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Posted On: 11/29/18 3:00 PM
The season is here! Games across the state started on Monday, with most teams beginning their seasons Tuesday. And we’re here to bring you some quantitative lists, counting down the best returners in a given statistical category. The series concludes with us bringing you the best returning shot-blockers, from 4A to 1A.
10 Trevor Hager, Bellevue — 1.6
A true big-man, Hager is a rare-type post player who stays in the paint. And that bodes well for the Plainsmen, especially when he’s on defensive. His crown jewel last season was against North Cedar, when he swatted five.
T8 Keaton Mitchell, Wapello — 1.72
Mitchell recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play fro Missouri Division II program Truman State. But first, he’ll have a senior season ahead to showcase why he’s one of the best true bigs in Iowa.
T8 James Betz, GHV — 1.72
He’s been terrorizing opponents for three years already, and will almost certainly dominate this season during one last winter wit the Cardinals. He’s one of the longest prospects in his class and jumps out of the gym, which is why Northern Iowa decided to nab him early on in the recruitment process.
7 Calvin Ottens, Camanche — 1.78
Here’s a guy that could be considered a defensive specialist, or even more specifically, a shot-blocking specialist. As a junior he averaged 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds, but nearly two blocks. With some increased playing time this season, he could see those shot-blocking numbers rise considerably.
6 Gabe Larkin, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont — 1.79
An exciting season lies ahead for the Rockets, and they have the state tourney on the mind. When the 6-foot-5 big-man is in the paint, good things happen, he averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in addition to his high blocks numbers.
5 Jaxon Sharp, Davis County — 1.94
Things did not go well for the Mustangs last season, they won just one game; but a bright spot was Sharp’s defense. At 6-foot-6, he’s bigger than most guys he’s defending at the 2A ranks. Good things tend to happen when you’re bigger than everyone else on the hardwood.
4 Jacob Vis, Western Christian — 2.2
This is no one trick pony, Vis was dominant in several facets of the game last season. The shot-blocking is fantastic, but it’s the extraordinary shooting efficiency, 71 percent, that was truly special about his junior season with the Wolfpack.
3 Jon Schwarte, Treynor — 2.96
The Cardinals were painstakingly close to winning a 2A state title last season, but fell short against Cascade, Western Dubuque in the title game. The good news for Treynor, is that Schwarte, the team’s dominant big-man, was just a sophomore last season. He’s got two more years to dominate the paint.
2 Ryan Schmitt, Van Meter — 3.0
Technically, Schmitt is the leading returning shot-blocker who will be competing at the 2A ranks this season. Even Brauns is playing at 4A Iowa City West this season. Schmitt is a 6-foot-9 prospect who knows how to get buckets (14.1 PPG). He will be one of the best all-around bigs in Iowa this winter.
1 Even Brauns, Iowa City Regina — 3.1
As alluded to earlier, Brauns is actually playing at 4A Iowa City West this season. But he’s the best non-senior shot-blocker in 2A from a season ago. Regardless of what class of basketball Brauns is playing in, he will dominate. That was evidenced in an Iowa Hall of Pride scrimmage against Des Moines North, when Brauns — a possible high-major D1 prospect — was a beast on the block.