Posted On: 10/3/18 5:35 PM

Class AAA basketball’s most improved.  Who are they and can they take another step forward?  We break it down now. 

Willmar (+16). The Cardinals won 26 games last season but have quickly been written off by some because Noah Slagter has graduated.  Noah was a senior, but around him was mostly juniors.  Drey Dirksen, Ty Roelofs, and Ryan Slette and others all return.  They may not be 26-3 again but they will be very good. 

Princeton (+13). The Tigers not only bring back all of their top scorers (Jon Stimmler, Adam Williams, James Flicek) plus Reilly O’Neil moved into town is also a Tiger.  The team has size, shooting, guard play, and everything the team needs to make a run at the state title game. 

Mankato East (+11). People forget that two years ago East was a .500 team.  They played to their potential last year and could have a very similar record this year with Jax Madson and Joich Gong as guards.  The Cougars have a very strong junior class that will play for the tournament this year, could make a title run next year. 

Dassel-Cokato (+11). The Chargers not only lost Trevor Kaiser but an experienced team as well.  Replicating a 15 win season will be very, very tough. 

St. Paul Johnson (+10).  The Governors found some of that old glory last year with a strong team of seniors. Returning will be a quality senior pair of Jordan Mobley and Lamont White and let’s not forget that as a 7th grader DeWanye Givens scored 6.4 points per contest.  Can they match last year?  The Govs don’t have experience but they could come close. 

Hibbing (+9). Hibbing may not improve by nine more games but they are going to be making a run at the state tournament.  Luke Lendell scored 19 a game last year and should be a 20 a game guy.  That said Ayden McDonald has a chance to be special and third leading scorer Will Durie returns as well.  A 20 win team?  Without a doubt. 

Sauk Rapids-Rice (+9).  The Storm used a veteran line-up to reach long time goals by making the state tournament.  What was even more impressive was they did it without their leading scorer becoming an even better team.  Going forward the Storm likely won’t be heading to state this year but talent is quality and they won’t fall far.