In this report on the 23rd Annual Dodge Florida Shootout held at IMG Academy in Bradenton this past Saturday, we focus on those players in the Red Division that caught our attention.
Many of the non-D-I coaches in attendance came to see Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas’ 6’4 senior Lenny Roca. His play more than justified their expense vouchers this coming week. Roca is an ideal “swing man” for schools outside of the D-I arena. He’s a good athlete, a guy that can score in different ways, and a reliable shooter from distance. Legendary STA Head Coach Steve Strand gave him the ultimate coach’s compliment: “Lenny may be the most competitive kid I’ve ever coached. He absolutely hates to lose at anything”.
While Ky’Ode Walters, a 6’0 senior guard from Okeechobee, didn’t register on our radar during drill work, once the five-on-five sessions began, he quickly asserted himself as a team leader and productive point guard. Walters excelled at pushing the ball up the floor via both the pass and the dribble as well as finding teammates for easy scores in transition. While he didn’t look to score, Walters made the most of his opportunities, connecting on some open perimeter jumpers and scoring on drives to the basket. Defensively he was solid in guarding the ball as well as alert for errant passes into his area when playing off the ball.
Sean Shore, a 6’5 junior forward out of Fort Myers Evangelical Christian School, made observers sit up and take note in the first five-on-five session of the event. He opened the game with a three, scored in transition soon thereafter and then produced a nifty assist off of an offensive rebound. Shore has a good frame and better than expected athleticism. Hopefully over the next year or so he can improve his ability to create with the dribble to get to the basket and finish in traffic, as well as become a more consistent three-point shooter.
Tyler Krivitzkin, a 5’10 senior out of Weston Cypress Bay, will have a lot on his shoulders this coming season. Judging by his play on Saturday, he should be able to handle the expectations. Solidly built, “T.K.” had little trouble over-powering various defenders to get into the lane and either score at the rim or take and make shots from the free throw line. He proved adept at finding teammates for open looks after penetration and also showed a consistent shot past the college three-point line. Solid defensively, he does a good job of using both his upper-body strength and lateral quickness to keep the opposing ball-handler under control.
A 6’0 senior at St. Thomas Aquinas, R.J. Taylor looks like he could be a solid starting point guard for the Raiders this coming season. He won’t blow by people with the dribble or wow the crowd with fancy ball-handling, but Taylor showed a penchant for getting the ball where it needs to go in a quick and efficient manner. On Saturday, he did a good job of getting the ball to teammates ahead of the defense as well as to teammates cutting into the lane or posting up. A converted “two guard”, Taylor can make the defense pay for sagging off of him with an accurate perimeter shot. He’ll be challenged defensively but his play Saturday suggests he is smart enough to compensate for any lack of athleticism.
It took a while, but the play of Daniel Darby, a 6’2 junior wing from Canterbury School in Fort Myers, eventually grabbed our attention. He played with passion and effort every possession he was on the floor. Darby wasn’t hesitant about attacking the defense when in possession of the basketball. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t but the defense always had to be aware to help when Darby had the ball. Despite a bit of an unorthodox shot, he made a couple of threes during the game we watched. Darby also showed a knack for grabbing long rebounds and 50/50 balls.
One of the youngest players at the event, 5’7 freshman Freddie Williams from Bradenton Lakewood Ranch, looked very comfortable competing against older, stronger, and more experienced competition. He shot the ball with confidence from distance, made good decisions with the ball, and looked to make the easy play rather than the spectacular one. He definitely put his name on the list of ones to watch in the 2022 Class.