Alright, I want you to sit back and think of the holy grail of high school basketball. You might be thinking about Indiana, with the patented history of the Hoosiers, as well as the movie Hoosiers, or even Larry Bird rocking those smooth powder blue Indiana State Sycamore basketball uniforms. You might be thinking about New York City with its streetball legends battling it out at Dyckman and Rucker Park, or the talent and toughness that it produces. Now I want you to put Minnesota into that category. What? Yes, you read that right. Minnesota is in that same category. The same state that has a museum dedicated to Spam and is home to the world’s biggest ball of twine? Yes, that same state. The State of Hockey is ironically producing some of the top BASKETBALL talent in all of America. College basketball coaches from across the country are flocking here to see what this great state can offer their program.
Within the last decade or so, Minnesota has quickly become a hotbed for recruiting and producing some of the nations top high school basketball players. We’ve seen players in years past come from Minnesota and find their spot in the limelight. Players like Tyus Jones (Apple Valley HS), Rashad Vaughn (Robbinsdale Cooper HS), JP Macura, (Lakeville North), and Royce White (Hopkins HS) all played vital roles in their college teams’ success and became household names around March Madness. The next generation of those players are competing in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 classes and I’m here to break down the names you need to watch.
Matthew Hurt – Rochester John Marshall/PF- 2019
Matthew Hurt is the younger brother of Michael Hurt who currently plays a vital bench role for the Gophers and head coach Richard Pitino. The Rochester John Marshall product is about as good as it gets at the high school level. Standing at 6’9, he is probably one of the best shooters, if not the best, in the entire state. He rebounds well and has the ability to handle the ball and run the court. His game will translate to any coaching scheme and he has coaches from every school in the country trying to talk with him. In the end, he has his choice of any school in the country and is rated as a five star player in the class of 2019. Wherever he lands, whether its home at Minnesota or one of the blue bloods like Kansas, he will be a name that you will hear come next basketball season.
Jalen Suggs – Minnehaha Academy/PG -2020
Suggs has been a starting at Minnehaha Academy for a few years now as he enters his junior year fresh off of winning the state title as a quarterback. The 6’4 point guard is a modern day John Wall with the ability to dish it, score it, and do it with a little bit of flash. Like Hurt, he is a five star player and will have his pick of the litter when it comes to a college choice, but right now he’s just a blast to watch. The Redhawks roster right now is full of young and exciting talent. If you ever get the chance to check them out this year, do it. They are well worth the price of admission.
Tre Holloman – Cretin Derham Hall/PG – 2022
I know what you’re thinking, why would I waste your time with an freshman in high school? Holloman is the successor to the title of the “crowned jewel” of Minnesota prep basketball. At only 6’0 and 160 pounds he has plenty to grow still, but some argue he is the top player in the entire class of 2022. Already garnering an offer from the University of Minnesota, I expect his offer list to grow exponentially as he develops as a player. Holloman recently enrolled Cretin Derham Hall High School, as he previously played at Minneapolis North High School. In his first few games as a Raider, Holloman is averaging close to a triple double this season and I expect those numbers to continue as he becomes more comfortable with his new teammates and the new system.
Kendall Brown – East Ridge/PG -2021
Another youngin’ like Holloman is Kendall Brown of East Ridge High School. Brown is another player that could finish his prep career as the #1 player in his entire class. Brown teams up with his older brother, Courtney to produce a tandem that is going to be tough to handle. Brown brings the ball up the court at 6’7 and can do just about everything. It’s amazing at such a young age to see kids have such a polished and developed game. He enters his sophomore year with offers from a few Big Ten schools such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as offers from Iowa State and Saint Louis. Do I expect that to grow over the course of the next year? Absolutely. With Brown’s potential to be a one and done type player, I expect the blue bloods to be after him in no time. He will be Minnesota’s next big thing. Book it.
Jacob Beeninga – Wayzata/PG-2019
Bazinga! Not quite, but close. Jacob Beeninga is a smaller point guard out of Wayzata, but don’t let his size fool you, he has a killer instinct. With one of the best shots in all of the state, he is electric when he gets it going. He is just a hell of a fun player to watch. Committed to Minnesota State Moorhead, he has the ability to take over a game, similar to anyone of the players on this list. The 5’10 guard is going to be an absolute handful in the NSIC when he teams up with former Wayzata teammate, Gavin Baumgartner.
Zeke Nnaji – Hopkins/PF-2019
Zeke Nnaji has quite the story. After being minimally recruited by Minnesota and smaller Division I programs, he absolutely turned it on during the summer going into his senior year and skyrocketed up the rankings. The once little-recruited forward went from a middle of the road three star player to being a top 40 player in the country having offers from North Carolina, Arizona, Kansas, and Kentucky. Within the blink of an eye, the Hopkins High School big man turned into one of the most sought after forwards in the country. Now committed to be an Arizona Wildcat, Nanji will be a household name at the college basketball level and terrorize the Pac-12. Whether it is next year or four years from now, you better go watch him play now before he turns into college basketball’s next big thing.
Dawson Garcia – Prior Lake/PF- 2020
Dawson Garcia is an interesting player at this point in his career. He doesn’t play on a traditional powerhouse program like a majority of the players listed above, and at 6’10 and with the ability to shoot the rock with ease, the lefty is going to find himself getting a lot of attention from college coaches. In an era of basketball where big men that can shoot have become a premium, Garcia should generate a significant amount of interest. He is another player who could very well end up as a five star talent by the time his high school career is done. With offers from Texas, Butler, Xavier, Baylor, and Minnesota, I fully expect him to be a player that the bigger schools come after. As he continue to develop, I would like to see him add some more weight to have the ability to bang down low, but his skill set is built for the college level. Like all the names on this list, Garcia is going to be a player that we hear about throughout his college career and beyond.
Others to keep an eye on:
Ben Carlson – East Ridge/PF – 2020
Tyrell Terry – DeLaSalle/PG – 2019
Dan Dainja – Park Center/PF – 2020
Chet Holmgren – Minnehaha Academy/C – 2021