This weekend the Minnesota Pump-N-Run team will hold their second annual spring tournament and it includes 24 teams from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The heavyweights of the event are certainly the Minnesota Pump-N-Run team as well as the Iowa Barnstormers who everybody anticipates playing in the final. But there are a few cruiserweights, welterweights, and middleweights looking to move up with victories.
The Barnstormers are looking to make it three tournament championships in as many weekends when they descend on the Twin Cities. Two weeks back the Barnstormers knocked off the Randolph Boys Club and the Wisconsin Starz in the final two rounds of the Badger City Classic and then turned around to defeat the Milwaukee Spartans last weekend in the championship of the first Spring Fling in Iowa City.
The Minnesota Pump N Run isn't doing to bad themselves coming off a championship in the Comets Invitational in St. Cloud and then a semi-final finish out in Denver at the Double Pump Classic. Last year in this event the expected match-up was the Pump N Run versus the Wisconsin Swing and that's what happened with the Pumps coming out on top. Can the Pumps regain their own tournament crown? Will they face the Barnstormers in the final as expected?
These teams certainly have the talent to make a run to the final. The Barnstormers are coming north with big name trio of Jarrod Uthoff (a 6-foot-8 forward), Seth Tuttle (another 6-foot-8 forward), and 6-foot-5 guard Josh Oglesby. Uthoff now has offers from Arizona State, Indiana, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and Iowa State while Tuttle has accumulated tenders from Colorado State (Coach Tim Miles watched Tuttle last night and then extended the offer), Northern Iowa, and South Dakota, and Oglesby has Arizona State, Indiana State, Creighton, Northern Iowa, and South Dakota State offering. Uthoff was named the MVP of both of the tournaments the Barnstormers won and this is coming off a dynamite junior season of high school ball that saw him do major work in the state tournament.
The Minnesota Pump n Run will have a little mental advantage on the Barnstormers as they beat them last year in the 16s championship by eight points. And with the addition of Jordan Jackson (Henry Sibley), Joel Lindberg (Superior), and Roosevelt Scott (St. Paul Johnson), whose stock is rising nationally, the Pumps are more talented and way more athletic then they were 12 months ago.
These three joined a core group that includes Alex Richter (Lakeville South), Jonah Travis (DeLaSalle), Shelby Moats (Waconia), Kyle Noreen, and Eric Robertson. The wing group of Richter, Robertson, Scott, and Noreen gives the Pumps major length, athletic ability, a lot of defense, and scoring both inside and out. Richter has shown he can put points up on anyone, Robertson has added some toughness to his expanding game, Scott is your long and athletic playmaker, and then Noreen does a lot of that and then everything else. It's one of the best wing groups out there.
Inside, schools are loving Travis and Moats as Travis just added offer number six (from Toledo, who also offered Lindberg) while Moats had USC, Stanford, Utah, Northern Iowa, and many others in his gym the past couple days. Travis had an incredible weekend in Denver while Moats is still coming off a broken bone in his wrist although he should be ready to get extended minutes soon.
Who has the best chance to knock off one of the prized fighters?
The Minnesota Fury (both Gold and Blue) has each battled the Minnesota Pump N Run tightly this year although it was the Blue that gave them the biggest scare. Point guard Terez Van Pelt (Park Center), Anthony Lee (St. Paul Johnson), and K.J. Bluford (Armstrong) are all agile and relentless. Van Pelt is on the verge of a breakout spring and summer that should bring him solid recruiting attention.
The Wisconsin Starz surprised many two weekends ago with a dash to the Badger City Classic finals before the Barnstormers closed the big red door. Wisconsin high school basketball expert Mark Miller of Wishoops gave Madison Memorial wing Miles Chamberlin the title of "Biggest Stock Riser" after his performance in the event. Chamberlin impressed playing four positions at 6-foot-4 and doing so with agility and skill. Alex Evans (Fennimore) and Brian Nkemnji (Madison Memorial) are also versatile forwards who can do a lot for the Starz.
Finally the Minnesota Heat Elite must be mentioned in the Middleweight division as a legit contender. They may be smarting a little from the 30 plus point defeat at the hands of the Pump N Run in the Comets Invitational but this is a group that plays supremely well together on both ends. The Heat Elite battles with a togetherness and toughness that most AAU teams never come close to approaching. They won the 16 and Under state championship in Minnesota last year and guys like Drew Preiner (Tartan), Rod Daul (Hill-Murray), and Riley West (Lakeville South) will back down from nobody. They have several shooters in Preiner, Daul, 6-foot-7 Spencer Pankonin (Lakeville South), Max Watts (Chaska), and Alex Kreuser (Totino-Grace).
The top Wear Out the Net squad is only going to be held back for so long. They came up shorter than expected in the Comets Invitational but now that this group has had time to work with former Gopher Mitch Ohnstad they should show improvement. And with Marcus Alipate (Bloomington Jefferson), Lucas Brown (Roseville), Vaughan Thada (Owatonna), and 2012 big man standout Kyle Bauman (USC) there time for a move up could be now. Alipate, Brown, and David Stanley could be one of the slipperiest bunches out there in terms of holding them back from getting looks.
The Fury Gold gave several teams fits in their first weekend of play because they play defense like their meals depended on it. Seriously, is Nick Carroll feeding these guys? They defend and fight like each game is there last especially Lamonte Hall (DeLaSalle), Joe Zangel (St. Louis Park), and Justin Casey (Park Center). Aaron Ziman isn't to bad himself plus he had a great weekend in St. Cloud on the offensive end. And watch out for Marquealis Edwards (Armstrong), this young man is extremely active, so active that when he gets going double-doubles are regular.
The Wisconsin Playmakers are coming to town although it sounds like team number two. With AAU you never know who may show up so we can cross our fingers that somebody like Paul Jesperson makes his way to ring but more likely Minnesota fans will have to make do with the size of Kyle Stankowski at 6-foot-8. Stankowski put down some strong two-handers in the Badger City Classic and dished out some elbows keeping the ball high. He led the Playmakers second squad to a quarterfinal finish in that event a couple weekends back.
The Minnesota Southside is either playing up with their normal 16s group or they gathered some 17 and under kids to join Joey King (Eastview) and a few others. King will be one of the bigger attractions of the weekend as quite simply he'll be one of the better players in the event. The sophomore has a great feel for the game both facing up and with his back to the bucket.
Watch out for the Minnesota Wrath this weekend. They have some shooters led by Ben Kortuem (Waconia) and Jack Klukas (Eden Prairie) that could catch somebody napping. With five Eden Prairie kids and two Waconia standouts the Wrath have experience together that many of these programs do not have. And you cannot miss them either as they wear that florescent orange with the blue trim.
Other sleepers may include Brady Johnsrud (Minnewaska Area), Dylan Moorlag (Milaca), and the Minnesota Comets III, the Wisconsin Blizzard if they send one of their better squads (they have four and it's unclear to Minnesota Preps at this time who is coming), Triple Threat with Mitch Wurn (Maple Lake), and then the Wisconsin Swing. Last year the Swing took second place in this event but this year nobody seems to know what they have going on, yet.