Posted On: 09/29/18 8:29 PM

MVP: Aguek Deng, 6’7 F (Valley) — 2019

Each year, there’s one or two guys that absolutely stand out at this event. Last year, it was Jake Hilmer and Micah Johnson, two years ago it was Waukee’s Dylan Jones. This season, without question, it was Aguek Deng. He was a guy that we knew had the potential to breakout, and break out he did. One knock on the athletic Valley big-man in the past has been his lack of assertiveness on the floor; today at Kingdom Courts, he was far more aggressive than we’ve ever seen him, and that spelled trouble for the rims. Each and every court Deng played on, he was punishing the rims, slicing through the competition and getting several clean looks at dunks. When he gets there, he’s got the explosive athleticism to rise well able the rim, and it’s plain to see, that he’s an experienced dunker. Defensively, he was menacing, blocking anything that came his way, bouncing several shot attempts off the backboard. Those who dared to shoot it around Deng, seldom came away looking good. Last season, as a junior with Valley, Deng played in 21 games and averaged 3.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. This season, especially if he’s as assertive as we saw him today, Deng will be one of the most dynamic and explosive players not only in the CIML, but in the state. 


Harouna Sissoko, 6’7 SF (Grand View Christian) — 2019

Seldom do we see guys of Sissoko’s caliber in Iowa, and he was showcasing some elite athleticism and some mesmerizing jams today at Kingdom Courts. A Mali-born prospect, Sissoko comes to Grand View Christian by way of Lincoln Academy in Georgia. He has a few D1 offers to his name right now, but was playing like he had something to prove today, with a passion and a grit that we didn’t necessarily expect from the D1 prospect. He’s a dynamic athlete that will dazzle the Thunder fans all winter. 



Zach Martinek, 6’4 G/F (West Fork) — 2019

Midway through game play, Martinek attacked the hoop and went right at Agueck Deng, that’s a big 6’4 guard going at a 6’7 forward at full speed, the collision did not end well for Martinkek, he ended up hitting the deck and sliding hard and fast into the corner of a set of bleachers. A group of people stood around, me included, and we were all very concerned. To everyone’s surprise and delight, Martinek got up pretty quickly, and within a couple minutes he was playing once again at the high level we had been seeing him play all day. By the next game, it was like nothing happened, he continued to dominate, and was one on a very short list for MVP consideration. He committed to Morningside, but played his heart out today anyways, and he’s in line to have an absolutely monster season at West Fork this winter. 


Jack Wetzel, 6’4 G (Cedar Rapids Kennedy) — 2020

Every time we see Wetzel, he impresses. And every time, for some reason, we’re surprised at how much better he’s gotten. He’s not a flashy player, he won’t blow you away with athleticism, or a killer crossover, but he’s solid, skilled and simply gets the job done. He’s a big guard, and his jumper is stellar from inside and outside the arc. He was in peak form in the opening game, canning at least five 3s, and not missing once during our viewing of him. Later in the day, he would continue to shine, sustaining his dominance throughout. Next time we’re set to watch Wetzel, we will certainly will not be underestimating him; this a very solid guard with a full set of skills and the right size who could become a Division I prospect here in the next 12 months. 


Jake Hilmer, 5’10 PG (North Linn) — 2019

No surprise here, last year’s Expo MVP was magnificent here today, and it’s his unselfish pass-first mentality that separates him from the pact. Especially at a showcase event like this, it can be tough to get your shots off, but with a guy like Hilmer on your team, a guard who’s not only willing to pass before he shoots, but who is also the most adept passer in the state, you’re going to get your looks. It only took a five minute initial viewing to see that Hilmer was on his game today. He routinely makes passes that make your jaw drop, and it’s gotten to the point where you expect a spellbinding pass just about every time he’s got the ball in his hands. Offensively, he was getting it done, too. Hilmer is going to put up video game numbers this season for the Lynx.