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.
Tallahassee Florida High
6’1 SO Tre Donaldson, 6’5 SO Jaylen Martin, 5’10 FR Anthony Robinson
Yes, this group is still very young but as they proved at our Tallahassee team event in June, they are very talented and productive. Donaldson makes a great impact at the point guard spot. He’s a creative ball-handler, distributor, and isn’t afraid to take the tough shots. Martin is a strong driver with a rapidly improving perimeter shot. He also competes fiercely on the boards. Robertson proved he more than belonged with this group over the summer. He may be a bit on the frail side but he can shoot with range and has a high basketball IQ.
Oakland Park Northeast
6’5 JR Wesley Cardet, 6’3 SR Jermaine Dyges, 6’0 SR Tyreke Francois, 6’3 JR J.J. Harris
Cardet is a national top 25-50 recruit in the 2021 Class and with good reason. He’s long, athletic, and can play multiple positions. While he’s at his best when attacking the basket with the dribble or in transition, Cardet is an under-rated passer as well as a streaky perimeter shooter that must be respected from beyond the arc. Dyges is a combo guard that will a little bit of everything and just about anything to win games. He’s got a nice stroke from the perimeter and gets after it on the defensive end. Francois brings a championship pedigree over from Ely. The lefty is extremely quick with the ball, easily breaks down defenders, and finishes at the basket. Harris moves down from Central Florida. He’s an improved shooter, especially coming off ball-screens and has shown a knack for scoring in traffic at the rim.
6’5 SR Keano Calderon, 6’5 JR Michael James, 6’5 JR Roddrick Henry, 6’1 JR Jalen Smith, 6’5 SO Lewis Jones
Calderon is the only senior on the roster of note but he also might be the most versatile. He is a very good passer on the move, makes open shots on the perimeter, and isn’t afraid to challenge bigs when driving to the basket. James comes over from Wekiva and played well enough on the grassroots circuit to get high-major interest from various colleges in the southeast. He can shoot it, drive it, and finish in transition. Henry returns to Orlando after spending a year in Tallahassee. He’s very similar to James but is a more physical rebounder and defender. Smith will have control of the offense. He has a quick (but low) release on his shot that reaches out to the college three point line. Smith is also a long and bothersome defender on the ball. Jones played as a freshman last season and will see additional court time thanks to an improving perimeter shot.
Lakeland Sante Fe Catholic
6’5 SR Jovan Bell, 6’3 SR Joe Stubbs, 6’2 SR Ray Davis, 6’3 SR Antwan Walker
This group looked really good at the Fall Festival, playing with excellent chemistry. Bell is arguably the strongest and best athlete of the group. He’s at his best in transition or attacking the basket with the drive. Stubbs is another high-rise athlete. His jumper is reliable out to the arc and he’s an unselfish passer. Davis is arguably the most natural point guard of the quartet. He sees the floor very well and gets the ball quickly to where it needs to go. Davis doesn’t look to score like the others but he definitely makes the most of his opportunities. Walker transfers in for his senior year. Playing with the group in the fall, he is clearly the top shooter and stretches the floor with his shot. He is also a creative driver and finisher with the ball in his hands.
Miami Schoolhouse Prep
6’4 SR A.J. Lopez, 6’1 SR Jose Luis Benitez, 6’4 JR Jalen Coffer, 6’0 SR Cedrick St. Jean, 6’1 FR Jayven Coffer
The Wolfpack backcourt is deep and gives the team a strong chance at a Class 2A title this season. Lopez is long, has a quick first step, and explodes to the basket. Benitez is quick with the ball, pushes the pace, and knocks down open shots along the perimeter. The elder Coffer is an athletic lefty that plays both guard spots at a high level. He is a playmaker at both ends of the floor. St. Jean is another quick-twitch athlete that makes things happen due to his physical gifts. He is a tough on-ball defender and aggressively attacks the defense with the dribble. The younger Coffer plays a bit passive at times when thrown in with this group but we’ve seen him often enough to know that he has a solid future at the next level.
OTHERS OF NOTE
Tampa Berkeley Prep: 6’0 SR Kegan Karnes, 6’1 JR R.J. Garcia
Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson: 5’10 SR Martin Mercedes, 6’4 SR Kemari Brown
Quincy Crossroad Academy: 5’9 SR Deonte Jones, 6’3 SR Jalen Black
Tarpon Springs East Lake: 6’3 SR Dionte Blanch, 6’0 SR Jordan Hillman, 6’3 JR Dean Gabrelcik
Naples First Baptist Academy: 6’5 SR Peyton Urbancic, 6’4 SR Jamal Norris
West Palm Beach Forest Hill: 6’5 JR Donovan Draper, 6’4 SR Jonathan Mogbo, 6’0 SR Diante Daniels
Miami Gulliver Prep: 6’6 SR Tony Sanders, 5’10 SR Gabe Taylor
Land O’Lakes: 6’3 SR Chase Farmer, 6’3 SR Mekhi Perry
Laurel Hill: 6’2 SR Rudy Blackshear, 6’1 SR Trey Williams
Miami High: 6’5 JR Justin Neely, 6’5 JR Teddarius Davis
Miramar: 6’3 SR Brent Davis, 6’4 SO DeShawn Jean-Charles, 6’4 SO Faheim Meran
Orlando Dr. Phillips: 6’3 SR Abdoulaye Thiam, 6’0 SO Denzel Aberdeen
Paxton: 6’2 SR Connor Varnum, 5’10 SO Latrell Sanders
Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest: 6’5 SO Amen Thompson, 6’5 SO Asur Thompson
Pembroke Pines Charter: 6’3 SR Osei Price, 5’11 SR Dallas Graziani, 6’1 JR Javen Smith
Tallahassee Rickards: 6’2 SR K.J. Taylor, 6’5 SR Myles Smith
Sanford Seminole: 5’10 SR O’shea Baker, 6’3 SO Jacari Henderson, 6’3 SO Demari Henderson
Seffner Christian: 6’4 JR Mike Trigg, 6’5 JR Willie Jones
Oviedo The Master’s Academy: 6’1 SR Andrew Thelwell, 6’4 SR Corey Sawyer
Wildwood: 6’2 SR Marcus Niblack, 6’2 JR Nate Mickell, 6’2 JR Alfred Corbin
Windermere: 6’3 JR Trey Moss, 6’3 JR Kanye Jones