The strongest holiday tournament in Minnesota this year looks to be the Best Buy Holiday Classic played at Augsburg College next week. Five teams from the Twin Cities will compete including St. Paul Johnson, Hopkins, and Henry Sibley while three teams from outside of Minnesota will make appearances. Chicago Julian, Christian Faith Academy from North Carolina, and Milwaukee Marshal will be the out of town guests.
No. 1 Hopkins (5-0)
The Royals lost five starters from last year's squad but are still number one in the Minnesota basketball world. They have already picked up wins over Minneapolis Henry, Columbia Heights, Maple Grove, Henry Sibley, and Tartan this year coming into the Best Buy Classic undefeated. Joe Coleman, brother of former Gopher Dan Coleman, is averaging 28.4 points per game. Fellow junior Marvin Singleton is second on the team averaging 19.4 points and has also had a great start to his junior year. Senior leader D.J. Peterson is producing 10.4 points a contest while handling the ball and making an impact on the glass. Fellow senior Jeremiah Tolbert and sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers fill out the starting line-up. Depth for the Royals comes from 9th grader Riley Dearring and sophomore forward Zach Stahl .
No. 2 St. Paul Johnson (5-0) (class AAA)
The Governors have jumped out to a 5-0 start this season with wins over La Crosse Aquinas, Onalaska Luther, Brooklyn Center, Stillwater, and Woodbury. They are led by top five 2011 Minnesota prospect Estan Tyler with 15 points per game. Sophomore Marcus Marshall (a transfer from Hopkins) is producing a dozen a night while senior Max Rosenbloom rounds out the top scorers with ten points a contest. Johnson is an athletic bunch who likes to trap full court and play an up-tempo style game. Seniors Donte Warlick, Demitri Conwell, and Jordan Pluff and juniors Anthony Lee and Roosevelt Scott are all athletic producers who allow that full court style.
Henry Sibley (3-2)
The Warriors fell from the class AAAA rankings recently after a close loss to Hopkins and then a devastating 31 point defeat at the hands of Cooper. Sibley will bounce back quickly and their first chance to do so will be at the Best Buy Classic. Leading the Warriors on the scoreboard is athletic scoring guard Jordan Jackson who is putting up 14.4 points a contest on 56 percent shooting for the season. Up front Jackson has a pair of talented bigs to work with in seven foot center Jake Kreuser (Lafayette signed) and power forward [/db]Mike Rostampour[/db]. Kreuser recently put up a career high 21 points against Hopkins and is scoring ten a night while Rostampour is second on the team with 12.6 points a game. Kreuser is also recording 8.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks a contest. Defensive worker and three-point shooter Jimmy Ryan (hitting 47 percent of his threes) is scoring 6.1 points a game while sophomore standout Dontae Grant is giving the team 9.6 points a night.
St. Louis Park (2-4)
The Orioles have lost four games but they were against good competition in Edina, Apple Valley, Eagan, and St. Paul Central. Their coach is former Minnesota Gopher, MSU Maverick, and Augsburg standout Micah Watkins who is trying to turn around a six win club in his first year. Alex Koch leads the team with 19.8 points per and he's producing from both the outside and inside.. Junior point Aaron Ziman is giving Watkins a dozen points a night with a steady handle while junior Marquealis Edwards is another potential scorer who averages nine a game.
Minneapolis Roosevelt (1-4)
Roosevelt has had some good names come through their school like NBA talent John Thomas, former Mr. Basketball Robert Mestas, current Angelo State player Stavon Williams, recent Idaho State standout Akbar Abdul Ahad, and several others. Current junior Calvin Jenkins may be on pace to join those names. Jenkins is scoring 22.4 points a game including a recent 37 point performance against Park of Cottage Grove.. Senior James Smith is adding another dozen points a contest.
Chicago Julian (4-4)
Julian comes to the Twin Cities with a .500 record led by senior Walter Lemon who was in the Twin Cities this past summer playing with Boyz II Men in the Best Buy Summer Classic. Lemon showed off his slashing skills in a 6-foot-3 frame stuffing the stat sheets with buckets and he's a left handed scorer. Another athletic backcourt scorer that Julian has is Phillip Greene who is a smooth player who can pull-up to score or finish at the rim. Julian has size with forwards Xzavier Ottman and Jamari Taylor standing 6-foot-7.
Milwaukee Marshall (1-1)
The Eagles are not a big team with 6-foot-5 Alfreeman Flowers leading the way and everybody else standing 6-foot-2 or shorter. Flowers is giving the team a double-double a game so far with 25 points and 21 rebounds after two contests. Aristede Bratchett is scoring a dozen per game while Kendale Nation points up nine a contest.
Christian Faith Academy (6-2)
Christian Faith Academy is led by a name Minnesota high school basketball fans know well in Ro Russell. Russell coached current Gopher Devoe Joseph in the past and led the talented Grassroots Canada team to the Best Buy Summer Classic championship this past July. Christian Faith Academy is led by 6-foot-6 eighth grader Andrew Wiggins and his 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Wiggins is receiving a ton of build-up as one of the elite, if not the elite player in the 2014 class. His dad Mitchell Wiggins played in the NBA for six seasons and Andrew's mother Marita Payne was a silver medalist in track in the 84 Olympics. Christian Faith also has 6-foot-9 junior Braeden Anderson (15 points and nine rebounds), point guard Byron Rhymes (14 points), and 6-foot-8 junior Kevin Thomas (10.2 points per game) in their rotation.
St. Paul Johnson vs. St. Louis Park (4 PM) - Dec. 28th
Henry Sibley vs. Chicago Julian (6 PM)
Hopkins vs. Milwaukee Marshall (8 PM)
* Winner of Hopkins/Marshall game plays Christian Faith Academy at 8 PM Dec 29 in semifinals.
* Loser of Hopkins/Marshall game plays Minneapolis Roosevelt at 4 PM Dec 29 in the consolation bracket.