Posted On: 03/12/20 12:28 AM
Photo Credit: Logan Foote // @Logan_Foote6
Lincoln- What has been one of the more exciting seasons of high school basketball in recent memory will come to a conclusion this weekend in Lincoln. State tournament basketball begins Thursday morning, culminating with state championship games all day Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. There will be plenty of talent on display across all six classes of action and we begin our preview of players to watch in the state tournament by looking at 15 stars to watch throughout the Class A state tournament that will make the trip to PBA well worth the price of admission.
The 6’1 junior guard, who is committed to Wisconsin, is the straw that stirs the drink for Bellevue West. The Thunderbirds enter the state tournament as the top seed after running through their district bracket with relative ease. He is averaging 17.7 points per game to go along with 6 assists per game as well. Efficiency is his game, and Hepburn’s basketball IQ is off the charts, and when he’s distributing the ball to his supporting cast the T-Birds are tough to stop.
Chucky HepburnChuckyHepburn6'1" | PGBellevue West | 2021State#77NationNE (Bellevue West) The 6’1 junior guard, who is committed to Wisconsin, is the straw that stirs the drink for Bellevue West. The Thunderbirds enter the state tournament as the top seed after running through their district bracket with relative ease. He is averaging 17.7 points per game to go along with 6 assists per game as well. Efficiency is his game, and Hepburn’s basketball IQ is off the charts, and when he’s distributing the ball to his supporting cast the T-Birds are tough to stop. Louis FidlerLouisFidler6'5" | SFBellevue West | 2020StateNE (Bellevue West) At 6’4 Fidler is a tough wing player with a good looking outside shot, who is not afraid to take it to the rim. The Senior Morningside College commit is Bellevue West’s second-leading scorer on the season at 15.5 points per game. A playmaker on both ends of the floor, Fidler uses his long arms to be a stellar perimeter defender. Fidler can fill a stat sheet up pretty fast, and if he’s doing so it likely means his Bellevue West Thunderbirds are firing on all cylinders. Jadin BoothJadinBooth6'2" | SGOmaha Westside | 2020State#453NationNE (Omaha Westside) Mr. Do It All for Westside will look to close out his high school career with a state title this week. The Omaha signee is a smart and savvy combo guard who can score at all three levels, as well as make plays for his talented supporting cast. An efficient scorer, Booth is averaging 22 points a game while shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from behind the arc. He played one of the best single games I have ever seen in last year’s opening round, and I expect Booth to have a big weekend again for Westside. PJ NgambiPJNgambi6'1" | CGOmaha Westside | 2020StateNE (Omaha Westside) The crafty lefty, Ngambi is the second leading scorer in a Westside lineup that starts practically five guards. A natural slasher, Ngambi is the Warriors’ second-leading scorer on the year at 14 points a game and is also their leading assist man at 5 a game. An uncommitted senior, look for Ngambi and his senior backcourt mate in Booth to be the leaders for Westside this week. Spencer SchomersSpencerSchomers6'5" | SFOmaha Creighton Prep | 2020StateNE (Omaha Creighton Prep) It’s hard to believe that one of the oldest and most hard-fought rivalries in the state of Nebraska has never featured a matchup at the state basketball tournament. That all changes Thursday afternoon when Omaha Creighton Prep meets rival Omaha Westside at 3:45. Prep has a very balanced scoring attack but when it comes down to crunch time, their go-to guy is senior Northwest Missouri State commit Spencer SchomersSpencerSchomers6'5" | SFOmaha Creighton Prep | 2020StateNE, nicknamed "Showtime" by his teammates and coaches. The 6’5 senior forward is just about all you could want on the wing as he uses his length well on the glass and on defense, while he’s also a strong 3 point shooter at 40% for the year. AJ RollinsAJRollins6'5" | PFOmaha Creighton Prep | 2021StateNE (Omaha Creighton Prep) A two-sport star who holds multiple Divison 1 football offers, Rollins isn’t too shabby of a basketball player either. Strong, long, and athletic, there aren’t many players in the state built like Rollins who’ll have a bright future at the next level no matter which sport he chooses to pursue. The 6’6 junior will have a distinct size advantage against Westside. He is averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds a game for the Junior Jays. Jared MattleyJaredMattley6'1" | CGPapillion-LaVista South | 2020StateNE (Papillion LaVista-South) The senior point guard went down with an ankle injury in the Titans’ first-round district game against Lincoln Northeast that resulted in an upset loss, but thanks to the wildcard slot, Papio South returns to the state tournament. Going into their opening-round tilt with Millard North, Mattley’s health could be an early indication of the final result. An uncommitted senior, and one of the most efficient players in the state, Mattley has led the Titans all season to the tune of 16.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists a night. If he’s cleared to play he’ll likely be the straw that stirs the drink for Papio South as they take on Millard North for the first time this season. Danair DempseyDanairDempsey6'6" | PFPapillion-LaVista South | 2021StateNE (Papillion LaVista South) In my opinion Papio South has kind of been the forgotten team all season long in Class A, and because of this many people may not know the name Danair DempseyDanairDempsey6'6" | PFPapillion-LaVista South | 2021StateNE. A 6’7 junior forward who is extremely athletic and efficient, Dempsey will be the main scoring option for the Titans if point guard Jared MattleyJaredMattley6'1" | CGPapillion-LaVista South | 2020StateNE is unable to play Thursday. He is the Titans’ second-leading scorer at 13 points per game, and their leading rebounder averaging 6 per game. Regardless of the outcome for the Titans’ stay at the state tournament, Dempsey is most certainly a name to watch in the class of 2021. Hunter SallisHunterSallis6'4" | CGMillard North | 2021State#8NationNE (Millard North) The state’s first-ever five star rated recruit, Sallis has been the center of attention in Nebraska high school basketball this season and with good reason. The 6’4 junior guard is the textbook definition of efficient, and there are times where he just makes the game look easy. He’s athletic, explosive, and can score at all three levels with what sometimes looks like relative ease. Sallis averages 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists a game on the offensive end, with his length and athleticism aiding him on the defensive end. Sallis is about as close as you can be for a lock on the all-tournament team. Max MurrellMaxMurrell6'9" | PFMillard North | 2020State#80NationNE (Millard North) The 6’9 senior who is committed to Stanford sometimes can have quiet nights, but that just speaks to the talent on Millard North’s roster. Murrell is the tallest player in the Class A tournament and will have a distinct size advantage against every possible opponent in the field. While his stats may not jump off the page, Murrell’s size advantage has helped him average 4 blocks a night, to go with his averages of 9 points and 5 rebounds. He is also not afraid to let it fly from beyond the arc. Jasen GreenJasenGreen6'7" | PFMillard North | 2022State#173NationNE (Millard North) This state tournament features a healthy crop of talented sophomores, and the top-ranked sophomore player in the state is Millard North forward Jasen GreenJasenGreen6'7" | PFMillard North | 2022State#173NationNE. The 6’7 sophomore has showcased his ability to play inside and outside throughout the year for the Mustangs while averaging 11 points a game. There’s a reason Nebraska came calling with an offer the summer before his sophomore season, as Green possesses the tools where he may have the most upside and room to grow of any of Millard North’s star prospects. Latrell Wrightsell JrLatrellWrightsell Jr6'1" | CGOmaha Central | 2020StateNE (Omaha Central) The nightcap of the opening day of play features a rematch of last year’s Class A Final between Omaha Central and Omaha South. If the Eagles are to prevail, Latrell Wrightsell will play a big part in it. An off guard who’s a microwave on offense, Wrightsell was known mostly as a 3 and D player coming into this year, but he has displayed throughout his senior campaign that he can score at all three levels. He leads the Eagles with 23 points a game and recently broke Central’s single-game scoring record with 43 points in a game towards to end the regular season. A 6’2 senior, Wrightsell is the top uncommitted senior playing in the state tournament this weekend Max PolkMaxPolk6'0" | CGOmaha Central | 2020StateNE (Omaha Central) Max PolkMaxPolk6'0" | CGOmaha Central | 2020StateNE is just one of those players that thrive in the spotlight and in the big moments. He played some of the best basketball of his career as a junior in last year’s state tournament and as a senior Polk is out to avenge last year’s state final loss. A savvy 6’1 point guard, Polk possesses stellar court vision to find his teammates, but his bread and butter remains in the mid-range game and taking the ball to the basket. Look for Polk to use a wide variety of floaters and some tough layup finishes throughout the weekend. Jay SaundersJaySaunders5'11" | CGOmaha South | 2020StateNE (Omaha South) The Central vs. South matchup isn’t just a state title game rematch from a year ago, but it also features a bevy of guard talent. Wayne State got a good one in Jay SaundersJaySaunders5'11" | CGOmaha South | 2020StateNE. He is the Packers’ leading scorer at 19 points a game, as well as 6 rebounds and 4 assists per contest. Saunders can impact a game in an assortment of ways, and he is not afraid to take a game over for the defending state champs, and look for him to be assertive early in Thursday night’s contest. Tyrece Griggs (Omaha South) One of the many multi-sport athletes on South’s roster, Griggs is a dog on both ends of the floor. He’s scrappy on the defensive end and on offense he thrives in slashing to the basket and finishing through contact. The 5’11 guard averages 16 points a night for the Packers and in my opinion, is the glue that holds that team together due to his immense impact on both ends of the court.