April 11, 2006

17 and Under Magic Elite Preview

After a sold 2005 AAU season, Parrish Curry is back coaching the 17-and-under Magic Elite team with it's core team members returning. Kansas commit Cole Aldrich, Gopher commit Al Nolen Jr., Hopkins star Blake Hoffarber, Armstrong's Alex Rubin and Simley's John Hutchins played together with Curry last year and they should again have much success. Aldrich will miss several games because he is playing international basketball in Germany but he is the key ingredient to this team and the nation's 9th ranked prospect.


Aldrich didn't play in the Magic's first tournament this weekend as he is participating in the Albert Switzer games in Germany. At the end of his varsity season, Cole was still recovering from a stress fracture in his left tibula but his Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars put up a good fight before losing to Eden Prairie in the section semi-finals. Aldrich averaged 16.7 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks per game this year and he continues to get bigger at 6-foot-11 260 pounds. His presence in the middle is un-matched as opposing players simply avoid attacking the paint because of him. He's a strong rebounder, he runs the floor well for his size and with the Magic, Cole seems to be much more involved with the offense. The guards on this team look to get him the ball and he has the opportunity to work on opposing defenders without two or three guys helping down on him. Last spring he showed a solid ten-foot face-up jumper and some nice moves off the block. Look for his game to continue to improve as he plays with solid guards in Hoffarber, Rubin and Nolen Jr.


Blake Hoffarber is well known for his amazing two-handed butt-check heave that eventually was the difference in his team winning the state title two years ago. But to get to state this year, Blake stepped up and scored in the final seconds to beat Eden Prairie 55-54. That game sent Hopkins to state where they won the title for the second year in a row but they don't get there if Blake doesn't ignore leg cramps and take the ball after a busted play and drive for a lay-up in traffic. Hoffarber has an amazing touch on his shot but it's his feel for the game and competitiveness that impresses the most. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Blake is a solid shooting guard prospect who will do anything to win ball games. He has played on the wing, he's run the point and sometimes he will even go to the post to take advantage of opposing players. Say what you want about your prototypical guard size and quickness, Blake just gets things done, as he's a winner on the floor. He led Hopkins in scoring this year with 17.9 points per contest and with the Magic he's a kid who can do whatever coach Curry asks him to do. Blake has scholarship offers from Wisconsin-Green Bay, Delaware and Loyola Chicago while Washington State, Stanford, Georgetown and Minnesota have all shown interest.

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