Posted On: 10/1/18 6:54 PM
The annual Iowa Dynasty Fall League tipped off last week, with players from the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids metro converging on West High School Sunday mornings to get some runs in. We missed last week’s opening week, but were in the gym for Week 2 of action. Below are some takeaways we had from the three hours of action.
Montezuma’s dynamic backcourt
We have Montezuma ranked No. 7 in our preseason Class 1A top 10, and frankly, that may not be high enough after viewing their sensational tandem of sophomore guards over the weekend, Trey Shearer and Cole Watts. Both were standouts at the Prep Hoops Top 250 Expo on Saturday, and continued their strong play into Sunday at the Dynasty Fall League, leading their team to a pair of victories.
For large stretches of the morning, the 5-10 Shearer looked like the best player in the gym. A quick twitch point guard with outstanding ball handling abilities, he was able to routinely get into the paint for acrobatic finishes. He’s a talented playmaker who is equally adept putting his teammates into scoring positions as he is scoring on his own. He’s a knockdown 3-point shooter who gets the ball into his shooting pocket off the dribble quickly, and he’s a threat to stop on a dime and elevate from anywhere inside 30 feet. Shearer averaged 16 points a game last year as a freshman for the Braves, and he’s improved tremendously. Watch out Class 1A, you’ve been warned.
Not to be outdone, Shearer’s 5-11 running mate, Cole Watts, put together a pair of strong showings over the weekend. A strong off-guard, Watts shot 44.3% from behind the arc last year as a freshman, and it’s clear to see why after watching him. He gets great rotation on his shot, has a lightning quick release, and “in the gym” range. He has good upper body strength and has improved his handle, allowing him to get into the paint and finish through contact. The Braves, who won 19 games last season with Shearer and Watts ranked No. 1 and 3 in scoring as freshmen, are going to win a TON of games over the next three seasons, and will be threats to make a deep run at State as soon as this winter.
The Dante Eldridge decision is a big blow to Iowa City West…
The 5-9 senior guard averaged 10.8 points a game last year for the Trojans, and was expected to be a massive contributor for one of the state’s best teams this season. But, unfortunately, Eldridge will not be able to suit up this season for West. He played high school basketball as an eighth grader when he still lived in the Boston area (his family moved to Iowa City when his father, Courtney, took a job on Iowa’s staff when Dante was a sophomore). And since he had already played two years of high school ball in Boston, a year of sophomore ball at West, and a year of varsity ball at West last season, he’s out of eligibility. The plan that I’ve been told is for Eldridge to graduate in the spring, play grassroots ball again with Iowa Dynasty in the spring and summer, and find a new home after that.
The lightning quick guard was dominant in his team’s second game of the day, creating havoc on both ends of the floor with his speed and talent. He was able to routinely get to the rim for finishes or passes to teammates for easy layups, and he’s a knockdown shooter (47.2 3P% last year). While his size may be a detriment to some schools, his talent shines through and he should be a sought after commodity in the spring. You can never have too many ball handlers and shooters.
…but it will allow for a trio of underappreciated guards to step up
If there are any silver linings in Eldridge being ineligible, it comes in the form of three other West guards who look ready to step into significantly larger roles this season – seniors Brayden Adcock and Jacob Klein, and junior Joey Goodman.
Adcock was a role player last season who looks like he’ll find a spot in the starting lineup this year. A 6-0 guard, he’s probably the only player that was in the gym on Sunday who stood a chance at staying in front of Trey Shearer on the defensive end consistently. He’s a great on-ball defender who takes pride in playing defense, and he’s a throwback lead guard on the offensive end, a pass-first guard who rarely looks for his own shot, but is a threat to knock down open 3s.
Klein is a flamethrower of a guard who can get red hot and put up 15 points in the blink of an eye. He’s a dead-eye shooter, and if given any space, he’ll make a defense pay.
And the final beneficiary is Goodman, a tough lead guard who makes contested shots, gets to the rim and finishes, gets after it on the defensive end, and can facilitate. He’s small, maybe 5-9 on a good day, but he won’t back down from anyone, and he’s going to play hard on each possession. Look for all three players to play significant roles for the Trojans, who will be looking for talented guards to step up alongside Patrick McCaffery and Even Brauns.
We’ll be back in the gym next Sunday for the final week of “regular season” play at the Dynasty Fall League, and back with more observations.