Anne Photograp News 2024

Minnesota’s top AAU basketball team has two Gophers recruits

Minnesota’s top AAU basketball team has two Gophers recruits

On a Thursday evening in late April, some of Minnesota’s top sophomores worked hard to nail down variations in their fencing and role-playing for an upcoming tournament in Alabama.

The D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB has turned heads this spring and looks like a younger version of the Timberwolves with the way they pressure the perimeter and protect the paint at their age level.

“What makes us special right now is our versatility, depth and the way we defend,” D1 Minnesota 16U coach Al Harris said. “We’re certainly not the Timberwolves, but the way they’ve blown away the NBA with the way they defend, play so hard, that’s what a lot of people say about our AAU team.”

When East Ridge’s Cedric Tomes isn’t drilling threes on the NBA range, he’s leading the fast-break steals to set up high-flyers like Totino-Grace’s Dothan Ijadimbola, Wayzata’s Christian Wiggins and others for alley-oop slams. Ryan Kreager, a rising 6-10 big man from Faribault, blocked 11 shots in an AAU game last week, including eight in the first half.

“Once we get our offense in line with our defense, we become even more dangerous,” said Ijadimbola, the state’s No. 1 player in the class of 2026.

Arguably the best AAU team in the state regardless of class, the D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB will be featured Friday through Sunday at the Prep Hoops Battle at the Lakes in the western suburbs. D1 Minnesota plays Friday and Saturday nights at Wayzata High School. This is the largest local tournament of the spring and brings hundreds of teams to the area.

Ijadimbola and Tomes have offers from the Gophers, among other high major programs. Wiggins has an offer from Wisconsin. Nearly everyone else on the D1 Minnesota 16U 3SSB roster is a Division I prospect.

“We’re a really good team right now,” Tomes said. “I love the guys I’m around. I feel like if we play together, we can beat anyone in the country.”

The only Minnesota high school players currently receiving offers from Gophers coach Ben Johnson are Tomes, Ijadimbola and Hopkins’ Jayden Moore, who plays for J-Sizzle in AAU. They are all in the 2026 class.

Orono’s Brady Wooley and Alexandria’s Chase Thompson, Minnesota’s top two prospects for the Class of 2025, will play for D1 Minnesota’s 3SSB team in the 17U Division this weekend at the Battle at the Lakes.

Word has it that the top 16U and 17U D1 Minnesota teams faced off in a practice earlier this spring, and the younger guys had the edge. Nolan Anderson of Tomes, Wiggins and Eden Prairie came to D1 Minnesota from Team Tyus after the AAU program, sponsored by former Apple Valley star and NBA guard Tyus Jones, folded in the offseason.

Tomes was the key. The smart 6-foot-1 point guard played in the Gophers team camp with East Ridge last summer and shined for Johnson and his staff. Tomes’ deep shooting range and floor leadership also attracted an early offer from Iowa State.

“If some schools see younger players have potential, there’s no reason to wait,” Tomes said. “If you get started early, it makes it a lot easier to develop (relationship) goals. I love the (Gophers’ coaching staff). They are always welcoming. I enjoy going to their games no matter who they are playing against. they play .”

Tomes and Ijadimbola often attended Gophers games together at Williams Arena last season. Ijadimbola is one of the highest-rated local prospects across all grades: 45th nationally in 2026 by 247 Sports and 52nd by Rivals. His best offers right now come from Iowa State, Iowa, Oklahoma and the Gophers.

Ijadimbola, a powerfully built 6-6 wing, capped his high school season with Totino-Grace’s second consecutive Class 3A state title at the Barn in March. His goals are also high for AAU.

D1 Minnesota 16U’s reputation building this spring could bring more exposure to recruiting this summer.

“To get to that commitment point, you want to have a lot of options,” Ijadimbola said. “But we’re not focused on that. We’re just trying to hoop and play. Winning attracts coaches.”