Posted On: 04/9/18 4:41 PM
The massive amount of players that were in St. Cloud this week will result in a 3-4 day unloading of content from our NHR team on Minnesota talent. Today I share my notes on some things we liked from top players, and some guys that stood out more so than in the past.
I have a lot to say and only so many articles to say it in so we are going to run though this quick. Some of these names you are familiar with, and others could be a bit new (the completely new names will be discussed later in the week in further detail later in the week, and likely by the rest of our writing team as well). So here we go quickly in a few sentences:
Brandon Adelman of Comets Lewis/New London-Spicer: D1 Minnesota could defend most of the guards in this event but Brandon’s strength, skill, and quickness gave him something that others didn’t have, the right combination to get some results against the huge D1 line-up. That’s significant as that’s the type of thing that separates players.
Jamison Battle of D1 Minnesota/DeLaSalle. Battle is long, tall, and his a pretty stroke. We know that. What I saw this weekend was a more matured player who talks on defense, who is well positioned on defense, who rebounded better, who understands defensive positioning, and a guy that finished around the basket better than he has in the past. His defensive play getting a five second violation in the final seconds against Fury was a play of the weekend.
Jacob Beeninga of Fury Wilde/Wayzata. Jacob makes more big shots than just about any guy around here since maybe JP Macura. He has a feel for the big moment that most simply do not. Jacob wasn’t able to get his team the trophy this weekend but he did help them have a chance to win it late which more than many expected.
Owen Boerema of Crossfire Peterson/Litchfield. Owen is a player we have raved about for a long time and the 6-foot-4 wing stepped in and led his team with a dozen points in the three overtime loss to the Comets. Owen scores efficiently and within the team flow for his team.
Noah Christensen of Comets Lewis/Breckenridge. The recently committed to NDSU forward is a fantastic passer. He opens up the entire floor the way he passes the ball both with excellent outlets and hitting cutters.
Ricky Eason of Heat Nelson/Centennial. Ricky’s name should be in our “new names to know” coming later in the week but I didn’t feel like waiting with Eason who made eight threes against D1 Minnesota and had some thinking about miracles. Eason hit threes all weekend long.
Isaac Fink of Comets Lewis/Springfield: The 6-foot-4 Fink looks like he has become more confident and comfortable at the arc. We watched three Comets games and most of the time Fink was shooting a high percentage at the arc.
Charlie Gorres of Fury Wilde/Park of Cottage Grove. The lift on the soft jumper, the quick bounce to boards others can’t get to as quickly, the high rising shots and blocks, they are all there once again. Charlie is coming off of injury and he will still a bit more time, but so far so good as Charlie is moving very well.
Maleeck Harden of ECI/Moorhead. Harden spent the weekend at the foul line because he has grown about two inches and is now a long 6-foot-5 wing that guards have trouble with defending because Maleeck can get around guys and then score over the help or score over the recovering defender he defeated. This is a skilled, agile, long player that seems to be on the edge of big things.
Matthew Hurt of D1 Minnesota/Rochester JM. What more can I say about Matthew Hurt? There isn’t much left for me to tell you but I can say that Hurt had 27 points in the final game taking over at the biggest moments. He is also a three time Comets Shootout champion at the 17u level and I struggled the other day to come up with names who are two time 17u winners at this event. Also, Hurt may put back his own misses quicker and better than anybody I’ve ever seen.
Jackson Jangula of Comets K/St. Cloud Cathedral. Jackson was one of the pleasant surprises of the tournament. We’ve seen Jackson be a wizard with the ball at this level but never have we seen him get to his own offense with such high percentages and big doses. He’s a big part of why Comets K made a final four run and is ranked sixth in the state right now.
Matt Johnson of Comets Lewis/Fergus Falls: Love his toughness, this guy simply competes. You can always trust that Matt Johnson will fight for his team.
Robert Jones of D1 Minnesota/Prior Lake. The mid-lane touch of Jones is something he looks confident shooting and making in good percentages and his low post moves looked more clean than they did during the high school season. Jones scored more consistently than he has in the past.
Jappanah Kellogg of D1 Minnesota/Ames, IA. Kellogg looks to have grown two inches and he certainly has been working on his feet set jumper as well as his ability to hit shots off a dribble.
Jake Kettner of D1 Minnesota Rise/Minnesota Valley Lutheran. Kettner is a shooter right? We know that. But this weekend we saw him finish explosively and we saw Jake score a couple clutch baskets including a buzzer beater that put his team into overtime.
Patrick McCaffrey of D1 Minnesota/Iowa City West. McCaffrey is a top 30 prospect because he can attack with both hands, make shots from all angles and you have to guard him with size. The problem is most guys with size can’t move with Patrick so he is able beat them consistently to the glass. When people tried to defend Patrick with guards McCaffrey was able to score over the top regularly. Such an impossible combination to deal with.
Jack Middleton of D1 Minnesota/Edina. If I am picking a defender in the 2019 class there aren’t many I would pick over this guy. Jack loves the challenge defensively and he is willing to accept every game too. Jack is also a very efficient shooter who makes a high percentage of his perimeter shots but doesn’t force anything.
Cole Nicholson of Fury Wilde/Chaska. Cole had a tough time finding his shot this weekend, until the second half of the title game when he made two clutch jumpers and almost took his team to first place. Some of the incredible acrobatic finishes that Cole had in the title game were too remarkable to explain. How he had the body control to finish against four or six long arms was beyond me.
Zeke Nnaji of D1 Minnesota/Hopkins. Nnaji put up massive numbers at the cup in four of five games cleaning up everything that was missed, and cutting to the rim to finish off all basket attacks from teammates. Zeke scored in the post, made his jumper, and there were times that Zeke was asked to move his feet on defense with top opposing wings and Zeke did that well too.
Baden Noennig of Comets Lewis/Mayer Lutheran. Baden’s combination of agility and skill at 6-foot-6 allows him to do more than others can against the state’s best frontcourt players. Baden is quick off his feet, comfortable facing the basket, and has a nice touch from mid-range.
Andy Stafford of Fury Wilde/Minnetonka. Stafford is becoming more of a player you can trust, more a consistent performer than a year ago and that’s a big deal. Andy is making more effort plays to score baskets which is how double figure scorers consistently produce.
Tyler Wahl of D1 Minnesota/Lakeville North. With Tyrell Terry in Germany Wahl took the responsibility of PG and likely led the tournament in assists at the 17u level. Tyler is simply the most versatile guy out there and he shows that with his defense, with his rebound numbers, the way he passes the ball, and of course with his ball handling skills limiting turnovers against quick little guards that tried to pressure him. Wahl also had numerous explosive dunks going at the rim regardless if there was a defender in.
Malik Willingham of Select Leafbald/Waseca. My feel is that Malik is on the verge of some huge scoring outputs both this 17u year and next year with Waseca. We saw Malik hit clutch threes for Select in a day one win and we saw Malik go at the rim as well as make all the right passes for Select to get the high percentage shots to defeat their first opponent. He just has the look of a big scorer.
Michael Ziermann of Comets K/Lester Prairie. Against some of the best defenders in the state (Fury Wilde) the 6-foot-2 Ziermann was able to turn the corner first with the quick dribble but then he was able to use his strength to leverage his way to the rim followed by releasing well placed shots off the glass before the help arrived. When you score five baskets against the Fury Wilde defense you did something noteworthy.
Dane Zimmer of Fury Wilde/Hopkins. Dane is one of the best frontcourt defenders in the frontcourt in the 2019 class and he had ten points in the title game because he moved behind ball watching defenders and finished physically with deep post glass kisses.
***We will have a lot more conversation on the seniors in the 17U article “new names to know” article I will have soon and more seniors will be talked about this week in articles from myself, Charlie (two articles today already), Bigelow, Conover, and Jared. Stay tuned.