The kids are alright: Southeastern Minnesota brimming with young girls basketball talent
Southeastern Minnesota has been a hotbed for girls basketball talent in recent years. It looks like that is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
Southeastern Minnesota has boasted a pack of Division I girls basketball talent in recent years. That includes Byron graduate Ayoka Lee (All-America at Kansas State University), Lourdes graduate Alyssa Ustby (all-America candidate at the University of North Carolina), Mayo graduate Anna Miller (big minutes at Drake University) and Kasson-Mantorville graduate Kristen Scott (former multi-year starter at Iowa State University). There is also current K-M senior Aby Shubert, who’ll play next season at Xavier University.
That level of talent doesn’t look like it is going to dry up anytime soon in the Rochester area. That is judging from all of the freshmen, eighth-graders and one wonderkid seventh-grader who put their abilities on display for their varsity teams this past season.
Here is a look at a few who stood out most. Certainly the majority may not turn out to be Division I players. But at least a handful have a chance.
Freshman guard, Stewartville
Shindelar is one of the brightest young prospects in southeastern Minnesota, already getting attention from Division I colleges. The sweet-shooting freshman averaged 9.5 points per game this season and did it while coming off the bench for a Stewartville team that finished 29-3 and as Class AAA state runner-up. Shindelar shot a rare 45% on 3-pointers. The freshman also showed an ability to get to the basket.
Stewartville coach Ryan Liffrig: “Audrey has one of the smoothest strokes in Minnesota from ‘3,’ but she also added an attack game this year as well.”
Freshman center, Stewartville
Theobald doesn’t play or look like a freshman. At 6-feet and extremely strong, she’s a lot for anyone to handle inside and she finishes shots extremely well, including in clutch moments during the recent state tournament. She’s also a top-notch rebounder. Theobald averaged 8.3 points (57% field-goal shooting) and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Stewartville coach Ryan Liffrig: "Ella was big-time in the state tournament and was in double digits in (the quarterfinals and semifinals) and was an absolute force."
Freshman forward, Stewartville
Rath is another Stewartville freshman who is already getting Division I looks. At a sturdy 6-feet-1, with long arms and owning a smooth and intelligent game, it’s easy to see what recruiters like. She started this season for a Stewartville team that finished as Class AAA state runner-up, averaging 6 points, 5.8 rebounds and shooting an excellent 49% from the field — 42% on 3-pointers.
Stewartville coach Liffrig: "Jayci is a smooth team basketball player. She makes great decisions and is a force at the rim blocking shots."
Seventh-grade guard, Mayo
The possibilities for Mills seem endless. Just a seventh-grader, she was already one of the quickest players on a Mayo team that was brimming with excellent athletes. Mills became a starter the last one-third of the season due to a teammate’s injury and excelled in that role. The point guard is already a way-above average varsity ball handler and shooter. She averaged 6.8 points per game on 52% field-goal shooting. And in 11 games as a starter, Mills averaged 12 ppg. and shot 38% on 3-pointers.
Mayo coach Andy Bromeling: "Even as a seventh-grader, Amelia has a very calm and confident demeanor. Mix in her quickness and her ability to make shots and you have a special player. I’m excited to see how much better she becomes over the next five years."
Eighth-grade guard, John Marshall
Daing has as high a ceiling as just about anyone on this list. She is 5-feet-11, smooth and runs well. She averaged 5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game for JM this season as a starter. Daing shoots and drives well and also has an ability to handle a press.
John Marshall coach Maxx Waring: "Jazmin is a good all-around player. She rebounds well, she can shoot it and drive. She has good ball-handling skills and handles the press really well."
Freshman guard, Century
This is one more in a long line of Ohms from southeastern Minnesota who is both talented and driven. A starter this season on a strong Panthers team, the 5-foot-9 Ohm averaged 7.8 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She also shot 35% on 3-pointers and 80% from the free-throw line.
Century coach Chadd Clarey: “Maddie is long, athletic and plays with great confidence. She can score from long range, off the dribble and take it to the rim. Being a three-dimensional scorer gives her the ability to take what the defense gives her and have success.”
Eighth-grade guard, Lourdes
Williams has all the skills necessary to be a great point guard, with speed, slick passing, smarts and excellent ball-handling skills. She was one of the first players off the bench for a great Lourdes team this season and averaged 4.5 points, 2 assists and 1 steal per game.
Lourdes coach Todd Greguson: "Aaliyah is a really heady player with a high IQ for basketball and with super point-guard skills. That is whether it is her ball-handling ability or ability to see the court and make some really nice passes. She is also a great athlete with tons of speed."
Freshman guard, Mabel-Canton
Soiney is quite the athlete, also a star middle hitter on a Mabel-Canton volleyball team that finished third in the state in Class A. At 5-feet-10, she was still fluid enough to play point guard for the Cougars while averaging 15.6 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals per game. She also hit 47 3-pointers.
Mabel-Canton coach Adam Wilder: "The biggest part about Kinley is her drive to be good. She is already one of the hardest workers I have ever coached and that includes the time that she puts into the weight room. She works as hard in practice as she does in games."