Following the draft, I put together grades for the six Cap City rosters based on nothing more than prior knowledge, some guesses, and a whole lot of hypotheticals. With two games remaining before the playoffs, a lot of questions have been answered about who has legitimate shots at the title.
DES MOINES OUT REACH LIONS CLUB (5-1)
Even with their Cyclones, Jakolby Long and Merrill Holden, only playing a game apiece, the Lions Club has raced out to a 5-1 start and have looked like the most complete team by far.
Surprisingly, Holden, in his one game, flashed some deep range, going 5-9 from 3.
Matt Tiby (UW-Milwaukee), Ore Arogundade, and Jacob Enevold (Drake) have been a three headed monster without any Iowa State assistance, and with the extended ISU Newcomer Orientation coming to a close for Holden and Long during the break, my early favorite will finally hit full force just in time for a deep playoff run. Like they needed the extra boost to begin with.
Original Grade: A
New Grade: A+
RENAISSANCE GRANITE & QUARTZ (3-3)
Sure, their 3-3 record might seem underwhelming in some eyes, the slow start can largely be chalked up to Monte Morris' absence during the CP3 Point Guard Camp, and with Morris here to stay, Renaissance Granite looks like they've finally put it all together, especially after a big move on the league's limited free agency market.
After injuries to high school forwards Jal Bijieck and Carlo Marble, the team added former Cyclone Daniel Edozie, home for the off season after his first overseas pro season.
Fresh off a year for the Bristol Flyers in which he lead the British Basketball League in rebounds, Edozie is a game changer in the CCL. My one knock on this team in the last write up is their lack of a true post, but with the big man's addition, it frees up Jordan Stotts (Sioux Falls) and TJ Thomas (Drake) to be the stretch 4s they want to be and gives Monte a partner for the pick and roll.
One of the biggest surprises of the summer has been Travon Mitchell. A close friend of Morris from Flint, Mitchell's been torching the net from deep, even going 10-16 from behind the arc on the way to 36 points against Hannah Homes. While the Lions Club looks to be a favorite, Renaissance seems like it might have the fire power to give them a run down the stretch.
Original Grade: B+
New Grade: A-
TIM VORLAND PHOTOGRAPHY (5-1)
It's tough to tab what this team's potential is, which is most likely because they've already reached it, and that's not a bad thing. I've watched every game this season and still went, "Wait...what?" when seeing their record. They don't have any big personalities, their small college role players do their thing so quietly you almost take it for not giving a s---, and Matt Thomas defers so much to start games, I've counted a couple games where he had one or no shots at half. But they get it done.
They've performed exactly how I would've expected them to, but most of their early season run has been against depleted rosters. Sure, they've won a couple games with Thomas alongside Georges Niang at his drafty party, but their stable of Simeon Carter, CJ Rivers, and Billy Wampler (both Drake) haven't had any attendance issues while most of the teams they beat have been missing half or more of their D-I athletes.
That's the only way I can justify moving this team down just a tad. In a league where everyone will be adding more firepower in July, where else can Vorland go?
Original Grade: A-
New Grade: A-
ADIO CHIROPRACTIC (3-3)
ADIO's a team that, even through six games, any evaluation is a complete guess and totally based on the potential of the pieces and not the whole. The good news is that in his only game, Solomon Young looked like a total stud, and with a grown-ass man body that looks ready to give minutes in the Big 12 as a freshman. The bad news is that Solomon Young has only played in one game for ADIO.
Attendance has been an issue for the #1 Drake pick, Reed Timmer, who's missed at least half the games for various reasons. While Nick Babb has emerged as a triple double threat night in and night out and Johannes Dolven (Drake) pulls in big numbers off the glass, it's tough to expect Babb and Dolven to be able to keep up with teams with a full stable of ISU and Drake players.
Luckily, ADIO has gotten to three wins off the breakout sweet shooting from small college Cap City rookies Luke Terhark (Wayne State), Luke Vaske (Norwalk HS), and Jack Green (Truman State). Their range is a means to end, though, and ADIO doesn't seem like a strong contender if they have to count on the trio for the main chunk of their scoring as they have been.
Original Grade: B
New Grade: B-
PHOENIX RENEWABLE RESOURCES
Working the mic on the PA for Naz Long's league record 72 point game was an experience I won't soon forget, but when it comes to his team's performance, it might not have been the best debut possible for Long.
On a bright note for Cyclone fans, Long's hips look fully recovered and he's been flying up and down the floor. Then again, Long has obviously settled in to his 5th season in the CCL, and has turned to routinely chucking 30 footers. And by ‘routinely', I mean half of his jumpers are from Ontario. Bowie hasn't looked bad, he's been smooth with the ball and getting up and down the floor, and the bigs from Drake, Schlatter and Kuentsling, have done their part scavenging rebounds, but there's only so much you can do while the primary ball handler takes 50 shots a game.
In general, Naz has the capability to turn it on and lead his team to being consistently competitive, but until then, it won't be pretty.
Original Grade: C+
New Grade: C
HANNAH HOMES (0-6)
I'll be the first to say it, I didn't see this coming. Hannah Homes has been close at least, but they haven't been able to close out a single game thus far, and finally seemed to be pushed to the breaking point in a 134-109 loss to Renaissance. They have the pieces, but with opposing teams keying on Deonte Burton constantly and Burton seemingly unwilling to give up the ball, he's forced to take contested jumper after contested jumper.
That being said, it's still exciting basketball. Burton can shake rims, and Ray Miller, even in his league record 8th and final season, can still get up and has a shot a becoming the league's all time rebounding leader. Stuuuuu and league vet Reed Mells (ex Truman State) have flashed a touch from deep and Drake's Graham Woodward and Nick McGlynn have been one of the more reliable Drake duos in the league.
Yet until they can get the ball moving consistently, Hannah Homes won't have a chance of getting to the second night of the playoffs, let alone repeating as league champs.