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Posted On: 08/31/18 12:21 PM
The 2018-19 basketball season is going to be one of the most memorable in Class AAAA basketball. Why? Talent and a serious depth of teams with no real clear-cut favorite. Forget the favorites for a moment, let’s also remember the sleepers. Here are five.
Maple Grove. The Crimson went 21-10 and went to the state tournament last year with a team full of new varsity players. What will be the encore in 18-19 with a veteran team? You would expect a similar record and a return trip to state, even though you get the feeling that many are looking over them. Jared Rainey led the team in scoring as one of the better 2019 combos in the state plus he’s coming off an fantastic run with the Minnesota Heat from April to July. Jared isn’t alone though. Nate Adams scored 12.5 points per contest as a junior and Kyle Dreyer is a player that we think can be the third part of a fantastic backcourt. Daniel Walljasper (a senior to be) and RaShun Parker will give the Crimson won of the better five man backcourts in the metro, and give their coaches a chance to play four guards. Tyler Born is a guy that can play the 4-5 as we saw some really good things from him in recent months, but the Crimson will need another big.
White Bear Lake. We’ve talked about White Bear Lake a lot so we may have woke people up a bit from “sleeper status” but in this deep section WBL is still a sleeper. The Bears won 15 games last week with a starting line-up of juniors but now the team is seniors. Sam Schwartz – a D2 commit to Southwest Minnesota State – and Jeremy Beckler (a top 30-35 level kid in the state) are the big number producers. Isaac Tessier is the returning guard who scored four-five times a game and made very few mistakes in getting the offense moving. Add in Carter Ehlers and Mathias Beck and you have a lot of experience returning. Now, can they jump East Ridge? Or CDH? Or Tartan? Should be a fun year.
Eastview. The Lightning was 12-17 a year ago so jumping on our group of five may have some surprised but they play in a very weak section and should have a 20 win season. The talent will get the Lightning to that mark, and state, barring bad chemistry or an upset. Up front Steven Crowl and Tate Machacek give Eastview one of the best frontcourts in the state (we need to rank guard and big units in the future!) and now that Jaylen James has transferred to the school the Lightning have a strong lead guard group with James and Izaak Raspberry. The team needs wings to step up and the junior and sophomore classes could. The names to watch are Ryan Thissen, Caden Scales, Dan Swedin, and more.
St. Paul Central. If you read the set-up for WBL, Central is similar. Although their top guys haven’t got quite the summer recruiting interest from schools that the Bears have so Central is a real sleeper. Daveonte Davis scored 23.5 points per game going at the rim relentlessly as a junior and now a huge senior year is expected. Then you have Dion Ford scoring 19.4 points per contest and the 6-foot-3 forward is also back for big year. Handling the ball is Ronelle Porter, one of the quickest players in the state. He scored in double digits last season as well, and is back. Overall Central has their top seven guys back meaning their entire rotation from a 16-10 team.
Osseo. The Orioles lost six of their top seven players and that includes Emmette Page and Zach Theisen, both of which scored 20 plus points per game last year. How can this team be a sleeper? Or a top 20 level team in the state? For starters it’s coach Tim Theisen. Year after year the Orioles have players that come from the JV and play huge roles. Who should you keep an eye on? Cornell Richardson is the point guard and should be the main playmaker. From the JV we really like what Eli Barlue and Montrell Stokes did this summer meaning they have developed this year and a ready to contribute big minutes. Terrance Waits and Deontae Ferguson also had good JV years and did some things off the bench on varsity last year too.
Park of Cottage Grove