This weekend the Minnesota Pump-N-Run team holds their first tournament and it includes 25 teams from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The heavyweights of the event are certainly the Minnesota Pump-N-Run team as well as the Wisconsin Swing who everybody anticipates playing in the final. But there are a few cruiserweights, welterweights, and middleweights looking to move up with victories.
Anticipated this weekend is a heavyweight clash of the Minnesota Pump-N-Run and Wisconsin Swing. Both teams have multiple players from each respective state's top prospect lists and as far as I can tell both teams are undefeated thus far.
Minnesota fans are well aware of the depth of talent and size that the Pumps will bring to the court. Leading scorers Dyami Starks, Kevin Noreen, Carlos Emmory, and Steve Tecker can all bring it in several ways and all are capable of double figure games with this team on a regular basis. Up front the Pumps have great size with 6-foot-8 Noreen, 6-foot-6 Emmory, 6-foot-7 Mike Rostampour, 6-foot-11 Alec Brown, and seven footer Jake Kreuser. Add in the ball handling and play making of Aaron Anderson plus the defense of Jonathon Crockett and what you have is a versatile and deep squad. Five of these ten players are top ten prospects in the state of Minnesota while Emmory is top 15 in Minnesota's 2009 class, and Tecker is ranked 6th in Wisconsin. Tecker recently received offers from Bucknell and Drake to go along with his Saint Louis offer.
Not many teams can match talented with the Pumps but that's not true of the Swing. Fort Washington's Josh Gasser is ranked as the third best recruit in Wisconsin while Chip Rank lists 8th, Kyle Kelm is 9th, and two sport star Marquis Mason is 10th. Add in Cuba City's 6-foot-3 Evan Richard at 16th and Hamilton (Sussex)'s Brett Meinecke at 24th and that is quite the talent on one squad.
At this point Gasser has offers from Northwestern, Saint Louis, UW-Milwaukee, Northern Iowa, and UWGB plus interest from Iowa, Marquette, and Virginia Tech. Josh is a 6-foot-4, 180 pound wing who is quite skilled with shooting range. Rank is out of Cedarburg, Wisconsin and he's a 6-foot-6 200 pound power forward with offers from Saint Louis, UWGB, UW-Milwaukee, and North Dakota State. Then there is the 6-foot-9 three star Kyle Kelm out of Randolph, Wisconsin whose current offer list includes UW-Milwaukee, UWGB, Iowa State, Oregon State, Creighton, and Bradley plus much interest elsewhere. Mason has basketball offers from UW-Milwaukee and UWGB and now a football offer from Wisconsin. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds with 4.5 speed Mason is a great athlete on the wing on the hard wood.
Who has the best chance to knock of one of the top dogs? I would say there is one team from each state with an outside shot although it's tough to say not having much outside of Minnesota knowledge.
The Minnesota Fury has come close to pulling the upset. They took 43 Hoops I (who recently brought home the second place trophy in the Badger Classic) to the final buzzer and played with the Minnesota Pump-N-Run until late in the Great Lake Shootout championship game played at UW-Stout. Because of their speed with Dajon Newell, the aggressive and skilled play of Yuriy Malashenko, plus the shooting of numerous outside threats like Danny Geiger and Charlie Kern this team has a chance to pull an upset.
The Wisconsin Force may be ready to make a final four run this weekend after falling in the quarterfinals a week ago in the Badger City Classic and going 3-2 at the Swish and Dish. They have three top 50 players in Wisconsin in 6-foot-1 guards Mike Boos and Josh Cameron, and 6-foot-6 forward Sam Gage. Add in the size of 6-foot-7 posts Jaren Singh and Mitch Trewyn and this group could surprise.
Out of Iowa we have two squads looking to make a run. The first we shall talk about is the Iowa Barnstormers led by Findlay Prep (Nevada) sophomore point guard Rasham Suerez. The 6-foot-2, 180 pound Suarez is out of Puerto Rico and he's the only sophomore who played with Findlay this season. Working with Suerez in the Barnstorming backcourt is Quincy King out Des Moines who is the 19th ranked recruit in Iowa. King can lead the team but he's also a scorer. On the wing is another scorer named Isaac Gardner from Washington, Iowa. Gardner is the 38th ranked player in Iowa and he's just getting healthy after a junior year of injuries. Lin Mar big Will Roth is the big to watch out for on this team. He stands 6-foot-6 and is the 50th ranked prospect in the state.
Iowa Mavericks Black 5-foot-9 point guard Alex Vogel is the 15th ranked prospect in Iowa and he's capable of both scoring from all over and distributing for his team. Vogel is multi-talented and tough to deal with plus he's also from Washington, Iowa where he played with Gardner. Taylor Bontrager from Iowa City West is a standout guard and he will be an important kick out option for Vogel. The Black team isn't as tall as some others but down low Lin Mar 6-foot-6 big D.J. Stokes will do some work.
Fox Valley Storm will be led by 21st ranked player in Wisconsin Logan Ellman. The 6-foot-4 Ellman is a very skilled power forward that will get challenged by the size in this event but his superb footwork and ability to finish should make some bigs look foolish. Running the point for this Storm is an extremely quick guard by the name of Kevin McKenzie. At 5-foot-8 McKenzie will be one of the quicker players in the event and he will have athletes like Bonduel's 6-foot-5 Mikal Anschutz to create for running the floor or Ellman working hard inside.
This feels like the time that the Minneapolis Redhawks usually come together to make a push at a high finish. If you want to talk shooters in Minnesota AAU hoops start the conversation with Net Gain but you can quickly move it towards the Redhawks. With Osseo's John Rowland and St. Thomas Academy's Billy Chapman roaming around behind the arc balls will fall. Plus Burnsville's Jack Ghizoni is on the squad to run with, Minnehaha Academy's Taylor Hanson will do some banging, and Parker Hines of Minnehaha will distribute.
The Minnesota Comets second group is talented although they may be short some players for some pool play games. Regardless they have scorers in Cass Lake-Bena's Martin Wind and Nevis's Nolan Toft, up front Joey Cuperus will bang with anybody and Mora's Andrew Good is a nice prospect, and Scott Nystrom from Kimball is a name you will hear down the line.
Watch out for 94 Feet of Game's Andre Ingram inside. If you hear a dunk a couple floors away followed by the crowd yelling it was likely Andre.
The TC Elite will be led by the gun slinger Josh Pratt from St. Anthony Village and multi-talented Alex Koch from St. Louis Park. Not much size but a lot of heart and effort on TC Elite who got second place at the TC Spring Jam last week.
The MSB Roadrunners play very well together and have given some teams some tough runs. They beat the Grassroots Minnesota team that won the Badger City Classic last weekend and they played with the Minnesota Comets top group until the end. Rosemount's Zach Vraa is now getting division one basketball looks as well as football and Roseville 2011 talent Lucas Brown really has a bright future.