The Battle in the Bluffs runs Saturday and Sunday at the Iowa West Fieldhouse. The event is in its second year and gives teams from the Midwest an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming NCAA live evaluation periods during the last two weekends in April.
Midlands teams in the tournament include two teams in the 16-and-under division from Omaha Elite, Omaha Celtics 16U, Team Factory 16U and 15U, Hoffman Hoops Academy 17U and 16U, and National and Regional teams from OSA's 17U, 16U and 15U. Each team is guaranteed four games.
Check back over the weekend for game recaps, analysis and more.
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Players to watch
I'm interested in watching how OSA 17U National uses Bellevue West post Deng Jal and Lincoln Southwest post Mayoum Buom. Both players are 6-foot-7 and have great length in the post. A potential matchup with All Iowa Attack 11th Red in the semifinals would be a tough challenge for Jal and Buom. Last week at the Super 16 in Ames, Attack's Blasise Keita and Issa Samake were two of the best post players in the tournament.
Others to watch: Michael Anderson (Lincoln Southeast), OSA National; Jake Rueschhoff (Millard North), OSA National; Evan Kingston (Platteview), OSA National.
Omaha Elite had a good weekend in Ames before falling in the semifinals of the Super 16. The guard combination of Jay Saunders (Omaha South) and Skyler Wilson (Millard North) should be one of the best duos in the tournament this weekend. Omaha Elite's most intriguing prospect is 6-3 wing Wal Chuol (Omaha North).
The player I am looking forward to seeing the most is Team Factory forward Max Murrell, a 6-8 forward who had a strong high school season at Millard North. When healthy, Murrell is one of the best prospects in the state. Team Factory's John Shanklin (Bellevue West), a 6-6 forward who also had a strong finish to the high school season. Shanklin and Murrell should form one of the best post duos in the tournament.
Others to watch: Rashawn McNeal-Lee (Omaha South), Omaha Elite; Kolbe Rada (Lincoln Pius X), OSA National; Jack Dotzler (Omaha Roncalli), Team Factory; Spencer Schomers (Creighton Prep), OSA National; Zach Olson (Millard West) Team Factory; Andrew Merfeld (Omaha Skutt) Team Factory; Jared Mattley (Papillion-La Vista South), Kingdom Hoops Elite.
Team Factory 15U is loaded with guards — led by Bellevue West's Chucky Hepburn, Elkhorn Mount Michael's Brad Bennett and Omaha Burke's Jaren Marshall Team Factory — and will be fun to watch. Factory's post players are young in Deng Arop (Omaha Gross) and Jasen Green. Arop is the younger brother of Creighton Prep's Akol Arop, while Green is one of the better eighth graders in the Metro area.
Two eighth graders playing up a grade for Omaha Elite 15U that are intriguing are Keshaun Williams and Reggie Thomas.
Others to watch: Graham Cassoutt (Papillion-La Vista South), OSA National; Fai Germany (Omaha Central), Omaha Elite; Chase Lett (Papillion-La Vista South), OSA National; Mai'Jhe Wiley (Creighton Prep), Omaha Elite; Joey Hylok (Papillion-La Vista) OSA National.