Minnesota Pump N Run and Edina (MN) high school point guard Graham Woodward has committed to Penn State. The 2013 floor general would have attracted more early attention from high majors if he were taller, but eventually many schools decided they couldn’t help but take interest in the under-six-foot guard after a strong summer.
LateNightHoops was in Las Vegas in July and witnessed an impressive run to the final four of the adidas Super 64 by Woodward’s Minnesota Pump N Run 17U squad. 2014 F Reid Travis is the more well known name on that team (and rightfully so), but in several games during the tournament it was clearly Woodward who led the way.
Woodward is a true point guard who combines a solid all around game and a strong court IQ with a incredible effort and grit. Capable passer and scorer, his game continues to develop. He’s small, but has skills and smarts. There is no doubt that the effort will be there.
Penn State will graduate do-it-all point guard Tim Frazier after the 2012-13 season, but the Nittany Lions expects to sign both Woodward and combo guard Geno Thorpe next month during the early signing period.
The state of Minnesota continues to produce impressive basketball talent, including those who stay home and play for the Gophers. However, with so many skilled players and some excellent high school and AAU programs, there are numerous student-athletes from the state that join Division I programs across the country.
In 2012-13, a number of Minnesotans will be difference makers at their respective schools. Today, we highlight several players who look primed to take sizable steps forward in their collegiate careers.
Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State
2011-12: 26.2 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Not recognized nationally or in Minnesota as much as is probably warranted. Extremely efficient offensive player who shot 67.1% FG% last year. Bjorklund doesn’t turn the ball over and is a very good on the offensive boards Tough, solid interior guy. The Gophers will host NDSU on December 11.
Alec Brown, UW-Green Bay
2011-12: 31.3 mpg, 13.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 89 blk
Now a veteran at UWGB, he’ll need to lead a UWGB team that should be much improved compared to last year’s 15-15 team. His game should continue to expand under third-year head coach Brian Wardle (Marquette, 2001). It’s a huge year for both Brown and Wardle and one in which both of them are capable of earning national recognition. With his skills and a bit more bulk, Brown could find himself on NBA draft boards.
Quietly very productive off the bench last year, he’ll look to prove just how good he can be in 2012-13. Zags center Robert Sacre was drafted by the Lakers this summer, giving Dower a great opportunity to impress.
High-flying 6’6” forward played his first year of D1 basketball last year at Oregon with Gopher transfer Devoe Joseph. Emory is a big time athlete that will regularly make the highlight reel.
Ross Travis, Penn State
2011-12: 17.9 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg
With Tim Frazier on the team and transfer D.J. Newbill now eligible, Travis may not see his offensive usage go up tremendously, but he’ll be improved as a sophomore and should have a strong career at PSU. Minnesota plays Penn State in Minneapolis on either March 2 or 3 (date to be determined).
Moats didn’t see much playing time on a highly talented and senior-heavy team last year, but will be called upon often this year.
Kevin Noreen, West Virginia
2011-12: 12.0 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Received a medical hardship waiver for 2010-11 season and played just 23 games last year before breaking an ankle. Noreen can be a prolific scorer and a match up problem for opponents at 6’10”.
In addition to the names above, there are returning players that look to build on their past success at the Division I level and may already have a bit more name recognition with followers of college basketball than those players listed above:
Mike Muscala, Bucknell, Sr, F/C: 17.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg. Muscala has impressed every year, but was superb as a junior. A strong senior season for the Bison could help his chances of reaching the NBA.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota St., Sr, G: 21.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.1 rpg. Wolters is an ultra-productive point guard with good size. Some NBA teams will want to consider him next summer. Wolters & SDSU visit Williams Arena on December 4.
Trent Lockett, Marquette, Sr, G: 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg (with Arizona State). Big guard could be a difference maker in Milwaukee.
Jared Berggren, Wisconsin, Sr, F/C: 10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg. Versatile 6’10” big man looks to build on solid 2011-12 performance. The Gophers play at Wisconsin January 26 and host the Badgers on February 14.
Mike Bruesewitz, Wisconsin, Sr, F: 5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg. Bruesewitz is a high-energy worker who may increase his offensive production now that fellow Minnesotan Jordan Taylor has graduated.
MINNEAPOLIS — According to Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith, Trevor Mbakwe is “lucky to still be around here.” Smith’s comments were in response to questions about a DUI arrest this summer.
The DUI arrest triggered probation violations in two other criminal cases, one of which could cause Mbakwe to miss time.
Mbakwe was found guilty of second degree felony battery in Miami this past February and now faces the possibility of additional penalties in that case.
LateNightHoops.com spoke on Friday with Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez who said that Mbakwe “is scheduled to personally appear in our Court to answer to the violation” next Wednesday, October 17.
Ms. Chavez also said that her office did not have an offer to resolve the matter, so it is doubtful that Mbakwe will take a plea on Wednesday. Therefore, the State Attorney’s Office anticipates that on Wednesday the case will probably have a future date set for a probation violation hearing.
The DUI arrest was made on July 1, 2012 and Mbakwe, 23, pled guilty on September 10, but the university had not disclosed the matter publicly until questions arose after LateNightHoops.com broke the story early Friday afternoon.
Since Mbakwe suffered a season-ending knee injury last winter, he has been found guilty in three separate criminal cases.
Coach Smith did say Mbakwe was initially suspended from all team activities when the DUI incident occurred, but he is now being allowed to participate. The senior forward took part in the team’s scrimmage Friday night and was moving around well in his first action since undergoing ACL surgery late last December.
LNH Notes: Aggressive, high-level of confidence and attitude on the court. May not mesh well with some programs (don’t really see him as a Minnesota type of guy) as compared to others (UCLA, for example) but would probably enjoy UCLA for example. The “right fit” will be especially important here. Excellent passer who demonstrates skill and creativity; fierce competitor; wants the ball in his hands.
+ Has played high school ball in Colorado and travel team competition with the Colorado Miners
+ Father is the coach of his Colorado Miners 17U team
+ Plans to attend Huntington Prep (W.Va.) for the 2013-14 school year
+ June 2013 rankings: 24, 18, 28 (average 23.3) per ESPN/Scout/Rivals. We believe the average ranking of ~23 is just about right.
+ Has said he will announce his decision on August 25, 2013 and there is much talk of he and Rashad Vaughn going to college together. We wouldn’t bank on either of those two things coming to fruition. + LNH has seen in person.
LNH Notes: Long, slim guard with a versatile skill set. Could help at point guard, but we view him as more of a wing who can handle and pass the ball in college. Defensively he should be able to cover a variety of assignments. Solid player in a lot of areas.
+ Nike EYBL: Played for Wisconsin Playground Elite with Rashad Vaughn
+ June 2013 rankings: 70, 90 , 93 (average = 84.3) per ESPN/Scout/Rivals. We think a borderline top 100 ranking is reasonable.
+ Rose to fame with a big weekend in EYBL, highlighted by a heavily watched Howard Pulley vs Playground Elite game in which Cohen scored a season-high 24 points.
+ LNH has seen in person.
2014 Tyus Jones
LNH Notes: Gifted passer and all around basketball player who makes everyone around him better. Smart, skilled and tough player. Although he’s received praise for years and is held in extremely high regard, Tyus may prove to be even better than many realize. Exceptional talent. Legit.
+ Nike EYBL: Plays for Howard Pulley. + 2013 EYBL regular season: Averaged 22.8 ppg, 62.6% eFG%, 88.8% FT, 56.6 FTRate, 2.8:1 assist to turnover ratio, 2.7 spg.
+ June 2013 rankings: 3, 2, 2 (average = 2.3) per ESPN/Scout/Rivals. + Rose to fame with a big weekend in EYBL, highlighted by a heavily watched Howard Pulley vs Playground Elite game in which Cohen scored a season-high 24 points.
+ Has starred in the USA Basketball program. Expresses strong interest to attend college with USA Basketball teammate and 2014 center Jahlil Okafor.
+ LNH has seen in person.
LNH Notes: J.P. is a dangerous threat from outside and has tremendous range on his shot. However, somewhat similar to what we saw with Josh Oglesby (current Iowa guard; Iowa Barnstormers travel team; high school class of 2011), he also uses his size and aggressiveness on offense. Is Macura a “shooter”? Yes. However, J.P. isn’t just a 3-point specialist who stands at the arc waiting to shoot. He’ll get grimy and physical and it’s that aggressiveness combined with shooting skill that we especially like.
+ Travel team: D1 Minnesota
+ High school: Lakeville North (Minn.)
+ June 2013 rankings: NR, 89, 126 per ESPN/Scout/Rivals.
+ LNH has seen in person.
LNH Notes: Skilled wing with great size. Very good outside shooter with ability to improve on the attack. New Jersey kid who can be a star on the court, but is an unselfish player with a priority of helping his team win games. Malachi is a highly talented player, but we also really like what we’ve seen in terms of how he conducts himself on and off the court.
+ Nike EYBL: Played for Team Final alongside Gopher 2014 target Ja’Quan Newton.
+ June 2013 rankings: 11, 19, 19 (average = 16.3) per ESPN/Scout/Rivals. We see him as a legit top 20 talent.
+ LNH has seen in person.