Tony Roe, Travis Hines and I certainly provided our fair share of player evaluations this spring and summer, but we thought we'd give the guys who know the kids best a chance to be vocal: the coaches.
Dave Morris: Iowa Cornsharks Program Director
2016 Jake Kluender, Spencer, 6’6 SF
“Jake really showcased this year what he can do, last year he kind of wanted to go out and shoot more, and I think he embraced being a power player and getting inside and banging a lot more this year. He’s 6’6 and he can play every position on the floor except point guard. He’s capable of shooting from the outside and making you have to guard him that way, but he can put the ball on the floor, he can hurt you in the mid-range. But the thing I like best about him is his competitiveness, he wants to win, and he wants to do whatever is best for the team. His size and his athleticism are the things that I think could put him at a small Division I school.”
2016 Blake Illg, Spencer, 5’10 PG
Blake is extremely quick, he comes from that Spencer group that is all competitive with each other, but they’ll play together through thick and thin. Blake is really quick and speedy with the ball in his hands and his IQ is pretty high. I actually think he’s better as a push guard rather than a setup guard because he can make things happen just by getting into the middle of the lane. He can shoot it pretty well of the dribble. The knock on him is that everyone thinks he’s pretty small, but he’s grown a little but, he handles the ball well with both hands, and he always finds the gaps to get other guys easy shots.
2016 Preston Funderburg, Spencer, 6’6 SG
“He shoots the ball with extreme accuracy, and I think he has the quickest release of anybody I’ve ever coached. When I watched him I think of Kyle Korver and I think about how similar their offenses are to each other. The thing is is that he wants to be coached, he wants to be pushed, he wants to get better, and I don’t think he’s even blossomed yet. When somebody picks him up at the college level I think that’s when he’s really going to shine, he’s just got that kind of a game. Defensively he gets after it, he wants to be a good defender so he thinks about it and I think that makes him pretty tough.”
2016 Eli Gingerich, Iowa Mennonite, 6’0 PG
Eli Gingerich is lucky because he has something that a lot of guys don’t have, and that’s a Hall of Fame coach for a dad. When you have that and you’ve been around it as long as he has he has a passion for basketball and his IQ is pretty high. He is one my favorite point guards I’ve coached because he’s capable of seeing things, and I don’t have to coach him all the time, I could just give him the reins and let him be the coach sometimes. He has a really nice skillset, he has really good handles, and I’ve really noticed his ball-handling and he was doing some things earlier in the year where I was thinking, ‘Wow, I saw Steph Curry do those things last night.’ And defensively he has his hands active all the time, you don’t think it but he’s kind of mischievously quick, and he’s always lurking around that passing lane and then all of a sudden he anticipates it well and gets that hand on it, he’s always creating turnovers on defense.”
2016 Spencer Brown, Lenox, 6’9 C
“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him play, unfortunately he had the leg injury his junior year. He’s grown a little bit, he was about 6’7 ½, and now he’s about 6’9. He is an awesome shot-blocker, defensively he a presence in there, he has long arms, a good wing-span. He can play, offensively he can move in the post, he runs the floor really well. And then around the basket he finds ways to score, back to the basket or he can turn and face up. He’s actually gotten more looks for football than anything else, I don’t think he has any basketball offers. He’s capable of playing college basketball, and he could play at the Division I level in my opinion.
2017 Kyle Nevitt, Perry, 6’4 G/F
“First of he got good size and he’s similar to Jake (Kluender) in that he can play different positions and he can score in different ways. The thing he needs to do is the same thing Jake did, is recognize that because he has a little bit of size and he’s left handed, he has the advantage of being an inside player rather than just a perimeter player only. He’s very athletic, and he can get to the basket and put it on the floor. Defensively he could be the best defensive player on the floor but there’s times when he takes breaks, and when he realizes that and things click for him I think he could be a special player.”
2018 Nathan Nelson, Waukee, 6’2 G
“He jumped in with us and played with our 17Us at the end of the season, and he played up actually as an 8th-grader with the 17s when we needed some help. I really think Nathan has the ability to be a special player. I think his IQ is really high, he knows how to score and can get to the free throw line and make his free throws. He’s capable of playing multiple positions, I think maybe for Waukee he might be their 6th-man and he might end up starting by the end of the year. I don’t know how much taller he’ll get but he’s just got a lot of upside. He’s got a basketball mind, I think he’ll be one of the better turnouts in the class of 2018, he’ll be on your top 10 list I believe in 2-3 years. He’ll be on a lot of coach’s radars.