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.
6’3 SR Walter Clayton, 5’10 SR Malcolm Dewberry, 6’2 SR Amarion Frazier, 6’0 SO Kjei Parker
A quality group of perimeter players will try to guide Bartow to a repeat Class 6A state title. Clayton, an Iona signed and reigning Polk County Player of the Year, won’t see the court until after the holidays as he recovers from a knee injury. Not only is he a dynamic basketball player, but also a great leader and coach on the floor. Dewberry transferred in and his speed and quickness made tangible dividends for Bartow at various fall events. He won’t need to score as much as he did previously because of all the talent around him. Frazier was a second team all-county selection last season as a junior. He’s a bundle of energy on the floor at both ends, attacks the basket and knocks down open perimeter shots. Parker is likely the next great player out of Polk County. He has a tremendous basketball IQ, high skill level, and a knack for making the game look easy.
Tarpon Springs East Lake
6’4 SR Dean Gabrelcik, 6’4 SR Anthony Bittar, 6’0 SR Mikey Shane, 6’0 SO Henry Hurst
All of these guys thrive in the East Lake uptempo system. Gabrelcik proved this summer and fall that he is one of the best perimeter shooters in the state. He also has the handles and athleticism to posterize defenders if lightly challenged heading to the basket. Bittar is vastly under-rated. He has good size, sneaky quickness and athleticism, is a fearless driver and reliable shooter from distance. Shane has deep range and thrives on kickouts from driving teammates. He too will advantage of defenders that close out too quickly. Hurst may not look or play like a traditional perimeter player, but we saw enough of him in the off-season to know that he will be the go-to guy once this crop of seniors moves on. He has the strength and toughness to battle guys inside on defense and for rebounds.
Orlando Oak Ridge
6’5 SR Michael James, 6’6 SR Roddrick Henry, 6’5 SR Jalen Smith, 6’6 JR Lewis Jones, 6’4 JR Fabio Basili
Oak Ridge has five guys that will certainly play collegiate basketball. James is a Louisville signee. He is one of the better two-way players in the Class of 21 as he is a slashing scorer and ferocious defender. Henry will see time defending the post and playing “close” to the basket, but he has guard skills and will take advantage of bigger post players. Smith has grown nearly four inches in the last year. With his size and point guard skills, its no wonder that many believe SMU got a steal when he signed with them. Not only is Smith a solid ball-handler and distributor, but also a consistent shooter from deep. Jones does a little bit of everything. He played some point guard for his travel team this season and didn’t disappoint. He may not be a great shooter (yet) but Jones will check a lot of boxes in the stat sheet. Basili may be the best shooter of the group. However, he can also put the ball down on the deck and create all kinds of havoc for the defense.
Orlando Christian Prep
6’0 SR Omar Figueroa, 5’11 SR Joshua Blazquez, 6’6 SR Ocypher Owens, 6’4 JR Anthony Brown, 6’3 SO K.J. Robinson, 6’3 FR Isaiah Brown, 6’0 FR Ameer Ramadan
Any you thought the OCP interior talent pool was deep! Figueroa can play either guard spot. He is a tremendous scorer/shooter that will keep defenses from collapsing to protect the basket. Blazquez is incredibly fast with the ball, pushes the pace, and finds teammates for easy baskets. Owens shoots the ball very well from behind the arc. He will also contribute a great deal in the rebounding department. Brown will challenge teammate Lubin for Class 2A player of the year honors. He scores consistently from all three levels and never takes a play off. Robinson has grown a couple of inches in the past year and so has his game. He looked very comfortable competing with and against stronger and more experienced player this fall. Freshmen Brown and Ramadan should get more than mop up minutes. Both play like experienced upperclassmen and have lots of potential.
6’3 SR Trey Moss, 6’4 SR Kanye Jones, 6’1 SO Jalen Debose
This trio will keep the scoreboard operator busy during Wolverine games. Moss, a USF signee, plays with a passion. A tough driver and finisher, he also makes open shots from deep and finds teammates for easy baskets when taking the ball into the defense. Jones is highly regarded as on outside shooter but he is much more of a threat off the dribble than given credit for. He is athletic enough to help out on the glass at the defensive end for a team with limited size. Debose transfers in and averaged around ten points a game as a freshman. He will make the most of the many catch-and-shoot opportunities he will get thanks to Moss and Jones.
OTHERS OF NOTE
Tampa Bayshore Christian: 6’2 SR Charles Crews, 6’1 SR Deon Brown
Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin: 6’3 JR Emanual Sharp, 6’3 JR Anthony Davis, 6’7 JR Dillon Mitchell
Jacksonville Bishop Snyder: 6’2 SR Justin Hicks, 6’3 JR Jalen Gilmore, 6’3 SR Austin Lewis, 6’4 JR Trent Walker
Jacksonville Bolles: 6’2 SR Bobby Crouch, 6’1 JR Ben McGraw
Miami Christopher Columbus: 6’4 SR Reggie Luis, 6’1 SR Hubertas Pivorius
Coral Gables: 6’1 SR Desmond Romer, 6’1 SR Marcos Molina, 6’5 JR Kuran Bryant, 6’4 JR Romeo Delgado-Gonzalez
Orlando Dr. Phillips: 6’1 SR Eathen Williams, 6’5 JR Riley Kugel, 6’3 JR Denzel Aberdeen, 6’4 SO Joseph Poventud
Tallahassee Florida High: 6’0 JR Tre Donaldson, 6’6 JR Jaylen Martin, 6’1 SO Anthony Robertson
Jacksonville Robert E. Lee: 6’8 SR Alex Fudge, 6’1 SR Terrance Guinyard, 5’9 SR Teron Heywood
Kissimmee Osceola: 6’0 JR Christian Combs, 6’1 SO Sean Combs
Orlando Lake Highland Prep: 5’10 JR Jared Berry, 6’0 JR Jah Quinones, 6’6 JR Brice Sensabaugh
Hialeah Mater Academy: 5’10 SR Ryan Sanchez, 6’6 JR Jimel Lane, 5’10 SO Michael Bradley
Hialeah Mater Lakes: 6’3 JR Kareem Barnett, 5’10 SO Jami Tejada, 5’10 SO Anthony Floyd
Miami Country Day: 5’10 SR Jordan Cook, 6’5 SO Jasai Miles
Miramar: 6’1 SR Khoury McMillan, 6’5 JR DeShawn Jean Charles, 6’5 JR Faheim Miran, 6’3 SO Isaiah WIlliams
Naples: 6’5 SR Tony Green, 5’10 SR Byntley Theork
Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest: 6’5 JR Amen Thompson, 6’5 JR Ausur Thompson
Sarasota Riverview: 6’3 SR Curtis Butler, 6’3 SO Jason Jackson
Sanford Seminole: 6’1 JR Jacari Henderson, 6’1 JR Demari Henderson
Boca Raton St. Andrew’s: 6’1 SR Landon Brody, 6’4 SR Devin Hines
Davie Western: 6’3 SR Matthew Robinson, 6’0 JR Kamrdyn Ayers
Miami Westminster Christian: 6’1 SR Frankie Idiett, 6’3 SR Jayden Higgins, 6’0 SR David Fernandez, 6’0 SO Daniel Fernandez
Winter Haven: 6’5 SO Tyler Williams, 6’1 SO Rolijah Hardy