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WBY Camp Notes: Kettle Moraine's Thompson sets sights on a three peat

06/10/2024, 1:45pm CDT
By Mark Miller

Despite some significant losses to graduation, senior Roman Thompson firmly believes the Kettle Moraine boys' basketball program stands a very good chance of three peating as WIAA Division 1 sectional champions come next March.

Thompson, a talented 6-foot-4 forward and returing first-team all-conference performer, played key roles on the Lasers' sectional-championship teams in 2023 and 2024.

The three-year varsity performer scored eight points in the 56-43 sectional-final win over Janesville Craig last March, and added four points as a sophomore in the Lasers' 63-53 sectional-final triumph over Franklin.

Now, he's looking forward to leading Kettle Moraine to perhaps yet another state-tournament apperance.

"I think we have a lot of good role players who have a good opportunity to step up next season," said Thompson, one of just over 90 players taking part in the 30th annual Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Camp being held this week at Viterbo University in La Crosse.

"We have a bit more size than last year. I feel like we can improve our record from a year ago, when we went 25-4, with the talent we have on our roster."

Gone from last year's club are three starters -- Will Stuckey (18.4 ppg), Nathan Vuillaume (12.5 ppg) and Jack McSorley (5.4 ppg).

But Thompson (12.0 ppg) and senior shooting guard Ben Bestor (9.5 ppg) are back and form a strong nucleus for coach Brian Richert's program, which dropped state-semifinal contests to eventual champions Marquette in 2024 and De Pere in 2023.  

"We have a lot of very good players coming up in our program," Thompsons said. "And I was very encouraged by our performance at the UW-Oshkosh Team Camp where we beat both Oshkosh North and Mount Horeb."

Seniors Teig Kowalski (6-4) and Zach Froemming (6-3), along with junior Charlie Dunham (5-11), could step into starting roles in 2024-25 as Kettle Moraine seeks to unseat Arrowhead as the kingpins of the always-competitive Classic Eight Conference.

Thompson figures to take on a bigger scoring role for the Lasers next winter. His showing this spring with the MTXE club program, and thus far at the WBY Camp, gives every indication he is ready to embrace that challenge.

Thompson sank 47 three-point baskets last winter and has improved his stroke from downtown since the end of the prep season. 

Additionally, he can use his size, strength and aggressiveness off the dribble to get to the basket and finish or earn trips to the foul line. 

Thompson hopes to play college basketball at the highest level possible and is recieving recruiting interest from NCAA Division II schools Concordia-St. Paul, Hillsdale and Northern Michigan. He also is picking up strong interest from several schools in the Division III Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

"My goal is to reach the highest level I can," Thompson said. "My goal also is to go to a college where I can be a big contributor as soon as possible."

Johnson leads on the court and football field

It doesn't matter if it's the football gridiron in the fall or the basketball court in the winter, Preston Johnson of River Falls is a true team leader.

The muscular 6-foot-2 senior is a standout defensive back/wide receiver for the Wildcats' football program and a three-year varsity performer at point guard for the River Falls basketball team. 

Johnson's toughness in both sports extends beyond just being stronger than most of his opponents. His leadership, both by example and with his communication skills, is unquestioned. 

At this point, Johnson is favoring playing football at the next level and plans to attend grid camps at the University of Minnesota, UW-River Falls, South Dakota State and Moorhead State this summer. 

But he isn't completely ruling out playing basketball at the next level.

"Basketball remains in the picture, but I'm leaning toward playing football in college," said Johnson, who is being pursued as a free safey. "I'm at 180 pounds right now and I'm trying to get to 190 for the season. It just seems I have more interest from colleges for football."

A pass-first lead guard in basketball, Johnson earned second-team all-Big Rivers Conference honors as a junior. He helped River Falls to a 20-8 record by averaging 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists. 

Johnson is one of a handful of key returning players for the Wildcats along with Iowa football recruit Eli Johnson (6-6) and shooting guard Brody Graetz (6-1). 

"We played pretty well in the Marshfield Tournament last weekend even without Eli," Preston Johnson said. "We have a lot of very good shooters on our team with Graetz and (Tanner) Bottolfson. I think we will have some guys off the bench this year who will help us as well."

Johnson's leadership skills figure to be even more important for River Falls next winter as long-time coach Zac Campbell recently announced he was stepping down in order to spend more time with his family.

"I'm disappointed he's not coming back to coach us for one more year, but I also get it," Johnson said. "He was always talking about his kids during the season and how he's spending time with us instead of being with his kids. He put so much time into coaching. He watched more film than anybody I know."

WBY Camp Draft

After evaluating the players in camp Sunday afternoon and evening, the 10 coaches working camp picked their teams in a draft of players. The following 10 players were first-round seelctions of the coaches:

1. Preston Johnson, 6-2, Sr., PG, River Falls
2. Jesse Napgezek, 6-3, Sr., G, Wausau East
3. Wes Rahn, 6-7, Jr., F, Lakeside Lutheran
4. Cameron Williams, 6-2, Sr., G, Verona
5. Roman Thompson, 6-4, Sr., G/F, Kettle Moraine
6. Daniel Cleary, 6-7, Sr., F, Lake Country Lutheran
7. Lucas Ludlum, 6-3, Sr., G, Platteville
8. Bryce Borowitz, 6-1, Sr., G, West De Pere
9. Taylor Williams, 6-2, Jr., G, Lancaster
10. Adam Guyette, 6-4, Sr., F, Notre Dame Academy 

Second-round picks, in alphabetical order:

Joseph Daly, 6-6, Jr., F, New London
Noah Daniel, 6-2, Jr., G, Oak Creek
Reagan Flickinger, 6-3, Sr., G, Clinton
Brody Gilbertson, 6-3, Jr., G, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln
Brock Hodges, 5-11, Jr., PG, Beloit Memorial
Blake Risler, 6-2, Jr., G, Regis
Casey Stuedemann, 6-4, Sr., G, D.C. Everest
EJ Weix, 6-2, Sr., G, Merrill
Aaron Wolff, 6-3, Sr., G/F, Waupaca
Olin Zellmer, 6-0, Sr., PG, Edgerton

Quick Hitters ... Just over 90 players from across Wisconsin are taking part in this year's WBY Camp, including 46 players who earned all-conference recognition following the 2023-24 high school season ... Sons of head coaches in Wisconsin attending camp include Carter Uppena, whose father, Scott, is the head coach at Royall; Jaxon Ladron, whose father, Tim, is the head coach at Beaver Dam; and Vinny Fox, whose father, Daryl, is the head coach at Edgerton.

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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