The kids are doing well: Southeast Minnesota is teeming with young basketball talent – Post Bulletin

Southeast Minnesota has seen a pack of Division I basketball talent in recent years. These include Byron grad Ayoka Lee (All-America at Kansas State University), Lourdes grad Alyssa Ustby (All-America nominee at the University of North Carolina), Mayo grad Anna Miller (great minutes at Drake University), and Kasson-Mantorville grad Kristen Scott (former multi-year starter at Iowa State University). There’s also current KM senior Aby Shubert, who will play at Xavier University next season.

That talent doesn’t look like it’s drying up anytime soon in the Rochester area. That’s the verdict of all the freshmen, eighth-graders, and a seventh-grader prodigy who showed off their skills for their varsity teams this past season.

Here’s a look at a few that have stood out the most. Certainly most won’t turn out to be Division I players. But at least a handful has a chance.

Freshman Guard, Stewartville

Already catching the attention of Division I colleges, Shindelar is one of the brightest young prospects in Southeast Minnesota. The good-shooting freshman was averaging 9.5 points per game this season and did so while coming off the bench for a Stewartville team that finished 29-3 and the Class AAA runners-up. Shindelar shot a rare 45% on 3-pointers. The newcomer also showed an ability to get to the basket.

Stewartville manager Ryan Liffrig: “Audrey has one of the softest shots in Minnesota from ‘3’, but she’s also added offensive play this year.”

Stewartville vs. Austin Girls Basketball Section 1AAA Championsh
Stewartville’s Ella Theobald (21) saves the ball from Austin’s Ajiem Agwa (1) during the Section 1AAA girls basketball championship on Friday, March 10, 2023 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Study Center, Stewartville

Theobald doesn’t play or look like a freshman. At 6 feet and extremely strong, she’s plenty for anyone to handle and she finishes shots extremely well, including in clutch moments during the recent state tournament. She is also a top notch rebounder. Theobald averaged 8.3 points (57% field goal shooting) and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Stewartville manager Ryan Liffrig: “Ella was big at the state tournament and was in double figures (in the quarterfinals and semifinals) and was an absolute force.”

Stewartville, Benilde-St.  Margaret's School Class AAA Girls State Basketball Championship
Jayci Rath (13) of Stewartville tries 3 during the Class AAA Girls Basketball Championship game vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Saturday, March 18, 2023 at the Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Freshman Forward, Stewartville

Rath is another newcomer from Stewartville already getting Division I looks. At a sturdy 6’1 with long arms and a smooth and intelligent play, it’s easy to see what recruiters like. She started that season for a Stewartville team that finished as AAA runners-up with an average of 6 points, 5.8 rebounds and an excellent 49% from the field – 42% with 3 points.

Stewartville coach Liffrig: “Jayci is a smooth team basketball player. She makes great decisions and is a fringe force blocking shots.”

Mayo, John Marshall in a Section 1AAAA Girls Basketball Quarterfinals game
Mayo’s Amelia Mills (25) controls the ball during a Section 1AAAA basketball quarterfinals game against John Marshall Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at Mayo High School in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Seventh grade guard, Mayo

The possibilities for Mills seem endless. As a seventh grader, she was already one of the fastest players on a Mayo team brimming with excellent athletes. Mills became a starter in the last third of the season due to a teammate’s injury and excelled in the role. The point guard is already a well above average collegiate ball handler and shooter. She averaged 6.8 points per game on 52% field goal shooting. And in 11 games as a starter, Mills averaged 12 ppg. and shot 38% on 3-pointers.

Mayo Coach Andy Bromeling: “Even as a seventh grader, Ameila had a very calm and self-confident demeanor. Mix her speed and her ability to make shots and you have a special player. I’m excited to see how much better she gets over the next five years.”

John Marshall, Winona girls basketball
Jazmin Daing (3) of John Marshall shoots during a girls basketball game against Winona Friday January 27, 2023 in Rochester.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Eighth Grade Warden John Marshall

Daing has a ceiling as high as almost everyone on this list. She is 5ft 11, smooth and walks well. She averaged 5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game for JM this season as a starter. Daing shoots and drives well and also has the ability to handle a press.

John Marshall trainer Maxx Waring: “Jazmin is a good all-round player. She bounces well, she can shoot and drive.

Century Mayo Girls Basketball
Century’s Madison Ohm (10) drives towards the net during a girls basketball game against Mayo at Century High School in Rochester Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

This is another in a long line of Ohms from Southeast Minnesota who is both talented and motivated. A starter this season on a strong Panthers team, the 5-foot-9-ohm player averaged 7.8 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She also shot 35% on 3-pointers and 80% from the free throw line.

Century Coach Chadd Clarey: “Maddie is tall, athletic and plays with great confidence. She can score from long range, get out of dribbling and take it to the edge. Being a three dimensional goalscorer gives her the ability to take what defense gives her and thrive.”

Williams 2.JPG
Lourdes 8th grader Aaliyah Williams is cutting through the Zumbrota-Mazeppa defense this season. Williams, a point guard, is one of many young rising basketball stars in Southeast Minnesota.

Contributed / Janyce McHale

Eighth grade guard, Lourdes

Williams has all the skills needed to be a great point guard, with speed, skillful passing, cleverness and excellent ball handling skills. She was one of the first players to come on for a great Lourdes team this season, averaging 4.5 points, 2 assists and 1 steal per game.

Lourdes manager Todd Greguson: “Aaliyah is a truly exhilarating player with a high basketball IQ and great point guard skills. That is, whether it’s their ball handling ability or the ability to see the pitch and make some really nice passes. She’s also a great athlete with tons of speed.”

Freshman Guard, Mabel Canton

Quite an athlete, Soiney is also a star middle hitter on a Mabel Canton volleyball team that placed third in Class A. At 5-foot-10, she was still fluid enough to play point guard for the Cougars while averaging 15.6 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals per game. She also hit 47 3-pointers.

Mabel Canton coach Adam Wilder: “The most important thing about Kinley is her drive to be good. She’s already one of the hardest workers I’ve ever trained, and that includes the time she puts into the weight room. She works just as hard in training as she does in games. “

Pat Ruf

Pat has been a sports reporter for Post Bulletin since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football as well as a variety of other Southeast Minnesota football teams. My other southeast Minnesota high school beats include girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (occasionally), and the Timberwolves ( occasionally). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or [email protected].


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