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Newcomers making a big impact on southeastern Minnesota boys basketball teams

Feb. 3—ROCHESTER — There are once again a number of strong teams and top-notch players on the area boys basketball scene during the 2023-24 season. Here are 18 of the underclassmen who are making an impact after joining the starting lineup for the first time this season.

The 6-3 junior guard/forward has really stepped up his scoring since the start of the season. He is averaging 15.5 points per game and has been a sniper from long range. He is shooting. 44% from 3-point range.

The 6-6 junior center has been a force on both ends of the floor. He is third on the team in scoring at 13.6 points while averaging 1.6 steals. He also averages 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks and is on pace to set single-season school rebounds in both categories.

The 6-4 junior forward has helped the Cardinals make a nice turnaround this season. He is averaging a double-double at 17.1 points and 10.4 rebouds while also blocking 2.5 shots per game. He has been a strong scorer both on the inside and outside as well as being a defensive force.

The 6-1 guard is just an eighth-grader, but he has already made a huge impact. A strong shooter and defender who has a high basketball IQ according to coach Matt Halverson. He averages 13.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. "Looking at him physically, it would be hard for most to pick out that he was an eighth-grader," Halverson said. "Watching him play would make it that much more difficult."

The 6-2 junior guard joined the starting lineup after being the team's sixth man a year ago. He has excelled as he averages a double-double at 16.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He has rebounded well and finishes strong at the rim.

The 6-7 junior forward is long and very lanky. Despite being rail-thin, Kucha has been a force in his first year as a starter for JM. He averages a double-double at 10.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

The 6-2 guard is just a freshman but he has already stepped into a huge leadership role for the Eagles. He is averaging 14.4 points and 3.4 rebounds and is also among the team leaders in assists.

The 6-foot sophomore guard is a strong long-range shooter and has stepped up as a capable scorer in the Big Nine Conference. He is averaging 13.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

The 6-3 junior center has emerged after playing just a few minutes a game last season. He gives the Athletics some size and has been a strong scorer (15.2 ppg) and rebounder (8.2 rpg). He has a nice shooting touch around the rim and from the outside.

The Lions have another strong up and coming player in the 6-5 junior forward. He is shooting a stellar 53.5% from the floor and is second on the team in scoring (11.8 per game) and rebounding (5.8). "The best part about Ben is he has an upside that he hasn't even come close to reaching yet," coach Wade Grinde said.

The 5-9 guard has jumped into the lineup and already provided great leadership to the Lions as a sophomore. He averages just under 14 points per game and has also been a force on defense. "He brings great energy and is one of our top steal guys," coach Tom Bance said.

The Blossoms have three top-notch veteran scorers so the 5-10 freshman guard has been able to come in a lead in other ways. He provides strong ball handling, shown the ability to pass, get to the rim, hit outside shots and defend. He is averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals for the 17-2 Blossoms.

The 5-10 junior guard is averaging 10.9 points per game and is hitting 36% from 3-point range. "Berkley is one of the best catch and shoot players I've coached," coach Ryan Thibodeau said. "He brings tremendous energy to the floor and his game is growing each time out; attacking the basket, defending the ball."

The 5-10 junior guard was the sixth man for the Saints a year ago. This season he has averaged 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and has more assists than turnovers. A stellar athlete who guards the top player for the opposing team, he was a state qualifier in multiple events in track and field as a sophomore.

The Gophers are rebuilding and Harstad, a 6-foot freshman point guard, is the wave of the future. He has provided stability in the backcourt and been the team's top ball handler. He leads the Gophers in coring (10.7 ppg) and steals (2.0) while also averaging 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per contest.

The 6-1 freshman guard has made a quick impact for the Falcons with his scoring and ball-handling ability. He averages 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. "Caleb is a gym rat and an extremely committed player to the program," coach Alex Borgschatz said.

The 6-2 sophomore forward, who features long arms, went from a junior varsity player at the start of the year to a varsity starter by the holiday break. Despite his size, he is often called upon to guard the opposing team's center. He is averaging 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

The 6-1 freshman guard has been a rebounding and passing force for the Cobras. He leads the team in rebounding (7.0 per game) and assists (3.5) and is second in steals (1.8) while averaging 5.8 points per contest.