Coming For The Number 1 Spot
The South Florida area has always been known for its deep football roots. I have always considered it to be an area that is untapped in terms of how much basketball talent you can find on the high school scene. Tony Perkins, a long time high school and AAU coach in the area has always been a big supporter of the talent in South Florida and started the Coming For The Number One Spot so that talent could be on display to some other regions of the state and on a national level. This years showcase was different than years past with the addition of 40 female ballers and maybe not as many high level players, but it still served for a good event.
Clearly Above The Rest
Prince Ali(Sagemont HS) and Haanif Cheatham(Pembroke Pines Charter) were clearly the best two prospects in the gym as we entered the showcase and it was only right that the two faced off in the first game of the day. For Cheatham this would be his first time going up and down since being sidelined by doctors for the past two months with a very deep bone bruise. He was no doubt rusty and not in game shape. I'm sure Ali knew what kind of condition Cheatham was in, but the way Ali came out of the gate it might not have made a difference if the 6'5 Cheatham was at 100% or not. Ali was all over the place displaying his natural feel for the game and killer instinct. I was most impressed with the fact that he didn't let up no matter who he was on the floor with. If you're the best player on the floor you need to be the best player on the floor, and after game one it was clear that Prince Ali had planted his flag in the sand. Ali destroyed everyone by attacking the basket every chance he could, and also constantly knocking down his jumper that he obviously has been working on a lot to score 30 plus in game one. Ali looked to be in great shape as he played both ends of the floor equally well, contesting and coming up with a handful of blocked shots. There is still room for tons of improvement in Ali's game, he must continue to prove he can shoot the ball from different spots on the floor and also lower his dribble quite a bit when faced with ball pressure. He has an advantage over most defenders with his quick first step, but when he tries to create he can get a little careless with the ball after a few dribbles. Right now he seems to really like UCLA, and UCONN.
Sometimes it pays off to sit in an empty gym. During some down time at last July's Best Of The South in Atlanta I pulled up a chair in a pretty bare gym and started to watch a game that Florida United was well in charge of. I noticed a tall slender kid that moved really well and shot the ball with ease, his name Jonathan Isaac(International School Of Broward). Isaac was in attendance over the weekend and he has the tools to be a player down the line. The forward checks in around 6'7, but he's definitely on the light side in the pounds category. Isaac is only a 15 year old sophomore so you would like to think he will gain weight as he matures. Playing with unfamiliar teammates, Isaac played the background for a while hauling down rebounds and blocking shots. Towards the end of the showcase the young fella was being effective in catch and shoot situations and pushing the tempo as finished off some coast to coast drives. His lack of strength did play a factor in his game as he failed to finish off some good drives and moves, buckets that will no doubt fall as he gains strength. After speaking with his coach, I found out that a recent trip to the doctor revealed that Isaac still has around 5 to 6 inches left to fill in his growth plate. I know [potential a lot of times is a sketchy word, but this is one player who's progress is worth following.
James Lambadi 6'1 Jr. PG Blanche Ely(FL)
I always enjoy watching kids from Ely play, they bring a ruggedness to the game. Lambadi showed up late on Saturday as he was participating in a work out with his high school team the defending Florida State champs. As he stepped onto the floor the speedy guard went right into his uptempo style and aggressive defensive pressure. Lambadi hounded ball handlers on the defensive end then turning around on the offensive end and breaking them down to often find both feet in the middle of the lane.
Nick Rosa 6'7 Sr. PF Westminster Academy(FL)
Rosa was a nice surprise, I would say he was the best senior at the event. Everyone I spoke with seemed to think he was an underated player, comprised with good weight that he carries well and a workman attitude I would have to agree. He started off on the inside, but later proved he wasn't just a one dimensional player. Not an exceptionally quick player, but he converted baskets using some very crisp moves. He took advantage of his strength by bullying smaller players around the bucket by establishing some deep post position. Using his strong hands he ripped down rebound after rebound, getting the ball out quickly to a guard ahead to start the break. There was also a spurt where Rosa shot the ball really well from the perimeter.
Shimoore Stern 6'5 Fr. SF Somerset Academy(FL)
Really nice build, long arms, and a full beard for this freshman. A slashing wing that can shoot the ball when his feet are planted on the ground. When Stern did make plays off the bounce he was a little wild but effective. Not sure as to how athletic he is at this stage, but he sure passes the eye test and looks like an athlete.
David Moya 6'0 Jr. PG Archbishop Molly(FL)
Pure point guard that checked in the game and made it fun for his teammates. If you ran the lanes then Moya will find you, he was the best pass first point guard on the floor Saturday. Good basketball IQ and his game comes with a little flair. He made defenders pay when they left him open and was the best at understanding how to feed the post. You can immediately tell Moya is a product of good coaching.
Kyanti Blyden 6'2 Sr. CG, Harry Norton 6'4 F, Randall Ferdinand 6'3 Jr. F Flanagan HS(FL)
The Flanagan trio played really well individually which leads me to believe that they will be a force this high school season. The are all good athletes with Ferdinand looking as if he is the best of the three. He and Norton played some above the rim while Blyden cut up defenders with a low crossover. Blyden was the most polished of the trio, a combo guard that says he plays a lot of point throughout the year. Norton never stopped running throughout the day and was good from short range. All three players defended well looking as if they would have no problem matching up with positions 1-3.
Randie Acevedo 6'3 Jr. SG Somerset Academy
Another slasher with a good change of direction. When Acevedo got deep in the lane he always managed to get his floater over the out stretched hands of a defender. His outside shot wasn't falling, but he understood and made good use of his dribble by creating easier looks when defenders tried to close out on him.