The South Florida edition took place this past weekend at the DS Sportsplex in Deerfield. With three courts simultaneously hosting games, there was never a lack for quality basketball. Before we look at some of the individual players that stood out on Saturday, a special note on a pair of games that took place needs to be made.
There are teams, then there are programs. Bartow out of Polk County and Norland from Miami fall into the latter category. Both programs bring a culture of toughness, competitiveness, and intensity to the court regardless of opponent or situation. While watching the two teams play each other on Saturday, it was clear that this was no ordinary camp contest. Both teams play full out and expect to win. Any player that just goes thru the motions gets a quick seat on the bench. Granted, it wasn’t always pretty, but watching the Yellow Jackets and Vikings go at it made us realize how those two programs are so much different than most of their contemporaries on Saturday.
Also, a special shout-out to West Oaks Academy and Fort Lauderdale Skills Academy for making it more than worthwhile to stay for the last game of the Saturday session. The game was sort of a family affair/backyard brawl as the teams and coaching staffs are very familiar with each on an individual as well as team basis. The result was a highly intense, well-played game with some entertaining but respectable trash talk thrown in. On paper, West Oaks had a clear talent advantage but to a man the Fort Lauderdale squad wasn’t buying it. Their intensity, effort, and teamwork nearly led them to a big win. As it was, the game was as electric and entertaining as one will see at the high school or grassroots level of basketball.
Selton Miguel, West Oaks: The 6’5 rising senior is a top one hundred player in the 2020 Class for good reason. When he gets a head of steam going toward the basket, there is little the defense can do other than foul him. Miguel can complete shots at the basket in traffic thru contact thanks to his strength, frame, and soft touch. He gets to the line a lot and knocks down his free throws at a high rate. His jumper continues to improve and that just makes Miguel that much more difficult to defend. As a defender, he plays physically, anticipates the passing lanes well, and causes havoc at that end of the floor.
Brandon Sanders, South Miami: The 6’10 rising senior has all the physical tools high majors are looking for: superior height, long wing span, and bouncy athleticism. There are times on the court where his play shows a lack of experience and then there are times where Sanders will make a volleyball spike block out of nowhere or rise up thru traffic and hammer home an offensive rebound with authority. He did show promise with a couple of jump hooks in the lane but overall his offensive game lacks polish. Patience will be required as Sanders develops his game and his body, but the payoff should be tremendous.
Taddarius Davis, Miami Senior: The 6’7 rising junior was the lone consistent offensive performer for “The High” in the game we watched. Davis has a quick first step and is by the defender and at the rim in the blink of an eye. If not stopped on his way to the rim, a posterizing dunk is sure to happen. He’s got nice form and consistently makes his free throws but his perimeter jumper wasn’t falling this time out. Though thin, Davis is an active rebounder at both ends and he can grab defensive boards and push the ball on his own to start the break. His length makes him a disruptive defender.
Alex Vertus, FTL Skills Academy: The 6’1 rising senior was one tough customer in the team’s game vs. West Oaks to end Saturday. He was fearless in attacking the basket, garnering several three-point play opportunities and completed the vast majority of them. Vertus also knocked down perimeter jump shots inside and beyond the three-point line with a confident and smooth stroke. Defensively, he never shied away from guarding West Oaks’ Miguel. In short, Vertus plays with a tenacity at both ends of the floor that coaches can appreciate.
Cameron Johnson, Miami Norland: A 6’4 rising sophomore, Johnson played with a confidence not seen in most players that have just finished their first season of high school ball. He took the ball hard to the hole, completed some plays thru contact in traffic, and kept his defender on his heels most of the contest. Unlike many of his peers, Johnson hasn’t fallen in love with hoisting threes at every opportunity. His 1-2 from distance on Saturday suggest at least some knowledge of shot selection. Johnson also put in work on the glass at both ends and like all Norland players, he understands that if doesn’t play defense, he doesn’t play.
Jordan Sears, Daytona Beach Mainland: The 5’10 rising senior may have had the most complete game of the day on Saturday. The reigning Daytona Player of the Year, Sears’ shot from behind the three-point line fell at a high rate, he got his shots in the lane to drop, and he created and finished several “and one” opportunities. Sears pushed the pace, found teammates for easy baskets and tightened the screws on opposing ball-handlers with quick feet and active hands. If you overlook him because of a supposed lack of size, you do so at your own risk.
Inady Legiste, Fort Lauderdale Stranahan: The 6’7 rising senior is alarmingly consistent, which is definitely a good thing. It seems like you can wind Legiste up and he will go out and get 12 points and 8 rebounds game in and game out by making the most of his opportunities around the basket. He’s a decent scorer inside, pursues and puts back teammates’ misses, and runs the floor for scores. Legiste has long arms and using them to great effect when challenging shots or going after misses at both ends of the court.