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Posted On: 08/15/18 2:35 PM
It’s August, that means live action on the hardwood slows down, but our coverage of Iowa high schools hoops remains active. The grassroots season recently wrapped up, and we’re going to spend the month re-capping what went down by talking to some of the most successful team’s coaches, and getting their take on players that suited up for them all spring and summer.
Next we’ll take a closer look at one of Iowa’s more intriguing 15U squads, Kingdom Hoops Elite. Coached Tim Lubke and headlined by top 2021 in-state talent such as Payton Sandfort, Nathaniel Mueller, Reid Grant and Manny Austin, this team was never short of thrills, and always was fun to watch.
Kingdom Hoops Elite 15U coach Tim Lubke talks…
Wyatt Heston, 6’6 F (Waukee)
“Wyatt struggled to make shots early, but he got better and more confident shooting the ball as the year went on. He’s a kid that’s sneakily long, he blocks everything. And he rebounds, he’s another kid that I don’t think has had to be asked to rebound at the level he had to, and he did, and he took the challenge on great. Offensively, as the year went on, he got better. He started attacking more off the bounce which made him harder to guard. He rebounds, he blocks shots, and because he has the ability to shoot, he can space the floor for us. Once he gets in the weight-room more and builds strength, then he has a high-ceiling. He just has to get stronger, and once his confidence continues to go up, like it did throughout the year, that’ll make him an even better player. But he battles, he battles with bigs, he rebounds, he’s really, really good at contesting shots. He certainly can block anything, he can get five blocks in a game easily.”
Nathaniel Mueller, 5’7 PG (ADM)
“He’s a natural-born leader. He bought into what I asked him to be, and I asked him to be a true point guard. He can score at a high level. He can hit five or six shots in a row before you even know what happened. And he’s so unbelievably fast; we didn’t even need a press-breaker, it was just get the ball to Nate and he’s got it. And that was great for me as a coach, to have that in a player. And he’s electric, if he’s 6’2 he might be one of the best players in the Midwest. He can do it all, he’s a phenomenal passer. We played at an extremely high tempo, and he got us to play that tempo. And he can go at that tempo, I don’t know if I took him out more than three times in a weekend, and he never complained. If we needed a big shot, he’s the one we’d go to. He just has that chip on him, where he believes he can make every shot. And he’s definitely not afraid of the moment. He’s a great kid, he’s a gym rat, he’s really everything you want in a kid and player. And then obviously his skills with his speed probably makes him one of the most fun kids to watch in the gym. He’s a great leader and I know the kids really listen to him, he really runs the team well on the court.
Manny Austin, 6′ G (Des Moines Hoover)
“Manny is a freak athlete, and there’s no question about that. He almost dunked on a kid in one of our games, it was almost like D-Wade, he was driving left and pulled it back with his right hand above the rim like nothin’. He had a couple tip-in layups where I thought he should have tip-dunked it. And then he shot the ball well. He understood that we had a lot of players that could shoot, so when he played off the basketball he was cutting and he knew there was a lot of space for him to attack. He would drive and kick to start the game and his mindset was ‘mine will come as the game goes on,’ And he really bought into that. I wish we would have had him all year; and he struggled for us at first when he came back, just because anytime you add a new player, and especially with our team that had such good chemistry, he had to find out where he fit in. Now, by the end of the summer, he was amazing. He can score at all three levels, he can go off at anytime. And with the group he was with, there’s so much space around him where he can operate, which just makes him scary. And once that shot keeps coming along, which is what he keeps working on, it’s just going to make him harder to guard. He’s going to be one, just like all of these kids, he’s going to definitely have a big high school season.”
Garang Deng, 6’3 G/F (Valley)
“That’s actually Agueck Deng’s brother. I think he’s grown like six inches since the spring. He’s another one of those kids that just does what you need him to do. He plays hard, and he’s very skilled. He was a starter on our second team and played with our elite team some, too. When our second team beat Attack’s top-team he had like 25 or 30 points that game, just because he’s not afraid to guard the post and he rebounds very well. He’s a high energy kid, if we play him as a four, he’s deceptively quick and he’s skilled. And he’s a kid who, if he can get Agueck’s height (6’7), then he becomes scary, really scary. He’s a kid that will take charges, he’ll block shots. He’s one that I wish I would of had more. And he’s a great teammate, there was a game at the Battle of the Lakes, where he didn’t get in that much, but he was the most energetic kid on the bench, and it’s honestly why I think we won that game. He had so much energy, the kids fed off of it, and we had the energy to win a very tough game against a skilled Pack Attack team from Wisconsin. He’s a great kid, and he’s one of those, you just love him; because he’s going to give you everything he’s got, every day, and not ask any questions and never complain.
Ty Walker, 5’11 G (Des Moines Roosevelt)
“Tyson came over from Attack at that June break. He fit in well with the group; he plays hard and he can shoot the basketball. So, naturally he just fit in with our tempo and how we played. He’s another one like Manny, where, he was new, and he didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but he still wanted to shoot. He spent some time to figure out where he would fit in, and then the team had to get used to him. But, he got comfortable, and he would have games where he hit four or five 3s. And he played defense, there were some games where he would hit huge 3s. He played some great defense. So, he really fit in and fit the group’s style; and that is, we’re going to play fast, we’re going to be small, we’re hoping to shoot 3s. He only got three weekend’s to get comfortable and that’s tough for a 15 year-old kid especially. But, he played hard, and he can really shoot the ball.”