Basketball is the quintessential team game. All those players that have been honored as MVPs or MOPs certainly couldn’t win games and amass impressive stats without some help. With that in mind, here are our nods to the Best Supporting Player in each classification.
Ethan McDonald, Jay: Last season as a sophomore, the 6’1 McDonald averaged just over 21 points a game as 6’5 junior teammate Tristan Watson was out for a period of time with an injury. The season, the junior dialed back his game a bit as Watson was fully healthy and the two of them combined to get Jay to the regional final. McDonald’s points per game average may have gone down a bit but his assists numbers and assists-to-turnover ratio improved significantly. No doubt McDonald’s sacrifice of points for team success was greatly appreciated by his coaches, teammates and the Jay faithful.
Ameer Ramadan, Orlando Christian Prep: The 6’0 junior was potent as an off-the-bench scorer his first two years for the Warriors. This season, he stepped into the starting point guard role and proved more than ready for the spotlight. While teammate and classmate Isaiah Brown was more than worthy of the opponent’s defensive focus, Ramadan continued in his role as a potent perimeter shooter but also expanded his game at both ends of the floor. He proved he could get and keep teammates involved in the offense and defensively he was solid in guarding the basketball.
Mason Williams, Windermere Prep: The 6’4 senior provided great leadership and intangibles in helping Windermere Prep to the Class 3A title game. He was the only returnee with experience this year as the rest of the starting lineup was two freshmen, a junior and a senior that were not in the program last season. Williams wasn’t a big scorer, but his physicality, defense, rebounding and non-stop effort made him a leader by example. While his future is most likely on the football field, Williams’ impact on the Laker basketball program will be felt for the next couple of season.
Marcus Calvin, St. Pete Gibbs: Gibbs is a young team that has bee to the final four twice. Calvin, a 6’2 senior heading to Kansas State for football, did a solid job of providing an interior presence for the team. Despite his size, he has nimble feet, scoring inside over bigger players using pivots and quickly getting shots up in the space he created. Calvin was clever with his passing to cutters in the lane for good looks at the basket. He owned his rebounding area on the defensive end and was tough to dislodge on the block. Gibbs has some young “bigs” in the program but Calvin’s abilities forced them to wait their turn.
Dylan Kramer, St. Pete HS: A 6’5 senior, Kramer often played like a bull in a china shop, playing physically at both ends of the floor. He routinely outfought taller opponents for rebounds at both ends, usually was the first to get to loose balls, and didn’t hesitate to dive on the floor if necessary. Kramer has some decent scoring tools inside and produced his fair share of double-double games. While not much of a shot blocker, Kramer defended the post well and was alert to step in and take charges.
Josh Hayes, Gainesville HS: The 6’10 senior came over from The Rock School and became the missing piece of a Hurricanes team that just missed going to Lakeland. While senior teammate Theo Stephens led the team in scoring, highlighted by going over the 1,000 point career mark, Hayes stepped in to provide an interior presence to the tune of just under 14 points and 10 rebounds a contest. While his two blocks per game average may seem small, no doubt he deterred at least twice that many due to his paint presence. He’s heading to Appalachian State for college and will hopefully help the Mountaineers the way he helped the Hurricanes.
Jamie Phillips, Winter Haven HS: The 6’4 junior was a mismatch nightmare for Blue Devil opponents all season long. While University of Georgia recruit Dylan James and 6’6 classmate Isaac Celiscar may have bit more “recruiting buzz”, Phillips was often the engine that led Winter Haven to the state finals where they come thisclose to dethroning Columbus. Phillips overpowers smaller defenders and breezes by bigger ones to get to the rim. He sees the court well, finds teammates for open shots, and scores when called upon.
Baraka Okajie, DME Academy: The 6’3 junior didn’t lead DME in scoring but it was clear that his absence in the semi-finals of the SIAA state tournament precipitated DME’s loss. Blessed with size and speed, Okajie broke down defenses and made good reads on the move to the basket. He handled the ball well vs pressure and made timely shots. Defensively, he covered a lot of ground quickly, harassed opposing ball-handlers, and was disruptive in the passing lanes.