Posted On: 04/27/18 2:46 PM

The Proving Grounds are in Bloomington, Minnesota and the action starts tonight.  What are some of the items that we will be watching?

One. Who are the Favorites?  The heaviest local expectations will be on Minnesota Fury Wilde 17s, the Minnesota Fury Zurn at 16s, and Minnesota Heat Tauer at 15s.  Fury Wilde has only two losses on the year and one of those was in the final minute to D1 Minnesota.  Fury Wilde was at times a top 25 nationally ranked 15u club last year and their year has started strong once again with the Comets Shootout title.  Heat Tauer has about the same situation as the previous teams listed.  These teams are respected and ranked with the best in the state, and now it’s time to show it at the name that is appropriately titled as such.

Two. If a Minnesota team knocks off a favorite who will it be?  Heat MacDonald finished second in Omaha and is a good candidate.  Fury Zurn is a heavy local favorite but watch out for Heat Moberg and Fury Kline, both have solid players and could give a test.  Then there is Heat Tauer who has a claim to be #1.  They need to look out for West Central United’s top five 15u squad as well as Crossfire B and Fury Poppen.

Three.  Who are the top challengers from the outstate?  The KC Spurs just won the Midwest Live event in Omaha and Spencer Jones and Dalen Ridgnal are players that will have schools watching them.   Iowa Prep had a couple nice wins last weekend with Hunter Snyder and Carter Cuvelier leading the way.  Same can be said about Mason Porter at Iowa Pump N Run.  The North Dakota Attack with Ben Bohl and Dalton Albrecht have only lost two games in two tournaments as they are a tough out and Omaha Crusaders Felici has already won a lot of games this year with Deng Hal and Evan Kingston leading the way.  RAW Athletics had a strong showing in the NY2LA as Ronald Williams and Lamond Johnson are quality players for them and Team 1848 is a squad with size including Pat Suemnick, Zane Short, and Lucas Stieber.  Add in the Wisconsin Academy and Wisconsin Swing and there are legit contenders ready to take the title trophy out of state.

Four. Friday Night’s Best is what? I personally like the Team 1848 against Minnesota Fury Wilde as 1848 has some size and some quality Wisconsin players.  Good test for one of the event favorites right away.  Heat Nelson against the Winnipeg Wolves has some excitement to it as the Wolves are excited for this event.  Omaha Crusaders Felici against Heat Henderson puts a good Omaha squad against Jeremy Beckler who is one of those guys that a lot of people want to see against a high level of competition.  At the 16s level South Dakota Network against West Central United is interesting and then Playmakers Strege against Fury Kline puts Jacob Hutson and others on the stage on night one.

FiveThis is the Proving Grounds, what players have something to prove?  I like this idea.  Go prove what you are.  For the Fury guys I’m looking at Jack Middleton and Cole Nicholson who I think highly of.  They will be the hunted this week and colleges will be watching, how does that go? We mentioned Hutson and Beckler earlier and the same goes for those guys.  A high level of hoops will be played this weekend and it’s time for them to be at their best.  Up in North Dakota, Ben Bohl is a top 2-3 player in the state’s 2019 class.  This is an event the Attack can win games at and how will Ben play? He’s been in the state tournament with everything on the line so this should be something he handles well.  Another guy is Crossfire 6-7 big Brock Bangasser.  What level of a player is he?  Time to find out.  Same can be said about Owen Boerema of Crossfire Belle.  That’s a team that could have a great weekend.  Jake Kettner will have schools watching like he did in St. Cloud, will it be another amazing set of performances?  Mario Dukes of Rip City and Jared Rainey of Heat are versatile guys looking for respect.  At the Proving Grounds they can find some.  Sam Schwartz is another that is really good but we need to figure out how good and an event like this will help schools.