There is a lot of ground to cover from the Fall Festival’s Team Showcase. Unlike recent years, there was no tournament format. Instead, there were showcase games for each team. Let’s get into it.
The defending national champs bring in pretty much a new team from last season. Even without three potential starters, the Eagles were able to handle the weekend’s opponents with relative ease. The only significant carryover from last season is 7’1 senior Balsa Kaprovica. Highly skilled for a player his size, he can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting as well as operate effectively in the low post. Bigs running alongside him this past weekend were 6’9 senior Omar Payne, a Florida commit, and 6’11 junior Pavel Zakharov from Russia. Payne’s ability to beat defenders down the floor for scores, shot blocking skills and rebounding prowess are well-documented. He may not get a lot of plays run for him but Payne will certainly find ways to score. Zakharov is much like Kaprovica in that he is skilled and mobile. He was quite impressive with his passing skills and finishing ability in traffic around the basket. In his debut for the Eagles, 6’4 senior Harold Beverley set the gym buzzing with is explosive exploits in transition. Whether it was pushing the ball on the break after rebounds or coming up with a loose ball in the open floor, Beverly routinely finished above the rim in ferocious fashion. He didn’t display (and didn’t need to) a jump shot this weekend. If he has one of those, watch out!
A favorite to repeat as champions in Class 9A, Oakridge played this weekend without top forty prospect, 6’8 senior C.J. Walker. That’s okay as Oakridge had more than enough talent to compensate this weekend. Kaleb Coleman, a 6’7 senior forward, put in work in the rebounding department at both ends while offensively he stretched the floor with his perimeter shooting. Niven Glover, a 6’4 senior, looks to be improved as a shooter from distance. His top shelf athleticism serves the team well in terms of rebounding, transition scoring, and defense. Emmanuel Adedoyin and Zavien Smith, both 6’3 senior guards, provide a steady hand in the backcourt. Adedoyin is an attacking scorer while Smith is a confident ball-handler, passer, and shot maker from deep. Add in contributions from sophomore guards Jalen Smith and Stephen Burr along with impact freshman 6’5 Lewis Jones and the Pioneers look like a lock to get back to the final four in the state’s largest classification.
Pompano Beach Ely
Until another program proves otherwise, the Tigers should begin the season as the top ranked team in whatever classification they are in (currently 8A). A program in the ultimate sense of the word, Coach Melvin Randall’s squad is always up for a challenge. The names and faces may change but the results speak for themselves. This year’s crop of Tigers features 6’5 do-it-all senior wing Joshua Scott. His contributions aren’t limited to the scoring column. Rebounds, assists, defense, leadership and other intangibles are all part of his tool kit. Lamont Evans, a 6’0 junior came up with big with timely three pointers in the two games that we watched. Another junior, 5’11 Tyrecke Francois, was another notable two-way player with his ability to make shots and force turnovers. 6’4 junior wing Aderes James Stanton-McCray was an excellent complement to Scott. With a quick release on his jumper that proved to be accurate to the arc as well as a strong drive game, he was able to effectively get points. Lance Rainer, a 6’4 senior, was a big help on the glass as well as defending the paint.
Daytona Beach Mainland
Long a football powerhouse, the alma mater of Vince Carter is one of a handful of favorites heading into the season in Class 7A. It all starts at the point guard position with 5’11 junior Jordan Sears. A catalyst at both ends of the court, he’s a facilitator and scorer on offense and disruptive when guarding the ball on the defensive end. He does a good job of pushing the pace and finding open teammates on the move. Though listed at 6’9, Johnny Brown prefers to play on the perimeter. A dangerous pick-and-pop guy, the lefty has range to the arc. He’ll post up and score if not played physically. Brown will challenge guys at the basket on defense and force opponents to alter their shot. Rodney Rhoden, a 6’5 senior, is an athletic slasher that makes a living finishing above the basket. Whether in transition or throwing down lobs off of set plays, Rhoden makes a highlight level play every game. His quick leaping ability allows him to play bigger than his size when it comes to rebounding.
Orlando West Oaks Academy
One of the top teams in the SIAA, the Flames don’t have an abundance of size but their perimeter talent will burn defenses and get buckets. Tyrell Jones, a 6’1 senior, is mulling over several high-major offers. Wired to score from all three levels, he’s become a solid decision maker on the drive and routinely finds teammates for easy scores. Jordan Smith, a 6’0 senior guard, is quick and fast with the ball, is tenacious in harassing opposing ball-handlers, and does a great job of pushing the tempo. Senior Linton Brown, at 6’5, has the perimeter game to open up the floor but is also strong enough to defend bigger opponents. Alic Troutman, a 6’7 senior, is a tough interior defender. He’s a scoring threat as a receiver coming off of ball-screens as he has good hands and a soft touch around the basket. Selton Miguel, a 6’5 junior wing, is effective as both a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter and when driving the ball to the basket. He’s also an active and disruptive defender. Young gun sophomores J.J. Harris and A.J. Neal will have their moments as well. The 6’4 Harris is an effective scorer when driving to the basket and a voracious rebounder. At 6’0, Neal has deep range on a quick release jumper and routinely starts scoring runs by hitting multiple shots behind the arc in succession.