2019 MBCA Camp Thoughts

The first real direct in person impact of the NCAA recruiting calendar changes came into view this weekend.  The new rules provide for high school based events that are open to the D1 college coaches during the final 2 weekends of June.  These events are run by the individual states. 19 of those events were scheduled for the 1st weekend with 10 more on the 2nd weekend.  Due to issues of ensuring all kids were able to participate, many states chose not to put on any event.  The rest of the layout is like the old July events where the coaches can only evaluate and not talk to the kids.  This event is also important because there's only 1 of those July open period events this year rather than 3 like years past.  You could argue 2 events in July but the big regional camps at the end of July are too big to be effective.

The Setup
Here in Minnesota, the event was put on by the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA).  The states did have flexibility to choose between multiple formats.  Georgia, for example, chose to run theirs as a high school team camp.  The MBCA event was put on as a player camp with individual players from Minnesota and South Dakota being invited and then being placed on 1 of 12 teams.  Those 12 teams each played 1 game on Friday night and 3 games on Saturday.  This worked out into a nice every other session playing schedule at the 3 court setup used at Anoka Ramsey Community College.  The event saw most of the top 60 2020, top 30 2021 and top 10 or so kids from the state plus the South Dakota stars like Matthew Mors.  As with any event and especially a new one, were there some kids that were missed?  Of course, but overall those were on the fringes and there were no super ridiculous omissions.

Not enough credit can be given to the MBCA for the hard work they put in to get kids to show up and to provide them with a really well done setup.  High profile coaches from the MBCA participated including Travis Bledsoe (DLS), Jerry Kline (CDH), Barry Wohler (Orono), Willie Braziel (Columbia Heights), Mike McDonald (Cambridge-Isanti) and Hall of Fame coaches Larry McKenzie and Mark Klingsporn.  One of the state's most well-respected trainers in Mitch Ohnstad was one of the camp trainers as well.  But with the top kids showing up, the top coaches came out.  Not only did we have all the regional D1 guys plus nearby big boys Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa but plenty of other high major D1 schools showed up too.  That included Indiana, Michigan, Marquette, Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Oklahoma just to name a few.  At one point despite sitting under the main balcony where the coaches were perched, I could still count 35 coaches (across all levels) on the rail.  For a 1st year event, this far exceeded expectations and was a smashing success.

The Action
For any camp where college coaches can attend, the usual speech about playing unselfishly and playing defense is a given  But in a camp setting where you've never played with guys that can be difficult.  Credit to the kids as a whole for largely being almost unselfish to a fault.  3 games in 5 sessions can be tough and at the end of the event it did show but that's understandable.  Now some individual stream of unconsciousness thoughts.

Not sure if it was guys not stretching or just the wear and tear of year round play but it seemed like there were an abnormally high number of guys getting injured.  I saw half a dozen kids end up with some sort of ailment.

Plenty of guys had moments where they really heated up from the 3 point line.  Here are some of those names in no particular order
  • Donovan Smith (Minnehaha)
  • Cade Haskins (De La Salle)
  • Josh Streit (Eden Valley-Watkins)
  • Carter Bjerke (Wayzata)
  • Camden Heide (Wayzata)
  • Kobe Busch (Huron, SD)
  • Jayden Bernard (Virginia)
Tre Holloman showed what we all know of him as a point guard.  When his jump shot improves he'll be really really scary.

Prince Aligbe played a ton of point guard for his team and filled that role admirably.

Detavious Frierson (Park Center) also handled the ball a ton more than usual.  A very good athlete, that's usually not him.  I'm not sure what you do with him in terms of position at the next level (small ball PF?), but he's productive and continues to improve.

At 7'1", Calvin Sisk (Rockford) is a guy you have to project out on.  But the work he's put in has definitely paid dividends.  He had some productive moments using his size to finish close to the rim despite getting some tough matchups like Dain Dainja.

Speaking of Dainja, he went to the Pro Am league for his 2nd game of Saturday vs his team's 2nd game of the day.  But he did make it back in time for the final game of the event where he took on Dawson Garcia in the premier matchup of the weekend.  The 2 didn't really go at it much but the couple of encounters were fun.  Dainja had to shoot a fallaway over Garcia's length in the post.  On the other end, Garcia tried to bully Dainja but Dainja went brick wall on him and didn't budge an inch on 2 hard bumps.  That forced Garcia to spin back to his off hand for a tough bank finish. Both Garcia and Dainja were both impressive in their outings on Friday night as well.  Garcia getting it done in the post and out to the 3 point line in that instance.  Dainja with a couple of nice dribble attacks against Sisk leading to dunks.

Another fun matchup of bigs was on Saturday with Minnetonka's Cam Steele taking on Aberdeen (SD)'s Andrew Bergan.  Bergan is longer and more athletic but Steele's physical play to attack was enough to put that matchup at a draw.  Good outing for both.

Jacob Jennissen (Sauk Centre) is another quickly developing big man at 6'11".  Loved his footwork and am very interested to see what he does in the next month.

Will Tschetter (Stewartville) and Matthew Mors (Yankton, SD) both very productive front court play on the weekend too.