With a 100-72 victory over St. Paul Johnson in the Best Buy Holiday Classic finals, Hopkins won the event for the second straight season. Harvard committed Siyani Chambers scored a season high 23 points in the championship while teammate Zach Stahl put up 28 on his way to 65 points total for the weekend.
Hopkins - Hopkins fell behind Eastview and Eden Prairie in the Minnesota Preps Class AAAA poll a week and a half ago but with EP dropping a couple games the Royals will be in consideration (with Apple Valley and Lakeville North) for the second spot in state when Preps releases its latest rankings tomorrow. There is no doubt that Eastview deserves their top rank (they beat BSM who has beaten Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie amongst others this season) but are they the best team in state right now? The Royal team that played without Stahl would likely fall to Eastview but a full strength Hopkins team including Zach Stahl? Now that's a good argument. So let it begin, who is better, Eastview or Hopkins?
Marcus Marshall of St. Paul Johnson - I don't believe the folks from Durango High in Las Vegas bothered to do much research on St. Paul Johnson because the first three times the Missouri State signed shooting guard caught on the arc he didn't have a single player near him. Not surprisingly Marcus drained his first three treys of that game on his way to 20 points and 66 for the three day event. Marshall continues to be one of the more explosive wing scorers in Minnesota and I would fully expect that in the years to come Marshall will be hitting pull-up treys, one or two dribble pull-ups, and catch and deliver triples for the Bears.
Wayland Johnson II of St. Paul Johnson - The 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 junior wing from Johnson has the makings of a scholarship prospect. Johnson is long, athletic, and at times he showed some skill that would open college eyes (he also had some nasty jams in the open floor). Wayland has a long ways to go and he ran into struggles against Henry Sibley but he is averaging almost 12 points a game this season. Johnson II is a prospect to watch.
Adam Huessner of Henry Sibley - The Warriors pulled off the Minnetonka upset in the first round and Huessner got everything rolling hitting three three-pointers early in the game. Huessner went on to knock down 15 threes in three Holiday Classic games and he's making a claim as one of the best shooters in the class of 2013.
Kevin Jensen of Chanhassen - Jensen looks like a fantastic get for the University of Mary Marauders. Kevin scored 45 points this week as the Storm won two of three games going home with the third place trophy. On the summer scene we saw Jensen catch on the wing and attack to make pull-ups. This week Jensen was seen scoring with intelligent cuts to the rim behind the defense, scores in transition, and some nasty dunks exploding over late reacting defenders. He also rebounded over everyone he faced.
Brandon Arnold of Chanhassen - Outside of some guy named Tyus in Apple Valley, Minnesota Preps hasn't seen a better passer than Arnold this season. The 5-foot-10 senior from Chahassen has put up some monster assist numbers this year (including 16 against St. Thomas) and the dimes he dropped in a win over Minneapolis Henry should be put together on You Tube for the rest of the world to enjoy.
Joe Risinger of Minnetonka - The Skippers dropped a game to Sibley in the first round that stung but bounced back to defeat Durango and Duluth East which doubled their win total from the previous season (8-2 in 2011-12). The most consistent performer for the team this year has been 6-foot-5 Joe Risinger who has secretly been tabbed as "the most highly recruited D3 kid in state". Joe came into the Best Buy Holiday Classic hitting 58 percent of his 32 three-point attempts on the season plus he's been Tonka's best perimeter defender. Joe scored 40 points in three games putting his season average at about a dozen a game and now he's starting to get some calls from D2s.
Riley Dearring of Minnetonka - Dearring's perimeter stroke and one dribble pull-up game has improved by leaps and bounds over the past five months. Dearring is a 6-foot-5 gym rat who is long and reasonably athletic. This weekend he scored more around the rim than he had in previous games and it was a big reason he scored 51 points overall in three Best Buy Holiday Classic contests. Riley is definitely a division one prospect but at what level will be decided in the months to come.
Andrew Turnblad of Minnetonka - At 6-foot-6 with a quality physique and good straight line speed Turnblad has been a big reason for the Skippers 8-2 record. Andrew has been a consistent low post defender, he's averaging just under nine boards a game, Turnblad is an intelligent ball reversal guy, and he's finishing on the move very well. Andrew put up 12 points and 12 rebounds against Duluth East who didn't have an answer for his size around the rim. MIAC schools would be smart to continue making calls as Turnblad is a high academic performer and a willing teammate whose improvements in the off-season are evident.
Taylor Stafford of Duluth East - Rarely would you see a player on a team that won one game at an event earn the tournament MVP but Stafford scored 114 points in three games at Augsburg this week. Yes that's right, 114 points! Taylor first scored 39 in a loss to Hopkins and about half of them were on Chambers who is regarded as one of the state's elite perimeter defenders. Taylor then put up 40 on Minneapolis Henry and 35 on Minnetonka. The speedy six foot guard hit more pull-up contested perimeter jumpers than we've ever seen in a three game span. Stafford has been getting interest from some division two schools, some of the better D3 programs, and from some jucos but after this week there is no question that this young man can score with the best in state and should be offered full rides sometime soon. (East will have a seven foot center joining the team in a week or two plus Johnny Woodard is expected back in early February).
Darius Hill of Minneapolis Patrick Henry - At 6-foot-2 on the wing Hill scores with a smooth style. Last year he produced 18 points a game while this year he's scored 25 a contest helped by 31 against Duluth East and 32 versus Durango. The points go up quickly on both ends when Henry plays (they are 2-6) so defense needs to get better all around but Hill is a scorer to watch in 2013.
Tim Gill of Minneapolis Patrick Henry - In game three of the event Gill scored 24 boosting his season average to 16 a game. Tim is a very long 6-foot-6 power forward with some explosion and he moves well. On the floor Gill is always talking to his teammates on both ends and his character reminds Minnesota Preps of a Meadowlark Lemon like performer. He's an interesting prospect who has potential but what he makes of that potential is still up in the air.
Joe Tuss of Durango - No player at the event had a prettier stroke than 6-foot-6 Joe Tuss out of Las Vegas. Joe's teammates didn't do the best job of hitting him when he was open but when Tuss caught on the perimeter it usually meant lights out for the defender looking to close out. Tuss scored 25 points in the seventh place game as Durango beat Henry.