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Observations: North KC Tourney

By Craig Wind, 810 Varsity Recruiting Analyst, 01/22/24, 11:15PM CST


Recruiting thoughts about NKC, SM Northwest, Grandview Pembroke, PH South

Craig Wind has written for along with his own recruiting service . Wind weighs in on 810 Varsity events and Kansas City metro area players through the year.

The championship game featured arguably the best two pure post players in the area with Samuel Dada 2024 6’8” matching up with Ethan Taylor 2026 6’11” and they both played well. Ethan blocks more shots, the Hornets work their offense through Dada a little bit more. So he gets more opportunities in the paint. As good as they were …

It was at the guard spots in the championship game that Shawnee Mission Northwest wore out North Kansas City. Keaton Wagler 2025 6’5” was just unbelievably good, a clear-cut D1 combo guard, with 15 points and great defense and very few turnovers against an aggressive well coached Hornet defense. Van Collins 2026 6’2” played well and shot it well for the Cougars. Aiven Riley 2026 6’2” is like Wagler a lockdown defender in the open floor. These young players compliment each other well in the backcourt. This was a great team-win for SMNW, 53-31, to win the 74th annual NKC Boys Basketball Invitational over a perennial KC powerhouse program on their home floor.

Other ‘odds and ends’ at NKC …

Grandview finished in 3rd place knocking off Park Hill South. The Bulldogs were led by a pair of seniors, Cobi Johnson 2024 6’6” and Michael Smith Jr 2024 6’3”. After perhaps a couple of Juco seasons, I can see both seniors becoming scholarship players. Grandview is a long and athletic team, they play REALLY hard! … Two REALLY good young players, we’ve already discussed Mav Hawkins 2026 6’3 combo guard, in addition, L G Torrence 2027 6’7” from KIPP in downtown KC, supremely long and bouncy with good skills and wonderful upside. He could become a real burden very soon for the KIPP opposition …

I really like this young post player at Park Hill South, Carson Bjorn 2026 6’6” a little on the raw side physically but he plays hard for a young post and he’s got good hands and big feet. I could envision 6’9” easily for the big fella … We in the media probably don’t talk enough about him. But Tyler Salmon 2026 6’7” is perhaps the best long range deep shooter on an 11-0 SM Northwest team at this point and time. His ability to keep the defense from sagging on Ethan Taylor in the post by being an effective shooter will be key in February as the Sunflower League tries to gang up on Northwest …

Finally, I’ve talked about the guards on the NKC team (Jaiden Washington 2024 6’2” and Herb Bass 2024 6’3”) and Dada is Dada, for sure. But let’s just mention a kid that thought a year ago, he was more of a QB in football than a forward in basketball! Jake Willmann 2026 6’6” continues to improve and impress on the hardwood. He could grow himself out of the quarterback room, sooner than later.

The host school usually has a ‘hospitality’ room, and NKC has to be rated as #1 this particular weekend in the KC Metro area. Chicken & Pickle had chicken, cornbread, salad, potato salad, barbeque beans and Larry Guidry brought in Gumbo and Rice Louisiana-southern style. Shout out to the NKC staff for putting forth the best room in the business.

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