Somehow the cream always seems to rise to the top. With more than 50 players from the Class of 2024 on hand for the Prep Girls Hoops Minnesota Top 250 Expo there were plenty of talented juniors to watch. Not surprisingly, however, when the day was done it was many of the same familiar faces who had stood out more than all the rest. That’s certainly reflected in our selections for the 2024 All Star Team which includes five strong scholarship-level prospects – lengthy Albany post player, crafty Champlin Park point guard , gritty Mankato East guard , high-revving guard of Andover and one of this year’s rising stars in East Ridge forward . Here’s the scoop on those five plus 2nd and 3rd team selections along with 10 honorable mentions.
Every year around this time it becomes obvious that there are one or two players who are about ready for a breakout season. This year we’d have to count Sanneh among the candidates. After a solid summer of AAU ball, Sanneh was stellar during tryouts for next year’s grassroots teams. The past two weekends at Breakdown Fall League she was even better. Saturday at Hopkins we saw more of the same from the 5’11 forward whose game continues to grow and expand. She has a couple of key go-to moves in the paint – the turnaround jump shot is a thing of beauty – that have been there for some time but now we’re seeing Isabella beat defenders one-on-one and she’s shooting the ball more from distance. Combined with improved quickness and overall polish, Sanneh is now taking her game to new heights.
There are always doubters among college coaches, particularly at scholarship-level programs, when it comes to vertically challenged prospects. Take the 5’5 Birkholz for example. It has been hard convincing those who haven’t seen her enough that the Top 50 prospect is capable of excelling at the Division 2 level. As anyone who watched at the Expo on Saturday can now attest, including those D2 programs in attendance, Macy’s size is pretty much irrelevant. With tremendous strength, athleticism, vertical leaping ability and a motor than never stops running, Macy gets the job done at both ends of the floor. She is incredibly athletic, with fast feet, quick hands, and the ability to change speeds and directions rapidly. She is also an extraordinary defender who locks up ball-handlers of all sizes and descriptions.
Nobody is doubting Holman’s abilities to be a next-level standout. The Top 25 prospect is just so skilled. She has great handles, excellent court vision, makes wise decisions and understands timing and pacing exceptionally well. Ava is just so smooth. Whether it’s the behind the back dribble or the effortlessly quick release on her shots, Holman makes it all look easy. That’s because she has invested untold amounts of time and effort on training. If you follow her on Twitter (@avaholman11) then you’ve seen the evidence on a regular basis. All of that investment is paying off in the form of continuous improvement and exceptional performance. Ava was one of the best players on the floor Saturday which surprised precisely no one.
The Sand bandwagon is growing rapidly. Fortunately there’s still plenty of room to climb aboard and lots of time left to make a pitch for Alyssa’s services at the next level. Since we first told you about the Albany post player a couple of years ago, Alyssa’s game has grown a ton and so has she. It’s not surprising then that she is now drawing substantial Division 1 interest, not only because she’s over 6’2 but because she knows what to do with all of that enviable size and length. Sand is an exceptional rebounder thanks to her reach, tenacity and sense of timing. She is a consistent finisher around the rim, cashing in when the opportunities are there and often making something out of nothing when they are not. Alyssa plays hard, is committed to development, and isn’t afraid to get her hands a little dirty in the process.
Watching Anna play basketball, it’s impossible to tell from her facial expression if things are going well or if they are not. When she comes off the floor you wouldn’t know if she scored 4 or 34. She’s just all business with an on-court presence that makes opponents wary about what she is about to do next. Give Anna a task to do and she’s going to complete it. If you need a bucket in a big moment chances are she can deliver. Want to shut down a troublesome opponent? Vaaler can do the job. Need your squad to play more physical? Anna will be more than happy to set the tone for the team. So how did she do on Saturday at the Top 250? Not surprisingly she was all business. And she played great.
- – guard, East Ridge
- – guard, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart
- – guard, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart
- – forward, Two Rivers
- – guard, Spring Lake Park
- – guard, New Ulm
- – forward, Albany
- – guard, White Bear Lake
- – guard, Mounds Park Academy
- Ella Carstensen – guard, Hudson, WI
- – guard, Minneapolis Roosevelt
- – guard, Minneapolis Southwest
- – forward, Spring Lake Park
- – guard, Mahtomedi
- – forward, Rochester Century
- – guard, Shakopee
- – forward, Burnsville
- – forward, Champlin Park
- – guard, Mountain Iron-Buhl
- – forward, Royalton