Minnesota boys basketball appears to be following in the footsteps of college sports. The movement of players from one school to another is at an all-time high, and this moving and shaking has already changed the makeup of teams and conferences at all levels.
Transfers and the impact these players will have on teams in all four classes are the top story line to follow as the boys' season tips off this week.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," Prep Hoops recruiting analyst Ryan James said. "It's wild. It's bonkers."
Class 4A defending state champion Park Center, which lost all five starters to graduation, has added 6-8 Minneapolis South junior forward Chiang Ring and Hopkins senior forward CJ O'Hara. Both will make an immediate impact. Junior point guard Cash Chavis transferred in from DeLaSalle late last season as well. For O'Hara it's his third school — Totino-Grace in 2020-21 and Hopkins in 2021-22 — in three years.
The top two teams in the Suburban East Conference, East Ridge and Stillwater, added firepower to its frontcourt. East Ridge will benefit from St. Paul Johnson transfer junior Daejohn Thomas while Stillwater will feature junior forward Lake DeJongh from Somerset, Wis.
Class 3A defending state champion Totino-Grace has bolstered its frontline with the addition of 6-7 Osseo transfer junior forward Isaiah Johnson. The Eagles and Park Center will be battling for bragging rights in the Northwest Suburban.
Runner-up DeLaSalle got some additional backcourt help with the addition of junior wing Jaden Morgan from Two Rivers.
In Class 2A, Holy Family jumps up among the state favorites with the additions of 6-10 senior Collin Mulholland, a transfer from Canada, and junior guard Kole Hanson, a transfer from Edina.
"For a while I had a list going, but I've given up," James said. "It's impossible to keep track."
It's not just limited to the metro area. Cherry, the Class 1A fourth-place finisher last season, has three re-enforcements to go along with Division I recruit Isaac Asuma, a 6-3 junior guard, and the young group it had coming back. They are the Brown brothers, sophomore Carson and freshman Kalub, of Hibbing and Noah Sundquist of Chisholm. Carson Brown and Sundquist were both double digit scorers last season.
"It's happening everywhere," James said.
Change for coaches, too
There are plenty of coaching changes around the state yearly. This winter, a handful around the metro area will significantly impact top-tier programs.
Larry McKenzie announced he was leaving his head coach job at Minneapolis North in July and later was replaced by former Timberwolves guard Ricky Davis. McKenzie won two Class 2A state championships (2016 and 2017) with the Polars during his nine-year tenure. He owns a career record of 481-166 and became the first boys coach to win four state championships in a row while at Minneapolis Henry from 2000 to 2003 in Class 3A. McKenzie has since joined James Ware's coaching staff at defending Class 4A state champion Park Center.
DeLaSalle longtime assistant coach Todd Anderson now has the reigns of the program. He replaces Travis Bledsoe, who left for Anoka-Ramsey Community College. The Islanders were the Class 3A state tournament runners-up a year ago and are a perennial power.
Joe Burger returns to coach Holy Family after guiding Edina the past nine years. Burger, who previously coached at Holy Family from 2010-13, replaces Matt Thuli. The Fire are expected to be a Top 10 metro team this season and the favorite to win the Class 2A crown. Jon Bryant replaces Burger with the Hornets.
Chaska assistant coach Nick Hayes has been promoted to replace Dana Kallman as the Hawks' mentor. The post was originally filled by longtime assistant coach Andrew Martinson, but he had to resign because of his responsibilities affiliated with a family-operated insurance agency. Chaska had six consecutive 20-win seasons in the last decade.
One team to watch: Mahtomedi
There is something to be said for having a strong senior class, and Keith Newman has exactly that at Mahtomedi. He has his top five scorers returning, plus point guard Will Underwood. He was injured last season after averaging 23.6 points per game as a sophomore.
Owen Carlson, a 6-4 guard, averaged 23 points a game last season while two others averaged in lower double figures. The Zephyrs' senior class, which is guard-oriented, goes nine deep.
"We have a very deep and talented group of seniors," Newman said. The Class 3A Zephyrs finished 18-8 last season. "They have prepared well in the offseason and have high expectations individually and as a team."