PHENOMNATIONHOOPS.COM - WIAA STATE PREVIEW - 20 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Antonio Curro — NATIONAL RECRUITING DIRECTOR - NY2LASPORTS.COM
The 2010 WIAA state boys basketball tournament tips off in Wisconsin on Tuesday night and with a host of teams aiming for a spot in Madison later this month, there are a number of talented young men looking to make their mark on this year's tournament in the process. Marquette bound Vander Blue headlines 20 players to watch in this year's tournament...
(NOTE - LISTED ALPHABETICALLY)
Nick Arenz - Onalaska
A skilled forward, Arenz has been a huge factor in the success for Onalaska (18-4) this season. He can step away from the basket, score in the paint, and presents matchup problems for opposing teams. Averaging a little over 13 PPG heading into the tournament, Arenz is one of the most promising 2012 prospects in the state and a strong effort from him over the next couple weeks could land Onalaska in Madison with sights on the Division 2 prize.
Austin Armga - Waupun
One of the most explosive scoring talents in the state the past couple of seasons, Armga does it with an ability to attack the rim off the bounce and an old school flavor that delivers consistent results. Scores at close to a 26 PPG clip, Armga has been the catalyst for a 20-2 Waupun squad who's one of the heavy favorites to land in Madison challenging for the Division 2 prize. This young man can play and he adds toughness and solid instincts to a solid floor game that has been dominant for the past two seasons.
Vander Blue - Madison Memorial
No single player in the state tournament may have as many eyes on him as this explosive wing talent. Looking to cap a memorable high school career that could very well be considered among the best with another state chip this season, Blue and Memorial have battled through injuries and some sub-par performances earlier this season to play their best basketball heading into the state tournament. It's not how you start but rather how you finish and Blue has been sensational lately. Can flat out take over the game when he gets it going and one need only witness his performance in last year's state tournament run to know what this young man is capable of taking over the Division 1 tournament once again.
Josh Cameron - Racine Park
Let's keep it real here, understanding what just took place with a number of victories being taken away from Park the bottom line is that the entire team is headed into the tournament and no one has beaten them this season. One of the reasons for this has been the stellar play of Cameron who's scoring a little over 14 PPG. He is one of the top combo guards in the state and one of the toughest to defend as he can take over a game offensively when he gets it going. The stage is set for this young man to deliver a message loud and clear across the state and Park could very well end up in Madison in the process.
Flavien Davis - Wisconsin Lutheran
One of the most clutch performers in the state, Davis led the Vikings to a state title last year with a sensenational effort and Lutheran heads into the tournament red hot once again with eyes on a back to back run. Davis steps up big when it matters the most and he is one of the toughest matchups in the state with an ability to knock down the perimeter shot and a lethal mid range game that includes dominating rebounding and an ability to get to the rack off the bounce. Lutheran will need another memorable effort from Davis to end up in Madison and don't be surprised if it happens once again as Davis has a knack for delivering in big time fashion when it matters the most.
K.J. Evans - Beloit Memorial
Not only is Beloit Memorial a team no one really wants to play in the Division 1 tournament, Evans is one of the best kept secrets in the state. A solid athlete with excellent defensive instincts and abilities, Evans turned in some monster efforts this season including two against Madison Memorial and Vander Blue. Memorial is very dangerous on any given night and Evans is a huge reason why. Scores over 16 PPG and has the ability to take over games offensively AND defensively on any given night.
Josh Gasser - Port Washington
One of the most talented players in the state, Gasser heads to Wisconsin next fall but first up is what he hopes is a run to Madison. Has excellent instincts, can stroke the jumper, gets to the rack, and has the ability to take over a game offensively. Port stands at 18-4 heading into the tournament but has shown cracks at times this season. Gasser is filling it up a little over 23 PPG and he'll need to take it to another level if Port expects to land in Madison in what has shaped up to be an exciting Division 2 state tournament.
Nimrod Hilliard - Madison East
While Marquis Mason has been the backbone for Madison East this season with his rebounding and interior play, Hilliard is the straw that really stirs the drink for the Purgolders. Skilled and instinctive, Hilliard's 17 PPG has been the catalyst for a 19-3 East squad that sat atop the polls earlier this eason. His play will determine how far East goes as they could easily hold the trophy in a Division 1 state tournament that has 4-5 teams as favorites headed in. If he makes solid decisions, plays efficiently, scores the basketball and controls the game night in and night out, East will be very tough to beat.
Chris Kading - De Pere
A dangerously balanced De Pere team heads into the tournament 21-1 and that's scary considering that their projected top player and prospect this season was out a significant amount of time with injury. Kading is bouncy with solid rebounding instincts and the ability to match teams with more athleticism. De Pere is extremely dangerous and bolstered by the return of Kading who is one of the top 2011 prospects in the state on the rise, they could easily end up making a state championship run in the coming weeks.
Kyle Kelm - Randolph
A forgotten talent by some, Kelm has rebounded from a frustrating spring/summer to help lead Randolph to an undefeated record this season. Scoring over 20 PPG, Kelm brings matchup problems to the table for opposing teams with his size and ability to step away from the basket. Long regarded as one of the top 2010 prospects in the state, Kelm's career has been filled with high expectations and many waiting to see them fulfilled. A strong tournament effort by Kelm that results in a state chip could fulfill some of those. Kelm can score and he's the best player on the best team in the Division 4 state tournament. Anything less than a Division 4 state title for Randolph would be a surprise but Kelm needs to deliver night in and night out for that to happen.
Charles Lee - Milwaukee Hamilton
Hamilton heads in as the top team in the state and a huge reason for that has been the stellar play of Lee, one of the top pure floor generals in the Midwest. Boasting solid handles, instincts, vision, and a stroke that can be hit at the mid range area and from beyond the arc, Lee can take over the game passing or scoring. It's really a matter of picking your poison with Lee but the young lead guard has been hampered with injury latey. If Lee is at 100% he can control a game anytime anywhere. That alone makes Hamilton dangerous and then you mix in the likes of Harris, Cook, etc. and you have a front runner to capture the state chip. Make no mistake, Lee is the catalyst and a strong effort from him will make Hamilton virtually unstoppable.
Jordan Mach - Antigo
Another of the quiet stories in the state, Mach is filling it up at over 29 PPG and has Antigo at 21-0 looking for a trip to Madison and more. He has nice size at 6-3 on the perimeter and has instincts and a skill package that can take over games offensively on any given night. Mach will need to come up big for Antigo to make a strong run. While not the sexiest pick on paper, Antigo is a dangerous team and Mach could become one of the best stories of the tournament if he delivers as capable.
Steve McWhorter - Racine St. Catherines
Not always at 100% this season, McWhorter has battled his way to almost a 15 PPG season while St. Cat's sits at 18-4. Regardless, McWhorter is one of the most dangerous talents on the floor regardless of divsion and another state tournament chip for St. Cats is well within reason if he delivers in the coming weeks. Can get to the rack off the bounce and has the ability to dominate the game scoring the basketball and creating. St. Cat's is one of the most dangerous teams in the D3 tournament and the Indiana State bound McWhorter is a big reason why.
Ben Mills - Arrowhead
The long wiry interior talent was a huge catalyst for Arrowhead's run to the top of the polls earlier this season. Scoring at 18 PPG he's been the catalyst for a 19-3 Arrowhead squad who's favored by some to end up in Madison. Losses to Wisconsin Lutheran and Catholic Memorial have exposed some weaknesses in the Arrowhead squad and while Mills has delivered solid numbers, he'll need to take his game to another level both numbers wise and physically for Arrowhead to end up in Madison out of a Sectional #5 filled with land mines for Mills and Arrowhead.
Evan Richard - Cuba City
One of the candidates for player of the year, Richard has been sensational for a Cuba City team that stands at 21-1 on the season. Scoring over 23 PPG, Richard can take over the game offensively and a Division 3 state chip for Cuba City would come as no surprise this season. Richard and Cuba City is the team no one wants to play at the Division 3 level and the UW-Milwaukee bound talent will need to simply continue delivering night in and night out in the coming weeks for Cuba City to end up in Madison.
Derek Schell - Catholic Memorial
Not only has Catholic Memorial been one of the surprise teams in the state this season but the sharpshooting Schell has delivered a memorable senior campaign. Two big time wins over Arrowhead this season showed first hand that Memorial can play with anyone and combined with Princeton bound PG T.J. Bray, Schell has been sensational game in and game out. A lethal perimeter shooting talent, Schell can take over the game with his jump shot and his 17.6 PPG has been the best on a 20-2 Memorial squad looking for a trip to Madison. The Division 2 state tournament is loaded and a strong performance by Schell is mandatory if Memorial expects to end up in Madison later this month.
Calahan Skogman - Seymour
We've been touting this young man's abilities for the past year since a breakout effort at the 2009 Swish & Dish Spring Warm-Up and his play this season has been nothing short of spectacular at times. Scoring over 19 PPG, Skogman has been a huge reason why Seymour sits at 20-2 with eyes on the Division 2 prize. He can score the basketball and has the ability to take over games with nice range and a lethal mid range game. Equipped with excellent size and solid instincts, Skogman will play a huge factor in Seymour's run the next few weeks. If he delivers as capable a trip to Madison would not be a surprise.
Jean-Pierre Tokoto - Menomonee Falls
The most touted and perhaps athletically explosive player in the state, Tokoto and the Falls head into the tournament playing their best basketball of the season. Scoring close to 19 PPG, Tokoto has been the biggest reason Falls sits at 19-3 on the season with eyes on a trip to Madison. A matchup problem on any given night, Tokoto not only brings dominant rebounding and scoring to the table, but the versatile sophomore pogo stick also brings excitement to the gym whenever he takes the court. He'll need to deliver night in and night out if Falls expects to navigate their way through a land mine filled Section #5 and end up in Madison.
Bryan Tordoff - Monroe
Monroe is another dangerous squad in a loaded Division 2 state tournament and the stellar play of the sharpshooting Tordoff is a huge reason why. Filling it up at a 15 PPG clip, Monroe sits at 17-5 thanks largely in part to Tordoff. Solid instincts, big time range, and a willingness and ability to knock down big time shots when it matters the most make for one talent who could become a huge story in the coming weeks. If Tordoff steps up big, Monroe could find themselves in Madison looking for a state chip.
Duane Wilson Jr. - Dominican
Arguably the surprise of the season, Dominican heads into the Division 3 state tournament at 16-6 and the play of the freshman lead guard has been a huge reason why. On paper thought to be rebuilding, Dominican has navigated their way through a loaded schedule that includes wins over Catholic Memorial, Racine St. Catherines, and Milwaukee King amongst others. Wilson's scoring over 11 PPG has been one reason why but probably more important has been his leadership and ability to take over games when it matters the most. Can stroke the jumper, sees the floor, and has a knack for taking his game to another level when it matters the most. While Dominican is one of the Division 3 favorities, Wilson need to do all of those things and more if Dominican expects to end up of Madison later this month.
Note: Antonio Curro is the National Recruiting Editor for NY2LASPORTS.COM, GENERATIONNEXBASKETBALL.COM and 414HOOPS.COM. He is also a national consultant for ESPNU and the HOOPSCOOP.