21 Mar 2019

High School End-of-Season Awards: Most Surprising Player

Every year there are players that raise their reputation with their play.  This year was certainly no different.  These are just some of the performers that had us sit up and take notice.


Simon Brathwaite, Franklin County: The 6’3 senior guard was solid all season long, averaging 20.5 points a game.  The lefty ramped up his production in the team’s state semi-final game, tallying 27 points against a very good Wildwood team.  Brathwaite does most of his damage inside the arc, knocking down mid-range jumpers and finishing off tough drives in traffic at the basket.


Jamal Norris, Lake Wales Vanguard School: The 6’2 junior was the leading scorer for one of the better teams in the toughest district in 2A.  He shot over 45% from behind the arc and 80% from the free throw line on his way to averaging just over seventeen points a contest.  Norris also did a solid job of getting the ball inside to the Vanguard School’s 6’8 twin towers.


Michael Gavin, Lake Mary Prep: The 6’1 senior was a virtual one-man gang this season in leading Lake Mary Prep to the regional playoffs.  He was the top scoring senior in the state at 30.1 points per game and had a game of 60 points during the season.  Hopefully, Gavin will get a chance to play at the next level.  Don’t be surprised if he hooks up with a travel team this spring and gets some offers.


Anthony Atkinson, Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy: The 6’8 senior was sometimes an afterthought in the Westminster offense but he did make the most of his opportunities when they came.  His biggest impact came on the defensive end and in chasing down any misses by Westminster’s outside shooters.  His older brother is a contributor on Yale’s NCAA tournament team and it wouldn’t surprise if Anthony got the same type of opportunity.


Brandon Farmer, The Villages Charter:  Honestly, we weren’t expecting a great deal from Farmer after his transfer to The Villages.  The Buffalo already had UF recruit Tre Mann, Terry Ivery coming back from knee surgery and Peyton Williams providing support inside.  Farmer proved to be a key cog in the team’s run to the final four.  He was second on the team with just over sixteen points a game and led the squad in rebounding, grabbing eight a contest.  Farmer proved to be an inside/outside threat with his ability to shot from beyond the arc and score quickly around the basket.


Orien Adams, Brooksville Nature Coast Tech: The junior is only 6’5 but plays so much bigger.  We caught him on a night in the regular season where he grabbed 19 rebounds.  He proved that was no fluke in the state semis when he went for 22 points and 13 rebounds, scoring almost half of his team’s points and grabbing almost half of their total rebounds.  He will be an interesting player to watching this coming travel season.


Devin Carter, Doral Academy: Doral Academy lost only one game this season, the regional final, and Carter was a key part of that.  He averaged nearly 28 points a contest for Doral and the junior is considered one of the top players in the 2020 Class in South Florida.  He wasn’t on the radar before this season, but almost takes up the whole screen now.


Dallas Graziani, Cooper City:  The state’s leading scorer at just over 32 points a game, the 5’8 junior doesn’t pass the look test but is tough as nails, plays with fire, and makes defenders look helpless with his deep shooting range and creative finishes at the basket.  Graziani pretty much willed his team to a spot in the regional playoffs.


Tommie Lewis, Vero Beach: The 6’2 senior was a force in leading the Indians to the semi-finals of the regional playoffs.  Offensively, Lewis is quick with the ball and a danger to the defense when he heads toward the basket.  He’s just as likely to find an open teammate for an easy score as he is to finish in traffic and earn a chance for three points at the foul line.  Lewis’ length and quickness pay big dividends at the defensive end, where he turns steals into scores several times a game.


Pavel Zakhorov – Montverde CBD: The 6’11 native of Russia did not play on Montverde’s high school team that is ranked #3 in the country due to a delay in getting transcripts in and approved by the FHSAA.  Still, that didn’t stop high majors from offering the multi-skilled Zakhorov, and he eventually decided to cast his lot with Gonzaga.  For a guy his size, he moves well, can score with his back to the basket or step out and score, and is a superb passer.