While the Most Valuable Player award hinges on the player’s ability to push his team to great playoff success, our definition of the Most Outstanding Player is different. The MOP to us is the best player, period.
Marcus Niblack, Wildwood: The 6’2 senior has been the Wildcats’ most talented player since his freshman season and has experienced both great personal achievement and team success. He’s a tremendous scorer and an under-rated passer when given that role. The Mr. Basketball of Class 1A this year, Niblack will take his potent offensive prowess to Oxford, Mississippi to play for Ole Miss in the SEC in the fall.
A.J. Lopez, Miami Schoolhouse Prep: All season long, Schoolhouse Prep was considered (along with OCP) a heavy favorite for the 2A state title. One of the main reasons for that was the play of Lopez. Whether running the floor and scoring in transition, using a quick first step to get by set defenders and attack the basket, or knocking down jumpers out on the perimeter, Lopez was a tough cover. Lopez was one of just a handful of players to average over twenty points a contest while shooting 50+% from the field overall, 40+% from behind the three-point line, and 80+% from the foul line. Currently unsigned, he might be the biggest sleeper in the Southeast.
Yussif Basa-Ama, Boca Raton St. Andrew’s: We usually try to avoid awarding the MVP and MOP honors to the same player, but Yussif’s play this season forced us to re-evaluate that thinking. The Yale signee averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds, and a little over one block per game for a well-balanced state title team. Some of his best traits don’t appear in the box score, such as his ability to step out and defend on the perimeter, help and recover in time to protect the basket, and force opponents to change their plan of offensive attack.
Isaiah Adams, Jacksonville Paxson: Another MVP/MOP double-dipper, Adams was always one of two players whose name came up when discussing the best players in the state within the FHSAA. His improved ability to score from the perimeter elevated his game to a new level in his senior season. His length and athleticism impaced the game at both ends of the floor. Adams is an excellent ball-handler and passer while defensively he excels at anticipating passes and garnering deflections and steals. He has proven he can defend all five spots on the floor and offensively be effective anywhere. It will be interesting to see how his game and frame develop at the University of Central Florida.
Alex Fudge, Jacksonville Lee: The 6’6 junior became more than just an athletically superior basketball player this year. Averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks this season, he jump-started a resurgence in the Generals basketball program that saw the team reach the regional finals. Playing out of position on the interior because of his height, Fudge proved to be a mismatch for bigger defenders that couldn’t handle his quickness and equal or smaller sized players that couldn’t compete with his size and skills. Already the target of high major D-I programs, Fudge will hopefully get a chance to get more college programs on his band wagon once this Covid-19 issue is done with.
Devin Carter, Doral Academy: The 6’5 senior had his season cut short after injuring his shoulder and missing the last half-dozen or so games. With Carter, Doral was a contender for the 6A state title. Without him, they were unable to get out of the first round of regionals. Before the injury, Carter’s numbers of 28.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 2.5 apg were some of the best in the state regardless of class. He’s also a presence on the defensive end. With quick feet, long arms, and excellent anticipation, Carter not only got a high amount of tips and steals but also straight-up blocks on jump shooters. Currently unsigned, it will be interesting to see where he casts his lot at the next level.
David Green, Ocoee: The 6’6 senior and Hofstra signee played for a well-balanced Ocoee team that reached the regional finals. He had modest numbers of 15 points and 7 rebounds a contest during the regular season, but greatly elevated his play in the playoffs, averaging over 22 points a contest in a four game span. The lefty has the skills to play on the perimeter and the frame and physical strength to overpower opponents inside. In a crowded field, he was named the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida Player of the Year.
Cade Cunningham/Scottie Barnes, Montverde Academy: It is just too difficult to separate these two for this honor. Cunningham is rated the #2 player in the class (he should be #1 based on production) and is a multi-faceted talent on the hardwood. Barnes is a top ten player in the 2020 Class, a Florida native, and seemingly brought something to this Montverde team that elevated the Eagles from great to being considered one of the best high school teams ever. In any given game, one could be Superman and the other could be Batman and neither would care who was who. Without question, Cunningham and Barnes are two of the best playmakers to have ever played basketball in the Sunshine State.