Posted On: 09/17/19 4:55 PM
What dozen known juniors competed at the Top 250 Expo in a way that is deserving of increased college interest plus the respect of their peers? Prep Hoops breaks it down now.
DJ Akpati of Totino-Grace. In the final game of the day no player could move their feet and get a body in front of Akpati. DJ’s push into high percentage creations for his teammates in the final game was exceptional as he totaled six assists in 20 minutes plus four makes in six shots.
Derek Burgess of Cristo Rey. This is just another example of why I think Derek Burgess is so, so close to being a player that scholarship schools make a regular effort to see. Derek has the ability to be a big number scorer but his passion for putting the ball in the hands of others for a better shot makes him even better.
Chance Fazio of Fergus Falls. Fazio is a legit 6-foot-10 and guys were seeking him out for screens not just to clear space but to then deliver the ball to him for soft touching scores. Fazio loves to catch and put the ball off the glass and this weekend playing with lead guards who found him in a good position he was excellent.
Corbin Froelich of Paynesville. Corbin is 6-foot-4 playing wing and at times the power forward spot with consistent numbers and dependable production. Froelich knocked out a couple jumpers but also used his physical approach to get in front of the rim to complete plays.
Robert Grace IV of Blake. Grace continues to be one of the best players in the state in transitioning for a high percentage of results. Some guys seem to lose a step when the basketball is in their hands but Grace looks even quicker when he advances in the opposite way.
Andre Gray of Hopkins. I came into this event believing that Gray was the top guard/wing prospect in Minnesota’s 2021 class and his play simply solidified my belief. Gray shot the ball at the arc at a high percentage, he could not be knocked off balance going towards the rim off the attack, and he’s simply better physically built than other players at his position.
Paris Johnson of St. Louis Park. When Johnson is only in the scoring role and has players moving the ball to him to start transition or swinging it to him on the wing he can be a menace. When Johnson gets that edge he has a knack for releasing and completing before the help arrives.
Broden Lien of NCE-UH. There is more of a fight, an edge to Broden than I had first seen. I’ve seen him take on a lot of challenges this summer and into the fall and I love the way Broden handles them. Broden was hit around the basket several times and his response was to hit back while scoring in the post or on second chances.
Francis Nwaokorie of Champlin Park. This weekend I became convinced that Francis Nwaokorie not only has the size to be a division one player but he certainly has the touch, low post feel and persistence to play at that level as well. Francis is the leading returning scorer for the Rebels and when the ball is put in his hands in the right spot few posts have the physical ability to defend him.
Sam Privet of Caledonia. The approach Privet has to low post work is something to appreciate. He works to his spots and rarely plays outside of his comfort area. The short jumper of Privet is something Caledonia can count on and he does a great job of getting to position to catch, get the ball high, and finishing with a good percentage at 6-foot-6/6-foot-7.
Zach Spann of Eastview. To get this out of the way, Zach Spann excited everybody in the gym with his explosive finishes a number of times. Spann is every bit the physical athlete that every single college in America wants. So how are the skills coming along? The short jumper was only taken so many times but it looked good and the ball handling has improved.
Kody Williams of Wayzata. The Expo was another proof provider that if you are looking for a point guard in this class, Kody is your guy. Kody’s toughness ranks with the best as even in this event he wouldn’t let players turn the corner on him for an attack. His feel for when to attack and the results that come from it are exactly what schools want.