The first annual Northstar Hoops Report Combine brought together some of the best young players in the state of Minnesota including a load of ninth graders that will produce for the next four winters.
Jake Dale (Mankato West) is already a known name after 8th grade production and a great year with Fury Shelman 15s. He came to Augsburg and put on a finishing clinic scoring about 80 percent of his field goals. What makes that even more impressive was Dale was knocking down pull-up jumpers plus trying to dunk any time he had some space. The 6-foot-3 active bruiser showed to be deadly in the pick and roll game hitting when given space or attacking when faced-up against the shuffling defender. His low post hook shot was unstoppable and the best part of his day was his nonstop effort.
Brian Lankford (Cretin-Derham Hall) looks the part of a varsity basketball player. He’s strong, agile, and plays a physical brand of attacking ball that is going to quickly make him a favorite of Coach Jerry Kline. He scored with range against hot contesting hands or he attacked middle using his first step to separate and speed to beat closing defenders to the rim. Very impressive looking guard whose physically more advanced than the 2016 competition. Love his handles.
Michael Hurt (Rochester JM) has Rocket fans smiling because he and his brother Matthew (also quite talented) seem capable of carrying the torch when Ngor Barnaba and Deonte Moore graduate in a couple years. The 6-foot-6 Hurt started by blocking every shot and snaring all the boards and from there he needed only his dribble to start fast breaks for his team. He also finished around the cup with either hand which allowed him to put up double-double numbers quickly in each scrimmage. Some of the other headliners have made names for themselves before hand or their names have came up. Michael Hurt was brand new but people left Augsburg knowing his name.
Dalante Peyton’s (St. Paul Academy) day started slow in terms of his scoring. His jumper took a little time to find consistency but once he did treys and pull-up mid-range jumpers were seen over and over. Peyton’s long arms and enormous hands make one think there is a lot of growing to come and if that is the case he will continue to be a top prospect in 2016 not just locally but throughout the Midwest. His defensive effort guarding Jake Dale showed a lot of lateral ability as well as a hunger to compete against the best.
John Larson (Braham) has the type of game to keep Braham as a state championship contender for the next four seasons. The 6-foot-1 point guard has an attacking feel that most outstate guards just don’t understand at this age. He’s able to survey defenses and make attacking decisions that netted big numbers in all game action at the combine. He’s also a deadly shooter who salivates when he sees lazy defenders who he can eat alive plus his release is as sweet as candy. Expect big numbers for Larson the next four seasons.
Steffon Mitchell is an extremely long 6-foot-3/6-foot-4 wing who blocks shots like his next meal depends on it. He’s also a sweet stroking lefty who finished with either hand around the rim. The words “Shakopee’s Chris Bosh” were actually mentioned and if he grows like you would expect Coach Kugath has some great years ahead of him.
Zach Kvalvog drove down from Moorhead, Minnesota and he put more effort into his time at Augsburg than any other player. The young point guard showed great hustle and leadership skills always talking to defenders on both ends of the floor. He was one of the best passers at the event showing a great court IQ plus he was a threat at the arc.
At 6-foot-6 entering the ninth grade Reed Nikko is going to do some great things for Maple Grove. He uses his size very well rebounding, blocking/contesting shots, and scoring around the rim. Love his touch going over either shoulder posting up. More consistent than flashy Nikko will produce in the Northwest Suburban game after game.
Young DeLaSalle middle school guards Sage Booker and Kevin Wesseh will keep a smile on Dave Thorson’s face for years to come. These two tough, grinding guards were continual pests defending all over plus attacking the rim for numbers. Young guards were on their heels all day because of Booker. Max Walker is another future Islander who impressed.
Columbia Heights native Matthew Fulton is a Max Rosenbloom like effort guy who boards, hustles, finishes, defends, and does everything it takes to contribute despite being undersized.
Brian Smith is a five foot replica of his older brother Ian. He many not even be five feet but he plays with the heart of a lion defending with purpose and getting lane against all.
Cousins Chris and Alec Olson of Braham were feisty competitors who impressed with consistent results. They are two more of the young group of Bombers who will keep the tradition going.
Watch out for Tyler Peterson over at Centennial. He’s a tough guard who won’t back down from many competing with a skilled game reminiscent of the recent Centennial class of talent. Instinctive rebounder on both ends plus he has range.
Orono forward Sam Sustacek was one of the best talkers who took the floor. He was always defensively active verbally and physically plus he finished well around the basket at 6-foot-3.
Devin Wade-Henderson turned the corner seemingly whenever he wanted today. Only a 7th grader this young physical player has a chance to be exceptional in the future. A great attack game capable of big things out of Brooklyn Park.
Love the dimes dropped by point guard Jeremiah Coddon-Allen. He’s a future Woodbury point guard.
Cullen Lynch is a kid who loves to get others involved while future teammate Martin Mitchell is a worker who had a nice year for the Fury. Eastview youngsters who will fit in their system. Mitchell showed to be crafty off the bounce with nice vision for the highlight play.
Gabe Hostetler is a future Cooper shooter. This talent was knockdown all day.
Trinity’s Eddie Maruggi finished all day and you can expect him to do it as a frosh for Trinity next winter.
Booker Coplin has Shakopee written all over him. When his body catches up to his court knowledge and skill he’ll be a productive pest. Sneaky good who was one of the combine leaders in steals.
Omar Porte was solid from the first moments of the combine. Hitting jumpers, defending, attacking rim young Porte looks to be another Osseo worker.
Austin wing Moses Issa is an active worker that provided a dependable defensive presence each game. Only a seventh grader to be Issa competed well against players two years older.
Sanjay Lawler didn’t provide a future school but he did show an active approach to the game as well as mid-range jumper ability.
Tristan Brown was injured early at the event but when he was healthy the strong St. Paul Academy forward stopped bigs from getting to the bucket, finished on the break, and rebounded consistently.
Garrett Kepler is a 7th grader who will be a fan favorite in the Maple Grove area. He’s a battling lead guard who leaves everything on the floor.
Devin Blakey is like a little Jordan Dembley. Not predicting a D1 future for the kid just yet but his style of play and frame are Dembley like.
Aaron Saari was a pick and pop player of the day. Set strong screens and then opened up to stroke.
Matt Lilenthal knocked down more treys than most at the event. The future BSM talent provides the Red Knights with hope.