The Milwaukee-area players to know and watch at the WIAA state boys basketball tournament

Arrowhead senior and UW-Green Bay recruit Bennett Basich is one of the many stars to watch this weekend at the 2024 WIAA boys state basketball tournaments in Madison.
Arrowhead senior and UW-Green Bay recruit Bennett Basich is one of the many stars to watch this weekend at the 2024 WIAA boys state basketball tournaments in Madison.

The 108th WIAA state boys basketball tournament runs Thursday through Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison. Here's a look at key players on the eight Milwaukee-area teams still playing.

Division 1


The name to know: Bennett Basich

The Warhawks exacted some revenge from last year's state title game last weekend before the girls program won their first state title in over three decades a few hours later. Basich was the catalyst in their 85-80 victory over defending champion De Pere in the sectional final, pouring in a game-high 43 points with 6 three-pointers to lead Arrowhead back to the state tournament. He's averaged 20.4 points a game this season with four performances of 25-plus points.

The name to watch: Sam Leoni

Iowa State football recruit Jace Gilbert is a load in the paint and will be a huge factor for the Warhawks' title chances with Basich, but the third piece to the puzzle offensively has been Leoni. The 6-foot-2 senior has come on strong, scoring in double figures in seven of the last eight games. He had 18 points in Arrowhead's sectional semifinal win over Germantown and shoots 44.2% from deep this season on 77 attempts.


The name to know: Will Stuckey

It's been Stuckey's show this season in the absence of Drew Wagner, the Northwestern football commit who made a surprise cameo appearance in the sectional final after recovering from shoulder surgery. Stuckey led the Lasers to their second straight state appearance, averaging 17.4 points while shooting a blistering 49.2% from long range on 120 attempts. The first-team all-Classic 8 Conference performer had 28 points in their sectional semifinal win over Beloit Memorial.

The name to watch: Nathan Vuillaume

Roman Thompson has brought the intensity for the Lasers this season, stepping up in a massive way without Wagner's production. The surprise though has been the French foreign exchange student Vuillaume, who was an unknown to first-year coach Brian Rickert before the season started. Vuillaume has stepped in to become the third player in double-figure scoring for the Lasers at 11 points per game while also playing a key role defensively for the No. 2 seed.


The name to know: Nolan Minessale

The St. Thomas (Minnesota) recruit has been excellent this season, leading the Hilltoppers to their first state appearance since 2016. Minessale has averaged 21.8 points per game on 59.1% shooting on 406 attempts. He leads the Hilltoppers in every offensive statistical category and also has 45 steals and 23 blocks. If there was a seventh slot for Mr. Basketball candidates this season, Minessale would've had a great case along with Basich.

The name to watch: Cade Kohnen

As good as the Hilltoppers have been this season, No. 6 seed West Allis Central gave them all they could handle last Saturday in the sectional final. If it wasn't for 5 three-pointers from Kohnen, the Hilltoppers may not be in Madison. Marquette got some clutch shot-making from a few guys, but Kohnen has been one of its best shooters. After averaging just over four points a game as a junior off the bench, Kohnen has averaged 10.6 this season – one of four Hilltoppers in double-figure scoring – and shoots at an efficient clip. He's made 44.1% of his 111 three-point attempts.

Nicolet junior Davion Hannah almost led an upset of then-two-time defending Division 2 state champion Pewaukee in last year's semifinals. Can the Knights pull it off this time as a No. 4 seed against undefeated Wisconsin Lutheran?
Nicolet junior Davion Hannah almost led an upset of then-two-time defending Division 2 state champion Pewaukee in last year's semifinals. Can the Knights pull it off this time as a No. 4 seed against undefeated Wisconsin Lutheran?

Division 2


The name to know: Davion Hannah

The Division I recruit came with an eyelash of ending Pewaukee's bid for a three-peat with a last-second heave from deep in the Division 2 state semifinals a year ago. Hannah is the team's leading scorer this season at 19.5 points per game and is such a nightmare to deal with because of his frame and length slashing to the rim, not to mention his ability to defend (80 steals) and alter shots (48 blocks). Redemption is certainly on his mind.

The name to watch: Rashaad Davis

With Hannah and Nacir Beamon carrying much of the scoring load and the attention the Knights receive from defenses, somebody will have to assist Friday in their matchup with undefeated Wisconsin Lutheran. One of those options could be Rashaad Davis, one of four Knights averaging in double figures. Davis averages 12.1 points a game and has three 20-point games this season. If Nicolet is hoping to play for a state title, Davis' contributions could be vital.


The name to know: Nick Janowski

About 20 minutes after winning his third straight state title with Pewaukee last season, the Mr. Basketball finalist and Nebraska recruit Janowski was already thinking about a fourth gold ball. His Pirates are two wins away from becoming the third program to win at least four straight state championships. He has carried a massive load for the Pirates back to Madison, averaging 31.4 points per game on 53% shooting, including 18 games of 30-plus points and five games of 40-plus. If he and another star on this list make the final, a standing room-only crowd at the Kohl Center isn't out of the question.

The name to watch: Luka Momcilovic

Momcilovic has had some massive shoes to fill with his brother Milan heading off to Iowa State, where he is part of the all-Big 12 freshman team. If Pewaukee hopes to raise a fourth gold ball on Saturday night, the younger Momcilovic will have to channel a bit of his brother's magic. He's averaged 12 points a game this season but scored 32 points with 5 threes in Pewaukee's victory over Milwaukee Lutheran in the regional final. Momcilovic, Owen Rake (10.3 points) and Tyler Tiutczenko (47.6% from deep on 105 attempts) will have to be at their best next to Janowski.


The name to know: Kon Knueppel

Duke recruit Kon Knueppel has electrified the state during his senior season and was named Mr. Basketball on Wednesday. The numbers are sensational for Knueppel, but it's also the efficiency that he plays with that makes him a potential star for the Blue Devils in a loaded class next season. This season, Knueppel has averaged 26.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists on 59.4% shooting, including a 39.3% clip from long range on 173 attempts. He's coming off a 25-point triple-double in the sectional final and has scored at least 15 points in every game this season.

The name to watch: Logan Rindfleisch

As great as Knueppel has been, a team doesn't go 28-0 without a little assistance on the way. Enter Rindfleisch. The UW-Oshkosh recruit has been a wonderful complement to Knueppel this season. The 6-foot-5 guard has averaged 13.8 points per game this season and has eclipsed 20-plus points in three of the Vikings' last four games. Rindfleisch has seven 20-point games on the season, so if opponents key in on Kneuppel, he can make defenses pay and turn a potential 30-0 season into reality.

Amari McCottry and the St. Thomas More Cavaliers will enter the Division 3 state tournament this weekend as the top seed at 27-1.
Amari McCottry and the St. Thomas More Cavaliers will enter the Division 3 state tournament this weekend as the top seed at 27-1.

Division 3


The name to know: Amari McCottry

Along with fellow Division I-caliber recruit Sekou Konneh, McCottry has been one of the exciting players in the state this season. The McCottry-Konneh duo is arguably the most dominant 1-2 punch in the state, averaging a total of 55.5 points per game this season. McCottry is second on the team in rebounds (8.7) while leading the team in assists (5.3) and steals (2.3) per game. Konneh averages a double-double with 22.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, but McCottry's efficiency for a player who always has the ball in his hands is amazing. He's a relentless slasher but scores 22.7 points a game on 58.2% shooting with 145 attempts from the line.

The name to watch: Evan Oleson

Both Oleson and fellow senior guard Kyle Alivo could find their names here. They both can catch fire from long range and help space the floor for McCottry to attack and Konneh to dominate around the basket. Both have put up more than 165 shots from long range this season with Oleson having a slight edge, hitting 73 for 167 (43.7%). They'll both be needed for the Cavaliers to bring home a gold ball for the first time.

Division 4


The name to know: Eric Kenesie

When he's not intercepting passes on the gridiron, he's becoming the only player in state history to score 50-plus points in a state tournament game. Kenesie was the talk of the tournament last season, leading the No. 4 seed Lancers to the Division 4 title game with a 51-point performance in the semifinals against top-seeded St. Mary Catholic. He's averaged 24.7 points per game this season on 59.1% shooting. For the Lancers to bring home a gold ball, Kenesie will have to be the magician he's been all season.

The name to watch: Dominic Santarelli

It's a family affair for the Lancers. Their four top leading scorers are either named Kenesie (Eric and Christopher) or Santarelli (Dominic and Tommy). The leader of the bunch behind Eric Kenesie is Louisville baseball recruit Dominic Santarelli, who after a bit of a quiet end to the season, has produced some quality performances in the postseason. He has three straight games of double-figure scoring, including 25 points in a 67-47 sectional semifinal win over Milwaukee Juneau. He got the experience of playing on the big stage as a freshman last year and every little bit of offense outside of Eric Kenesie's heavy usage and production improves the Lancers' chances of winning a title.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee-rea players to know at WIAA state boys basketball tournament