Top Guard Duos in the Twin Cities


Posted On: 10/19/18 12:14 PM

Today we're wrapping up Prep Girls Hoops Minnesota's series running through the top backcourt duos from around the metro. Some of the state's most dynamic guards play within the city limits of Minneapolis and St. Paul. We focused the selection of these Top-5 backcourt duos on their two best guards/wings, but we've also listed the teams' other perimeter players. The teams who made the cut are arranged alphabetically. DELASALLE The Islanders have daunting size at just about every position of their starting five. Nurjei Weems (7.6 PPG) and Alexis Cochran-Starr (5.9 PPG) will likely make up the starting DeLaSalle backcourt come this winter. If that is the case, you can expect there to be some major match-up issues when it comes to guarding Weems. Nurjei has to be considered one of the most athletic players in the state. She possesses intimidating length, and has spent the summer becoming a much more well-rounded player. Weems is becoming increasingly effective away from the basket, and will have her way inside all winter if opposing defenses elect to cover her with smaller guards. Cochran-Starr will have the pleasure of playing the point guard position while surrounded by high-level talent. Alexis is a good distributor of the ball, and will get the Islanders into the right sets. She will be expected to lead DeLeSalles offense after the graduation of key backcourt players from a year ago. The Islanders also reloaded in a major way with top talent in the class of 2022. Kiani Lockett (7.2 PPG for MPLS South as 7th grader), Sydney Runsewe (6.8 PPG for Simley, injured), Savannah White, and Leah Dengerud (Centennial) are all guards that will be high-impact players at DLS throughout their careers. MINNEAPOLIS NORTH Minneapolis North had a solid season a year ago, finishing 2nd in the Minneapolis City Conference. The Polars ended up getting bounced in the semi-finals of the Section 5AA tournament by Holy Family. North enters the 2018-2019 season led by the dynamic backcourt duo of junior Alani Pettis (9.9 PPG) and sophomore Alex McNeil (10.4 PPG). Pettis is the type of player who can (and does) play every position on the court. A fantastic scorer, Alani plays aggressively around the basket. While standing somewhere in the neighborhood of 5'9", Pettis is most comfortable playing around the hoop. She will likely be asked to play both guard and forward positions for the Polars this winter. McNeil was North's most consistent threat from beyond the arc last season. After another year of growth, we would expect both her 3-point attempts and percentage to increase during her sophomore campaign. Alex will be expected to have an even more impactful role for North this winter after the graduation of Monique Wooten and other Polar backcourt players. MINNEAPOLIS SOUTH South plowed their way through the Minneapolis City Conference last year with a perfect conference record. There will be major production to replace, as Morgan Hill's 26 points per game are making their way to college at Tennessee-Chattanooga. But as one Hill exits, another is there to help carry the load. Morgan's sister, Jade Hill (16.7 PPG) is the #3 ranked player in PGH Minnesota's Class of 2021. Hill can do it all - scoring from inside and out, distributing, defending, etc. You name the skill, Jade is likely one of the best in her class at it. Already a highly-productive player, it will be fascinating to watch Jade this winter as she is handed the keys to South's program. Jade will be joined in the South backcourt by senior Solana Cushing (10.2 PPG). Cushing does the majority of her damage away from the basket, knocking in 3's at a high rate. Solana has facilitated well for the Hill sisters to this point in her career. But we would expect her to become more aggressive on the offensive end throughout her final season at South. MINNEHAHA ACADEMY The Redhawks duo of Taytum Rhoades (13.2 PPG) and Mia Curtis (19.8 PPG) are arguably the most accomplished players on this list. Rhoades, the senior, is similar to Eastview's Emma Carpenter in that while she's not particularly flashy, she does so many things well for her team. One thing that stands out about Taytum is her high basketball IQ. Rhoades has been playing varsity basketball since 7th grade, which shows in her outstanding feel for the game. Taytum will be playing her college hoops at Upper Iowa. Rhoades's backcourt partner, Mia Curtis, is a special talent in the class of 2020. Last year, Curtis led the Redhawks in scoring (19.8/game), 3-pointers made (69), assists (5.0/game), and steals (5.0/game). We're expecting even more gaudy numbers from Mia in 2018-2019. ST. PAUL COMO PARK The Cougars ran through the St. Paul City Conference unscathed a year ago. They lose significant production from last year's group, including Makayla VanNett's (Hutchinson CC) 22 points per game. But Como Park brings back plenty of talent as well. The Cougars' guard duo is the youngest on our list, but also may have the most potential of the bunch. Kaylynn Asberry (8.6 PPG) and Ronnie Porter (11.0 PPG) are two players who are sure to become household names over the next four years. Asberry is a do-it-all point guard. She is fundamentally sound, but also plays with a flash that will make you say "wow." Kaylynn's game has earned her the ranking of PGH Minnesota's #5 player in the class of 2022. Kaylynn deserves to be in conversations about the best point guards in the class along with players like Amaya Battle (Hopkins), Desiree Ware (Minnetonka), and Callin Hake (Chanhassen). Porter is a fireball, making a name for herself with suffocating defense and next-level quickness. She's a coach's daughter who has an impressive understanding of the game given her age. Ronnie can really fill it up, and can score from anywhere on the court. After a successful summer playing together, we are looking forward to Asberry and Porter stepping into even more prominent roles at Como Park this winter. Shania Nichols-VanNett will be another player to watch for the Cougars this season. The talented 8th grader turned heads in the St. Paul Conference last year as a 7th grader. It goes without saying that this is not an all-inclusive list of the outstanding backcourts throughout the Twin Cities. Feel free to post in the comments about which backcourt duos you’re looking forward to following this winter.   If your’re interested in reading about the top backcourt duos from other areas of the Twin Cities, you can find them here: Eastern Metro Northern Metro Southern Metro Western Metro   Rhoades Cover photo courtesy of MN Girls Basketball Hub Cochran-Starr photo courtesy of MN Girls Basketball Hub Pettis photo courtesy of MASE Hill photo courtesy of The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Curtis photo courtesy of MN Girls Basketball Hub Asberry photo courtesy of The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder