The high school basketball season officially started on Monday. The results of a week's worth of practice were on display at Columbia Heights last night in a jamboree to kick off the season. Isaiah Zierden's noticeable improvements stood out as did the DeLaSalle talent level that was very impressive.
-DeLaSalle is going to be extremely tough, it's as simple as that. The Islanders took on Holy Angles and held near 20 point leads during each 10-minute session of basketball. Everybody on their roster played a part in building the lead including Harvard commit Jonah Travis, Riley Dearring, and Bretson McNeal.
-Young Reed Travis, a freshman at DeLaSalle, was another noteworthy performer in terms of growth as a player prospect. Reed has definitely grown a couple inches, he looks more agile, and he moves with smoothness on the floor that just screams "prospect"!
-Holy Angels freshman point guard Jordan Dembley is also going to be a 2014 high ceiling player. With good size, good skill, and smooth control leading his team, Dembley was able to get around the floor against the DeLaSalle second group with eye opening ability.
-Although Benidle-St. Margaret's didn't score for the first five minutes against St. Paul Central they did eventually impress. Kyle Washington started in the middle and as the game hit a better grove Kyle's inside presence was more productive. Shot blocking, rebounding, and high level finishing were present. Playing along side of him was Evan Battle who threw some impressive low post passes and bodied up a Star defender to hit a couple jumphooks.
-Isaiah Zierden looks like he's taken some key steps in his progress as a prospect. Isaiah looks an inch bigger, he's noticeably stronger, and most importantly his skill as a point guard has moved to another level. Zierden worked very hard this off-season to improve. He's likely worked with his father (Washington Wizards assistant coach Don Zierden), he's spent time skill training with Mitch Ohnstad, and of course Zierden has been in the Red Knight's gym.
Last year against Robbinsdale Cooper's backcourt pressure Isaiah had some struggles (most guards did). Last night Central applied agile pressure on him full court and Zierden blew by it with the greatest of ease. From every angle Isaiah's handling looks like it's been taken to another level. His burst after the initial move was impressive, his handles from right and left looked solid, and Isaiah's change of direction attack off a dribble move was excellent.
-Nick Latzke still has his shooting stroke plus he's sitting down and actively defending better this November than he did last winter, Minnetonka and Columbia Heights played ten minutes finishing 11-9 and Latzke's two three pointers played a big part in that score. Heights was without Zach Lofton but still played tough and they have some athletes who are going to make them a top class AAA team and contender once again.
-The Jamboree was called after an injury to a Minnetonka student athlete at the start of the second session. The student athlete required medical attention and Columbia Heights head coach Willie Braziel as well as the mother of Columbia Heights center Andrew Hanson stepped in and worked professionally helping the young man a great deal. As good Samaritans (and as people in general) Braziel and Mrs. Hanson were outstanding and a deep thank you goes out to them!