Proving Grounds: Standout Interior Players


Posted On: 05/2/18 10:37 AM

The Prep Hoops Proving Grounds took place over the weekend in Bloomington, MN, bringing in some of the finest talent in the Midwest as well as a bevy of college coaches looking for future additions to their rosters.

In this article we’ll take a look at some of the standout interior players from the weekend in the 17u action. The players below are a combination of tradition posts, power forwards, and the occasional small forward that did solid work in the paint.


Brock Bangasser – 6’7” C, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted/Crossfire Bellefeuille (2019)

One of the most fitting terms to describe the way that Bangasser plays is “grinder”. He sets solid screens, constantly fights for position in the post, plays hard-nosed defense and finds a body and blocks out on the glass, seeking out the rebound with two hands. In addition to all of that he can also score the basketball. He knocked down a triple and finished with 7 points against ND Phenom on Saturday.


Elijah Barlue – 6’4” PF, Osseo/Heat Nelson (2019)

I wrote about Barlue after the Comets Shootout and it was great to see that he continues to bring that same intensity and effort as the spring season rolls on. Heat Nelson doesn’t really have a true big man on their roster, but Barlue brings the physicality and toughness to fill that void. His athleticism, tenacity, and tireless battling in the post allow him to be an effective defender against larger players, seemingly playing inches taller than his 6’4” listing would indicate. Barlue also added 7 points in their victory over Team 1848 on Saturday.


Jeremy Beckler – 6’8” PF, White Bear Lake/Heat Henderson (2019)

Previously, it has been Beckler’s offensive game that has really impressed me. However, his defensive game on Saturday was outstanding. Whether he was pulled out on the perimeter or battling in the post, Beckler moved his feet well and always stayed in good position, walling up to contest shots very effectively. His wide-array of post moves continuously frustrated opposing defenders, collecting 7 points from the charity stripe alone. Beckler is a very complete and versatile player.


Zach Gazda – 6’8” C, North Branch/Crossfire Bellefeuille (2019)

Gazda is a very versatile big that moves well and can operate in and out of the paint. He showed his range on Saturday by stepping out to hit a three as well as a number of pick and pop mid-range jumpers. Gazda has good vision passing out of both the high and low post, hitting teammate Cole Elrod with a pretty backdoor pass for a dunk in their first game. He finished with 11 points against ND Phenom and 7 against Heat Henderson.


Charles Haff – 6’6” PF, Edina/Fury Kaupa (2019)

Haff does a very nice job of playing within the offense, making the most of his opportunities when they come to him. He’s a versatile scorer, displaying a soft touch around the basket and the ability to step out and hit a three on his way to 7 points against Rip City on Saturday. Haff is a fundamentally sound player on both ends of the floor, a very nice piece on an impressive Fury team.


Cole Nicholson – 6’6” SF, Chaska/Fury Wilde (2019)

Nicholson is a very versatile player who looks just as comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and in the high post as he does posting up and battling in the paint. He did all of the above, depending on their lineup, in their dominating 59-25 victory over WI Academy on Saturday. Finishing with 9 points in that contest, Nicholson’s handful of buckets came in a variety of ways. Hitting a three, collecting an offensive rebound, slashing to the hoop, and finishing at the line, Nicholson can hurt you in multiple ways.


Carson Schoeller – 6’9” PF, Prior Lake/Fury Kaupa (2019)

His 6’9” size is legit and he runs the floor like someone much smaller. Schoeller had a couple of textbook rim-runs in their win over Rip City, securing a rebound, outletting to a ball handler, sprinting up the floor and fluidly catching and finishing above the rim. In addition, he stepped out and knocked down a triple en route to 9 points against Rip City. His combination of athleticism and size are special.


Malik Spearman-Tschida – 6’4” SF, Henry Sibley/Heat MacDonald (2019)

Heat-MacDonald lacks a true post player, however, due to his athleticism and size, Spearman-Tschida often finds himself guarding bigs. His strength and leaping ability allow him to play much larger, battling on the glass and contesting shots. Spearman-Tschida showed the ability to finish at the rim with either hand, he is a great athlete that is a versatile player, operating down low or on the wing.


Regan Tollefson – 6’5” SF, Chanhassen/Fury Wilde (2019)

Tollefson is maybe more of a wing than an interior player, however, his willingness to stick his nose into the action often brings him into the paint. His ability to mix it up on the glass produced a couple of second-chance buckets and his grit on the defensive end alters shots and creates turnovers. Tollefson led Fury Wilde with 13 points in their win against WI Academy on Saturday.


Dane Zimmer – 6’7” PF, Hopkins/Fury Wilde (2019)

Dane is quite possibly the biggest game-changer on the defensive end out of all of the players mentioned above. He is always aware of the ball and his man, allowing him to anticipate and provide proper help defense on dribble drives, often contesting and sending them back. Additionally, he is a very solid rebounder and displays a soft touch around the rim and a more than adequate mid-range game. He had 6 points against WI Academy on Saturday.