Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s going to be a very interesting year on the boys prep basketball season as arguably the two best players in the state have another year before they graduate.
Apple Valley comes in as the preseason No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A. The Eagles finished 23-6 last year and were one win short of reaching the state tournament, but return the best player in the state. Anyone who follows high school basketball in Minnesota has at least one eye on junior point guard Tyus Jones. He’s the most prolific high school player the state has had since Khalid El-Amin, and Minnesota is among his list of final eight schools where he could end up attending college and making a basketball program instantly better.
Look for Jones to start taking his official college visits in January and to make a decision before his senior year on the court. Before Jones is done, he could go down as the best basketball player in Minnesota history if he stays healthy.
The Lake Conference appears to be loaded this year with No. 2-ranked Edina, No. 3-ranked Hopkins, No. 4-ranked Eden Prairie and No. 5-ranked Wayzata all jockeying for the top spot this year. Not to be forgotten is No. 5-ranked Osseo , which features probably the best senior in the state in Bridge Tusler. The Orioles also enter the season the defending state champions and are also led by junior center Ian Theisen, who hit the game-winning shot in last year’s 4A title game.
If you want to see the top two high school recruits in the 2014 class square off, get to the Target Center on Jan. 5 as Cooper will face Apple Valley. Cooper guard Rashad Vaughn would be the most highly touted junior in the state if it weren’t for Jones. He has offers from all the major programs across the country, a list that includes the Gophers.
In Class 3A, DeLaSalle enters the season the No. 1-ranked team after winning a state championship last year. They also feature a top recruit in the 2014 class in Reid Travis, who the Gophers have already offered a scholarship to. Wherever he goes to college, he may play football and basketball as he’s also a star quarterback for the Islanders.
In the smaller school action, keep an eye on Plainview-Elgin-Millville, last year’s Class 2A state champion, and Belgrade-Brooten-Elroosa, the Class A state champions from last season.
It should be a fun season on the hardwood, and much of the action gets started this week so take some time to get out and see all the state’s talent if you can. It will be worth your while.