We mentioned both Josh Jerome and Kentron Poitier in an earlier write up of the event. However, it would be a felony not to mention the play of Richard Fisher, a 6’7 rising senior for the club. Seemingly every time we watched the team play, Fisher was corralling another rebound at one end of the court or the other. Given the chance he will hammer offensive rebounds back home but he also has enough touch to get some old fashioned three point play opportunities. Fisher doesn’t come across as becoming a perimeter player any time soon but he sure has the desire and tenacity to succeed despite being a tad undersized.
CP25 FL 17U
We saw a lot of this group and we’re glad we did. Pensacola might as well be out of state but it is always good to get a chance to see the top players from that area. Both Shawndarius Cowert and Michael Randolph, Jr., each 6’4, are unquestionably two of the top players in the panhandle region. Cowert is judicious with his outside jumper but when he takes one he usually makes it. He has plenty of athleticism and body control to finish plays in traffic at the basket and makes solid pass vs. shot decisions when on the move. Cowert is also a very good defender thanks to his lateral quickness and anticipation. We’ve often referred to Randolph as a “swiss army knife” as he does so many things on the court. He spent a lot of time shouldering point guard duties and was solid. He takes and makes smart shots, has three point range, is a sneaky rebounder at both ends, and an active defender. Christian Miller Caldwell, a 6’5 wing, had a good weekend shooting the basketball from beyond the arc. He proved the be a better athlete than previously thought as he finished some plays above the rim and got high for rebounds against taller players. CMC is also a solid ball-handler out along the perimeter. Azariah Seay, a 6’4 wing out of Alabama, also put up some solid numbers. He was effective scoring at the basket and also made open jump shots on the perimeter on either side of the three point line.
CP25 Gauntlet 16U
This young squad has had a lot of success this spring and summer and continued their winning ways at the Orlando Hoops Festival. Omar Payne is the name that brings the coaches out. The 6’9 post is long and bouncy and seemingly gets better with every game he plays. He’s becoming better at holding his ground and scoring through contact inside. Payne does a solid job of protecting the rim and running the floor. His Kissimmee Osceola teammate, 6’5 Isaiah Palermo, is multi-dimensional. Offensively, he’s a threat to score from all three levels and can do so with or without a dribble. Palermo sees the court well and makes good decisions with the ball, is active on the glass at both ends, and is a solid defender. Josh Marte, all 5’9 of him, is a solid leader and facilitator of the group. He doesn’t force shots but knocks them down well beyond the arc. Marte greatest asset may be as an on-ball defender where he constantly hounds and harasses opponents. Dakota Rivers, a 6’7 forward, didn’t get a lot of touches at the offensive end but he made some mid-range shots and put home some lobs on set plays. A high level athlete, Rivers had some eye popping blocks and dunks last weekend. Darrin Green, a 6’4 wing out of Tampa, shot the ball very well from deep all weekend long. When given time and space off the catch you might as well mark it down in the book. Green has improved his ability to score off the dribble and that will help him in the long run.
CP25 Florida 16U
We only got to see this squad play the last game of the event and at the end of the game had us wishing we had seen more of them. The team has some players that draw interest over the next year or so. We mentioned 6’7 Chase Barrs in an earlier report. DJ Henderson, a 6’5 wing out of Tampa Wharton, played in his role as the team’s primary ball-handler on offense. He’s much more comfortable taking the ball to the basket than attempting jumpers along the perimeter but Henderson found success near the basket. He was also very good at finding open teammates for good shots. Brandon Farmer, a lithe 6’6 wing, shot the ball from outside the arc, going 3-3 during the contest. He’s long and a good athlete, as well as good rebounder in traffic. Noble Crawford, a 6’5 wing, didn’t show as much polish offensively as some of his teammates but his ability to create turnovers and score, put back missed shots by teammates, and general overall hustle make him a joy to watch.
Showtime Ballers 15U
We’ve seen a lot of this group over the past couple of weekends and there is a good reason why. Ricardo Wright, a 6’3 guard out of Eustis, is simply a play maker. He’ll dish off for scores, knock down perimeter shots on either side of the arc, and challenge the defense with drives to the basket. Wright is also a solid defender with length and anticipation. His teammate at Eustis, 6’1 Bradley Douglas, has potential as a point guard. He handles the ball well and is a good passer but can also score when the need should arise. Also a football player, he brings that kind of physical mentality to the court and it serves him well. Bryan Jackson, a 6’2 guard, is physical, competes on the glass at both ends, and is an alert defender for balls in his area.
Don’t be surprised when several members of this roster make noise in the EYBL in a couple of years. Jadrian Tracey, a 6’5 wing, was quite impressive. While he may play in the shadow of his older brother, the younger Tracey may already be a better basketball player. He finishes above the rim on the break, scores off the bounce in the half-court, and his jumper looks good out to the arc. Tracey is also a solid rebounder at both ends of the court. Kobe Knox, at only 5’11, may not reach his brother’s 6’9 size, but he has a jumper that is lights out from well beyond the three point line. While that may be his calling card for now, Knox has shown improvement in his decision making with the basketball. Isaiah Elmore, at 6’6, and Jamille Reyolds, at 6’8, both have the size and enough skill level as rising sophomores to be considered projects to watch.
Northeast Jax Game Changers 15U
This group shows some potential should they stay together the next few years. We became intrigued with the play of both Logan West and Myles Smith, both 6’3 forwards. West put in work around the basket, either scoring off put-backs or overpowering opponents inside. Smith is more of a perimeter player. He shoots a nice ball out to the arc but on occasion also found success at attacking the defense with the dribble. While we didn’t see it, 5’7 Deandre Devaughn drilled nine three pointers on the final day of the event.
Team Nike Wildcats 15U
Also hailing out of the First Coast area, Team Nike Wildcats had a couple of players worth noting. 5’11 Tyree Saunders, proved to be shifty and quick with the ball. He pushed the pace, made good passes in transition, and scored at the basket in traffic. 6’5 insider Kevin Findlay, grabbed rebounds like he was picking apples. We didn’t see much in the way of offense from him until he drained a three off the catch, which certainly added to our intrigue.
CP25 Gauntlet 15U
There is no shortage of talent in this program. Van Wilkes, a 6’5 wing, has the pedigree and he backs it up with production. He’s got a high basketball IQ along with great court awareness and vision. Wilkes already has a consistent three point shot and will become and even better scorer as he becomes more comfortable putting the ball on the floor and attacking the defense. Michael Eads, a 6’4 wing, shoots the ball well off the catch and makes hustle plays for scores. Jalen Nesmith, a 5’11 guard, has speed and quickness with the ball to spare. He finishes well and goes all out on the defensive end when guarding the basketball.
Team Breakdown 15U
Admittedly, we were most impressed with some 2021 players on the squad. Wesley Cardet, at 6’4, already has college ready length and size. He is still somewhat lanky and could grow some more. Cardet rebounds well and has a good shooting touch along the perimeter. Jordan Shorter, at 6’5, already has a year of varsity basketball under his belt at Miami Westwood Christian. His frame is already well-developed and he uses it and his strength to overpower smaller or weaker defenders to make plays at the basket. As his offensive skills progress, he should become a versatile threat on that end of the court.