On to the small forwards where in Minnesota we really do have scholarship threes that come in all shapes and sizes. We have short ones, tall ones, strong ones, smaller armed ones, explosive athletes, deadly shooters, versatile performers, and defenders. Take your pick college basketball, there is likely one that you are looking for in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Minnesota Preps went back to the local experts to get even more detailed opinions on the best of the best. The rules? Give us your best two prospects and then a sleeper small forward. And because we are sticking Jonah Travis in the category of power forwards next week he could not be a selection although he was still a common topic.
Here are the opinions of our local basketball experts:
"The top five are Ross Travis, Marvin Singleton, Lucas Brown who is more of a shooting guard, Seth Hinrichs, and Alex Richter. Shane Bosek is a sleeper, or Kurt Moody. Trevor Morlock too."
"Jonah Travis is the best small forward in the state! Kyle Noreen is very versatile on both sides of the court. He might arguably be the most versatile player in the state. Sleeper, Eric Robertson has as much upside as anybody in the state. Six-foot-7 with bounce, just turned 17 in late August. I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up being one of the most successful players that comes out of the 2011 class."
"Richter gets buckets. Who is the last player to lead the Lake Conference in scoring as a sophomore and junior? He has proven he can get buckets against any level of competition. "
"Ross Travis has the best physical tools. Size and athleticism are ideal for the position. Lucas Brown has size, athletic ability, and skill to play high major. Decision making and defense have to get better to get to that level. Both Ross and Lucas need to be more aggressive. Number three is Singleton, I love his toughness. He has a great body and he knows how to play and win. I would take him over all others at the three but he is really a four not a small forward. Richter is more of a four in my opinion. He's tough and strong. Hinrichs can shoot."
"This is a very difficult choice but I'm going to say number one is Ross Travis. Being that he is 6-foot-7 with the abilities of a guard which we saw last year with his running the point position at his high school and over the summer as well against national competition, but also strong and explosive enough to play on the inside against much stronger defenders. Number two is Jonah Travis. I know some would say that he is a power forward but with his genetic size he has to be a wing. Besides, what Jonah has showed this summer is that he can play on the perimeter. My dark horse but very talented is Thomas Schalk (MN Preps will have him with fours), he might be one of my favorites to watch. He works so hard on defense and has the best team attitude a kid could have. If you need a glue guy Thomas is the best in 2011 class. If Jonah and Thomas are with the fours, Marvin Singleton is second. He has a high IQ with strength and quickness. Number three I'm going with Lucas Brown who is just a hardnosed competitor that does a lot of things well."
"I would have to go with Ross Travis because of his upside. He's a 6-foot-7 athlete. If he improves his jumpshot and stays away from injury he could be a kid we see play for money one day. My second choice would be Richter. I love his game. He's 6-foot-5 and shot it well this summer. Also did very well defending on the wing. He doesn't have the bounce of a kid like Brown but is crafty and always seems to finish."
"Easiest one for me yet. Seth Hinrichs and Ross Travis. Travis is a stud flat out. Seth is the best shooter in the class and will become one of the better all around players at the next level from the 2011 class. The sleeper is Kurt Moody. He will end up being a very productive college player."
"Top prospect at the position is clearly Ross Travis as he has all the tools to be a prototype high major Division one small forward. The remainder of the group is all a step behind. Marvin Singleton stands out as the next guy in the group as he uses his strength to make up for being undersized. Seth Hinrichs and Eric Robertson are sleepers to keep an eye on."
Minnesota Preps Weighs In
What one needs to understand about ranking the small forward position is that it's quite complex from several angles. One problem is that it's a position of so many character traits. When ranking them you first have to decide if kids belong at the small forward or shooting guard. Or decide between small forward and power forward. It's not easy. The other part is that colleges are recruiting so many of these kids for need and because Minnesota has so many threes who are so different from each other, ranking them depends on what angle you are taking. The second best guy for one team may be sixth out of our state for another, it just depends on need and system.
We feel that Ross Travis played so well this summer that him being number one on this list is a given. He's got too much athletic explosion at 6-foot-7 not to think that way. Ross has high major interest and offers from multiple schools and his game continues to become more versatile. Of course his health is a concern as Ross has been through way more injuries than any high school kid should have to go through. But his potential is sky high.
From there it's a need thing. Northern Iowa wanted a high IQ, tough minded, winner who could play both forward positions. They loved what Marvin did/does for Hopkins, they loved what he did for Howard Pulley, and they loved him at their camp so they grabbed him. Wofford wanted Marvin too but when they missed out on him they set their sights on Lucas Brown who was on their campus last weekend.
Lucas is a different player than Marvin. Brown has more outside skill and bounce while Singleton is much more physical, has been more consistently productive at a high level for a longer period of time, and Singleton runs the floor better than most in state even though he's built like Julius Peppers. Where Marvin is more of a three/four combo, Lucas is more of a two/three guy.
Want a shooter? That's Seth Hinrichs. A college coach can walk into Minnesota and even though this guy is more athletic or that guy defends better or that guy dribbles better, it doesn't matter. If a coach wants just a straight shooter with size from this Minnesota senior class they are going to take Seth over everyone.
You need a solid position defender who can handle for your team some, make the right pass, and has a tough demeanor? That's Kyle Noreen. Noreen has shut down a who is who list of Midwest's top wing shooters and his IQ level with the ball on the perimeter really can't be matched by anybody in Minnesota at this position.
It's all about what you are looking for. A scorer? Alex Richter could be a three time Lake Conference scoring champion. Nick Latzke is another scorer as he's shown consistent three point range plus an improved dribble attack game. A power wing? Kurt Moody! Maybe Benji Figini too although he's likely more of a four man himself considering his power game. Bryan Sprang is more of a college sized two but he's been playing as a three and scoring for a long time himself so we aren't sure what spot to put him position wise but overall he's around top 40. And oh the talent Frank Veldman could display but he's a track and field superstar and a nice football talent as well so basketball may be kind of a hobby. And the name all of our experts forgot? Michael Emge.
And what is T.J. Okafor? He's probably the biggest up and comer in terms of names being dropped by college coaches this fall. Minnesota Preps needs about one more viewing of T.J. playing on the wing before we can call him a three after he's played a four/five his entire life but the growth in his game to the wing has been overly impressive. He will be at the four spot next week in the PF rankings but when it comes to overall rankings at the end, T.J. may have gravitated to a true three.
Senior Small Forward Prospect Rankings
1. Ross Travis, Chaska
2. Marvin Singleton, Hopkins (Northern Iowa)
3. Lucas Brown, Roseville
4. Kyle Noreen, Minnesota Transitions
5. Seth Hinrichs, MACCRAY
6. Alex Richter, Lakeville South
7. Eric Robertson, Wayzata
8. Nick Latzke, Minnetonka
9. Michael Emge, Faribault
10. Cole Olstad, Plainview/Elgin-Millville (Concordia-St. Paul)
11. Frank Veldman, Eastview
12. Drew Preiner, Tartan
13. Nick Bobb, Lake City
14. Kurt Moody, Pequot Lakes
15. Cale Girtens, New Prague
16. Trevor Morlock, Rogers
17. Nate Golden, C-M-C
18. Charles Williams, Robbinsdale Cooper
19. Shane Bosek, Minnewaska Area
20. John Clark, Sebeka