The 2018s There are 29 teams entered in the 2018 division of the AAU Prelims. • The top 8 seeds are in Pool A and Pool B, and they are guaranteed to be the #1 through #8 seeds in the…
There are 29 teams entered in the 2018 division of the AAU Prelims.
• The top 8 seeds are in Pool A and Pool B, and they are guaranteed to be the #1 through #8 seeds in the AAU Tournament as well. No matter what happens, short of a forfeit, they cannot drop out of the top 8. Maybe not then. There are of course 4 teams in each pool, and the Pool A winner plays the Pool B winner for 1st place, Pool A 2nd place plays Pool B 2nd place for 3rd, and etc.
• There are 3 teams each in Pools C, D and E, and 4 each in Pools F, G and H. Pools C and D play off for the #9, #19 and #21 seeds. Pools E and F play off for # 11, #17 and #23. Pools G and H do not play off. Pool G gets #13, #16, #25 and #28. Pool H gets #14, #15, #26 and #27.
• Central Lakes Thunder, who has been a nice, competitive team in the early going, is forfeiting its Prelim games and taking the #29 seed. Don’t be surprised if they jump up a dozen spots or so at the D2 tournament. But, wait, D2?
• Seeds #1 through #14 play in the 2018 D1, #15 through #29 play in D2. At least one team from each pool will make D1.
So that's the what. Now, the who.
Pool A consists of #1 seeded Tartan 11 EYBL, #3 Stars Hersch, #5 Fury 2018 Gold and #7 Tartan Nike Elite. Other than #7, keep in mind that the seeds reflect last year’s finish in the AAU tournament, nothing more. We think our ratings are more accurate and we have them rated #1, #4, #7 and #6. Tartan 11 EYBL should emerge from Pool A as the overall Prelim finalist fairly easily.
Who will Tartan 11 EYBL play for the Prelim title and the #1 seed going forward? Pool B is #2 seed Metro Stars Wiese, #4 Fury 2018 Elite, #6 Tayler Hill Elite 11 and #8 So Minn Fury 2018 Elite. Fury Elite has already beaten Metro Stars Weise, but it is the Tayler Hill Elite that has been a buzz-saw so far this spring season. We have these 4 teams rated #5, #3, #2 and #8, respectively, and they’re much the tougher Pool, top to bottom. We anticipate Tayler Hill Elite playing Tartan EYBL for the #1 seed.
This may not be a GREAT Tartan flagship compared to any number of their predecessors. They’re just 4-5 (4 wins, 5 losses) so far. But, compared to any list of local talent, they’ve got a pretty good corner on the market. Among the bigs, they’ve got Destinee Oberg (our #1 among the 2019s though she has been hurt this spring), Megan Walstad (#4 2018), Kayla Mershon (#9), Emma Grothaus (#14), Grace Mbanefo (#23). Their guards include Sam Haiby (#1), Maesyn Theisen (#5), Raena Suggs (#6), Megan Walker (#10). They’re missing just one of the state’s top 6 2018s, according to our rankings, and 3 of the top 10. It’s hard to imagine how anybody is going to beat them with the leftovers.
But Tayler Hill Elite may nevertheless be just such a club. They can match even Haiby and Suggs for quickness with Morgan Hill, freshman Jade Hill playing up 2 years and sophomore Masengo Mutanda playing up 1 year. But even Elaina Jones, along with Azsha Michael, Ariyon Kelly and Alexis Matthews, will have a tough time matching up with Tartan’s bigs.
I should just add that Oberg has been out with a recurrence of her previously injured and surgically repaired shoulder. She is doing PT 4 days a week and hopes to be back for the Prelims, but she has not been cleared at this point in time.
Other than Pool A and Pool B, each pool gets just one team into D1. The rest of D1 should consist of Comets 11 Elite, Stars 11 DeSart, Stars 11 Walters, Rise 11 Purple and…. Well, Pool E and Pool H are tough calls. In E, E1T1 17U and Northern Lights 11 appear evenly matched. In H, Hi Impact Caddy and Heat Vang will compete for a spot in D1.
But keep in mind that the very best of the rest will end up at #9 going into the AAU Tournament proper, meaning a matchup vs. #8 followed by #1. One of these teams could beat some of #1 through #8, to be sure, just not #1. It’s the AAU’s favorite’s protection plan.
But speaking of #9, I should add that we've been told that the Comets will be missing several players due to injuries and proms. Still it's hard to see who in Pool C can compete even with the lesser half of the Comets roster. So the Stars 11 DeSart from Pool D look like a good bet to come up with the not particularly desirable #9 seed.