move to the Skyline for the Aggies.  5 of the top 6 scorers have graduated.  Guard Jacob Brezny will be a main offensive threat after averaging 13.5 PPG last season.  Guard Sam Masek will be eligible after a transfer from Trinity last year.  Jevon Jones is another guard who should see a significant role.  Luke Planmann returns to the lineup after being out last year.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2018-19 season 22-7, 12-2 Conference, 2nd MCAA Division)
The Lions are prepped for another big season.  Lefties Daniel McCarrell and Addison Metcalf combined for 31 points a game.  They can both run the show or be knock down shooters.  Barrett Benson and Zach Doely  (12.2 PPG) provide good size on the front line.  Andrew Howard gives them another option at the guard spots.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2018-19 season 20-9, 9-5 Conference, 3rd MCAA Division)
Trinity needs to replace all 3 double-figure scorers from last sesaon.  That includes 18.6 PPG from guard Ben Maslow.  Juniors Lewis Gerrity, Ben Erickson and Paul Wessel all return to the rotation.  Senior Isaac Showalter returns to man the middle. Despite the losses, many players return who saw time.  I expect the dropoff to be less than one may expect.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Croix Prep
  2. Cristo Rey
  3. Maranatha  
  4. New Life
  5. Concordia
  6. Trinity 
  7. St. Agnes
  8. Nova Classical
Conference Overview
The new Skyline Conference is to the east metro what the IMAC is to the west metro.  Can we get a Mounds Park for Maranatha trade to save the geography?  The league is top heavy with 3 teams worthy of a top 10 ranking in a deep year in AA.  New Life has a ton coming back and will battle for the top tier with Concordia.  Trinity has too many losses to reach the top tier but could surprise in the middle.  St. Agnes will battle them for 6th and the Aggies did beat Concordia twice last season..  They too could be better than expected.  Nova is in store for a long year.

Conference MVP: Daniel McCarrell - St. Croix Prep

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Josh Kirchoff - Concordia
  • Kollin Kaemingk, Max Briggs - New Life
  • Charlie Matthews, Rayan Taha, Spencer Frost - Nova Classical
Conference Games to Watch
  • Maranatha at Cristo Rey - Jan 14th
  • St. Croix Prep at Maranatha - Jan 16th
  • Cristo Rey at St. Croix Prep - Jan 28th
  • Cristo Rey at Maranatha - Feb 4th
  • Maranatha at St. Croix Prep - Feb 11th
  • St. Croix Prep at Cristo Rey - Feb 18th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Holy Angels at Cristo Rey - Dec 12th
  • Minneapolis North at St. Croix Prep - Dec 13th 
  • St. Croix Prep at St. Paul Central - Dec 17th
  • Spectrum at St. Croix Prep - Jan 3rd
  • Maranatha at Minneapolis North - Feb 1st 
  • St. Croix Prep at Hudson (WI) - Feb 25th
  • Maranatha at Minnehaha - Feb 28th