Due to the COVID-19 virus, I opted to stay at home July 4th weekend, but thanks to BallerTV, I was able to catch several 17U teams that competed at the #HardWorkSZN Kick Off held in Appleton.
So, just like NCAA Division I and II collegiate coaches, I saw what happened through the lens of a video camera, certainly not the same as being at an event, but much better than missing it entirely.
Here are my observations of players who stood out for the 17U Wisconsin teams I was able to watch:
(Editor's note: Click on the highlighted profile for each player in order to see stats, scholarship offers, accolades, etc.)
Wisconsin Playground Club UAA
Cade Meyer, 6-8, F, Class of 2021, Monroe
Meyer scored on a consistent level for Wisconsin Playground Club, which went 3-0. He was able to post up in the lane, score from mid-range and complete his free-throw attempts. Meyer proved his ability to handle the ball against pressure, pass out of the high post, and bang inside while battling for rebounds. Meyer currently holds several NCAA Division I scholarship offers, and could end up earning more if he continues to play as well as he did in Appleton. Marquette is the high-major program paying the most attention to Meyer at the current time, and with several scholarship openings for 2021, it wouldn't surprise me if MU extends an offer the versatile Monroe forward.
Kamari McGee, 6-0, PG, Class of 2021, Racine St. Catherine's
McGee was extremely difficult for Wisconsin Playground Club Ritchie Davis to take off the floor during Saturday evening's hard-fought victory over Illinois HoopStars National. McGee rarely turns the ball over, can push the ball up the court with his speed and ball handling ability, and made some huge three-points in the closing minutes of the contest to help Playground earn the triumph. Defensively, there aren't many on-the-ball defenders in the state than McGee, who moves laterally exceptionally well while also being extremely close to his opponent. McGee has picked up several NCAA Division I scholarship offers and his play in Appleton solidified his standing as one of the top class of 2021 prospects in the state.
James Graham, 6-8, F, Class of 2021, Nicolet
Graham struggled with his perimeter shooting for much of the weekend and he turned the ball over a few times, but he did manage to make some three-point shots and also showed his ability to score around the basket. Like most of the players in the event, there was a little rust to Graham's game due to the long layoff because of COVID, but you could definitely see his potential as he continues to mature physically and mentally. One of the hottest players in the country in the 2021 class, Graham figures to narrow his list of potential colleges in the very near future.
Hayden Doyle, 6-1, G, Class of 2021, Brookfield East
Like McGee, Doyle is a player who is just difficult to have on the bench as he affects a game in so many different positive ways. Whether he's making a big shot, getting into the lane and dishing off to a teammate or taking a charge on the other end of the court, Doyle competes with an extremely high basketball IQ. He can play either guard position, rebounds well for his size, keeps his head up while pushing the ball in transition, and makes clutch baskets. Doyle currently holds scholarship offers from a couple of NCAA Division II programs, and there is no doubt he is a scholarship-level prospect. Whether he lands a Division I offer in the future is the big question, and it's looking more and more likely that could happen.
Wisconsin Blizzard -- Emery
Sam Haese, 6-3, G/F, Class of 2021, Wrightstown
The third brother in the Haese family to excel as a long-distance shooter, Haese buried a three-point shots with under five seconds left to lift Wisconsin Blizzard -- Emery to a 67-64 victory over Wisconsin Playmakers -- Siler. Haese, the son of Wrightstown coach Cory Haese and younger brother of former Tiger standouts Luke and Zac Haese, finished the contest with 15 points and three made triples. He takes good shots, doesn't force the action and moves well without the basketball.
Parker Lawrence, 5-11, PG, Class of 2021, Hortonville
A classic point guard who looks for his teammates, limits his turnovers, makes shots and is a virtual coach-on-the-floor, Lawrence was stellar for coach Chevalier (Ice) Emery and the Blizzard. He scored 15 points and drilled a couple of three-point baskets against the Playmakers, while also playing a very strong overall floor game. His basketball IQ and level of skill are both extremely high. And he has valuable experience at Hortonville playing against top-level competition in the Fox Valley Association on a nightly basis. Lawrence is one of the better lead-guard prospects in Wisconsin's class of 2021, to be sure.
Ryan Robillard, 6-2, G/F, Class of 2021, Luxemburg-Casco
A strong, skilled wing prospect who knocked down three-point shots, earned multiple trips to the foul line and competed with passion for the Blizzard, Robillard is coming off a very strong junior season at Luxemburg-Casco. He scored 12 points in the win over the Playmakers, and had a career-best 37 points in a victory over Menasha last winter. Robillard averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and earned unanimous first-team all-league honors in the North Eastern Conference in 2019-20 after earning second-team laurels as a sophomore.
ABC Young Lions Black
Alex Singleton, 6-5, F, Class of 2021, Wauwatosa East
A consistent scorer for the Young Lions in Appleton, Singleton helped his team to a 3-0 record. In Sunday's contest against Waterloo Salvation, Singleton slashed his way to the basket and completed plays en route to scoring a team-high 18 points. An unselfish player with good size and length, Singleton can play around the basket, but also appears comfortable attacking the rim from the wing or high post. A two-year varsity performer for coach Tim Arndorfer at Wauwatosa East entering his senior season, Singleton averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds as a junior.
Donald McHenry, 6-1, G, Class of 2021, Milwaukee Academy of Science
McHenry has outstanding length, very good ball-handling and passing skills, and the ability to finish off drives to the basket. A left-handed combination guard who can also make three-point shots, McHenry is on the lanky side, but his lack of bulk does not hurt him when he's using jab steps and fakes to get around defenders on the perimeter. A very consistent and productive high school player for coach Agape Keys at Milwaukee Academy of Science, McHenry came off the bench to score 13 points in the Lions' triumph over Waterloo Salvation.
Sam Hytinen, 6-3, WG, Class of 2021, Arrowhead
Hytinen came off the bench to supply some offensive punch and stellar rebounding for the Lions in their win over Waterloo Salvation. Hytinen hit a three-point shot and finished with 11 points as the Lions used a late surge to notch a 72-59 triumph. A left-handed wing with a good feel for the game and deep shooting range, Hytinen played big roles for a very good Arrowhead squads as a sophomore and junior. He averaged 12.1 ppg in 2019-20 en route to earning first-team all-league honors in the Classic Eight Conference.
Fox Valley Kings
Preston Ruedinger, 6-2, G, Class of 2021, Lourdes Academy
Ruedinger is a versatile guard who can play the point and create for himself and his teammates or the wing where he can knock down three-point shots or attack the hoop off the dribble. He helped the Fox Valley Kings to a 2-1 record by making triples, finishing off drives and getting to the foul line. Defensively, Ruedinger positions himself exceptionally well, communicates with his teammates and plays very good help defense as well. One of the state's top scorers as a junior when he averaged 27.2 ppg for his father and coach, Dennis Ruedinger, Preston Ruedinger owns NCAA Division II offers from Michigan Tech and St. Leo.
Caden Nelson, 6-3, G/F, Class of 2021, Waunakee
A returning first-team all-Badger North Conference performer, Nelson was outstanding in the Kings' win over Illinois HoopStars Central. He scored 36 points in the contest and scored in about every way possible, making five three-point shots, scoring off mid-range pull-up jump shots and finishing through contact at the rim. A very strong, physical player with a good skill set, Nelson cooled off a bit in the Kings' victory over Team 1848 on Sunday, but there is no doubting his toughness, skill and ability to make shots. Because of his size and strength, Nelson also is able to guard different positions, both in the paint and on the perimeter.
Ray Zuleger, 6-0, PG, Class of 2021, Xavier
You take the good with the bad when it comes to Zuleger's aggressiveness with the ball in his hands. On the one had, he can push the ball up the court and get around defenders with the best of them. On the other hand, he often over penetrates and gets caught up in defenders, which at times can lead to turnovers. Overall, though, Zuelger's presence was a positive for the Kings. He scored in double figures in each game, made some three-point shots and set up his teammates with his quickness and passing ability. Also an outstanding quarterback in football, Zuleger is one of several key returning players for a very strong program at Xavier.
Charlie Wolfgram, 6-1, G, Class of 2021, Neenah
Mr. Steady. A calming influence on the floor who almost always makes proper decision, Wolfgram played big minutes for Neenah as a junior and performed very well for the Kings, making three-point shots and taking quality attempts for coaches Bob Biebel and Jim Zueleger. Wolfgram defends at a good level, makes shots when left open and can get into the lane off the dribble to set up his teammates. Though not overly flashy, Wolfgram is a player all teams need in order to be successful because of his high basketball IQ and overall calming influence.
Brian Parzych, 6-2, PG, Class of 2021, Wauwatosa East
Part of an extremely talented 2021 class at Wauwatosa East, Parzych scored 22 points for the Wisconsin Independent squad in its 89-72 victory over the Wisconsin Crusaders. Though much more comfortable scoring to his left off the bounce, Parzych did make a three-point shot and attempted several while also consistently getting to the basket and either scoring or dishing off to a big coming from the weak side. Parzych is a solid defender, can push the ball in transition and is super aggressive in a half-court setting with the ball in his hands. Parzych plays with spunk and isn't afraid to take a chance on threading the needle with his superb passing ability.
Charlie Bender, 6-3, G/F, Class of 2021, Lake Mills
Like Wolfgram, Bender plays completely under control and brings a calming influence to his team. A good perimeter shooter and versatile defender, Bender competes on both ends of the court at a high level. Against the Crusaders, Bender had 13 points and drilled three shots from outside the three-point arc. He also scored on a putback and off a drive to the rim. Bender plays inside most of the time at Lake Mills, but his skill set will allow him to play on the wing at the collegiate level. His game consistently has improved over the last couple of seasons and that figures to remain the case due to his love for the game and solid work ethic.
Carter Capstan, 6-6, F, Class of 2021, Franklin
The Fred Flinstone of Wisconsin's 2021 class, Capstran simply brings his hard hat to the court each and every time he complets. And as a result, he produces on a consistent level. Capstran's intensity, constant motion and all-out hustle are tough to match and if you combine those traits with his skill and excellent size and strength, you have a player many collegiate programs would love to add to their upcoming recruiting class. Capstran, who is quick with the ball when attacking the rim from the high post, scored 19 points and beat his defenders to the basket on a regular basis in his team's victory over the Crusaders. Given his size, strength, skill and work ethic, Capstran figures to be a player in hot demand in coming months.
Grant Asman, 6-9, F, Class of 2021, Kimberly
One of the more intriguing players in the state's 2021 class, Asman used his incredible skill and size to score in different ways for the Crusaders in their match-up with Wisconsin Independent. Asman buried two three-point shots with touching the rim, scored a few times off of post-up moves and got to the foul line en route to scoring a team-high 16 points. Although Asman is still on the thin side and needs to add weight and strength, he has improved in those areas and he has definitely improved his offense around the basket. His length and considerable shot-blocking ability were also assets for the Crusaders. Asman's best basketball is ahead of him as he continues to mature physically. But, to be sure, he has added to his offensive tool box and is improving in all aspects of the game.
Jacob Dietz, 6-3, G/F, Class of 2021, Neenah
A wing with size, strength and skill, Dietz is a good shooter from deep, but he can also get into the lane and pull-up for mid-range jump shots. He has scored at a solid level for the Crusaders thus far this summer, and has proven to be a difficult match-up due to his ability to pull bigs away from the paint with his shooting ability or post-ups smaller defenders in the lane and score over them with his size and strength. Dietz had 14 points for the Crusaders in their loss to Wisconsin Independent. Dietz is coming off a very good junior season for an excellent Neenah squad as he averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds for coach Lee Rabas and the Rockets.
Aidan Ottery, 6-3, G/F, Class of 2021, St. Mary's Springs
Ottery seemed to find his way with the Crusaders over the weekend as his production was solid from both a scoring and defensive standpoint. A physically strong and athletic wing prospect who can score off the dribble and has an improved three-point shot, Ottery competes on the glass and on defense. He also isn't afraid to sacrifice his body for a loose ball or to take a charge. If Ottery can continue to show the ability to consistently make jump shots, that most definitely will aid his driving game, which remains his bread and butter. Due to his strength and athleticism, he is often able to complete drives to the hoop, though at times his efforts are thwarted by taller defenders.
Cayden Bintz, 6-0, G, Class of 2021, Coleman
Team 1848 dropped a 61-47 decision to the Fox Valley Kings, but Bintz proved to be one of the better scoring options for his club in the setback. A quick player who roams the perimeter searching for openings to launch his accurate three-point shot, Bintz nailed a couple of first-half triples to help Team 1848 remain with 24-23 at intermission. The Kings clamped down on Bintz a bit more in the second half as the all-Marinette & Oconto Conference performer from Coleman was held to just two baskets after half. But any player who can make shots, move well without the basketball and play good perimeter defense will be in demand by college programs and Bintz fits the bill on all three accounts.
Ryan Sweeney, 6-2, G/F, Class of 2022, Green Bay East
Sweeney normally plays on the talented Team 1848 16U squad, but he also performer for the 17U squad in Appleton. A very good looking young player, Sweeney flashed lots of different aspects to his game against the Kings. He made a couple of jump shots, attacked off the dribble with his quickness, length and skill, and earned several trips to the foul line. Sweeney averaged 13.8 points per game for Green Bay East as a sophomore, and earned third-team all-Bay Conference recognition. He is definitely a player to watch over the next couple of seasons.
Wisconsin Playmakers -- Siler
Joe Reuter, 6-4, G, Class of 2021, Chippewa Falls
Reuter was nothing short of stellar in the Playmakers' 67-64 loss to the Wisconsin Blizzard -- Emery. He finished the contest with 24 points and scored in different ways, including making four three-point baskets. With his team trailing 64-61 in the closing minute of the game, Reuter buried a triple to tie the contest only to see Sam Haese of Wrightstown answer on the other end with a triple of his own to win the game. Reuter has very good jumping ability, outstanding strength, and a very good jump shot. Due to his size, strength and skill, NCAA Division II programs will want to check out his ability to impact a game in a positive manner.
Luke Olson, 6-4, F, Class of 2021, Fall Creek
Olson may not have been as impressive as Reuter -- few were over the weekend -- but the Fall Creek rising senior certainly played well in his own right. A second-team all-league pick in the Western Cloverbelt Conference as a junior, Olson showed the ability to rebound in traffic, make three-point shots and come up with loose balls for the Playmakers. He scored 13 points in the loss to the Blizzard and had 11 in a loss to Sharks Basketball Academy -- Blue out of Illinois. Olson averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for coach Rick Storlie and the Crickets last season, and poured in a season-high 28 points in a win over Osseo-Fairchild. He shot 39.7 percent from three-point range and 78.4 percent from the free-throw line on the campaign.
Gabe Siler, 6-0, PG, Class of 2021, St. Croix Central
Siler can play either guard spot and did so for the Playmakers over the weekend. When point guard Richie Murphy (5-8) of Cameron was in the game, Siler moved over to the wing. When Murphy was out, Siler took over the point-guard duties. Siler is solid with the ball as he doesn't turn it over, is patient while waiting for his teammates to pop open, and can score on mid-range jump shots. His shooting skills need a bit of refinement, but his biggest asset to a team is his basketball IQ, ability to defend and the awareness of setting up his teammates.