One of the more interesting aspects of the Hoop Exchange Fall Festival Individual Showcase is that we can get a sense of a team’s prospects for the upcoming season if they have a couple or more players play in the event. After watching several games of the weekend, we think the following teams have a good chance to make noise when the high school season tips off after Thanksgiving.
Booker should be one of the favorites this coming season in Class 6A. A lot of that optimism can be traced to the play of senior guards Johnnie Williams and Jordan Clark. The 6’4 Williams is a high-flying athlete with a streaky shot. When he’s on target from behind the three point line, he’s very difficult to contain. Clark, at 6’3, can score when necessary but his value lies in other areas of the game. He’s a solid defender, good set-up man and takes care of the basketball.
It is unlikely that any team in Class 9A’s region one will have the depth of wings that the Blue Darters can trout out. At 6’5, senior Nate Louis is a guy that will get you buckets. He’s a strong slasher and finisher at the rim and a solid mid-range shooter. On Sunday he showed off improved shooting from beyond the arc. 6’6 senior Keeving Etienne will bring energy to the rebounding and defensive areas of the game. Saturday, he got a lot of points on drives that he finished with contact as well as knocking down a pair of shots from beyond the arc off the dribble. Finally, 6’7 junior Zach Anderson can do a little bit of everything. His ability to score in the half-court is rapidly improving and he’s a threat to go end-to-end for a score any time he spears defensive rebound. With this trio’s length, athleticism, and versatility, opponents are in for a long night at both ends of the floor.
Coral Springs Charter
South Florida is chock full of good teams and Charter will have its hands full but they aren’t devoid of weapons after watching 6’7 senior Alexander London and 6’4 junior Ivan Reynolds plays this past weekend. London provides a nice combination of size and athleticism on the interior. He knocked down a couple of jumpers on Sunday to be considered a threat to score when facing the basket. Reynolds is more known for his passing and ball-handling skills but after connecting on back-to-back threes at one point on Sunday, he too becomes a perimeter threat. Pair these two with 6’4 junior Ian Trajelli, a known sniper from distance, and Coral Springs Charter should be a tough out this coming season.
A pair of 6’5 junior athletic forwards, Navaun Peterson and Lloyd Matthew, should help the Eagles fly this season. Peterson played both Saturday and Sunday, one of the few to do so. While he didn’t shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as we have seen in the past, Peterson still dropped in a couple of deep ones over the course of the weekend. With a strong upper-body, he was able to carve out room under the offensive glass and get a lot of points off of putbacks. Peterson also proved to be swift in transition and fine finisher at the rim. Matthew may not be as skilled, but he gives great energy and effort every play and is an active rebounder and defender. Combine these two with junior guard Robert Eads as a primary scorer, and Edgewater should continue to be one of Central Florida’s top teams over the next couple of seasons.
Playing a bit in the shadows of their Central Florida brethren to the west, the Melbourne program should be solid this coming season. Max Fielder, a 6’9 center, drew raves with his play over the summer and turned it into a D-I scholarship. He’ll be flanked by a pair of juniors that should provide him plenty of support. Redrick Hill, at 6’7, showed some athleticism as well as an ability to connect on open threes during play on Sunday. He’s also quick off of his feet for rebounds and runs the floor well. Recently arrived from Texas, 6’3 wing Derion Green, is a fine athlete that produced some highlight dunks and blocks Sunday afternoon. He didn’t get much of a chance to show his skill level so we hope to get a better gauge of that at some point. On a side note for Green, he has big hands and feet and may not be done growing.
Somerset Chapel Trail
If this program didn’t play in arguably the toughest private school district in the state (Class 5A Region 4 District 13), they would certainly be a state final four contender. Three of their projected starting five played on Sunday and left no doubt that this team is one to watch. We’ve mention the play of 6’0 sophomore Jon Renois before and he continues to be a tantalizing point guard prospect. He shot the ball better from the perimeter this weekend and when combining that with his ability to penetrate and score at the basket, he’s a tough cover. Brandon Garcia, a 6’1 junior, shot the ball very well from the perimeter, connecting on five shots from deep in the game we watched. He can sometimes be a bit too fast and loose with the ball but playing alongside other talented guys this season should help solve that issue. Finally, 6’7 junior Nathan Montaque, can provide matchup problems inside or out. He’s too mobile for big defenders and too strong for small ones. Montaque scores well off ball-screen action as the screener, crashes the offensive glass and makes shots from the perimeter. Throw in Tyson Civil, the teams’s leading scorer last year and Dudley Blackwell, and you have as potent a starting five as you will find in the FHSAA.
Paxon faces a tough slate in Class 6A, Region 1, District 3 but has a young nucleus in place that could make a lot of noise this coming season. It starts with 6’6 junior wing Isaiah Adams, a first team all-first coast selection last season. In an event such as this where the pace is always up-tempo, Adams excels. His long strides move him up and down the floor rapidly, he finishes well above the rim, and is an excellent passer on the move. Adams’ jump shot is a bit suspect at this point but his other skills more than make up for it. His length and ability to anticipate on the defensive end creates havoc. Adams has help in the form of 5’10 sophomore guard Maurice Willie. He did a great job of pushing the pace on Saturday. He’s also a good enough perimeter shooter to keep the defense honest and makes good shot vs. pass decisions when driving the ball to the basket.
Orlando Christian Prep
Don’t think for a milli-second that OCP will fall off the pace after losing four of five starters from a dominant team last season. The Warriors have a young core that despite playing individually this weekend, show that OCP is a long way from ending its run of dominance. Eric Butler, a 6’3 junior combo guard, is an efficient scorer but also a productive set-up man and distributor. A trio of freshman could see plenty of minutes this season. 6’3 wing Anthony Brown looked solid in knocking down a pair of threes, getting to the basket and scoring in traffic, and finishing off offensive rebounds. 6’5 forward Ven-Allen Lubin was a rugged interior operator, more than up to the challenge of playing against older competition as he competed and finished well on the offensive glass. Finally, 6’2 guard Fabio Basili kept his teammates involved on Sunday with pinpoint passing while also scoring well in transition and coming off of ball screens, finishing in traffic.
Just over a decade old, this program west of downtown Orlando doesn’t have much basketball tradition. This coming season could help start one. Sadeem Blake, a 6’1 junior guard, was a scoring machine on Sunday. At one point, he hit four of five from beyond the arc, all off the dribble while being contested. He’s quick and strong enough to get to and score thru contact at the basket if overplayed for the shot. David Green, a 6’6 junior, showed promise as well. A solid athlete, he impressed with an off-hand finish on a drive to the rim, a mid-range jumper off a ball-screen, and a three off the catch. Green also did a lot of work on the offensive glass as well as beating the defense down the court in transition. Combine these two with 6’6 classmate Alston Andrews and the Knights could be a real threat.
Boca Raton St. Andrew’s
This squad could be a dark horse in their Class 5A region. It starts with 6’9 junior Yussif Basa-Ama, an athletic interior presence at both ends of the floor. Saturday he showed improved strength and touch around the basket and as usual was a defensive deterrent in the paint. 6’5 sophomore Josh Minott should provide much needed versatility at both ends of the floor. Long, he proved to be a capable ball-handler and passer, as well as able to rebound in traffic against bigger and stronger opponents. Throw in 6’0 senior guard Alejandro Relat into the mix, who had his own moments on Saturday, and you’ve got a trio that opponents will find tough to contain.