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Chase Courbat has been considered one of Iowa's top 2021 prospects for the past couple seasons. Matthew Bain, mbain@dmreg.com

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While it may not wind up as deep as 2019, Iowa's 2021 class of basketball talent is shaping up quite well.

Evaluating sophomores involves a lot of projection, but Iowa's group has generated buzz through high school play or performances at regional camps.

Now, it's time for the next step. And it's a big one: The 16U AAU level.

The 16U season (spring and summer after sophomore year) is often when a prospect breaks out — when he firmly establishes himself as a name to watch, and, if he's good enough, picks up his first offers. 

The first chance for that will come April 26-28 — the first NCAA evaluation period.

Here is the Register's spring edition of the in-state 2021 top 15, based on our own observations and conversations with recruiting contacts at the college and high school levels.

1. Chase Courbat, PF, Cedar Falls

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-foot-9

Courbat is a nimble, well-rounded big who can pound the rock down low, pop out for a mid-range jumper and run the floor in transition. His defense will draw the most eyes, as he's quick enough to handle guards on ball screens and can defend multiple positions.

2. Ryan Riggs, PF, Dowling Catholic

AAU team: OSA Crusaders

Height: 6-8

Another well-rounded big with a lot to like on both ends, Riggs looked the part as a sophomore. But he still hasn't made much of a mark outside high school; an injury kept him out all of last summer. He'll likely turn heads during his first real AAU exposure.

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Of all the state of Iowa's 2021 prospects, Jaylon Moses could have the highest ceiling. Matthew Bain, mbain@dmreg.com

3. Jaylon Moses, PF/SF, Cedar Rapids Xavier

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-8

Back-to-back ACL tears kept him out for nearly two years, so Moses is still somewhat unknown, but he could have the highest ceiling in 2021. Right now, he's a stretch forward who can knock down 3s. If his foot speed improves, he could be a 6-8 wing.

4. Karson Sharar, CG, Iowa Falls-Alden

AAU team: All Iowa Attack

Height: 6-1

Already one of the state's best perimeter scorers, Sharar can shoot the ball with the best of them. His numbers in an injury-shortened season weren't eye-popping, but he's confident, decisive and electric on offense. He's more of a 2 than a 1 right now.

5. Michael Duax, SG/SF, Dubuque Hempstead

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-5

Think, a smaller Nicholas Baer. Duax is a do-it-all work horse. He can score from all three levels and shot 50 percent from long range this season. He works hard on the glass. He's a pesky defender. And he can pass it, too. 

6. Jadin Johnson, PG, Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-4

Johnson is a long, lanky guard with plenty of upside. While his half-court skills need work, he is excellent at pushing the pace in transition, and his length helps on perimeter defense. His stock will benefit as he becomes a more effective scorer. 

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7. Angelo Winkel, PF, Bishop Garrigan

AAU team: All Iowa Attack

Height: 6-8

Winkel has a high ceiling thanks to his athleticism. At times, he plays like 2021's top  prospect. Other times, he show lots of room for growth. He's a bouncy forward with a jumper that has potential. The question is more with defense and consistency. 

8. Tucker DeVries, SF, Waukee

AAU team: OSA Crusaders

Height: 6-5

An active rebounder with a 40-percent long-range stroke, DeVries projects as a 3-and-D wing. He's not overly agile right now, but he's got a college body and a college shot. He'll only improve as he gets quicker and more comfortable in his 6-5 frame.

9. Payton Sandfort, SG, Waukee

AAU team: Kingdom Hoops

Height: 6-6

Sandfort is a long shooting guard who will make big shots with his quick release, defend hard, pound the glass and be a leader on the floor. He won't be the most athletic kid, but he's a tireless worker.

10. Marcus Morgan, CG, Iowa City West

AAU team: All Iowa Attack

Height: 6-2

You might as well listen to jazz while watching Morgan play, because this kid is smooth — the type of player that makes things look easy. He's not dominant and not quite a pure point guard right now, but he's smart, he can shoot it and he embraces defense. 

11. Keaton Kutcher, SG, Mount Vernon

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-1

Kutcher isn't a super athlete. He's not lightning quick and not a floor general. But, man, he can shoot. He's got a good shot to be a 50/40/90 guy over the next two years; he shot 45.3% overall, 42.7% on 3s and 87.8% on free throws this year.

More: Ranking Iowa's top 15 basketball prospects in the 2020 class

12. Emarion Ellis, SG, Davenport Central

AAU team: Iowa Barnstormers

Height: 6-3

While his 2018 shooting numbers weren't pretty, Ellis is a long, bouncy athlete with a slick handle. We'll see whether he becomes a 1, 2 or maybe even a 3. He probably has the most room for improvement on this list — but that means he can get a lot better. 

13. Caleb Schlaak, SF, Cedar Rapids Kennedy

AAU team: Martin Bros

Height: 6-7

A 6-7 sophomore will some skills and a promising 3-point shot, Schlaak is far from a finished product, but he's got good pieces. He'll play in front of plenty of low- to mid-major eyes with a loaded Martin Bros 16U team this season.

14. Reid Grant, SG, Johnston

AAU team: Kingdom Hoops

Height: 6-2

Grant can pass, dribble and shoot. He's not going to win any track meet or out-jump a lot of guys, but he's got a good basketball IQ and can play. He'll be a focal point alongside Sandfort on Kingdom Hoops' 16U squad.

15. Manny Austin, PG, Des Moines Hoover

AAU team: Kingdom Hoops

Height: 6-2

Austin has a lot of room for technical refinement in his all-around game, particularly with his 3-point shot. But he's a naturally gifted basketball player and, as a product of Hoover, you know he knows how to defend.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

 

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