Posted On: 02/4/18 12:07 AM
Ankeny — We came to see new Grand View Christian forward Issa Samake, and he provided enough showmanship to make the trip to Faith Baptist Bible College more than worth it. But, let’s remember, Grand View Christian is already the 1A defending champs. They had a loaded team that was ranked No. 1 in Iowa, now they are just more loaded.
Ogden, a 2A school, sporting an 8-11 record coming into the game, was overwhelmed at times by the skill and athleticism of the Thunder. Grand View Christian has a squad that could probably beat many 4A teams in the state. And though Bulldogs wing Noah Snedden was very good tonight while pouring in 21 points, including 17 in the first half, it was the Thunder that rolled in this one.
Even at first glance, Samake exceeded our expectations. We thought he’d be a bit skinnier than he was, a lot of guys with huge wing-spans are on the very thin side. Though he is slender, he’s not as slim as we thought, there’s plenty of muscle on his athletic frame. His leaping ability is there, but you don’t need to jump much when you have a 7’4 wing-span. His first highlight was a dribble-drive to the hoop and a monster slam, he didn’t have to jump much to throw it down. Then there was the block. It’s important to remember that Samake — who holds Iowa State and Tulsa offers — was doing this against an average 2A squad in Iowa; but still, when you block a shot against the top of the backboard, that’s saying something. Samake opened the game shooting a couple 3-balls, it’s clear he has the green light to do so, and he missed both narrowly. He’s got a decent-looking stroke. He comes off the bench for the Thunder, that’s because they have an established group that was already the No. 1 team in the state with a state title under their belts. But, you know how the Warriors added Kevin Durant, that’s like what the Thunder did by adding Samake.
If Samake is Kevin Durant, then Grant Demeulanaere is Stepth Curry, and you can use your imagination with the rest. DeMeulanaere is still the guy that makes this team go. He’s the catalyst. And while he’s on the floor, good things will happen for the Thunder. Mach Nyaw is going to be more athletic than almost anyone he’ll come against in 1A. And Arturo Montez is a big and athletic dude that can can 3s with regularity. Throw in tole guys like Same Glenn and Nathan Crabb, guys that would star on any other 1A team, and you have a squad that seems destined to win back-to-back state titles.
We first saw the 6-foot-4 Ogden wing two summer ago, showcasing a sweet stroke from deep for the Iowa Cornsharks’ then 16U squad. And while he still has that sweet stroke, there’s so much more to his game, too. His first bucket of the night was a sweet reverse lay-in. He spent the rest of the game hitting shots from here, there and everywhere. Though he made no 3s, he was canning short-to mid-range buckets and scoring plenty at the rim. He even went right at Samake twice and scored through him. Division III and NAIA coaches should be clamoring for this kid.
It’s bound to happen, North Linn and Grand View Christian will indeed probably play in the 1A final this season. Yes, there’s a lot that could prevent this from happening; like Remsen, St. Mary’s, Lynnville-Suly and Bishop Garrigan. But, for now, these two teams seem to be on a collision course for a juggernaut of a 1A title game. The Thunder are defending champs and have no weaknesses. The Lynx are winning games by an average 59 points pr game, woof. Something’s got to give. We’ll see, maybe, come March.
The Iowa Barnstormers were in the house scouting the lengthy 6’7 D1 prospect, and the Iowa Cornsharks have expressed plenty of interest interest. Many of Samake’s teammates are playing with upstart program Beyond Ball this offseason, so you have to think they have been reaching out. Heck, any grassroots leader who is remotely aware of the high-level hoopster is probably making their pitch right now. Last summer, Samake played with Mississippi Express, two season’s ago he played with Dream Vision; both shoe-sponsored teams. The only shoe team we have in Iowa is the Barnstormers (adidias). We did see some Kingdom Hoops gear hanging out around him after the game. If you’re asking us, it’s between the ‘Stormers, Kingdom Hoops and Beyond Ball. Any of them would be getting a dynamic game-changer.