Millard North's Jasen Green scores against Omaha Central during a game on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Omaha.
FeaturedMike Sautter

2021 Heartland Hoops Classic Players to Watch


The 14th annual Heartland Hoops Classic tips off Saturday at Grand Island’s Heartland Events Center. 

The event will be broken up into two sessions. Session one begins at 8 a.m. with Loomis facing Mullen followed by Elkhorn North versus St. Paul at 9:40 a.m. Later, Logan View/Scribner-Snyder faces Grand Island Northwest at 11:20 a.m. and ending with Elkhorn Mt. Michael plays Grand Island at 1:00 p.m. The arena will be cleared after the first session. 

Session two is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. with BRLD facing defending Class C-1 champion Auburn followed by Grand Island Central Catholic versus Lincoln Pius X at 5:30 p.m. and then Sunrise Christian Academy playing Bellevue West at 7:15 p.m. The final game of the night is Oak Hill Academy squaring off against Millard North at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here. You can also purchase a day pass for $15 to stream the event live here.

Here are some of the players to watch in each matchup. 

Loomis vs Mullen: Junior’s Quinn Johnson (23.8) and Shay Swanson (14.4) lead Loomis in scoring. Johnson is among the state leaders in 3-point field goals made with 60 while leading the team in rebounding (7.5). Senior Aden Lovitt is third on the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game. Mullen freshman Luke Dufree leads the Broncos in scoring (13.1), while junior point guard Trevor Kuncl is second on the team (11.3) and Clayton Moore (11.1).  

Elkhorn North vs St. Paul: Elkhorn North is led by junior guard Brandon Orgilbold’s 18 points per game. St. Paul looks as though they have translated their success from the football field in the fall to the hardwood this winter. Wyoming football signee Tommy Wroblewski has led the charge for the 18-1 Wildcats. 

Logan View/Scribner-Snyder vs Grand Island Northwest: This will be the third game in three days for Northwest and the opponent changed mid-week. Ashland-Greenwood was originally scheduled to play the Vikings. Seniors Parker Janky and Jed Walford will look to finish the weekend off with a win. LVSS is led by senior Garrett Kriete with 14.8 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Senior guard Connor Larson is second on the team in scoring with 10.9 points and leads the team in assists at 4.1. Senior Riley Hoetfelker is averaging 10.4 points for the Raiders. 

Elkhorn Mount Michael vs Grand Island: Mount Michael is a senior- ladened bunch. Post Kaleb Brink leads the Knights in scoring (14.5) and rebounding (5.8). Brad Bennett is second on the team in scoring (13) and Joe Chouinard is averaging double figures (11.2). Grand Island junior Isaac Traudt leads the Islanders in scoring (24.7) and rebounding (8.9). 

BRLD vs Auburn: Auburn’s last loss was to the Wolves in this event two years ago. If the Bulldogs win Thursday night versus Lincoln Lutheran that will be a 54-game win streak heading into this game. UNK signee Cam Binder runs the show for the Bulldogs and one of the more undervalued in-state post players Daniel Frary is capable of a double-double every game. BRLD unsigned seniors Lucas Vogt and Dylan Beutler lead the Wolverines. 

Grand Island Central Catholic vs Lincoln Pius X: Senior forward Dei Jengmer leads the Crusaders in scoring (11.1) and rebounding (5.2). Pius senior guards Sam (15.9) and Charlie (11.1) Hoiberg lead the Thunderbolts in scoring. Junior forward Sam Hastreiter is third on the team in scoring at 10.5. 

Sunrise Christian vs Bellevue West: Sunrise is about as loaded as it gets with high major talent. Guard Kennedy Chandler, a Tennessee commit, is ranked 13th in the 2021 247Sports Composite. Kendall Brown (6-foot-8) is the 15th ranked player in the 2021 class and committed to Baylor. 2022 wing Gradey Dick has narrowed his choices to a top-eight with Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Illinois, Florida and Texas Tech making the cut for the No. 28 ranked player in the class. 2021 forward Zach Clemnce (6-9)  is committed to Kansas and ranked No. 39 in the class while Minnesota commit Kenny Pohto (6-9) is ranked just inside the top 150 at 145.

Bellevue West is playing the best basketball of any in-state team. Led by Wisconsin signee Chucky Hepburn the No. 119 ranked player in the class. Hepburn leads the T-Birds with 8.8 assists and second on the team in scoring at 16.3. Omaha signee Frankie Fidler leads the team in scoring (21.5) and rebounding (6.8). Sophomore guard Josiah Dotzler is third on the team in scoring (11.9). Junior William Kyle will need to play big particularly defensively and will be tasked with keeping the Buffaloes off the boards. The 6-7 post is averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds. 

Oak Hill Academy vs Millard North: Oak Hill senior Camryn Carter (6-3) is the No. 127 ranked player in the senior class with offers from high-major schools Mississippi, Mississippi State and Georgetown. His teammate Jalen Ricks (6-6) comes in at No. 195 in the class and holds offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M. Junior MJ Rice (6-5) is the No. 22 ranked junior in the nation according to the 247 composite and holds offers from Boston College, Mississippi, NC State, Pittsburgh and Louisville. 

Millard North five-star prospect Hunter Sallis has trimmed his list to eight. Creighton, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and UCLA. The No. 6 player in the country is averaging 22.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. Uncommitted senior Saint Thomas holds recently received offers from Bradley, Florida Atlantic and Indiana State. Thomas is averaging 22.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Old Dominion signee Jadin Johnson is second on the team in assists (4.7). Junior forward Jasen Green is averaging 12 points and leads the Mustangs with 7.2 rebounds. Green, the No. 145 player in the 2022 class holds several high-major offers from Nebraska, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Kansas State and Stanford. Rounding out the starting five is uncommitted senior post Tyler Sandoval with 7.8 points and 5.2 rebounds.

FULL COURT PRESS: Traudt’s 57 An All-Time Effort

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