Posted On: 03/29/18 5:31 PM
DeLaSalle’s run came to and end this year, but next year the Islanders bring back a lot of talent and will be the clear favorites. Can they get back to championships? Who will be the top contenders?
Repeat? Delano was led by Calvin Wishart and Keegan O’Neill, both which graduated. They will still be very good replacing a Mr. Basketball candidate and a 6-foot-8 college big is tough. That said, Willmar, Monticello, and Dassel-Cokato will all takes steps back within the section while Big Lake steps forward. Delano has a great chance to get back to state with starters Derek Techam, Max Otto, and Trey Longstreet returning. Techam and Longstreet have shown they can shoulder scoring responsibilities, they will just have to playmaker more often and do it in numbers.
While we are talking about top teams and what they have back, Columbia Heights could be pretty good too. I realize that they graduate five starters but Amir Davis and Jarvis Wright have the talent to be very good next year plus keep an eye on Jordan Jones and young Spencer Alvarez.
The Islanders. Can the Islanders get back to state? Of course. The section will be different though, but not easy. Cooper and Roosevelt will be better this year and teams like Waconia and BSM will have enough to be solid teams. Orono losses a lot but will never go away.
The Islanders, they have talent back and talent coming up through the system. Nobody will be on the level of what they have returning when you consider they have a high major offered point guard in Tyrell Terry, a top 10 talent in state in Jamison Battle, Julian Wright will have a bigger role, and Jalen Travis and Malik Lamin inside will give them the option of being very big.
Who Else? Let’s start with Cooper, or return to Robbinsdale Cooper I should say. Bo Powell will have a preseason top ten team next year. Jalen Justice will be a senior I believe he is one that is on the verge of a big 17u season and a really big senior year. Jalen Miller, Cameron Vaughn, and several good young players will make them tough.
Don’t forget about Austin, ever. We said they would take a step back when they lost Both Gach and they did the opposite. There is a lot to replace as they lost four starters but Medi Obang should have a very good senior year. Ngor Deng and Dongrin Deng both came off the bench and did well. Watch out for Agwa Nywesh and especially Moses Idris who will both be juniors next year.
Mankato East is in a similar spot. They lost five seniors but the sophomore trio of Jordan Merseth, Joich Gong, and Jax Madson all received quality experience this season. Marshall is always in the conversation and they have a frontcourt player in Matthew Onken that we really like. Bryce Paulsen and Noah Puetz are also two very good players. Marshall has a chance to be very good as does Waseca. Malik Willingham will be one of Class AAA’s best players plus there is really good young talent in the Jays program.
St. Thomas is expected to be the favorite in section three again although they lose four starters. Jack Thompson at lead guard will keep them in play for state plus Noah Chamberlain and Tony Wright will be good for them. Challening Columbia Heights in section four will be Totino-Grace, St. Paul Johnson, and Mahtomedi. The Zephyrs will have four of their top guys back including leading scorer J’Vonne Hadley as well as double figure scoring guard Zac Centers. Cole Chapman and Devin Melzer will give them a big frontcourt. Johnson graduates three of their top four guys but Jordan Mobley does return.
The Princeton Tigers won 20 games and they could win every more next winter. How good can they be next season? I think we could see them in the top five next year at some point. This is a team that has a wizard of a ball handler in James Flick back, their stop shooter is returning (Adam Williams), and Jon Stimmler is back up front and was the leading scorer. In all, five of their top six players are back in the line-up which means they have high hopes.
Others. Northfield will be a potential top ten team next year as they were this year. Mankato West is another team to keep an eye on, St. Cloud Apollo has such a good 2020 group that they immediately have to be in the conversation, and Fergus Falls will not slip as far as you think they will with Matthew Johnson still on the team.