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Friday, March 26, 2010

Where Are They Now: 2009-10

After pulling a mild upset when he was named Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball last week, Catholic Memorial senior T.J. Bray added another player of the year award to his list of accolades Tuesday when the AP announced its 2009-10 All-State teams.

Bray, who will play ball for Princeton next year, is just another example of Wisconsin's high school talent spreading across the college landscape. Every year I like to look back at how those who have left the state to play NCAA Division 1 basketball performed on the court.

Jump to: [2008-09] :: [2007-08 Pt. 1] [2007-08 Pt. 2]

This year the exercise might be more relevant than ever, as a few players from the Badger State have landed in the national spotlight at tournament time. Exhibit A is Korie Lucious, who calmly buried the game-winning 3-pointer that sent ailing Michigan State into the Sweet 16 last Sunday. The Spartans next opponent, Northern Iowa, just so happens to include Exhibits B and C. Ashwaubenon's own Koch brothers have each played a significant role in the Panthers' ascension to Cinderella media darling after toppling No. 1 Kansas.

: : : Seniors
Some persevering and accomplished seniors are finishing up their careers this year. Another, Mitchell Carter, sat out the year after transferring back home to UW-Milwaukee from South Carolina.

30+ min/g:
Andy Polka, F, Loyola (Horizon) [stats]
Polka was nothing short of a warrior on the glass. He averaged about 9 rebs/g this season and finished in Loyola's top ten all-time with 765 rebounds despite missing 20 games as junior with an ankle injury. Though Loyola (14-16, 5-13) struggled as a team, Polka enjoyed perhaps his finest season individually. The former state champ from Oshkosh West solidified the now-established Wisconsin-to-Loyola pipeline.

20+ min/g:
Jerry Smith, G, Louisville (Big East) [stats]
Many have wondered whether Smith would have developed better as a Badger, but he still was a part of 102 wins at Louisville. Smith's numbers were remarkably similar as a senior as his freshman year statistics. Unfortunately, his calling card (3-point shooting) fell off this season (28%) in a down year for the Cardinals (20-13, 11-7).

Adam Koch, F, Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) [stats]
The eldest Koch on the UNI roster has improved his three-point (35%) and free throw (84%) shooting this season, but overall has sacrificed personal glory for team success. Yet, he was still the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. This former first team all-stater had several higher scoring games earlier in the season, but was actually blanked when Northern Iowa (30-4, 15-3) clinched The Valley tourney title.

10+ min/g:
Steve Gruber, G, Brown (Ivy) [stats]
A Whitefish Bay native, Gruber toughed it out in previous years and was rewarded with increased minutes for Brown (11-20, 5-9). He scored a career-high 14 points in a three-point loss at St. John's in November, then met or surpassed that total twice more by February.

Under 10 min/g:
Devron Bostick, G, Minnesota (Big 10) [stats]
Bostick was coming on of late, but never really found his niche in his two years at Minnesota. He started off the year with a suspension for violating team rules, but averaged nearly 15 minutes and almost 6 ppg in the final six games as Minnesota (21-14, 9-9) snuck into the NCAA tourney.

: : : Juniors
Bo Ryan and the Badgers grabbed two state players from this weaker class (2007) that has gotten even smaller as certain guys have redshirted.

30+ min/g:
Diante Garrett, G, Iowa St. (Big XII) [stats]
Garrett logged a lot of minutes again for Iowa State (15-17, 4-12) this year and took a big step forward in a couple areas statistically. He notched a career-best 164 assists as a junior, upping his assist-to-turnover ratio to 2:1. His shooting percentage went up noticeably since he worked on his long-stance shooting (up to 35% from 22% last season). If you remember him from Milwaukee Vincent, you know there aren't too many guys quicker than Garrett.

20+ min/g:
Will Hudson, F, Oakland (Summit) [stats]
The Golden Grizzlies (26-9, 17-1) blitzed through the Summit League and took a step up into the NCAA Tournament this year. Hudson remained steady with 6 pts and 5 rebs per game. This power forward from Middleton, played a season-high 28 minutes in his homecoming loss to Wisconsin on Nov. 18.

Under 10 min/g:
Matt Dorlack, C, Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley) [stats]
Dorlack hails from New Berlin and appeared in 27 of 31 games for the improved Panthers (19-12, 11-7).

: : : Sophomores
Kwamain Mitchell remains the star of the Class of 2008, but some familiar names are showing signs of life. A number of players are seizing the opportunities in front of them as sophomores.

30+ min/g:
Kwamain Mitchell, G, St. Louis (Atlantic 10) [stats]
The Billikens (23-11, 11-5) just missed the NCAA Tournament in Mitchell's second season, but he came out firing with 17 first-half points against Princeton to lead his team to the finals of the College Basketball Invitational. Building on his postseason success from last season, Mitchell's statline was impressive in 2009-10: 16.3 pts, 3 rebs and 3 assts, not to mention respectable 3-point shooting. Coach Rick Majerus' leading scorer failed to reach double-digits in only five games, dominating Missouri-Kansas City with 33 points on Dec. 22.

20+ min/g:
Korie Lucious, G, Michigan St. (Big Ten) [stats]
Lucious came to the Spartans from Milwaukee Pius XI, made a trip to the championship last season and is now forced into the driver's seat of another Sweet 16 team with the injury to Kalin Lucas. His 3-pointer to beat Maryland was priceless, though on average, he's still a streaky shooter. If Lucious does not improve, he could find himself being a four-year backup. While his minutes more than doubled, so too did his assist totals -- but he hasn't totaled five dimes since Michigan State (26-8, 14-4) lost in Madison.

James Haarsma, F, Evansville (Missouri Valley) [stats]
As expected, Haarsma had to shoulder a much larger burden for the Purple Aces this season after the team graduated it's three top scorers. Unfortunately, lowly Evansville (9-21, 3-15) suffered through a 14-game losing streak, snapped only when Haarsma went for 18 pts and 7 rebs against Wichita State. He followed that up with 12 and 8 in an upset of Northern Iowa a few games later. Haarsma was the Valley's fourth-leading rebounder this season, including four double-doubles. Key an eye on this one ...

Scott Christopherson, G, Iowa State (Big XII) [stats]
After sitting out his transfer year, I would consider Christopherson's season quite a success. Like the Cyclones, Christopherson started strong with five straight double-digit scoring games. Unlike Iowa State, however, this Mr. Basketball (shared award with Keaton Nankivil three years ago) finished well too, averaging 12.5 pts, 2 treys and over 1 steals per game over the final six contests. The former LaCrosse Aquinas star has lived up to his billing as a sharpshooter in Amesso far and seized the starting role in January.

10+ min/g:
Andrew Zimmerman, F, Stanford (Pac-10) [stats]
The pride of Oostburg played over 17 min/g after transferring in to a pretty poor Stanford team (14-18, 7-11) this year. Zimmerman was a reliable rebounding presence until a stress fracture caused him to miss six games in the middle of the Pac-10 slate.

Under 10 min/g:
John Benkoske, C, Loyola (Horizon) [stats]
With the return of Polka, Benkoske struggled to find playing time this season. His most important role to Loyola might be keeping its Wisconsin connections thriving, which landed Flavien Davis for next year.

Conor Smith, F, Richmond (Atlantic 10) [stats]
Other than a close loss to Xavier, the excellent Spiders (26-9, 13-3) didn't put Smith in the game unless it was a giant blow out.

Jake Gollon, F, Mercer (Atlantic Sun) [stats]
The Stevens Point native did indeed take a redshirt last season and appeared in nine games this year for the Bears (16-17, 10-10).

*2008 Mr. Basketball DeMarcus Phillips signed with Iowa State in November and was named Honorable Mention All-Region XI this season at Marshalltown Community College. He will have two years of eligibility remaining in the fall.

: : : Freshmen
This large, heralded class had a great buzz last year, headlined by some star power that drew national recruiting attention. So far it's been a bear market for the biggest names, but a nice start for the three Jakes.

30+ min/g:
Jake Barnett, G, Toledo (MAC) [stats]
Toledo is in a world of hurt. After being tarnished in a gambling probe last year, the basketball team suffered through it's worst season ever, leading to the head coach's resignation this month. The bright ray of hope is Barnett, a 6'5" graduate of Devin Harris' alma mater (Wauwatosa East). After spending a year at prep school, Barnett led the Rockets in scoring, minutes and FT% this past season, earning him a spot on the MAC All-Freshman Team.

Jake Thomas, G, South Dakota (Great West) [stats]
Jake Thomas was accustomed to winning at St. Catherine's HS back in Racine and those winning ways have carried over so far at South Dakota, which won the Great West Conference with an 11-1 record (22-10 overall). Thomas averaged 13.3 ppg on an incredible 44% shooting from 3-point land as a freshman. He was named an honorable mention all-conference selection in addition to earning a spot on the All-Newcomer team. Thomas already holds the single-game school record for 3-pointers (9).

10+ min/g:
Jamil Wilson, F, Oregon (Pac-10) [stats]
One of the more hyped recruits ever out of Wisconsin, Wilson failed to make a splash as a Pac-10 rookie. He played significant minutes for a young squad until the end of the year, when he failed to make an appearance in six of the last nine games, mostly due to a tweaked ankle. Wilson's season highs were 12 pts, 7 rebs and 4 assts. Oregon also fired head coach Ernie Kent recently, so there is speculation that Wilson might get "home sick."

Ben Averkamp, F, Loyola (Horizon) [stats]
Averkamp used his length at 6'8" to record 1.5 blocks-per-game in his freshmen campaign, good for second among all Horizon League players. Pretty impressive for a guy playing less than 20 mins per contest. He almost logged a double-double before Christmas, posting 17 pts and 9 rebs in a Loyola (14-16, 5-13) win.

Jeronne Maymon, F, Marquette (Big East) Tennessee (SEC) [stats]
The sorted saga of this Madison Memorial grad took the most bizarre turn yet after a loss to Wisconsin, when Maymon's dad announced that his son would be leaving Marquette immediately. Maymon (or his dad, rather) was apparently sick of Maymon playing out of position in the post. J-May was averaging a respectable 4 rebs in about 16 min/g, but did pick up quite a few fouls.

Jake Koch, F, Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley) [stats]
Jake is the at least as big (6'9", 255) as his older brother after taking a freshman redshirt. Adam's younger brother is a threat from deep (40.5%) too. Jake exploded for 22 pts and 10 rebs in a rare February loss to Evansville, and more recently, helped beat Kansas with 7-of-8 clutch free throws.

Nate Zastrow, G, North Dakota State (Summit) [stats]
Manitowoc Lincoln's Zastrow played a key role off the bench for the Bison as a true freshman. He showed a nice glimpse of things to come in a two-game, 58-min. stretch last month when he hit 7-of-13 treys for 36 points. What's more is he only committed one turnover and got to the charity stripe.

Under 10 min/g:
Johnnie Lacy, G, Providence (Big East) [stats]
Lacy was not the happiest camper this season. I wouldn't have been happy shooting that percentage either. Lacy's playing dwindled in the latter portion of the year with the senior starting PG and fellow freshman guard Vincent Council playing minutes ahead of him. Better luck next year to this Milwaukee Bay View product, via Notre Dame Prep.

Tyler Brown, F, C. Michigan (MAC) UW-Green Bay (Horizon) [stats]
Brown tore his ACL and MCL in January and then left Central Michigan to enroll at UW-Green Bay. Evan Anderson's former teammate at Eau Claire North averaged started against Alcorn State and averaged almost 10 min/g in his 11 appearances before the injury.

Jimmy Sherburne, G, Princeton (Ivy) [stats]
Bray future teammate hails from Whitefish Bay and scored one basket in six appearances.

Dan Stockdale, F, North Dakota (Great West) [stats]
An under-the-radar player from Sheboygan North remained under the radar.

*The rail-thin Antwon Oliver, a Racine Horlick grad, played it smart and took a redshirt.
**Andrew Windler, a forward/center at Samford from South Milwaukee, appears to be redshirting also.

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