Farmington center Sophie Hart (32), shown here putting up a shot against St. Michael-Albertville in a state tournament game last year. Photo: JEFF WHEELER • Jeff.Wheeler@startribune.com
Ten metro players who will drive girls’ basketball this season.
1. Sophie Hart, Farmington, P, 6-4, senior: Dominant in post on both ends of the floor. Averaged a double-double last year, 17 points and 14 rebounds. College: North Carolina State.
2. Adalia McKenzie, Park Center, G, 5-11, senior: Deadly combination of quickness and physicality. Led the metro last year with 30.9 ppg. College: Illinois.
3. Jenna Johnson, Wayzata, F, 6-2, senior: Can play both inside ant out. Effective in the lane and can step out and drain the three. College: Utah.
4. Maya Nnaji, Hopkins, F, 6-4, junior: Game-altering shot-blocker with enviable offensive skills. Great finisher, has multiple high DI offers. College: Undecided.
5. Mara Braun, Wayzata, G, 5-11, junior: Fluid athlete, can break down a defense off the dribble. Excels at controlling tempo, peerless court vision. College: Minnesota.
6. Kendall Coley, St. Louis Park, F, 6-2, senior: Long and lean, can play facing the basket and create her own shot. Runs the court well, finishes strong. College: Nebraska.
7. Mallory Heyer, Chaska, F, 6-2, junior: Physical and aggressive around the basket, can withstand contact and still get her shot. Averaged 19.6 ppg in 19-20. College: Minnesota.
8. Nia Holloway, Eden Prairie, F, 6-0, junior: Still developing with tremendous upside. Has good agility to create around the basket. College: Minnesota.
9. Amaya Battle, Hopkins, PG, 5-10, junior: Difficult to defend, Explodes to the basket, yet can hit the pullup. Adept at corralling weakside rebounds. College: Undecided.
10. Kaylee Van Eps, Chaska, G, 6-1, senior: In her 5th varsity season, a versatile and heady player. One of two Hawks to top 1,000 points last season. College: Lehigh.
Heading into the season's first full week, here are staff writer Jim Paulsen's top 10 metro teams:
1. Hopkins: The Royals’ winning streak is now at 63 after a season-opening victory. The addition of freshman Liv McGill from Park Center just adds to the riches.
2. Farmington: Most of the Tigers are back from the 2020 team that never got the chance to meet Hopkins in the Class 4A state final due to COVID.
3. St. Michael-Albertville: Star guard Tessa Johnson is lost for the season to a knee injury, but the Knights have plenty of depth to pick up the slack.
4. Wayzata: Are Mara Braun and Jenna Johnson the best duo in the metro? Perhaps, but there’s a lot of competition.
5. Chaska: Division I tandem of Mallory Heyer and Kaylee Van Eps make the Hawks formidable.
6. Eden Prairie: A 34-point opening game loss to Hopkins isn’t anything to worry about. There’s some significant talent here.
7. Becker (3A): The deep and balanced Bulldogs play an up-tempo, team-first style that’s a joy to watch.
8. Maple Grove: The Crimson have four starters back from last season’s Northwest Suburban North Division champs.
9. Minnetonka: How strong is the Lake Conference? Tonka, with two notable transfers from DeLaSalle, makes it five in the top 10.
10. Stillwater: Ponies coach Willie Taylor knows how to get the best from his team. Guard Alexis Pratt might be the fastest player in the state.