Aquinas High School coach Rick Schneider and his staff have a monster on their hands.
The Midwest Players Classic is its third year, but it already is becoming one of the marquee prep basketball events in the Midwest.
“It went from having to work super-hard to get teams to be a part of it, to now, I’ve got coaches calling me every year asking to be a part of it,” Schneider said. “It’s been a real nice transition.”
This year’s event brings together 12 teams with a history of success in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa and a handful of individual players either committed to or receiving interest from NCAA Division I schools.
“The whole goal is to get some good basketball in the area,” Schneider said. “We know that we have some good local teams, but it allows us to get those local teams in a nice venue where they’re playing some good teams from outside the area.”
Here’s a quick look at the Midwest Players Classic:
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Matt Thomas, Onalaska and Bronson Koenig, Aquinas: Yeah, you probably already know about these two, but any list without them is incomplete. Thomas (Iowa State) is coming off a record-shattering 50-point performance against Sparta on Monday and certainly appears to have found his shooting stroke. Koenig (Wisconsin) is one of the best passers in the state and has his team atop the MVC.
Rashad Vaughn, Robbinsdale Cooper: The 6-foot-6 junior guard is averaging 29.3 points per game and is one of the top players nationally in the Class of 2014. He has more than 20 Division I offers, including interest from schools such as Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke.
Ben Oberfeld, Eastview: At 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, the Bucknell recruit is a big load and could have been a Division I football recruit at defensive end or offensive tackle. He’s averaging 15.4 points per game for the Lightning, who played in the Minnesota Class AAAA state tournament last season.
Joe Aase, Austin: The Packers’ 6-foot-8 senior is headed to Division I Davidson next season and is the leading scorer for the undefeated No. 2 team in Class AA. He recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career and is averaging 16.7 points per game.
Jordan Bohannon, Linn-Mar: It may be unfair to put the 6-foot freshman on this list, but he did have three older brothers who won state titles at Linn Mar and played at the Division I level in college, including Jason, who scored 1,170 career points at Wisconsin, and Zach, who is a reserve for the Badgers this season after transferring from Air Force.
GAME OF THE DAY
Aquinas Blugolds vs. Roseville Raiders
They saved the best for last as Aquinas, No. 3 in Division 3, tangles with Roseville, ranked third in Class AAAA, the largest division in Minnesota.
The Raiders average 81.2 points per game and reached 113 points earlier this season. Four players average double figures, led by Mack Johnson’s 19.9 ppg. Roseville can match Aquinas’ size down low with 6-foot-7 senior Jordan Burich (12.2 ppg, 11.6 rpg) and 6-6 junior Derek Magnuson.
Wisconsin recruit Bronson Koenig leads the Blugolds, who have been getting strong play out of 6-7 junior Parker Weber recently. Weber had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 59-44 victory over previously undefeated Central on Monday night.
Others to watch
Eastview vs. Holmen: It should be fun to watch the Vikings’ Greg Rooney muscle up with the Lightning’s Ben Oberfeld, a Bucknell commit.
Austin vs. Westby: The Packers, led by former Caledonia coach Kris Fadness, average 71.7 points per game but few teams play defense like the Norsemen, who are notorious for being a headache to play against.
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau 59, Austin (Minn.) 34
Onalaska 54, Owatonna (Minn.) 46
Whitefish Bay Dominican 78, St. Paul Johnson 46
Milwaukee Riverside 47, Roseville (Minn.) 46
Eastview (Minn.) 64, Madison Memorial 37
Aquinas 47, Kaukauna 46
Logan 79, Richfield (Minn.) 56
Eastview (Minn.) 51, DeForest 48
Aquinas 62, Minneapolis South 55
Milwaukee King 67, St. Paul Johnson 52
Linn-Mar (Iowa) 74, Madison Memorial 64
Onalaska 68, Milwaukee Bay View 47