After a mega-event like the Hoop Exchange Fall Festival Showcase, there is a lot of information to digest. Teams from as far away as Tallahassee to the north and Miami to the south attended so there were several games where teams from different regions of the state played each other.
This is a relatively young squad with only two seniors on the roster. That being said, Calvary Christian will be one of the more talented and taller teams in the state this coming season regardless of classification. Don’t peg 6’9 junior Taylor Hendricks (pictured above) as the starting center because of his size. He is the best perimeter shooter among the starters, with range to the arc. Hendricks will see a lot of touches inside and he scores well with either hand around the basket. He will be a tough cover in ball-screen situations. Gregg Glenn, a 6’7 junior, is strong and bouncy. He seems to operate best inside the arc where he can use both strength and speed to get past defenders and score inside. Logan Lord, a 6’11 senior and Sami Elkamel, a 6’8 sophomore, provide even more size off the bench. On the perimeter, Carl Cherenfant, a 6’5 sophomore, and Dylan Canoville, a 6’5 senior, provide dynamic athleticism. Both excel at getting to and finishing above the rim, whether on drives or in transition. Each chips in on the glass at both ends of the floor. Tyler Hendricks, a 6’4 junior, is the main provider of long-distance shooting for the squad while highly regarded Marvel Allen, a 6’4 sophomore, is a tough two-way player that is a determined scorer and defender.
Shahbaz Elite is a team that collectively plays their hearts out on each possession. Esteban Llubres, a 5’9 junior, sets the tone for the team at both ends. Very quick with the ball, he routinely breaks down the defense and makes good decisions on whether to score himself or find open teammates for easier looks. As a result, Llubres spends a great deal of time at the free throw line. He is also dangerous from deep. Anchoring the inside is 6’7 sophomore Osmar Garcia Araujo. One of the better sophomores in the state, he has a lot of skill as a post player as he catches all sorts of passes, shows patience, and has good footwork on his post moves. Arajuo can hit the fifteen-footer and is a good passer out of the low post when double-teamed. Edward Nnamoko, a 6’10 junior, provides additional size. While not as skilled as Arajuo, Nnamoko is athletic, long, runs the floor, and protects the basket area. He will get a lot of points simply by crashing the offensive glass or receiving passes from Llubres upon penetration. The remainder of the squad are role players that are relied upon to handle the basketball, convert in transition, and make shots from the perimeter.
What this group make lack in size (only one player taller than 6’4), it more than makes up for in depth, determination, and ferocity. In the game we watched, twelve of the fourteen roster players made some kind of impact on the stat sheet. Only four of the fourteen players listed are seniors, so the Dwyer program should continue to be solid for the foreseeable future. It starts with the dynamic backcourt of 5’11 junior Xavier Scott and 6’2 sophomore Kyle McNeal. A guard that can hurt the defense in a lot of ways, Scott showed he could get to the rim and score quite easily, as well as convert mid-range pull-ups and open shots from beyond the arc. He handles the ball well, pushes the pace, and defensively has active hands and feet. McNeal came across as solid in all phases of the game and plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He is confident in his abilities and rightfully so. McNeal has the ability to make shots from all three levels, get to and convert at the free throw line, and harass opposing ball-handlers. Rodrick Johnson may be only 6’3, but the senior plays much bigger thanks to superior athleticism and desire. While the rest of the group could be considered key cogs in the wheel, don’t under-estimate them individually or as a group. No doubt come playoff time, Dwyer will be ready to make a run.
Another young group (only four seniors on a 12-man roster that included two eighth graders and one seventh grader!), The Spartans should still be one of the better programs in Miami-Dade this coming season. Jordan Cooke, a 5’10 senior, was first-team All-Dade last season and will shoulder a lot of responsibility. While he is tough to keep out of the lane, it is his deep shooting stroke that gives defenses nightmares. Cooke is also active and anticipates well on the defensive end. Jasai Miles, a 6’5 sophomore, was impressive in his performance, and may be one of the better players in Miami-Dade regardless of class. He has a great ability to score, whether three pointers off the dribble, hard drives to the basket, or floaters over extended hands. Miles has a knack for drawing contact and earning trips to the foul line. He is also a good athlete, helps out on the class and doesn’t mind putting in the effort on the defensive end. Ryan Richardson, a 6’3 junior, provides another scoring option on the wing to complement Cooke and Miles. Cole McCabe, a 6’7 sophomore, shows a great deal of promise. He can make shots out to the arc, score opportunistically around the basket and battle inside for boards. While not a team with a lot of size, Miami Country Day plays to its strength and should be a formidable opponent this coming season.
The Lions only brought eight players to the event, so the starters played a lot of minutes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They had one of the bigger teams in the event and started a front line of 6’10, 6’8, and 6’8 with a 6’6 player on the wing. At 6’10, Sergey Grishaev is more finesse than power as he likes to roam the perimeter, looking for catch-and-shoot opportunities. He’ll dive inside for offensive rebound opportunities on occasion. His size and length in the Lions zone makes him tough to shoot over. Milo Kovacevic, a 6’8 senior, didn’t get many scoring opportunities in the game we watched. He was primarily used as a ball-screener on the offensive end and challenged anyone that came into the middle of the zone. Nedas Zukauskas, a 6’8 junior, arguably showed the most potential of the European trio. He started off the game showing he could score inside and then moved outside and connected on perimeter shots. Ricky Ballard, a 6’6 junior, is an athletic wing that makes things happen in transition and on the offensive glass. His jump shot was MIA but he fortunately didn’t try to shoot himself out of the slump. Instead, he made good decisions with the ball on the move, chased down rebounds at both ends of the floor and covered a lot of ground defensively. Raphael Houssou, a 6’1 senior, proved to be a solid lead guard for the team. He’s capable of getting points when the offense sputters. He is a solid perimeter shooter but also has the speed and quickness to get to and score at the basket.