The high school season is off and running and a host of talented prospects and programs across the Midwest are already rolling in stellar fashion. Here’s a look at a handful of each in this week’s news and notes from across the Midwest…
TEAMS TO WATCH
Note – Listed in Alphabetical Order
Champlin Park (Minnesota)
The undefeated top ranked power from Minnesota is off to an impressive start. They have a victory over highly ranked Apple Valley under their belt long with the same over Rochester John Marshall. A team with a variety of weapons, Park is powered by the 1-2 punch of McKinley Wright and Theo John but seniors Brian Smith and Marcus Smith along with junior Josiah Strong are also having stellar campaigns so far. Right now they are the frontrunner in the state and it’s going to take a big effort combined with an off night for Park for a loss to come their way.
Iowa City West (Iowa)
The deep and talented group from Iowa is undefeated and rolling so far this season. Powered by a balanced attack that includes seniors Devontae Lane (15 ppg) and Connor McCaffery (18 ppg) as well as sophomore standout Patrick McCaffery (15 ppg) West on paper looks like the team to beat in the state all year long. The younger McCaffery is an excellent young talent and the older is a two sport standout (baseball) who is already headed to the Hawkeyes next fall. They will be tough to beat this season.
North Central (Indiana)
The top team in the state of Indiana is off to a strong early start and you can look no further than the stellar play of 2017 SF Kris Wilkes to see why. The biggest game of the season to date was a showdown with New Albany and highly coveted junior Romeo Langford and Wilkes proceeded to drop a 32 piece in the highly anticipated showdown with North Central rolling to an 84-60 win. While Wilkes is the catalyst, a solid supporting cast that includes seniors Mateo Rivera and Emmanuel Little have North Central off to an impressive 5-0 start early this season.
The perennial power from Chicago is off to a solid start this year with a number of quality victories and they have opened the eyes of some who didn’t thing they would be in the conversation this season. Simeon isn’t powered this year by the headliner top 5 national talent but rather a strong group of prospects that are playing well as a team including the likes of Evan Gilyard, Messiah Jones, Kezo Brown, etc. Coach Smith has obvious big game winning experience and the Wolverines are once again in the state championship contender conversation in Illinois.
Note – Listed in Alphabetical Order
TAI BIBBS – 2017 – PG – WEST CHICAGO (IL)
Bibbs has been sensational at times this season as the Drake commit has consistently delivered big time performances game in and game out. A late blooming talent who is still growing and improving physically and skill wise, Bibbs best basketball lies ahead and that’s scary considering how easy he makes things look right now at times. Last week he dropped 28 points & 9 rebounds in a win over East Aurora and earlier this month it was 26 points and 8 rebounds in another victory. Every time you look it’s a near double double and that’s no surprise as Bibbs is athletic, can attack the glass, he handles it well, he has size, and is skill set gives him the ability to score at each level. A complete floor impact talent still trending upward, Bibbs is having a stellar senior campaign so far this season.
MATTHEW HURT – 2019 – F – ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL (MN)
A skilled face up forward with the ability to finish from the perimeter and around the basket, Hurt is putting together a strong sophomore campaign individually to the tune of over 30 points a game through the first four games of the season. He’s posted a season high of 39 and he’s done so despite only shooting 25 percent from beyond the arc, an area that’s one of his strengths so he’s sure to improve there. A high major impact talent, Hurt is really just scratching the surface of his potential and as he matures both physically and skill wise expect his numbers and production to continue to grow.
ROMEO LANGFORD – 2018 – SG – NEW ALBANY (IN)
One of the very best in the country regardless of class, Langford continues to trend upwards as he develops and matures both skill wise and physically on the hardwood. A versatile scoring threat with the ability to finish at each level, Langford is smooth and consistent and he makes the game look easy at times in the process. Comparisons to a young Paul Pierce have been mentioned, which is obviously impressive company. He dropped a 40 piece on #1 ranked La Lumiere (IN) in a loss last week but Langford wowed everyone in the gym once again. He looks to be more athletic than when we last saw him and his explosion is coming along as well and those were areas some were asking about at times last spring and summer. He’s really good already and he’s nowhere near being a finished product. Really like his development and focus amongst all the hype over the past 6 months.
DWAYNE WALKER – 2018 – SG – MILWAUKEE JUNEAU/RONALD REAGAN (WI)
Had an opportunity to watch this young man closely at our fall Futures Camp and really like so many things he brings to the table. He can make the game look easy at times and his stroke is fluid, consistent, and at times lethal from the mid-range level and beyond the arc. A multi-skilled wing talent with the ability to take over the game in a variety of ways, Walker is at his best scoring the basketball and he is one of the purest scoring talents in the region. He’s already had 3 games over 30 points and a season high of 43 points. Currently averaging 25.3 points a contest, Walker could be one of the bigger 2018 stories in the state of Wisconsin and beyond if he can put it all together over the next 8-12 months.
JOE WIESKAMP – 2018 – SF – MUSCATINE (IA)
Long regarded as a high major prospect going back to middle school, Wieskamp is one of the most skilled and talented juniors in the country who doesn’t always get his just due. He is a versatile scoring threat with the offensive package to finish at all three levels and do so in easy and consistent fashion. An early high school commit to Iowa, Wieskamp is leading Iowa in scoring at 32.6 ppg so far this season while averaging a little over 9 rebounds and 2 assists per contest.
LATE BLOOMING SENIOR
TAYLOR BRUNINGA – 2017 – SF – ILLINI BLUFFS (IL)
The late blooming skilled forward is having a ridiculous senior year as every time you look he’s over 30 points and close to 20 rebounds a contest. He has size, length, and skill that allows him to score at each level and he’s doing so in impressive and efficient fashion. He’s a legitimate Division 1 prospect who has been severely under recruited and he’s proving that game in and game out as he’s having a spectacular season so far.
COURTNEY RAMEY – 2018 – PG – WEBSTER GROVES (MO)
Big time players make big plays in big games and that’s exactly what Ramey did this past weekend as he powered Webster Groves past Kansas commit Markese Jacobs, Southern Illinois commit Demarius Jacobs and Uplift (IL) at the Midwest Showdown Shootout with a scintillating 32 point 12 rebound 7 assist effort. Ramey already has 1 triple double to his resume this season and this near one was in a big showdown with a lot of talent on the floor. Already regarded by some as a top 25 prospect nationally, Ramey was sensational again on Saturday and he continues to add quality production to his resume with each passing week.
OWEN COBURN – 2018 – C – SPIRIT LAKE (IA)
A talented but raw young big man, Coburn has been impressive in flashes and he looks the part of a long term mid to high major Division 1 prospect as a finished product. He continues to take steps forward in that direction as he’s off to a stellar star for Spirit Lake so far this season to the tune of 22.2 points a game, over 11 rebounds per contest, and a little over 2 assists a game. More importantly his strong play as Spirit Lake off to a strong 5-0 start on the season so his big play has helped his team win.
JALEN SUGGS – 2020 – PG – MINNEHAHA ACADEMY (MN)
The highly regarded freshman is off to another strong start through the first few games of the season as he’s averaging 28.3 points a contest with a 42 point effort already on his seasonal resume. A multi-skilled scoring threat with the ability to take over the game, Suggs already holds a number of mid and high major Division 1 offers and he’s picking up where he left off on the hardwood and that’s scoring and impressing in the same sense. He can finish at each level, he has bounce, his instincts and feel are advanced, and he is delivering big results individually on the hardwood so far this season.