There is zero doubt that Class 3A is the toughest and most talented of the seven classifications!
Favorite: Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy
Westminster Academy gets the slightest of nods over several quality contenders for the 3A title. It actually comes down to a couple of intangibles. The first is pride. Last year, Westminster let a lead slip away in the regional finals to Riviera Prep and that team went on to claim the championships. The second is envy. Juniors Alex Lloyd and Dwayne Wimbley do NOT want to go to the first Nightrydas practice in March without a state title of their own. It will be a bit more challenging this time around as there is no stalwart in the middle or point guard of note (as far as we know). However, Lloyd and Wimbley, along with 6’6 senior Jeremiah Police and 6’8 sophomore Alex Constanza, each had outstanding spring and summer seasons with their respective travel teams. It is difficult to find a team in 3A with four players of this caliber. Riviera Prep is their most likely roadblock (again) and should Westminster get past them, there will be challenges in Lakeland. Westminster will face a tough schedule to prepare them.
Regional Favorites: Jacksonville Providence (Region 1); Windermere Prep (Region 2); Tampa Berkeley Prep (Region 3)
We foresee Providence bouncing back from last season’s Final Four loss to get back to Lakeland. Chris Arias, a 6’6 senior and Jacksonville University commit, is one of the better players in the classification. Classmates such as 6’0 Brady Patterson and 6’4 David Fonville showed at various venues over the spring and summer that they could step up their production on a regular basis. Florida High out of Tallahassee will also challenge out of this region. Windermere Prep returns most everybody of note from a young team that got to the state finals last season. This year’s group will be even better, mostly because of experience but also some new blood entering the program. Brandon Bass, a 6’4 sophomore returns. He will get some help from newcomers like 6’2 junior Sam Shoptaw, 6’3 sophomore Ian Parham, 6’5 junior Malachi Mathis and 6’3 junior Jordan Ford. Also, 7’0 sophomore Sinan Huan returns to patrol the paint. The Lakers won’t find an easy path to Lakeland. The likes of Melbourne Holy Trinity, Riverview Bell Creek Academy, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, and West Palm Beach King’s Academy will not go gently into that good night. Region 3 is tough to pick as 6’5 senior Karter Knox took his talents to Overtime Elite from Tampa Catholic. Our guess is that Tampa Berkeley Prep will pick up the mantle as top team in this region. Matthew Able, a 6’3 junior comes in and will look to light up scoreboards. A couple of contenders in this region lost key players to transfer but look out for Fort Myers Bishop Verot and Gateway Charter to put up a fight.
Best Player: Chris Arias, Jacksonville Providence
Arias had a great spring and summer playing with Southeast Elite on the Adidas circuit. He also gained valuable international experience playing in the FIBA 17U tournament. Arias can play anything from point guard to small forward. He shoots the ball well off the dribble on either side of the arc, finishes craftily at the basket and has good court vision and handles.
Pre-Season All-State: Arias; Matthew Able (Tampa Berkeley Prep); Alex Lloyd (Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy); Dante Allen (Miami Riviera Prep); T.J. Baker (Tallahassee FSU High School)
Able comes over from Parrish Community where he averaged in the mid-teens as a freshman and sophomore. His ability to score from a variety of areas will help Berkeley Prep and its relatively young squad. Lloyd is a top fifty talent in the national 2025 Class. He is a swift scorer and dynamic defender. Allen is another top fifty talent in that class. He is very skilled, mentally and physically tough, and has a knack for taking over games and winning in crunch time. Baker plays with an attack attitude with every bounce of the basketball. He is tough to keep from the basket and is a ferocious on-ball defender.
Better Than Advertised: West Palm Beach The King’s Academy
We enjoyed watching this group at the FABC Team Camp in June. The backcourt of 6’2 junior Javian Jones and 6’5 senior Ransom Soles is very potent on the offensive end. There are enough athletes on the roster that will allow the team to play aggressively on defense, forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets that way.
Don’t Sleep On: Jerry Ashely, Fort Myers Bishop Verot
The 6’8 senior wasn’t seen much on the spring and summer circuit. However, we know him to be an active athlete on the interior. He runs the floor and makes the most of his opportunities around the basket. On the defense, he protects the rim and grabs rebounds in and out of his area.
PRE-SEASON TOP TEN
1.Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy
2.Miami Riviera Prep
5.Tallahassee FSU School
6.Riverview Bell Creek Academy
7.City of Hialeah Educational Academy
8.Tampa Berkeley Prep
9.Boca Raton St. Andrew’s
10.Fort Myers Bishop Verot