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Travel Team Preview: Q6 All-Stars Elite

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We caught up with Willie Anderson, Head Coach and Program Director for Q6 All-Stars Elite to talk about his expectations for the team this upcoming travel season as well as to get an insight about the players on his roster.

“We return four players from last season and believe they will set a solid foundation for those that are new to the program”, said Anderson.  “These guys are hungry and ready to compete in front of college coaches.  Each has the talent and ability to play at the next level and I think if they defend to their potential and put into practice what we preach in our workouts, we should be very successful, both on the scoreboard and the recruiting trail.”

A three-man rotation will protect the paint and provide interior scoring.  Gary Jones, a 6’10 junior from Tampa Sickles, Josh Berenbaum, a 6’7 junior from Clearwater Calvary Christian, and 6’6 junior Harry Sosa from Kissimmee Central Point will shoulder the load.

“Jones has only been playing basketball competitively for a couple years”, says Anderson.  “He works hard to improve every day and has developed a reliable shot from the perimeter.  Berenbaum is active on the glass, is a physical defender, and does all the little things that need to be done to win.  Sosa is a double-double candidate every game.  He’s a crafty scorer around the basket, has a nose for the ball on the offensive end, and can pose matchup problems as he can get by bigger guys on the perimeter or take smaller players inside and score.”

Q6 All-Stars Elite will have plenty of scoring options on the perimeter.  Jordan Golden, a 6’5 junior at Land O’Lakes Sunlake, will run alongside returnees Dylan Holloman, a 6’1 junior at Orlando Timber Creek, 6’5 junior Eric Wynn from Winter Garden West Orange, 6’3 junior Jalen Harper from Lake Nona, 6’5 junior Austin Allison from Naples St. John Nuemann, 6’1 junior Damari Smith from Orlando Dr. Phillips, and 6’3 junior Gyasi Powell from Jacksonville Bishop Snyder.

“Golden give us additional length on the perimeter”, Anderson stated.  “He takes the ball hard to the basket and can defend multiple positions.  Holloman is a tough, glue guy that impacts the game in ways college coaches will appreciate.  Wynn should have a break-out spring.  He’s athletic, finishes well at the basket, and can really defend.  Harper was a big part of Lake Nona’s run in the regional playoffs this past season.  He’s a solid floor general that can score.  Allison stretches the defense with his ability to consistently make shots from behind the arc.  If overplayed, he can take the ball to the basket and score.  Smith is a solid guard that makes heady plays and keeps the offense moving.  Powell is a good shooter that scores well from different levels.  He can run the offense as well if needed.”

During the April Live Period, Q6 All-Stars Elite will participate in the On The Radar Hoops Sweet Sixteen event in Atlanta and then Jerry Mullins’ High Profile Shootout in Dallas.

Travel Team Preview: Showtime Ballers

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We caught up with Diane Gillion, head coach of the Showtime Ballers, to get an insight on this year’s 17U squad.

“We will be playing on the Under Armor Association Rise circuit”, she stated.  “We have a roster full athletes and shooters.  They know they need to lock up defensively for us to be as successful as possible.  The more the team plays, the quicker the group jells together.  I fully expect for us to be ready for anyone when the live period kicks off later this month.”

While the front court may not be tall, it certainly will be long with a lot of bounce.  Isaiah Turner, a 6’9 point-forward type from Auburndale, is the tallest listed player.  He will be joined by 6’6 junior Noble Crawford from Orlando West Oaks, 6’6 junior Carl Bigord from Miami Schoolhouse Prep, 6’6 junior Lloyd Matthew from Orlando Edgewater and 6’7 junior Kobe Gibbs out of Strawberry Crest near Tampa.

“Turner is a skilled and athletic player that causes matchup difficulties for opponents”, Gillion said.  “Noble is working hard to advance his game.  His ball-handling and perimeter shooting have really advanced over the past month.  Bigord scores well around the basket.  He’s athletic, a very good on-court communicator, and brings leadership to the team.  Matthew can guard multiple positions.  He’s a solid perimeter player and active rebounder.  Gibbs also brings versatility to the court.  He’s long, covers a lot of ground quickly on the defensive end, and finishes well at the basket.”

The program has an excellent reputation for developing outstanding guards and this year’s group should be no different.  Tre Gilliam, a 6’0 junior from St. Petersburg Gibbs, will be joined by 6’2 sophomore A.J. Neal from Orlando West Oaks, 6’5 junior Jovan Bell from Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, 6’3 junior Chase Farmer from Land O’Lakes, and 6’4 junior Gabriel Sharp from Tampa Prep.

“Gilliam is a high academic player that works hard and wants to win”, according to Gillion.  “He’s a savvy point guard that can shoot it and understands the game very well.  Neal has worked hard to become far more than a three-point specialist.  He has improved his ball-handling and decision making with the ball and will showcase his ability to run a team.  Bell is athletic and a very tough defender.  He’s an aggressive scorer with the ball in his hands, always looking to attack the defense and earn ‘and 1’ opportunities.  Due to his athleticism, Farmer plays much bigger than his 6’3 size.  He hits open shots and plays above the rim.  Sharpe is a versatile scorer.  He generates instant offense when he enters the game.”

Travel Team Preview: Team Speights

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Former NBA player and champion Marreese Speights continues to give back to the community with his Team Speights basketball program.  We caught up with him and got some info on his program and this year’s 17U team.

“I’m doing what I can to give the future players an understanding of what it takes to be successful, not just in the game of basketball but also in life”, Speights said.  “They need to understand that everyone has to make sacrifices of one type of another for the group to be successful.  However, they can still enjoy the journey and have fun along the way to reaching their goals.  One of those goals is to get our players into the right basketball program at the next level.  I think every member of this year’s team has that chance.”

Heading up a solid group of interior players is 6’8 junior Michael Phillips from Creekside.  He’ll get help from 6’8 junior Jakob Hester from Anclote, 6’7 junior Jacob Crews from Hilliard, and 6’6 junior Rodney Williams from Berkeley Prep in Tampa.

“Mike brings it 100% on every possession at both ends of the court”, stated Speights.  “He scores well inside and actively pursues rebounds; its almost like the ball finds him.  He’s also a great communicator both on and off the court.  Hester is a vastly under-rated player.  He finishes well around the rim with both hands, has an improving jumper on the perimeter and really understands the game.  Crews is a shooter that can really stretch the floor.  He’s also a very good athlete that doesn’t mind playing rough inside when necessary.  Williams is another player with size that can really shoot the basketball from the perimeter.  He also scores well when driving the ball to the rim and should open eyes this spring and summer.”

The Team Speights backcourt certainly won’t be lacking in size or firepower.  Dionte Blatch, a 6’3 junior from East Lake looks to continue what was a breakout junior campaign this past high school season.  He’ll be joined by 6’4 junior Eric Lee out of Clearwater Superior Collegiate, 6’4 junior Marquel Bryant from Sarasota Riverview, 6’4 junior Joe Stubbs from Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, and 6’3 junior Carr Theim from Tampa Wharton.

“Blatch has a great basketball IQ”, says Speights.  “He makes good decisions with the ball, is strong to the basket and can score in traffic.  His shot is solid out to the arc and his recruitment should take a big jump after the first April live period.  Lee is a great energy guy.  He’s long and very active on the defensive end and offensively takes the ball strong to the basket.  Bryant has the talent to play either guard position.  He brings a lot of energy and aggression to both ends of the court and finds a way to get buckets.  Stubbs is a strong and athletic guard that can finish above the rim as well as knock down shots to the arc.  He’s got a good chance to have his recruitment “blow up” this coming live period.  Thiem is smart, a solid shooter, and will see time at multiple positions for us.  He is also able to defend multiple positions.”

Travel Team Preview: Nightrydas Elite

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If you only follow the 17U level of grassroots basketball, then this program will be unfamiliar to you.  However, those in the know understand that the Night Rydas Elite program has been around for a few years and done quite well for itself.  Playing in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) this spring and summer will give this program national notoriety.

“Last year’s group made it to the Peach Jam Final Four in the 16U Division”, Night Rydas Elite Head Coach Edward Francis said.  “That was without one of our leading ‘bigs’ who was playing with the French National Team.  I have no doubt that this team can go farther than last year.  I’m excited to get going!”

Scottie Barnes, a 6’8 junior from Fort Lauderdale University School, will be a key component in the frontcourt.  Joining him will be 6’9 sophomore Moussa Diabate from Daytona Beach DME Academy, 6’9 junior Jalen Haynes from Fort Lauderdale Dillard, 6’6 junior Dudley Blackwell from Huntington (WV) Prep, and 6’5 junior Leonard Manuel from Ocala Vanguard.

“Barnes is a top five player nationally in the 2020 Class”, stated Edwards.  “He can do everything on a basketball court and then some.  His hoops IQ is off the charts, he’s skilled and a great leader.  In short, Barnes is a coach’s dream.  Diabate plays hard every possession and leaves it all on the court.  While he’s an outstanding interior scorer, his perimeter game is rapidly improving.  Haynes has greatly improved over the last year.  He is lengthy, plays well around the basket, and scores well inside the three point line.  Blackwell is a great passer and excels at setting up his teammates for scores.  He also has a knack for scoring and simply finds ways to get the ball in the basket at big moments.  Manuel brings a football-type of toughness to the game.  He’s a good passer, great athlete and an energizer when in the game.”

The backcourt will have a load of talent.  6’4 junior Antwan Burnett from Montgomery (AL) Lanier was a key scorer on last year’s squad.  He will be joined by 6’1 junior Nasseem Khalid from Jacksonville First Coast, 6’0 junior Kameron Woods from AL Pinson Valley, 6’2 junior Devin Carter from Doral Academy, and 6’4 junior Victor Brown from Orlando Lake Highland Prep.

“Burnett is a true ‘2’ guard”, Francis states.  “He plays hard and is a knock down shooter.  Khalid is a dynamic ball-handler that does a great job of running the team.  He scores well within the flow of the offense but when called upon can get buckets.  Woods can play either guard spot very well.  He may be the best shooter on the team and is clever in finding ways to score.  Carter is the son of an NBA player and has a great basketball IQ.  He can score or run the team very effectively.  We refer to Brown as a ‘quiet assassin’.  He’s a slasher that gets to the rim, hits open shots, and simply understands the game.”

The Night Rydas will tackle a challenging schedule in addition to their EYBL slate of games. 

Travel Team Preview: Team Parsons (CP25)

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Team Parsons, also known as CP 25, has quickly become a high level grassroots program.  We caught up with Program Director Anthony Ricks to find out more about this year’s group of players.

“This group is solid and may be as good as any group we have had in the past”, Ricks said.  “Our goal is to win, of course, but also get the players maximum exposure in front of college coaches from all levels.  We have versatile guys throughout the roster and believe teams will have difficult matchup problems when they play us.”

In the frontcourt, Yussif Basa Ama, a 6’9 junior from Boca Raton St. Andrew’s, will be joined by 6’8 junior Jonathan Aybar from Kissimmee Central Pointe, 6’6 junior Isaiah Adams from Jacksonville Paxon, and 6’5 junior Kario Oquendo from Titusville Astronaut.

“Yussif seemingly improves every moment he is on the court”, according to Ricks.  “He’s a long shot blocker that runs the floor, plays with intensity, and scores well around the basket.  Aybar is similar but can step out and knock down shots inside the arc.  Adams is a long wing that can play different positions.  Offensively he has improved his shot, is a good passer, and is a threat to posterize the defense any time he drives to the basket.  Oquendo is an explosive athlete that played up on the 17U level last season and acquitted himself well.  He’s a tremendous finisher at the rim and plays bigger than his size.”

There will be a lot of perimeter options for Team Parsons this season.  Joe Bamisile, a 6’5 junior from VA Monocan, leads a group that includes 6’5 junior Michael Eads from Orlando Edgewater, 6’5 junior Van Wilkes from Winter Park, 6’4 junior Eric Butler from Orlando Christian Prep and 5’10 junior Jordan Sears from Daytona Beach Mainland.

“Bamisile averaged nearly 29 ppg this past season in high school”, Ricks said.  “He’s athletic, has a near seven foot wing span, and is a high level scorer.  Eads has a highly effective mid-range game.  He’s strong, has a high basketball IQ, and is also a very good passer.  Wilkes stretches the floor with his ability to make baskets from well beyond the three point arc.  He’s crafty with the ball, is a good passer, and rebounds well against bigger players.  Butler is a combo guard that does a little bit of everything.  He’s solid with the ball, has a high basketball IQ, can score and defend multiple positions.  Sears is a tough-minded point guard that does whatever it takes to win.  He’s physically and mentally tough, an excellent on-court leader, and can score in a variety of ways.”

Team Parsons will be tackling a challenging independent schedule which includes The Team Parsons Shootout this Saturday at Orlando The First Academy, The Atlanta Jam in Suwannee, GA April 26-28, The Team Parsons Memorial Day Classic, May 25-26, along with the Team Parsons Summer Jam, July 20-21.

Travel Team Preview: Game Elite Gold Florida

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Game Elite Gold Florida plays on the Adidas Gold Gauntlet circuit and is based in Jacksonville.  This group was one of the better teams on the 16U circuit last season and is looking for big things in 2019.

“We have the talent to win the Gauntlet this season”, stated Co-Head Coach Russell Powell, who along with Co-Head Coach Vince Martin runs the team.  “We return six players from last season and this group understands what it takes to win.  They are hungry and ready for another run at a Gauntlet championship.”

Corey Walker, a 6’8 wing from Jacksonville Bishop Snyder, has already committed to the University of Tennessee.  He’ll be joined in the frontcourt by 7’0 junior Walker Kessler of GA Woodward Academy, 6’10 junior Ebenezer Dowuona out of GA Heritage School, and 6’8 sophomore Ernest Ross from Alachua Santa Fe.

“Walker is a tremendously versatile player”, Powell said.  “He can play and defend any position, 1 thru 5, on the court.  He also scores from all three levels.  Kessler is a national top twenty prospect.  At 7’0 he can stretch the floor with his shot and he has a very high basketball IQ.  Dowuona is a long and athletic big that plays with great energy.  He blocks shots, rebounds, runs the floor, and scores well around the basket.  Ross will open a lot of coaches’ eyes.  He is skilled for a guy his size and age and has plus length and athleticism.”

Game Elite Gold Florida will have a lot of options on the perimeter.  6’7 junior Tony Sanders of Miami Gulliver Prep, 6’4 junior Khalil Shaheed from Clearwater Superior Collegiate, 6’4 junior Jamari Smith from AL Success Unlimited Prep, 6’1 junior Evan Carter from AL Brewbaker Tech, 5’10 junior Michael Whitmore from GA Woodward Academy, 5’10 junior Connor Sazant from Miami Gulliver Prep and 5’8 junior Isaiah Greene from Jacksonville Atlantic Coast are all expected to contribute.

Powell goes on to say, “Sanders is an all-around player that scores inside and out and defends multiple positions.  Shaheed is a strong and athletic guard and may see time at the point.  He finishes well at the rim and is a good passer.  Smith is our “x-factor”, our catalyst.  He’s an excellent athlete that makes plays all over the floor.  Carter is a strong and athletic scorer.  He puts a lot of pressure on the defense which opens up opportunities for his teammates.  Wittmore is savvy and a great floor leader.  He is also a tenacious on-ball defender.  Sazant is one of the better perimeter shooters on the squad.  Greene plays with a great deal of energy, is a tenacious defender, and knocks down shots from beyond the arc.”

Game Elite Gold Florida expects to tackle the following schedule:

April 12-14: Adidas Gauntlet Regional Qualifier – Spartanburg, SC

April 19-21: The Tip-Off Classic – Atlanta, GA Lanier HS

April 26-28: Adidas Gold Gauntlet Session I – Dallas, TX

May 17-19: Bob Gibbons’ Tournament of Champions – Atlanta, GA

May 25-27: Adidas Gauntlet Regional Qualifier – Atlanta, GA

July 11-14: Adidas Summer Championship – Birmingham, AL

July 18-21: Adidas Gauntlet Finale – Los Angeles, CA

2019 Travel Team Jamboree Schedule Released

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The CPS Sportsplex will be the place to be in the Florida grassroots basketball world all weekend.  The action tips off Friday, March 29th and concludes on Sunday, March 31st with a full slate of games.  Catch an early glimpse of most of the top players and programs in Florida all under one roof.

CPS Sportsplex

110 Athletes Row
Apopka, Florida 32703

 2019 TRAVEL TEAM JAMBOREE SCHEDULE REVISED (2)

Schedule Updated 3/28/2019 8:30am

High School End-of-Season Awards: Wrap-Up

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Time to close out our HS End of Season Awards with some team categories.

BEST TEAM

For this category, we are only going to consider teams that participated in the FHSAA playoffs.  Both Montverde Academy and IMG Academy are members of the FHSAA but do not participate in the playoffs.

University School closed out the season with a 26-4 record and those losses were to nationally ranked teams from outside of the state.  When playing Florida teams, the Sharks were dominant.  Despite losing top player Vernon Carey, Jr. to an ankle sprain in the regional final, U-School dominated a talented Villages team in the semi-final and a tough, physical Jacksonville Jackson team in the final to capture their second Class 5A state title.  The Sharks’ season isn’t done yet as they return to the Dick’s Nationals in New York City next month.  Their first round opponent? Montverde Academy, who defeated U-School last year at Dick’s to secure a mythical national title.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

With Choctaw returning most of the team that reached the final four last year, district rival Crestview wasn’t given much consideration in the pre-season.  In a three team district, we were pretty sure that Crestview would get to the playoffs but once again fall short at the hands of Choctaw.  That script got re-written after Crestview defeated the Indians at Choctaw 61-58 in the regional semi-finals.  With the 800 pound Gorilla off their collective backs, Crestview cruised thru the final three games of the playoffs to win the Class 7A state title.  With wins by 18 in the regional final, 24 in the state semi and by 10 over highly regarded Dillard in the final, Crestview got hot at the right time of the season.

FLORIDA HS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS SEEDING

Wouldn’t it be great if Florida followed in New Jersey’s footsteps and held a Tournament of Champions for all its classification winners?  If that had taken place this season, below is our seeding for the bracket.

#1 Seed: NSE University School – Most dominant team in Lakeland

#2 Seed: Kissimmee Osceola – The Kowboys got on a roll when the calendar hit 2019 and Diwun Black became eligible.

#3 Seed: Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy – The Lions were more than just the scoring exploits of Chase Johnston and Sam Griffin.  Twin Towers Ben Middlebrooks and Anthony Atkinson controlled the paint and the boards at both ends of the floor.

#4 Seed: Fort Lauderdale Stranahan – By virtue of its win over Ely in the regular season, Stranahan earns this seed.  Four of five starters for the Dragons will return next season, but losing point guard and catalyst Brian Dugazon will be a challenge to overcome.

#5 Seed:  Pompano Beach Ely – The Tigers lost during the regular season to both Westminster and Stranahan.  The Tigers only had four seniors on their listed roster, but only one was a significant contributor.  With the classification re-structure taking place next season, Ely should get more of a challenge in seeking another state title but it is doubtful the results will be different. 

#6 Seed: Crestview – The team didn’t feature much size but was tough both mentally and physically behind the play of seniors D’Marcus Purcell, Jaden Voisin, and Devin Voisin.

#7 Seed: Tallahassee St. John Paull II – Add a skilled player with size to a talented and experienced lineup and you get SJP II’s formula for success this season. 

#8 Seed: Orlando Central Florida Christian Academy – Last year’s loss to Miami Christian left a bitter taste in the collective mouth of the Eagles.  Despite the loss of four year starter Dante Treacey, returnees Jordan Preaster, Anterrius Washington, and Bryce Street all expanded their roles to push CFCA to the top of the mountain.

#9 Seed: Madison County – Class 1A champ would love an opportunity to play against the “big boys”.

Teams to Watch for Next Season

The FHSAA’s new classification structure should bring much more competitive games to the playoffs.  Going from nine classes down to seven, with all seven having sixteen districts, will make things far more interesting next season.  Based on the new classifications, here are some teams to watch for next season.

Class 1A: Paxton – The team’s top three scorers were underclassmen and should have a leg up on the rest of the field come tourney time.

Class 2A: Orlando Christian Prep – The Warriors will return all the key pieces from this year’s state finalist.

Class 3A: Boca Raton St. Andrew’s – The return of 6’10 Yussif Basa-Ama and 6’5 Josh Minott will give St. Andrew’s a great tandem to build around.

Class 4A: Tampa Catholic – Not a contributing senior on the roster for Tampa Catholic this past season and they reached the state semis.  Next year’s Class 4A is a loaded field but TC has the necessary talent to be the last one standing at season’s end.

Class 5A: To Be Determined – In looking over the field of teams that comprise the “new” Class 5A, no one team jumps to the forefront.  Not sure if that means there is parity or mediocrity in this classification.

CLASS 6A: Tarpon Springs East Lake – East Lake snuck up on some people this year but that likely won’t be the case next season.  Dionte Blatch is one of the better players in the state and the team returns several other contributors.

CLASS 7A: Miami High – The Stingarees fielded a young team with three sophomore starters this past season.  They should only improve and could be a real threat next season.

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

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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.

CLASS 1A

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.

CLASS 2A

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.

CLASS 3A

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.

CLASS 4A

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.

CLASS 5A

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.

CLASS 6A

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.

CLASS 7A

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.

CLASS 8A

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.

CLASS 9A

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.

Independents

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.

High School End-of-Season Awards: Best Supporting Player

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Basketball is the quintessential team game.  All those players that have been honored as MVPs or MOPs certainly couldn’t win games and amass impressive stats without some help.  With that in mind, here are our nods to the Best Supporting Player in each classification.

CLASS 1A

Vincenta Mitchell, Madison County: The 6’2 senior was stellar in Madison County’s run to a state title this season.  After averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds a game during the regular season, he stepped up big time with 20 points and 8 rebounds to lead the team to a two-point OT win in the title game.  Not mentioned in the box score is solid defense on the opponent’s top offensive player.

CLASS 2A

Bryce Street, Orlando Central Florida Christian Academy: With teammate Jordan Preaster’s sizzling 30 point performance in the title game, many have overlooked Street’s solid efforts in both the state semi and state final.  The 6’2 senior averaged just over sixteen points a game during the regular season, but went for 18 points with four steals in the semi-final as Preaster battled foul issues then went above and beyond the call of duty in the final, torching NFEI for 25 points, going 4-6 from deep in the process.

CLASS 3A

Ven Allen-Lubin, Orlando Central Florida Christian: Far more often than not, freshmen do not make a significant contribution on the varsity level.  That wasn’t the case for Allen-Lubin this year.  The 6’5 freshman provided a significant interior presence for OCP after last year’s front line (all likely NBA players) departed.  Rarely the focal point of an offensive possession, he made his impact on the glass at both ends and as a rim protector on defense.

CLASS 4A

Cornelius Bobo, Seffner Christian: While the stellar sophomore combo of Mike Trigg and Willie Jones scored most of the points and got most the publicity, Bobo went about his business doing the dirty work and whatever else it took to win ball games.  The 6’4 senior was solid all season in the rebounding and interior defense departments.  In the team’s two games in Lakeland, Bobo produced a 15 point/12 rebound double-double in the semis while in the final game, he tallied 16 points in a heartbreaking loss.

CLASS 5A

Dante Wilcox, West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy: Oxbridge was shooting for a perfect record until being derailed on the road at St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton in the region semis. Wilcox, a 6’5 Florida International signee, was a big part of that success.  While senior guard A.J. Cajuste orchestrated the offense and proved to be a big-time playmaker, Wilcox was the cause of many a sleepless night for opposing coaches with his ability to score from inside the arc, athletic finishes around the rim, and relentless rebounding efforts.

CLASS 6A

Brian Dugazon, Fort Lauderdale Stranahan: Though the 5’10 senior led Stranahan in scoring in their two games in Lakeland, it was normally the athletic exploits and three point shooting of junior Dave Herard or the interior play of Inady Legiste that got the most mention in the press.  Dugazon’s ability to control tempo, harass opposing ball-handlers and make plays when called upon was crucial to Stranahan’s run to the state title.

CLASS 7A

Josh Williams, Choctawhatchee: Williams was a tremendous complement to TCU recruit Diante Williams all season long.  Arguably the 5’10 senior’s most impressive performance came against national #4 IMG Academy where he dropped 21 points against a team loaded with future high D-I recruits.  With superior speed, a high skill level, and a massive chip on his shoulder, Williams should get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.

CLASS 8A

The Roster, Pompano Beach Ely: Though Ely has had its share of studs in the past, “The Ely Way” doesn’t rely on star power to earn state titles.  For example, four different players scored in double figures in at least one game in Lakeland, and two of those didn’t average double-figures for the year in scoring.  For Melvin Randall’s Tigers, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, making the entire Tiger team perfect supporting players.

CLASS 9A

Caleb Coleman, Orlando Oak Ridge: The 6’7 senior was solid all season long as a three-level scorer for the Pioneers.  Coleman was the team’s go-to three point shooter but also knew how to take advantage of a size mismatch down low.  Yes, C.J. Walker is certainly the team’s top player and Niven Glover has highlight reel potential with the basketball in his hands.  However, Coleman was the player to keep the Pioneers on an even keel all season long.

INDEPENDENTS

Harlond Beverley, Montverde Academy: The Eagles have a lot of talent, especially in the frontcourt with 6’8 McD AA Precious Achuiwa and 7’0 FSU commit Balsa Kaprovica.  Also, 6’7 junior Cade Cunningham was spectacular running the offense.  Beverley, a 6’4 senior, was often the one to spark Montverde on a game-changing run, either with a timely outside bucket, a steal and score, or forcing a turnover.  Beverley could have stayed in Michigan and been a star, but he chose to mix his talents with others in an opportunity for a national title.  That decision has certainly benefitted both Beverley and Montverde.

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