Although the high school football season may be at its peak basketball season is right around the corner. Practice is just over three weeks away and with that Minnesota Preps jumps back into the college prospect rankings with this year's group of senior power forwards.
Here are the opinions of our local basketball experts:
"There are 3 names that standout, Shelby Moats, Jonah Travis, and Jake White. Jonah with his work ethic and athleticism gets the nod. Plenty of sleepers in the group. Names like T.J. Okafor with his athleticism and Zach Romashko with skill and toughness come to mind. But the biggest sleeper is James Fort from Annandale."
"Shelby Moats, Jonah Travis, Marvin Singleton, Jake White, then a big gap, followed by Travis Rollo, T.J. Okafor, Blake Maslonkowski, James Fort, Zach Romashko, another gap, Spencer Pankonin, gap, Otto Pfefferle, Evan Battle, David Anderson, Jalen Voss, Jordan Reed, another gap and then Jordan Gieske, Anthony Saavedra, Aaron Zimmer, and Rob Daul."
"Jonah Travis, enough said!. Not since Kris Humphries have we seen a kid with this athleticism and strength. Harvard got a diamond that was not in the rough! My second pick is Jake White. It's hard to deny a kid who averaged 22 points and 11 boards. I've been watching him since 9th grade and every year he improves."
"Sleeper and amongst the best is James Fort. Also love T.J. Okafor, Blake Maslonkowski, Jonah Travis of course, and I really like the Conner Nord kid from Eden Prairie."
"Pound for pound Jonah Travis is the best big in the state of Minnesota. He battles every second he's on the court. He had a big time summer. I expect big things this winter. Shelby Moats is a top flight prospect. His body and skill set are unmatched in the 2011 class. He in my opinion is Minnesota's top prospect. I think Vanderbilt agrees. My sleeper in this class is Thomas Schalk. He is long, lanky, and skilled. In the William & Mary system he will flourish and end up being one of the most productive players in this class."
"The best power forward in my opinion is Jake White. He is strong and long enough to guard any post in the paint but also athletic enough to guard most wings on the perimeter. Along with offensive post play he is also a very skilled shooter behind the arc. Number two is Jonah Travis, I know I will get heat for this but he has improved a lot of over the summer but I still see him as just a very strong undersized post. Very dominate player, but his upside would be at wing if he improved ball skills. But I love his passion, dominance, and leadership. My dark horse at the forward spot is Thomas Schalk. He is just one of the most all around skilled kids in state and a beast on the board. He will average a double-double this year."
Minnesota Preps Weighs In
The power forward position brings up a lot of conversation in this state. We have an overload of guys who fall in the power wing category but we have to decide who is a three and who is a four when honestly, many will likely play both spots. Same goes for centers and power forwards as many college basketball teams play guys at the five who are considered fours.
For this ranking we split guys up pretty good between power forward and center although arguments could definitely go either way. Like Travis Rollo and Mike Yahnke, will colleges use them at the four or five more often? That may depend on where they go to school. Rollo has a division one offer from Army while Yahnke has the offer from Texas Pan-American.
Who is number one? With his list of offers it's tough to argue against a guy like Shelby Moats who brings the rare combo of shooting and size. Moats is a high percentage three point shooter at 6-foot-8 who extends defenses with his touch. That's a rare skill and that's why Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Washington State fought for him until the end plus several other high majors also offered.
Moats may have the more rare skill set but no power forward produced consistently on the national level like Jonah Travis. His strength, determination, toughness, and everything else has been well documented in this article and there is no other way to put it, Harvard is getting a steal.
The state is well stocked at the four spot no question. Jake White had as productive a junior year at Chaska as just about any junior in state. He, Schalk, and Okafor all have division offers at the four position with Jake committing to Wichita State and Schalk heading to William & Mary.
Everybody has to watch out for Joel Awich at Tartan who is improving at a rapid pace. Word is he's grown another inch to 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7, his skill set around the basket is even better than we saw in June, and athletically he's doing things that most can't in the paint.
Also improving rapidly has been Okafor and Rollo. The two of them will have much bigger roles this winter. David Anderson has grown another inch pushing him to 6-foot-6 and he's a sleeper considering that he was hurt in the spring which forced him out in the summer. Also, Jason Perkins picked up partial scholarship offers from three D2s because the kid can flat out score using his strong frame.
Senior Power Forward Prospect Rankings
1. Shelby Moats, Waconia (Vanderbilt)
2. Jonah Travis, DeLaSalle (Harvard)
3. Jake White, Chaska (Wichita State)
4. Thomas Schalk, Apple Valley (William & Mary)
5. T.J. Okafor, Champlin Park
6. Mike Yahnke, Delano
7. Travis Rollo, Mayer Lutheran
8. Blake Maslonkowski, St. Cloud Apollo (Mary)
9. James Fort, Annandale
10. Zach Romashko, Blaine
11. Benji Figini, Chisago Lakes
12. Jason Perkins, Shakopee
13. Joel Awich, Tartan
14. Spencer Pankonin, Lakeville South
15. David Anderson, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
16. Conner Nord, Eden Prairie
17. Marcas Dorsey, DeLaSalle
18. Evan Battle, Benilde-St. Margaret's
19. Otto Pfefferle, Northfield
20. Mark Blacklock, Winona
20. Jalen Voss, Worthington