Posted On: 03/13/19 4:24 PM

We may be on the tail end of high school basketball season but it’s not too early to look ahead to what’s coming up on the AAU circuit. Over the next few months we will be taking a look at the teams that will be participating in the Prep Hoops Circuit Hard Work Region and here’s a look at the Minnesota Lightning.

The Lightning will compete in the 14U, 15U, 16U and 17U age divisions of the Hard Work Region and will be at Hard Work Live, Battle at the Lakes and the Hard Work Region Finals.

I recently caught up with Lightning Director Todd Ellerbusch to learn more about the program and what to expect from his teams this season:

Why did you start your program? How long have you been around?

I started my program in 2013 as an opportunity for my sons and other Rochester area players to play basketball at a high level without having to drive to the Twin Cities for practice. I decided to expand each year as more and more players from the area contacted me and wanted to play AAU. This year we will have 10 teams ranging from 13u-17u. Players from over 40 different high schools in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin will be playing for the Lightning. Because of this we will no longer be called SE MN Lightning. We have changed our name to Minnesota Lightning. 5 of these teams will be competing in the Prep Hoops Circuit. The 14u, 15u, two of the 16u, and one 17u team will be participating.

What is the goal of your program for 2019?

Our goal for the 2019 season is to have all of our teams be competitive at a high level and help our players improve individually for their next high school season. With the level of competition we play, we also provide a platform for our players to get a lot of college exposure. Thanks to Prep Hoops and the great exposure they provide our players, it has helped them get noticed by college coaches from all different levels.

What is your program’s mission each year?

Our program mission each year is an AAU program that provides opportunities for players in MN, Iowa, and Wisconsin to play AAU basketball at a high level, while also gaining exposure to college coaches. Our program gives its players a competitive atmosphere that is well organized. Our goal is to develop our player’s individual basketball skills while developing other essentials of being a well-rounded player such as sportsmanship and being a team player.

Do you know of any players that will be back in your program this year? Who should we have our eye on?

The majority of our rosters have been set. All of my circuit teams have a lot of strong prospects as well as some of my teams not playing the circuit schedule.
Here is our 17u circuit roster:
-Grant Manke 6’5 Bangor, WI
-Luke Schwartzhoff 6’7 La Crescent
-Zach Todd 6’4 La Crescent
-Noah Miller 5’10 Forest City, Iowa (2021)
-Kaden Thomas 6’4 Blooming Prairie
-Zach Hutton 6’4 Zumbrota Mazeppa
-Jake Wohlers 6’2 Lake City
-Josh Kerksa 5’10 La Crescent

Why did you choose the Prep Hoops Circuit?

We chose the Prep Hoops Circuit because it provides top level competition that gives all of our players an opportunity to be seen by college coaches. We have played in events ran by Prep Hoops for years and the events are always ran well and attended by many coaches.