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Posted On: 10/2/18 8:30 AM
The 5th annual Iowa Top 250 Expo took place last weekend at Kingdom Courts in Des Moines, and a number of high-level prospects from around the state gathered to showcase their skills. Below we take a look at six of the best players we saw from the 2019 and 2020 classes.
PF Aguek Deng (West Des Moines Valley, 2019)
A 6-7 forward from Valley, Deng is a prospect who has intrigued me for quite a while, and he’s putting it all together now. He was dominant throughout the afternoon on Saturday, playing with an aggressiveness that we had never seen, on both ends of the floor. He dominated on both the offensive and defensive glass and showcased an improving handle and jumper that is fairly consistent out to about 15 feet now. Where he’s most impressive right now, however, is on the defensive end, where his blend of size, length and athleticism make him a great piece for a coach to play around with. He can defend out on the perimeter when switched in a pick-and-roll, and he excels as a rim protector. Players with the ability to switch, protect the rim and stretch the floor are at a premium in basketball nowadays, and if Deng’s jumper continues to improve, he’s the type of player every program in the country is looking for. His dominance throughout the day earned him MVP honors from myself and TJ.
GF Zach Martinek (West Fork, 2019)
The 6-4 wing is already committed to play at NAIA Morningside, but that didn’t stop him from showing up and showing out on Saturday afternoon. While just about everyone else was hitting their wall during their third games of the day, Martinek took his effort to another level, playing with an amount of energy that was matched perhaps only by Deng. He’s a remarkably talented offensive player, with the ability to score at all three levels. He has a smooth jumper with plenty of range, is a quality ball handler and passer, and he rebounds effectively on both ends of the floor. On the defensive end he’s a strong communicator and has the versatility to defend multiple spots. On a day he didn’t need to show up and play, he came to play in a big-time way, proving that he’s one of the best players in the state.
SF Harouna Sissoko (Grand View Christian, 2019)
The first bulletpoint in my notes from Saturday about Sissoko simply says “Whoa”. That was following a steal and thunderous dunk that kept the backboard shaking for about 15 seconds afterwards. Grand View Christian’s newest addition is a remarkable athlete with plenty of skills to boot. A 6-7 combo forward who probably will transition more out to the wing at the next level, he has a respectable jumper with good form and rotation, he just needs more reps to smooth everything out and become a dangerous shooter. He’s a solid ball handler at 6-7, and though that could still stand to improve, he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim against most defenders at this level. On the defensive end, he’s similar to the aforementioned Deng, an athletic forward with length who can switch and defend multiple positions. He attacks the glass hard on both ends of the floor, plays with a good motor and should put up some ridiculous numbers for the Thunder this winter.
GF Jack Wetzel (Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 2020)
For quite a while on Saturday afternoon, it looked like it might be Kennedy’s 6-4 wing who was going to take home “MVP” honors. He was excellent all day, but was at his best in his first game, draining 3 after 3 after 3. A fantastic shooter with a quick release, he showed the ability to shoot it at a high level both off the dribble and the catch, and he competed, and contributed, at a high level in every other facet of the game as well. Wetzel is a player who isn’t going to blow you away with his athleticism, although he’s certainly a good athlete, but he does everything on the floor well and is always going to put his team in a position to win with his ability to shoot the ball and impact the game in a number of ways.
PG Jake Hilmer (North Linn, 2019)
One of a few players in the showcase who have already committed, the future Upper Iowa lead guard was his usual sensational self on Saturday afternoon. He’s the best passer I’ve ever seen at the high school level, and he’s routinely looking to get others involved. The biggest development in his game has been the improvement in his jumper, which has never really been an issue before. But now he’s more willing to shoot it from deep, and while he’ll still almost always be looking to get others involved first, he can go out and get his own shot, either at the rim or from deep. A lightning quick guard constantly looking to push the pace, he’s put together one of the best careers in Iowa high school history, and it comes as no surprise that he was a standout here.
PG Cortaviaus Seales (North Scott, 2019)
The youngest of the Seales brothers, the improvement that Cortaviaus has made over the last 18-24 months has been astronomical, and he continued to showcase that improvement on Saturday. He keeps growing and adding strength to his frame, and he’s one of the best ball handlers in the class. The 6-0 lead guard is among the best in the state at getting by his defender and getting to the rim, where he’s able to finish through contact, and his jumper is steadily improving and turning into a threat. He’s a pesky on-ball defender who will really get up into opposing ball handlers and make them work, and he’s a quality team defender who knows where to position himself off the ball as well. Seales is a tough guard who contributes across the board, and with the way he keeps improving, he could become a quality Division II option for programs looking for a competitive, bulldog of a guard who is going to provide quality production on both ends of the floor.