Alex’s 2015 Grassroots Wrap-Up


Posted On: 08/6/15 4:45 AM

My third grassroots season for Northstar Hoops is now in the books. Articles were typed, miles were added to the Camry, hotel rooms were checked into and thousands of photos were snapped all in the name of seeing what these kids can do against an elevated talent level. Thanks again to all of the coaches who provided info all season, your info and cooperation is highly appreciated. Another shout-out to the parents who carted their kids around the country all summer… they couldn’t have generated all of this buzz without your help. Maybe next year I’ll give in to the Czar’s suggestions and make the trip to Vegas in July… everyone’s going now, even Boo the Mini-Ref.

Who Raised Their Stock the Most?

I’ll copy and paste what I wrote last year, because the definition of this section is the same.

Kids play AAU for different reasons, but I think the main reason is to show college programs what they can do against good competition. These kids showed that they are ready for the next level of basketball, and their names are certainly circled going into their high school seasons. All of the guys on this list raised my personal opinion of their game through strong play this spring and summer.

Gary Trent, Jr., Apple Valley/Howard Pulley, 2017 — Let’s start here. After the departure of Tyus Jones, Apple Valley found another star in “JR” as he led them to another state title. With that accomplished, we knew that he’d make a splash this summer. What we didn’t know was to what magnitude.

He led the entire EYBL with 22.1 PPG. Then the offers came… Arizona, Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, and a quiet hoops program called “Kentucky.” This week he casually added a UCLA offer to the pile. Aside from missing Peach Jam, looking back on this summer, things went about as well as they possibly could for Gary as an individual.

Jericho Sims, Cristo Rey/Net Gain, 2017 — Sims is the definition of a stock-raiser right now. Jericho suddenly acquired Virginia Tech, UNLV and Auburn offers in a matter of days. The reason? Among others, the primary one is his extreme length. The kid is naturally long as heck… I’d compare his build to a young Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks, minus a few inches. The race is on for this prospect.

Lucas Walford, New Prague/Heat NW, 2016 — This kid’s rise was meteoric, maybe the biggest of the season when considering how under the radar he was prior to grassroots. I remember watching Heat NW at the Colin Powell Center early in the spring, and RJ was really impressed with Walford’s length, mobility, and shooting range. Czar and I agreed, and the word quickly got out to the NSIC. Walford now has seven D2 offers, including high-level programs in Mankato State and MSU-Moorhead. He’s also got a 4.0 GPA and a 30 ACT score, so it’s not crazy to imagine high-academic D1s getting involved. Stay tuned.

Cole Dahl, Northern Freeze/Comets, 2016 — I named Cole as a possible NSIC darling before his Comets season started, and the offers rolled in accordingly. The 6-foot-7 lanky forward now holds eight D2 offers, seven of which are from the Northern Sun. RJ reported this week that some D1s are joining the party… when Cole sees a coach watching a Northern Freeze game deep in the northwest corner of Minnesota (almost Canada, I’m not kidding), he’ll know that they’re dedicated.

Ade Lamu, St. Croix Lutheran/D1 MN, 2016 — An impressive junior season that included a state tourney run turned some heads towards Lamu, who we had previously ranked in the 30s. The momentum continued when he joined the D1 MN 17U roster and caught the attention of several scholarship programs, including D1 Vermont, whose staff offered Lamu. He will enter this winter as a 6-4 wing recruit with loads of bounce that schools will continue to monitor. We’ve bumped him up accordingly to the 10th overall spot in 2016.

Carter Brooks, Lakeville North/Select Ohnstad, 2016 — Similar to Lamu, here’s another guy who rolled in from a great state tournament and made noise in grassroots. He grabbed several NSIC offers after they saw his length and his versatile scoring approaches. Lakeville North has several really nice pieces, and their gym will be packed with college coaches… due in large part to Brooks.

Kade Hart, Faribault/Magic Vatsaas, 2017 — You can’t have a summer stock-raiser list in Minnesota without Kade Hart. The 6-foot-8 forward jumped onto several collegiate radars, including a few of the Dakotas, Drake and Nebraska-Omaha. He runs so well for a big man, he can shoot effectively and cleanly, he can protect the rim, and there’s a chance that he’s still growing. He will be watched as a junior and will be highly sought after for the 2016 grassroots season.

Nate Reuvers, Lakeville North/Fury Zurn, 2017 — Much like Hart, Reuvers is another big forward with great mobility. He blew up this summer, attracting interest from several D1s, including the home-state Gophers. Recent offers from Yale and DePaul indicate that the floodgates may not close any time soon.

Charlie Irmiger, Washburn/Select Ohnstad, 2016 — “Height: 7-0” … that jumps off any summer roster. Then the next question… can he play? The answer: after gaining tons of experience this summer and working with trainer Mitch Ohnstad for an extended period, yes, he’s well on his way to the scholarship level. Offers from several schools, including D1 Sam Houston State, confirm that.

Sam Baker, Benilde-St. Margaret/Select Altenhofen, 2016 — Baker joined Select for his final year of grassroots and made the most of it. He propelled up our rankings as a surefire scholarship-level wing prospect, and offers from Concordia and Winona State confirmed that. He’ll join his friend Eli this winter with BSM, and you can bet there will be plenty of college coaches watching.

Eli Cave, Benilde-St. Margaret/Select Altenhofen, 2016 — Eli joined his BSM teammate Baker with Select Alt in 2015, and he boosted his stock in a similar fashion. I knew Cave took a step up when I saw him drive baseline and finish with a two-handed dunk in traffic at the Great Plains Alliance. The 6-foot-6 senior-to-be gained confidence in his game this summer, and he’s poised for a really nice winter.

Trae Berhow, Watertown-Mayer/Lockdown, 2017 — He plays in sleepy Watertown-Mayer, but the success of Lockdown’s 16U team (finished 4th in NHR’s final rankings) gave him the proper exposure to garner two D1 offers. UW-GB and South Dakota could be the first of many for the 6-foot-3 wing with loads of potential.

Isaiah Wade, MN Transitions/Heat NW, 2016 — This kid came out of nowhere… probably because he moved here from Oklahoma City last year. He made a great splash with Heat NW, proving himself as a bruising forward with one of the hardest hammer-dunks in the state. Jucos should show up in droves to Transitions this winter.

Jarvis Thomas, Tartan/Lockdown, 2018 — After missing his freshman varsity season, Thomas will be a main piece for Tartan this winter after proving himself in grassroots. He is a 6-foot-6, high-flying forward with an exceptional build for his age. Pair him with D1 prospect Jordan Horn and several other nice players, and Tartan has great potential now as well as in a few years.

Cedric Boone, Minnetonka/Real Athletics, 2016 — His July was huge. Boone went out and proved himself as a PG prospect admired by NAIAs, D2s and even D1s. He’s got a wide span of interest, and his story will be very interesting to see where it goes.

Quinton Siebenahler, Luverne/Heat Vang, 2016 — Luverne is tucked away in the southwestern corner of the state, so not many people see their hoops team. It was the perfect decision for Q to join Heat Vang and benefit from the accompanying exposure, especially as a participant in the Sanford League. When college coaches viewed Q and the Heat, they saw a 6-foot-7 forward who already has a physical build suited for the next level. He’s got a good motor as well. NHR moved him up accordingly, and he’s sitting at #32 in 2016, up about 30 spots. We could see him as a really nice fit in the NSIC.

McKinley Wright and Ish El-Amin, Net Gain, 2017 — Both are 2017 guards. Both are in NHR’s top 10 for their class. Both joined Net Gain this spring, and both gained Division I offers as a result of strong play. Marquette, Illinois and more are after Wright, while DePaul and Texas Tech offered El-Amin… and you can bet UConn is watching closely. For forwards looking to join Net Gain’s team next summer, keep in mind that you will have the chance to play with two elite prospects in the backcourt, feeding you the rock.

Cal Pesola, Lakeville North/WOTN, 2016 — We kept getting reports of how well Cal was shooting the ball. Colleges caught wind as well, and the strong wing caught a few NAIA and Juco offers as a result. Another Lakeville North kid to watch… man, they’ll have a fun team.

Kyle Birr, Albany/Comets Servaty, 2016 — We got a glimpse of Birr in Albany’s state tournament run this spring, but we really liked him after seeing how gritty and tough he could play for Comets Servaty throughout the grassroots season. Because of this, most of the MIAC is after him.

PJ Appicelli, Winona/Select Alt, 2016 — PJ was tucked away on a regional Wisconsin grassroots team until this spring, when he made the choice to join Minnesota Select. It did wonders for his exposure to Minnesota colleges, and D3s and NAIAs got a chance to see his crafty game on the wing. He should be near the top of the Big 9 scoring charts, as the rest of Winona’s roster is a little thin.

Davonta Prince, Brooklyn Center/D1 MN, 2017 — When it comes to pure athleticism, it’s hard to find a better duo at one high school than Landon Kirkwood and Davonta Prince at Brooklyn Center. Prince has been praised by NHR for his defensive length and potential, and I personally saw him miss a dunk in traffic at the D1 Classic that was downright insane. If he made it, it would have been the best dunk of the summer, no question.

Third Annual All-Manners Team

They might be mean on the court when they’re competing, but I loved the demeanors of these kids off the court. As I interviewed tons of guys this year for recruiting reports, these fellows stood out as exceptionally well-spoken, poised, and polite. There’s no doubt that these attributes will go on to help them later in life. I’m not saying that other kids weren’t also great to talk to… I’m saying that these kids were particularly impressive!

Steffon Mitchell, Shakopee
Cole Dahl, Northern Freeze
Carter Brooks, Lakeville North
Kent Hanson, St. Paul Academy
Samm Jones, DeLaSalle
Brady Rudrud, Eden Prairie
Ade Lamu, St. Croix Lutheran
Martin Mitchell, Eastview
Nick Dufault, Waseca
Aage Rovney, St. Croix Lutheran
Sam Sustacek, Orono
Peter Bassett, Lakeville South
Kade Hart, Faribault
Theo John, Champlin Park
Gary Trent Jr., Apple Valley
Owen Chose, Eden Prairie
Brad Davison, Maple Grove
Broc Finstuen, Pine Island