Thank you for checking out Basketball Across Minnesota, my weekly look at some of the state's top hoops stories, from preps to pros. — Marcus Fuller
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The similarities between Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards and St. Mary's standout Raheem Anthony are hard to ignore. They're both 6-4, 220-pound, powerfully built, athletic guards who overpower opponents to score in bunches.
They're both from the Class of 2019 in high school. Their all-around games are almost mirror images at their respective levels; they can rack up 30 or 40 points in a game and just as easily fill up the stat sheet with rebounds and assists.
Edwards, also known as "Ant-Man," is probably the most exciting basketball player in the state of Minnesota who you've heard of, because he plays in the NBA.
Anthony, described by some people as the small college version of Ant-Man, is arguably the most exciting basketball player in Minnesota you've not heard of. He plays in Division III.
Anthony is used to being compared to Edwards and knows why.
"The build and how athletic I am," Anthony said. "People have told me that. A big part of my game is physicality, and I'm pretty fast with my first step, which they don't expect."
A Chicago native, Anthony leads the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in scoring (24.5) and assists (5.0), but he's also third in rebounding (9.3) and shoots 44% from three-point range.
St. Mary's, located in Winona, set a program record with an eight-game win streak that ended recently with a loss at Macalester, but Anthony responded with his second 41-point game of the season Saturday in a victory vs. Concordia. He shot 14-for-19 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line and added eight rebounds and eight assists with zero turnovers in 40 minutes.
"I get fired up when I face another good team," Anthony said. "It just gives me a chance to showcase what I'm capable of doing. I play any position from [point guard to center]."
His most thrilling performance this season came on a trip back home. In an 83-82 win against North Park on Dec. 30 in Chicago, he drilled a game-winning halfcourt buzzer-beater to cap his first 40-point night, and also had 14 rebounds. The ball was inbounded to him with 3.1 seconds left.
"In practice we have situation drills, so my coach always puts the ball in my hands and prays that I can make something happen," Anthony said. "I usually can get down full court in five seconds. Once I realized I didn't have enough time, I stopped a little before halfcourt, shot it and held my follow-through."
That was the second halfcourt buzzer-beater of Anthony's career. He also drilled one at DePaul College Prep, which he led to third place in the Illinois Class 3A state tournament as a senior in 2019.
How did he end up playing DIII ball in outstate Minnesota? He followed his older brother, Kareem, to St. Mary's. They were teammates for two seasons and last season led the program to its first playoff berth in 35 years.
"I feel like the crowd gets excited to come see me play," he said. "Basketball's a team sport, though, and we've got really good players as well."
Exciting two-sport athlete
Earlier this month, Bloomington Jefferson two-sport junior standout Daniel Freitag went on an unofficial visit to P.J. Fleck's Gophers, and the conversation included a familiar pitch he's heard from several schools recruiting him: He can play basketball and football in college.
Notre Dame offered him a football scholarship last week. The Irish also said they would try to get him on the basketball team. So have, the Gophers, Baylor, Iowa State, Iowa and Nebraska, among others.
"It's been talked about to see if that's something I want to do or not," Freitag said of playing two sports in college. "I definitely look to increase that [basketball] list. It's not an ego thing. It's never bad to have options."
As that tough decision awaits, the 6-1 guard and wide receiver has been stacking up viral highlights in basketball this winter, including averaging nearly 27 points for the Jaguars.
Girls hoops future bright
Crosby-Ironton's Tori Oehrlein, who led the state with 29.8 points per game as of Wednesday, was the first eighth-grade girl to reach the 1,000-point career scoring mark. Now she's in ninth grade and headed fast toward 2,000.
The 5-11 Oehrlein's most impressive stat line this season was a 41-point, 15-rebound, 15-steal effort vs. Aitkin, but her scoring high is 46 points. She also has grabbed 20 or more rebounds three times.
As dominant as Oehrlein has been, another ninth-grader has her eye on the state scoring title. Providence Academy's Maddyn Greenway has a 29.7-point scoring average through 13 games. Her status as one of the most exciting young prospects in Minnesota will be on display Saturday vs. No. 1 Class 4A Hopkins during the Community Clash at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
Fuller's Five ballers
Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves
Scored 44 points with eight three-pointers in a Saturday win vs. Houston. He became the first player in team history with at least 40 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks in game.
Liv McGill, Hopkins
The undefeated Royals don't play many close games, but McGill was critical to keeping that record perfect when she scored 17 points in a 57-50 win on Jan. 17 against Wayzata.
Rose Micheaux, Gophers
The 6-2 sophomore helped Lindsay Whalen's team pick up its second Big Ten win of the season against Penn State with a career-high 31 points and 14 rebounds on Jan. 18 in State College.
J.J. Ware, Park Center
The 6-6 junior forward leads the top boys team in the state in scoring. He scored 25 points Jan. 20 vs. Armstrong and 21 points vs. Jan. 23 vs. Holy Family. The Pirates are 13-0.
Caleb Williams, Macalester
In a 75-72 win against Saint Mary's on Jan. 18, Williams scored 24 points, including the game-winning three-point play with under four seconds. He's averaging 28 points in his last three games, including 35 in Wednesday's win vs. Hamline.
75 – Minneapolis North's winning streak in Minneapolis City Conference games, ended Jan. 18 when Minneapolis Southwest won 89-85 behind Liam Farniok's 31 points.
40 – Single-game points mark reached recently by Holy Family's Boden Kapke, St. Cloud Tech's Tameron Ferguson, DeLaSalle's Nas Whitlock, Providence Academy's Maddyn Greenway and St. Michael-Albertville's Tessa Johnson.
Basketball Across Minnesota will be published weekly on startribune.com. Don't be a stranger on Twitter after reading, as chatting about these stories makes them even more fun to share. Thanks, Marcus (@Marcus_R_Fuller on Twitter)