Pospisil: Heartland Hoops Classic will showcase state's top talent and an intriguing out-of-state battle

Aurora’s Baylor Scheierman (South Dakota State) is the Heartland Hoops Classic’s only D-I basketball signee from Nebraska.

Call it a Showcase Showdown, one you won’t see on “The Price in Right.”

Two of the best power forward/center prospects in the junior class nationally get matched up Saturday in the Heartland Hoops Classic’s feature game in Grand Island.

It’s a reunion of sorts, too, for 6-foot-9 Mady Sissoko from Wasatch Academy in Utah and 6-10 N’Faly Dante from Sunrise Christian in Kansas. Both came to the U.S. from the Republic of Mali and both were on the same team, wowing onlookers, during the Pangos All-American Camp late last spring in California.

One-man shows? Hardly.

Start with Wasatch, a recent addition to elite-level prep hoops. Creighton and Kansas are after 6-7 Tristan Enaruna, from the Netherlands. BYU has landed 6-9 Bernardo Da Silva, from Brazil. Minnesota is the next stop for Wasatch’s leading scorer, 6-5 Marvin “Tre” Williams III, who is from Texas.

Sunrise Christian has 6-8 Jordan Turner (Baylor), Austin Crowley (Vanderbilt), Grant Sherfield (released from his UCLA signing after the school fired Steve Alford) and Bryce Cook (SMU). Cook suffered a stroke in late November and is likely out for the season.

Sunrise is back in Grand Island after beating then-national No. 1 Oak Hill 76-65 last year. Dante had seven points and Crowley two. The Buffaloes’ leading scorer that night, Malik Hall, is now teammates with Omaha Burke graduate/future Bluejay Shereef Mitchell on Sunrise’s older team.

Wasatch will want to run more than Sunrise since it’s averaging 83 points a game and has five averages of 10.6 points or more, topped by Williams at 16.0. Sissoko’s norms are 12 points and nine rebounds. Dante and Sherfield are 15-point scorers for Sunrise, which averages 63 a game. Crowley and Turner are at 12.

USA Today’s national rankings have 17-4 Sunrise at No. 13 and 23-3 Wasatch at No. 14.

Come on down.

In-state games

Heartland Hoops matchmaker Tino Martinez, the coach at Grand Island Central Catholic, said he always likes it when he can pair teams from different classes.

“Those intrigue me,’’ Martinez said. “Overall the games should be pretty competitive.”

Here’s a look at the in-state matchups, which begin at 9 a.m. at the Heartland Events Center at Fonner Park:

» Class D-2 No. 2 Riverside vs. No. 8 Loomis, 9 a.m.: Riverside is one of the last two unbeatens in the state. Loomis senior Aaron Dow averages 23.5 points.

» Class C-1 No. 10 Auburn vs. Class C-2 No. 1 BRLD, 10:45 a.m.: Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur went to No. 1 after winning the East Husker Conference tournament and is atop the C-2 point standings. Auburn is chasing its first state appearance since 1985.

» Cozad vs. Class B No. 2 Aurora, 12:30 p.m.: The unranked Haymakers, at 16-4, have been just outside the ratings. Aurora’s Baylor Scheierman (South Dakota State) is the event’s only Division I basketball signee from the state.

» Class C-1 No. 3 Adams Central vs. Class B No. 4 Omaha Skutt, 2:15 p.m.: Haggan Hilgendorf of Adams Central, which beat Hastings on Tuesday, is averaging 16.4 points. Tyson Gordon, Jake Kudron and TJ Skradski are Skutt’s top three scorers.

» Class C-1 No. 4 North Bend vs. No. 9 Grand Island Central Catholic, 4 p.m.: Tanner Wietfeld is averaging 16.2 and John Emanuel 15.5 for North Bend, which is fourth in the C-1 point standings. Jack Goering is at 14.7 for the Crusaders. 

» Class B No. 5 York vs. No. 9 Bennington, 5:45 p.m.: A key game for the ratings and Class B seedings. York’s Brady Danielson and Garrett Snodgrass go up against the Badgers’ Cooper Prososki (16.8 ppg) and Karson Gansebom (15.2).

» Class C-2 No. 5 Freeman vs. Class B No. 8 Hastings, 9:15 p.m.: Hastings has secured its first winning season in 15 years. After losing to Hilgendorf’s Patriots on Tuesday, it faces another big man in Freeman senior Brady Ideus. His father is former Husker Chad Ideus from Adams.

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Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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