We finalize our coverage of the Fall Festival Team Showcase with a look at some of the squads that made the trek from South Florida.
Wellington Wolves (aka Wellington)
The Wolves may not have been the most talented team at the Fall Festival, but they were certainly the best team as far execution and level of play. Seemingly every player that saw the court made a contribution. Sean Standifer, a 6’4 freshman, impressed with his ability to hit the three ball, grab rebounds, and make timely passes. Zayin Humber, a 6’5 senior, scored from different levels and got the ball to open shooters. Reginald Reinhardt, a 6’2 sophomore, got buckets on drives, knocked down open perimeter shots and found spot-up shooters for easy looks. Brendan Williams, a 6’0 senior, is the leader of the group. He gets the teams in the right sets, controls the pace, finds open teammates for shot opportunities and knocks down shots when the opportunity presents itself. Terrell Edwards, a 6’6 senior, provides a presence inside and seeks out every rebound. Shawn Cineus, a 6’5 junior, is active and bouncy on the interior. He scores well in the lane and controls the glass at both ends. Wellington has built an impressive program over the last decade or so and this squad should continue that tradition.
Billy Ball (aka Cardinal Gibbons)
A relatively young group with just two seniors on the Fall Festival roster, the group was also without some top players who have talent on the gridiron. Still, it was a good showing. Onlookers had to be impressed with 6’9 junior Johhny Papadakos, a Canadian import. With good size, strong frame, and the skills to play inside or out, he made things tough on the opposition. Also making an impressive debut was 6’6 freshman Marcus Perrier. He ran the floor, scored on the break, was active on the glass and knocked down some perimeter shots. Caleb Alcunies, a junior, did a good job of spacing the floor with a potent three point shot. Also contributing points from the perimeter were seniors Daniel Jordan and Jayden Owens.
The Prep (aka North Broward Prep)
NBP comes at opponents with one of the top frontcourts in the state. Justin Abson, a 6’9 senior, has a bevy of D-I offers. 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.
SFL Lions (aka Sagemont)
The Lions moved down to Class 2A after the FHSAA’s re-classification process this past spring. This makes them an immediate contender in the smallest private school division. Tynan Becker, a 6’6 junior, has emerged as a primary performer for the Lions. He has good skills, can play inside or out, and can stretch the defense with his shot. He has the ability to be a grab-and-go rebounder and he sees the floor well to deliver timely passes. Adrian Cruz, a 6’3 junior, is a dangerous three-point shooter than can also drive the ball to the basket and score in a crowd. Ashton Smith, a 6’1 junior, mans the point guard spot. He is very quick with the ball, is tough to keep out of the lane, and is a tough on-ball defender. Dominic Issa, a 6’5 sophomore, was a bit of a revelation on Saturday. He was active on the glass and spaced the floor with his perimeter shooting. Nedas Zukauskas, a 6’8 senior, will be depended upon to patrol the paint, challenge shots, grab rebounds, and get the ball up the floor to start the break.
PATS (aka Florida Christian School)
The PATS brought an all-senior lineup to the Fall Festival and outside of 6’6 Matthew Sicle, it was a group of guards that used spacing, cutting, passing and perimeter shooting to get victories over the weekend. Nicholas Mate, a 5’10 guard, probably would have won any event-wide three-point shooting contest had there been one. The shot and all of its components are picture-perfect and Mate knocks it down from well past the three-point arc. Charlie Bell, a 6’4 wing, won a morning game with a steal and shot from half-court just before the clock hit 0:00 but he was tough all game long going to the basket and either scoring or earning a trip to the foul line. 5’9 Jose Amat and 6’3 Tyler Greene contributed in various ways on the offensive end. Daniel Smith, 6’3 and Levertis Williams, 6’4 were surprisingly effective in grabbing rebounds at both ends against bigger foes.
MIA Spartans (aka Miami Country Day)
The Spartans reached the Class 3A final four last season and based on their performance at the Fall Festival, 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.
Team Hardaway (aka Miami Palmetto)
Thanks to a bevy of transfers, “Team Hardaway” has a legitimate shot to reach Lakeland this coming season. The key figure is 6’6 senior Jimel Lane. A three-level scorer, Lane takes what the defense gives him and when they try to take that away, he finds something else. One of the taller players on the team, he’ll be called upon to do much more when it comes to rebounding and defense. Warner Davis, a 6’1 senior, is a scoring explosion waiting to happen. The lefty is very fast, finishes creatively at the basket and has a reliable outside shot to keep defenses honest. Anthony Salazar is a 6’5 senior that provides toughness and athleticism on the interior. He’s strong enough to battle bigger foes on defense inside but quick enough to pull them away from the basket on the offensive end then blow by them to score. Cooper Josefsburg, a 6’3 junior, and Braylon Burbridge, a 6’0 sophomore, are dangerous outside shooters that will open things up for their teammates. As if that isn’t enough, 5’11 senior Nick Pineyro and 6’2 sophomore Randy Smith offer more scoring options.
Shabazz Elite (aka Riviera Prep)
If the Fall Festival had been akin to the NCAA Tournament and crowned a single winner, Shabazz would have been the pick to win it all. 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.
The Academy (aka Westminster Academy)
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. For our money, 6’8 junior Jaylan Carey was the MOP at the Fall Festival. He 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 played a lot of point guard and played 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, one of the better shooters in the state, was not in attendance. Throw in 6’9 freshman Gustavo Guimaraes, a native of Brazil, into the mix (he looked solid when we watch on Sunday) and you have a dangerous and dynamic team.