The Hiawatha Valley League was super competitive last year, and it doesn't look like it will take a step back in 2020-21. Stewartville, Byron and Kasson-Mantorville should all be better next season. Lourdes and Lake City will have to replace some elite talent, but they have the depth to step up. And the conference is loaded with some big-time players who should play college ball next year.
So, wear a mask so we can watch some high-level basketball this winter!
Without further adieu, here are the top 10 players in the HVL for the 2020-21 season.
1. Will Tschetter, Stewartville
Tschetter’s the unquestioned No. 1 player in the HVL. He is just an absolute nightmare to game plan for, and he led the state in scoring as a junior. Going to the dentist is more fun than attempting to guard Tschetter. When Tschetter’s posted up on the block, his spin move is almost as unguardable as Kareem’s skyhook or Kobe’s fadeaway. And then, he’s truly a three-level scorer with the ability to drain 24-foot 3-pointers and fadeaway mid-range jumpers. Stewartville has big plans for 2020-21. Tschetter is hoping to lead the Tigers to a state title before heading off to Michigan to play for Juwan Howard.
2. Jake Braaten, Byron
Braaten has been exceptional on the AAU circuit this summer, and expect the Byron guard to keep that up in the winter. Braaten is the straw that stirs the drink for Byron. The big-bodied point guard isn’t scared of anyone, and he can do literally anything on the court.
Need a three? Braaten is your man.
Need a tough, driving bucket? Braaten won’t have a problem getting it done.
Need someone to shut down a stud guard? Braaten will take that challenge.
Braaten averaged 17.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game last year while shooting 44 percent from behind the arc. Don’t be surprised if he’s scoring more than 20 points a game next year. Braaten is a straight-up problem.
3. Jace Bigelow, Kasson-Mantorville
I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Jace Bigelow quite yet. He was hampered late in the season with an injury, but he’s transformed his body throughout the quarantine, and he’s coming back with a whole new level of determination. This could be a really big year for Kasson-Mantorville, and Bigelow plans to be a huge part of it.
If he stays healthy, Bigelow’s got a really good chance of putting up career numbers in 2020-21. The combo guard can flat-out score, and his new-found vertical should help him play above the rim and become even more dangerous.
4. Peyton Dunham, Lourdes
Peyton Dunham averaged double-figures for Lourdes last season, but his main job wasn’t really to score. That was Colin Meade’s job. Dunham did all the dirty work. He blocked shots, he ran the floor, he rebounded and passed well. He was always in the right place at the right time for put-backs and backdoor layups. But with Meade heading off to Division III St. John’s, there’s an opportunity for Dunham to take more of a scoring role. His all-around game should thrive in Eric Larson’s scheme.
Plus, he should head into the high school season with a ton of confidence after a terrific summer. Dunham’s been tearing it up for Minnesota Lightning. The 6-foot-5 guard dropped 33 points in a game this summer and 24 in another. Dunham is absolutely a name to know in the HVL. He might be the most underrated player in the conference.
5. Ahjany Lee, Byron
Byron big man Ahjany Lee has blown up this summer. The big man got his first Division I offer from Iowa, and more will be on the way. Lee sort of models his game after Tschetter. Even though he’s a year younger, there are some similarities to their games. Lee was more of a rebounder and a shot-blocker than a scorer last season, but his jumper is really improving and his back-to-the-basket game will only get better with time. Lee’s rim-running skills are elite. Big men who can block shots and nail threes are a hot commodity. His offensive game is still coming along, but he will team up with Braaten to form an intimidating duo for the Bears next season. Byron is going to be a scary team if Braaten takes the next step and Lee continues his ascension to stardom.
6. Nolan Stier, Stewartville
Nolan Stier’s always going to be in Tschetter’s shadow. But when you peel back the curtain, you truly see how terrific Stier really is. He’s skinny as a rail, but Stier’s wiry, speedy frame is a matchup nightmare. He plays at his own pace. You can never speed him up or slow him down. Stier dictates the pace that his opposition plays.
Stier averaged 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals last season. Stier and Tschetter might be the best 1-2 duo in the area next season. Special things are ahead for Stier and Stewartville in 2020-21.
7. Haevan Quimby, Triton
Haevan Quimby averaged nearly 16 points and five rebounds last season for Triton and was an All-HVL selection as a junior. Quimby has put up huge performances this summer and he'll head into his senior season at the top of his game. Quimby's got elite bounce and a great-looking jumper. He'll likely put up big numbers yet again and make Triton a tough out.
@MNLightningAAU - 17u Hinrichs had a great day in Ames going 2-0 ...@haevanquimby had a great 2nd game 23 pts/7 rebounds/5 - 3 pointers ....let’s get after tomorrow too! 👊🙏💪⚡️ pic.twitter.com/7Z2efccBEa— Benjamin quimby (@BenquimbyQuimby) July 26, 2020
8. Justin Wohlers, Lake City
Wohlers has had some magnificent games on the AAU circuit this season. He poured in 26 points for the Minnesota Lightning in a win on August 1. Wohlers' ability to shoot the '3' is his biggest strength. He averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season despite playing with a senior-laden Lake City squad. Now, Nate Heise, Reid Gastner and Jake Wohlers are all gone. Justin’s time to shine is now. He’ll be ready.
9. Marcus Banks, Cannon Falls
Banks scored 11.7 points and ripped down 4.6 rebounds last year for a solid Cannon Falls team, and he’s poised for a monster senior season. Banks was an impact defender and electric in the open floor. Banks can stroke it from 3-point range, so teams better not leave him open or he’ll make them pay. He drained five 3s and scored 21 points in a loss to Stewartville in January, and he’ll be looking to rock and roll yet again.
10. Will Opsahl, Goodhue
Will Opsahl was super impressive in his freshman season at Goodhue. The youngster averaged double-digits and will be a key cog moving forward for Goodhue. Opsahl was named Honorable Mention All-Conference last season, and his family has a history of producing standout ballers. Will is next on the list.