Posted On: 09/5/18 5:06 PM
It looks like Minnehaha’s reign in Class AA will continue for at least one more season but after the Redhawks, there’s a thick middle class of potentially very good teams. A common denominator among many of the teams that fancy themselves state tournament quality is high-quality guard play. Here are some of the backcourts to watch this winter:
Minnehaha Academy: The Redhawks have an advantage over the field thanks to arguably the best player in the state, Jalen Suggs, manning the point for them. Suggs is big, athletic, skilled and experienced. He can take over a game like few others in the country and the Redhawks will be difficult to beat as long as he’s around. Joining him is junior guard Terry Lockett, who averaged 12 points as a sophomore. He’s a top-notch defender and terrific perimeter shooter as well.
New London-Spicer: The Wildcats should be the favorite in Section 3AA going into the year after winning 19 games and getting to the subsection final last season. They also return a terrific backcourt pairing in Ryan Wygnagowski and Brandon Adelman. Adelman’s one of the top off-guards in the state and averaged more than 20 points per game as a junior while Wygnagowski put up better than 11 points per contest.
Minneapolis North: The Polars will have to replace arguably their three best players to graduation/transfer but they’ll be strong again thanks to the presence of Eli Campbell and Nasir El-Amin in the backcourt. Campbell averaged 12 points per game as a junior and should improve on that mark. El-Amin avered just less than nine points per deferring to guys like Tayler Johnson, Campbell and Odell Wilson but certainly showed his scoring mettle when he went for 37 points in the Border Battle against Kaukauna.
St. Cloud Cathedral: The Crusaders will undergo an identity switch next season after graduating two Division II bigs. Fortunately for them, senior guards Jackson Jangula and Nick Schaefer are talented, experienced and ready to take on bigger roles. Shaefer is a sharpshooter who improved as a ball handler and finisher while Jangula is an explosive slasher who can create shots for himself and as well as his teammates.
Cristo Rey Jesuit: Cristo Rey won 19 games a year ago and could push for more than 20 this year thanks to what should be a very good backcourt duo. James Sommer averaged 19 points per game as a junior and Erick Burgess put up better than 11 as just a freshman.
Brooklyn Center: The Centaurs might be the second best team in Class AA heading into the year and are undoubtedly a top-five team thanks in large part to junior guard Lu’Cye Patterson. As just a sophomore, Patterson averaged 23 points six and five assists. He controls the game as well as any guard in the state. Joining him in the backcourt is Rudwan Tahir, who was a starter as a sophomore. If he takes a reasonable step forward as an upperclassman, the Centaurs could stake a claim for the best backcourt in the state.