Posted On: 08/19/19 8:00 AM
With July’s evaluation period now behind us, and plenty of time to kill between now and late November, it’s time to take a look at who we believe will be some of the teams to keep an eye on in each classification this winter. And, since everyone likes rankings, why not roll out a de facto preseason top 10 for each class? This is our “Way Too Early” Top 10 for Class 1A.
How well do these rankings predict what may happen over the course of the coming season? Well, two teams that were ranked No. 1 to start the year won state titles (Grand View Christian in 1A, Oskaloosa in 3A), another was ranked No. 2 (North Linn in 2A), and the final was ranked No. 7 (Cedar Falls in 4A, but they played No. 1 Senior for the title). In all, 19 of the 32 state qualifying teams were either ranked or written about in our “others to watch” portion of the rankings (down from 27 of 32 the year before!). So, do the rankings mean anything this year? Perhaps not, but it’s probably better to find yourselves near the top of these lists than not.
Below you’ll find our top 10 for Class 3A, along with some other teams that could make some noise. We also provide a fairly detailed summary of why each team is in their respective spot. Enjoy, and, as always, leave a comment if you disagree with anything.
1.) Norwalk (State runner-up, 22-5 last year, 69.0% of scoring returning)
I said almost immediately after the 3A championship game last season that Norwalk would open the season at the #1 spot in 3A, and I’m sticking with it. The Warriors were within a few possessions of winning the 3A title last season, falling 48-44 to Little Hawkeye rival Oskaloosa, and return three starters, including arguably the front runner for Mr. Basketball, Bowen Born (27.8). One of the best scoring threats the state has seen in recent years, the 6-1 lefty guard has unlimited range and is one of the most creative scorers around. In addition to his scoring prowess, his playmaking abilities took a step up last year, as he dished out 102 assists (against just 41 turnovers), while having the ball in his hands all the time. Also back is second leading scorer Tyler Johnson (13.6), a long, athletic wing who can really shoot the ball (62 3PM, 45.6%). Johnson will pair with Born to give the Warriors the most potent offensive attack in 3A. Scott Anderson (5.1, 28 3PM, 41.8 3P%) is the final returnee from last year’s group, giving Norwalk a trio of high-level shooters. This is a group that relied heavily on their starting five last year, so they’ll need to get some increased production out of bench players like Sam Eggers (1.6) and Ethan Carlson (2.8), as well as finding some new pieces to fill into some key roles. But with Bowen Born leading the charge, Norwalk is going to be really, really tough to beat. He’s that dynamic of a player. The Warriors are one of the top contenders to take home the 3A title this year, and with the best high school player on the floor on a nightly basis, they enter the season as our favorite.
2.) Oskaloosa (State champion, 19-5 last year, 40.0% of scoring returning)
The defending champions lose a lot from their first ever state title team, and to some, this #2 ranking may seem a bit ambitious. But with Xavier Foster (14.4, 148 blocks) returning, the Indians are going to be a real threat yet again this year. Yes, they are going to sorely miss Cole Henry, who is now playing at Northern Iowa. Rian Yates’ shooting and playmaking ability will also be missed, as will Austin Hafner’s shooting. But a two-way force like Foster doesn’t come around too often in Iowa high school basketball, and as such, Osky is still going to be a force to be reckoned with. Tyler Miller (2.3) is the only other returning starter for the Indians, and he’ll be asked to take on a heavy ball handling load, and they’ll need to get production out of a pair of sophomores who were on the varsity roster as freshmen last year, William Schultz (0.6) and Carson Genskow. The good news for Osky is that Iszac Schultz (2.7) proved himself to be a very valuable piece at State last year, an excellent perimeter defender and capable shooter, while Noah VanVeldhuizen (4.1) is also back. He’ll need to be the team’s go-to shooting threat after making 24 3s off the bench last year. Oskaloosa has more question marks than any other team on this list, but they also have one of the biggest difference makers and erasers the state has seen in years patrolling the paint, and they are going to win plenty of games.
3.) Winterset (State semifinalist, 18-7 last year, 76.8% of scoring returning)
They’re small, but they’re quick. That’s probably the best way to describe the Huskies, who had nobody bigger than 6-1 in the starting lineup last year, and nobody bigger than 6-2 as a key contributor for their third place team. This team caught fire down the stretch last season, winning 14 of their last 17 games, and giving eventual champion Oskaloosa a real scare in the semifinals. They bring four starters back from that group, headlined by lefty scoring guard Easton Darling (20.2), who could be among the state leaders in scoring if he’s able to improve his perimeter shooting numbers (40-156 last year, 25.6%). He’s a better shooter than he showed last season, and a bounceback could mean huge numbers for him. He’ll be joined in the starting lineup by returnees Dawson Forgy (6.4), Casey Young (7.0) and Brock Johnson (6.1), and likely Hunter Farr (6.5), who had success off the bench last year, leading the team with 43 made 3s. A 5-11 post player, Johnson is actually a really good athlete who plays bigger than that size, and is incredibly tough. He led the team in rebounding last year, and is relentless on the glass. Young is also a quality interior option who shot over 65% from the floor last season. Casey Kleemeier, last year’s second leading scorer at 14.8 points a game, is a big loss, but he was the only senior on the roster, so plenty of experience is back. This scrappy, quick and athletic group got a taste of real success last year, and they’ll be hungry for more this time around. With one of the state’s best scorers leading the way in Darling, and one of the quickest lineups in the state surrounding him, this Husky group is going to cause headaches for a lot of teams this winter.
The Monarchs were probably the biggest surprise team in the state last season, rattling off 10 straight wins down the stretch before falling by three to Winterset in the substate final, falling just a few possessions short of a state tournament trip. They bring back four starters from that group, including 6-8 power forward Goanar Biliew (18.2, 10.8 rebounds, 74 blocks), who emerged as one of the state’s best two-way big men last year. A great athlete with outstanding size, he’s a force on both ends of the floor and is primed for a huge senior year. His running mate, point guard Charlie Wiebers (16.1, 108 assists) is the straw that stirs the drink, and a solid two-way player in his own right, leading the team with 72 steals. Austin Korner (5.3), a 6-4 forward, returns in the paint to take some pressure off of Biliew, while Damien Magnuson (5.3) is the final returning starter. They’ll need to find some depth, as only Jack Mendlik (3.2) and Bryce Fink (1.7) saw much time off the bench last year as returnees, but the starting group should be as good as any in 3A. The inside-out tandem of Biliew and Wiebers is as good as it gets, but this team is going to need to find some shooting, as no returnee shot better than 34.8% from the arc last year (Wiebers). If a shooter emerges to help take some pressure off of Biliew in the paint, watch out, this could be a state title team.
5.) Sergeant Bluff-Luton (State qualifier, 20-4 last year, 56.4% of scoring returning)
The Warriors spent a significant amount of time ranked #1 in 3A last season, with all three regular season losses coming to strong 4A teams Sioux City West (twice) and Sioux City East. They were considered one of the favorites in the class when they qualified for State, but had a disappointing finish to the year, falling to a more energetic, quicker Winterset team in the quarterfinals. They bring back a lot of size and talent again this year, and will look to make a deeper run this year. After losing star guard Conner Groves, and another talented guard in Sam DeMoss, this team will likely rely a bit more on their size this season, with 6-8 Daniel Wright (15.1) leading the way. Wright is a multi-faceted combo forward who can score inside and out, and is also a gifted passer. Look for him to have the ball in his hands a lot, making plays for others and doing his fair share of scoring. Also back is Jake Layman (9.8), a 6-7 wing who recently received a Division II offer from Augustana (SD). Layman shot just under 40% from behind the arc last season and with his size, he can get his shot off whenever he wants. He will need to emerge as a secondary scorer alongside Wright. Deric Fitzgerald (6.5) is the third returning starter, a decent shooter and defender. They’ll need to get increased production out of guys like Austin Freiberg (3.0), Nick Muller (2.5), Jacob Imming (1.3) and Majok Majouk (0.4) if they want to make a serious run this season. Majouk, a 6-6, athletic forward, could be a real key if he’s been able to develop. If he can turn into a viable threat, SB-L could put some unmatched size on the floor. The Warriors play in the 4A Missouri River, and are tested on a nightly basis against bigger schools, so they should be ready to roll come postseason time. If they can find a few capable guards who can protect the ball and make occasional shots (maybe Fitzgerald, maybe Muller, maybe someone else?), they could turn from a state tournament threat to a state title threat.
6.) Clear Lake (State semifinalist, 24-2 last year, 52.6% of scoring returning)
The final remaining undefeated team in 3A last season, the Lions were questioned heading into the state tournament due to a weaker strength of schedule than most other teams in 3A have. They proved themselves to be a high-level team, crushing West Delaware in the opening round before giving Norwalk a great game in the semifinals. Two starters, and six key players overall, return to that group which will have a chance to make a return trip to Des Moines this year. They’re led by sophomore point guard Carson Toebe (11.2, 40.2 3P%, 51 3PM), who was one of the state’s most productive freshmen last year and showed himself to be the real deal at State. He’s a smart, active and skilled lead guard who dished out a team-high 138 assists last year and will emerge as an even bigger scoring and playmaking threat this year. Jaylen DeVries (6.0) is the other returning starter, a 6-2 forward who led the team in rebounding and shot an efficient 56.4% from the field. Andrew Formanek (7.4) was a quality scoring threat off the bench last year, a long (6-5) and athletic combo forward who can do a bit of everything. He led the team with 25 blocks last year, and should emerge alongside Toebe as a nice secondary scoring threat. Kody Kearns (4.6), Jack Barragy (4.0) and Ryan Thomas (2.1) also return after seeing significant time last year. Playing in north central Iowa, the Lions aren’t going to be tested too often during the regular season again this year, but they proved last year that they aren’t a fluke team that racks up wins against a weak schedule. This is a legitimate basketball team, and they will be good again this winter with Toebe leading the charge.
The Dutch were their typical selves last season, putting one of the most explosive offenses in the state on the floor, as they ranked fifth in 3A, averaging 69 points a game. They were also balanced, as they usually are, with four players averaging in double figures. Two of those players return in Logan Shetterly (17.3) and John Oltman (10.8), a tandem that combined to make 101 3-pointers in their up-tempo system. Shetterly will have the ball in his hands a lot this year as the leading returnee in assists (74), and his ability to score from anywhere on the floor and facilitate this deep group make him one of the more valuable players in 3A. Treyton Sturgeon (7.0) played in just the first three games last season but is back and should be a viable tertiary scoring threat, while Karl Miller (5.0, 52.0 3P%) returns after a very productive freshman season coming off the bench. A 6-4 wing with fantastic shooting ability, he’s the type of player who will thrive in Pella’s system. Grant Nelson (6.8) can also shoot the ball, making 28 3s at a 36.8% clip last season. The Dutch always score in bunches, and this year will be no exception. They are going to be loaded with players who can shoot the ball. They’re going to play fast, shoot it often, and try to force teams into turnovers with their pressure. If they can be a bit better on the defensive end (59.8 points a game last year, 41st in 3A), they can be a real threat in the class. This group was upset by Ballard in the substate final last year, and will be hungry to get further this time around.
8.) Dubuque Wahlert (10-12 last year, 78.7% of scoring returning)
Four starters return for the Golden Eagles, who are traditionally one of the powers in Class 3A. Included within those four returnees are the top three scorers from last season, a trio that will give Wahlert one of the best backcourts in the state. They’re led by Jake Schockemoehl (17.6, 57 3PM), a big-time scoring guard who could have a huge senior season if he can improve his efficiency (35.8 FG%, 36.3 3P%). He’s really talented, but can at times have some questionable shot selection. Get that in check, and watch out. He’s joined in the backcourt by Cael Schmitt (13.4, 36 3PM) and Isaac Ripley (10.2, 32 3PM), giving the Eagles plenty of perimeter scoring punch. Schmitt, a 5-11 senior lead guard, took outstanding care of the ball last year, dishing out 96 assists against just 35 turnovers, and also led the team with 68 steals. A quick point guard with good handles and court vision, he emerged as a real scoring threat last season. Ripley is a quality third scoring option alongside Schockemoehl and Schmitt who does a little bit of everything. Lucas Topping (2.8) is the other returning starter, a 6-4 forward who had more offensive rebounds than defensive last season and will need to control the paint for Wahlert. Playing in arguably the best conference in the state, the MVC, with a bunch of 4A schools, Wahlert is probably going to hover around the .500 mark for most of the season, but they will be one of the best teams in 3A when postseason play rolls around. Guard play wins in high school basketball, and few in 3A will have a better trio of guards than Wahlert is going to put on the floor.
9.) Marion (State qualifier, 16-6 last year, 64.9% of scoring returning)
Coming off back-to-back state tournament appearances, the Indians will have a slightly different look this year following the resignation of coach Mike Manderscheid. He always had the Indians playing great defense and doing just enough on the offensive end to scrape out some wins. They were a little more explosive on that end last year after bringing back in transfer Will Henricksen (16.9), who is one of two returning starters for new coach Pete Messerli. Messerli has been at Marion for 11 years, serving four years as a freshman coach and the last seven as an assistant for the girls program, who has been one of the most dominant girls basketball programs in the state in that time. He has familiarity with the roster, and the transition should be smooth. The other returning starter for Marion is Jaffer Murphy (9.3), a highly athletic guard who is at his best playing downhill and using his quickness to get to the rim. He’s also a very good on-ball defender with length and quickness to bother opposing ball handlers. While only Henricksen and Murphy are back as returning starters, three others who saw significant time for last year’s state qualifying team return in Connor Whalen (5.3), Gage Franck (4.6) and Owen Puk (2.8). Anticipate seeing those five start, at least at the beginning of the year. Henricksen will be asked to do a large chunk of the scoring, as he did last year, and he’s capable of doing so. He shot 41.5% from the arc last year and can score from anywhere on the floor. Marion has been a scrappy, aggressive and tough team under Manderschied, and that should continue under Messerli. Don’t expect to see too much of a drop-off here, and the Indians will be in contention to make a third straight trip to Des Moines.
10.) Carroll (18-5 last year, 54.2% of scoring returning)
The Tigers spent most of last season ranked within the top 10 in 3A, and three of their five losses came to state tournament qualifying teams (Winterset twice, and 4A Sioux City East), with no loss coming by more than 10 points (Sioux City East). Simply put, they were one of the most consistent teams in the state last season, and they should be quite good again this year. Two starters return in Karter Lein (11.5) and Colby Vincent (11.9), who combined to make 95 3-pointers last season and will give the Tigers one of the best shooting backcourts in 3A. In addition to that firepower, Colby Christensen (4.1, 26 3PM, 42.6 3P%) is also back after a good season off the bench. In all, seven players who averaged at least 3.0 a game last season return, meaning Carroll will have plenty of experience, even if only two starters are back. Tory Feldman (4.6) and Chase Gladden (5.8) provide some size inside the arc, while Jacob Tunning (3.9) is another capable perimeter threat to add to the mix. Look for sophomore guard Nick Macke (3.0) to become a vital piece for this group, as he should see some primary ball handling responsibilities coming his way at some point soon. Carroll is a consistent winning program, and that tradition will continue this winter. The amount of shooting they can put on the floor with Lein, Vincent, Christensen and Tunning will be unmatched by many teams, and if they can get hot at the right time, this team could make some real noise.
Ten more teams to watch
ADM (13-10 last year, 70.6% of scoring returning)
If you’re looking for a team to make a big-time leap this season, it may be the Tigers. Three starters return to a team that started the year 7-2 before a mid-season swoon, and nine of their 10 losses last year came by single digits. They’re led by the guard tandem of Nate Mueller (15.5, 53 3PM) and Jaxson Millsap (11.3, 50 3PM), who will give ADM one of the best shooting backcourts in the class. Nathan Conrad (6.1) is the other returning starter, giving them some size and toughness in the paint, and expect to see some increased production out of 6-7 junior big man Dylan Anderson (2.7). If he can give them quality minutes in the paint and turn into a viable offensive threat, it could cause defenses to collapse a bit and take some of the perimeter pressure off of Mueller and Millsap. Also back are Tate Stine-Smith (6.2) and Caden Mager (3.1), who saw plenty of time off the bench last year. Mueller was great at the free throw line last year (88.5%), but the rest of the team was just 58.4%. They’ll need to improve on that number if they want to turn those single digit losses into some more wins this winter.
Ballard (State qualifier, 15-10 last year, 49.0% of scoring returning)
The Bombers were probably the biggest surprise among state tournament qualifiers last year, but they got hot at the right time before running into a buzzsaw in Norwalk in the opening round in Des Moines. The good news for them is that star junior forward Connor Drew (17.2, 9.6 rebounds) returns after a great sophomore season that saw him emerge as one of the best low-post players in the state. He’s an efficient, 6-6 big man with a good back-to-the-basket game and the ability to occasionally step out and knock down jumpers. This group was very up and down last year. They followed a seven-game win streak by losing seven of their next 10 games, and they’ll need to become more consistent this season if they want to be seen as a real threat. Mason Murphy (8.0, 107 assists) is the only other returning starter, while 6-6 sophomore big man Kale Krogh (3.1) is the only other returnee who saw significant time. If he can keep improving and becoming a threat, they’ll be able to put a pair of quality big men on the floor, which will make them dangerous. A lot of holes need to be filled here, but with Connor Drew in tow, they’ll be dangerous.
Cedar Rapids Xavier (9-12 last year, 69.9% of scoring returning)
The Saints will have a new face roaming the sidelines this winter, as Mike Freeman takes over at Xavier following Ryan Luehrsmann’s departure to spend more time with his family. Luehrsmann led Xavier to a pair of state titles in 2016 and 2017, with third place finishes in 2015 and 2018. Freeman, a Xavier alum and former assistant at Coe, has plenty of pieces to play with to help ease him into the job, as the top three scorers from last year’s team return in Jake Beckmann (12.7), Davis Wagner (10.8) and Jaylon Moses (7.5). They’ll have a big piece to replace in the form of Quinn Schulte, who was a winner no matter what sport he was playing, but there is plenty of talent in the system for the Saints. Moses is considered one of the top players in the 2021 class around the state. He’s battled injuries his first two years of high school ball, but if he’s fully healthy, he’s a major match-up problem with his 6-8 frame and the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Beckmann made 52 3-pointers last year at a 39.7% clip, and is capable of getting red hot and dropping 30 on a given night. Wagner is an athletic, slashing wing who does most of his damage by playing downhill and getting to the rim. Tre’ McCrary (4.4) started some games last season and gives the Saints some more quickness and penetrating ability in the backcourt, while Nick Hansel (3.3) provides some size and toughness in the paint. Playing in the 4A MVC means that the Saints will almost always float around that .500 mark, but they’re always going to be deadly come postseason time. With plenty of talent and experience back, this has the looks of a team that could make a return trip to Des Moines, and if Moses is healthy and playing to his ability, this is a dark horse state title team.
Clear Creek-Amana (11-9 last year, 77.8% of scoring returning)
Four starters return for the Clippers, and five of the top seven scorers return to a team that lost four games by five or fewer points last season, meaning this group was really close to being a 15-win team with a fairly young roster. The trio of Tyler Schrepfer (12.1), CC Withrow (11.4) and TJ Bollers (10.2) gives them a well balanced scoring group, while Nick O’Connor (8.8) will be asked to combine with Schrepfer to give them some shooting ability. Withrow is an efficient wing who shot 54% from the floor, and knows that his strength is inside the arc. Bollers, a 6-5 junior, is one of the better football prospects in the Midwest, and his strength and athleticism in the paint can create all sorts of problems for smaller teams in the WaMaC. Brock Reade (4.1) is the other key returnee, and don’t be surprised to see the sophomore trio of Kyle Schrepfer, Gavin Zillyette and Ben Swails start to produce this year. The Clippers have lots of experience coming back, and if they can improve on the defensive end (42nd in 3A last year allowing 60.0 a game), they can turn some of those narrow losses into wins this year. Get that number down to 54 points a game or so, and this could be a State team, given the right draw.
Decorah (9-13 last year, 97.2% of scoring returning)
Few teams in the state played as many close games as the Vikings did last year, as they had 14 games decided by single digits. They went just 4-10 in those games last season, but with all five starters returning and only 35 points gone from last year’s roster, that number should improve this year. This is a balanced group that brings back their top eight scorers, and nobody averaged more than 10 points a game, so teams aren’t able to just key in on one player to slow down. They share the ball and anyone is capable of being the go-to guy on a given night. Patrick Bockman (10.0), Matthew Franzen (9.9), Logan Halverson (9.2), Samuel Robinson (6.2) and Andrew Magner (3.5) are the returning starters, while Charles Robinson (7.7), Keaton Solberg (5.9) and Seth Shindelar (2.1) provided some punch off the bench. All of them are back. There are two key areas where this group will need to improve if they want to make the most of this season and punch their first ticket to Des Moines since 1977. First, they have to take better care of the basketball. They had 248 assists against 257 turnovers last season. That number needs to be positive, and if the turnover number can go from 11.6 a game down to the 6.5-7 range, this offense will become much more efficient. Secondly, they need someone to step up as a shooter from deep. They shot just 29.2% from the arc as a team. That needs to be better. But the pieces are in place for this to be a special year for Decorah.
Grinnell (8-13 last year, 80.6% of scoring returning)
After a disastrous 2017-18 season that saw the Tigers go 1-21, they bounced back and were much more competitive last season, winning eight games and trimming nine points off their average margin. With four starters returning, they should continue that upward trajectory this winter. They’re led by 6-4 senior wing Jake Hull (20.1), one of the top scoring threats in 3A, with the ability to get to the rim or pull-up from well beyond the arc. He’s a smooth shooter and an all-around dynamic scoring threat. He’ll be joined by the backcourt duo of AJ Wilkins (8.1) and Cole McGriff (7.2), a pair of junior guards with the ability to stretch the floor, while 6-9 junior Owen Coffman (4.9) will hold down the paint. If Coffman’s offensive game has developed even a little bit, he can help take some of the pressure off the three solid shooters Grinnell has on the perimeter. The only other returnee who saw significant time last year is Matayas Durr (2.5), so a lot of pressure, especially early on, will be on those four returning starters. Hull is capable of scoring 30+ on any given night, and his explosive ability will make Grinnell dangerous on a nightly basis. If they can continue to trim some points off their defensive average (66.9 in that 2017-18 season, 60.2 last year), they’ll have the firepower to win plenty of games.
Iowa Falls-Alden (8-10 last year, 73.8% of scoring returning)
The Cadets have one of the best scorers in the state in junior guard Karson Sharar (24.1), a 6-1 scorer who can explode on a nightly basis. He played in just seven games last season due to injuries, but his scoring ability will take the pressure off of the others on the floor, including Logan Aldinger (15.4, 64 3PM), who showed himself to be a very capable scoring threat while Sharar was sidelined, and should be a very good sidekick to Sharar this year. Blake Janssen (5.9) is coming off a solid freshman year and should be the primary distributor for this team, while Caden Mentzer (7.0), Nolan Frohwein (4.4), Garret Renaud (3.3) and Brody Steinfeldt (2.3) all saw plenty of time last season. This team is going to go as Sharar does, and having him on the floor and healthy will open up some opportunities for other threats on this roster. This team is going to score, and if Sharar can stay on the floor, they’ll be dangerous.
LeMars (12-11 last year, 67.4% of scoring returning)
The Bulldogs lose their leading scorer from last year’s group, but bring back the next seven scorers, so they’ll be loaded with experience and should have a well-built team. We’ll start in the backcourt with the tandem of Spencer Mackey (15.3, 43.8 3P%) and Alec Dreckman (6.2, 45.7 3P%), who combined to make 88 3-pointers last year at a 44.4% clip, giving LeMars one of the best shooting backcourts in the class. That duo will surround forward Aisea Toki (7.1), who despite being listed at just 6-2, was an animal on the glass last year, averaging nine rebounds a game. Jaxon Baumgartner (3.9) led the team in assists last season with 81 (against 30 turnovers) and is a returning starter, while Trevor Smith (5.9) is a fourth returning starter for the ‘Dogs. Tate Westhoff (2.7) saw significant playing time last year, and Dylan Boylan (1.1) got some run as well, giving the Bulldogs seven key returnees. Look for increased production out of 6-6 sophomore forward Konnor Callhoun as well, and his size should be a big boost for this group. This group is going to miss the scoring ability of Alex Irwin, who averaged just under 20 points a game, but this team should be more balanced, and with the shooting that Mackey and Dreckman provide, and the toughness that Aisea Toki gives them in the paint, LeMars should be among the top threats in northwest Iowa.
MOC-Floyd Valley (11-10 last year, 68.2% of scoring returning)
Few players in the state had a better spring and summer than Dutchmen big man Alex Van Kalsbeek (17.8, 71.4 FG%), who was fantastic with a very good South Dakota Attack team on the grassroots circuit, showing some explosive athleticism and impressive low-post scoring abilities. His efficiency last year was outstanding, and he also blocked a team-high 52 shots last season, proving himself to be a strong two-way player. Two other starters return in Kyle Christy (8.7) and Keegan Douma (4.8), who are both capable perimeter shooters to place around Van Kalsbeek. Graham Mayrose (5.0), Justin Schipper (2.8) and Adam De Boer (1.7) each saw time off the bench last year and should be counted on to be quality producers as well. But the reason this team is going to be one to watch this winter is Van Kalsbeek. If he can take his game up yet another level, MOC-FV could be a state tournament threat.
Mount Vernon (9-12 last year, 75.0% of scoring returning)
The Mustangs bring back one of the state’s best shooters and scoring threats in junior guard Keaton Kutcher (20.5, 73 3PM), who is capable of getting red hot at any given moment and dropping 35 on someone. He holds an offer from Western Illinois and is one of three returning starters for Mount Vernon. Noah Erickson (10.1) and Nolan Brand (6.1) are also back, the team’s top two rebounders last season. Coach Ed Timm has a deep roster with lots of returnees, although not many of those returnees contributed much last season. Look for guys like Jack Kragenbrink (0.7), Kolby Volesky (1.8), Derek Jordan (1.1) and Aiden Nosek (0.7) to become key contributors for the ‘Stangs this year, but this team is really going to go as far as Kutcher can take them. He’s an elite-level scoring threat, and with him on their side, Mount Vernon is going to be capable of beating anyone on a given night.