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.”