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Posted On: 06/21/18 6:09 PM
Over the course of April and May, I made my way to a number of grassroots tournaments across the Midwest to get a look at some of the top talent Iowa has to offer. While my 9-5 job has made it difficult to post evaluations in a timely manner after tournaments, it’s time to sit down and put together evaluations on a number of players I saw over the past few months. Over the course of the next few weeks, those evaluations will be posted here, at Prep Hoops Iowa. Below I take a look at some of the players from the 2021 (and one from the 2022) class that caught my eye.
PF Chase Courbat (Cedar Falls/Martin Brothers)
Courbat is one of about five players who will be under serious consideration for the No. 1 spot in our initial 2021 rankings, which will be released after the July live period. And he’s the one that I’ll be pounding the table for. An agile, 6-9 big man, he runs the floor extremely well, establishing early position against defenders. He’s got fairly advanced footwork and a few go-to moves to score already, although most of what he does goes to the right hand right now. As he continues to improve, the left hand will need to become a more important piece of his arsenal. He’s a capable shooter with expanding range, which will become a more important piece of his game as he moves to the next level. He needs to add strength, but everyone at this age needs to get stronger, so that’s not a real concern. I would like to see him be a bit more assertive on the glass, but his length and athletic ability allows him to still pull down his fair share of boards, outlet to a guard, then run the floor for a finish. Defensively he’s a solid help defender who comes from the weak side to block shots, and can defend a bit on the perimeter if switched onto a guard. There is a ton of upside here, and already at a legit 6-9, there is a fantastic frame to build on.
GF Michael Duax (Dubuque Hempstead/Martin Brothers)
The next in a long line of Duax boys to go through the Hempstead system, Michael has a chance to be the best of the bunch, which is a big statement. Already standing at 6-4, he’s a typical Duax with fantastic length and athleticism. He has great size for a young wing, with fairly broad shoulders that he should be able to add a substantial amount of strength to. He’s a decent shooter, but where he really excels at this point in time is in transition. A plus athlete with the ability to finish with either hand around the rim, he attacks the bucket hard in transition and finishes through contact. As his shot and handle continue to develop, his finishing ability after breaking down a defender will become a major piece of his game.
GF Payton Sandfort (Waukee/Kingdom Hoops)
Another player that will be in consideration for that No. 1 spot, Sandfort is one of the best shooters in the state, regardless of class. He’s a 6-4 wing with a quick release, extended range and a beautiful, repeatable stroke. He does a great job moving off the ball, finding spaces in the defense, and he’s a great shooter off the catch. He’s shown the ability to be a great passer, either in transition, where he looks to push it ahead, or in the halfcourt, showing good court vision. He’s not an overwhelming athlete, and he needs to continue expanding his offensive skill set, improving his handle and ability to play either one-on-one or in a two-man game, but his shooting ability is special.
PG Tamin Lipsey (Ames/All-Iowa Attack) (2022)
The lone 2022 that I saw that made a lasting impression over the spring, the freshman-to-be at Ames recently received a scholarship offer from Iowa State. That’s right, he landed a high-major offer before ever stepping foot on a high school floor. He’s a big, physical lead guard who has thrived throughout the spring playing up two age groups with Attack’s 16U team. Lipsey excels at getting to the rim and finishing through contact, using his strength to power through defenders. He’s a fantastic athlete, lightning quick with the ball in his hands, and is a solid playmaking guard who can either score or facilitate. As he continues to improve as a shooter, he could turn himself into a national recruit, which is ambitious to say for someone who just graduated middle school, but he’s on the right path.
SF Caleb Schlaak (Cedar Rapids Kennedy/Martin Brothers)
Schlaak was productive for the Cougars as a freshman, averaging 6.6 points and shooting 44% from behind the arc, and he carried that production over into the spring for Martin Brothers. A 6-5 forward, he’s a versatile scorer, with the ability to score inside and out, in addition to putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. He has good length, rebounds at a high level and can provide Kennedy with versatility on both ends of the floor. Look for him to become one of the better scorers in the MVC over the next three years.
PF Dylan Johnson (Western Dubuque/Martin Brothers)
A stretch 4 at the high school level, Johnson is a big, physical forward with a really smooth jumper that he can extend out to the 3-point line with ease. He rebounds effectively and can score in the paint, but it’s the jumper that really stands out when you watch him play.
PG Diondre Taylor (Des Moines North/Kingdom Hoops)
The North Polar Bears have another talented guard coming through their system in Taylor, a lightning quick guard who is capable of breaking down a defender and getting into the paint, or simply facilitating and running the offense. He’s one of the fastest guards in the class, looking to push tempo in transition, and his change of direction ability is top-notch. He’s a pesky on-ball defender with great lateral quickness, and as he continues getting coached up on that end, he could be a really good defensive player.
SG Reid Grant (Johnston/Kingdom Hoops)
I haven’t seen Grant shoot the ball much during the spring, but he has been one of the most impressive offensive players I’ve seen, regardless of class. He relentlessly attacks the rim, both in transition and in the halfcourt. He puts his head down and gets to the rim as well as just about anyone I saw in the spring, and he’s a tough, physical wing who doesn’t shy away from contact, routinely finishing through it and getting to the line. He handles the ball fairly well, and is a good passer in the halfcourt, but he’s at his best when he’s attacking and getting into the paint.
F Wyatt Heston (Waukee/Kingdom Hoops)
Another talented player coming up through the Waukee ranks, Heston is an intriguing combo forward who probably profiles as a small forward at the next level, but will likely play more in the paint during his high school career. Either way, the 6-5/6-6 forward is a skilled shooter and rebounder, with the length and athletic ability to defend multiple positions. As he continues to grow and get stronger, his interior game should improve. His ability to stretch the defense with his jumper is his biggest asset at this point in time, and his relentless work on the glass on both ends of the floor certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.