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Posted On: 08/23/18 5:00 PM
Summer is, for all intents and purposes, over. With fall sports starting up this week and schools starting up in the next week or two, we bid adieu to sunshine and brace for the cold winter months ahead.
With school on the mind, let’s turn briefly to the upcoming school ball season.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what hoops in Class AA will look like this upcoming year:
Redhawks aim for a three-peat
Minnehaha isn’t going away anytime soon and while several key players were lost to graduation, the pipeline is rich with talent even the highest profile schools in the state would be jealous of.
Jalen Suggs is well-publicized and rightfully so as he’s perhaps the best player in the state regardless of class.
Kaden Johnson and Terry Lockett are both back to join Suggs on the perimeter as multi-year starters. Chet Holmgren and Prince Aligbe look like high-major prospects down the line and together they’ll form a dynamic frontcourt that few teams in Class AA will be able to handle.
The Redhawks are loaded again and should be considered the heavy favorite to once again take home the state title.
Top Programs retooling on the fly
The 2018 class was good for Class AA. Teams like Caledonia (Owen King and co.), Minneapolis North (Odell Wilson and Tayler Johnson), St. Cloud Cathedral (Michael Schaefer and Mitch Plombon), Esko (Adam Trapp and Quinn Fischer), Jordan (Eric Tiedman) and many others lose terrific players to the college ranks.
A lot of those programs are fairly well-equipped to keep on chugging though.
Caledonia will run it back with the remaining two King brothers (Noah and Eli) along with several other semi-varsity rotation guys.
Minneapolis North returns a number of quality guys including Eli Campbell, Nasir El-Amin and Willie Wilson.
St. Cloud Cathedral’s identity will change but with Jackson Jangula, Nick Schaefer and Jacob Stoltzenberg back on the perimeter, the Crusaders will be competitive again.
Lake City bids adieu to star point guard Marc Kjos but has the upperclass seasons of Nathan Heise and Reid Gastner to now look forward to.
Jordan and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva both lose uber-talented seniors but the Hubmen still have Ryan Samuelson and the Panthers have established a winning culture and will have guys ready to fill departed shoes.
After upsetting Minneapolis North and getting to state, Brooklyn Center should be a contender again. Junior point Lu’Cye Patterson is one of the top players in the state and controls the game as well as anybody. Adreone Sprinkles is a stud on the wing. And Qentrell Douglas and Rudwan Tahir are both back as well, which gives the Centaurs a very good core of returners.
Breckenridge and Breck both bring back Division I recruits. Noah Christensen put himself on the map a bit last year with a strong postseason run for the Cowboys while David Roddy is one of the most physically imposing players in the state.
Perham will once again be strong too, as Jenson Beachy and Josh Jeziorski are both back, along with John LaFond and Carter Cresap. The Yellowjackets were undefeated in the regular season but lost to Breckenridge in the section final again.
Way-too-Early Top 10
1. Minnehaha Academy
2. Brooklyn Center
4. Minneapolis North
8. St. Cloud Cathedral
10. Lake City