We headed down to Bartow for the Mosaic Stinger Shootout on Saturday. Arguably the best way to end the high school regular season, the Shootout gives us a chance to see Polk County’s top teams and players take on the challenge of some of the better teams from around the state.
Saturday’s Top Performers and Prospects
Andres Millan, Lakeland Victory Christian: The 6’7 junior may not have stuffed the stat sheet point-wise (9 points), but his athleticism, energy, and length allow him to have an impact on the game as his 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks can attest. A decent ball-handler and effective straight-line driver, Millan can get to the rim but needs to finish better. He’s an active rebounder, especially at the offensive end. Defensively he covers a lot of ground quickly and can defend both in the post and on the perimeter. His play on Saturday shows he has a lot of potential.
Nicholas McClain, Live Oak Suwannee: The 6’4 senior has an outstanding pedigree with his brother having recently completed a solid four-year career at Belmont. With a strong build and smooth stroke from the perimeter (4-6 from beyond the arc), McClain finished with 27 points and 6 rebounds. He overpowered defenders on drives to the basket and was very active in going after putbacks for points. McClain was solid on the defensive end with active hands and feet, as well as good instincts to pick off passes into his area.
Jerrod Johnson, Auburndale HS: The 6’0 freshman played with no fear on a big stage Saturday and produced solid numbers of 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. Some of those thefts were outright strips of the ball-handler. Many of those points were of the hustle variety: turning steals into scores or sneaking in for a put-back. A good athlete, his overall skill set still seems to be a work in progress, though he did seem to be an adequate ball-handler and passer on the perimeter. Johnson is certainly one to watch over the next couple of seasons.
Tre Carroll, Punta Gorda Charlotte: The 6’7 junior was out with an injury at the Wally Keller Classic, so this was our first chance to see him since he “blew up” this past summer into the national Class of 2021 rankings. He certainly looked the part, going for 24 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. Carroll may not be an explosive athlete, but he’s more than good enough and his high hoops IQ and skill set more than compensate. Carroll has a good touch from the outside, handles and passes the ball well on the perimeter, and generally makes the right shot vs. pass decision on the move with the ball. He’s got some ability as a grab-and-go rebounder.
Tyler Williams, Winter Haven: The 6’4 freshman had quite the debut at the Stinger Shootout, tallying 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in a solid, all-around effort. Williams knocked down his lone perimeter shot attempt, but he was at his best when attacking the paint, making good decisions with the ball and not forcing attempts in traffic. We liked how he pursued rebounds out of his area and his effort on the defensive end. With normal progression, it would seem that Williams will have a lot of choices to play basketball at the collegiate level in a few years.
Jay’Den Clarke-Jones, Bradenton Lakewood Ranch: The 6’1 sophomore is doing all he can to pick up the slack of some injured and/or unavailable teammates. Tallying 17 points, 3 rebounds, and a steal against Winter Haven, Clarke-Jones played with a poise not normally found in young players in this type of setting. He took care of the basketball, made shots from the perimeter (2-3 beyond the arc) and got the ball to teammates when and where they needed it. Clarke-Jones has good speed and quickness with the ball but also understands when to amp up or slow down the game’s tempo. As he gets older and stronger, he should become a more solid defender.
Emmanuel Sharp, Tampa Blake: The 6’4 sophomore is one of the top scoring leaders in the state and Saturday he went for his average, 33 points, going 11-22 overall and 6-12 from the three point line. Sharp also tallied 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. While a lot is made about one of the top sophomores in the country’s ability to knock down deep perimeter shots, he is also one of the more crafty and creative finishers at the rim one will find. Sharp knows how to use his strong frame to create space and score in, around, over, and through traffic.
Alvin Tumblin, Sebring: The 6’5 junior is being slighted when labeled as a “C/PF” in the program or on Max Preps. Yes, he is forced to play close to the basket due to the lack of size on the team, but his future on the collegiate level lies in him being recognized as a perimeter player. He demonstrated that capability well on Saturday, tallying 28 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, and 1 assist. While Tumblin only buried one of his four three-point attempts, he looked solid in his ability to knock down shots just inside the arc off both the catch and the dribble. Tumblin plays taller than his listed 6’5 thanks to his generous wing span and springy legs.
Walter Clayton, Bartow: The 6’3 junior’s stats of 11 points, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds don’t really give justice to how he controls the game for the Yellow Jackets. He is an orchestrator at both ends of the floor and get his teammates going in the right direction. Clayton has an excellent feel for the game, good court vision, and the innate ability of seeming to know what play needs to be made at the right time. While a bit of a streaky shooter from the perimeter, he has good change of pace/direction moves with the ball and gets to the rim quickly and finishes strong. Defensively he has good footwork and the right mindset to cause problems whenever the opponent has the ball.
Brice Sensabaugh, Orlando Lake Highland Prep: The 6’5 sophomore had the Highlanders in position to knock off the overall top FHSAA team in the state, Santa Fe Catholic, until he cramped up with just under four minutes to play and the game tied at forty-nine. Unable to provide his team with necessary scoring, his fellow Highlanders couldn’t get over the hill. Sensabaugh finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in the contest. His outside jumper didn’t appear until later but he showed he could score in other ways until it arrived. He found holes in the defense to score inside, pursued missed shots for putbacks, and was able to turn a couple of those steals into scores.
Antwan Walker, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic: The 6’1 senior has at times been overlooked by his teammates this season, but Saturday night, it was Walker that became the closer. While Javon Bell had a team-high 20 points and Joe Stubbs scored five straight points to break a 49-49 tie and give the team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, it was Walker that stroked the free throws to make it a two possession game with just ten seconds to play. He was solid in his play with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. He’s that “X-Factor” that teams will have to contend with throughout the coming playoffs.