Posted On: 03/13/18 11:28 AM
MADISON — Five things to watch at the 2018 WIAA State Tournament…
New Kids on the Block
Some of the best underclassmen talent in the state of Wisconsin will be on display.
If you haven’t watched Sun Prairie 2020 G/F Jalen Johnson, he’s well worth the price of admission. A transcendent talent in the state, Johnson is a do-it-all, positionless prospect capable of dominating in just about any area. The Cardinals are undefeated with him on the floor and for good reason. Johnson averages 18.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game, which are all team bests.
The top two prospects in 2021 will also be in action.
Milwaukee Washington’s Michael Foster, an Arizona State commit, has been flat out dominant as a freshman. A walking double-double, Foster is pulling in 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-9 F/C also averages 2.2 blocks per outing. Perhaps most impressive, Foster can step out and shoot the basketball, making him an elite talent nationally in the 2021 class.
Sussex Hamilton’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. is a sweet-shooting wing that is one of the toughest players to match up with in the state. The 6-foot-8 freshman is already a three-level scorer with NBA-type game. Look for Baldwin to be a clear top 25 prospect nationally as UNLV is already on board with an offer.
La Crosse Central has three Division 1 sophomore prospects. The trio of Johnny Davis, Jordan Davis, and Terrance Thompson help lead the way for a program that’s reached the state tournament in each of the last three seasons. Helping replace their top two scorers from last season’s state championship squad, Thompson and the Davis twins are all averaging in double figures this season.
Other top underclassmen to watch include: Parker Nielsen (Prescott), A.J. Vukovich (East Troy), Keaton Ferris (Kaukauna), Lucas Finnessy (Sussex Hamilton), Tanner Resch (Sussex Hamilton), and Delaware Hale (Sun Prairie).
Johnny Davis vs. Deontay Long
This should be one of the best individual matchups in recent memory in Friday’s Division 2 semifinal. One of the state’s most explosive, unstoppable scorers in Milwaukee Washington’s Deontay Long, gets a big test against arguably the best on-ball defender in Wisconsin, Central’s Johnny Davis.
Two players that sort of take the same approach on their respective sides of the floor, Davis and Long are both tenacious, fearless, and highly aggressive talents that bring it for 36 minutes with no off switch.
Long, the top ranked player in the 2019 class, is averaging 29.0 points per game on a whopping 69.0 percent shooting.
Davis can score it as well. The sophomore has had a breakout season, putting up 22.9 ppg at a 55.8 percent clip.
Division 3 Shake Up
There were a handful of favorites in the Division 3 bracket. None of them reached the Kohl Center. In fact, the top five ranked teams were all eliminated in regional or sectional play.
That leaves Prescott (6) as the top ranked team in the field. East Troy (8) and Valders (10) were also ranked prior to the tournament, but not necessarily expected to make it to Madison.
The biggest surprise? Kettle Moraine Lutheran, who also had the toughest road. The Chargers went through Brown Deer (2), Dominican, and Waupun (3) to reach the state tournament.
Fox Valley Association Offenses
Both Kaukauna and Oshkosh North have the overall No. 1 seeds in their respective divisions. Both programs also feature fast-paced, efficient, and explosive offenses.
Kaukauna has scored 90 or more points 10 times this season, including six 100-point efforts. Led by West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe, who’s averaged 26.6 points and 7.8 assists per game, the Ghosts spread the floor with shooters. If they have to play in the half court, Kaukauna will put McCabe in the pick n’ roll and let him tear apart defenses like a surgeon.
Iowa State commit Tyrese Haliburton and Oshkosh North perhaps play the fastest pace in the state. Defenses aren’t even safe after made baskets as the Spartans can score within 2-3 passes into a possession. Haliburton is posting 23.2 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game. His running mate, senior guard Quincy Anderson (17.5 ppg) is having a breakout year, helping North win the FVA title.
Small Schools, Big Talent
Don’t sleep on the Division 4 and Division 5 tournaments.
The four Division 4 field — Roncalli, Clear Lake, Pardeeville, and Marathon — average just shy of 23 wins each. The Bulldogs and Warriors both won conference championships as well.
The Division 5 field features two dominant teams — Deerfield and Bangor, who combined to win 48 games in 2017-18, and two squads who are getting hot at the right time — McDonnell Central and Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran, despite finishing outside the top three of their respective conferences.