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On a Thursday night in late April, several of Minnesota's top sophomores worked thoroughly to get variations of their screen and roll plays crisp for an upcoming tournament in Alabama.

D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB has been turning heads this spring, looking like a younger version of he Timberwolves, the way they pressure the perimeter and protect the paint at their age level.

"What makes us special right now is our versatility, depth and the way we defend," D1 Minnesota 16U coach Al Harris said. "We're definitely not the Timberwolves, but the way they've blown away the NBA with the way they defend, to play that hard, a lot of people say that about our AAU team."

When East Ridge's Cedric Tomes isn't drilling NBA-range threes, he's leading the fast break off steals to set up high-fliers like Totino-Grace's Dothan Ijadimbola, Wayzata's Christian Wiggins and others for alley-oop slams. Ryan Kreager, a rising 6-10 big man from Faribault, blocked 11 shots in an AAU game last week, including eight in the first half.

"Once we get our offense on par with our defense, we're going to be even more dangerous," said Ijadimbola, the state's No. 1-ranked player in the 2026 class.

Arguably the state's best AAU squad regardless of class, D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB will be on display Friday through Sunday at the Prep Hoops Battle at the Lakes in the western suburbs. D1 Minnesota plays Friday and Saturday night at Wayzata High School. This is the biggest local tournament of the spring and brings hundreds of teams to the area.

Ijadimbola and Tomes have offers from the Gophers, among other high major programs. Wiggins has a Wisconsin offer. Pretty much everyone else on D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB's roster is a Division I prospect.

"We're a really good team right now," Tomes said. "I love the guys I'm around. I feel like if we're playing together and well, we can beat anyone in the country."

East Ridge guard Cedric Tomes has an offer from the Gophers and has been crucial to the rise of D1 Minnesota's 16U team this season.
East Ridge guard Cedric Tomes has an offer from the Gophers and has been crucial to the rise of D1 Minnesota's 16U team this season.

The only high school players from Minnesota currently with offers from Gophers coach Ben Johnson are Tomes, Ijadimbola and Hopkins' Jayden Moore, who plays for J-Sizzle in AAU. All are in the 2026 class.

Orono's Brady Wooley and Alexandria's Chase Thompson, Minnesota's top two Class of 2025 prospects, are playing for D1 Minnesota's 3SSB team in the 17U Division at the Battle at the Lakes this weekend.

Word is the top 16U and 17U D1 Minnesota teams faced off in a practice earlier this spring, and the younger boys had the edge. Tomes, Wiggins and Eden Prairie's Nolan Anderson joined D1 Minnesota from Team Tyus after the AAU program sponsored by former Apple Valley star and NBA guard Tyus Jones folded in the offseason.

Tomes was key. The crafty 6-foot point guard played at the Gophers team camp last summer with East Ridge and shined in front of Johnson and his staff. Tomes' deep shooting range and floor leadership also attracted an early offer from Iowa State.

"When some schools see younger players have potential, there's no reason to wait," Tomes said. "If you get on them early, that makes it a lot easier for developing [relationship] purposes. I love the [Gophers] coaching staff. They're always welcoming. I love going to their games, no matter who they're playing."

Tomes and Ijadimbola often attended Gophers games together at Williams Arena last season. Ijadimbola's one of the highest rated local prospects across all classes at 45th nationally in 2026 by 247 Sports and 52nd by Rivals. His best offers right now are from Iowa State, Iowa, Oklahoma, and the Gophers.

Ijadimbola, a powerfully built 6-6 wing, capped off his high school season with Totino-Grace's second straight Class 3A state title at the Barn in March. His goals are high for AAU as well.

D1 Minnesota 16U's reputation building this spring could create more exposure in recruiting this summer.

"To get to that commitment point, you want to have a lot of options," Ijadimbola said. "But we're not focused on that. We're just trying to hoop and play. Winning attracts coaches."