Kansas City basketball talent has been on the rise for several years as it continues to produce solid D1 talent. College coaches and national scouting services have noticed, and now we are providing some evidence. Here is our Top 25 ranking of KC area players who make an impact on college basketball today. Among them you will find NBA prospects, NCAA tournament stars and some newcomers we think will be in the headlines as freshmen.
1. Alec Burks – Colorado -The Big 12’s newcomer of the year in 2010 and Grandview graduate was profiled this summer as one of the best two-guard NBA prospects in the country. His college career just may be over after his sophomore season.
2. Willie Reed – SLU – After having a disappointing high school career because of transfers and eligibility issues, the 6’9″ forward has been phenomenal for Rick Majerus in St. Louis. He led the league in FG percentage and set a single season mark for blocked shots, all in his sophomore season. He is an NBA prospect for sure.
3. Isacc Miles – Murray State – The Bishop Miege star had a strong junior season with 10 PPG, 4 APG and 3 RPG and led the Racers to an upset of Vandy in the big dance with 17 points and 6 rebounds. He has an outside shot to be player of the year in the Ohio Valley conference.
4. Trevor Releford – Alabama – With his quickness and playmaking ability, you can expect one of KC’s best all-time PGs to play and be successful right away. For all his accolades, we still feel he is under-rated as a college guard and will be remembered as one of the best to ever come out of KC and Bishop Miege.
5. Michael Dixon – Missouri – Quietly, Dixon had a strong freshman season for the Tigers after being highly touted at Lee’s Summit West, and with the guard-oriented system in Columbia, his numbers will grow this year. If not for Burks and Xavier Henry, he would have been much more visible in the Big 12.
6. Brady Morningstar – Kansas – One of the main reasons for KU’s success the last several years has been the steady play of Morningstar. The Lawrence Free State grad may not start in his fifth year but he will play a lot of minutes, and will be asked to lead a team that lost its best two players to the draft.
7. Travis Releford – Kansas – All indications from Lawrence are that the older Releford will be a surprising improvement for the Jayhawks – expect him to play a lot and put up good numbers in the transition offense. He will also be one of the team’s top defenders and will be asked to guard top 2s and 3s all year.
8. Marcus Denmon – Missouri – Denmon had a great sophomore year and was named to the All Big 12 Reserve Team. He will be allowed to score and create more in his junior season, much as he did at Hogan Prep as one of the best players in the city.
9. Justin Hurtt – Tulsa – The 6’4″ senior had one of the best high school careers in Raytown (O’Hara) history and has been a huge contributor for the Hurricanes. He averaged 15PPG in 2009-10 which included a 34 point game against East Carolina. He also had big games against Oklahoma State and Colorado, and he has been mentioned in several articles projecting pro players in Europe and the U.S.
10(T). Denver Holmes – Evansville – Holmes, the 6’5′ wing from Olathe South, was the best player on a bad Purple Aces team last year. The team should be better this year and he will be at the center of their program. As a sophomore, he averaged 11 PPG, 3 RPG and 2 assists, and as a junior will be one of the MOVAL’s best all-around players.
10(T). Jayrrd Cole – Iowa – The Hawkeyes have struggled the last few years but the best player in Winnetonka High School history has had a solid career. As he enters his senior season, he will be the team’s leading rebounder (ranked ninth in the Big 10 in offensive boards) and should be a double, double guy all season. In 2009-10, Cole was also second in the Big 10 in FG percentage and received the league’s sportsmanship award.
11. Dominique Morrison – Oral Roberts – Morrison led ORU in scoring as a sophomore and was named to the first team All-Summit League after being named newcomer of the year the previous year. In a win over Stanford last year, he had 31 points and 9 rebounds and he scored in double figures 28 times during the season.
12. Robert Lewandowski – Texas Tech – The seven footer played 32 games in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons and has had big games against Baylor, Kansas and Seton Hall. He has continued to improve in the Red Raider system and should be a big part of their inside play in 2010-11. He played his high school ball at Blue Valley West where he was first team all-state in his junior and senior years.
13. Tyrel Reed – Kansas – Culminating with the best performance of his career in the Big 12 tournament, Reed has grown in confidence and will play a big role on the perimeter of the Jayhawk offense. He has also been named to the Big 12 First All-Academic Team.
14. Garrett Stutz – Wichita State – The seven foot Stutz, from North Kansas City, had a good freshman season and even a better sophomore one, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds. Among several big games he had last year, Stutz led the team with 18 points in a win over Iowa at Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
15. Brandon Ubel – Many people were surprised that the Blue Valley West post got so much time for Nebraska last year as he started in 16 games with averages of 5PPG and 2RPG. Most surprisingly, he hit 11 3s on the season. Ubel should continue to be a key element for the Huskers this year as part of a talented sophomore class.
16. Kyle Weems – Missouri State – Since red-shirting his first year, Weems has become a force in the MOVAL and was big with averages of 14 points and 6 rebounds last year. The Highland Park grad went for 30 against Bradley in January and then followed that up with 17 and 11 against Nevada.
17. Dorian Green – Colorado State – The Lawrence High product started all 32 games at CSU as a freshman for the Rams and produced great numbers with 12PPG, 3APG and 2RPG. Although recruited as a combo guard, Green ran the point all year and led the team in minutes played.
18. George Goode – Louisville – After being one of the highest profile players in Raytown South’s storied history, the 6’8″ Goode has not played much for the Cardinals after sitting out his first season for eligibility. This may be his year, however, as he is expected to see more minutes as a sophomore on a team that could be one of the best in the Big East.
19. Michael Craion – Oral Roberts – The 6’5″ Ruskin prep star was named newcomer of the year in the Summit League last year and put up good numbers with 13 and 7 on the season. He had big games in upset wins over Missouri and New Mexico including 18pts, 13 rbs, 7 asst and 3 blocks in the win over the Lobos.
20. Rahmon Fletcher – Wisconsin Green Bay – The former Paseo star averaged 16 points a game for the Phoenix as a junior and will be the top returner for a team that lost fellow KC running mate Rian Pearson (transfer) and now has a new head coach.
21. Nino Williams – Kansas State – We are making a presumption with our picks of Trevor Releford and Williams as they are incoming freshmen, but Williams can make an immediate impact on the wing for the Wildcats after leaving Leavenworth HS early and looks to be athletic enough to compete at the Big 12 level immediately.
22. Clinton Mann – Davidson – After playing only sparingly for Iowa State, Mann transferred to Davidson and will now be eligible for the 2010 campaign. We have always liked the 6’7″ PF because of his tenacity and bounce. We’ll see about the jumper.
23. Will Spradling – Kansas State – The big question for the talented Spradling will be whether he can make the physical transition to the Big 12. Frank Martin needs another PG so don’t be surprised if he sees minutes this year.
24. Ivo Baltic – Ohio – The 6’8″ Baltic was recruited heavily out of Park Hill South and has now settled in nicely at Ohio. He played in 37 games for the Bobcats, was 4th on the team in FG percentage and was part of a first round upset of Georgetown in the NCAA tourney.
25. Rian Pearson – Toledo – As another of the stars to come from Raytown South, the 6’3″ Pearson is athletic and extremely strong. He followed former Wisconsin GB coach Todd Kowalczyk to Toledo and will now sit-out this year. As a freshman, he played quality minutes in Wisconsin and his game should be suited to the MAC.
Other players to watch:
*Shaun Adams-Loyola-Chicago/Liberty *Jackie Carmichael-Illinois State/Manhattan
*Steve Carver-Holy Cross/SM NW *Reggie Chamberlain-UMKC/Raytown/Wichita St
*Justin Clark-Ill. St./William Chrisman *Jordan Cyphers-trnsf from Utah/Wichita SE
*Todd Fletcher-Air Force/Lee’s Summit West *Trinity Hall-UMKC /Wyandotte
*Reese Holliday-Toledo/Sumner Academy
*Adam Leonard-Missouri State/LS North
*Bruce Reed-Olathe E/Hutch JC