06 May 2024

OTR Battle at The Villages

We took in a few games this past weekend at On The Radar’s Battle at The Villages.  With five courts available, the new Villages Charter High School is an excellent facility to hold an event of this scope and magnitude.

Isaiah Cherry, Small Town Hoops: A 5’11 junior out of Suwannee Live Oak, Cherry did a good job of driving the ball for scores or distributing to teammates for quality shots.  He is a creative scorer inside the arc as he uses crafty ball fakes and solid footwork to create space.  Cherry proved adept at finishing at the basket with either hand in a crowd.  In drive and pass situations, he puts the ball where his teammate can best use it.  His three-point shooting needs to become more reliable but his abilities to create points for himself and teammates overcomes that flaw for now.

Tyson Gilbert, Above Academy*: A 6’5 junior out of Tocoi Creek near St. Augustine, Gilbert is relatively new to the game but according to coaches has been improving at a rapid rate.  Long and athletic, he sprints the floor in transition and is quick off the court to spear rebounds and challenge shots around the basket.  Gilbert gets a lot of shots within the flow of the offense such as ball-screen action, moving without the ball, and quick post-ups in the lane.  He rebounds well at both ends, has a quick second and third leap for the ball, and is always a lob threat around the rim.  Gilbert’s perimeter skills, most notably shooting, are a bit behind schedule but his best basketball is ahead of him.

Santiago Henriquez, Triple Threat: A 5’10 junior from Miami Palmetto, Henriquez embodies the new age scoring point guard that combines deep range with scoring ability at the basket.  He canned several NBA+ range threes on Friday night in the game we watched.  Once the defense tried to take that away, Henriquez breezed by defenders into open space and created all sorts of havoc.  He routinely hit floaters in the lane, made tough shots in a crowd at the rim, and found teammates for easy shots.  Defensively Henriquez anticipates well, has quick feet, and works hard to keep the ball in front of him.

Jesus Price, North Point Youth: A 6’4 junior from Jacksonville Riverside, Price was one of just five players for NPY so each had to tread lightly to avoid fouls.  A lithe and long athlete, Price showed some burst with the ball in getting to the basket.  While he may not have always scored on those drives, Price put a lot of pressure on defense and drew many fouls.  As Price gets physically stronger he will finish those forays to the basket more often.  He had a bit more success with his perimeter shot, knocking down a trio of open looks from behind the three-point line.  With his length and athleticism, there is little doubt that Price could be a versatile defender in the future.

Ralphy Diaz, Triple Threat: A 6’4 sophomore from Miami Palmetto, Diaz caught fire early from deep on Friday night, using that as a springboard to score in other ways.  He has a quick release and moves well without the ball to get open shots.  Diaz has a solid frame and uses it well when attacking the basket should the opportunity arise.  He had more than a few tough finishes through contact in traffic at the hoop.  Diaz rebounded his area well and was alert to get into the passing lanes and disrupt the opponent’s offense.

Corey Perlin, PSB Tampa Elite: A 6’1 junior at Clearwater Countryside, Perlin provides a steady hand at the point.  He doesn’t play around with the ball on the perimeter, he initiates the offense quickly and is opportunistic in his shot attempts.  Perlin proved to be a strong driver and finisher at the basket, showing good footwork, body control, and touch with either hand.  His perimeter shot has good form and mechanics and it will become more consistent in the near future.  Physically strong and tough-minded, he isn’t shy about putting a body on opponents on defense or under the boards when chasing rebounds.

Markenzie Sadille, AE5 Florida: A 6’0 junior out of TLAP Sports Academy in Tallahassee, Sadille is a playmaker.  Offensively he is a pass first (but not pass only) guard, looking for teammates on drives to the basket.  He is quick to rotate the ball to open teammates on the perimeter, locate and deliver the ball to secondary options in the offense, and he pushes the tempo at every opportunity.  Sadille didn’t look to shoot from the perimeter but he did finish the game one of two from behind the arc.  A quick athlete with active hands and feet, he is a tough on-ball defender and also disruptive in the passing lanes.

Cameron Bryant, Sunshine Elite: A 6’5 junior at Oviedo, Bryant was one of the more explosive athletes that we saw at the event.  Lethal in transition, he is quick to get ahead of the defense to finish well above the rim.  Bryant has the ability to snag a rebound, push the ball up the floor, and score over defenders.  He has a quick first step when attacking a set defense and needs only a dribble or two to get into the lane a soar for a score.  Bryant will make perimeter shots when in rhythm and given some space.  His athleticism makes him a solid defender and he had a couple of block shots coming over from the help side.

Jahlon Blaine, TBA: A 6’0 junior at Somerset Pines, Blaine plays the game one way: all out.  He seemingly is always going at top speed, pushing the ball in transition or attacking the defense off the bounce.  With his speed and quickness, it is tough for a defender to stay in front of him.  Blaine gets to the line quite often and makes the most of his attempts.  While he only took a few perimeter shots, he showed that he can make a decent number from deep and should be respected.  Blaine’s attacking attitude carries over to the defensive end where he continually swipes at the ball and moves his feet quickly to cut off the dribbler.

*Above Academy was proof positive that travel team basketball can be a beautiful thing.  We only caught the 17U team, but their chemistry, connectivity, and high IQ at both ends of the floor was an absolute joy to watch.  College coaches from all levels should watch this team if only to get some fresh offensive concepts for their program.  They may find a player or two as well.

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