Posted On: 03/2/18 10:50 PM
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 a dozen of the star players to keep an eye on during the Class 3A tournament.
The best player on the two-time defending champions, Mims is headed to play his college ball at South Dakota State. The point guard leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, and has really improved his jumper this season, shooting 42.7% from behind the arc. He was the MVP of last year’s state champion team, and if the Saints are going to 3-peat, it’ll be because Mims is once again outstanding.
The 6-5 sharpshooter is one of the best shooters in the state, regardless of class. He’s knocked down 38% of his 3s this year, which is actually down about 7% from last year, but he routinely makes huge shots when the Saints need them the most. He’s averaging 16.4 points a game, and has started to invert his game a bit, showing the ability to post up smaller defenders. He’s headed to play at Division II Upper Iowa next season.
A 6-4 forward, Blum is one-third of the Rams “Big Three”. He averages 12.8 points a game while leading the team in rebounds by a substantial margin. He has the ability to score inside and out, and provides the Rams with plenty of defensive versatility. He won’t be playing basketball at the next level, instead hitting the gridiron at Northwest Missouri State, but before he ships out to Maryville, he’ll be looking to lead Glenwood on a deep run towards a state title.
This talented 6-3 guard averages 14 points a game and has posted an eye-popping 5.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season, while also leading the team in steals. He’s a streaky shooter but when he gets going, he can take over games. He’ll play Division II basketball at Wayne State.
The 6-5 junior wing leads the Rams in scoring at 15.7 points a game. He’s a highly athletic slasher who will dunk on anyone and can get red hot from the arc. He’s a high-level scorer, and his length and athleticism help him make a major impact on the defensive end of the floor as well.
The cerebral point guard has been at the center of the Panthers’ state title aspirations since he (and a large majority of the current Panthers) started as freshmen on the varsity roster. He’s averaging 23 points a game on 52.2% shooting, and he’s armed with perhaps the best mid-range jumper in the state. He leads the team in assists and steals, and he’ll head to JuCo power Kirkwood for a few years to continue developing, then find a home at a four-year school where he’ll be an impact player.
One half of what has been the most dynamic backcourt in 3A this year, Vaske is averaging 19.6 points a game on 57-46-87 shooting splits, and he’s dished out 207 assists to boot. A compact scoring guard, he’s able to get the job done at all three levels, and he’s really improved over the past year in his ability to control a game even when he’s not scoring. Look for him and the high-powered Warriors (78.2 points a game) to put together plenty of highlights throughout the week.
The other part of Norwalk’s dynamic duo, Born averages 18.9 points on 51-42-82 splits. A 5-10 lefty with a silky smooth stroke and lightning quick release, he’s capable of dropping 35 on any given night, and he has a great floater game to allow him to score against bigger defenders in the paint. He’s fast, shifty and just an electric player on both ends of the floor.
The 6-11 sophomore is the most highly touted player in the state, ranking among the top 25 sophomores nationally in many publications. He’s one of the best rim protectors in the state, blocking 85 shots on the season, and he’s capable of scoring inside and out. Armed with incredible length and athleticism, look for him to provide some highlight reel dunks and blocks throughout the tournament.
Kruse may actually be the least talked about player on the Indians, but he’s their most important piece. He leads the team in scoring at 15.6 points a game, and is incredibly efficient at 62.4% from the floor. He has great footwork and touch around the rim, passes the ball out of the post well and runs the floor extremely well. He’s a high-level rebounder and scorer who benefits from playing alongside other really talented big men and fits in well with them.
The 6-9 point forward led the team in assists (128), while ranking second in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (7.3). He’s a really gifted passer, and the offense routinely plays through him in the high post.
The 6-1 point guard was a quality role player for last year’s runner-up Warriors, and this year, it’s his team. He’s averaging 15.3 points a game and knocks down just under 42% of his attempts from the arc. He’s posted a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and also leads the Warriors in steals. He stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis, and if SB-L is going to make another deep run, Groves will certainly be at the center of it.