Recruiting Mailbag: Who were the 8 biggest stockrisers from boys state basketball?
Hello, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the Recruiting Mailbag.
Most of the in-state recruiting attention this past week was on the Iowa boys basketball state tournament, so we're devoting this week's Recruiting Mailbag to that. Specifically: Which in-state prospects did the most to boost their recruiting stock at last week's state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena?
Let's get right into is. (After all, we all know you're wanting to read this quickly and then get back to watching the NCAA Tournament. Duh.)
Which prospects were the biggest stockrisers from the Iowa boys basketball state tournament?
Yes, most college basketball recruiting happens in AAU's spring and summer seasons.
But high school basketball is still vitally important in a prospect's recruitment, mostly in the sense that it can put you on the radars of college coaches who will then make a point to watch you play in AAU.
That's especially the case with state tournaments, where college coaches can see how prospects fare against the best of the best that state can offer on the biggest stage.
Every year, at the Iowa boys basketball state tournament, a handful of prospects make names for themselves and put themselves on college radars. They raise their stock. Sometimes, they're guys we already knew about. Sometimes, they're not.
Based on my own observations and conversations with college coaches ranging from the Division I high-majors to junior colleges, here's a list of Iowa basketball prospects who raised their stock at the state tournament.
Lucas Lueth, SF, Ames (2023)
In terms of immediate intrigue, Lueth probably leads the list of stockrisers. His calling card is defense right now, and with a yawning wingspan, agility and a 6-foot-6/6-foot-7 frame, he can defend every position at the high school level. Coaches will notice stuff like that in a heartbeat.
Lueth scored 7.4 points per game this year, but he showed promise as a 3-and-D wing by knocking down 34.2% of his 3s. He upped his offensive game at state, averaging 10 points over Ames' three games, and he drained both his 3s in the Class 4A title game. With three seniors set to graduate, Lueth will be asked to score much more next year.
South Dakota State and Black Hills State, a Division II program in South Dakota, have inquired about Lueth since the state tournament, Ames head coach Vance Downs told me. Others are now aware of him entering his AAU season with Kingdom Hoops, too.
Trevion LaBeaux, PF, Ames (2022)
I like to call Trevion LaBeaux the Charles Barkley of Iowa high school basketball. He's an undersized 4 at 6-4, but his effort and high-end athleticism compensate, and he was one of the most consistently impressive performers at Wells Fargo Arena, averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Here's the deal with LaBeaux: He can have success just with his athleticism and acrobatic scoring ability alone. If he can add a 3-pointer to his arsenal, though, he would elevate into a different tier of prospect/player.
DMACC and Kirkwood have been all over him for a while. Indian Hills is now involved, especially after seeing what he did at state, and LaBeaux told me D-IIs Northwest Missouri State and Palm Beach Atlantic, as well as in-state junior colleges Iowa Lakes and Southwestern, have reached out since state, too. Prep school is also an option.
Jack Wynter, PG, Ames (2024)
Keep an eye on Jack Wynter, the sophomore lefty from Ames.
He scored just 3.9 points per game but shot 35.4% from long range. He really wasn't asked to do much other than hit a catch-and-shoot 3 on a team with Tamin Lipsey, LaBeaux, Corey Phillips and Lueth leading the scoring.
Wynter is a good example of an unknown prospect who got on college radars thanks to his performance at state. He proved himself to be a knockdown shooter on the biggest stage at the state tournament, averaging nine points per game while shooting 50% (9-for-18) on 3-pointers. He showed upside, and when it comes to prospects this young, unless they're a no-doubter like Omaha Biliew was, that's what college coaches are looking for.
He's 6-1 with long arms (just look at that photo) and will likely grow some more. And, with Lipsey now off to Iowa State, Wynter will get much more time running the point.
Kenzie Reed, PG, 2023 (Cedar Rapids Kennedy)
Kenzie Reed played one of his best games at the absolute best time in Cedar Rapids Kennedy's 4A quarterfinal win against Waukee Northwest, in which the junior point guard outplayed the state's top junior prospect in Pryce Sandfort, scoring 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 5-for-7 from long range. He followed that with 12 points and four assists in a semifinal loss to Ames.
To college coaches, Reed came off as a gamer who can make things happen.
The main knock on Reed, who entered state averaging a staggering seven assists per game, has been his size — he's a slight 5-10. But he is firmly on D-I coaches' radars.
Ivan Prug, PF, 2022 (Davenport Assumption)
Listen: Ivan Prug didn't have a fantastic state tournament.
But, really, him playing at state at all is what mattered here.
Over two games, Prug logged 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting an uncharacteristically bad 25% (3-for-12) from long range.
Here's why that doesn't matter all that much: Prug is 6-9 and shot 46.5% (33-for-71) on 3-pointers this year. That's going to catch any college coach's attention. So why haven't you heard of him? He's a senior after all.
Well, Prug moved to Iowa from Croatia this year and was ineligible for Assumption's first 10 games due to the Iowa High School Athletic Association's transfer rule. So there are people in Iowa and the Midwest, including college coaches, who weren't aware of Prug until the state tournament.
It may be too late in the game for Prug to wind up at a D-I, although D-Is have shown interest. Junior colleges like DMACC and Kirkwood feel like potential destinations where Prug could develop and transfer to a D-I. I also wouldn't rule out prep school.
Brayson Laube, PG, Marion (2023)
It's hard to say Brayson Laube elevated his stock at the state tournament, because it was already pretty high. But when you score 35 points despite having an unusually poor long-range shooting day at 1-for-7, that will open eyes.
Laube, whether fair or unfair, became known primarily as a 3-point shooter with his big-time AAU performances last spring and summer.
Games like these, and videos that circulate on social media of his athletic dunks, help show the 6-2 Laube is not just a sharpshooter. There will be plenty of low- to mid-major, and probably local high-major, coaches watching him this AAU season.
Trey McCain, PG, Decorah (2024)
Trey McCain could have benefitted from more than one game at state, but he made the most of his time at Wells Fargo Arena, logging 22 points, four assists, three rebounds, three steals and just one turnover while shooting 7-for-17 and 3-for-8 on 3s.
He's a high-quality young point guard in Iowa, and he'll have more opportunities to jump on radars with the Iowa Barnstormers 16U squad, which features top in-state sophomore Caden Wilkins, this spring and summer.
Jacob Runyan, PG, Dallas Center-Grimes (2022)
Listen, Jacob Runyan's 10-point, 10-assist double-double in Dallas Center-Grimes' Class 3A quarterfinal win was great.
But his performance in the 3A title game was phenomenal.
The 5-10 senior exploded for 31 points (and four assists) on 12-for-16 shooting and 5-for-7 from 3-point range in the Mustangs' 56-53 win over Central DeWitt. He carried a D-II offer from Minnesota-Crookston into state.
Matthew Bain is the deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register. He still covers some recruiting, too. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.