Favorite: Weston Sagemont
Sagemont returns enough from last year’s team to contend and an influx of new players gives them the edge as the favorite in a more-challenging 2A this season. Kenneth Lopez, a 6’9 senior, patrols the paint at both ends of the court. He has some reliable if basic post moves that he uses to score around the basket. Lopez will probably challenge and change more shots than he actually blocks but result is the same. Dominic Issa, a 6’6 senior, plays kind of a point-forward role for the team. He is a good passer with court vision, connects on open shots out to the arc, and rebounds his area. Ricky Liburd, a 6’5 junior, proved to be a solid scorer for the team at the FABC Team Camp in June. He is a good athlete that can be disruptive on the defensive end. The same can be said for 6’6 sophomore Kevin Thomas. That wing tandem will be tough to contain at both ends of the floor for Sagemont. Running the point will be Jordyn Kee, a 6’3 senior, that has returned after a one-year hiatus at Legacy Early College in South Carolina. Kee may not be a natural point guard, but he is naturally talented and gives Sagemont another weapon, as if the Lions needed more.
Regional Favorites: Jacksonville North Florida Educational Institute (Region 1); Orlando Christian Prep (Region 2); Tampa SLAM (Region 3)
NFEI does a great job of restocking its talent each year. Once again, they have a number of guys with size on the inside as well as some high level athletes on the perimeter. There will no doubt be challenges on their path to Lakland, but it will be surprising if they don’t get their once again. OCP has been the Kings of 2A for nearly a decade. The Warriors still have plenty of talent overall and one of the best backcourts in the state in 6’5 senior and Florida commit Isaiah Brown and 6’0 senior and Florida Southern commit Amir Ramadaan. Getting past a young but talented North Tampa Christian and a Lorenzo Cason-led Lakeland Victory Christian in the regionals will be a big challenge. SLAM (Sports Leadership And Management) reached the Lakeland Center last season and look to get there again. Ramone Seals, a 6’5 senior and Kennesaw State commit welcomes 6’0 senior and Stetson commit Daniel MacGregor as a transfer. That duo along with some athletic teammates will give them a more than respectable chance to take the crown.
Best Player: Isaiah Brown, Orlando Christian Prep
It has been quite a treat to watch the 6’5 Brown grow in both size and skill over the course of his high school career. The athletic lefty has become a reliable three-level scorer. He will take foes off the bounce and hammer it home at the rim, rise up and knock down jumpers on both sides of the arc and throw down lobs on the break or over the top of a set defense. Brown is a good ball-handler, willing passer, and determined defender. He should quickly become a fan favorite for the Gators.
Pre-Season All-State: Brown; Daniel MacGregor, (Tampa SLAM); Ramone Seals (Tampa SLAM); Lorenzo Cason (Lakeland Victory Christian); Kenneth Lopez (Weston Sagemont)
MacGregor does a great job of handling the ball vs. pressure, getting teammates involved and plays with great confidence and swagger. He won’t have to score as much as in the past with this group but he can if necessary. Seals is a strong, athletic wing that flourishes when attacking the basket, whether in transition or against a set defense. His jumper has improved and he can be a real force on the glass. Cason is one of the best scorers in the state. The FAU commit is creative when it comes to getting the ball in the basket but he is also a quality passer and distributor of the basketball. Lopez, as mentioned earlier, has a solid skill set for a “big”. He won’t overwhelm opponents with his athleticism but his skill level more than makes up for that.
Better Than Advertised: Jacksonville University Christian
This group looked a lot different at the Hoop Exchange Fall Festival than what we have been accustomed to. The team has found some size and length from overseas as well as some athletic perimeter players.
Don’t Sleep On: Dominic Issa, Weston Sagemont
Issa, a 6’6 senior, allows the scorers on the team to do their thing. He makes good decisions with the ball, impacts the game without scoring, and gets the ball quickly to open teammates for quality shots. Issa rebounds his area well and is a good positional defender.
PRE-SEASON TOP TEN
2.Orlando Christian Prep
3.Jacksonville North Florida Educational Institute
5.Lakeland Victory Christian
6.North Tampa Christian
7.Miami True North Classical
8.Jacksonville Impact Christian
9.Mount Dora Christian
10.Miami Westwood Christian