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Posted On: 05/12/18 8:35 AM
The Battle at the Lakes opened up Friday night in Burnsville with 16 and Under play led by some of Grassroots Sizzle’s top talent playing in front of several curious fans.
Frontcourt Dominance, Sizzle Style
The young players from the Grassroots Sizzle 17u squad that competes on the Under Armour Circuit have up with friends from the Grassroots Sizzle 16u team to make a 16 and Under Battle at the Lakes contender. Five star talent Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson, Watt Schroeder, Chet Holmgren (2021), and Dain Dainja mixed in with Akili Farris of St. Louis Park, Josh Brown of Park Center, Willie Wilson of Minneapolis North (2022), and others. Suggs gave the crowd a dunk and one of the quickest to elevate blocks at the box top we’ve ever seen, but it was the frontcourt that dominated the Showtyme Hoopers out of Iowa on Friday night.
Six-foot-8 big Dain Dainja has earned himself recent offers from Minnesota, Iowa, West Virginia, Baylor, and Pitt. The 2020 big from Park Center only played 14 minutes on Friday night but the five baskets and the open floor run from Dainja was a clear example of how he’s grown.
If you look at photos of Dain a year ago and compare them with now you see a developing young athlete that looks longer, taller, and starting to develop in physique. He’s more comfortable in his frame using his agility to finish plays and the coordination to use a far advanced skill to make plays most guys his size aren’t ready for. The coast to coast push for a lay-up at the rim on balance and the spin moves to a comfortable position to finish are there.
Dain and Minnehaha Academy 6-foot-11 freshman Chet Holmgren are developing into an excellent pair and in the 16 and Under environment they were dominant. Holmgren used his seven and a half foot of length to block four shots at the arc. Right now Holmgren’s signature play – because he can do it better than anybody in the state – is blocking the shot right out of the hands of opposing shooters at the arc. The last time I saw a guy block shots like this at this rate on the perimeter his name was Rodney Williams. Holmgren had six blocks total, busted his ass like he always does for a game high eight rebounds, and scored three times at the cup.
St. Francis 6-foot-5 power forward Wyatt Schroeder was given a showcase Friday and he took advantage of it scoring a game high 12 points on only seven shots and colleting eight boards. Wyatt first scored a dump off at the rim, then moved out to the perimeter to hit a pair of three points shots. Schroeder has the frame to keep position, catch and complete but he’s also comfortable facing the basket.
Mors or Not, the Attack is On
In maybe the most disappointing news of the event, 2021 Matthew Mors of South Dakota Attack – the South Dakota big school player of the year who has a Creighton offer – is not at the Battle at the Lakes as he is instead competing in a high school track and field meet. We were selfishly disappointed as this may have been the best chance for Mors this 16u season to go against high major level talent this spring. That said, the South Dakota Attack 16 and Under squad successfully moved on without their size to beat Team Iowa 71-57.
Six-foot-4 sophomore Ryan Schuster of Sioux Valley took advantage of the opportunity on Friday scoring 19 points utilizing the potential he has to finish in many different ways. With good size and playing on the wing Ryan started slow but once he knocked down a three his confidence grew. From there Schuster went at the Team Iowa defense using his agility to get to good space, his length to extend to finish, and his confidence to ignore the contacting defense. Made all five foul shots and scored on the move despite getting slapped and hacked commonly.
Augustana offered 6-foot-5 forward Kobe Busch from Huron showed his knack for point producing all winter and down the stretch against Team Iowa it was Busch who had the ball in his hands to put the game away. Busch made five foul shots down the stretch, led his team in rebounding, and got his game going with an early second half three.
The most consistent Attack player from tip-off to final buzzer was 5-foot-10 guard Kayden Verley of Canton. Verley is a tough guard with a strong core and thick legs who physically and mentally had an edge on the opposing guards leading to his 19 point performance (made 8 of 16 attempts). Verley’s shooting touch led to a couple threes and pull-ups at the elbow but it was his usage of the ball screen as well as his movement off of backside screens that put him in position to catch and complete plays.
I’m not exactly sure where Juwan Grant fits into the varsity rotation with Champlin Park next year (he of course fits somewhere with solid minutes) but I do know that Josiah Strong is gone and the 6-foot-1 Grant is a confident playmaker.
Team Get Shook gave Grant ball screens all night and using those, as well as ball reversal attacks, Juwan was in the paint creating high percentage shots for teammates all game long. Feet set jumpers and high percentage two footers were attempted by Team Get Shook players and most of the work done for those was by Grant’s creation sucking in the defense and then moving the ball quickly to awaiting hands.
Team Get Shook lost a close game to the second Team RFW 16s squad but Grant gave his team a chance. He confidently drained two contested threes to give his team a late lead and I’m still not sure how he got that behind the back floater to go in transition.
Notes From The Battle
Nobody at the event competed harder than 6-foot-2 small forward Jacques Plummer of Team Iowa/Cedar Rapids Washington. Plummer’s defensive chatter, pair of charge takes, and aggressive passing lane/on ball defense was quick to earn attention. Plummer had a game high seven rebounds and offensively he was the only efficient guy on his team scoring 11 points on only three shots. Plummer made a pair of threes, a hustle bucket, and 3 of 4 foul shots but it was his vocal and physical effort that grabber our attention.
Six-foot-6 forward Armani Davis of Park Center and Team Get Shook was viewed by Prep Hoops last night and quickly filed into the “good potential” category for the future. Davis showed comfort in making a corner three but it’s his quick bounce and length plus the ability to run with guards five inches shorter that caught our attention. Scored double figure numbers in the second half for Get Shook as the Chicago defenders simply couldn’t get their shorter bodies in position to make Davis uncomfortable.
Six-foot-2 guard Josh Brown of Park Center and Grassroots Sizzle caught our attention early Friday with his corner threes and open floor finish. When the non UAA 17s guys were on the floor Brown took charge shooting with confidence and doing a good job of directing movement.
Because of Trejuan Holloman being a Minneapolis North young star in the 2022 class some times fellow grade eight North varsity competitor Willie Wilson may go overlooked but get Wilson’s name in your head quick, this 6-foot-1 guard can play. Brother of recently signed Odell Wilson IV, to North Dakota State, Willie is slashing guard that has a control/feel to him that gives you the feel the future is bright.
The Showtyme Hoopers were overwhelmed by the Sizzle but one guy that stood up to the level of play was 6-foot-1 guard Marcus McCray of Sioux City West. McCray had team highs in points (11) and rebounds (6) because he simply didn’t back down. While others on his team settled for shots, McCray went with what he knows best hard charging the Grassroots talent and finishing with good results.