The Breakdown Tip-Off Classic opened up last night with three quality "warm-up" games that included standout performances from Dylan Rodriguez, Tyler Pendleton, Jordan Smith, Marc Sonnen, and Tyler Gimmestad. Blaine, Tartan, and Cedar Mountain-Comfrey were the victors on the first night of the event.
PLAYER NOTES FROM NIGHT ONE
Jeff Herstad, Blaine, senior - Herstad opened up his senior year with a player of the game trophy and a 14 point performance. Last season the 6-foot-4 wing was a role player scoring three points a night but his first game of the 2008-09 season saw Jeff score 14 points including a pair of triples.
Dylan Rodriguez, Blaine, senior - The most noticeable thing about Rodriguez is that his conditioning looks much improved and he looks a lot more agile. Dylan seems to have added several inches to the lift on his jumpshot and his mid-range jumper looks extremely clean. He made turn-arounds and face-ups all night scoring 22 points plus he was a beast on the glass.
Billy Giddings, Blaine, senior - Giddings is like a shorter version of Minnesota's Damian Johnson. The two have a lot of similar pieces in their game and that includes active defensive ability and long arms that results in many blocks, steals, deflections, and all out effort. Giddings used his agility to get past defenders from Sioux City North and finish at the rim.
Alex Walker, Sioux City North, senior - Walker has a pretty looking shot that he can hit from deep because at 6-foot-5 the senior only needs a quick look at the rim to collect and fire. He had a quiet first half and than exploded for nine straight points to bring his team within striking distance before they fell to Blaine 60-47.
Jordan Smith, Willmar, senior - Smith is a future St. Cloud State baseball player but he could play college football or basketball as well. I was completely surprised at his talent on the floor considering how talented he is in his other sports. For a guy that plays hoops likely less than half a year his combination of ball skills, quick first step, and strength to finish was very impressive. He will get to the free throw about eight to ten times every game this year.
Brain Reeves, Willmar, sophomore - This is a player to watch in the future. Reeves is about 6-foot-6 and long with decent agility for a frontcourt player. With his body still growing his name is one to keep an eye on. I was thinking he could be the next Kendall Smith.
Taylor Filipek, Willmar, junior - Played exclusively from the point position handing the ball for Willmar. Had an off night shooting but his buckets were eye opening. He scored once attacking the rim showing good body control maneuvering in the air around a player to finish with a finger roll. And Taylor hit a pair of triples showing a nice follow through and release allow he did shoot with his feet somewhat unbalanced and maybe that's why the shots didn't fall earlier, who knows. Taylor has very good ball skills for a player of his size and that really suits colleges just fine as they know that they can trust him with the basketball while playing the wing. The only thing with him playing point is that his game is almost exclusively on the perimeter right now.
Marc Sonnen, Tartan, senior - Marc is smarting with a roughed up shoulder that is the result of a Rodney Williams altercation at a scrimmage earlier this week. In the game against Willmar Sonnen first started with his shot from the outside and he missed four straight attempts. When those all failed he attacked the cup and changed the game for the night. Marc scored 22 points and controlled with his attack off the bounce. The biggest note is that Marc's defense looks so very much improved and he did a great job guarding Filipek.
Troy Klingsporn, Tartan, junior - If you haven't seen Troy lately he's grown about three inches. Troy is starting for the Titans and last night he produced 14 points. Early Klingsporn hit two triples and than he attacked to complete a pair of floaters that kissed the glass. Tartan won 62-51.
Tyler Gimmestad, Marshall, senior - The NDSU football recruit is one of the most players to watch in the state on the court. At 270, 275, 280 pounds or whatever, this bear is very nimble with unbelievable ball skills and touch on his shot. He scored 17 points fast in the game starting with two treys and than a couple attacks off a sweet crossover. His totals were 26 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists and he's just outstanding to watch play.
Caleb Johnson, Marshall, sophomore - Johnson is very smooth at the point and he stands about 6-foot-3. AAU coaches and college coaches will soon be dropping him notes because Johnson is a nice creator. He finished with ten points, 12 rebounds, and four assists.
Taylor Hedman, Marshall, senior - Hedman is like a combination of Chris Kingsbury and Ed Gray. He plays with heart and gets kind of wild. Hedman can light things up from deep and he will shoot from any place at any time. He scored 19 for the game including five treys.
Tyler Pendleton, C-M-C, senior - Pendleton was like southern Minnesota's Allen Iverson last night. He scored regularly throughout and than turned things up another level when the game got close coming down the stretch. There were about four or five straight possessions where the Cougar senior attacked and finished in a row. He scored 28 points, grabbed seven boards, dished out seven assists, and hit 11 of 14 free throw attempts.
Dalton Kleinschmidt, C-M-C, sophomore - Kleinschmidt is a very active wingman at 6-foot-3. Dalton scored on three made three-pointers and was second on the team in scoring with 19 points.