Posted On: 02/27/18 11:59 AM
Over the course of the next two weeks, the Prep Hoops Iowa team will be flooding you with content previewing and covering the State Tournament. Here we take a look at ten of the star players to keep an eye on during the Class 1A tournament.
2019 Jake Hilmer, North Linn
Just a junior, the Lynx point guard already has his name all over the state record books. He recently became the all-time leader in assists (with 815 and counting) and set the single season record for both assists (336) and steals (164). He’ll end up being the all-time leader in steals, and has a chance to crack the top 10 in all-time scoring. Needless to say, he’s an all-around stud who paces the highest scoring offense the state has seen at 92.7 points a game. With his quickness and talent, he’s impossible to defend at the 1A level. If North Linn finds their way to the 1A title game on Friday afternoon, Hilmer’s why.
The leading scorer for the Lynx high-powered attack is actually Miller, who is averaging 24.7 points a game on 61-46-81 shooting splits. The 5-11 off-guard is the beneficiary of Hilmer’s ability to break down a defense and get him wide open looks, and he’s no slouch on the defensive end in his own right, swiping 79 steals of his own this season. He’s one of the most dangerous perimeter shooters in the state and has an extremely green light. He’s capable of lighting up the scoreboard in a hurry.
The tournament MVP last season for the defending champion Thunder has had a fantastic season season, leading the team in scoring (22.3), assists (141) and steals (53). He’s as smooth as they come with the ball in his hands, and his jumper is silky. He’ll also be the primary perimeter defender for the Thunder if (when) they match up with Hilmer and North Linn. He showed last season that he shows up on the biggest stage, and if GVC is going to repeat this season, it’ll be because DeMeulenaere was sensational again.
The second leading scorer for the Thunder at 13.0 points a game, Nyaw is an athletic wing who does a majority of his scoring by slashing to the rim, but he’s steadily improved his jumper and is a real threat to knock down shots from the perimeter now. He can cause issues on both ends of the floor with his length and athleticism, and he pairs well with the more cerebral DeMeulenaere to give the Thunder a top-notch backcourt.
The 6-7 junior transfer from Tennessee has been eligible for 12 games now, and has been pretty dominant in those games, averaging 11.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks a game. He’s shown flashes of what he’s capable of putting up with stat lines like 12-9-7 vs. Colo-Nesco and 15-17-4 vs. Central Decatur. He has a seven-foot wingspan and is the type of athlete that is rarely seen at the 1A level. His rim protection is going to play a major part in Grand View trying to defend their state title, as that is what could give them the edge against North Linn’s dribble penetration.
A 6-3 wing, Van Wyk led the Hawks in every major statistical category except for steals this season. He averages 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists, and is one of the focal points of a Lynnville-Sully defense that is one of the best in the state, allowing just 44.0 points a game. Capable of dominating games without scoring, he’ll have the ball in his hands a ton, especially when the Hawks really need a bucket. He’s a talented playmaker who can score from all three levels or facilitate, and is the biggest reason the Hawks are a dangerous team in Des Moines.
One of the breakout stars of last year’s state tournament, Ruden leads the St. Mary’s Hawks back to Des Moines with an undefeated record for the second straight season. He helps lead a defense that is allowing just 39.7 points a game, and at 6-4, he’s a matchup problem with his ability to score inside and out and control the glass. He’s highly efficient and has great footwork and touch around the rim. He leads St. Mary’s at 13.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a night on 57% shooting.
The senior point guard was a key piece for a Falcons team that finished runner-up in 1A when he was a sophomore. He’s now the leading scorer for St. Albert, averaging 14.2 points a game to go with 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists a night, while shooting above 40% from behind the arc. And he’s posted those numbers while playing against a primarily 3A schedule. Carley and the Falcons aren’t going to be intimidated by anybody, and if CBSA is going to make another run, Carley’s play on the perimeter is going to be a major factor.
This mobile 6-5 big man leads the Dons in scoring (15.3), rebounding (6.5) and blocks (28) this season, while shooting 64% from the floor. He runs the floor and finishes at a high level, and he’s also a capable and willing passer out of double teams in the post (67 assists). His activity in the paint gives the Dons an edge at his spot against just about any team they’ll run into.
2019 Jack Kelley, Don Bosco
Two of the Dons three losses came with Kelley sidelined by an injury. The junior point guard has been great when he’s been on the court, averaging 14.3 points and 5.7 assists on the season. His ability to break down a defense and get into the paint is what makes this offense go. He’s a good finisher around the rim, he can drop off passes to McFadden for easy buckets, or he can kick it out to Zach Nie, who shoots 44% from the arc, for open looks. The crafty junior is the straw that stirs the drink for Don Bosco.