We finalize our regional previews with a look into South Florida.
TOP FIVE “BIG” SCHOOLS (CLASS 7A thru 5A)
Pembroke Pines Charter (Class 6A, Region 4, District 14)
Last season’s Class 5A state champs move up to Class 6A after the bi-annual FHSAA re-classification. The team returns four starters and will no doubt challenge for another crown this season. Kolby King, a 6’2 senior and St. John’s signee is the straw that stirs the drink. Whether it is scoring at the rim, tossing in perimeter shots, pushing the pace and getting teammates easy looks or playing lock down “D”, the Jaguars go as King goes. He will get plenty of help from seniors Caelum Etheridge and Geoffrey Sprouse. Both 6’2 guards are legit deep threats, move well without the ball, and play the passing lanes well at the defensive end. Elijah Wyche, a 6’5 senior, had an excellent spring and summer on the travel circuit. He is a high-level athlete, multi-purpose defender, active rebounder, and inside/outside scoring threat.
Miami Norland (Class 5A, Region 4, District 15)
No one’s surprise, the Vikings are stocked with talent this season and look ready to make a run at another state title. Cam Johnson, a 6’5 senior, is a solid big guard/small forward that plays bigger than his size but has the perimeter skills to cause mismatches at the offensive end. Lionel Swaby, a 6’7 senior, provides necessary size on the interior. Carl Parish, a 6’2 junior, showed this fall that he is ready to step into a role that will allow him to contribute more in box score. Marcus Allen, a 6’6 sophomore and 6’2 classmate Clarence Burts proved last year that they are not too young to impact games on a nightly basis. Allen is one of the better sophomores in the country with hit length, skill level, and athleticism. Burts has good size for the point guard spot and plays like a seasoned vet. Look for Norland to get a lot of production out of its bench and simply wear out opponents with their depth.
Weston Cypress Bay (Class 7A, Region 4, District 13)
The Lightning have a three-headed monster in the backcourt which will keep them in every game they play. Noah Kattan, a 6’3 senior, can found both running the point and playing off the ball. He is far quicker and more athletic than given credit for and will blow by opponents that aren’t alert. Kattan also is a dangerous shooter with deep range. He will hit shots off the bounce as well as the catch. Kevin Pazmino, a 6’4 senior, long known as an accurate shooter from deep, has really come on as a scoring threat when he puts the ball on the floor. Still, it is he accurate three point shot that is his calling card. Max Gordon, a 5’10 senior, is solid with the ball, he makes good decisions and knows when to push the pace and when to reign it in. Gordon looks to get others the ball for easy scores but is more than capable of knocking down open shots from the perimeter or completing drives to the rim. Max Turner, a 6’5 junior, will provide a punch inside with smart play and a great deal of hustle.
Miami Palmetto (Class 7A, Region 4, District 16)
Thanks to some transfers, Palmetto got better very quickly over the summer. Jimel Lane, a 6’6 senior and possibly the best 2022 player in Miami-Dade, came over and should continue his high-scoring ways. He will get plenty of help from 6’1 senior Warner Davis, a jitterbug with the ball and a lefty with great range and little hesitation about shooting the ball. Nick Pineyro was a solid perimeter performer last season. The 5’10 guard has a nice shot, plays with reckless abandon, and gives max effort at both ends of the floor. Anthony Salazar, a 6’5 senior, is another transfer and he will provide help inside in terms of scoring and rebounding. Another transfer, 6’0 sophomore Braylon Burbridge, will most likely run the show from the point guard spot. Throw in Cooper Josefsberg, a 6’2 junior and another dangerous perimeter shooter, and it should be clear that Palmetto will have no problem scoring points this coming season.
Stuart Martin County (Class 6A, Region 4, District 13)
The Tigers were rolling along undefeated until meeting up with Mater Academy in the regional final, falling by just a scant two points. Martin County returns four starters, most importantly 6’5 senior Ryan Davis. He averaged 17ppg and 7 rpg as a junior and does all the little things to help the team win. His physically tough and plays bigger than his size. Braydin Samuels, a 6’3 senior, and Kamari Haston, a 6’2 junior, will have plenty of opportunities to raise their scoring averages into double-figures. The Tigers are not a big team as no player stands taller than 6’5. However, as a group, they are quick, aggressive, experienced, and eager to prove that last year’s success was no fluke.
TOP FIVE “SMALL” SCHOOLS (CLASS 4A thru 1A)
Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian (Class 4A, Region 4, District 13)
Calvary won last year’s Class 3A title, has a roster of D-I talent, and is a nationally-ranked squad coming into the season. Taylor Hendricks, a 6’8 senior who has signed with Central Florida, is a versatile inside-out threat, surprisingly accurate from long range, and a strong rim protector. Gregg Glenn, a 6’6 senior and heading to Michigan to play college hoops, is a freight train heading to the basket with the ball. He can be a terror on the glass at both ends. Brenan Laurient, a 6’8 senior transfer from Ocala, is an FAU recruit. Strong and bouncy, he is an effective scorer from fifteen feet and in, an out-of-area rebounder, and another guy that can challenge and change shots inside. On the perimeter, 6’4 senior Tyler Hendricks is Taylor’s twin and the team’s best perimeter shooter. He too has signed with UCF. A pair of juniors, 6’4 Marvel Allen and 6’6 Carl Cherenfant form a dynamic backcourt. Allen has skills and swagger to spare and may be the best two-way player in the state regardless of class. Cherenfant is long, an active defender, and a guy that finds various ways to get the ball in the basket. A national schedule will have Calvary more than ready for another state title run.
Miami Riviera Prep (Class 3A, Region 4, District 15)
Riviera Prep didn’t have a season last year, opting to stay off the court and away from COVID as much as possible. This year, they are more than ready to play. It starts with 5’9 senior point guard Esteban Lluberes. He controls the pace, makes good pass vs. shot decisions with the ball, finds open teammates for easy baskets, and can score in different ways. Osmar Garcia-Araujo, a 6’7 junior, has been a starter in the program since the eighth grade. Skilled and strong, he is the definition of match-up problem. Edward Nnamoko, a 6’10 senior, is athletic, runs the floor, patrols the paint, rebounds in bunches, and has some reliable if basic scoring tools inside. Dante Allen may only be a freshman but the 6’4 wing can play and defend multiple positions, is physically tough, and can score in different ways. Landon Suarez, a 6’0 junior is the designated three-point shooter. He gets a lot of open shots off the penetration of teammates. Joe Ametepe, a 6’6 junior, is a long and strong bundle of energy that is fast up and down the court, quick to rebounds and loose balls, and does a lot of little things that lead to wins.
Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy (Class 3A, Region 4, District 13)
This program doesn’t rebuild; it re-loads. While the loss of 6’10 Ben Middlebrooks to Clemson a year earlier than expected might hurt other teams, it is simply next man up for The Academy. 6’8 junior Jaylan Carey simply dominates inside at both ends of the floor. He is too big and strong to be single covered in the paint. He catches everything thrown his way, seemingly gets every rebound, and strikes fear into those opponents that dare try to penetrate the lane. Alex Lloyd at 6’3 is one of the better freshmen in the country, not just Florida. He plays a lot of point guard and plays it well but he is dynamic in the open court, is a consistent perimeter shooter, and scores well thru contact in a crowd at the basket. Rickie Ballard, a 6’6 senior, plays with great energy and ferocity. Explosive to the basket, he is a consistent jumper away from being high-major material. As if all that were not enough, 6’6 senior Aidan Abell, is one of the better shooters in the state. Throw in 6’9 freshman Gustavo Guimaraes, a native of Brazil, into the mix and you have a dangerous and dynamic team.
Coconut Creek North Broward Prep (Class 4A, Region 4, District 13)
NBP comes at opponents with one of the top frontcourts in the state. Justin Abson, a 6’9 senior, is an Appalachian State signee. With excellent footwork, touch, and strength, he scores well around the basket with either hand. Abson is a voracious rebounder at both ends, a potent defensive presence inside, and has an improved perimeter touch. Guilherme Tesch, a 6’8 junior, is a tough matchup for any team. He has the shooting skills to pull big guys away from the basket and the size to post up and score inside against smaller opponents. Tesch is also a good ball-handler that can put it on the floor if given the opportunity. Adren Roberts, a 6’5 senior, adds energy and athleticism to the group. He earns his points in transition, off the offensive glass, and opportunity baskets in the lane. Max Fuentes, a 6’2 senior, is a solid shooter and ball-handler that helps create spacing. Teams have to be aware of where he is when the ball goes into the bigs or Fuentes will get easy looks when the ball is a passed out of the post. Running the squad is 6’3 senior Michael Kalina. Underestimate him at your own peril. He is not the prototype point guard with blazing speed or quickness, but he controls the ball, rarely turns it over, gets his teammates easy looks and is a crafty defender.
Miami Country Day (Class 3A, Region 4, District 14)
The Spartans reached the Class 3A final four last season and it isn’t hard to see them making a repeat run. Jasai Miles has grown to 6’6 and the junior is one of the better players in the state in the 2023 Class. His perimeter shooting has greatly improved and when combined with his ability to quickly get to the basket and score in a crowd, Miles is very difficult to defend. Cole McCabe, a 6’8 junior, is solid on the interior. He’s gotten stronger and is better able to handle the physical play inside. He has a nice touch around the basket and is showing signs of being able to score from the perimeter. Shon Abaev may only be a 6’5 freshman but he plays with a savvy beyond his years. He excels as a perimeter shooter and does a good job of spreading the floor so others can have room to operate. Ryan Richardson, a 6’4 senior, and Herbert Wilson, a 6’2 sophomore, make the most of their scoring opportunities, whether they come in transition, drives to the basket, or perimeter shots. Jayden Joseph is not even in high school yet (Class of 2026) but the 6’1 speedster does a good job of getting into the lane and scoring over bigger foes.
Top Five Players
Taylor Hendricks, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian: The 6’8 senior has developed rapidly over the last couple of seasons. He knocks down threes on a consistent basis, can score on pick-and-pop mid-range shots or rolling all the way to the rim for scores. Hendricks is an active rebounder at both ends and can grab the rebound and push the ball up the floor if given the opportunity. He is also effective on the defensive end as a shot blocker and post defender.
Marvel Allen, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian: The 6’4 junior is a fierce competitor. He relishes challenging the opposition to keep him from the basket. He usually ends up with an “and one” opportunity. Defensively he takes no prisoners, has active hands and feet, and forces a lot of mistakes. His perimeter shot continues to improve. He had an impressive spring and summer and now finds himself listed as one of the better players nationally in the 2023 Class.
Brenan Lorient, Calvary Christian: Yet another player for the Eagles, Lorient is an absolute steal for the FAU Owls. Blessed with a strong frame and quite a bit of run/jump athleticism, Lorient is tough to handle in the paint or if he drives from short distances inside the arc. He is fast up and down the court in transition and finishes with authority at the basket. Lorient chases rebounds out of his area and is an effective shot challenger and changer.
Kolby King, Pembroke Pines Charter: The 6’2 senior was very impressive for Team Breakdown this past spring and summer. He was rewarded with several scholarship offers, many of the high major variety, and now is considered one of the better recruits heading to the Big East for St. John’s. King has a great aptitude to control the ball and the game. He makes good decisions, is a potent scorer on the perimeter, sees the floor and finds open teammates for easy shots and hounds the ball relentlessly on the defensive end.
Nate Sasser, Riviera Beach Suncoast: The 6’6 junior guard wasn’t seen much this spring and summer but when he did play, it caused onlookers to sit up and take notice. Sasser is a shifty driver and creative scorer, seemingly getting to the rim whenever he pleases. He has great body control and touch to finish in a crowd. His jump shot is respectable but not his primary scoring weapon. He is alert to find open teammates should his path to the basket be cut off. Defensively he has the physical tools to guard a variety of positions on the floor.
#1 SR: Taylor Hendricks (see above)
#1 JR: Marvel Allen (see above)
#1 SO: Marcus Allen, Miami Norland: The 6’6 wing plays with aggression and little compassion for what he does to the opposition. He slithers to the basket for scores, has a reliable shot in the mid-range, and is a better passer than given credit for. Allen rebounds and defends well, otherwise he wouldn’t see the court at Norland.
#1 FR: Cameron Boozer, Miami Columbus: At 6’8, Boozer already has great size. However, he is highly skilled and plays with a great basketball IQ. Boozer has a variety of post moves with which to score inside, range on his shot to about eighteen fight, rebounds and runs the floor. He is already a national recruit in the 2025 Class.
Senior Sleeper: Machli Fleurissant, Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast: : A 6’4 junior he is a quick and athletic scorer, whether it be in the open court or in half-court sets. Fleurissant creatively gets to the basket and scores in a crowd. He was very good in the open court and is also active on the offensive glass.