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2017-18 Preview: Best of the Backcourts - Part I

By Rick Staudt, 11/06/17, 5:30PM CST

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Without solid guard play, success on the basketball court is hard to come by.  It becomes much more difficult to advance the ball, score, or contain the other team on the perimeter without it.  With that in mind, we take a look at what we think will be some of the better backcourts this coming high school season.

Delray Beach Atlantic

6’1 SR Rodwins Albert, 6’2 SR Michael Lankford, 6’1 JR Kadeem Wilkes

Young group led Atlantic to a district title last season and even bigger things are expected from the Eagles this season.  Albert was a first team all-area selection last year and led the team in both scoring (18ppg) and assists (5apg).  Lankford was a second team selection who scores best when attacking the basket.  Wilkes has a deep and consistent perimeter stroke.

Melbourne Florida Prep

5’10 SR DeJuan Small, 5’10 SR A.J. Johnson, 6’5 JR Kmani Doughtery

While the Florida Prep “skyline” will get the most notoriety, it was Small and Johnson that played bigger than their size in leading Florida Prep to within a buzzer-beating three pointer of the state title in Class 2A last year.  Small and Johnson are similar in that they can shoot with range as well as blow by opponents off the dribble.  Dougherty is new to the group, but the junior has shown that he is comfortable on the perimeter and will bring much needed balance to the floor.

Miami Gulliver Prep

5’11 SO Jamal Mashburn, Jr., 6’5 SO Antonio Sanders, 6’3 SO Gabe Taylor

This group was part of a freshman-dominated lineup that reached the Class 5A region finals last season.  Combined, these three averaged 47 points a game.  It starts with Mashburn who is gaining a national reputation for his scoring prowess.  Sanders was a consistent scorer alongside Mashburn for the 15U Florida Vipers this past spring and summer.  Taylor can play either guard spot and makes the most of his opportunities.

Kissimmee Osceola

5’10 JR Josh Marte, 6’5 JR Isaiah Palermo, 6’4 JR Jadakiss Soto

Marte and Palermo were big contributors to Osceola’s run to the Class 9A state title last season.  Marte is a consummate distributor, long distance shooter, and on-ball defender.  Palermo does whatever it takes to win and is a consistent producer at both ends of the floor.  Soto transfers over from Gateway and will provide both outside shooting and perimeter defense.

Orlando Lake Highland Prep

5’10 SR Nick Honor, 6’0 SR Jason West, 6’3 SR Jack Gabriel, 6’1 JR Malik Dixon

This group offers a little bit of everything.  Expect Honor to have the ball in his hands a lot.  The Fordham commit is tough as nails going to the basket but also a solid perimeter shooter.  West returns after a year at Trinity Prep.  He is very quick off the dribble.  Gabriel will be the recipient of many open catch-and-shoot looks when teammates take the ball to the basket and he has the ability to knock it down consistently.  Dixon is a strong, active athlete that is the future of the LHP program.

Leesburg

6’3 SR Cordrayius Graham, 6’5 SR Keon Ellis, 6’2 JR Lance Irving

This group provides the majority of the points for the reigning 6A state champs.  Graham brings a football mentality to the court and uses his strength and toughness to make plays at both ends.  Ellis is a lean scoring machine from all three levels.  Irving is more of a scorer than a shooter but he will knock down open looks if the defense plays too far off, expecting the drive.

Miami Christian

6’1 SR Neftali Alvarez, 6’5 SR Miguel Diaz, 6’4 SR Jeffrey Hernandez

This group will provide the firepower for a team looking to repeat as Class 2A champs.  Alvarez was the one to hit the winning shot in last year’s title game.  He’s proven to be a high-major recruit during this past spring and summer.  Diaz is a consistent three point shooter but also helps out quite a bit on the glass.  Hernandez is just now getting the respect he deserves as a potent scoring threat whenever he touches the basketball.

OTHERS OF NOTE

Boca Raton: 6’2 SR Cade Long, 6’1 JR Max Demius

Weston Cypress Bay: 6’2 JR Isaiah Kirby, 6’1 SO Brandon Garcia

Orlando Dr. Phillips: 6’3 SR Daniel Love, 6’2 JR Dante Love

Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer: 6’3 SR Miles Coleman, 6’2 SR Jovanni Quince

Eustis: 6’3 SO Ricardo Wright, 6’1 SO Bradley Douglas

St. Petersburg Gibbs: 6’3 SR David Pierce, 5’10 SO Tre Gilliam

Bradenton Lakewood Ranch: 6’4 SR Evan Spiller, 6’1 SR Damien Gordon

Miramar: 6’4 SR Jamir Moore, 6’4 SR Damion Miller

North Miami: 6’2 JR Richard Charles, 6’2 JR Donte Innocent

Orlando Christian Prep: 6’0 SR Renaldo Segu, 6’0 SR Jordan Goodson, 5’9 SO Jouldon Velez

West Palm Beach Oxbridge: 6’2 JR A.J. Cajuste, 6’4 SR Keidron Smith