The high school basketball season got underway publicly this weekend with scrimmages throughout the state and a couple jamborees. The biggest jamboree was put on at High Performance Academy where Hopkins took on Apple Valley after both teams had been scrimmaging in the metro all afternoon.
When jamborees are put together the best match-ups are looked at. The organizers put Breakdown/Minnesota Preps preseason number one Hopkins against the number two team Apple Valley and it made for quality entertainment. That gave the fans five star elite Tyus Jones going at Siyani Chambers (a three time state champ and a Harvard commit).
In some jamboree games the coaches played their regulars for 16 or 17 minutes and then threw the JV in there for the final stretch of the game. Hopkins (playing with all their guys) and Apple Valley (without a flu stricken Harry Sonie) did the opposite battling head to head for the full 20 minutes at their competitive max.
Hopkins definitely has more naturally talented players but the Eagles had the best player in the gym and he didn't disappoint. Jones must have finished the 20 minute game with at least ten assists as he was dropping dimes in transition and in the halfcourt set with precision. Tyus led teammates with perfect left handed and right handed bounce passes, he sent fastballs through tight spaces for scores, and his skip passes and quick rotations were always on point.
His teammates also did a great job of running the floor, attacking the hoop with basket cuts, and spreading the Hopkins defense out in the halfcourt set. The Eagle supporting cast made a healthy percent of their shots (they scored 52 points in 20 minutes) and I think there are believers that Apple Valley could potentially be the number one team in state at some point.
Tyus was simply to much for any Hopkins player to handle as he also scored 13 points. His pull-up jumper is one the most improved areas of his game and it's scoring at a high percentage. Tyus also showed his explosiveness getting back in transition D and blocking a Hopkins shot above the rim. The biggest highlight of Jones had to have been his in and out crossover that separated him from Chambers at the halfcourt line and eventually became a whipped pass over the head of others for a Dustin Fronk trey.
• Apple Valley won 52-38 and coaches who play Hopkins in the near future are shaking their heads. Why? If they were overconfident at all before the season started or if they thought they were unbeatable, now Coach Ken Novak Jr. has some fuel to push the kids even harder in practice. Then the kids will take out the practice sessions on the upcoming opponents.
• In addition to his skill outplaying everybody in the gym, Jones also took two charges in 20 minutes time. I challenge you to find another five start talent around the country who you see take two charges this winter and let people know about it because it doesn't happen much.
• Minnesota State-Moorhead signed Tyler Vaughan was knocked around constantly by the St. Thomas defense but still made five three-pointers for 19 points in a 32-25 victory. Twice he was knocked down while attempting threes and both shots went in while Vaughan ended up on his back.
• Reid Travis dominated Holy Angels with 13 points as the Stars were without frontcourt players Danny Sullivan and 6-foot-9 Mike Hudson. There wasn't much science to it. Travis had too much physical explosion for any player in blue and gold to deal with. DeLaSalle cruised 47-25.
• DeLaSalle point guard Tyler Moore has always been an intense defender with a steady hand at point guard. But against Holy Angles Moore penetrated gaps and got to the rim for a couple scores and if he can do that the Islanders will be even more dangerous. Moore looks to have improved his skill level in the off-season.
• In a game with a lot of quality bigs Minnetonka's four man Andrew Turnblad dominated the glass first making contact and then snatching the board at the rim with two strong hands. Turnblad scored three field goals underneath including a key three-point play late and his defensive effort was outstanding. Next to him Latrell Love scored four times as Tonka beat Osseo 31-25 in a close battle.
• Zach Stahl is going to have a big year. Throughout the fall league and against Apple Valley he seemed to attack the bucket with a purpose. Stahl is showing a combination of skill, agility, aggressiveness, and toughness in his basket attacks and Minnesota forwards haven't been able to stop him.