Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout features an expanded field with six games, as many of the top teams in Minnesota will play on the Target Center court. Last season, the eventual AA state runners-up Braham played along with Richfield, the Class AAA runner-up and Tartan, a Class AAAA state tournament team. The Minnesota teams finished 4-1 last year. Fourteen future NBA players and over 130 major Division I players have participated in the Shootout.

The Timberwolves Shootout will feature six of the state's top boys basketball programs matching up with prep forces from in the Midwest. Tournament director Jeff Mueneke landed some of the top teams in Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri and Iowa, along with a North Carolina representative.


2006 Gatorade Timberwolves Shootout

10:00 a.m. Duluth East vs. Sioux City East, Iowa

12:00 p.m. Hopkins vs. Webster Groves, Mo.

2:00 p.m. Bloomington Jefferson vs. Madison Memorial, Wis.

4:00 p.m. Braham vs. Dudley (Greensboro, N.C.)

6:00 p.m. St. Thomas Academy vs. Kathleen (Lakeland, Fla.)

8:00 p.m. Henry Sibley vs. Linn Mar (Marion, Iowa)


The first game of the day, scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m., will feature Duluth East, 10-1, whose lone loss is to Timberwolves Shootout participant St. Thomas Academy. The Greyhounds are led by 6-foot-6 senior Cory Johnson, who played at the 2004 and 2005 Nike All-American Camp. He has been offered by many of the top Midwest programs and signed with Iowa State in the early signing period. The Greyhounds were upset by Coon Rapids 59-47 in the first round of the playoffs and finished the season 22-5. Johnson led the Duluth metro area with 27.0 points per game as a junior and recently passed former Minnesota Gopher Rick Rickert as the school's all-time scorer as he scored 31 points against Superior, breaking Rickert's mark of 2,358 and placing him 11th in state history. He scored 16 points in their latest win, giving him 2,387 for his career. Johnson, who is averaging 26.9 points per game, could move into third place all-time if his team wins one playoff game and has an outside shot at the 3,000-point milestone, if the Greyhounds reach the state tournament.


Duluth East also has 6-foot-7 senior Ben Heggestad, who is getting some Division II and III looks. The Greyhounds moved down to Class AAA this season, which should help their chances of advancing to the state tournament.


They will face perennial Iowa powerhouse Sioux City East, who is 8-1 and ranked #9 in Class AAAA. Roman Gentry, a 6-foot-5 senior who transferred from Sioux City West last year, is averaging 23.4 points per game. He committed to Northern Iowa last summer, but decided to re-open his commitment with the hopes of landing a Big Ten or Big 12 scholarship. Gentry, who averaged 18.9 points and 10.8 rebounds last season, has taken more of the scoring load with the loss of Dan Bohall, a freshman walk-on now at Iowa. Zach Fenceroy, a 6-foot-3 senior, is averaging 11.6 points per game and 6-foot-3 senior Dallas Moorer has scored in double figures the past two games. The Black Raiders have size on the bench in 6-foot-8 Eric Jorgensen. Head coach Jeff Vanderloo recently won his 200th career game.


The second game of the day, tipping off at 12:00 p.m., will feature defending Class AAAA champion Hopkins versus Webster Groves (MO) High. Hopkins is off to a 9-2 start this season. Hopkins finished 31-1 last season and had a 73-60 double-overtime win over Eastview in the Minnesota Class AAAA championship game. They lost Arden Skoglund, who signed with Valparaiso and Andrew Henke, who is at Air Force. The Royals are led by Purdue signee Dan Vandervieren, who came off the bench behind Skoglund last year. He is averaging 10.0 points per game, up from 6.3 points last season.  Vandervieren recently returned from a six-game MSHSL suspension as the Royals lost their only two games of the season during his absence. Junior guard Blake Hoffarber scored 53 points in the three state playoff games and won an ESPY for Play of the Year with his miracle shot to send the Eastview game into a second overtime. Hoffarber is one of the top shooters in the state and has received plenty of recruiting interest. He led the team with 13.8 points per game last season and has pumped his scoring average to 18.0 points this season. He scored 42 points versus Minnetonka recently. Steve Duncan, who averaged 10.0 points per game last year, is a versatile player who can score both inside and outside. He is getting some Division I and II looks and is up to 17.9 points per game this year.


They will face Webster Groves (MO) High advanced to the Missouri quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Poplar Bluff and McDonald's All-American Tyler Hansborough and finished 25-5 last season. The Statesmen are led by three-year starters 6-foot-4 Adrian Clayborn (13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds last season) and 6-foot-1 Justin Taylor (13.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last year). The two are also outstanding players on the Statesmen's 11-1 football team and Clayborn, a top-flight linebacker prospect recently committed to Iowa. The Statesmen recently defeated Birmingham Huffman, state semifinalist in Alabama 6A last year as they finished 27-8, in the KMOX Shootout in St. Louis. Webster Groves, who won their first eight games of the season, has bounced back from a two-game losing streak, to win their last three contests. Taylor is leading the team with 18.3 points per game. Clayborn is averaging 13.9 points and Drew Hanlen is adding 13.2 points per game.

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