For the Daytona 500 of Minnesota AAU buckets, pool play is somewhat like time trials as the top talent is separated into eight different pools. Today we start the pool play previews, which is basically doubling as the overall AAU preview from Minnesota Preps this year.
Minnesota Comets - Hanson
Minnesota Heat - Lesewski
The host Minnesota Comets top team is coached by Josh Hanson and once again features some of the best talent outside of the Twin Cities metro area. Big time Braham scorer Tyler Vaughan is the name and he'll provide the blue and white with an explosive scorer. Also capable of scoring double figures on a regular basis at this level will be Damien Reinke of Becker, Joe Burt of Cathedral, Nate Meyer of Rocori, and maybe Jal Rial of Bartlett High in Alaska. Rial played for one of the best teams in Alaska but it's not exactly clear how talented he is. He will score but how much? (Note: The Minnesota Comets were previewed last week by Minnesota Preps so check the past stories area to read more about them).
Triple Threat is a group of players from extended west metro and extended northwest metro. They have four players from the Watertown-Mayer program including third leading W-M scorer Alex Runck. Triple Threat also picked up a couple juniors from Buffalo that were important factors in their 19 win season and that is 6-foot-4 Dominic Gilmer and 6-foot-0 Caleb Ruter. Six-foot-7 center Seke Snead and 6-foot-1 active wing Jared Kadrie of Lester Prairie will also provide strong minutes.
The Minnesota Suns haven't produced a roster anywhere but rumor has it that Hill-Murray big man Ryan Dahl, who averaged a double-double this year at 15 points and 12 rebounds a game, will be in uniform.
The Minnesota Heat's entrant into this pool has two players from Wisconsin in David Ohnstad (Grantsburg) and Travis Kroll (Ellsworth) and eight others from all over the Twin Cities metro area. Most from the metro played junior varsity this past year.
Minnesota Heat Elite
Minnesota Fury Gold
The pool favorite is the Heat who was featured by Minnesota Preps last week in a preview so you can look back into the headlines for a more in-depth look. The team is led up front by 6-foot-5 power forward Zach Meyer (White Bear Lake), who is a regular double-double threat, and David Simmet (Hill-Murray). Simmet is an immoveable object in the middle that scores at a high percentage once the ball is entered. They also have shooters in Josh Tismer (White Bear Lake, Justin Pahl (East Ridge), Kyle von Schmidt-Pauli (Tartan), Mitchell Kuck (Centennial), and Joe Risinger (Minnetonka).
The Fury Golden will be led by 5-foot-11 Spring Lake Park scorer Bryce Williams who put up 16.6 points a contest this season. Williams may be the top scorer but there will be much support from Minneapolis South duo Mahari Wilson and Thomas Ford as well as Rosemount line-up regular Charlie Broback. Michael Brush of Osseo opened many eyes with his play at state and 6-foot-6 Northfield Leif Olson is looking to attract attention after scoring nine points a contest this winter.
The Minnesota Comets squad coached by Ben Seevers has a 6-foot-9 immoveable object in the middle named Riley Mickelson. Riley is from Ashby and he'll have talented players are him looking to take advantage of his interior presence. Tate Mosher (Fertile-Beltrami) is a crafty guard and lefty Tarik Hjuroivc (St. John's Prep) is a good all around player. Felipe Villalaz(Sauk Rapids) stands 6-foot-5 and he has a real nice upside at forward.
The Grizzlies are led by 6-foot-5 Taylor Mattison of Moose Lake-Willow River and 6-foot-4 Joe Kolberg of Mora.
Minnesota Heat - Biwan
43 Hoops is one of the tournament favorites led by returning talents Marcus Marshall who is the major scorer (St. Paul Johnson), point guard/scorer Marcus Tyus (Anoka), 6-foot-8 skilled athlete Cullen Russo (Bloomington Kennedy), much improved Sean Scott (who scored 21 a game for Spring Lake Park), athletic Duke Anyanwu (Blaine), 6-foot-7 Josh Turnquist (Rogers), and 6-foot-7 skilled wing Culter Finneman. All of these players made 43 Hoops one of the better 16 and Under programs in Minnesota last year.
Now 43 Hoops has added another tall and skilled wing in 6-foot-7 Nate Kratch who is a top 12 player in the state in his class, a top ten prospect in Minnesota's 2011 class in Roosevelt Scott, Ben Glover (Columbia Heights) who is quickly becoming an explosive perimeter scorer, Adam Hjelter from Hutch who averaged 17 points a game this winter, and St. Louis Park sophomore guard Garrison Gillard. This is the type of talent that a coach can throw at opponents in waves.
The Minnesota Magic will always field competitive rosters and this year will be no different. Darian Pittman from Marantha Christian Academy at the point, Demetrius Martin of Hopkins and Rodney Owens of MTS on the wings scoring, and Nick Monssen of Rockford and Jerry Pratt of Washburn working near the bucket. Plus add in Darrien Johnson from Kennedy and Dajoun Davis who played at Henry Sibley and will be at Notre Dame and what you have is an athletic bunch who will score. Lots of athletic scorers with the ball distributed by Pittman is a good thing for Magic, but for opponents.
One challenger in the pool will be the Heat Biwan squad which includes the top three scorers from Hastings in 6-foot-4 Quintain Weaver, Ellis Williams, and Darius Wilkerson, three of the top six players from the Totino-Grace rotation including Sam Meyer who put up a dozen a game, and Forest Lake's third leading scorer (at 11 points a game) Tyler Rosenberger. The team has size in 6-foot-7 Lincoln Howard from Osceola, Wisconsin and 6-foot-9 Nick Carr from Totino-Grace.
Minnesota Premiere will travel to the Comets Invite with a team full of south central Minnesota talent. Three players from St. Peter are on the team including second leading scorer (14 points and seven rebounds a game) Ben Rosburg who stands 6-foot-5. The Premiere also has talent from Madelia, Blue Earth, Maple River, GHEC, LCWM, St. Clair, and two from Mankato Loyola.
At this point a Minnesota Magic roster hasn't been turned in but you can fully expect the Magic to be in the think of things as usual.
Minnesota Fury Blue
Minnesota Select White
Team Get Shook
The Fury Blue has a good combination of tough guys and interesting prospects that college coaches at the local levels will watch close. Tony Kuplic (Trinity), Joey Bartlett (St. Peter), Nick Sabatke (Eagan), Sander Mohn (Eden Prairie), and Michael Schreiber (Rogers) all had good enough junior years to put their names on local college radars. But what they do next will tell a lot. Then the Fury has several tough guys like Gopher football recruit Andre McDonald (Hopkins), division one tight end prospect Will Johnson (Osseo), DeLaSalle point guard Tyler Moore, and St. Louis Park senior Marquealis Edwards who will keep the tradition of toughness in the sky blue and gold.
Here lies the most intriguing pool play game of the event as the top Fury squad is joined by the top team from Minnesota Select in pool D. Select is much improved with Kyle Bauman (USC) and Tyler Flack (Lakeville North) coming over from WOTN. Bauman already holds a South Dakota State offer plus interest from division one schools in the five state area. Despite battling mono this winter and missing seven games he still averaged a double double at over 18 points and 12 rebounds. He, Flack, Jack Harrison (Prior Lake), and Matt Nelson (Rosemount) are joined together to give Select one of the best frontcourts in Minnesota. With Brady Wohler (Orono) on the wing, Xavier Hall pressuring the ball, and Grant Pope handling Select will be a tough out.
The Pierz High School squad is stepping in this weekend after one expected program didn't enter as thought. Preston Weber and sophomore post Mitch Bednar will lead the Pioneer challenge. Also, Ben Boser is a very good shooter for the team.