2014 Timberwolves Shootout Game Previews

2014 Timberwolves Shootout Game Previews

Editor’s Note: The 18th annual Timberwolves Shootout will take place Jan. 4 at Target Center. Eight of top teams in Minnesota and around the region will square off in what is likely to be another memorable day of high school basketball. Below is a rundown each team and what to watch for at the Shootout as compiled by College Basketball News’ Chris Monter

Chris Monter
Special to Timberwolves.com
College Basketball News

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9:15 AM Lakeville North vs. Grand Rapids

Lakeville North finished 23-7 last season, losing to Park Center 73-72 in overtime in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament. The Panthers are led by J.P. Macura, who is headed to Xavier. He averaged 25.4 points per game last year, but he has boosted his scoring average to 40.0 this season with the graduation losses to guards Grant Erickson (13.2) and Zach Creighton (11.1). Macura broke the Lakeville North single-game scoring record with 44 points in the season opener and has added efforts of 55 points against Farmington and 48 versus Hopkins. He has a scoring mentality with outstanding shooting range. Frontcourt players Connor Flack and Bronson Bruneau have been asked to provide more scoring this season. Flack is the younger brother of Tyler, who is a sophomore at South Dakota and is averaging 12.5 points per game. Bruneau will walk-on at Duke next year as a long snapper. He is also an excellent student who ranks first in the class academically Sophomore starting quarterback Drew Stewart, who played varsity basketball last winter as a freshman, has emerged this season at point guard and fellow backcourt mate Alex Reiland has developed into a double figure scorer.

Grand Rapids finished 20-10 last season, losing to Marshall 69-52 in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament. The Thunderhawks are led by junior Alex Illikainen, who became the first sophomore in Grand Rapids boys basketball history to go over 1,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. He could end his career as the state’s all-time leading rebounder. Illikainen has Big Ten offers from Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin. They have been slowed by injuries to two starters, but are hoping to bounce back and make their fourth straight state tournament appearances.

11:00 AM Cretin-Derham Hall vs. Bettendorf (IA)

Cretin Derham Hall finished 14-14, losing to Apple Valley in the Section 3AAAA semifinals. The Raiders welcome back two players who started as a sophomores. Joe Neumann, a 6-foot-6 wing, is one of the top outside threats in the Midwest. The younger brother of Wofford sophomore C.J., has scholarship offers from Toledo and Northeastern. Neumann averaged 16.6 points per game last season and has increased that to 20.0 this year. Six-foot-2 guard Sam Rosga is an outstanding outside shooter who missed most of the summer with an injury. He is averaging 17.3 points. Junior point guard Donnell Gresham is eligible this season after sitting out last year as a transfer from Tartan. He is an athletic playmaker who has made a big impact for the Raiders, averaging 12.8 points. Sophomores Brian Lankford-Johnson and Jalan Ousley-Brown are talented youngsters.

Bettendorf finished 25-1, losing to Iowa City West 54-36 in the Class AAAA state championship game. The Bulldogs are currently ranked second in the state behind two-time state champion Iowa City West, who has won 56 straight games. Bettendorf returns their top four scorers, who are all seniors and 83% of their scoring. Six-foot guard Cole Clearman, who signed with Division II Missouri Western, averaged 13.2 points per game last season and Kendall Jacks inked with Division II Wayne State, added 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. Six-foot-one guard Dylan Sortillo, who is an excellent outside threat who averaged 9.7 points last season and 6-foot-7 senior Nicholas Baer, who chipped in with 9.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last year are other key returnees.

12:45 PM De La Salle vs. St. Rita (IL)

DeLaSalle finished 29-1, wining their second straight Class AAA title, defeating Austin 50-33 in the title game. They return four starters, losing only outside shooter Luke Scott, who averaged 14.9 points per game. The Islanders are led by senior Reid Travis, who is ranked #23 in the country by ESPN. He will play at Stanford next season. Travis averaged 26.1 points per game and was the 2013 StarTribune Metro Player of the Year. He played for the Howard Pulley AAU program that won the national title at the Super Showcase in Orlando this past July. He has been sidelined in the early part of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. However, that hasn’t slowed down the Islanders who have three other teammates who played on the AAU national squad. Forward James Lawson showed off an improved jump shot this summer and signed with Division II Sioux Falls this fall. Junior point guard Jarvis Johnson has over ten scholarship offers, including one from Minnesota and is averaging 18.0 points per game, more than double his scoring average from last year. Fellow junior Sacar Anim is an outstanding athlete who has an offer from Northern Iowa and adds 16.7 points. Geno Crandall, who signed with North Dakota, has emerged this season and is contributing 16.0 points per contest. Six-foot-7 freshman Goanar Mar is a name to watch down the road

Chicago (IL) St. Rita finished 19-9 last season. The Mustangs are led by Victor Law, a Northwestern signee who is ranked #66 by ESPN in the Class of 2014 and #11 junior Charles Matthews, who has offers from schools such as Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

However, they are far from a two-man team. Six-foot-2 senior Dominique Matthews, the older brother of Charles, has shined this season with Charles out with a tear in his left ankle. He has scored more than 30 points in his first three game of the season. Matthews has offers from schools such as Chicago State, Toledo, SMU and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but expect that list to grow with his strong start. Senior guard Treston Forbes and 6-foot-8 junior Myles Carter, a strong rebounder and shotblocker, are key contributors for the Mustangs.

2:30 PM Apple Valley vs. Blue Valley Northwest (KS)

Apple Valley finished 31-1 last season, winning the Class AAAA state tournament over Park Center. The Eagles have had to replace outside threat Dustin Fronk (15.4 points per game) and defensive specialist Harry Sonie (8.1). However, they are perhaps the deepest team in the state and welcome back point guard Tyus Jones, who is ranked as the #4 senior in the country by ESPN and signed with Duke. The five-year starter averaged 20.6 points per contest last year and has increased that to 27.7 this season. Forward Dennis Austin is an effective undersized inside scorer who is averaging 13.0 points per game. Versatile senior Robert Tobroxen is an outstanding defender. Six-foot-11 sophomore center Brock Bertram is a strong rebounder and shotblocking presence. Gary Trent Jr. has emerged as a freshman as an outside threat and sophomore Cameron Kirksey adds scoring and shotblocking skills off the bench.

Blue Valley Northwest finished 25-0 last season, winning the Kansas 6A state title after finishing runner-up the previous three seasons and finished the season ranked #19 by USA Today. The Huskies were dominating last season, winning all but three games by double figures and never having a single digit game against a Kansas opponent. They are making a return trip to the Timberwolves Shootout after defeating Minneapolis DeLaSalle 57-52 last season as head coach Ed Fritz won his 500th game. It was the Islanders’ lone loss last year.

The Huskies, who are 71-4 the past three seasons, return all five starters and are led by Iowa State signee Clayton Custer, who averaged 22.2 points and 5.3 assists as a junior. Custer is a two-time first team Class 6A selection and has already set a carrer records for points, assists and steals.

Vince Fritz, the son of head coach Ed Fritz, signed with Sacred Heart and 6-foot-2 guard Ben Richardson inked with Loyola of Chicago. Fritz averaged 12.3 points per game, 3.6 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, while Richardson added 12.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest.

David Salach, a 6-foot-6 senior, signed with Kansas Division II power Washburn. Custer, Fritz, Kyle Harrison and Richardson have been playing together since third grade and that chemistry is apparent in their unselfish play and strong outside shooting. The Huskies recently made 16 of 20 from outside the arc in an 80-45 win over Missouri perennial power Kickapoo in the Ozark Mountain Shootout.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.