Posted On: 06/22/18 5:18 PM
April and July may be dominated by AAU tourneys, but June is for the high school camps. We’ve seen plenty of Iowa high school teams play already this June, and still have lots more to take in before getting back into the swing of AAU ball. Last weekend at Drake there was a wide-range of teams, big and small, that took the court. Below, we’ll give a quick outlook on some we saw.
For the better part of a decade, Valley has been one of the best teams in Iowa. Next season, that trend will continue. Like year’s past, they’ll have strong guard play and plenty of size. Trayvon Williams led last season’s state tourney qualifier in scoring, the athletic guard he’s back for his senior season. Williams has been very good in our viewings of him this spring. Down low will be 6’8 big-man Will Berg, Iowa’s 5th-ranked 2020. The rising junior is tough in the paint and has some versatility to his game; he’ll step out and hot a 3-ball when the mood strikes. Rising senior Agueck Deng played minimally as a junior, but will take on a huge role as a stretch-four for the Tigers next season. He’s one of the more electric dunkers in the state, and like Berg, is a capable jump-shooter. Look for Valley to again make its way to Wells Fargo Arena next March.
Our viewing of Waukee last weekend was not actually the varsity, but the junior varsity. Still, it was telling of how strong the team will be next season. Rising seniors Dylan Jones, Noah Hart, Michael Vicente and Ottumwa transfer Andrew Curran were there cheering on their younger peers. On the junior varsity was some great size and a trio of rising sophomores who will keep Waukee atop the 4A standings for years to come. Payton Sandfort is one of the class of 2021’s best all-around players, he could make some major contribution for Waukee’s varsity next season as a sophomore. New from Omaha is Tucker DeVries, a 6’4 wing who happens to be new Drake coach Darian DeVries’ son. He’s got a lot of upside. Then there’s Wyatt Hester, a 6’5 small forward who can play inside and out, and can get red-hot from deep. Waukee will be very good this year, like state title contender good, and will be for years to come.
Another 4A team that will be in-line for another state tourney berth next season. The Tigers won their first-ever title, thanks in large part to having one of the state’s best-ever point guards, AJ Green, leading the charge. This season, Green is gone, but plenty of talent returns. Logan Wolf, an athletic 6’5 wing will lead the charge, and he’ll be aided by rising 6’8 sophomore Chase Courbat, one of Iowa’s top 2021 talents. Jack Campbell is headed to Iowa to play linebacker, naturally he’s a tough stretch-four for the Tigers, and shockingly skilled. Josh Ollendieck is a very rangy and really skilled guard that will come in and help fill at least some of the void left by Green. Cedar Falls should be ranked in the top-10 of the preseason class 4A rankings, maybe even top-5.
Props to Tipton for getting out there and mixing it up with this Drake group of some of the state’s very best teams. The Tigers were good last year, finishing 16-8 behind a really strong season from senior Logan Hoffman. He’s now gone, and Tipton will have some big shoes to fill (Hoffman averaged 20.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season). Andrew Stewart is the leading returning scorer, he put in 13.2 points per game last season as a junior. In fact, six of the team’s seven scoring leaders from a season ago will be back. That does not include rising junior Connor Hermiston, who poured in a team-high 13 points when Tipton played North Linn last weekend at Drake.
Seemingly every year the Dodgers have a new guy that steps up and becomes one of the best players in the CIML. Three seasons ago, it was Kyle Beisch, two seasons ago it was Solomon Clayton, last year it was Malcolm Clayton. And this winter, it will be 6’3 combo-forward Jordan Jackson that will emerge as the team’s go-to guy. He’ll almost certainly post big numbers in the scoring and rebounding categories. Rising senior Malihk Lockman looks like a guy who could make major contributions from the guard spot, him and sophomore-to-be Deareon Callahan both had really good games against Bishop Garrigan at Drake. Jace Peterson and Ty Kershaw are the team’s next two leading returning scorers after Jackson. Fort Dodge might not be world beaters next season, but they’ll win more games than people might think.