5' 10" guard Nate Robinson (Rainier Beach/Washington football) was on another planet all week and was selected as the MVP. He led the tournament in scoring (25.8ppg) with games of 29, 24, 21 and 19. His tourney-leading productivity rating of 103 was 27 points higher than the next guy on the list. Robinson had 12 steals in the four games and turned the ball over just 9 times. He also ranked fourth among offensive rebound leaders. He had more highlight-reel plays than anyone else in the event, including an incredible slam off a missed shot by one of the Stewart twins when he rifled down the lane, soared above the pack and threw down a two-hander. His high-flying act had everyone in the house in awe all week. The UW staff left smiling.
6' 3" combo guard Kevin Tempest (Mercer Island/Lehigh) came into the tournament with a groin injury and was taking acupuncture during the games. He was held out of the Islanders opening round game as he said he was not going to push it. Kevin left the court several minutes before half in the quarterfinals to go get treatment so he could make it through the second half. But in the semifinals and championship game he played all but two and a half minutes. His stats were down, KT averaged 14.3 during the regular season, but his gut check factor was off the scale. Major props to Tempest for competing. And in pain he hit 57% from downtown.
6' 7" wing Steve Trotter (Mark Morris) averaged 16.5 as his team took third place. He shot 50% from the field, 50% from outside the arc and 81% from the line. His 28 defensive rebounds led the field and he ranked sixth overall in rebounds (8.67 per game). He was tied for third among the shot blockers. Trotter is a very talented and athletic player with a nice combination of inside and outside skills. He ranked ninth in assists (3.75 per game) and fourth in productivity (65.5). Trotter will be playing JC ball as he has some issues in his core classes and is aware that he has work to do in the classroom. He mentioned Southern Idaho but is still unsure of where he will be next year.
5' 10" point guard Evan Kirkpatrick (Mark Morris) played more minutes than any other player in the 16-team field. He's a true point guard and averaged 4.75 dimes. Evan came in scoring at a 13.7 clip on a very balanced team. He was a four-year starter, has been a three-year all-league player and got his team to state three straight years. His coach brags up his leadership and decision-making abilities on the court. Evan's team finished third, losing only to Rainier Beach in the semifinals. Every team they beat took home hardware. During the regular season he got wins over Aaron Brooks' Franklin team and Ryan Appleby's Stanwood squad. He's a gamer, outstanding student and not heavily recruited. He reminds me of a Duke guard named Wojo. There's lots of fight in this dog.
6' 8" forward/post Grant Assink (Lynden/Western Washington) averaged 14.4ppg, 9.5rpg, shot 47.4% from the field and 70% from the line. Grant has improved every time I have seen him this year and his intensity has been the major improvement. He was a monster inside. In his best game, going head-to-head against his Emerald City Pioneer teammate 6' 9" junior Hans Gasser (Issaquah), Grant scored 22 with 12 boards and a pair of blocks. Gasser had 13, 11 and 5. Assink was a second-team All-Tournament pick.
6' 3" shooting guard Troy Taubenheim (Lynden/unsigned) averaged 15.3ppg during state, 14.0 during the regular season, and earned second team All-Tournament honors. He was sixth among the total rebound leaders, 7.5 boards per, and averaged 2.5 assists per game. Taubenheim came on strong late in the season and carried that over into state. His best game was a 19-point, 8-rebound effort against Issaquah in the quarterfinals.
6' 6" wing Darrell Visser (Lynden/Western Washington) didn't score a bunch but did a whole lot of other things as Assink and shooting guard Troy Taubenheim carried the scoring load. He's a very athletic player who didn't play "select" ball during the summer allowing WWU to steal one. He plays the point in Lynden's zone press and uses his long arms and lateral quickness to cause fits in the backcourt. Don't get me wrong, Darrell can shoot the rock. He hit 5 of 7 shots against Mercer Island in the semifinal and is money on his jumper out to 18 feet. He averages 5.75rpg during state. Darrell averaged 12.2ppg during the regular season, but then Lynden had 4 guys hitting in double figures every night.
6' 4" shooting guard Raymond Butler (Ballard) averaged 18.5ppg in his four games, slightly below his 21.2 regular season average. He shot 48.4% from the floor, averaged 6 boards and had 3.25 steals per game. He, and his cousin Ahnel, tied for the lead in assists with 19 each in their four games, both averaging 4.75apg. He scored 1070 on his SAT and is academically qualified. Raymond, who scored over 30 five times during the season, and broke 40 twice, says he has heard from Nevada and his AAU coach had told him Boston College had called to inquire. He's wide open and awaiting offers.
6' 4" point guard Ahnel Butler (Ballard) averaged 12.8ppg during the tournament, after scoring at an 18.9 clip during the regular season. But he was the second ranked player in productivity and delighted the crowd with his pinpoint passing and rebounding. He has very long arms and really worked the glass, especially on the offensive end where he led the field (4 per game). He finished third with 9.25 boards per outing. Ahnel was also third in blocked shots with six in four games and averaged a pair of steals per game. Ahnel has heard from SMU, Liberty and Pepperdine but hasn't been offered. He has a 2.52 GPA and scored 810 on his SAT the first time. He'll be taking it again and feels confident his score will rise.
6' 7" wing Ryan Rostvold (West Valley-Yakima/unsigned) averaged 22.5 in four games and was selected first-team All-Tournament. He's showed the most fundamentally sound game of any player in the field. He averaged 6.75 rebounds and was the 12th lowest player in turnovers (3 per game). He plays mainly inside on his team due to his size but his best skills are on the perimeter where he has a picture perfect shooting technique. He has range to 25 feet. Ryan had the tournament's best single game scoring output with 33 against Issaquah. One of the things that caught the eyes of several coaches I spoke with was his offensive rebounding technique. He has obviously worked a lot in tip drills. He has not been offered by any four-year school and only three JCs have been involved. He's got a 3.3 GPA and has a qualifying SAT but will be taking it again to improve his score. He's a four-year varsity player and a coach's son with a very good understanding of the game. His claim to fame; hitting seven straight treys in a three minute span when he was a sophomore. He was used primarily on the wing in the early days and people may have gotten the impression he wasn't an inside kind of guy. Stifle that, he was playing where he was told to play. The guys ahead of him graduated and he took his game inside. People are missing the boat on this kid.
6' 4" SG/SF Travis Fridrich (Sehome/unsigned) averaged 12.8ppg during state, 16.7 during the regular season while hauling down 5.25 rebounds per game. He's a high GPA guy with plenty of AP classes. Anyone looking for an athletic, smart and competitive guy should be calling. He's a bulldog on the court. And he's durable, only four guys played more minutes during the tournament. He would have played more but they made him leave to get the bleeding stopped and grab a new jersey. But as soon as that was taken care of, he was back out there. Tough guy.
6' 2" combo guard Evan Cohn (Issaquah) averaged 12.7, slightly below his 15ppg regular-season output. His best game was a 16-point effort, with 4 treys, against West Valley. He hit 4 of 8 trey attempts with 14 points on opening day. He's heard from some "UC-" schools among others and is wide open with no delusions of grandeur.
Class of 2003:
Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart (Rainier Beach) put on the show, just not as much as Nate. Lodrick averaged 15.8, Rodrick 14.0. Lodrick shot 48% from the floor, Rodrick 92.9% from the line. Rodrick got 6.75 boards per game, Lodrick 5.75. Lodrick had 2.75 assists per game, Rodrick 1.75. Lodrick had 4.5 steals per, Rodrick 2.5. Lodrick had 12 turnovers, Rodrick 11. Lodrick led the field in steals with 18; Rodrick had 10. Both played 117 minutes in four games, 29.25 minutes per game. I think Lodrick had more dunks. Or was it Rodrick? Or was it Nate? Doesn't matter, Beach rolled through the competition like Grant through Richmond. Both commented about finding themselves becoming spectators at times watching Nate. Lodrick made first team All-Tournament, Rodrick was on the second team. They're good, everyone knows.
6' 5" SG/SF Brandon Burmeister (Mercer Island) was a first-team pick. He averaged 15.8ppg with 4.75 rebounds and 2.0 assists and was among the top-10 in steals and blocks. He shot 90% from the line. Brandon has tremendous range, I watched him knock down 23-footers during warmups at about a 75% clip with a pretty shooting form. He's a heady player with a very sound understanding of the game. I didn't get a chance to ask him about recruiting. He's been mentioned on some football recruiting list but he did not play last year and it is my understanding that he wants to play basketball in college. His father played football at UW and told me during the season that Brandon has seen first hand what effects playing football can have on one as they age. He's smart.
6' 8" forward Kevin Chirls (Mercer Island) averaged 13.0ppg, led the field in getting to the foul line, here he hit 72.7% of his attempts, grabbed 7 boards and blocked 1 shot per game. He also was a full time warrior, playing 28:15 per game. He's a high GPA guy. He's a solid post player who will probably grow some more.
6' 6" Keegan Fulton (WF West). He's a horse inside, in fact his coach calls him "Hoss." The 220-pounder averaged 15.3ppg and shot 49% from the floor. He led the tournament in rebounds with 9.75 per in his four games. He's a 3.7 student who was his league's MVP this year and was a first-team All-League pick as a sophomore. Keegan didn't play with any summer teams last year and has gotten very little recruiting attention. His dad played football at UW but Keegan has the "Basketball Jones's." He is very intense on the court. Keegan averaged 18 and 8 during the regular season as his team went 20-3. His best game was in the medal game with 23 points and 14 boards against Ballard. Keegan had a 15-15 game earlier. He's a load down low and has a nice shooting touch with a jump-hook inside that's money. He's unsure of his summer plans, other than running, lifting lots and playing with his h/s team.
6' 2" PG Todd Perrault (West Valley-Yakima). Kid got game. Tied for tournament lead in assists with 19, 4.75 per game. He doesn't shoot much but he did hit 1 of 2 treys in one game, 1 of 3 in another, and went 2-for-2 and 5 of 6 from the line in another. What he does well is handle the ball and run the offense. There's no flash here, just a very sound point guard with a true point guard mentality. And he has the "Dickau Doo" thing going.
6' 9" Hans Gasser (Issaquah) averaged 15ppg with 8.7 rebounds. Hans was a monster inside with a tournament-leading 12 blocked shots in just 3 games. Tracy Pierson has often referred to him as "Hans Christian Gasser," after the writer with the sir name Anderson. Hans is now officially Hans "Christian" Gasser, as in Laettner. On opening day his team was tied with 3 seconds to go and needing to go the length of the court. Issy went with their "Duke vs. Kentucky in the Eastern Regional" play. Hans went up, ala Duke's Christian, to catch the long pass. He spun left, took one dribble and went up with a leaning jumper from about 10 feet for the game-winner as the buzzer sounded. Big time clutch shot by Hans. He's shown a nice touch on his mid-range and short jumper all year. I love his baseline turn-around "J" from about 10 feet and his face-up jumper from 15. Those who worry about his body, he's still pretty thin, need to remind themselves of the last tall, skinny guy to come out of Hans' neighborhood. He's at Stanford doing rather well. He'll fill out. He's been hitting the weights and working out on the weekends with a group of other "bigs" all year.
6' 3" wing Husein Pistoljevic (Hanford) averaged 23ppg and went off for 30 against Rainier Beach. No, those were not in garbage time, Beach played their starters for all but 2:00. "Pistol" has a sweet stroke with great range. He squares up and gets his shot off with a very quick release and uses his anticipation to overcome his quickness defensively. He gets that from playing soccer while growing up in Bosnia. He's new to basketball and should only get better, he's a pretty dang good shooter now.
6' 5" Matt Nelson (Aberdeen) averaged 14.5ppg. He's a wide-body who muscles his way to the basket very well, thank you. Aberdeen got blown out by Rainier Beach on opening day but Matt scored 22, going 7-for-11 from the field and 8-for-10 from the line.
Class of 2004:
6' 8" Josh Heytvelt (Clarkston) is going to be really good. OK, he's already pretty darn fair. He averaged 11 and 7 during the season, 13.5 and 9.0 in his pair of games at state and blocked 5 shots. He's 15 now but has a good frame that will easily fill out. Josh runs the floor well and loves to get up and throw down. He's a very mature 15; he turns 16 in June. Josh plays baseball (another tall guy who pitches) and may not be a "see him in the summer" kind of guy. He's a 3.2 student. UW assistant Eric Hughes saw him early in the morning on opening day and he and Bob Bender returned for the 9:00 a.m. game the next morning. He's got a ton of up side.
6' 8" Andrew Strait (West Valley- Yakima) Averaged 9.5ppg and shot an impressive 64% from the field while grabbing 6 boards per game. He's a good athlete who runs the floor well and, like Heytvelt, has a big up side.
5' 10" point guard Josh Lostlen (Newport). Another true point who thinks pass first. He averaged 3.75 assists. Josh scored at a 9.1ppg clip during the regular season. He'll be fun to watch over the next few years as he really gets after it.
Class of 2005:
Only one freshman played anything other than mop-up minutes. 5' 6" Garrison Carr of Issaquah is a small guy, but has a big shot. He's started all year, averaged 10.5ppg during the regular season, he's the younger cousin of former Lake Washington and Cal Poly shooter Jason King and has that same kind of shooting ability. Keep an eye on him.