The 13th annual Timberwolves Shootout has gone more with a local flavor compared to the headlining national stars that have been played against Minnesota's elite in the past. Paul Bunch from Lawndale Prep in Illinois and Marcus Paige of Linn Mar are nothing to sneeze at but the majority of the talent in this year's event will come from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The games will open up with a nice ten o'clock match-up between Orono and Grand Rapids who are both talented and guard heavy. Orono seems to be a year away from their big run but they still are good at 4-3 on the season. They will have only one senior on their roster (Chase Gottschalk) and then numerous experienced juniors and sophomores. The headliner is Jordan Smith who enters his upper classmen years already with his name attached to numerous school scoring records and averaging 20 points a game this season. Brady Wohler and Jeremy Borg are also talented players from Orono scoring 9.1 and 10.0 points per game respectively.
The Spartans will have the chance to compare themselves with one of the states best when they play the Thunderhawks, ranked 6th in the Minnesota Preps Class AAA poll at 6-1. Leading Grand Rapids is U of Mary signed Michael Johnson who is an athletic 5-foot-9 point who can sit down and defend at a high level, force a turnover, and then dunk without issue. Also in the backcourt is Erick Stark who is the returning leading scorer (15.6 ppg last year) and sophomore Austin Pohlen who has a load of potential.
The noon game matches Minnesota Transitions (6-1 and number one in class A) and Staples-Motley (5-1 and 7th in class AA). Both of these programs have been gearing their teams to this 2010 season for five plus varsity years. The leaders (Kevin Noreen and Kyle Noreen of MTS and Jordan Riewer/ Derek Wolhowe of the Cards) have been playing varsity basketball since middle school dreaming about the state title. The cast of talent around them has grown to the point that a run at the state title is a possibility although the methods have been different.
The current rotation of the Cardinals began joining Riewer and Wolhowe during their 9th and 10th grade years forming a strong chemistry since. Meanwhile, at Minnesota Transitions some impressive transfers have joined the Noreens this school year bolstering the line-up particularly Rodney Owens (scoring a dozen points a game) who just moved to Minneapolis from Kansas City. Add in Deangelo Potter (11.2 points a game) from Dunwoody Academy/Brooklyn Center and what you have is a tough bunch of Wolves. Also, Kevin Noreen is scoring 33 points a contest with 17.9 rebounds while Kyle is scoring 17.9 points a game with 7.1 assists.
Plainview/Elgin-Millville is ranked 6th in class AA at 6-2 while Crosby-Ironton is number two in the same class with an undefeated record through eight games. This is two class AA teams that have a legit chance of playing for the state championship led by top coaches in Dave Galovich (C-I) and Kirk Thompson.
The Olstad brothers Clay and Cole lead the Bulldogs of PEM. Concordia-St. Paul signed Clay Olstad is the senior leader and he gives the Dogs point production both inside and out plus he plays an aggressive and intimidating brand of on-ball defense. His brother Cole Olstad is one of the elite shooters in the state of Minnesota who averaged 21 plus points a game as a sophomore last year. What they face from the Rangers is a senior dominated group that plays great team basketball with five working as one. The Rangers are a small team with only Mark Hoge being over six feet tall but four starters return after scoring in double figures last year (Hoge, Sam Baker, Mark Hudrlik, and Brock Tesdahl). Hoge may be the overlooked senior in the state of Minnesota. He has the athletic ability and touch to hit from anywhere it seems.
The four o'clock contest is the first of two that involves outstate teams. North Lawndale College Prep is led by 6-foot-10, 230 pound Paul Bunch who Rivals.com rates as a three star recruit. If Bunch and his team were looking for size to face they found it against Henry Sibley (4-4). Up front the Warriors have seven-foot center Jake Kreuser (11.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game) committed and signed to Lafayette, and 6-foot-7 banger Mike Rostampour (13.4 points and 7.2 rebounds). The Kreuser match-up against Bunch will be the top post battle of this year's Shootout. Another talented player North Lawndale has is Jermaine Winfield who you may recall being in the news last winter because after a game he was shot in the leg. He's an undersized but very talented post who should see a lot of Rostampour if the pair can keep out of foul trouble. Sibley's top scorer is Jordan Jackson who at 17.1 points per game and 53 shooting is impressive a lot of D2s coaches.
The state's second ranked big school team coming into the season, Minnetonka (5-4), takes on one of the elite programs from Iowa when Linn Mar comes back to town. Linn Mar always has a star and things are no different this year. Marcus Paige, a four-star 2012 point guard, already owns scholarship offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa while he's hearing from numerous others like Michigan, Kansas, and Wisconsin.
Paige and Linn Mar will offer the Minnetonka Skipper talent quite a challenge although the Skippers have a few guards to throw back at Linn Mar including the versatile Tor Anderson and Cole Stefan (13 and 20 points per game respectively). Tor's ability includes standout defense as well as some increased ball handling skills but he will be tested against Paige. The state of Minnesota will also get a look at Cole Stefan and his added explosive game. Cole has always been one of the state's best shooters but now in outstanding physical condition Cole may explode on the Target Center rims.
When it comes to size and depth the match-up between Hopkins (7-1) and Champlin Park (5-2) looks somewhat even. Hopkins has more athletic ability but Champlin Park will still make this a competitive match-up.
Point guard wise both Jasper Duberry (11.1 points per game) of CP and Siyani Chambers (7.4 ppg) of Hopkins are six feet and strong players. On the wing D.J. Peterson (10.8 ppg) of the Royals and Josh Pella (12.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and for assists a game) of the Rebels are versatile talents in the 6-foot-4 range (give or take an inch each way) that put up a ton of numbers across the board. Inside both teams will use undersized forwards at 6-foot-4 in Kyle Zimmerman (15.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg) and Marvin Singleton (19.9 ppg for Hopkins). Zimmerman is your typical lunch pail guy who can also take his defender out to the arc while Marvin is very athletic with one of the stronger physiques in the metro. But what will the Rebels try and do with Joe Coleman who is scoring 26.5 points per contest for Hopkins? The Champlin Park counters aren't too bad in seniors Brandon Davis (11.6 ppg) and D'Andre Williamson (8.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg). Both teams will have depth in the form of decent shooters, some younger athletes, and have the option to use some 6-foot-7 size off the bench but that size is quite raw.