Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout features six games as many of the top teams in Minnesota will play on the Target Center court. Last season, the eventual AA state champs Braham and AAAA winner Hopkins played in the event. The Minnesota teams finished 4-2 last year after going 4-1 the previous season. Fourteen future NBA players and over 130 major Division I players have played in the Shootout.

10 a.m. Minnetonka vs. Mobile (AL) Leflore

12 p.m. Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Woodland Hills (CA) Taft

2 p.m. Hopkins vs. Lakewood (CA) Artesia (CA)

4 p.m. Osseo vs. Lake Oswego (OR) High

6 p.m. Cretin-Derham Hall vs. Houston (TX) Westbury Christian

8 p.m. Maranatha Christian vs. Linn-Mar Iowa.

Minnetonka finished 9-17 this past season as they have faced what could be the state's most difficult schedule. They are led by Anthony Tucker, who is perhaps one of the top players in the state for the Class of 2008. Tucker had four games of more than 30 points and six more contests of more than 20 points. He scored a season-high 38 points versus Henry Sibley as Minnesota head coach Dan Monson and former director of operations James Ware were in attendance. Tucker scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games and averaged 20.6 points per game for the Skippers. Tucker was the Skippers' leading returning scorer after averaging 14.1 points per game as a freshman. Tucker shot better than 41% from three-point range and pulled down 3.5 rebounds per game in 2004-05. Tucker was the first freshman to be named unanimous all-conference in the Classic Lake Conference. The Skippers are also led by fellow classmates C.J. Erickson and Andy Burns. The 6-foot-6 Erickson became a starter in the middle of his freshman season, but broke his foot in early February. He had a strong sophomore campaign as he averaged 13 points per game. Burns averaged 12.2 points at the point guard spot.

Mobile (AL) Leflore has been one of the top teams in Alabama the past three years as they have finished 92-12 during that time. They lost Johnny Mayhane averaged 19 points and eight rebounds per game as a senior, leading LeFlore to a 28-6 record and the regional semifinals. Mayhane signed with Tulane. They lost to teams from California, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana by one, two, three and four points. This year's team will be led by 6-foot-3 junior Nick Williams, who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game last year for the Rattlers. Williams recently committed to Marquette. LeFlore finished with a 35-1 record and No. 2 national ranking before falling in the 6A championship game in 2005.

Benilde St. Margaret finished 20-8 and 11-3 in the North Suburban Conference last season, falling to Class AAA champion DeLaSalle 57-55 in the playoffs. The Red Knights were led by Jordan Taylor, who averaged 20 points and 6.0 assists per game as a sophomore. He scored in double figures all 28 games and had a season-high 37 points versus Spring Lake Park. Taylor is a point guard with a scoring mentality. Armond Battle, a thin 6-foot-6 junior forward, averaged 15.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He scored in double figures in 23 of 27 games and had 20 or more points eight times. The duo played for the Howard Pulley AAU team and Minnesota Select this summer.

Woodland Hills (CA) Taft must replace Justin Hayes, who will signed with Oregon State, but will spend a season at prep school from a 24-7 team that lost to Clovis West in the opening round of the Southern California Regionals in the Div. I state tournament. However, the Toreadors are still loaded with talent. They are led by 6-foot junior guard Larry Drew. His father played in the NBA for ten years and averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists in 714 career games for four NBA teams and is currently an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks. The younger Drew shined as a member of the Pump and Run Elite along with Artesia's James Harden this summer. Drew is being recruited by schools such as UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Washington, Stanford, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Miami. Oscar Bellfield, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, is considering an up-and-coming West Coast backcourt performer.

Hopkins finished 29-2 last season and won their second straight Class AAAA title. The Royals are led by 6-foot-3 senior guard, Blake Hoffarber, who averaged 17.9 points per game this season. Hoffarber was named first-team All-Metro by the Star Tribune and has received scholarship offers from schools such as Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. The Royals' only two losses were suffered when Purdue signee Dan Vandervieren was forced to sit out two weeks for violating a Minnesota State High School League rule. Hoffarber showed more of a scoring streak this past season with the loss of Arden Skoglund, who signed with Valparaiso, and Andrew Henke, who is at the Air Force. He scored a career-best 42 points in their 91-77 win over Classic Lake Conference rival Minnetonka earlier last season and also finished with 11 rebounds and 10 assists as Hoffarber scored 26 points in the second half. He received plenty of national attention after leading the Royals to a 73-60 double-overtime win over Eastview in the Minnesota Class AAAA championship game and winning an ESPY for Play of the Year as a sophomore. He led Hopkins to a 31-1 mark and scored 53 points in the three state playoff games last season as a sophomore. Hoffarber will be asked to carry more of the scoring load this season with the loss of Vandervieren, who will play at Purdue and Steve Duncan, who is headed to Division II Minnesota-Duluth. The Royals are a strong favorite to win their third straight Class AAAA title after winning the Pacesetter Sweet 16 title in St. Joseph's, MN in August. Tyler Nicolai is an outstanding floor general and outside threat. He averaged 9.1 points per game. Raymond Cowles, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 7.1 points per game last season. He is one of several talented sophomores on the Royals' roster. Chris Pfeifer, a 6-foot-6 senior who averaged 5.8 points per game last season, had a good summer playing AAU basketball and should make big strides this season.

Lakewood (CA) Artesia won the Division III state title last season. The Pioneers finished 33-1, losing only to Cincinnati Hughes 59-58 in the Bay Ball Classic. They must replace point guard Derek Glasser, who is headed to the Sun Devils after previously planning to walk-on at USC and Scott Pera, who resigned as coach of the Pioneers last spring before becoming director of basketball operations at Arizona State. They are led by James Harden, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, who recently committed to Arizona State. Harden shined this summer as a member of the Pump and Run Elite, leading them to the adidas Super 64, Three Stripes. Cactus Classic, Las Vegas Showcase and Best of Summer tournament crowns. Harden was the MVP of the adidas Super 64 as he scored 34 points in a win over D.C. Assault. Harden averaged 18.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year and has scored more than 1,000 points in his career. Malik Story, a 6-foot-5 junior, committed to USC. Story played on the Southern California All Stars AAU team that won the Reebok Big Time Tournament and Kingwood Classic this past year. Some observers feel that this might be the best AAU team ever. He is joined by transfer Renardo Sidney, a 6-foot-9 big man who is considered by some observers as the top sophomore in the country. He also played for the Southern California All Stars AAU team. Jason Pruitt, a 6-foot junior guard, is one of the top rising players in California. His older brother, Gabe, plays at USC and averaged 16.9 points per game as a sophomore this past season.

Osseo finished 17-10 last season, losing to Maple Grove in the first round of the section playoff after having beat the Crimson twice during the regular season. The Orioles are led by Xavier Reed, who averaged 16.2 points per game last season. Reed scored in double figures in 24 of 27 games and had eight games of 20 or more points. Carrington Tankson, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 8.3 points per game as a sophomore and had a strong summer, playing to the Howard Pulley 16-and-nder AAU team. Zach Peterson, a 6-foot-11 junior center, has transferred from Park Center to Osseo. He averaged 13 points per game last season.

Lake Oswego (OR) High won the Oregon Class AAAA Tournament defeating South Medford 59-57 in the title game. The Lakers finished 26-3 and their three losses were to teams from Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey and won their last 21 games of the season. They are led by Kevin Love, who is Hoopmasters.com #1 player in the country. The 6-foot-9 Love is an outstanding rebounder and is considered perhaps the top passing big man in recent memory. The UCLA commit led the Reebok ABCD camp in scoring and rebounding. His father, Stan played in the NBA for four years for Baltimore and the Los Angeles Lakers. Lake Oswego also returns starters Taylor Marr and Ernie Spada.

Cretin Derham Hall finished 26-3 last season, losing to Woodbury 84-70 in the section finals. The Raiders return most of their team, which are also standouts on the football field. Their top scorer for the past two years is Broderick Binns, a highly-sought defensive end with offers form Minnesota, Iowa, Arizona State among others. Binns averaged 17.9 points per game and scored in double figures 26 of 29 games last season. He scored 20 or more points 12 times, including a season-high 31 points versus Stillwater. Michael Floyd, a standout junior wide receiver who has already received scholarship offers Notre Dame, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, averaged 10.9 points per game as a sophomore. He scored more than 20 points three times last year.

John Nance, a junior wide receiver/quarterback, averaged 10.5 points per game. Nance and Floyd played on the Minnesota Magic AAU 16-and-under team this summer.

Joe Springer, a senior quarterback, averaged 7.9 points per game.

Houston (TX) Westbury Christian is making its second appearance in the Timberwolves Shootout. The Wildcats played in the event when standout Nbudi Ebi led the team versus Kris Humphries and Hopkins. The Wildcats return plenty of size in 6-foot-6 senior Jeff Francis, 6-foot-6 Kevin Perry and 6-foot-8 junior Dwight Miller.

Maranatha finished 31-2 last season, finishing in fourth place in the Class A State tournament. The Mustangs were undefeated before losing their last two games of the season. They lost Stephen Hanson, who averaged a team-high 21.7 points per game. Younger brother, 6-foot-6 junior David Hanson, averaged 16.5 points per game as he scored in double figures in 29 of 33 games. Alex Thomas, a 6-foot-5 senior, averaged 15.3 points and reach double figures 28 of 33 contests.

Marion (IA) Lin-Marr returns to the Timberwolves Shootout for the second straight season. The Lions must replace standout guard Jason Bohannon, who will play at Wisconsin this season. Bohannon helped lead the Lions to a fourth place finish in the Class AAAA Tournament, scoring 43 points in the consolation game as the team finished 23-4. Linn-Mar has been one of the top teams in Iowa the past few years. They finished 24-2 in 2005 and were Class AAAA runner-up and were 24-3 in 2004, winning the Class AAAA title. They return starters Jordan Printy, a 6-foot-5 senior and 6-foot-4 center Joe Elgin. Printy recently committed to Indiana State.

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