Timberwolves Shootout Preview

The 12th annual Minnesota Timberwolves Shootout features six games as many of the top teams in Minnesota will play at the Target Center January 5th. Fourteen future NBA players and over 130 major Division I players have played in the Shootout. There will be five boys game and one girls game, which features the state's top team. The following is a look at the Minnesota boys representatives.

St. Louis Park (MN) Benilde St. Margaret is led by seniors Armond Battle, a 6-foot-6 forward who has committed to Tulsa, and Jordan Taylor, who is headed to Wisconsin.

Battle and Taylor are considered among the top players in the state in the Class of 2008. The duo helped lead the Red Knights to the Class AAA state championship game this past season. They led the Red Knights to a 27-5 record and a 20-0 mark in the North Suburban Conference as Battle averaged 20.1 points per game and Taylor added 19.5 points. They won 14 straight games before falling to St. Thomas Academy in the title game.

Battle scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games and had 20 or more points 15 times. He had three games of 30 or more points, including 36 versus Columbia Heights.

Taylor scored in double figures in 31 of his 32 contests last season. Taylor had four games of 30 or more points, including 41 points against Spring Lake Park.

The Red Knights had a 20-8 record and 11-3 mark in the North Suburban Conference during his sophomore season, falling to Class AAA champion De LaSalle 57-55 in the playoffs. Battle averaged 15.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He scored in double figures in 23 of 27 games and had 20 or more points eight times.

Taylor 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.

Hopkins won the Class AAAA (biggest schools) title in 2005 and 2006 and was the favorite to win it all last year before it were upset by crosstown rival Minnetonka 55-53 in the second round of the section playoffs as they finished 26-2 last season. The Royals had not been challenged during the regular season as their closest game against a Minnesota opponent was an 11-point win. Their only other loss was to Campbell Hall 71-61 in last year's Timberwolves Shootout.

Hopkins will feature plenty of young talent, which will be counted on more heavily with the graduation of guards Blake Hoffarber (25.2 points per game), who is at Minnesota and Tyler Nicolai (12.4), who is at Division III St. Thomas, and center Chris Pfeifer, who is at Division II Concordia St. Paul. Novak is expected to see improved play from his big man this season.

The Royals will return two players who were starters as sophomores last season.

Raymond Cowles, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 9.2 points per game last season and scored in double figures in 14 of his 28 games. He scored a season-high 19 points versus Cretin Derham Hall.

Cowles has received scholarship offers from Northern Iowa, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Loyola (IL) and North Dakota State and has been working hard to improve his all-around game.

Mike Broghammer, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward has offers from Big Ten schools Purude and Iowa, North Dakota State and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Broghammer, who averaged 8.2 points per game, scored in double figures in 11 of 27 games last year with a season-high 16 points against Robbinsdale Armstrong.

The Royals have plenty of other young players on their roster.

Trent Lockett, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound junior guard/forward who averaged 7.5 points per game, has offers from Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Iowa State, Wisconsin Green Bay and Colorado State. Lockett had six double-figure efforts, including 17 point against Minneapolis Roosevelt and Milwaukee Lutheran.

Anthony Di Loreto, a 7-foot, 215-pound senior center, averaged 4.7 points per game last season and scored a season-best 12 points versus Minneapolis Roosevelt, his lone double-figure effort.

Di Loreto has offers from Eastern Kentucky, Fordham and Wofford and is getting interest from Rice and Richmond, according to head coach Ken Novak.

Junior guard Marcus Williams, who averaged 5.3 points and is an outstanding football prospect, and sophomore D.J. Peterson, who averaged double figures to get plenty of recruiting interest the next few years, will see more playing time this season.

Minnetonka upset Hopkins in the second round of the section playoffs and finished 18-10 mark last season as they advanced to the finals of Section 2, Class AAAA.

Anthony Tucker, who is one of the top players in the state for the Class of 2008 and was named second-team All-State by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, committed to Iowa.

Tucker averaged 17.6 points per game last year and scored in double figures in all but two games. The Skippers knocked off two-time defending champion Hopkins in the section semifinals before losing to Bloomington Jefferson and Kansas signee Cole Aldrich.

The Skippers also return fellow three-year players C.J. Erickson and Andy Burns. Erickson, a 6-foot-5 forward, averaged 12.4 points per game and scored in double figures in 20 of 28 games last season. He has scholarship offers from Wofford and South Dakota State, and Wisconsin-Green Bay has offered him a four for five-year package. Burns averaged 8.2 points per game at the point guard spot.

Seniors Andrew Latzke, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 10.7 points, and Tyler Schilling, a 6-foot-4 guard, who averaged 10.6 points will round out the top six. The Skippers added De LaSalle transfer Cedric McBounds, who averaged 14.7 points last year.

Princeton is led by Jared Berggren, a 6-foot-10 junior center who committed to Wisconsin in January. Berggren was named second-team All-Metro by GoldenSports.Net and led the Tigers to a 17-9 mark. He averaged 21.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.6 blocked shots per game.

Berggren scored in double figures in 25 of 26 games this season. He scored 20 or more points in 17 games, including a season-high 36 points versus Zimmerman. Berggren scored 20 or more points in his last six games of the year. He had 19 double-digit rebounding games, including the final seven contests of the year. Unfortunately, his season was cut short when they were upset by Big Lake, 71-61, in the first round of the playoffs.

Cass Lake Bena finished 30-2 with a perfect 14-0 Northland Conference title and its first ever trip to the Minnesota High School State championship game last season. They lost in the Class A championship game 74-73 to Ellsworth. The Panthers' only other loss was to St. Paul Johnson, a Class AAAA team 73-71 in their third game of the season.

They lost Brady Fairbanks, who was named to the Minnesota State Tournament All-Tournament and was named Second Team All-State. However, they return twins Joel and Nathan Salscheider.

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