Some observations from the ninth annual Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout, held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Buuck Fieldhouse on the campus of Concordia University in Mequon:
Five Individual Standouts
Henry Ellenson, 6-9, F, Jr., Rice Lake
The skill-set and ability to affect a game on the perimeter or in the lane sets Ellenson apart from most other 6-foot-9 prospects in the country in the class of 2015. Ellenson put his outstanding ball handling, perimeter shooting and passing skills on display in a victory over Dominican and a loss to Neenah. He also was a dominant rebounder and scored in the lane against two other outstanding big men – Diamond Stone of Dominican and Matt Heldt of Neenah. Ellenson finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds in a 56-42 victory over Dominican in front of coaches Buzz Williams of Marquette and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin. He then finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds in a 60-49 loss to Neenah in front of coach Greg McDermott of Creighton. Two outstanding performances from the unselfish, tremendously skilled and highly recruited Ellenson.
Diamond Stone, 6-10, PF, Jr., Dominican
Stone was steady if not spectacular in the Knights’ loss to Rice Lake and Ellenson. He finished with a game-high 20 points, but he had trouble guarding Ellenson on the perimeter due to Ellenson’s ball handling and quickness. Still, Stone is an intimidating presence in the lane because of his size and shot blocking ability. He scored well with his back to the basket and was able to use his physical strength to finish through contact. Against Catholic Memorial, Stone finished with 33 points and 10 dunks as the Knights cruised to a victory. One of the nation’s most highly coveted class of 2015 prospects, Stone can make mid-range jump shots and gets to the foul line at a very high rate. Like Ellenson, Stone is a prime recruiting target for both Marquette and Wisconsin, among many others throughout the country.
Matt Heldt, 6-10, PF/C, Jr., Neenah
It’s been a long time – perhaps as far back as 1990 when Jim McIlvaine (7-0) came out of Racine St. Catherine’s, Kevin Rankin (6-11) graduated from De Pere Abbot Pennings and Damon Key (6-8) played at Milwaukee Marquette – since Wisconsin has produced three outstanding big men in one class. Heldt’s rapid development over the past several months has been eye popping and has elevated his status as a definite high-major recruit, right alongside Ellenson and Stone. He helped Neenah to victories over Milwaukee Marquette and Rice Lake, finishing with 25 points and eight rebounds in the win over Rice Lake and Ellenson, while also scoring 22 in the Rockets’ win over Marquette. Heldt runs the floor better than any big man in the state, regardless of class, and has drastically improved his physical strength and foot work. He has a nice shooting touch and can step out and make three-point shots in addition to scoring with either hand in the lane. Marquette and Wisconsin are both in hot pursuit with Gonzaga and Xavier also showing recent interest.
Lamonte Bearden, 6-3, PG, Sr., Germantown
Raise your hand if you think the University of Buffalo got the steal of the century in Bearden, an electrifying point guard with outstanding length, skill, speed and quickness. Nothing against Buffalo or coach Bobby Hurley, but Bearden is playing like a high-major collegiate prospect who just needs a bit of weight and strength to go with his many attributes. Bearden’s athleticism, passing ability, shooting skill and defensive prowess helped Germantown to victories over Milwaukee Vincent and Oshkosh North. He pushes the ball in transition as well as any other point guard in the state and is outstanding at delivering pinpoint passes at just the right time. He finished with 24 points in a 75-60 victory over Vincent and added 14 in an 81-55 win over Oshkosh North.
Joe Sherburne, 6-6, WF, Sr., Whitefish Bay
A highly skilled wing player with excellent shooting range, Sherburne led the Blue Dukes to impressive victories over Wauwatosa East and Racine Case. He had 15 points and two three-pointers in the 71-44 win over Wauwatosa East and followed up that strong showing with 24 points and four triples in a 76-71 win over Racine Case. His smooth shooting stroke, coupled with his outstanding size, should make him a prime recruiting target for NCAA Division I schools this spring.
Five Emerging Prospects
Brevin Pritzl, 6-3, WG, Jr., De Pere
A tough, competitive and athletic wing guard with very good shooting range, Pritzl showed off his ability to attack the basket as well during the De Pere’s losses to Arrowhead and Milwaukee Riverside. He finished through contact and also earned several trips to the foul line for De Pere. Pritzl went for a game-high 33 points and made 13-of-14 foul shots in an 80-74 loss to Riverside. He also had 17 points in a 62-52 setback to Arrowhead.
Cody Schwartz, 6-8, WF, Jr., West De Pere
With Marquette’s Williams watching, Schwartz played an extremely aggressive second half against Milwaukee Washington, scoring 14 of his game-high 20 points and earning nine attempts from the foul line. A terrific three-point shooter who can also attack the hoop off the dribble, Schwartz made a concerted effort to grab rebounds against the athletic Purgolders and it helped pave the way for the Phantoms’ 65-49 victory.
Chandler Diekvoss, 6-6, WG, Sr., West De Pere
The University of Richmond recruit was stellar in West De Pere’s victories over Racine Case and Milwaukee Washington. His ability to handle the ball against pressure, deliver outstanding passes to open teammates and knock down perimeter shots was extremely impressive. He scored 24 points and hit four three-point baskets in a 62-60 win over West De Pere and added 18 in the win over Milwaukee Washington.
Evan Wesenberg, 6-7, F, Sr., Germantown
An athletic, hard-working and versatile forward who has signed with Division I North Dakota State, Wesenberg was active in the lane against the likes of Marcus White of Milwaukee Vincent and Cooper Radtke of Oshkosh North. He had several impressive dunks off of feeds from Bearden, grabbed rebounds and ran the court exceptionally well. Wesenberg no longer plays in the shadow of Indiana recruit Luke Fischer, and he has grabbed the opportunity to shine by the throat while helping the Warhawks to 67 straight wins, including an 11-0 mark this season.
Kyle Monroe, 6-5, WG, Jr., Ashwaubenon
A smooth, aggressive and skilled wing prospect who has improved his perimeter jump shot, Monroe scored 20 points in a hard-earned 49-40 victory over Mukwonago. He attacked the basket like always, but was also able to make shots from the perimeter. Monroe has several NCAA Division II offers, but his improvement could lead to some offers from Division I schools down the road.
Five Premier Class of 2016 and 2017 Prospects
Bryce Nze, 6-5, WG, Soph., Arrowhead
Wow, what a weekend for Nze, who showed off his outstanding long-distance shooting skill while helping Arrowhead to impressive victories over De Pere and Milwaukee Vincent. He went for a game-high 18 points and made three triples in the 62-52 win over De Pere, and followed up with 24 points and four triples in a 59-54 win over Vincent. In addition to making long-distance shots, Nze used his strength and size to hit pull-up jumpers.
Ryan Clarey, 6-1, PG, Soph., Brookfield Academy
Ryan Clarey is the younger brother of senior Sean Clarey, a 6-3 shooting guard who has signed with Division II Michigan Tech, and son of Brookfield Academy coach Pat Clarey. He is extremely difficult to keep out of the lane because he understands angles and uses his strength and quickness to beat defenders off the dribble. He can also score from the perimeter and owns an excellent stroke from downtown. Coupled with promising sophomore forward Joe Lemon (6-5), Ryan Clarey figures to help the Blue Knights remain the team to beat in the Midwest Classic Conference over the next couple of seasons.
Bobby Hambright, 5-10, PG, Soph., Milwaukee Riverside
Hambright had strong showings while helping the upstart Tigers to wins over Destiny and De Pere. He has an accurate stroke from beyond the arc, can push the ball with the best of them in transition and is quick off his feet in the lane. One of the better class of 2016 prospects in the Milwaukee City Conference and state of Wisconsin.
Virshon Cotton, 5-8, WG, Frosh., Milwaukee Vincent
A fan favorite due to his uncanny ability to make three-point shots, Cotton played very well for coach Marquis Hines in competitive losses to Germantown and Arrowhead. He had three triples and 11 points against Germantown while adding five three-pointers and 17 points against Arrowhead. One of four outstanding freshman prospects on the Vincent roster along with lead guard Melvin Lee (5-8) and twins Jamel White (6-3) and Jamal White (6-3).
Ben Heiligenthal, 6-1, WG, Soph., Catholic Central
Heiligenthal made winning plays on both ends of the court while helping Catholic Central to a 61-54 upset victory over Sheboygan Lutheran in the first of 27 games at the WBY Shootout. He had several key steals and assists, snared some big rebounds and got to the basket en route to scoring 15 points for coach Eric Henderson and the Hilltoppers.
Five Lasting Impressions of the 9th annual WBY Shootout
1) Germantown. The Warhawks have now won a state-record 67 games in row following triumphs over Milwaukee Vincent and Oshkosh North. The talent, skill, toughness and depth in program is unmatched in the state of Wisconsin and when Lamonte Bearden gets the running game in high gear, the Warhawks are downright scary good. A herculean effort will be required of any team in the state trying to knock off Germantown, which has three Division I players in Bearden, Wesenberg and Jake Showalter (North Dakota State), a Division II player in Jon Averkamp (St. Cloud State) and one of the most improved seniors in the state in guard Brian Bearden.
2) Henry Ellenson against Diamond Stone. In a matchup for the ages that attracted a near sellout crowd to Concordia, Ellenson and Rice Lake prevailed over Stone and Dominican. Truth be told, Ellenson’s teammates, particularly senior Brandyn Christman (6-0) and junior Ben Widdes (6-0), were as much responsible for the Warriors’ win over Dominican as Ellenson. But the lasting impression most will have of the game is Ellenson’s unique skill-set for such a big player. His ball handling and shooting skill from the perimeter stood out as much as his ability to score in the lane. Ellenson is also an under-rated passer. Stone held his own, especially in the lane, and showed why he being pursued nationally with his physical presence in the lane. Wisconsin can be proud to have two outstanding prospects who are also outstanding student-athletes. Well done by both players.
3) The emergence of Neenah’s Matt Heldt. I had the chance to watch Heldt over the spring and summer on the club circuit and while he played well at times, his improvement over the past four months is nothing short of dramatic. He has added weight and strength, and runs the floor like a wing-guard seeking a three-point shooting opportunity on the other end. He has excellent footwork in the paint and is an accurate mid-range shooter as well. Heldt is no consolation prize for recruiters seeking Ellenson or Stone. He stands along on his own merits as a high-major prospect who is emerging at an alarming rate.
4) The overall talent at West De Pere. West De Pere has certainly had good basketball teams over the decades, but nothing like this year. The Phantoms have two high-major collegiate prospects to build around in Schwartz and Diekvoss, but the role players in coach Andy Werner’s program are also very talented. Point guard Jesse Owens (5-11) runs the show while sophomore Luke Pannier (6-1) can knock down perimeter shots. West De Pere remained unbeaten on the season with impressive wins over Racine Case and Milwaukee Washington.
5) The improvement of Green Bay NEW Lutheran’s Nathan Toenjes. Concordia, Nebraska, an NAIA school, got a steal in Toenjes, a vastly improved 6-7 forward with excellent strength and good athleticism. Toenjes helped NEW Lutheran turn back Fall River and University School with his scoring ability in the lane, his all-out hustle on the glass and his passing ability out of the post. He also dove for loose balls, worked hard throughout the games on both ends of the floor and encouraged his teammates. Toenjes is definitely one of the more improved players in the state.
State Championship Outlook
Two years ago, all five state champions in the WIAA State Tournament competed in the Way Shootout – Germantown in Division 1, Onalaska in Division 2, Brillion in Division 3, Dominican in Division 4 and Sheboygan Lutheran in Division 5.
Last year, three of the state champions participated – Germantown in Division 1, Aquinas in Division 3 and Dominican in Division 4.
Here are the best bets for this year’s WBY Shootout participants to potentially win a state title come March – Germantown in Division 1, West De Pere in Division 2, Roncalli in Division 3, Dominican in Division 4 and Green Bay NEW Lutheran in Division 5.
A Few Final Thoughts …
* Thanks to the athletic administration and men’s basketball program at Concordia University in Mequon for against providing outstanding facilities and hospitality for the WBY Shootout.
* Thanks to the athletic department, administration and basketball program at Dominican High School for again serving as host school for the WBY Shootout.
* Thanks to all the workers and volunteers who annually help to make the WBY Shootout one of the premier events in the state.
* Thanks to the fans who attended the WBY Shootout and again supported the greatest game in the country – high school basketball.
* Thanks to the players, coaches, fans and parents of all 30 participating teams.
* Thanks to all my family members who continue to give up their time to help run the event.
* Thanks to Aurora Sports Medicine Institute for providing training services throughout the 27 games.
* Thanks to the outstanding officials who worked the games at the WBY Shootout. The three-man crews once again did an outstanding job.
Tag(s): WBY Shootout