Much more to cover from this past weekend’s Hoop Exchange Fall Festival at The Big House in Tavares.
The Stallions have long been one of the top programs in the North Florida area as well as the state overall. Chris Arias (pictured), a 6’6 senior and Jacksonville commit, is a bucket getter, pure and simple. Whether shooting with range from the perimeter and driving hard to the hoop, Arias is a tough for a defense to contain. Brady Patterson, a 5’10 senior, plays with a chip on his shoulder, takes care of the ball while running the offense, and shoots the ball well from the arc. Key to Providence’s success this coming season will be the effectiveness of its role players. Guys like Caleb McAbee, a 5’10 senior, Abdul Mansaray, a 6’4 senior, 6’4 senior David Fonville and 6’6 freshman Will Rydzewski will all need to maximize their abilities to get Providence to Lakeland.
Orlando Christian Prep
A long-time power in Class 2A, OCP is on a mission to get back to the winner’s circle in 23-24. Isaiah Brown, a 6’5 senior and Florida commit, is a great starting point. The swift lefty can drain shots from deep, finish above the rim in transition and drives, rebound and start the break and defend the ball with a vengeance. Running the point guard spot is 6’0 senior Ameer Ramadan. He shoots well from deep, dictates the pace, makes good reads when penetrating and has very active hands and feet on the defensive end. Darius Washington, Jr., a 6’4 junior, is a terror in transition, and good rebounder, and active in attacking the basket off the bounce. Mark Angueki, a 6’6 senior, is the anchor inside. He’s got long arms and is quick off the floor the grab rebounds and challenge shots. Most of his points are on opportunity baskets but he will surprise with a perimeter jumper if given too much space.
Despite some graduation losses, Winter Haven still looks to be the class of Region 3 in 7A this coming season. Jamie Phillips, a 6’5 guard and Stetson commit, runs the show from the point. He is a tough matchup with his size and physical make-up. He knows how to create space and make shots come crunch time. Issac Celiscar, a 6’6 senior that recently committed to Yale, isn’t much of a shot creator but finds a myriad of ways to score in transition, via offensive rebounds, cuts to the basket, or simply by being in the right place at the right time. Cezanne Mosley, a 6’7 junior, is strong, athletic, and controls the glass at both ends of the floor. He is an excellent post scorer, has an improving perimeter shot, and runs the floor well. A pleasant surprise was the play 6’1 junior Eric Dailey. He made some timely outside shots, taking some pressure off “the big three”.
The Colts will be one of the better public school teams in talent-rich Broward County this coming season. Once 6’5 senior Romae Brown returns from injury, Coral Springs will unleash a team that will be a tough match-up night in and night out. James Saulsby, a 6’2 senior, shoots it well from the perimeter but also has speed with the ball and finishing capability. Walter Pierre-Louis, a 6’3 senior, is another high-level athlete that plays hard, defends all over the court, and will make open shots. His brother, Alex Pierrre-Louis, a 6’4 junior, has a beautiful and consistent perimeter stroke out to the three-point line. Matthew Curprew-Elsy, a 6’5 senior, played minimally in the game we watched due to some lingering knee issues. When healthy, he is a bouncy and strong athlete that is tough to contain from fifteen feet and in. Matt Croissy, a 6’0 sophomore, impressed with his speed, quickness and ability to make the little plays that lead to big wins.
Southridge brings a slew of athletes to the game. One of the better basketball players in that grouping is 5’11 junior O’cien Valdez. Whether off the catch, the dribble, or coming off ball-screens, Valdez is a marksman from behind the arc. If overplayed for the shot, he has no issues taking the ball hard to the basket in search of contact and a trip to the foul line. Rey Daniels, a 5’11 senior, is a blur with the ball and pushes the pace at every opportunity. He is also a dogged defender when guarding the ball. Quincy Douby, a 6’5 senior, had his moments as well. He connected on multiple three-point attempts and was quick to move the ball if he did not have a shot.
It is somewhat of a comfort to watch Wellington play. As a group, there is little if any helter-skelter or chaos at either end of the floor. We continue to rave about the play of 6’6 senior Elyjah Freeman. He seemingly has every tool in the toolbox, knows how and when to use it, and shows us something new each time we watch him. Freeman has the ability to play multiple positions, handles the ball well, and is an active and alert defender. Running the show for Wellington is 6’1 senior Reggie Reinhardt. He takes care of the ball, makes good decisions on the move and picks his spots when it comes to scoring. On Saturday, Reinhardt made multiple threes well beyond the high school line. Tony Collins, a 6’4 senior, plays bigger than his size. He is a rugged rebounder and defender and offensively can score in the paint or pull bigger opponents away from the rim with his ability to drop in perimeter shots. Jeremy Tovar, a 6’0 junior, is creative when it comes to getting the ball in the basket. Whether it is with multiple dribble moves on the way to the hoop or deeper-than-expected three point shots, Tovar gets the ball to go down.
If the Wolverines’ campus were ten miles to the east, they would probably be a lock to get to Lakeland out of Region One in 7A. As it stands, they are in a tough region two with a host of other challengers. No doubt this group will be up for the task. We came away extremely impressed with the improvement of 6’4 senior Chalier Torres. He played some international ball this summer and that experience seems to have really elevated his confidence level and production. Torres found a great deal of success attacking the basket and scoring through contact in traffic. Add this wrinkle to his already formidable outside shooting and he becomes a tough cover. T.J. Drain, a 6’8 junior, seemingly improves every time he steps on the court. He owns the glass at both ends, challenges, changes, and blocks shots around the basket, and has become adept at dropping in shots from 12-15 feet. As his body continues to mature and gain strength, his athleticism will improve, most likely making him a coveted recruit this time next year. Nathan Earl, a 6’2 sophomore, provides a spark in the backcourt with his speed, quickness and outside shooting ability.