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Iowa basketball recruiting: Even Brauns' official visits, Emarion Ellis' budding potential

Des Moines Register logo Des Moines Register 5/13/2019 Matthew Bain
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PLYMOUTH, Minn. — Here's a collection of thoughts, notes and observations on some of Iowa's top in-state basketball prospects following PrepHoops' Battle at the Lakes over the weekend.

Even Brauns

The Iowa City West junior is a well-built, 6-foot-9 post. He'll pop out for a midrange jumper every now and then, but Brauns will earn his collegiate minutes with brute force and athleticism in the paint.

While there's room for refinement, Brauns grew leaps and bounds in his first year under Trojans head coach Steve Bergman.

The result? New spring offers from Bradley, Indiana State and South Dakota.

"Going to West was really good for him — he grew as a player," said Jamie Pettigrew, Brauns' coach with the Iowa Barnstormers. "And what he’s done, that he didn't in the past, is he’s really protecting the rim."

a group of people standing in a room: Class of 2020 prospect Even Brauns prepares for a free throw at Battle at the Lakes. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Class of 2020 prospect Even Brauns prepares for a free throw at Battle at the Lakes.

Brauns, the Register's No. 3 in-state 2020 prospect, also holds offers from Toledo, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He said he plans to officially visit Toledo in June, and that he's also in discussions with Belmont to take a June official visit. The Bruins haven't offered, but they've been in the picture for a while.

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Omaha Biliew

In case you don't know, Biliew is a 6-foot-7 eighth-grader who is considered a top-five prospect in his class with the likes of Iowa, Washington and Louisville showing early interest. He recently decided he'll attend Dowling Catholic.

Biliew was poised when I saw him Sunday. He was smart and vocal, directing older teammates in defensive schemes and offensive sets. And, of course, he was talented. He runs the floor quite well. His 3-point form is solid. Some of his baseline drives and reverse layups were jaw-dropping.

"I like to get my teammates in the game. It’s not all about me," Biliew told me. "That's what leadership is."

Class of 2023 prospect Omaha Biliew (9) already holds interest from a wide array of colleges. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Class of 2023 prospect Omaha Biliew (9) already holds interest from a wide array of colleges.

With all that said, Biliew is acclimating to the tempo of high-level basketball; this is his second year playing AAU. 

The good news is those are issues that are naturally fixed over time — and issues that are not uncommon for a middle schooler.

Bowen Born

I'll have a lot more on the Norwalk point guard in a story on him later this week. But, for now, here are some things to know:

  • Toledo, South Dakota and Indiana State offered Born in April.
  • Creighton and Iowa continue to be the high-majors most involved.
  • Boston College, Princeton, Brown and Penn have also shown interest.
  • Starting in June, Born hopes to visit the schools that have offered him. He said Toledo has already discussed a June official. He's not sure whether his other visits would be official or unofficial, but he wants to learn more about the academic and "everyday life" aspects of the programs pursuing him.
a group of basketball players: Class of 2020 prospect Bowen Born high-fives teammates during Battle at the Lakes. © Matthew Bain/The Register Class of 2020 prospect Bowen Born high-fives teammates during Battle at the Lakes.
  • Creighton also wants him to visit in the summer. Born said he hasn't discussed a visit with Iowa.
  • Drake and UNI continue to prioritize Born. Both schools visited with him before and after April's live recruiting period. Creighton and Indiana State also visited with Born following the live period.

Emarion Ellis

One impressive workout in March earned Ellis the No. 12 spot on our 2021 rankings.

And there's a reason the Davenport Central product is now generating buzz on the AAU circuit: At times, he makes the incredibly difficult look easy — he makes the types of plays you see on TV. 

At other times, he shows flashes of why he shot 35.1% as a sophomore, forcing shots and trying to drive through lanes that aren't there.

a group of people standing in front of a basketball game: Class of 2021 prospect Emarion Ellis watches a teammate's 3-point attempt during Battle a the Lakes. © Matthew Bain/The Register Class of 2021 prospect Emarion Ellis watches a teammate's 3-point attempt during Battle a the Lakes.

He's got the confidence to take those shots, though. His decision-making will get better as he grows and gains more high-level experience.

Bottom line: The future is bright for Ellis. He's a lanky 6-3 combo guard who can defend either guard spot and can pass, dribble and shoot. He's just the type of kid who makes plays, and he will only open more eyes as he becomes more efficient on offense.

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Martin Bros 16U

I saw Martin Bros' loaded 16U team play one game — a 66-65, buzzer-beater win over Adidas' All In. And to be honest, they played poorly for the first 16 minutes.

Then, in the second half, Martin Bros was a different team. The guys woke up, played hard on both ends of the floor, fought their way back into the game and ran a flawless last-second set for Keaton Kutcher's game-winning 3-ball.

It's never a good thing to come out flat.

But I will say it was impressive how this Martin Bros squad bounced back to beat a very talented All In roster.

Michael Duax, No. 5 in our 2021 rankings, was one of the few consistent bright spots through both halves. His 3-point shooting kept Martin Bros in the game early on.

Chase Courbat, No. 1 in 2021,  struggled to score but was a dominating rebounder.

Class of 2021 prospect Chase Courbat is one of Iowa's most highly regarded sophomore talents. © Matthew Bain/The Register Class of 2021 prospect Chase Courbat is one of Iowa's most highly regarded sophomore talents.

Jaylon Moses, No. 3 in 2021, was noticeably quicker than when I saw him in March. This kid is still getting comfortable after missing nearly two years with two ACL tears. 

Jadin Johnson, No. 6 in 2021, plays so dang hard on defense. His shot looked good in the second half, too.

Other notes

  • I watched some of Kingdom Hoops' 16U Navy squad, which features Payton Sandfort, No. 9 in 2021. There's always going to be room on a college roster for a 6-6 kid who can shoot and works hard on defense.
  • All Iowa Attack's Karson Sharar, No. 4 in 2021, is not just a shooter. The 6-1 guard is bigger and stronger than you might expect, and he can score from all three levels.
  • Ryan Riggs, No. 2 in 2021, continues to have a successful spring with Adidas' OSA Crusaders. He logged 13 points and five boards in a big, 83-58 win against Wisconsin Playmakers over the weekend.
  • If you're looking for a skilled freshman, Johnston point guard Trey Lewis is certainly one to watch. He's had consistent success playing up an age level with Pure Prep Academy this spring. Let's see how much Lewis grows; he's only 5-8 right now.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa basketball recruiting: Even Brauns' official visits, Emarion Ellis' budding potential

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