CEDAR RAPIDS – We’ll call this the Dandy Dozen.
Of course, more than just 12 guys deserve to be on the 2019-20 Gazette all-area boys’ basketball team. So many good players, so few available spots.
Everything was taken into consideration, from pure statistics to impact on team to competition level. There is no perfect system here.
For better, or worse, this is what we came up with. Feel free to agree or disagree, though quietly, of course, on that latter one.
The coach of the year and the player of the year will be featured later this week.
Even Brauns, Iowa City West — The 6-foot-9 senior improved his game from his junior year, averaging 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. A true interior player, Brauns shot 68.6 percent from the field, with all but one of his 229 shots coming from inside the 3-point arc. Has the ability to use his right and left hands to score. Helped the Trojans to the Class 4A state tournament for the record 10th consecutive season and was a first-team all-stater by the IPSWA. Will play Division I college basketball at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Austin Hilmer, North Linn — Austin Squared was so integral in another great season for the Lynx and an unexpected runner-up state finish in Class 2A. Austin Miller was unreal as a forward, sophomore Hilmer equally so as a point guard. He led the state with 214 assists, an average of 7.9 per game, and was named first-team all-state in 2A. He also averaged 17.7 points per game. Throw in just shy of 100 steals (96, to be specific), and it was a terrific, terrific season. It’s difficult being the younger brother of a local legend (Jake Hilmer was a Co-Mr. Basketball winner in the state last season), but this kid seems to be handling things just fine.
Michael Keegan, Dyersville Beckman — You can score a lot of points and grab a ton of rebounds, which the 6-5 senior did for the Blazers. But what helped set him apart was his ability to make his teammates better. The springy and long-limbed Keegan averaged 19.4 points and 7.7 rebounds and shot 57 percent from the field. A three-year starter, he is the second all-time leading scorer at Beckman, just the third in school history to surpass 1,000 career points (1,140). He set the school’s single-season and career blocks record, tied for first with most career steals, was third in career assists and fourth in career rebounds. That’s pretty much doing it all. First-team all-stater will play at Division II Washburn University in Kansas.
Keaton Kutcher, Mount Vernon — You need to look past the struggles he had in MV’s state tournament game last week. Clear Creek Amana did a great job defending the junior wing, which went a long way to a Clippers victory. That kind of showed you Kutcher’s importance to his team. He can really shoot it, averaging 20.0 points per game and making 75 3-pointers. He also led Mount Vernon in steals and was second in assists, by one, to teammate Nolan Brand. First-team all-stater in 3A had an offer from D-I Western Illinois at one point, though the program is going through a coaching change.
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Austin Miller, North Linn — The senior forward and multi-sport athlete won’t compete in college sports. He’ll study agriculture instead at Iowa State University. What a monster season he had, helping the Lynx to a runner-up state finish in Class 2A. Miller averaged 23.0 points per game, shooting 69.1 percent from the field. He even splashed home 14 of his 25 3-point attempts. Despite being just 6-foot-2, he also averaged 10.8 rebounds a contest and led the state with 124 offensive boards. He had double-doubles in all three of North Linn’s games at last week’s state tournament and was named captain of the Class 2A all-tournament team. Also a 2A first-team all-stater. That’s called going out on a high note.
Masen Miller, Iowa City Regina — The senior guard averaged 26.2 points per game, having to expand his scoring duties even more in the second half of the season when teammate Ashton Cook suffered a season-ending lower-leg injury. The Regals were a definite state tournament contender until that happened. Miller is one of the better shooters you’ll see around. He had 86 3-pointers and at times seemingly unlimitless range. Will play college basketball for former Iowa Hawkeyes guard Jeff Horner at Truman State in Missouri. First-team all-state in 2A.
Justin Recker, Monticello — Part of an all-underclassman starting lineup that helped the Panthers reach the state tournament for the first time since 1960. The 6-5 junior was Monti’s go-to guy offensively, averaging 17.2 points per game. Shot 63.4 percent from the field, showing some versatility by making 15 of his 28 shots from 3-point range. Monticello Coach Tim Lambert also lauded Recker’s improvement defensively. Watch this kid and this team next season. They’ll be good. Second-team all-state in 2A.
Nick Reid, Central City — He averaged 27.9 points and 20.0 rebounds, believed to be the first Iowa prep ever to average a 20-20 double-double. And you’ve got to keep in mind the 6-foot-7 senior was essentially triple-teamed as he walked off the team bus. Reid became just the seventh prep in Iowa history to surpass 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, joining the likes of former NBA player Raef LaFrentz. Of course, last season, he put up 76 points in a game, the second-highest single-game total in Iowa history. Reid is headed to Division II Emporia State in Kansas. A first-team all-stater in 1A.
Caleb Schlaak, Cedar Rapids Kennedy — Was given added responsibilities this season when Kennedy lost its top two players to prep school programs and flourished. The 6-7 junior led the Metro with a 17.2 scoring average, showing the ability to score inside, at mid-range and on the perimeter. He also was able to get to the free-throw line frequently and made 91 of 121 (75.2 percent). Getting some Division II interest at the moment recruiting wise. His mother and father were college athletes at Winona State in Minnesota. Was named third-team all-state in 4A.
Trey Shearer, Montezuma — It’s a treat to watch the 5-10 junior play. He’s so quick and a tremendous distributor and shooter. The Division II Truman State (Mo.) commit helped the Braves to a third-place finish at the state tournament last week and was named to the Class 1A all-tournament team. He averaged 25.2 points per game, shooting 61 percent from the field, a pretty amazing number for a guard. He also finished with 142 assists, an average of five per game. With Shearer and the next three leading scorers back, there’s a decent chance you’ll be seeing Montezuma on the big stage again next season. First-team all-stater in 1A.
J.D. Stout, Keota — The senior guard could really pile up the points. He finished second in the state (behind Mr. Basketball Bowen Born of Norwalk) in that category, averaging 29.1 per game for a good Eagles team that went 20-4, with two of those losses to state qualifier Montezuma. The rare four-year varsity player, Stout set several school single-season and career records at Keota for his father, Dan. Had last listed William Penn and Briar Cliff as possible college basketball destinations. Someone will get a good player. First-team 1A all-stater.
Kole Tupa, Center Point-Urbana — Was named Wamac Conference West Division Player of the Year and a second-team all-state choice in Class 3A. Helped the Stormin’ Pointers reach the state tournament with a solid all-around offensive and defensive game. Averaged 14.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and shot 57 percent from the field. Finished his career with a 19-point, 12-rebound performance against Ballard in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Center Point-Urbana led 3A in scoring defense, and Tupa was one of the reasons.
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