July 2024 Hit the Road list

Its the last major travel weekend of the 2024 grassroots season.  That's because a majority of teams will be home for the Prep Hoops tourney next week to close out the season.  I also won't count the few teams playing the week after that (e.g Select teams in Vegas or Pulley 15s/D1 16s in USA event).  Here's where you can find our teams.

  • D1 Minnesota, D1 Minnesota Gold and top J Sizzle are outside Charlotte for the Adidas 3SSB championships.
  • Comets top 2, JSizzle 2nd teams, SW MN Stars and MN Lightning King at NY2LA in Milwaukee
  • Heat Academic is at Hoop Group Jam Fest outside Philadelphia
  • Howard Pulley 
    • 17s are at NBA Academy in Atlanta, games on the NBA app.
    • 16s are at Hardwood Events in Kansas City
    • 15s are at the Nike Peach Jam this weekend and next week
  • Gain Elite 16s and 17s are next to the Peach Jam at Prelude League this week and next.
  • MN Lightning Ellerbusch, MN Lockdown and MN Laceup along with the Starks Elite 16s are also in Kansas City at the Recruit Look event.
  • Prep Hoops is in Chicago with a bunch of locals.  Multiple Select, Fury, Heat and Northstar Titans squads along with Powerhouse.

A couple of notable roster changes.  Jack McCaffrey has decided to leave D1 Minnesota and play with his home state team Martin Brothers for July.  Nolan Groves has switched from J Sizzle to Select Ohnstad.

The Prep Hoops event next week will see some shoe teams but a quick prelude to those this week.

Select Ohnstad gets the Mac Irvin Fire 16s late Friday night.  Fury Antl gets a pair of Chicago shoe teams by facing Team Rose (3SSB) on Saturday and Mac Irvin's 15s to close things out on Sunday afternoon.  Select Altenhofen 16s also get those 2 shoe games.

7/12 Additions

  • Crossfire 17s and Buffalo in Ames at Super 16.
  • Real Phenom in Phoenix at Puma event.
  • Magic is also at NY2LA in Milwaukee
  • Sizzle has a team at Bigfoot event in Las Vegas

2024 MBCA Showcase Preview

After a Memorial Day break, its now the middle of June.  That means the summer portion of the summer basketball recruiting schedule is here with 6 straight weekends. That will end with my annual #GrindersWinGamblersLose hoops trip to Las Vegas to end July.  It starts this weekend with the annual MBCA Showcase at Hopkins.  The full team rosters and schedule can be found here.  This is a NCAA certified event for high school players.  Minnesota chooses to pull in South Dakota and North Dakota kids and go with a showcase, all-star team format rather than a high school team format such as the monster Section 7 event in Arizona.

One of the great things about the event has been the participation over the years.  I can only recall 1 high profile player who turned down the opportunity to play in the event.  So its the only time on the schedule where every name can be seen.  Over the years, its expanded from 12 teams to 16 teams and this year there are 14 teams of 9 for a total of 126 kids.  Let's dig into the details

State Breakdown
112 Minnesota
7 North Dakota
7 South Dakota

2025 Rankings Breakdown
Minnesota: 47 of top 48 (Brooks Johnson is already committed to UMD and won't play), 58 of top 61
South Dakota: Top 4
North Dakota: 4 of top 5

2026 Rankings Breakdown
Minnesota: 12 of top 15 (Dothan Ijadimbola is injured and won't play)
South Dakota: #2 and #3 attending
North Dakota: #1 attending

2027 Rankings Breakdown
Minnesota: Top 4, 7 of the top 10.

College Viewing Breakdown
All D1s in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming will be represented. Plus other high majors like Wisconsin and Baylor.  Its a list of over 20 division 1 schools as of the time of this writing.  Plus most of the NSIC will be attending too

Team Notes:
Here's a quick bit on what sticks out to me on each team.  As the schedule currently lays out, I should be able to see a little bit of most of the teams but with 14 teams its just not practical to see everyone.

Team 1
: Hopkins PG Jayden Moore is one of the top 2026 guards in the state and runs the show for this group.  Totino-Grace shooting guard Tyler Wagner had a great spring for D1 Minnesota.  CDH transfer Tommy Ahneman had a huge spring at center for Howard Pulley.  He's picked up a handful of Big Ten offers in the last month including Minnesota and Iowa.  Richfield's CJ Armstrong had a monster high school season.

Team 2: This is one of the more loaded teams in the event.  That's despite having 5 underclassmen.  Alexandria's Chase Thompson is the top MN 2025.  Ced Tomes and Christian Wiggins are 2 of the top 2026 players in MN.  Faribault big man Ryan Kreager has broken into 1 round of national rankings and will have many eyes on him here.  He could be the player with the most to gain or lose this weekend.  Shooting and ball handling won't be a problem with Tomes, Waconia's Will Kirsch and Sauk Rapids-Rice guard Keller Hanson.  Not to mention one of the top 2025 MN shooters in Riley Johnson.  Colton Smith (2026) and Markus Talley from Mitchell (SD) are 2 of the top players from South Dakota.  Talley is a PG with offers from Sioux Falls, Augustana and Northern St.   

Team 3: Plenty of star power here as well.  CDH guard JoJo Mitchell is another star guard in 2026 class.  CDH teammate Ty Schlagel is the top MN 2027.  Then PG Mason Klabo is the top player from North Dakota now that Ahneman is here.  He just picked up a Wyoming offer and expect Sundance Wicks and the Cowboys to watch him this weekend.  Griffen Goodbary of Sioux Falls Christian at 6'10" is the top 2025 in South Dakota.

Team 4: This is the youngest team in the event with 7 2026 players, 1 2027 and only 1 2025 player.  Wing Brayden Beckering of SW Christian is that lone 2025.  2026 wing Alex Schroepfer of Eagan has been very productive for MN Fury this spring.

Team 5: Only 2 2026 players with the rest being 2025 on this roster.  Nevis forward Alex Lester is the main big man on this roster and should have some viewers.

Team 6: A couple of top MN 2027s on this roster in South St Paul center Mustafa Mohamed and Mahtomedi forward Willie Roelofs.  Metro East well represented there.  Park Center's Emmanuel Jentzen is on this roster.  He played JV last year as a transfer.  Could be one of the breakout names of the event.

Team 7: Eden Prairie's Max Lorenson, Hiawatha's Kam Solomon and 2027 Jaeden Udean of De La Salle are guards who can fill it up quickly.  Easton Neudendorf is one of the better PGs in South Dakota.  Big man Bryon Laue is a top South Dakota big man.  He has a Sioux Falls offer.

Team 8: This is the oldest team in the event with 8 2025 players and only 1 2026 player. Marley Curtis has been very productive this spring.  Orono's Brady Wooley will be the main big man here with plenty to show.  Anthony Smith and JJ Semanko (Hopkins) with Orono's Nolan Groves is a high scoring guard trio.  Mankato East PG Brogan Madson and Albany forward Sam Hondl are 2 outstate guys to keep an eye on.

Team 9: BSM PG Jaleel Donley leads this group.  4 North Dakota players on this team.  Sage Hanson is the top 2026.  Walker Braaten is a top 3 2025 who will play football at NDSU.  Joel Nelson has been very productive for ECI this spring.

Team 10: Rochester JM big man Deng Lueth will get the most attention of the 2025s on this team.  A couple of notable 2027s on this roster too.  Maple Grove wing Baboucarr Ann will be one to watch here.  Farmington forward Briggs Sheridan is the other 2027.

Team 11: The outstate well-represented here with the good 2026 guard duo of Jaxon Boschee (Bemidji) and Kale Misegades (Henning).  Versatile wing Hudson Omoke (Sauk Rapids) also on this team.

Team 12: Wayzata 2026 guard Isaac Olmstead leads this group.  2027 forward Izayah Cook of Sauk Rapids-Rice leads the front line.  Champlin Park's Preston Thielke and Mankato East's Gandon Gosch are wings to watch.  Gosch has hoops offers from Sioux Falls and Mary.  He's also been busy on the football summer circuit.

Team 13: 2026 Sioux Falls Lincoln wing Sam DeGroot leads this roster.  Blake forward Omar Kaba is the main big man.  MN 2027's Malachi Hill (Totino-Grace) and AJ Taban (Stillwater) are young guys to watch.

Team 14: The 2027 youth of Tyler Forrest (Chaska PG) and Ray Brau (Hibbing F) are on this roster.  Jaxon Young (Coon Rapids) and Jackson Driessen (Centennial) are a couple guys to watch from the NW Suburban.  Forward Caleb Bancroft (Stewartville) is another outstate forward to watch.

Czar's 2024 BATL Viewing List

One of the major local spring events on the grassroots circuit is this weekend's Battle At The Lakes (BATL).  There's also the importance of it being a top level tuneup for next week's lone spring open period.  As usual in these Prep Hoops events you'll see pool play designed to get competitive matchups.  Then most teams will get a 4th cross pool game on Sunday.  The exception is the top 2 17s pools which are all 4 games of showcase play.  The premier games are in the back gym at Wayzata.  My focus here is not to mention everybody.  Too many teams to do that.  Instead I'm going to focus on what I would watch in each session.


7:00 PM: Powerhouse vs Gain Elite (Ct 2), Northstar Titans Bertsch vs Select Koch (Ct 5), Crossfire vs South Dakota Identity (Ct 6)

8:05 PM: Real Phenom Nick vs JSizzle NY2LA (Ct 5), D1 MN 16s vs Sanford UA Rise 16s (Ct 7), D1 MN 15s vs Select Altenhofen 16s (Ct 8)

9:10 PM (for those not watching the TWolves): D1 Minnesota vs Sanford UA Rise (Ct 8)

In the early session Friday, 2 teams on other shoe circuits get matched up on home turf as Puma's Powerhouse crew takes on the Gain Elite guys from New Balance.  Good perimeter play in that one with Gain Elite's Josiah Coleman and JJ Semanko taking on Aijohn Douglas and Jakhi Richmond of Powerhouse.  Titans Bertsch vs Select Koch is a fun local matchup.  Session 2 features the Minnehaha guys of JSizzle taking on Real Phenom (also a Puma affiliated group).  Miles Newton off to a nice start for Real Phenom this spring.  Then in the late session, Sanford's top team from the UA circuit gets their shot at D1 Minnesota.  Sanford has Ben Brooks and Bryon Laue as part of a big front line and that can bother D1.  Tyler Wagner has shot the ball well for D1 this spring.  Chase Thompson continues to show he's one of the top Minnesota 2025 players.

8:00 AM MN Rise vs MN Lightning Ellersbusch (Ct 4), D1 MN Gold vs Iowa United (Ct 7)
9:05 AM Select Altenhofen 16s vs Davis Brothers 16s (Ct 7)
10:10 AM MN Rise vs WI Blizzard Hawley (Ct 6)
11:15 AM Heat Academic vs Iowa Frost (Ct 6)
12:20 PM D1 MN Gold vs SW MN Stars (Ct 2)
1:25 PM Fury Antl 16s vs Sanford UA Rise 16s (Ct 7)
2:30 PM JSizzle NY2LA vs Q6 All-Stars (Ct 4)
3:35 PM Crossfire vs Powerhouse (Ct 2), Gain Elite vs SD Identity (Ct 3), Fury Wilde vs MN Lightning King (Ct 7), D1 MN 15s vs WI Playmakers UA Rise 16s (Ct 8)
4:40 PM NoCo vs Northstar Titans Bertsch (Ct 5), Select Koch vs WI Academy Thompson (Ct 6)
5:45 PM SW MN Stars vs Iowa United Gold (Ct 4), WI Crusaders vs Select Ohnstad (Ct 7), D1 MN vs WI Playmakers UA Rise (Ct 8)
6:50 PM Fury Antl 16s vs D1 MN 16s (Ct 7)
7:55 PM Select Ohnstad vs WI Playmakers UA Rise (Ct 7)
9:00 PM D1 MN 16s vs WI Playmakers UA Rise 16s (Ct 4)

Another good mid-level local matchup starts day 2 with Rise taking on MN Lightning Ellerbusch.  Jack Gross and Ganden Gosch on the wings with Ricky Wengert running the show for Rise make a fun squad to watch.  D1's 2nd team gets a look at 7'1 soph Arafan Diane of Iowa United.  That Iowa United squad also picked up Isiah Ayala formerly of Minneapolis Edison and Real Phenom's top team.  JSizzle's top team beat this group in Milwaukee a month ago in a tight quarterfinal game.  Rest of the day is quiet up until the loaded mid-afternoon 3:35 session.  Fury Wilde gets to take on Lightning King in an interesting matchup.  Parker Wangen and Evan Weichert on the wings with Caleb Bancroft able to play against the Fury frontline makes for a good game.  Select Ohnstad starts their tourney late with the 5:45 game vs a good WI Crusaders team.  Guard Drew Daoust can really fill it up for them.  Looking forward to seeing how Select looks now vs a month ago in St. Cloud.  Remember they played D1 tough a couple weeks ago, won 1 Scheels week and were runners up last week.  SW MN Stars had a nice outing in St. Cloud winning their pool.  One of local 16U games of the season is at 6:50 with D1 taking on Fury Antl.  Cedric Tomes and Christian Wiggins featured on the loaded D1 squad.  Terrific point guard play in this one but I think D1's athleticism is too much.  Select will have their hands full in game 2 at 7:55 against the WI Playmakers UA Rise squad.  Forward Gavin Gores will be a tough matchup.  He has significant D1 interest.  No Cooper Jesperson for the Playmakers due to injury but guard Brooks Hinson is also one to watch.

8:00 AM Pool C winner vs Pool D winner (Ct 2), Pool C 2nd vs Pool D 2nd (Ct 3)
10:10 AM Select Ohnstad vs Sanford UA Rise (Ct 7)
11:15 AM Powerhouse 16s vs MN Splash 16s (Maple Grove Ct 2)
1:25 PM MN Lightning King vs North Dakota Phenom (Ct 8)
2:30 PM Select Ohnstad vs ECI Prospects (Ct 8)

Day 3 means Select gets their shot at the Dakota teams.  ECI won the Comets Shootout and Sanford's front line will be a tough challenge for Omar Kaba.  North Dakota Phenom has most of the top guys in North Dakota.  Its a long athletic squad with skill led by Karson Ouse and Walker Braaten so they'll be a tough out.  Pool C vs Pool D in cross-over play.  That means we get SW MN Stars, D1 MN Gold and Iowa United against Sanford's White team, Q6, Real Phenom Nick and JSizzle NY2LA.  So whatever we end up with will be a good challenge for those teams.

2024 Comets Shootout Preview

Its time once again for the Daytona 500.  Teams make their annual trip to St. Cloud to open the spring and summer season at the Comets Shootout.  Here's a look at what I'll be focusing on in my 2 days at the Whitney Rec Center.

As always the 17s get the night session. Its back to the old days of pool play rather than bracket play.  Its 24 teams split into 8 pools of 3.  Both pool games on Saturday with the 8 pool winners advancing to the championship bracket on Sunday.  As always its a grind for the champion with that 3rd game in a short window on Sunday.

Pool A
The top Comets squad headlines this pool.  Zeke Austin, Keller Hanson, Trey Borchers and Jake Schultz are a guard group that can really shoot it.  Sam Hondl and Spencer Swenson are versatile forwards who can also play away from the rim.  Heat Leo also starts their season in this pool.  Select Meitz has the advantage of having a week of games under their belt.

Pool B
Preston Thielke (Champlin Park) of Crossfire Young is the player I'm watching in this pool.  They're joined by SW MN Stars and Playmakers South.  SW MN Stars vs Crossfire at 2:30 gets my viewing of 17s underway.

Pool C
Heat Presbi brings in east metro guards Marquivion Beasley (Woodbury) and Anthony Giyadu (Park) to go with Deng Lueth (Roch JM).  Mareng Kang of Tennessee Prep is a wildcard.  Team X Magic has Dhal Rehan as one to keep an eye on.   Comets Schumann rounds out the pool.  Heat Presbi vs Team X Magic at 5:45 is the pool game that should decide who moves on to the championship bracket.

Pool D
Fury Wilde headlines this pool  They're a tight knit group where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Forwards Luke Wherley, Tray Lenzen, Nik Domier and Cole Wilcek all fit their euro ball screen system as mobile skilled forwards.  Keaton Ressler, Devin Pass and Isaiah Mahal can all knock down shots.  Buffalo Legacy is a sleeper here as its a group of Buffalo juniors who have played together.  Fury Wilde vs Buffalo Legacy at 4:40 PM.  TC Elite Bock is the last member of the pool.

Pool E
This is easily the deepest pool.  Fury with a couple forwards in Hudson Greene and Wyatt McBeth who can step out and shoot it.  That goes with a solid guard group of Alex Kopetzki, James Martin, James Fager and John Schmidt.  Nate Chavez and Cooper Carlson lead the guards for Heat Academic to go with Colin Kirk and Finn Norman on the front line.  Jake Dedominces and Isaac Tollefson lead the Select Koch guards.  Emerson Droubie is a forward who can step away and shoot it for them.  I like Fury here but should be 3 good games.  Fury Shepherd and Heat Academic match up at 3:35 PM on Sat in the top game of that session.  Fury Shepherd vs Select Koch should be the top game of the 6:50 PM session.

Pool F
Northstar Titans Bertsch highlights this pool after a buzzer beating loss in Ames last week to MN Lightning Ellerbusch.  Ryan Beckwith (Farmington) is a top guard.  Nathan Johnson (Hutchinson) is a player I want another look at.  WC United Select also was in Ames last weekend.  Once again their guard play will lead them.  Cadyn Dahl (Ada Borup West) is one to watch for them.  ECI Select rounds out the pool.  This pool drew the short straw and gets their 3 pool games at the Sartell Community Center.

Pool G
Comets Allen features a couple of critical pieces from Cherry's state championship squad in wings Carson Brown and Noah Sundquist.  ECI Prospects features guards Pearce Parks, Parker Brodina and Aric Winczweski.  Ben Bye leads the West Central Wildcats.  

Pool H
Select Ohnstad highlights this pool as a heavy favorite.  This is a high powered group with the addition of shooters Brooks Johnson (Duluth Marshall) and Riley Johnson (Chanhassen).  Max Lorenson (Eden Prairie) and Brogan Madson (Mankato East) return as handlers.  All can fill it up in a hurry. They've also added Omar Kaba (Blake) as a mobile big man who I think is ready for a breakout summer and really fits this team well as a rebound and defend big who doesn't need touches.  Nothing available about their opponents MN Kings Roseman and MN Chill

17U Predictions
Quarterfinals: Comets Lewis over Crossfire Young, Fury Wilde over Heat Presbi, Fury Shepherd over Northstar Titans Bertsch, Select Ohnstad over Comets Allen

Semis: Comets Lewis over Fury Wilde, Select Ohnstad over Fury Shepherd

Championship: Select Ohnstad over Comets Lewis

16U Bracket

On the 16U side, its a 32 team bracket with 2 early games Saturday and then up to 3 on Sunday to win it all.

Top Quarter: This group features the top Comets squad.  They have Talan Witt from Alexandria, big man Isaac Asmus from Aitkin, stretch forward Maddox Lewis from Sartell and productive guard Kale Misegades from Henning.  Crossfire Thompson, ND Attack Green, WC United, Starks Elite, MN Swish Radtke, WC Wildcats and SW MN Stars round out this group.  PG Boston Cranston of ND Attack Green is one of the top 2026 PG in North Dakota.  No reason to see top Comets not moving thru this group easily.

Second Quarter: Northstar Titans Squires is a group of Becker kids including their top 3 sophomores were double figure varsity guys this season.  The bottom half of this quarter could see a Scheels league matchup between top ECI and top Heat in the 2nd round.  Winner of their game gets a fun one in the quarters vs the Titans.  WOTN Hannah, Fury Reyes, Select Brewer, Comets Aguilar round out the remainder of the quarter.

Third Quarter: This quarter is headlined by the top Select crew.  Select Altenhofen is very well rounded with a guy in Brady Lam out of Wayzata who I need to see.  Breuer Wolff gets overshadowed by his teammate Ryan Krueger at Faribault but he's very good in his own right.  Hamze Yusuf can run the show with shooters Carson McMichael and Tanner Rose plus the athleticism of JP Musoke.    The potential quarterfinal matchup is with MN Swish Dahl.  Belle Plaine lefty wing Ethan Martin and Norwood-Young America forward Micah Fenney are 2 names I've seen on this roster.  Martin is a guy many teams wanted and he had a terrific HS season.  Looking forward to seeing him again.  Lakes 16U, Fury DLR, ECI Select, WOTN Kranz, Comets Petermeier, Mid MN

Bottom Quarter: Fury Antl is the big prize here.  The guard play is loaded with Isaac Olmstead, Will Kirsch, Bennett Skinner and Luke Gustafson.  Casey Fliehe and Alex Schroepfer are skilled wings.  Not much size or physicality but like last year, they can really execute and shoot it.   MN Splash is on the opposite side of them.  Cameron Cramble (Irondale) is a nice big man pickup for that squad that I look forward to seeing.  Select Michaels also solid here.  Northstar Titans Martinson, MN Chill, WI Playmakers South and Northern Elite also in this group.

16U Predictions
Semis: Comets Elite over Northstar Titans Squires.  Fury Antl over Select Altenhofen

Championship: Fury Antl over Comets Elite

2024 spring season hits overdrive

Its week 2 of the 2024 spring and summer season.  Its the Daytona 500 this weekend and that traditionally means most everybody is playing (despite it being an ACT weekend).  That being said, we have as many teams as ever that will be on the road elsewhere in the midwest.  I'll have more on the Comets Shootout later but for now let's talk about the group of teams not playing in St. Cloud this weekend.

Chicago (Prep Hoops)
D1 Minnesota will have their 2nd teams in Chicago to start their season.  Sizzle also has at least 1 lower level team there.

Rockford, IL (Puma Circuit)
Powerhouse and Real Phenom stay on the road and join up in Rockford for week 2 of Puma action.  Real Phenom Nick 17s and the Powerhouse 16s each ran the table 4-0 last weekend in separate Puma events.  Real Phenom Nick with 1 close win and 3 others by 15 or more.

Madison, WI (ROCK Spring Classic)
A premier event in God's Country and my old stomping grounds that I'd love to get to but it always matches up with the Comets Shootout.  MN Lightning Ellerbusch and King will be there in 17s.  Back to back weekends on the short stretch of I-94 for the Lightning King squads who were in Milwaukee last weekend.  Teams get a placing game to start and then into bracket play.  The event has a handful of UA Rise teams in it plus WI Playground Club from the UA circuit and a couple of New Balance teams in the 32 team platinum bracket in 17s.  MN Lightning Dahl looks to continue their undefeated season there in the 16s bracket.  They won the tourney in Ames going 5-0 last weekend.  MN Spartans have 15s and 16s there too. 

Des Moines, IA (Heartland Showcase)
Howard Pulley, Gain Elite and MN Rise all start their seasons in Iowa.  Northstar Titans have 1 16s there too (other 2 are in St. Cloud).  Howard Pulley and Gain Elite could meet up in the 17s semis on Sunday. Rise 17s are on the other side of the bracket. They could play Iowa United Gold in the 2nd round.  That Iowa United Gold team lost to JSizzle Adidas 17s by 2 last weekend in the Swish N Dish quarterfinals.

Council Bluffs, IA
Adidas gets the 1st full blown shoe event of the 2024 season with all of their teams coming into the Omaha area.   D1 Minnesota 17s easily swept 4 games in Denver last week but they'll get a super tough test in their Friday afternoon opener against the loaded Utah Prospects/Team Kessler.  JSizzle part of that event as well.  They play Jalen Green Elite (California) on Saturday night and then Michael Redd's new team MR22 in their final game Sunday morning.

2024 Spring Season Opens

We're 2 weeks out from the 2024 high school state tournament and as always that means no rest for the weary.  While many locals will open their season next weekend with the traditional Comets Shootout opener in St. Cloud, many of our Minnesota teams hit the road this weekend to kick off their spring/summer seasons this weekend.  Here's a list of who is where.

Milwaukee (NY2LA Swish N Dish)
Sizzle 2 17s
MN Lightning King 15s and 17s
JSizzle 15-17U Adidas teams

JSizzle 17s get Under Armour squad Illinois Wolves in a shoe vs shoe opener.

Denver (Prep Hoops Spring Kickoff)
D1 Minnesota 15-17U Adidas teams
The D1 17s end their 4 game schedule with a Sunday afternoon matchup vs Mountain Stars of the Under Armour circuit.

Ames (Spring Tuneup)
In 17s, Northstar Titans Bertsch and All Iowa Attack 17U EYCL are on 1 side of the top pool.  MN Lightning Ellerbusch, West Central United Select and All Iowa Attack 16U EYCL are in the half of that top pool.

Titans, Lightning and West Central United also have teams in other 17s pools.

Omaha, Nebraska (Puma Circuit)
Powerhouse MN has their 15-17s in Omaha to open Puma circuit play.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (Puma Circuit)
Real Phenom has their top 2 17s teams opening Puma circuit play in Grand Rapids

Powerhouse and Real Phenom will be in Rockford, IL next weekend to continue play on the Puma circuit. Then they're home for Prep Hoops to end the month and Battle at the Lakes in May.

Wrapping up the 2023-24 HS Season

Season 17 is in the books as the 2023-24 State Tournament has concluded.  Here are some of my notables from the state tournament and season.

 State Tourney

  • While 3 of the 4 State Tournament winners were favorites from day 1 in November, the tournament itself was better than I expected with Totino-Grace running the gauntlet in close games and Lake City taking Breck to the final 10 seconds.  While Wayzata was the clear favorite coming into state, going back to the start of the year, Minnetonka was a team that we all expected to be in the mix so we shouldn't be that surprised that they won it.  Never thought I'd say Minnetonka would out tough Wayzata in the final but that's exactly what happened.  
  • And did you know, Bryce Tesdahl is related to Bob McDonald?!.  Adults could have started a drinking game with all the talk about it.  We get it, can we please have the old school dinosaur legacy media move on already and let the accomplishments stand on their own merits.
  • Love Williams Arena as a venue over Target Center.  While attendance seemed to be down at state overall in the 2 nights that I attended, the environment for the AAAA final was outstanding.
  • Eagan comes in at 14-12 and pulls the shocking upset on Park Center and then decides to take home 3rd place with a win over CDH.  Congrats to Kevin McKenzie and company on that.  Best finish for the Wildcats since their 1998 state runner up finish.
  • Coon Rapids 1st appearance at state in 41 years.  Coach Ogorek is the dean of NW Suburban coaches, great to see him finally get a chance to see state.
  • Great having all 5 Mr. Basketball finalists at the state tourney and 4 of them playing for state titles.  3 of them bring home the gold ball.  I still pick Jackson McAndrew here for the most consistent high level season.  But Daniel Freitag and Isaiah Johnson-Arigu have earned all the consideration too.  Hate to not have Isaac Asuma in that group with all he did at Cherry but that's the harsh reality of playing at a small school.

2023-24 Season Memories

  • Another disgusting year for me in the Better Than Chalk picks.  There's a reason why we play the games and why I'm here writing this.
  • The year that the streaks fell.  In my season previews, I put together a list of 20 game or more streaks in conference play.  Almost all of those streaks were broken this year.  So congrats to Roosevelt and Hill-Murray for breaking some misery.  Minnehaha and Minneapolis North see Goliath stretches fall.
  • I think the state tournaments really speak to the depth in those top 3 classes this year.  Stewartville being unseeded at state (or whatever team you thought should have had that spot) shows just how deep that AAA field was in particular.
  • Minneapolis South going from 6-20 last year to the state tourney this year.  To have a roster completely turnover like they did and come right back from it is remarkable.  Not to mention the gruesome injury to forward Romero Walker in February.  Joe Hyser wins my state Coach of the Year award for leading South thru all of that turmoil.  1st trip to state for the Tigers in over 30 years.
  • Staying in the Minneapolis City, props also to Myles Shepherd at Washburn.  He took an experience squad to a level beyond just winning the city.  JV team was 2nd and the freshmen won the city so don't expect it to be a 1 class flash in the pan.
  • The streak is over in Section 1 as Farmington finally broke the Lakeville North hold on that section.  1st trip to state for the Tigers in 87 seasons.  Big step forward for that program as they look to be a year in and year out heavyweight in the South Suburban.
  • And who knocked out the Tigers?  Cretin-Derham Hall had a fairly young and inexperienced roster but sophomore JoJo Mitchell came in from Apple Valley and had a marvelous season.  Raiders definitely looking to be dangerous in 24-25.  We've had some fun here with coach Jerry Kline, but I want an angry TIMEOUT TIMEOUT TIMEOUT!  The work he did with this team and a couple years ago with Tre Holloman's senior season and the adjustments they made should really be commended.
  • Harding head coach Steve Solaja making life on the east side of St. Paul interesting as the Knights have continued to improve.
  • I haven't followed the Wright County East that closely over the years, but glad it was on my list this year. Always fun to get other teams in the mix and a very entertaining group of teams to watch with outstanding coaches.  Also have to get into the new SW Christian gym on one of those Walking Taco nights.
  • Got to cross off another few metro locations this year by seeing St. Paul City School, Liberty Classical Academy (before their move to Hugo), Tartan's brand new gym and a St. Paul Academy section game at St. Kate's.  Now if we can just get 1 year of retro state at the Xcel Energy Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
  • Missing the Tipoff Classic in person for the 1st time in forever was no fun (illness), but at least I got to watch the games live online.  It cost me a chance to collect Pepsi from Ryan James for Wisconsin reclaiming Paul Bunyan's Axe though.  Note to self, do not attend the company Christmas party ever again.
  • Clearly video is here to stay.  Thank you COVID pandemic for that.  Having Hudl in the mix now just adds another item to remember to check.  That also reminds me to cancel my National Fishbowl Hoops System Network subscription until next season.  All you people who are charging for games or immediately taking your games down because you think its some kind of competitive advantage are sadly mistaken.
  • Section 6AAA brought us many great moments.  CJ Armstrong going nuts for a couple 50 point games for Richfield early in the year.  Nolan Groves a couple 50 point games as well for Orono.  Not to mention the halfcourt 3 to beat Benilde-St. Margaret's in the epic double OT section final.  BSM giving Totino-Grace all they wanted at TG back in January.  BSM had a double digit lead in the 2nd half before TG won that by 4.
  • Feel bad for Max Woods at Chanhassen.  He became the school's all-time leading rebounder this season (keep in mind he's a point guard).  If it wasn't for injury, he'd also be the school's all time leading scorer.  Great career for him for the Storm who were clearly a much different team without him.  Looking forward to seeing how his football career turns out.
  • The Class of 2024 still has plenty of good names out there who had terrific seasons and took their game to a higher level.  Greyson Uelmen, Patrick Rowe, Tameron Ferguson, Jordan Cain in no particular order immediately come to mind and there are others.  Welcome to the final year of COVID seniors and the continued emphasis now on the transfer portal.

Now a chance to decompress and then its off to St. Cloud to start the 2024 AAU season in mid April.