2012-13 Boys Basketball Preview
Sun. November 18, 2012 at 4:34 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Looking as good as ever, Bartow returns a bunch of solid players. Among them are, from left, Karlos Odum, Derrick Brooks, Christopher Perry, Ricky Williams, and Tony Bradle. At far right is Terrence McGriff. (Photo by PIERRE DUCHARME | THE LEDGER )
Class 7A, District 7
Coach: Terrence McGriff (10th season, 152-124 overall)
Last Season: 13-13
Last in playoffs: 2010
Players to Watch: Chris Perry (F, Sr.); Ricky Williams (G, Sr.); Kerry Jones (G, Sr.); Derrick Brooks (G, Jr.); Karlos Odum Jr. (G, Sr.); Vontarius West (SF, Sr.); Darius Jackson (PF, Sr.); Michael Walker (G, Sr.); Quincy Childs (G, Jr.); Tony Bradley (PF, Fr.).
Quick hits: Perry, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds last year and signed with South Florida to play basketball, returns for Bartow, which finished fourth in the district last season. So does Odum, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds as a junior. Four football players will contribute: West, Childs, Jackson and Walker, as will Williams, who had 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last year. Brooks is a new student from Georgia. "Each year, our outlook, our goals are the same," McGriff said. "We want to play hard, play smart and play together."
Coach: Marcus Ghent (third season, 49-26 overall)
Last Season: 18-7
Last in playoffs: 2011
Players to Watch: Peter Serrano (G, Sr.); Paul Jones (PG, Sr.); Angel Lopez (G, Sr.); Lance Johnson (F, Sr.); Dalton Cox (F, Sr.); George Bailey (F, Jr.).
Quick hits: Two key players from last year's Jenkins squad are gone: Jerrick Stevenson and Chris Burgess. But Serrano, Lopez and Cox say they are ready to pick up the slack. "We learned a lot from those guys, but everyone on this team, one through seven, can give us 10 points a night," Serrano said. The key to winning games in this tough district is being sound on defense, Lopez said: "Our first goal is to win the district, and we think we can do that by putting an emphasis on defense." Jenkins was considered a lock to advance to the playoffs last year but was bounced in the first round of the district tournament. Coach Ghent doesn't think it'll be any easier this year. "I think the district has gotten tougher. Bartow has reloaded, and everyone else looks to be competitive."
Coach: Greg Pritchett (sixth season, 74-78 overall)
Last Season: 5-21
Last in playoffs: 2004
Players to Watch: Jack Tisdale (G, Jr.); Akeem Martinez (PF, Jr.); Osney Vital (SF); JaRodd Brown (G, Jr.); DJ Law (G, Jr.); Demaris Span (G-F, So.).
Quick hits: The Hornets have 10 players returning from a squad that finished sixth in a tough district, including Vital, who averaged 14.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. Coach Pritchett thinks Law, a stud running back for the Hornets, should make a big impact, too. Law's teammates agree. "He's a good player," Tisdale said. "He's got hops — big bunny hops." The key this year is to limit mistakes and close out games, Pritchett said. Haines City averaged 25 turnovers a game last year and lost 13 to 15 games by five points or fewer. "We did a lot of ball handling over the summer, so I hope that carries over," Pritchett said.
Coach: Tyrhon Crawford (fourth season, 121-70 overall)
Last Season: 15-9
Last in playoffs: 2009
Players to Watch: Not available
Quick hits: They lost 11 seniors from last year's team that finished tied for first in the district with George Jenkins after regular-season play. "We will be very young and will have to look at finding a way to be able to stay in games," Crawford said. "The team will always look toward being a defense-first team and will look at making things happen from the defensive end to transition into easy points."
Coach: Deron Collins (ninth season, 406-194 overall)
Last Season: 18-10
Last in playoffs: 2012 (lost in regional semifinals to Ridge Community)
Players to Watch: Jalen Stevenson (F, Sr.); Logan Senechek (G, Sr.); Darius Green (PG, Jr); Trenton Pearson (F, Jr.); Sidney Burton (F, Sr.); Alec Hannigan (F, So.).
Quick hits: The Dreadnaughts, the surprise winners of the district title last season, graduated nine seniors, including first-team All-County pick Eric Moody. "We'll be looking for some new players to step up," Collins said. Stevenson, the top rebounder from last year's team, returns, as does Senechek, who was the second leading 3-point shooter on last year's squad.
Coach: Don Skipper (records not available)
Last Season: 18-7
Last in playoffs: 2012 (lost in regional finals)
Players to Watch: Tim Williams (F-C Sr.); JaDarian Johnson (G, Jr.); Hercules Betts (G, Sr.); Kareem Smith (G, Jr.); DeShawdric Nelms (F-C, So.); Demetrius Holliday (G, Jr.); Luis Zaias (G, Sr.).
Quick hits: Graduated Terry Rose, who went on to play at Division-I Grambling State, Dazeran Jones and Mike Wright. "Replacing the big three will be a tough task," Skipper said. "But we do feel that we have some players that will step up and take over the necessary roles of where those guys left off." That includes Johnson, who averaged eight points and three steals a game last year, and Williams, who had six points and six rebounds a game.
CLASS 6A, DISTRICT 9
Coach: Tony Longa (18th season, 4th at Kathleen; overall record 284-186).
Last Season: 6-18
Last in playoffs: 2011.
Players to watch: Kevin Wilson (G, Jr.); Deric Taylor (F, Sr.); Greg Abrams (G, Sr.); Alsean Evans (G, So.); Lacarey Newkirk (F, Jr.); Javon Harrison (F, Jr.).
Quick hits: Kathleen returns nine lettermen from last year's team that finished 3-3 in district play despite a 6-18 overall record. It's still a young team with two seniors returning, but will be more experienced on the perimeter with four guards — Kevin Wilson, Deric Taylor, Alsean Evans and Greg Abrams. Kathleen coach Tony Longa also notes that he has three promising newcomers in seniors Malik Catasus and Deonte Dennis and junior Nic Patrick.
Coach: Warren Johnson (third season at Lake Gibson, overall record 19-30).
Last Season: 14-12
Last in playoffs: 2012.
Players to watch: Ryan Johnson (G, Jr.); Joe Shepard (F, Sr.); Trevor Jackson (G, Jr.); Logan Painter (F, Jr.).
Quick hits: The Braves were runners-up to state semifinalist Winter Haven last year in the 6A-9 district. This year, Johnson said, "Winter Haven's tough but they're losing an All-American (DaVon Walker). We played them four times close (last year). I think the district is up for grabs." Johnson likes his team's combination of experience in the backcourt to go with the inside play of forward Joe Shepard. "Our goal this year is to get to The Lakeland Center (the state Final Four)," said guard Ryan Johnson. "The only thing in our way is us." Shepard agrees. "We just have to stick together as a team, play defense and work hard," Shepard said. "The talent's there."
Coach: Tyrone Woodside (fifth season, overall record 50-53).
Last Season: 21-8
Last in playoffs: 2012.
Players to Watch: Chance McSpadden (G, So.); Kendrick Holland (F, Jr.); Darius James (F, So.); Glynnis Haynes (G, Sr.); Jerry Hendrix (G, Sr.); Ismael Celestin (G, Jr.).
Quick hits: The Blue Devils are young, but they also have some experience returning from last year's team that advanced to the state finals. The biggest loss from last year was 6-foot-5 forward DeVon Walker, who is now playing at Florida. Also gone from last year's squad are D.J. Jordan, J.T. Hawkins and Vivian Morris. Despite the loss of players, Coach Woodside said his team is taking it "one game at a time in seeking a second straight district title and not lowering the goals or expectations to win a state title."
CLASS 5A, DISTRICT 10
Coach: Eric Robinson (11th season at Auburndale, 152-109)
Last Season: 18-8
Last in playoffs: 2012, lost in 1st round
Players to watch: Elmo Stephen (F, Sr,), Mike Alexis (F, Sr.), John Barrett (G, Jr.), Daryle Henry (F, Sr.)
Quick hits: Robinson plans on picking up the defensive tempo to improve on last year's district runner-up finish. The Bloodhounds lost 3-point specialist Chad Cullop but John Barrett is expected to pick up the slack. "I feel like we'll be more aggressive and I think Elmo (Stephen) is going to explode with a lot of dunks," Barrett said.
Coach: Randy Lee (first year)
Last Season: 30-4
Last in playoffs: 2012, won the Class 5A state championship
Players to watch: Marcus Dewberry (G, Sr.), David Campbell (G, Jr.), Savonte' Frazier (G, Jr.), Shaq Snell (G, Sr.), Doug Brooks (G, Sr.), J'Quayveon Williams (Post, Sr.)
Quick hits: The Highlanders are looking to repeat as Class 5A state champions despite losing several key players. Dewberry transferred in from Avon Park and helps make up for the loss of Russel Wilson.
Coach: Alvin Pearsall Jr. (fourth season, career record not available)
Last Season: 14-13
Returning starters: Not available
Key losses: Not available
Quick hits: The Titans are led by a core of seniors who have experienced tough games, and in a tough district they will look for that experience to push them over the top.
CLASS 4A, DISTRICT 10
Coach: Herb Johnson (first season at school)
Last in playoffs: 2009 (lost in first round)
Last Season: 7-13
Returning starters: None.
Players to Watch: Daniel Knighten (PG, Sr.), Adrian Hadley (F, 8th grade); Harrison Johnson C, Jr.), Kaleel Gaines (G, So).
Quick hits: Florida Hoops lists Adrian Hadley among Polk's top players and describes the 6-foot-3 eighth-grader as "a strong, physical, versatile forward who is at his best attacking the rim." The Bulldogs plan to play man-to-man defense and an up-tempo style of offense. "The attack will be led by senior point guard Daniel Knighten and complemented by several well regarded JV players moving up, including Harrison Johnson, Kaleel Gaines and eighth-grade phenom Adrian Hadley," Coach Johnson said.
Coach: Lester Hunt (third season at Mulberry, 46-32 overall).
Last Season: 8-13
Players to Watch: Jaruis Garner (G-F, Sr.); Cordario Brown (G, Sr.); Tyrik Johnson (G, So.); Grant Urquhart (F, So.), Henry Berry (G-F, Jr.).
Quick hits: Johnson is the top returning scorer, while 6-foot-1 Jarius Garner averaged eight rebounds and four steals per game. The Panthers are late-starting because most of the players played football until last week. "I think we can do a lot of different things because of our balance and because Mulberry has always been about defense," Coach Hunt said. "We've got 12 players we can use, so we'll have an opportunity to do a lot of things. We should be better than last year."
CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 7
Coach: Todd Radford (fourth season at LCS, 90-88).
Last Season: 13-12
Last in playoffs: 2012.
Returning starters: Will Portlock (G, Sr.), Phil Wilsman (G, Sr.), Michael Orr (G, Sr.), Christian Alexander (F, So.).
Quick hits: Jake Moore (6-4) and Alexander are the Vikings' biggest players . . . Senior guard Jordan White and sophomore guard LeRoy Deshazor are among the returnees ... Sophomore Grady Bolter is out for the season with a knee injury, and Brent Brennaman will miss at least half the season because of football injuries. "We return a tremendous group of seniors that are leaders on and off the court," Coach Radford said. "They will be joined by a few newcomers that are expected to make a great impact. The team is not very big, but there will be a lot of athleticism on the court."
Coach: Terry Jenkins (first season at McKeel).
Last Season: 27-2
Last in playoffs: 2012.
Returning starters: Dwayne Bacon (G, So.); Corey Sanders (G, So.).
Quick hits: New coach Terry Jenkins, a former Florida Southern player, starts with a team that is defending its district championship and features a pair of sophomore guards. Six-foot-4 junior Kendall Barnes is another starter, and the Wildcats will have several senior contributors. "The main guys (from last year's team) are still there," Coach Jenkins said. "Corey Sanders is a very athletic guard who can handle the ball well, get to the basket and score. Dwayne Bacon (6-foot-5) is a versatile player who can shoot and get to the rim. This is a very talented group."
Santa Fe Catholic
Coach: Ed Hammerberg (seventh season at Santa Fe Catholic).
Last Season: 11-13
Last in playoffs: 2011.
Returning starters: Nick Kedzuf (F, Jr.).
Quick hits: Austin Stark (G, Jr.), a transfer from Tampa Prep, will start along with sophomores Josh Cole, Nick Fenton and Bryan Henson. Junior guard Justin Lucas is a key bench player. "We're a guard-oriented team with no traditional big man. We can all play different positions," Kedzuf said.The Crimson Hawks have no seniors. "The three sophomores are all going to be good players, but they're just young and they need experience," Coach Hammerburg said. "We'll play a controlled game, a lot of zone."
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 7
All Saints' Academy
Coach: Aubrey Whitaker (1st season at school, 26th season overall; overall record 415-270)
Last Season: 18-9
Last in playoffs: 2012.
Players to Watch: Reggie Evans (C, Sr.); Troy McNeal (G, Sr.) Dwight Drayton (G, Sr.); Edric Bennett (G, Jr.); Conner Weber (F, Jr.).
Quick hits: Veteran coach Aubrey Whitaker, who coached at Lake Wales and Frostproof, steps in as the Saints' coach. Evans (12.0 ppg) and McNeal (9.9 ppg) are the top two scorers back from last year. Whitaker notes that, "With a brand new coach and style of play, plus a number of football players reporting late, the Saints must develop some depth and improve as the season progresses." All Saints was the district runner-up last year, losing in the first round of regional play.
Coach: Scott Skeans (fourth season at Victory; 11th season overall; overall record 120-75)
Last Season: 17-6
Last in playoffs: 2010 (lost in regional quarterfinals).
Players to Watch: Carlos Quiles (G, Sr.); Chris Nelson (F, Jr.); Raymond Johnson (G, So.)
Quick hits: The Storm will be led by Quiles (12.4 ppg) and Johnson (8.1 ppg). Chris Nelson (6.9 rpg) provides strength inside. Coach Skeans said his team "should have strong guard play with the addition of Justin Downing, Terrence King, Adre Pelean and Dylan Smith." Austin Cotellis will add scoring depth at guard, while NeKari Jones and Judd Mobley will provide defensive depth inside.
Coach: Shane Rocker (second year at Landmark Christian, 24-23)
Last Season: 9-16
Returning starters: Quinton James (F, So.)
Key losses: Lost six seniors from last year's squad but only one starter — Josh James. Keland White, Quinton James and Jawuan Mathis transferred to Winter Haven this month.
Quick hits: It will be a rebuilding year for the Patriots with several players departing. Brad Manning should be a force in the middle, while R. B. Marlow and Justin Simpkins will push the ball up the court.
Coach: Dan Sheppard (22nd season, 306-208)
Last Season: 19-3
Last in playoffs: Last year finished as district champions
Returning starters: Fredrick Thieray (G, NA), E. Jean Remy (C, NA)
Quick hits: The team returns two of its top three starters and looks to be competitive in districts.