The high school season has ended and the travel team season will crank up soon. Now is a good time for Source Hoops to dole out our annual End of Season Awards. First up: Most Valuable Player. Remember, we define the MVP as the person who was most prominent in leading his team to playoff success.
Travis Jay, Madison County: The 6’2 senior is committed to Florida State to play football, but no doubt he could have played D-I basketball on the college level had that been his choice. Though he did foul out of the title game early in OT, Jay was the one to get Madison County to that point. Jay made his teammates better with his court vision and ability to deliver the right pass to the right player for the right shot at the right time.
Jordan Preaster, Orlando Central Florida Christian Academy: A 6’5 senior wing, Preaster went from a player noted for his ability to score in transition to one that could play both up-tempo and stall-ball. His jump shot improved greatly, making him more difficult to defend. That being said, Preaster’s competitiveness, especially during the playoffs, was contagious among his teammates, elevating all of them to a state title.
Allan Jean-Rose, Tallahassee Saint John Paul II: The 6’6 senior transferred over from Rickards and immediately gave a talented team a big boost. His size and versatility created matchup nightmares for opponents. Jean-Rose’s ability to handle the basketball and find teammates for easy scores complemented his scoring and rebounding prowess.
Sam Griffin/Chase Johnston, Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy: The 6’1 seniors, both D-I recruits, seemingly took turns in leading Westminster throughout the season. While opponents could take one or the other out of a game for a spell, none could figure out how to shut both down at the same time. Griffin and Johnston each proved that individually they could score in a variety of ways while collectively carry a team to another state title.
Scottie Barnes, Fort Lauderdale University School: With Vernon Carey, Jr. out of the state finals with an ankle injury, Barnes didn’t allow the Sharks to skip a beat. While he never led the team in scoring, the 6’8 junior was always among the leaders in rebounds and assists. Barnes also is a master communicator on the court and gets U-School in the right positions on offense and defense.
Inady Legiste, Fort Lauderdale Stranahan: The 6’6 junior gave the Dragons an inside presence that many teams in Class 6A could not match. Legiste plays bigger because of his long reach, energy, and effort around the basket. Yes, the talent around Legiste at Stranahan is very good but it is Legiste that elevates the team from contender to champion.
D’Marcus Purcell, Crestview: Purcell finally got Crestview over the hump that was Choctaw. Once that happened, Crestview felt a big weight lifted and went on to win the state title. While Purcell, a 6’2 senior, is considered a big-time football recruit, he has proven to be a more than solid basketball prospect. He has a tough choice to make as far as which one to play in college.
Gianfranco Grafals, Orange Park Fleming Island: While the team certainly didn’t perform as well as expected in Lakeland, there is no doubt that Fleming Island in general and Grafals in particular far exceeded expectations this season. After losing only one game in the regular season, Fleming Island was upset in the district tourney finals and had to win on the road throughout the regional round of playoffs to reach Lakeland. Grafals led the team in scoring at just under 20ppg but it was the 6’2 senior’s court savvy and desire to compete that infused his teammates with the needed ingredients for Fleming Island to have its best season in school history.
Diwun Black, Kissimmee Osceola: Back in early December, Osceola fell by twenty points at region rival Oak Ridge and their bandwagon to return to the Lakeland pretty much emptied out. Black, a 6’5 senior that moved in from Mississippi and gained eligibility in January, completely changed the dynamic for the Kowboys. His physical presence on the interior was just what Osceola needed to win on the road at Vero Beach, claim revenge in the regional final over Oak Ridge, and win the program’s second title in three years.
Bryan Greenlee, The Rock School: The senior is a repeat winner in this category. He led The Rock School to their second consecutive SIAA state title. With sophomore big man Lynn Kidd out for a good chunk of the season, including the playoffs, Greenlee elevated his game and that of his teammates to get past a very good West Oaks team in the finals.
Next Up: Most Outstanding Player