Numerous local Minnesota squads descended on Milwaukee this weekend for the NY2LA Next Level Invitational leading to Select Ohnstad and Net Gain Sports making the 17U Final Four before dropping semi-final games Sunday morning. NHR arrived at the event Saturday…
Numerous local Minnesota squads descended on Milwaukee this weekend for the NY2LA Next Level Invitational leading to Select Ohnstad and Net Gain Sports making the 17U Final Four before dropping semi-final games Sunday morning. NHR arrived at the event Saturday afternoon and saw the following:
Net Gain Sports
McKinley Wright (Champlin Park). McKinley is one of the most talented players Minnesota has, that is obvious. That’s why Minnesota, Marquette, Nebraska, and others watched closely. What I took away from McKinley this weekend is that constant attack with no hesitation or surrender, it’s not just an offensive thing. He’s become a player that we will be talking about as a top level defender too. Wright has what schools want in a lead guard in nearly every way, and it starts with his competitive streak and his relentless attack.
Landon Kirkwood (Brooklyn Center). I did not know that Landon could make the defensive impact that he regularly did. The way he moves around a ball screen and cuts off the ball simply shuts down an attacking thought. He’s learning how to use his physical gifts to not just finish and board, but to be a defensive force on every possession. I think that can get him what he wants out of this year as much as anything.
Ishmael El-Amin (Hopkins). Ish did what he regularly does: hit corner treys, slashed for offensive production in the open floor, used his length on defense to get a steal or two and deflections. I think you can call him a combo guy. We don’t see him handle as much because McKinley is so good on this team and Vinnie is the Hopkins PG, and teams need his scoring. But we think he can definitely handle a team and we know he can score.
Johnny Beeninga (Wayzata). When Johnny took the floor you instantly knew that he was on the floor because of the deep defensive stance and the active lateral movement.
Reed Nikko (Maple Grove). The confidence is there and that makes all the difference in the world. The offensive production has carried over from the Gopher team camp and it’s being seen at this level of Grassroots play. Nikko showed off a nice touch at the foul line, he made a couple elbow jumpers when we watched, there were three quick shoulder turn short touch makes that were the most impressive scores, and he dunked. Also liked the way he rebounded this weekend. There was more aggression to getting to the ball and pulling it down with elbows letting people know that they weren’t going to touch the ball. Also liked how Reed moves the ball out of the post, which is also where he looks more confident. In the past he looked more to just get rid of it but now Reed is making a read and throwing a pass that helps his teammates get into space for offensive production.
Jericho Sims (Cristo Rey). The last two observations of Sims has NHR thinking Jericho’s future could be at a higher level than first though. There are things coming around with his game that are becoming more regular. For example; Jericho is going after boards out of his area with more aggression, he’s moving without the ball more than he has in the past, and Sims is also more comfortable on the block and he’s good with the right hand finish. Sims has the length and athletic ability to someday really be a nice college player.
MN Select Altenhofen
Eli Cave (BSM). Eli is one of the most agile bigs in the state and he’s developing skills and a feel for his ability more and more each day. Eli is playing with a lot more confidence so his attack is being completed more and more. He went at opposing Select size and scored on the move three times. He attacked the penetrating opposition and has quick springs to pin shots or quickly grab boards and take off the other way. Eli’s development has just started and I really think teams need to keep tracking him as he may be scholarship worthy.
Henry Benson (Roseville). If you can’t love Henry Benson and the way he plays we really don’t have much to say to you. This is a guy that you go into a fox hole with. The young man battles on both ends, is a total pest ball pressure wise, and you can trust him to run an offense without errors or mistakes. Tough kid.
Sam Baker (BSM). Sam had a great weekend as a scorer. The type of weekend that doubles the college interest. He’s always an efficient shooter at the arc and was again, but I thought that Sam looked quicker in his corner turns which allowed him to get deep in the paint to complete attacks. Sam took a lot of contact and played through it to finish plays and get to the foul line. With each passing day Baker becomes a more versatile scorer for his team.
Zach Knollenberg (Spectrum). Zach scores in all ways. You have to know where he is at all times because he’s always getting to spaces to produce. If it’s a three, a putback, a cutting score, a post up, flashing and hitting 14-footers, whatever, Zach simply scores. He’s got good length and good skill at 6-foot-6 which is hard for a lot of the threes and fours to adequately defense. The threes are too small most of the time and the fours don’t always move with him. When a defense rotates and a guard has to be on Zach he finds ways to produce every time.
Nick Dufault (Waseca). The compact tough guy was leaned on at times to create scoring opportunities and he had two flashes of scoring production. Early he attacked the hoop and later he ran off screens to get to space to catch and hit. Nick continues to develop as an all around scorer plus he’s shown he can handle just fine. Has the feel of a really solid D3 player.
MN Select Ohnstad
Jack Stensgard (SImley). I think this was the weekend where Jack really convinced regular observers that not only can he play and contribute regularly as a college talent but as a scholarship talent. There is a special feel he has as a lead guard that a lot of ball handlers don’t have. His vision and leads are outstanding and Jack has the size to play both guard spots. Also a better shooter and athlete now that he was a year ago. Moving up the lists.
David Lindstrand (Lakeville North). David has blossomed so much with Select in the past four months. He’s become a confident primary ball handler in addition to being of the hardest working players on the floor. David will always give you the defensive effort that allows a coach to not worry but his skills have improved too. Great progression.
Martez Rodgers (Mpls Washburn). The first thing that catches your eye about Martez is the ball pressure. His deep steps and lightning quick lateral steps make him a defender you will have to beat with off the ball movement, not one on one actions. His shooting touch also looks better. Hit a three when we observed and the one dribble pull looked comfortable.
Sam Sustacek (Orono). Sam is the heart and the motor of this crew. He’s so verbal and active that others feed off his vibe and his play. Battles as a rebounder, much more comfortable facing the basket, shot free throws well this weekend, and is doing a great job playing with a seven foot center. Sam has played like a guy that can do a lot as a four skill and IQ wise, but also has the battle to play the five at the level he will eventually play at.
Carter Brooks (Lakeville North). College coaches are noticing the things that set Carter apart. The quick bounce into a squared release, the attacking first step against forwards complete with extended finish, and the size to guard several spots. Carter had three really nice games for Select leading them in scoring for the weekend.
Braxton Raymond (K-M). Braxton has become instant offense. He steps off the bench attacks either a bad bench player or a tired started and simply gets baskets. Braxton is always good with his feet set but what has caught our eye is his production on the move. Raymond consistently beat an off balance defender to the middle and used his strength and body control to get double figures usually before most in the game. Very good weekend.
Jameson Bryan (Eastview). Another strong weekend for one of the toughest pound for pound players in the class. Jameson hit a late three, dove on the floor for a loose ball, and attacked to score late in the game. There is no quit to him, ever. He is a leader on the floor verbally and with his action, runs a great halfcourt offense, and although he is small he usually makes the biggest plays.
Luke Loehr (Rosemount). Finished his weekend with 19 points knocking out three tryes and seven field goals overall. Luke faces up and does a great job getting his man off balance with fakes or a separation and then with one dribble is really effective. Saw him score pulling up and using his strength to complete going towards the rim. Great frame and he’s developed so fast it’s hard to predict his limit.