The Proving Grounds: Friday


Posted On: 04/28/18 9:55 AM

At 6:00 on Friday night the doors opened and at 6:30 Minnesota fans and college coaches saw the Minnesota Fury Wilde club put on another defensive display defeating 1848 led by Hopkins forward Dane Zimmer.

The Educated Big

Dane Zimmer

The season is still very young but the Minnesota Fury Wilde team is early earning a reputation as one of the toughest defensive teams in the Midwest.  Jack Middleton of Edina is one of the best defenders in Minnesota and he made his normal defensive plus a hobbled Jacob Beeninga and an explosive Charlie Gorres made key plays on the defensive end for their team.  The MVP of the Fury opening round game though was 6-foot-6/6-foot-7 Hopkins power forward Dane Zimmer.

When it comes to a basketball education Ken Novak Jr of Hopkins High School is one of Minnesota’s best professors.  When you watch Zimmer play you can tell that he’s learned a lot from the Novak teachings plus Dane is one of the hardest working players in Minnesota’s 2019 class.  Last night he unofficially led the Fury Wilde in scoring and was the best defensive player in a 55-38 victory.

Offensively Dane’s understanding of a halfcourt offense makes him a valuable piece in several different ways.  As a screener Dane is disciplined and consistently is able to open space for teammates followed by the usual hard cut to the rim or spacing movement to catch a reversal or set another screen.  Moving off the ball Zimmer is a killer against a rotating defense because his cuts lead to putbacks or a cut and catch to finish.   Unless a defense has size and the awareness to find him Zimmer will always make active scoring plays.  Then you add in his passing out of the past.  Zimmer is as good as anyone working post to post, hitting cutters, or making the skip pass to the arc.

On the defensive end Zimmer is one of the best if not the best in Minnesota as a big man in help.  He saves the Fury from opposing high percentage shots at the rim consistently because of his recognition of an attack and his quick reaction beating an opponent to the spot.  Zimmer is consistently forcing players off the block and making them go over the top of his length and then when it comes to ball screens Zimmer’s talk, his help steps, contesting shots, and Dane’s ability to move 2-3 steps with a guard rank with the best.  He’s also a high effort defensive rebounder.

Fury Zurn Competes with Swagger

Cameron Steele

The Fury Zurn club has been nationally ranked and they have consistently been known as one of Minnesota’s elite teams in the 2020 class.  It’s a team that wins games and is now doing it with a confidence.  That confidence comes from the way they play together and it starts with Charles Katona (Shakopee) who handles the ball often for his club and is a vocal director of a sound halfcourt offense.  It caries over to a guy like Jaylen James (Edina) swatting a shot with a smile, Zach Lea calling out an opposing play before it happens and then going the other way to hit shots, and Luke Glitzen (Chanhassen) making shots with a look of “business as usual”.

The play of the night?  That is no question the dunk that Brady Williams of Dover-Eyota had.  There are dunks over guys that are rub-ins, there are dunks over guys where players catch a part of the body.  Now this one.  Last night 6-foot-6 Brady Williams vaulted straight over the top of a 6-foot-2 player chest even with chest, and finished with a nasty two hand dunk that caught everyone off guard.  Williams is explosive, we know that, but nobody expected the dunk we saw.  A dunk of the year candidate with North Dakota State assistant Brady Williams and Concordia-St Paul Head Coach Joey James two yards away.  Williams has become much more skilled but this dunk was something that blew everyone away.

The player of the game was Minnetonka 6-foot-7 power forward Cameron Steele.  Steele brings the attitude and game face for his team constantly locked in working for the win.  It doesn’t matter what the score is or how much time is on the clock, Steele plays with a wining intensity that few have.  Then you add in one of the best shooting strokes in the class of 2020 and last night it was a special shooting performance for Steeele.  Cameron made open perimeter jumpers, contested threes, contested 18-footers, and open threes!  The confident touch of Steele is a game to game thing and it started this year as a top Tonka scorer in the Lake and it hasn’t slowed down.

SSA All Day

Trey Duffey

A team that I’ve put on the list of championship contenders is SSA Academy out of Kansas.  They took on a strong challenge from Mentality of Minnesota and came out victorious 63-55.  Point guard Savian Edwards of Wichita was able to take pressure from Mentality and get to the rim to finish.  Shooter Braden Belt of Andover Central knocked important threes in the first half for SSA and 6-foot-3 shooting guard Levi Braun was also a key piece to the success of Coach Spradling.

At 6-foot-5 as a power forward Trey Duffey of Seaman High in Topeka had coaches from the division two and division three levels scrambling for his name.  Duffey hit a few shots from the perimeter but where he earned high regards was his intelligence getting to space for finishes.  The ball fake is an important took for Duffey starting with the ball fake lifting the opponent at the elbow and attacking the defensive rotations for a couple finishes.  Fakes on the block into brilliant pivot usage also built his point total and then Duffey moving off of screens into basket cutting catches for finishes was common.

Proved it on the Proving Grounds

Ishmael Martin of Raw Athletics and Hazel Crest, Illinois was one of the toughest players to guard on Friday night.  He came down hill at Rip City full speed putting together several basket attack finishes going by, through, or over the opposing defenders to get buckets.  Martin’s handles are so deep to the floor and he’s  so quick that the defense wasn’t sure how to deal with his attack and when they thought the had a grip on him Martin’s amazingly fast first step left guys stuck in mud. Ishmael is a six foot point guard and one to keep an eye on.


  • Prior Lake 6-foot-9 power forward Carson Schoeller led the way with 13 points for Fury Kaupa in their win.
  • 6-foot-2 Zac Centers of Mahtomedi and Mentality Minnesota is a prospect that will move up the lists because he’s very good at getting his feet under him to catch and hit.  Defensively his deep stance and active fight through screens is well taught and down with strong effort.
  • Kam Givens of DeLaSalle had a calm to him handling the basketball that was nice to see.  Givens was able to use body control through the defense to get to the rim and make plays and defensively the Mentality defender was always in the oppositon’s space.
  • The Rip City roster says Jayton Metcalf was number 11 and if that is the case the 6-foot-2 point guard from St. Croix Prep has certainly got taller and much, much longer.  The comfort handling the basketball is still there but Metcalf’s attack using the length to extend and finish is a new tool in an already talented box.  Metcalf dealt with being sick a year ago but it looks like he’s starting to get back where he was, with more to his game!