2017-18 boys' basketball: 16 area players to watch

Iowa City West's Patrick McCaffery (22) shoots around Iowa City High's Henry Mulligan (10) during the first quarter of their boy's high school basketball game at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa City West's Patrick McCaffery (22) shoots around Iowa City High's Henry Mulligan (10) during the first quarter of their boy's high school basketball game at Iowa City West High School in Iowa City on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Here’s a list of 16 players in and around the Gazette area that bear watching in the upcoming season:

Griff Clark (Cedar Rapids Prairie): Generally just a ball of fury on the court, the senior guard averaged 15.7 points per game for a good, if undersized, Prairie team last season. Don’t send him to the free-throw line. He was 98 for 107 there a season ago.

Beau Cornwell (West Branch): You might remember him as WB’s quarterback and clutch kicker from football season, but the junior guard can hoop it up, too. Averaged 19.2 points per game last season, making 57 3s.

Derrick Diggins (Cedar Rapids Kennedy): The athletic senior is a three-year starter for the Cougars and will combine with fellow senior Jackson Foley for a very good backcourt. Averaged 12.6 points per game last season, helping Kennedy to the state tournament in Class 4A.

Grant Dirks (Center Point-Urbana): The 6-foot-5 senior forward kind of flies under the radar, but he’s good. Really good. Averaged 20.6 points last season and shot 57 percent from the field.

A.J. Green (Cedar Falls): The senior point guard averaged 21.5 points per game last season, making 72 of 166 3-point attempts. Shot 90.4 percent from the free-throw line. Son of Northern Iowa assistant coach Kyle Green has signed with the Panthers as a top-100 recruit. Panthers got a steal.

Jake Hilmer (North Linn): Seems like he’s been around forever, but is still just a junior. Quintessential point guard averaged 21.8 points per game for the Lynx, made 131 of 156 free throws and recorded 275 assists, far and away the best in the state. On pace to destroy Iowa’s career assists record.

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Logan Hoffman (Tipton): Tigers should be pretty good with the 6-foot-4 junior forward back. Averaged 22.8 points per game in 2016-17 and made 149 of 182 free throws. He and guard Andrew Stewart took over half of Tipton’s shots last season, and both return.

Trey Hutcheson (Linn-Mar): Was his team’s best player last season as a sophomore. The 6-5 forward averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season. Shot 87.4 percent from the free-throw line. Could he be Linn-Mar’s next D-I college player?

Jackson Joens (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Don’t leave the senior wing open in the corners. Just don’t. That’s the favorite shot of a kid who can shoot. Averaged 11.6 points per game last season, making 56 of 124 3-pointers. Has signed to play for Division II Upper Iowa.

Derek Krogmann (West Delaware): The 6-foot-7 junior formed a formidable 1-2 inside punch with John Nagel last season for the Hawks, who finished fourth in Class 3A at the state tournament. Nagel is off playing football now at Iowa State, so the interior is all Krogmann's. Averaged 15.8 points and 11.4 rebounds in 2016-17 and shot 57.6 percent from the field.

Zack Lasek (Highland): The 6-foot-7 sophomore burst onto the scene last season as a ninth-grader, putting up a 15.3 scoring average. Also added 7.1 rebounds per game. Shot 60.6 percent from the field.

Patrick McCaffery (Iowa City West): The 6-foot-8 forward is considered one of the best juniors in the country, averaging 13.8 points per game last season and shooting 60.6 percent from the field. Long, lean and with the ability to run the floor, he’ll play for his father, Fran, in two years at the University of Iowa.

Ryan Miller (North Linn): The ying to teammate Jake Hilmer’s yang in the backcourt. Averaged 18.8 points per game for the Lynx, who placed third in Class 1A at the state tournament. Shot 53.5 percent from the field and 46.2 percent (73 for 158) from the arc.

Matt Mims (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Senior has come up huge at critical moments in his team’s run to back-to-back Class 3A state championships. Averaged 15.3 points per game last season and had 135 assists. Prototypical point guard has signed with Division I South Dakota State.

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Spencer Touro (Benton Community): The 6-foot senior guard can flat-out shoot it. Averaged 18.2 points per game last season, draining 83 of 179 3-point attempts.

Joe Wieskamp (Muscatine): Not technically in the area, the 6-foot-6 senior wing will play some games against area schools. University of Iowa signee averaged 30.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season. Shot 56 percent from the field, 41 percent from the 3-point line and made 180 of 220 free throws. Top-100 recruit nationally.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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