Last but not least from the Hoop Exchange Fall Festival.
Orlando Lake Highland Prep
LHP doesn’t have much size so it relies on a group of guards to get the job done. Fortunately, they play pretty well together at both ends of the floor. Julian Clarke, a 6’0 senior already committed to UNC-Asheville, didn’t play in the first half of the game we took in but quickly made up for lost time once he hit the floor. He connected on a trio of shots from beyond the arc, penetrated the defense and cashed in floaters in the lane, and pushed the pace overall on offense. Senior 6’0 guard Kellan Lewis has always been a steady catch-and-shoot guy. This weekend he showed more aggression to the basket on the bounce. A pair of sophomores will be key to the Highlanders success this coming season. Atwal Shiva is a 6’5 shooter that can stretch defenses. Michael Madueme is 6’4 and shows a solid feel for the game and competency in all of the fundamental areas of the game.
The Villages Charter
Get them now because The Buffaloes are young but wildly talented. The one senior of note is 6’2 Ben Koubek who should get an opportunity to play somewhere at the next level. A gritty, heady player with a reliable outside shot, Koubek can also drive the ball and score through contact. Chris Washington, a 6’7 sophomore, is bursting with potential. Long and bouncy, he is quick to rebounds, sprints the floor, and finishes well above the rim. He has range on his perimeter shot and it continues to improve as a weapon. Washington is also an effective shot blocker for his size. Brisun Hammermeister, a 6’5 sophomore, is a solid outside shooter, plays with a chip on his shoulder, and isn’t afraid to play physically at either end of the court. A good athlete that handles the ball well, Hammermeister can play multiple positions on the court. Jared Thompson, a 6’2 sophomore, plays either guard spot. He is quick to the cup and voraciously defends the basketball. A pair of freshmen also played significant minutes. Aaron Britt is a 6’0 speedster that continuously looks to push the pace. Jomar Bernard, a 6’5 freshman, has a good mix of skills and athleticism to make a variety of basketball plays.
Coconut Creek North Broward Prep
“The Prep” was missing 6’8 senior and Jacksonville commit Enrico Borio but still played at a high level this past weekend. We were very impressed with the play of 6’5 senior Raul Perez. He played bigger than his size and was very effective inside the arc. He repeatedly scored around the basket on drives and cuts into the lane. He also made some mid-range shots and got putbacks over some bigger opponents. Jayden Smith, a 6’1 sophomore, was also a nice find. His ability to slash to the basket and beat the defense before help could arrive was impressive and his athletic ability allowed him to make an impact on the boards. Maybe the play of the day on Saturday was made by 6’5 sophomore Junxi Yang when he drove baseline and dunked on a host of opponents. Didn’t see that coming.
Episcopal School of Jacksonville
Episcopal has a tough two-headed monster in Kent Jackson and Grady Schwartz. Jackson, a 6’2 senior and hometown JU commit, played arguably the best basketball we’ve seen him play. A noted deep-range shooter, Jackson eschewed that aspect of the game for the most part Sunday morning. Instead, he showed a much-improved ability to get to and finish at the basket in a crowd, knock down pull-ups after a dribble or two and distribute the basketball. Schwartz, a 6’8 senior that is getting serious looks from D-II schools within the state, displayed an effective inside/outside game. He’s tough and physical around the basket, plays with an edge, showed he can knock down open perimeter shots and bully smaller guys off the bounce to score inside.
As expected, Jackson brings a long and deep bench of athletic ballers to the game, looking to wear out opponents. A trio of seniors were key for the Generals this past weekend. Jaylen Dopson, 6’4, shot the ball well from the perimeter, got ahead of the defense in transition for easy scores, and crept onto the offensive glass for a couple of scores. Octavious Lawson, also 6’4, did similar things but his points came from inside the arc, from mid-range and in. He had a couple finishes above the rim that caught everyone’s attention. Finally, 6’2 senior Ronald Durham was kind of the glue that kept the group together. He can score on either side of the arc, but he also makes good pass vs. shot decisions on the move and finds teammates at the right place at the right time for easy scores.
We had hoped to get another look at 6’8 senior Jermarien Williams on Sunday but he played just a few possessions before being taken out for a lingering knee issue. Fortunately, 6’2 Jalen Brown picked up the slack. The defense had a difficult time keeping him away from the basket. On two occasions, Brown rose up and dunked with authority as teammates and opponents looked on in awe. He got help in the form of Wilton Jean-Pierre. A 6’5 “dancing bear” type with a solid frame but nimble feet and a deft touch around the basket, Jean-Pierre outplayed guys several inches taller.
Kissimmee Life Christian Academy
This group has some size inside which makes them a challenge. In 6’8 seniors Rueban Bos and Fabian Spee, LCA can make it tough to score in the paint. Delciano Poscool, a 6’1 junior, had some success driving the ball for scores while 6’5 sophomore Jayden Jones hit several perimeter shots off the dribble.