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 Elite I
The Comets are extremely excited about their group this year and they should be. Back with the team is Jayme Moten of New London-Spicer, Seth Hinrichs of MACCRAY, Simon Krych of Apollo, and Blake Maslonkowski of Apollo. Moten is the leader and who better to pick to run the squad then a guy whose junior year has included him quarterbacking and running the point for state football and basketball championships. And it's not like he was just a caretaker, Moten has been a playmaker from all angles. Jayme hits shots, he's a strong defender, and overall he's a tough kid.
Hinrichs has both size and a shooting touch, which will have numerous schools of many kinds watching him this year. At 6-foot-4 the young man can get his shot off over just about anybody on the wing. Inside Krych is a long and active big man at 6-foot-8 who runs the floor well and then Maslonkowski is a complete jack of all trades. He does everything a team needs him to do and then some playing both forward spots.
The additions include Mike Stephens from Big Lake, Travis Rollo from Mayer Lutheran, and Trevor Morlock from Rogers. Stephens is a speedy guard who can combine with Moten to provide some annoying ball pressure all over the floor. Rollo is ready to explode up front as he's been doing at all Comet practices. This long 6-foot-8 junior is a strong defender and Marshall Bjorklund can tell you about it as Rollo blocked several of his shots this year in limited time. Rollo also has a nice touch plus some bounce. Morlock is a tough as nails guard who may rebound better from the backcourt than just about any other guard in state. Morlock and Kurtis Moody form Pequot Lakes will step in as the Comets tough guards taking the place of Erik Tengwall and Shaun Condon.
The Central Flyers will come into the Comets Shootout quite familiar with the Minnesota Comets Elite. The Flyers are standouts from Minnewaska Area, Melrose, and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa who have competed nose to nose with several of the players in pool A all year. Expect Minnewaska to provide forward Shane Bosek who is a constant double-double threat. Bosek will get help from the backcourt by playmaker Carter Sawyer from Melrose who knows how to create for others. B-B-E 6-foot-4 forwards Kevin Kuefler and Brady Koehler will also add toughness up front.
Triple Threat is back again this time led by versatile Maple Lake scorer Mitch Wurm and Annandale big man James Fort. Wurm is the type of guy who can knock down four or five shots straight on the same number of possessions while Fort gives Triple Threat an inside presence.
Minnesota Select I
Minnesota Magic Elite
Minnesota Heat Red
St. Cloud's Finest/MN Comets Burnt Sienna
In one of the more open pools Minnesota Select seems to hold the advantage of talent with Willmar athletic wing Brian Reeves, Sebeka active forward John Clark, Minnetonka shooter Andy Jones, Tartan shooter Tim Lubke, and Edina point man Brendan Canova. Reeves and Clark are certainly headliners because the pair is long, athletic, and they can simply score from mid-range and in. Reeves is 6-foot-7 while Clark is 6-foot-5 and both have mid-range touches as well an active bounce to the glass. With their attack and the penetrating ability of Canova, Jones and Lubke should be open on the wings to knock down shots from start to finish.
The Minnesota Magic Elite squad will utilize the all-around skill of Shakopee's Ethan Petril, the active scoring and defense from Richfield's Daron Garvis, the size of St. Paul Johnson's Chris Bond-Smith, the defensive ability of C.J. Smith from Burnsville, and the 16 points and ten rebounds a game from agile Joe Carpenter from STMA. Carpenter is one of the more talented players in the Mississippi Eight and he is likely to be featured with the Magic.
Most of the Heat Red team played junior varsity this winter although Jeff Weber from Concordia Academy was one of his varsity team's scorers last year. Also, Bryce Balfanz from Monticello and Bryan Blackhawk of Park Center were important role players for their teams and should be for the Heat as well.
The Finest Burnt Siena from St. Cloud will be led by Beau Kashmark from West Central Area, 6-foot-7 Ryan Tesch from Apollo, 6-foot-8 Mike Reisdorf from St. Paul Cathedral, and Trey Barber from St. Cloud Tech.
Team Get Shook
Minnesota Heat Black
Minnesota Comets North
Make no mistake about it the Glory is going to be a beast to deal with because of Mark Blacklock from Winona and Ben Figini from Chisago Lakes. Blacklock was a constant double-double guy playing next to a triple-double guy in Alec Brown this year while all Figini did was average 24.8 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. Blacklock is more of the long active type up front while Figini has a motor that won't stop plus skill to go with it. In the backcourt Des Spann from Mankato West gives them a burst of quality athletic ability and Bemidji's Ryan Rude is a player that several programs wanted but the Glory picked him up. And don't sleep on Jack Haffley from Hutch who was a solid role player for them this year.
The Glory game against Heat Black should be a good one. Why? For starters the Heat will be lead by the scoring of Bryan Sprang who put up 25.5 points a game for Irondale this year putting points on the board in any way possible. He will be joined by Irondale teammates Vince Calistro and Danny Blumberg. Mounds View's top scorer Jordan Van Eps (13 a game) is also with the Heat Black and he will score plus play a ton of defense. Tyler Fleming of Totino-Grace is a point man that several division threes will look at and maybe division two schools as well. This winter he showed he can score double figures every night plus run the show.
The Comets North is highlighted by some players who we saw at state. Grand Rapids guard Jake Sutherland and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy big Andrew Stender played on the big stage plus 6-foot-6 Pequot Lakes big Tomas Parker is also a force. And a major sleeper on the North squad is Tate Mosher who contributed a lot to Fertile-Beltrami as a sophomore.
Minnesota Pump N Run
Minnesota Fury Gold
The Minnesota Pump N Run is the group that won the 17 and Under State title last year as 16 year olds plus they have upgraded their athletic ability. Sibley guard Jordan Jackson had such an outstanding senior season that he received votes in this year's Minnesota Preppie awards as the state player of the year. Everybody in the state saw what he could do in the state tournament and now they can watch him with the Pump N Run. Another guy making a name for himself at state was St. Paul Johnson's Roosevelt Scott who showed a versatile game that now includes long distance shooting and defense. Scott was the second leading scorer for the state champion Governors this year and now he joins up with the Pumps. Jackson will handle the ball some as will Joel Lindberg from Superior, Wisconsin. Lindberg is talented enough to already have a scholarship offer from South Dakota State and he can play both guard spots for the Pumps. He averaged an impressive 21.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 2.7 steals a game this year for the Spartans.
Returning for coach Jeremy Miller's squad includes DeLaSalle leading scorer and rebounder Jonah Travis (who recently added his 5th D1 offer this one from Toledo), Shelby Moats from Waconia, Eric Robertson from Wayzata, Alex Richter from Lakeville South, and Minnesota Transitions guard Kyle Noreen. Travis will move out to the wing after a winter of playing in the post and he should flourish once again although with Moats having his hand in a cast for the time being Jonah may have to give some points in the paint. He will also score off the bounce from the wing as well Richter who is nearly impossible to guard with one guy. The now 6-foot-5/6-foot-6 Richter has added a pull-up jumper to his game which should make him a scary player to guard. Robertson will provide length, perimeter shooting, and some bounce while Kyle Noreen is a skilled wing both offensively and defensively. He will do whatever it takes for this team to win and he and Robertson give Miller great length on the perimeter.
Let's not forget Mike Yahnke from Delano and Jason Perkins of Shakopee. Yahnke is a 6-foot-7 big with a perimeter touch and he's playing with a tougher attitude these days demanding low post respect. And Perkins will flat out get things done with his crafty touch, strong base, and soft touch.
The Pump N Run will get a good early challenge from the Fury Blue squad. Let's be honest, Aaron Ziman of St. Louis Park will be motivated when he takes on his AAU squad from last year (the Pump N Run). Aaron will have the comfort of playing with the very clever Joe Zangel (who will defend hard and take big charges) and Marquealis Edwards as all three of these guys played for the Orioles this season. Edwards is an athletic wing who everybody out there seems to love. He gives maximum effort all over the floor and does it with good athleticism.
The Fury Gold will d-up no question. Edwards is a defender, Zangel is a defender, and you know that Lamonte Hall from DeLaSalle knows how to get after it on D. Hall is athletic and hard working just like Edwards so they will be pesky. Toriano Tatum of Rosemount and his 11 points a game will be tough to stop from scoring and the same can be said for SaVaughn Jordan who led Maranatha Christian Academy with 16 a game this season.
Inside the Fury Gold should be tough. Justin Casey from Park Center is always a force to deal with and he's a kid who could someday potentially get a D2 scholarship if his skill comes together right. Also, 6-foot-9 Dane Schmid and is 6.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks a game from Mahtomedi will have to be dealt with plus the Fury has 6-foot-6 Jordan Reed from Wadena-Deer Creek.
The Minnesota Premiere has a standout from St. Clair named Michael Drager who has some strong ability. He joins some regulars from the line-ups of Mankato East, St. Clair, NRHEG, and some other schools south of the Twin Cities to form this squad.