2019-20 Section 3AAA Preview

This is the 17th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  As week 4 of the 6 week preview series moves along, I start my look at the local AAA sections with section 3AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 3AAA (9 teams)
Defending Champion: Holy Angels

Tournament Schedule:
Play-In Game: Monday, March 2nd??
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 3rd
Semifinals: Friday, March 6th at Bloomington Jefferson
Finals: Thursday, March 12th at Bloomington Jefferson

Predicted Seeding
  1. Holy Angels  
  2. St. Croix Lutheran
  3. South St. Paul  
  4. St. Paul Harding
  5. St. Thomas Academy
  6. St. Paul Highland Park
  7. Henry Sibley 
  8. Richfield
  9. Bloomington Kennedy
The defending champs look to be the favorite again with 3 strong levels last year and the return of Matt Banovetz and star soph Emmett Johnson.  St. Croix Lutheran's junior class is strong but they are heavily reliant on 3 point shooting.  South St. Paul will make a run in this weak section.  St. Paul Harding stays in the top half just because they're the only other top half team in their league remaining.  The rest is a bunch of rebuilding teams.  St. Thomas Academy and Sibley lose a ton.  Kennedy and Richfield struggled last year.  Highland Park was very young last year and struggled.  This year its the same group with a new coach.

Staying with southeast AAA schools from the metro east, a note on Simley.  Playing with the SE Minnesota schools in section 1AAA, they could battle for a 1st round home game.  But I see them going out in that 1st round.

Sleeper: St. Paul Harding.  They have the quality duo of Simeon Sharp and forward Alex Addai returning which puts them in the top half. 

Section Winner: Holy Angels.  The deepest and most balanced group of a weak section.  Having to potentially beat St. Croix Lutheran in a 3rd meeting adds an interesting twist.

2019-20 Section 5AA Preview

This is the 16th preview in my 2019-2020 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: Minneapolis North

Tournament Schedule:
Round of 16: Thursday, March 5th
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 7th at St. Michael-Albertville
Semifinals: Wednesday, March 11th at St. Michael-Albertville
Finals: Friday, March 13th 8 PM at St. Cloud State

Predicted Seeding
  1. Minneapolis North
  2. Rockford
  3. Maranatha
  4. Breck
  5. Blake
  6. Holy Family
  7. Litchfield
  8. Watertown-Mayer 
  9. Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted
  10. SW Christian 
  11. Providence Academy
  12. Dassel-Cokato
  13. Brooklyn Center
  14. International School
This is the metro bias portion of the previews.  Minneapolis North despite some important losses at the guard spots keeps up the pace.  Rockford with 7 footer Calvin Sisk in the middle and a couple of guards coming back looks primed to be a major factor here as well.  They have a sneaky good game vs Cristo Rey at the Granite City Classic over the holiday break.  Maranatha and Breck each have a new coach and big holes to fill.  But they also have good pieces returning.  Blake's guard play will keep them a factor.  Holy Family has leading scorer Nick Hendler coming back and they have the tough Wright County East schedule to prepare with.  Watertown-Mayer returns everybody and looks to make a jump in the Wright County West.  But making up an 8 game league differential is tough even with Litchfield losing major pieces.  Providence loses everybody and has a new coach.  That's largely true for Brooklyn Center as well.

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

Sleeper: Watertown-Mayer  Everybody is back from an 11 win team last year.  That makes them as good a choice as any.

Section Winner: Minneapolis North.  They're young but with Davon Townley inside and Willie Wilson outside they have a quality 1-2 punch.  Add in their ability to pressure and that puts them over the top.

2019-20 Section 4AA Preview

This is the 15th preview in my 2019-2020 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 (14 teams)
Defending Champion: Minnehaha Academy (2017, 2018, 2019 State AA Champions)

Tournament Schedule:
Round 1: Tuesday, March 3rd
Round 2: Thursday, March 5th
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 7th
Semifinals: Wednesday, March 11th
Finals: Friday, March 13th at TBD

Predicted Seeding
  1. St. Croix Prep
  2. Cristo Rey
  3. New Life Academy
  4. Concordia Academy
  5. Twin Cities Academy/Great River   
  6. St. Paul Humboldt  
  7. St. Paul Washington 
  8. Hiawatha Collegiate
  9. St. Agnes
  10. St. Paul Academy
  11. Mounds Park Academy 
  12. Math and Science 
  13. Nova Classical
  14. Metro Schools College Prep
Like section 4A, this section looks like it will use the same tiered system of byes.  There will be a new section champion this year with Minnehaha moving up to section 4AAA.  St. Croix Prep and Cristo Rey are the clear favorites here and 3 potential meetings between these 2 will be outstanding.  Great guard play on both sides with the really fun matchup of SCPA's Daniel McCarrell vs CRJ's James Sommer at the PG spot.  The St. Paul City and EMAC teams will be very interesting to watch in terms of seeding in the middle. I think those St. Paul teams get a bump up while the EMAC teams may take a hit.  Some very interesting middle seed matchups could happen there.  The bottom 4 drops off dramatically.

Sleeper: Twin Cities Academy/Great River.  Experienced guards and a quality big guy along with a lower seed make them a dangerous matchup.

Section Winner: St. Croix Prep  They are deeper overall and better up front than Cristo Rey.  Quality guard play come tourney time never gets out of fashion and they definitely have it.

2019-20 Section 4A Preview

This is the 14th preview in the 2019-2020 season preview series.  Phase 2 of the previews starts today.  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.  As is tradition, I do them from small to big so let's start with a look at Section 4A.  If you missed any of the conference previews during phase 1 where were you?  I previewed 121 metro area teams from 13 conferences and independents.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4A (24 Teams)
Defending Champion: CHOF

Tournament Schedule:
Round 1: Monday, March 2nd (number of games will be number of teams in section - 16)
Round 2: Tuesday, March 3rd (16 teams left)
Round 3: Thursday, March 5th (12 teams left)
Quarterfinals: Saturday, March 7th
Semifinals: Wednesday, March 11th
Finals: Friday, March 13th at Anoka-Ramsey Community College

Predicted Seeding
  1. Hope Academy
  2. CHOF
  3. Avail Academy
  4. Liberty Classical Academy
  5. West Lutheran 
  6. Trinity
  7. Legacy
  8. Kaleidoscope
I'm going to assume 4A (and 4AA tomorrow) stay with their tiered system of byes.  That looks like this though the 9-12 section might see a team or 2 to play in round 1 if there are enough teams actually playing.  With the tiny charter schools, not at all 24 schools will play but you never really know exactly how many will actually be there in March.

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)

This section was again a total wreck in terms of seeds versus actual results.  Granted it saved my bacon in terms of predictions as I correctly picked Hope to make a big run.  That still worked out despite incorrectly picking Mounds Park Academy.  Hope makes another big run here but it won't be a surprise with almost their full roster coming back.  CHOF's AA schedule will prep them nicely for the tournament.  I expect a big year from Isaac Collins there. The top of the class A schools from the EMAC comes next.  But those schools are moving up from the lower divisions of the TCAC and aren't yet at that top level  Then its a real toss up as to who's next.  Trinity's tougher schedule may cost them in seeding.  Troy Kokkinen gives West Lutheran a sleeper chance.  Legacy's guards and the returning duo at Kaleidoscope should allow them to get thru a round as well.

Since we mentioned MCAA teams, I'll take my league winner prediction of Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity to win a subsection home opener in section 2A.  But its a tough section so I'll take them to have a tough loss in round 2.

Sleeper: Trinity.  They'll take some lumps in the new Skyline Conference but that will be a benefit against the lesser competition come section time.  While 3 top players need replacing, they'll have a whole season to adjust before the tournament.

Section Winner: Hope Academy.  When in doubt go with the top player and that's Caleb Hoilien.  The Lions get past last year's disappointment of losing in the section final.  It also happens in a grudge match as they'll take out CHOF to do it. 

2019-20 Suburban East Conference Preview

This is the 13th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  In this preview, we reach the mid-point of this 6 week series.  So last but certainly not least, let's take 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 (2018-19 season 22-7, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
Perimeter play was already going to be a strength with soph PG Trejuan Holloman (10.5 PPG) and wing Curtis Jones (14.3 PPG) returning.  Now the Raiders add in high scoring wing J'Vonne Hadley and his 28 PPG from Mahtomedi.  That will fill the gap left by Jaeden King nicely.  Amari Carter (13.2 PPG) returns to the combo forward spot.  Will Burke also returns and gives them a solid option in the middle.

East Ridge Raptors (2018-19 season 28-4, 16-0 Conference, 1st)
Former Eagan coach Josh Peltier takes over the program with Bryce Tesdahl leaving for Minnetonka.  He needs to replace 4 major rotation pieces including the entire perimeter rotation of 51 PPG.  That includes star Kendall Brown leaving for Sunrise Christian in Kansas.  Wisconsin commit Ben Carlson (16.3 PPG) was the team leader in scoring last year from his forward spot.  Brody Kriesel returns up front as well.  Zac Thomas and Drew Adams are quality options there as well.  Soph Kendall Blue is an option to fill the question marks on the perimeter.

Forest Lake Rangers (2018-19 season 4-20, 4-12 Conference, Tie 7th)
The Rangers battle injuries all of last year.  Guard Dorell Young returns after leading the team with 17.1 PPG.  But the other 2 double figure scoring guards depart leaving 27 PPG behind.  Eric Peterson (7.4 PPG) returns to a forward spot.  Harrison Taylor and Carter Thiesfeld are guard options. Jordan Boysen (4.5 PPG) returns to man the middle.

Irondale Knights (2018-19 season 9-18, 5-14 Conference, 7th NW Suburban West)
Leading scorer Aden Price (17.3 PPG) needs to be replaced in the backcourt.  Leighton Glodek's 11.3 PPG also departs.  Athletic forward Iggy Ejiofor (11.4 PPG) returns to lead the front line.  Jack Crooks also returns to the front line rotation.  Evan Romes and Kwame Herzog are candidates to take the backcourt spots.

Mounds View Mustangs (2018-19 season 8-19, 3-13 Conference, 9th)
Guard Josh Albers (9.9 PPG) is the biggest loss from the lineup.  Soph shooter Dylan Wheeler was the leading scorer last year at 13.1 PPG.  Thomas Gebhardt (9.8 PPG) returns to a forward spot.  John Montgomery (6.8 PPG) returns to the post.  Cole Sorensen, Evan Kim and Jack Hentges also return to the rotation.

Park Wolfpack (2018-19 season 12-16, 7-9 Conference, Tie 4th)
Park had their best year in ages last season.  Now coach Mike Weah has major holes to fill with 5 of his top 6 graduating.  That includes 16 PPG from F Charlie Gorres and 20.6 PPG from G Domenick Block.  Jayden Lane and Jack Blumberg are the top returning options.  Hunter Bammert-Mueller is a forward option.

Roseville Raiders (2018-19 season 10-18, 7-9 Conference, Tie 4th)
Alexander Culver comes over from the Wayzata staff to lead the program.  He has pieces to work with.  Spencer Nath (6.8 PPG) and Robert Riley return to the center spot.  Keyshawn Payne is a top guard option.  Juniors Teris Watson and Treygan Adams are also guard options.

Stillwater Ponies (2018-19 season 12-15, 6-10 Conference, 6th)
Stillwater needs to replace 6 of their top 7.  That includes 3 double figure scorers which included an effective front line duo that combined for almost 30 PPG. Guard Ben Smalley is the only returnee of note with 7 PPG.  Matt Moore should step into the lineup.  Ty Hawkins and Reid Schlosser are inside options. Max Shikenjanski is a guard candidate.

White Bear Lake Bears (2018-19 season 20-7, 12-4 Conference, 3rd)
Coach Keith Lockwood needs to replace his top 5 scorers and most of the rotation.  Forward Jeremy Beckler and guard Sam Schwartz combined for over 37 PPG.  Guard Brice Peters is the top returnee at 5 PPG.  Junior Will Forsythe will take over inside.  Freshman Jack Janicki is a prime candidate to take over the point guard duties.  Kayne Raheem and Moses Hancock are options on the wing.

Woodbury Royals (2018-19 season 6-21, 4-12 Conference, Tie 7th)
The Royals went with a large youth movement last year.  So despite losing leading scorer McK Robertson (15.9 PPG) and Adam Mazur (6.3 PPG), plenty of experience returns.  Brad Cimperman (13 PPG) and junior Mac Lockner (11.1 PPG) make a outside duo.  Soph Blake Rohrer saw plenty of guard time as well last year.  Parker McMorrow returns to a forward spot.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Cretin-Derham Hall  
  2. East Ridge   
  3. Roseville
  4. Woodbury 
  5. Forest Lake 
  6. White Bear Lake    
  7. Park
  8. Mounds View  
  9. Irondale 
  10. Stillwater 
Conference Overview:
Irondale joins the league to make a round number of 10 teams.  Overall its a really down year in the league.  Cretin-Derham Hall is the clear favorite.  East Ridge is the best of the rest with a really good frontcourt but they have guard questions to answer.  Beyond that, it drops off to group of so so teams.  Roseville I see as the best of the rest but Woodbury could make a jump with what they have coming back.  Forest Lake has a couple pieces back as well.  White Bear Lake has a ton to replace but a couple of quality JV pieces should step in.  I see the rest of the league struggling.  Park and Mounds View will battle but they aren't as the same level as the rest.  Irondale and Stillwater don't have the horses.

Conference MVP: Ben Carlson - East Ridge

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Trejuan Holloman - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Kendall Blue, Logan Larson - East Ridge
  • Nick Bartlett - Forest Lake
  • Dylan Wheeler - Mounds View
  • Brayden Fick, Jack Blumberg, Jackson Tessman, Josh Hotano - Park
  • Tomas Nelson - Roseville
  • Max Shikenjanski - Stillwater 
  • Jack Janicki - White Bear Lake
  • Blake Rohrer - Woodbury
Conference Games to Watch
  • East Ridge at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 24th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at East Ridge - Feb 28th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • East Ridge vs Prior Lake - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park) 
  • Cretin-Derham Hall vs Eden Prairie - Nov 30th  (Big 12 at Champlin Park)  
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at North St. Paul - Dec 3rd
  • East Ridge vs Park Center - Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Cretin-Derham Hall vs Minnehaha- Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Eden Prairie at East Ridge - Dec 21st
  • Eastview at East Ridge - Dec 27th
  • Minnehaha at East Ridge - Dec 28th
  • East Ridge vs Rochester Mayo - Jan 18th (Hall of Fame Classic at ARCC) 
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 15th

2019-20 South Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2019-20 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 (2018-19 season 6-21, 2-16 Conference, 9th)
Apple Valley has to replace their top 3 scorers from a team that had a hard time scoring anyway.  One of those is wing Isaiah Davis who is now at Minnehaha.  A ton of guys played and will return. Noah Friedt on the front line and Davy Hosea in the backcourt lead the returning pack.  Bilhal Kone, Mason Klett and Nick Deluca are guard options.  Noah Wetzel is an option in the front court.

Burnsville Blaze (2018-19 season 12-17, 7-11 Conference, 7th)
The Blaze return forward Daniel Rosenbur and his 12.8 PPG.  Most of the rest of the scoring departs including Hayden Johnson (13.3 PPG) and 10.4 PPG from Marcus Shepley.  Josiah Jordan and Mohamed Hassan return to the rotation  Soph Yarin Alexander should see an increased role.

Eagan Wildcats (2018-19 season 11-17, 5-13 Conference, 8th)
Former Roseville and St. Paul Academy coach Kevin McKenzie takes over.  He had planned on being an assistant at South St. Paul before this job opened up. He has 5 of last year's top 6 scorers returning.  Kurt Ohlhues topped all scorers for the Wildcats last year at 11.9 PPG and also returns to the lineup.  The rest of the offense consists of a bevy of shooters including Cam House, Jack Carlson and Finn O'Malley. 

Eastview Lightning (2018-19 season 19-13, 10-8 Conference, 4th)
Eastview features one of the better inside out combos in the league in Wisconsin commit Steven Crowl (19.3 PPG) and wing shooter Ryan Thissen (14.3 PPG).  Forward Tate Machacek also was a double figure scorer last year.  Jaylen James will take over at the point full time but can also knock down an open 3.  Junior Zach Spann is an athletic forward who saw time last year.  Caden Scales also returns to the rotation.

Farmington Tigers (2018-19 season 12-15, 9-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
The Tigers have to replace 4 of their top 5 scorers from last year. Leading scorer Jameson Shrum and athletic wing Miles Mendes are the biggest losses.  Junior Isaac Ask leads the returning scorers with 8.3 PPG last year.  Carter Huschka, Gabe Bassett, Jack Cochnauer and Max Baata also return to the rotation.  Junior Eli Green could have a breakout year at a guard spot.

Lakeville North Panthers (2018-19 season 27-5, 17-1 Conference, 1st, Class AAAA Runner-Up)
The state class AAAA runner-up will look to reload again after losing their top 6 scorers.  That includes do everything forward Tyler Wahl and his 18.5 PPG.  Guards Josh Kamara and Carter Patterson lead the returnees.  Noah Frechette and Will Blascziek are just a couple of options to fill the holes left.  They will miss the football toughness of Eli and Will Mostaert on the front line.

Lakeville South Cougars (2018-19 season 14-14, 9-9 Conference, Tie 5th)
Coach Joe Janquart has a quality inside out duo of guard Reid Patterson (16.1 PPG) and Wisconsin football commit Riley Mahlman (12.2 PPG).  Both are juniors.  Guard Joe Bachinski also returns to the starting lineup. Sophmores Avery Mast and Sam Fliehe were both return after being rotation guys last year.  Jack Leland also returns to the front line.

Prior Lake Lakers (2018-19 season 25-4, 16-2 Conference, 2nd)
Assistant coach Jon Miller takes over after 1 year with the program and a bunch under Bruce Kugath at Shakopee.  The Lakers also have their own dynamic duo.  Star forward Dawson Garcia and his 27.5 PPG return to the lineup.  Guard Tyree Ihenacho should see his scoring increase after 9.2 PPG last year.  Kyle McCullough is the only other rotation returnee.  Taylor Flaata should slot into the center spot vacated by Robert Jones and Carson Schoeller.  They'll need to replace the shooting of Sam Nissen along with the the ballhandling and leadership of PG Jackyse Jaycox.

Rosemount Irish (2018-19 season 4-23, 1-17 Conference, 10th)
The top 2 scorers for the Irish, Jacob Siwek (11.8 PPG) and Andrew Reuter (8.9 PPG), have graduated.  Junior center Zach Wenthe leads the returning scorers at 8.2 PPG.  Sean Sullivan, Noah Loehr and Matt Schwinefus are a few options for the rotation.

Shakopee Sabers (2018-19 season 22-6, 14-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Sabers return their own group of talented seniors.  Forward Charlie Katona (16 PPG) leads a trio of returning double digit scorers.  PG Will Cordes and guard Caleb Druvenga are the other 2 and make up a rock solid backcourt.  Aaron Bosley is a solid option to go with them.  Bruce Lockwood gives them length on the front line.  Soph Nick Katona should see a bigger role on the wing replacing Brooks Allen.  Fellow soph Cade McGraw is another backcourt option.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Prior Lake
  2. Shakopee
  3. Eastview
  4. Lakeville South 
  5. Lakeville North 
  6. Eagan
  7. Apple Valley   
  8. Farmington 
  9. Burnsville
  10. Rosemount  
Conference Overview:
Prior Lake gets the nod with Dawson Garcia coming back. Its a major log jam behind them.  Shakopee and Eastview have been building for this year and have lots of experience to go with their talent.  Prior Lake's rival Shakopee gets the nod as they overperformed last year and Eastview may have underachieved.  Lakeville South may be young but they are talented.  Lakeville North loses a ton but never underestimate a John Oxton team.  The 2nd level drops off significantly behind that.  Eagan sticks out as the best of the bottom half with all the offense they have returning.  Farmington and Apple Valley battle it out after that.  Not sure how much help Daniel Rosenbur will have for Burnsville.  Rosemount continues to rebuild.

Conference MVP: Dawson Garcia - Prior Lake

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Yarin Alexander - Burnsville 
  • Emmanuel Schmitter - Eagan
  • Kenji Scales - Eastview
  • Kyle Hrncir - Farmington 
  • Avery Mast, Sam Fliehe, Maddox Alipate - Lakeville South
  • Malcolm Jones - Prior Lake
  • Nick Katona, Cade McGraw - Shakopee
Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake at Shakopee - Jan 7th
  • Prior Lake at Eastview - Jan 21st 
  • Shakopee at Eastview - Jan 28th
  • Shakopee at Prior Lake - Feb 7th
  • Eastview at Prior Lake - Feb 18th
  • Eastview at Shakopee - Feb 28th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake vs East Ridge - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park) 
  • Eastview at Champlin Park - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park) 
  • Chaska at Eastview - Dec 5th
  • Prior Lake vs Eden Prairie - Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Shakopee at Hopkins - Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic)
  • Eden Prairie at Eastview - Dec 12th
  • Shakopee vs Chaska - Dec 27th (Eden Prairie tourney)
  • Eastview at East Ridge- Dec 27th (East Ridge tourney)
  • Shakopee at Eden Prairie - Dec 28th (Eden Prairie tourney)
  • Prior Lake at Chaska - Jan 30th

2019-20 NW Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2019-2020 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 (2018-19 season 5-21, 3-16 Conference, 7th North)
Andover returns their top 2 scorers from a year ago.  Guard Calvin Foy and his 11.4 PPG were tops last season.  Forward Shandon Schannauer (9.1 PPG) is the returnee of note.  Austin Learned and Jared Kleppe give them size options.  Very little scoring punch and experience beyond those top 2 returning.

Anoka Tornadoes (2018-19 season 12-14, 7-12 Conference, 4th North)
Coach Jeff Wall has to replace all 3 double figure scorers from a year ago.  That includes center Joey Lombard (14 PPG) in the middle.  Senior guard Cody Lindenberg (9.9 PPG) will drive the offense.  Brody Lake also returns to the guard rotation.  Collins Yego returns on the front line.  Junior wing David Ayeni (9.3 PPG) will also see an increased scoring role.

Blaine Bengals (2018-19 season 21-8, 13-6 Conference, 2nd North)
Blaine needs to replace all 3 double figure scorers including versatile forward Jason Kaul (16 PPG).  It adds up to more than 40 PPG lost.  Wing Patrick Perrault leads the returnees with 7.3 PPG.  Isaiah Giles returns to hold down the front court.  Limited experience returns beyond that.  Kossi Kavi is one of those options in the backcourt.

Centennial Cougars (2018-19 season 13-14, 8-11 Conference, 3rd North)
Centennial loses 3 double figure scoring guards.  But leading scorer Carter Anderson (16.1 PPG) returns to lead the offense.  I expect a big year from the sharpshooting wing.  The tiny crew of Jaxon Valdvogel (6.2 PPG), Noah Larson (4.3 PPG) and Richard Hemric (2.5 PPG) will fill those spots.  They'll need to replace the size of Cole Fenstermacher inside.  Thomas Palmsteen and Romolo Facente are options there.  Expect the Cougars to go small, play fast and let it fly.

Champlin Park Rebels (2018-19 season 23-6, 17-2 Conference, 1st North)
Four of the top 5 scorers are gone and that accounts for almost 50 PPG of offense.  Despite that, I see another year of reloading and winning the division for the Rebels.   Junior Francis Nwaokorie leads the returnees at 7.4 PPG.  Cooper Olson, Ethan Rens  and Jaice Miller will also man the front court.  TJ Moberg, Jared Walter return to the guard rotation.  Joshua Strong should step right in at a point guard spot as well.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2018-19 season 10-18, 4-15 Conference, Tie 5th North)
Forward Marshall Holland and his team high 15.7 PPG needs to be replaced.  Reese Mahn and Elijah McGrath also need to be replaced in the starting lineup.  The front line should be a strength with juniors David Osayameh (11.2 PPG) and Lucky Moronge (6.7 PPG) coming back.  Both are active and athletic.  Add in scoring punch from senior Jackson Aurelius (11 PPG) for a nice compliment.  Junior PG Jordan Doe (6.9 PPG) also returns to the lineup.  Soph M.J. Galimah is another option to fill a backcourt spot.

Elk River Elks (2018-19 season 6-21, 4-15 Conference, Tie 5th North)
Coach Randy Klasen has retired after 516 career wins. Assistant Ryan Servaty takes over the program.  The top 3 scorers have to be replaced and combined for 30 PPG.  The front court of senior Alex Eng and soph Brandon Melchior will be the strength of the roster.  Isaac Hultberg provides depth there.  Guard Carter Behne leads the backcourt and is the top returning scorer  at 6.2 PPG.  Connor Wyse will also see backcourt time.

Maple Grove Crimson (2018-19 season 23-8, 15-4 Conference, 2nd West)
The Crimson need to replace their trio of double-figure scorers at the guard spots.  That accounted for almost 39 PPG of offense.  RaShaun Parker and Lovell Williams return as wing options with Terrance Larmouth looking to join that group.  The front line will be strong with juniors Sean Bergstrom and Caden Boettcher returning. Jatai Dillard and DJ Miller are top options to replace the departed guards.

Osseo Orioles (2018-19 season 16-12, 10-9 Conference, 4th West)
All 3 double-figure scorers are gone with Cornell Richardson now at Hopkins.  But Osseo just reloads.  Senior Tariq Henry averaged 9.2 PPG last year and should be the next breakout candidate for the Orioles.  The rest of the rotation will likely see many members of the loaded sophomore class.  Fridley transfer Hassan Kamara adds to the talented crew as a 2 year varsity veteran.  Kamara will join G Bernard Omooria, Joseph Ola-Joseph, F Blessed Barhayiga and G Donald Ferguson as sophomores who could join the rotation.  Junior Michael McIntyre will be an option up front.

Park Center Pirates (2018-19 season 30-2, 18-1 Conference, 1st West)
The Pirates have to replace 3 important pieces from last year in guard Tommy Chatman and wings Khari Broadway and Emmanuel Tamba.  But don't feel sorry for coach James Ware.  Despite those losses and the loss of 3 talented freshmen to Totino-Grace, he still has a roster that should contend for a state title.  The front line of Dain Dainja (15.2 PPG) and DT Frierson (14.1 PPG) makes the pirate ship sail.  Then you have shooter Josh Brown  (7.3 PPG) coming back after a breakout AAU season.  Add in face up 4 man John Grigsby from Colorado as a perfect compliment to the roster.  He already holds multiple D2 offers.  Point guard is the biggest question mark.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2018-19 season 18-10, 13-6 Conference, 3rd West)
Jon Bryant with an impressive 1st year leading the Falcons to a surprising 18 wins.  Versatile Jake Breitbach (11.7 PPG), wing Adam Biewen (10.7 PPG) and C Hezekiah Iyawe (9.5 PPG) lead the returnees.  Soph F Kayden College and junior shooter Dylan Inniger are primed to contribute.  The intangibles of guard Devin Frye will be missed.

Rogers Royals (2018-19 season 11-16, 8-5 Conference, 3rd Mississippi 8 West)
The Royals join fellow district member Elk River in the conference.  They have to replace all 3 double figure scorers from last season.  Forward Thomas Glad averaged 9.9 PPG.  Sam Simpson (5 PPG) and Jake Hemann (7.6 PPG) should man the guard spots.  Not much experience returning beyond that.  Being placed in the tougher west division doesn't help the cause.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2018-19 season 15-12, 9-10 Conference, 5th West)
Coach Grant Guzy has a roster looking to make a major impact this season.  Six members of the rotation return.  That includes shooters Blake Remme (18.7 PPG) and Gabe Myren (15.7 PPG).  Jacob Say (9.8 PPG) will run the show again.  Daydor Phillips (7.6 PPG) will return at a combo forward spot.  They do lose 2 primary post options including Mason Johnson and his 8.3 PPG.  Replace that size is the 1 noteworthy hole in the lineup.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2018-19 season 13-16, 7-12 Conference, 6th West)
Coach Nick Carroll featured an inexperienced and defensively stout roster last year.  SG Eric Krieger's 15.9 PPG will be missed as their main offensive option.  The junior class leads the way with wing Devin Berger (12.6 PPG) and defensive minded guards DJ Akpati and Chasen Livingston.  Soph RJ Spencer saw time last year before injury.  Seniors Carson and Caden Wolla are undersized inside.  A trio of talented freshman have transferred in from Park Center.  Taison Chatman and C.J. O'Hara are 2 elite members of the 2023 class along with Tommy Humphries. 

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Champlin Park   
  2. Maple Grove 
  3. Coon Rapids 
  4. Centennial      
  5. Blaine
  6. Anoka 
  7. Andover  
West Division
  1. Park Center
  2. Osseo 
  3. Spring Lake Park 
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong  
  5. Totino-Grace
  6. Elk River
  7. Rogers
Conference Overview:
Irondale joined their district foe Mounds View in the Suburban East.  So its only fitting that Rogers joins district foe Elk River as a replacement.  Both are now in the west division with Maple Grove strangely moving to the north division.  That means no 2 game series for the Crimson with their district rivals Osseo and Park Center.

The north division is the easier half once again.  Champlin Park once again runs away with it.  Everybody in the division has heavy losses.  Maple Grove has plenty coming back so they are my clear favorite for 2nd.  Coon Rapids and Centennial are polar opposites but have enough back to fight for that final top tier spot.  Blaine has too much to replace.  Anoka continues to improve.  Andover will once again struggle.

In the west, its really tough.  Park Center is too loaded to move out of the top spot.  Osseo is young but hard to count them out with their tradition.  Spring Lake Park and Armstrong will give them a big run though.  Totino-Grace stands out above the rest and can scare the group in front of them.  Rogers and Elk River will battle each other to stay out of the division cellar.

Conference MVP: Dain Dainja - Park Center

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Ben Kopetzki, Sammy Msungu - Andover
  • Japheth Nyamari - Anoka
  • Reese Neudahl - Centennial
  • Zach Simon, MJ Galimah, Elijah Smith - Coon Rapids 
  • Brandon Melchior - Elk River
  • Jon Haakenson, Lincoln Palbicki - Maple Grove 
  • Hassan Kamara, Joshua Ola-Joseph, Bernard Omooria, Blessed Barhayiga - Osseo
  • Braeden Carrington, JJ Ware - Park Center
  • Kayden College, Peyton Newbern - Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • Nick Ojile, Jackson Weier, Stephen Kesti, Owen O'Keefe - Spring Lake Park
  • CJ O'Hara, Taison Chatman, Tommy Humphries, RJ Spencer - Totino-Grace
Conference Games to Watch
  • Osseo at Park Center - Dec 10th 
  • Champlin Park at Maple Grove - Jan 22nd
  • Champlin Park at Park Center - Jan 28th
  • Maple Grove at Osseo - Jan 28th
  • Park Center at Osseo - Feb 3rd
  • Maple Grove at Champlin  Park - Feb 24th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center vs Hopkins - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park) 
  • Eastview at Champlin Park - Nov 30th (Big 12) 
  • Park Center vs East Ridge- Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Champlin Park vs Waseca- Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Hopkins at Champlin Park - Jan 3rd
  • Park Center at Minnehaha - Jan 3rd
  • Park Center vs Eden Prairie - Jan 18th (Hall of Fame Classic at ARCC)

2019-20 Lake Conference Preview

This is the 10th preview in my 2019-2020 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.

Buffalo Bison (2018-19 season 22-7, 11-2 Conference, 1st Mississippi 8 West)
Buffalo was poised for a big entry to the Lake.  But football star Aidan Bouman (15.4 PPG) is leaving for Iowa State early leaving a big hole on the front line.  Wing Tony Dahl blew out a knee this summer.  That leaves a big workload for leading scorer Matt Willert (17.7 PPG) on the wing.  Soph Antono Bluiett returns to run the show.  Brandon Maatz is another starting guard coming back with 12.2 PPG.  Trevor Johnson returns to provide depth.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2018-19 season 22-10, 4-4 Conference, 4th)
Eden Prairie will once again be a state contender.  They return an entire lineup even with losing forward Ariel Bland to prep school.  Liberty commit Drake Dobbs runs the show and leads the offense at 18.4 PPG.  Austin Andrews provides the old man game inside at 12.5 PPG.  Shooter John Henry and swiss army knife Connor Christensen man the wings at 13.8 and 12.8 PPG respectively.  Shooter Miles Frisch was a revelation off the bench last season during a time when the Eagles had a bunch of injuries.  Lukas Dunford will take over the big man spot and Brenden Donohue also returns at a guard spot.

Edina Hornets (2018-19 season 19-9, 5-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Hornets lose lots of perimeter firepower including sharpshooter Jack Middleton and his 24.9 PPG.  Jacob Hutson returns in the middle to anchor the offense after averaging 19 PPG last season.  They should be able reload those guard spots from the JV squad with PG Miles Harrell and soph Sammy Presthus amongst others.  Junior Bastian Swinney gives them another big body that could see time.

Hopkins Royals (2018-19 season 27-4, 6-2 Conference, 1st)
Hopkins will as usual feature a high powered perimeter offense.  Kerwin Walton returns after averaging 16.8 PPG last year.  I expect a big increase there.  Transfers Cornell Richardson (Osseo) and Sawyer Shrake (Illinois) will also see backcourt time.  Juniors Andre Gray and Jaelen Treml return to the perimeter rotation as well.  The question is up front in trying to replace Arizona recruit Zeke Nnaji (24.6 PPG) and Dane Zimmer (7.9 PPG).  Elvis Nnaji is a raw athletic possibility there.

Minnetonka Skippers (2018-19 season 13-14, 0-8 Conference, 5th)
Former East Ridge coach Bryce Tesdahl takes the helm of Skippers ship.  Leading scorer Cameron Steele will anchor the lineup.  The bruising forward averaged 19.7 PPG last year and should be a great fit in the grit and grind style that coach Tesdahl wants to play.  Guard Riley O'Connor (7 PPG) returns on the perimeter.  After those 2, there's very little experience coming back.  Brock Banken, JT Gaffney and Ben Steiger are options in the front court.  Evan Arndt and soph Cohen Kellogg are options in the backcourt.

St. Michael-Albertville Knights (2018-19 season 20-8, 10-3 Conference, 2nd Mississippi 8 West)
STMA will have a couple pieces to work with.  Leading scorer Kale Hoselton (13.2 PPG) and guard Evan Wieker (9.1 PPG) return to the lineup.  Big man Austin Jentzen (8 PPG) graduated and PG Sean Buchanan (8 PPG) is now at Mayer Lutheran.  Peyton McLean will step into an expanded role on the wing.  Austin Haus and Nick Olson also return to the rotation.

Wayzata Trojans (2018-19 season 19-10, 5-3 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Trojans need to replace the small but tough duo of Jacob Beeninga (17.2 PPG) and Luke Paulson (15 PPG) in the backcourt.  Beeninga's intangibles are the biggest loss.  Soph Camden Heide (13.5 PPG) and junior Kody Williams (10.2 PPG) are very talented and will lead the offense.  Junior Eddie Beeninga will continue the family line.  Jacob Wildermuth, Grant Bokovitz and skilled soph Carter Bjerke are front line pieces.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Eden Prairie 
  2. Hopkins
  3. Wayzata
  4. Edina
  5. Buffalo
  6. Minnetonka 
  7. St. Michael-Albertville
Conference Overview
Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville make the big step up to the always tough Lake Conference.  This year is no different as every night will be a meat grinder.  Eden Prairie and Hopkins are the clear favorites.  Way too much firepower on the offensive end for both squads.  I see Edina and Wayzata in a fun battle for the 3rd spot.  Coin flip it.  Both teams terrific at moving the ball and hitting shots.  Then the last tier of teams.  All 3 are solid teams that will get beaten up in league play but you won't want to see them in the playoffs.

Conference MVP: Kerwin Walton - Hopkins

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Antonio Bluiett, Will Pool - Buffalo
  • Sammy Presthus, Brady Helgren - Edina
  • Elvis Nnaji - Hopkins
  • Cohen Kellogg - Minnetonka 
  • Johnny Tennyson - St. Michael-Albertville
  • Camden Heide, Carter Bjerke, Ryan Harvey- Wayzata
Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Jan 16th
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - Feb 11th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins vs Park Center - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park)
  • Eden Prairie vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Nov 30th (Big 12 at Champlin Park)
  • Shakopee at Hopkins - Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic)
  • Eden Prairie vs Prior Lake- Dec 7th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Eden Prairie at Eastview - Dec 12th
  • Minnehaha at Hopkins - Dec 17th
  • Eden Prairie at East Ridge - Dec 21st
  • Eden Prairie at Chaska - Jan 3rd
  • Hopkins at Champlin Park - Jan 3rd
  • De La Salle at Hopkins - Jan 10th
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Feb 1st
  • Eden Prairie at Minnehaha - Feb 18th
  • Hopkins at Minneapolis North - Feb 24th

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

2019-20 MCAA Preview

This is the second preview in my 2019-20 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series moves on with a look at the slightly renamed Minnesota Classic Athletic Association (MCAA).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Eagle Ridge Academy Gryphons (2018-19 season 3-22)
The Gryphons join the MCAA after splitting off from their co-op with International School of Minnesota.  Not sure which kids were at which school so we'll treat this all as one though ISM may now be with Chesterton Academy.  Regardless, 2 double figure scorers will have to be replaced including long time offensive spark Preston Dahlen.  Senior Charles Wilkowske is the top returner at just over 9 PPG.  Sophomores Tommy Chevalier and Soren Habel will see expanded roles.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2018-19 season 9-19, 3-11 Conference, 3rd in Division)
Senior TJ Guggenberger is top returning scorer at 10.8 PPG.  Most of the rest of the starting lineup, including 2 other double figure scorers have to be replaced.  Juniors Ethan Virshek and Steph Sawtelle will make up a small backcourt.  Senior Evan Jacobson provides experience in the backcourt as well.  Junior Jack Wicht gives the Eagles a banger in the post.

Legacy Christian Academy Lions (2018-19 season 9-18, 2-12 Conference, 5th in Division)
Most of last year's roster was underclassmen.  That development project continues this season.  Leading scorer Jordan Sperl is now at Cambridge-Isanti.  Guard Harley Kendall is the top returnee from last year at 8.2 PPG.  Junior guard Jake Wald transfers in from St. Francis after averaging 6.4 PPG there last season.  Seniors Carson Sharp and Primeau Hill are a pair of experienced ball handlers.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2018-19 season 13-13, 7-7 Conference, 2nd in Division)
Last year's season was torpedoed by an early shoulder injury to star Michael Ziermann.  That experience should help them this year.  Leading scorer Evan Lee returns as a double figure scorer.  Dylan Ruzicka will be another primary offensive option.  Alex Heimerl gives the Bulldogs size in the middle.  Frosh Tanner Scheevel will see plenty of time as well.

North Lakes Academy Huskies (2018-19 season 16-11)
North Lakes won 15 of 19 after losing their first 5.  The Huskies have to replace their star forward Cole Donelan.  He was one of the top players in the 2nd division of the TCAC last season.  The rest of the starting lineup returns.  Point guard Ethan Crandell should be a primary option this year.  Alex Ten Napel is another scoring option.  Forward Stephan Ndirangu also returns to the starting lineup along with guard Asher Luebke.

PACT Charter Panthers (2018-19 season 5-22, 2-12 Conference, 5th in Division)
The Panthers return 3 juniors to the starting lineup.  That features 11.9 PPG from wing Jordan Stone.  Tyler Cowden and Gio Santiago return to the backcourt.  Calvin Churchill provides interior size.  Parker Maahs and Matt Johnson are important losses.  Most of the roster will be juniors so look for a year to progress forward toward next year.

Spectrum Sting (2018-19 season 24-5, 12-2 Conference, 1st in Division)
Assistant Justin Femrite takes over after a banner year for the Sting.  He has a big task to replace 4 starters including the high scoring perimeter duo of Matt Kruse and Cole Elrod.  They combined for almost 38 PPG.  Guard Max Lawrence and his 15.8 PPG lead the returnees.  Soph Titus Skistad will see a much expanded role.  Jonathan Gertz is the lone other returner to the rotation.

West Lutheran Warriors (2018-19 season 14-13, 4-10 Conference, 4th in Division)
Bruising power forward Brett Vollrath is a big loss as the 2nd double figure scorer and 2nd best rebounder.  Forward Troy Kokkinen appears poised for a big year after putting up 14.7 PPG and 6.7 PPG last year.  Not much firepower around him though.  Lefty guard Sam Bjorlin appears to be next best option.  Joe Paul provides a size option.  Soph Christian Schmidt saw time in 25 games last year.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity 
  2. Spectrum
  3. West Lutheran
  4. Legacy
  5. PACT
  6. Heritage
  7. North Lakes
  8. Eagle Ridge
Conference Overview
Its a new look in the MCAA this year.  Now that private schools no longer make up a majority of the league (4 charters, 1 public, 3 private), the C in MCAA now is Classic rather Christian.  North Lakes and Eagle Ridge join the league from the TCAC.  Long time members New Life, Trinity and Maranatha plus St. Croix Prep have all departed for the new Skyline Conference.  That at least makes for easier travel with the exception of the long trip to North Lakes in Forest Lake.

Overall its a down year in the league with many teams losing star players.  Despite that being good for the TCAC teams moving in, it won't help them in the standings.  Eagle Ridge and North Lakes have to replace high scoring wings.  Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity has plenty of options coming back so I like them there.  Spectrum with Max Lawrence being my league player of the year takes second.  The next 4 spots I think will be very competitive.  Troy Kokkinen is the best player in the group so West Lutheran gets my pick.  Legacy's guard play gives them the last spot in the top half with a strong push from PACT.  The new members will struggle in their inaugural season in the league.

Conference MVP: Max Lawrence - Spectrum

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Soren Habel, Tommy Chevalier - Eagle Ridge
  • Tanner Scheevel - LP/HT 
  • Josh Schmidt - North Lakes
  • Titus Skistad - Spectrum
  • Christian Schmidt - West Lutheran
Conference Games to Watch
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Spectrum - Jan 21st
  • Spectrum at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity - Feb 14th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Valley-Watkins at Spectrum - Dec 17th
  • Spectrum at St. Croix Prep - Jan 3rd
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Mayer Lutheran - Feb 8th
  • Maranatha at Spectrum - Feb 20th

2019-20 EMAC and Independents Preview

This is the first preview in the 2019-2020 season preview series.  This year is the 13th annual edition of this preview series.  Over the next 6 weeks, I'll post 28 previews covering 13 metro area conferences and 14 sections leading up to the start of practice on November 18th .  The previews will be done starting with small schools and working up to the big schools.  That means the Eastern Minnesota Athletic Conference (EMAC) goes first.  Only fitting since I usually start my week with a game from this league.

The league reverts back to its old name and 1 division as it closes the 2 or 3 division TCAC era.  10 teams now make up the EMAC with many of the others going independent.  In this preview, I'll look at newly revamped league plus those local independents with apologies to MSAD and Shattuck-St. Mary's who won't appear here.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.


Chesterton Academy Knights  (2018-19 season 14-8)
Most of the roster returns.  Junior posts Mitch Laxen and Landon Ahlquist give the Knights a couple of pieces to build around.  Kolbe Lelemsis returns at a guard spot as well.

CHOF Lions (2018-19 season 23-7)
The Lions lose 2 double figure scorers from last year's state qualifier.  That includes star forward McCaleb Alleman and 17.1 PPG.  Expect returning wing Isaac Collins to fill that role this year after putting up 12.4 PPG last season.  As their biggest player, he'll have to have a big year rebounding as well.  Guards Clay Bluhm and Preston Alleman (13.6 PPG) also return to the starting lineup.  Junior Drake Eckman also returns to the rotation.

High School for Recording Arts Falcons (2018-19 season 14-7)
HSRA loses a ton of high powered offense.  That includes guard Lewis McCaleb and a bunch of other seniors.  Sherman Powell and Cole Foss look to pick up the slack.

Hope Academy Lions (2018-19 season 15-16, 5-7 TCAC D1, 3rd)
Hope lost the section title game last year but the Lions return everybody except for grinder forward Samuel Ojebode.  He was their dirty work guy inside.  6'5" Caleb Hoilien and his 24.9 PPG return to the lineup.  He's a triple-double threat on any given night for this small roster.  They have a bunch of small talented guards to go with him.  That includes soph Elijah Wade (16.5 PPG) and freshman Nehemiah Davis (7.5 PPG).

Kaleidoscope Comets (2018-19 season 8-15)
The Comets return the high scoring duo of senior forward Jacob Donnett and sophomore guard AJ Kargel  They both went for 40+ in the playoff opener at Groves last season.  They return the entire rotation but its young and a major dropoff.  That rotation included 3 8th graders last year. 

Lakes International Language Academy Dragons (2018-19 season 12-14)
LILA moves into its 2nd year of varsity play.  The Dragons return their top player Strom Norcross and post Ethan Maring. 

Lincoln International Eagles (2018-19 season 2-7)
No information available

Metro Schools College Prep (2018-19 season 4-10)
No information available

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2018-19 season 17-7)
Michael Emery-Minor and Kyriaun Christian combined for over 30 points a game for MTS last year and need to be replaced.  They'll still have firepower with senior guard Lashone Patterson (17.1 PPG) leading the way.  Expect junior Malachi Wilson  (8.3 PPG) to have a much bigger role to help replace the losses. Linday Brown (7.3 PPG) gives them an option on the front line.

Prairie Seeds Academy Lycans (2018-19 season cancelled)
Prairie Seeds had a late coaching resignation last year and couldn't find anyone to replace in time.  That caused the season to be cancelled.  Many of the top players ended up at other locations and had to sit out.  Will they return and will they be eligible are major questions.


Academy for Sciences and Agriculture Eagles (2018-19 season 1-18)
The AFSA roster was young again last year so they'll have plenty coming back.  Senior forward Jake Colestock is a piece they'll look to.

Avail Academy Valor (2018-19 season 15-7)
Starting center Hans Dykstra has to be replaced inside but the Valor return everybody else.  Plus the rhino mascot is one of the best around.  Soph wing Josiah Schaap leads the way.  Junior Joey Ritzema also provides scoring.  Junior Josh Kroeze returns to run the point.  The Valor will now play their home games at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Community of Peace Academy Tigers (2018-19 season 4-22, 2-10 TCAC D1, 6th)
Junior guard Tyrell Green returns after leading the team in scoring at 18.8 PPG.  He can play both guard spots.  The scoring punch from wing GeanCarlos Pujols (17.6 PPG) is the biggest loss.  Soph Osasumwen Ero (5.9 PPG) returns to the front line along with Chris Williams.  Junior Angel Sanchez returns on the wing (7.7 PPG)

Groves Academy Griffins (2018-19 season 5-18)
Groves loses their 2 double figure scorers in guard Larry Mohamed and forward Sam Goldstein to graduation.  That's almost 32 PPG that has to be replaced.  Senior Gabe Gordon is the top returning scorer at 9 PPG.  Nick Maiers (7.1 PPG) gives the Griffins a big option inside.  Guard Robert Hall returns to the tiny backcourt as well.

Hiawatha Colliegiate Wolves (2018-19 season 14-8)
The Wolves had a breakout year behind 2 very talented 8th graders.  PG Jessye Lewis averaged 23.2 PPG.  Wing Jaheim Houts averaged 15.6 PPG and still plenty of upside in his game.  Junior Jose Amigon also returns to the starting lineup.  They'll need to find size and replace the scoring of Talib Taylor-Bey (15.1 PPG).

Hmong Academy Warriors (2018-19 season 4-18)
Hmong Academy opened their brand new gym last year.  Minimal wins followed that but they do have a few pieces coming back.

Liberty Classical Academy Lions (2018-19 season 17-7)
Liberty features one of the best 1-2 punches in the league with guard Ben Horn and center Thomas Conroy.  Horn averaged 15.1 PPG and Conroy put up video game numbers of 36 PPG and 10 RPG inside.  2 starters have to be replaced.  The Lions will have to find somebody outside of the big 2 to be a scoring threat.

Math and Science Academy Dragons (2018-19 season 10-14)
Math and Science returns 3 starters and a bunch of reserves.  Seniors Charlie Eng and Jagar Hansen man the front line.  Guard Nate Stephen and soph Dylan Goff return to the backcourt.  Kaden Demer is also a key returner to the rotation.

Twin Cities Academy/Great River Tigers (2018-19 season 12-16, 6-6 TCAC D1, 5th)
Another team with almost everything coming back.  Senior F Akpevwe Avwunuma should have a big year for the Tigers as the top post player in the league.  He's really developed over the last 2 years.  Sophs Carmello and Carrington McNeal return in the backcourt with junior Tre-Vionne Allen. 

United Christian Academy Thunder (2018-19 season 24-27 combined, 7-5 TCAC D1, 4th for Christian Life)
This is the program formed by the merger of Bethany Academy and Christian Life Academy.  They will play out of the Bethany Academy gym  Shooting guard Jacob Kyllo should be the go to guy for the roster after averaging 12 PPG last year.  Junior Zach Corley gives them a big body inside.  Chase Bixel is the top returner from the Bethany side.  Drew Adamek and soph Canyon Johnson provide depth from that group as well.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Twin Cities Academy/Great River
  2. Avail Academy
  3. Liberty Christian Academy
  4. Hiawatha Academy
  5. Community of Peace 
  6. United Christian Academy 
  7. Math and Science 
  8. Groves Academy
  9. Hmong Academy
  10. AFSA
Conference Overview
This could be one of the most competitive conference races around.  With everybody back and playing in the upper division last year, I give TCA/GR the edge. I've bet against TCA in the past, I'm not doing it again.  Having an experienced backcourt, tougher schedule and the top player in the league in my estimation gives them the nod.  Avail, Liberty and Hiawatha all have major pieces back as well and are very evenly matched.  Hiawatha's young guys could push them up the list but they lost to both Avail and Liberty last year. Community of Peace is the most talented team remaining and will look to jump up into the top 4.  Then a notable drop off to the bottom half.  United Christian and Math and Science are the best of the rest.  The bottom 3 is another drop and will all really struggle.

Conference MVP: Akpevwe Avwunuma - Twin Cities Academy/Great River

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Josiah Schapp. Josiah Loge  - Avail 
  • Osasumwen Ero - Community of Peace
  • Jessye Lewis, Jaheim Houts - Hiawatha
  • Elijah Wade, Nehemiah Davis - Hope Academy
  • AJ Kargel - Kaleidoscope
  • Dylan Goff - Math and Science 
  • Carmello McNeal, Carrington McNeal - Twin Cities Academy/Great River
  • Canyon Johnson - United Christian Academy
Conference Games to Watch
  • Liberty at TCA/GR - Dec 10th
  • Hiawatha at Avail - Dec 19th
  • TCA/GR at Avail - Jan 14th
  • Liberty at Hiawatha - Jan 14th
  • Liberty at Avail - Jan 16th  
  • Hiawatha at TCA/GR - Jan 21st
  • TCA/GR at Liberty - Jan 28th
  • Avail at TCA/GR - Jan 30th
  • Hiawatha at Liberty - Jan 31st
  • TCA/GR at Hiawatha - Feb 17th
  • Avail at Liberty - Feb 20th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Rockford at TCA/GR - Dec 5th 
  • Hope vs Rushford-Peterson - Dec 14th (Southside Showcase at Hiawatha)
  • Liberty at Hope  - Feb 24th