Polk County Boys Basketball Previews

November 25, 2016
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All Saints

Coach: Scott Robinson (2nd year, 18-8/100-55 overall).

Class, District: 3A-4.

2015-16 Record: 18-8

Key Losses: Ladarrien Rabb, Osman Belal.

Returning Players: JT Meade (Jr., G, 6-0), Jack Garcia (Jr., F, 6-5), Jake Smith (Jr., G, 6-1), Jacob Barnett (So., F, 6-4).

Top Newcomers: Dale Booker (Sr., G), Will Garcia (Fr., F), Mit Patel (So., G), Yufan Liu (Jr., F).

Outlook: All Saints should be able to build on last year’s 18-8 season under Robinson and still is built around underclassmen — just one senior. JT Meade returns as the Saints’ leading scorer averaging 11.2 points. Jack Garcia averaged 10 ppg and 5.7 rpg while Jake Smith averaged 6.9 points and 4 assists last season.

Auburndale

Coach: Eric Robinson (15th year/226-149).

Class, District: 6A-6

2015-16 Record: 17-13

Key Losses: Keon Clergeot, Cam Churchill, Jessie Britt, Kiante Elliot, Zeke Alexis.

Returning Players: Jamal Metellus (Sr., F, 6-1), Drew Beymer (Sr., F, 6-9), Jaryn McCann (Jr., F, 6-3), Sherman Cox (Jr., F, 6-0).

Top Newcomers: Kenard King (Sr., G), Shane Parker (Jr., G), Nathan Beymer (So., F), Isaiah Turner (So., F), Paul Maxwell (Jr., So, G), Iverson Romellus (Jr., G), Joe Stubbs (Fr., F), Jose Ramirez (Sr., F), Khalid Rashad (So., F).

Outlook: The loss of Clergeot leaves a big hole, but the addition of King, who returned to Auburndale after a year at Santa Fe Catholic, will help fill it. The Bloodhounds have just four seniors, who will be key, but will also depending heavily on five juniors and four sophomores. Metellus will provide outside shooting, which will space the floor, and Beymer will provide an inside presence.

Bartow

Coach: Terrence McGriff (15th year, 244-153)

Class, District: 8A-7.

2015-16 Record: 19-10.

Key Losses: Justin Serrano, Akari Jones, Tony Bradley, William Craig.

Returning Players: Timothy Jordan (Sr., SG, 6-0), Adrian Hadley (Sr., PF, 6-2), Kamel Smith (Sr., SF, 6-1), Christopher Butler (Sr., PG, 5-9), Travion Hodge (Sr., PF, 6-7), T. J. Harvin (Sr., PG, 6-0), Jalon Borders (Jr., SG, 6-1).

Top Newcomers: Jordan Daughtry (So., PG, 5-8), David Foreste (Jr., SG, 5-11), Rodrick Rose (Jr., SG, 5-9), Joshua Simons (Fr., PF, 6-3), Joe Chisolm (Sr., SF, 5-11), Zalen Gibbons (Fr., SF, 6-2), Jalon Wynn (So., PF, 6-4), Jonathan Lawrence (Jr., PF, 6-5).

Outlook: With the graduation of Tony Bradley, no team took a bigger hit. Still, the Yellow Jackets should remain very competitive and a team to beat. Jordan will provide scoring, and Harvin is a top point guard. Look for Hodge’s role as a rebounder to be bigger, and the team should get a boost by the return of Hadley who was injured last year. Bartow will infuse youth in with the veterans with the addition of two freshmen and one sophomore.

Frostproof

Coach: Herbert Johnson (5th year).

Class, District: 1A-8.

2015-16 Record: 10-15.

Key Losses: Michael Smith, Sam Billante, Matt Britt.

Returning Players: Hamilton Johnson (Jr., PG, 6-3), Khaleel Walton (Jr., SF, 6-4).

Top Newcomers: Grant Kirby, Christian Sanchez.

Outlook: The return of sophomore Johnson, who is being recruited by USF and Colgate, will give the Bulldogs a huge lift. He was injured last season. Newcomers Kirby and Sanchez will add a much needed outside shooting threat. Walton, an athletic small forward, could be dominant around the basket. Athleticism and a strong basketball IQ should be strengths. The Bulldogs just need experience.

George Jenkins

Coach: Marcus Ghent (10th year).

Class, District: 9A-7.

2015-16 Record: 14-12

Key Player Losses: Adley Eliacin.

Returning Players: Jaycen Brehmer (Jr., F, 6-3), Jordan Domineck (Jr., F, 6-4), Ellis Beckham (Jr., SG, 6-1), Eli Gibson (Jr., F, 6-3).

Top Newcomers: Adarius Lee (Fr., G), Ray Davis (Fr., G), Marvin Landy (Fr., PF), Tyson Rogers (Jr., G), Thomas Townley (Fr., F).

Outlook: Eliacin will be a big loss, but head coach Ghent will build around a strong quartet of returning players led by Domineck. Beckham is a strong shooter. Brehmer and Gibson have emerged as leaders.

Haines City

Coach: Greg Pritchett (13th year/134-129).

Class, District: 9A-7.

2015-16 record: 15-11.

Key Player Losses: Anthony Allen, Zach Richardson, Shaquelle Paddy, Xavier Smith.

Returning Players: Tyler Pynes (Sr., G, 5-10), Jarven Tarver (Sr., F, 6-2), Quenten Cowart (Sr., G, 5-11).

Top Newcomers: Amari Campbell (So., G, 6-0), Tarik Williams (So., F/G, 6-2), Devon Brunner (Jr., G, 5-11), Antoine Dawkins (Jr., F/G, 6-1), Devon Cosby (Jr., C, 6-2), Carlos Bobe (Sr., G, 5-11), Antonio Llyod (Sr., G, 5-8), Tim Verdieu (Jr., C, 6-3).

Outlook: The Hornets took a bit of a hit to graduation and will build the season around Pynes and Tarver, both of whom are being recruited by colleges. Rising sophomore Campbell and Williams are expected to make an immediate impact, and both have bright futures. The Hornets will look to Verdieu and Cosby as rebounders.

Jordan Christian Prep

Coach: Mike Guastella (2nd Year/7-5; 105-29 overall).

Class, District: Independent

2015-16 Record: 7-5

Key Player Losses: Ladarious Richardson.

Returning Players: Quincy Wilson (So., F, 6-5), Daveon Hamilton (Jr., G, 6-2), Dewarren Stokes (So., F, 6-2), Keishaun Stacy (Jr., G, 5-8).

Top Newcomers: Terron Boone (Sr., PG, 5-8), Chris Jordan (Jr., G, 6-0), Marquez Haines (Jr., F, 6-1), Jayren Rivera (Jr., G, 5-6).

Outlook: The Seahawks are beginning their second season and will continue to build the program around Wilson, Hamilton, Stokes and Boone. They increased their schedule from 12 to 16 games plus a Christmas tournament in Daytona.

Kathleen

Coach: Thomas Williams III (1st year).

Class, District: 8A-7.

2015-16 Record: 12-13.

Key Losses: JD Brown.

Returning Players: Jashaun Dias (Sr, F, 6-5), Shelton McNeal (Sr., G, 5-8), Chris Williams (Sr., 5-8, F), Brendan Gant (So., F, 6-3), James Harrison (So., G, 5-7).

Top Newcomers: Rod Boggan (Jr., G, 6-2), Brelan Sneed (Sr., G, 6-2), Leron Bostic (So., G, 6-3).

Outlook: Williams, a Kathleen grad, takes over the program. He played under Drew Taylor. The Red Devils took a bit of a hit when Brown transferred to Lakeland. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last year. But Kathleen has one of the top forwards in the county in 6-foot-6 Chris Williams, and Lake Gibson-transfer Boggan, who led the Braves in scoring last year. Football players McNeal and Gant provide gridiron toughness along with strong basketball skills. Williams also is hoping to get a boost from the return of Dias, who was ineligible last year.

Lake Gibson

Coach: DeAndre Brown (4th year/29-23).

Class, District: 6A-6.

2015-16 Record: 16-12.

Key Losses: LeDerian McAllister, David Mais, Raheem Bacon, Rashawn Gant, Rod Boggan.

Returning Players: Lewis Grier IV (Sr, G), Cyrus Barnes (Sr.,F), MJ Link (Sr., SF), KJ Williams (Sr., SF), Nick Jiles (Jr., G), TJ Jones (Jr., G).

Top Newcomers: Sharod Poag (So., G), Kamron Enzor (Sr., SF), Shelton Johnson, (Jr., G), Kevaris Thomas (Jr., G).

Outlook: The Braves lost key players to graduation and Boggan transferred. They will build around Grier, Jiles, Jones and Barnes. Lewis, Barnes and Jones bring playoff experience, scoring, strong ballhandling and leadership. Barnes also will be looked upon for rebounding and points around the basket. The addition of the 6-4, 230-pound Thomas will provide strong inside play.

Lake Region

Coach: Don Skipper (1st year).

Class, District: 6A-8.

2015-16 Record: 0-21.

Key Losses: Broderick Fields.

Returning Players: Jason Tisdale (Jr., G, 5-8), Schelden Richmond (Jr., G/F, 6-3), Randall Decillian (Jr., F, 6-2), Durell Crumedy (Sr., G, 5-8), Jerimiah Bonney (Jr., G, 5-8), Jerimiah Johnson (Jr., G, 5-11), Jaquan Cowart (Jr., G, 5-10).

Top Newcomers: Jett Nicholson (G/F, 6-0), Narada Waldon (So., C/F, 6-4), Kenneth Adams (Sr., F/C, 6’3), Stevel Johnson (So., G 5-10), Alvino Lopez (So., G, 5-9).

Outlook: Skipper, who had been at Ridge, takes over at Lake Region, which has struggled in recent years. He’s looking to build the Thunder back to being a playoff team. The Thunder haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 under Jeff Cable and haven’t won a playoff game since 2006 when they reached the region finals under Scott Williams.

Lake Wales

Coach: Don Grant (2nd year, 15-13).

Class, District: 6A-10.

2015-16 record: 15-13.

Key Losses: Eric Borders, Tyler Anntoncci, Chris Larose, Anthony Jones, Josh Dunn, Stefan Nakic, Nick Pass, Deangelo Smith, Raheem Smith.

Returning Players: Jadarrion Hird (Sr., G), Brenton Williams (Jr., C), Elijah O’Nea (Sr., F), Drew Hayes (Sr., C), Chris Pass.

Newcomers: Tony Medina (Jr., G), Gervon Dexter (Fr., F), John Garcia (Fr., F), Raekwon Frazier (So., F), Detrevion Marlow (Jr., G), Ladarius Richardson (Sr., PG), Laddarrian Rabb (Sr., PG), Jaderion Frazier (Jr., G), Jan Romanosky (Jr., F).

Outlook: The Highlanders made the playoffs in their first year under Grant as district runners-up, but this might be a bigger rebuilding year. The Highlanders have 10 first-year players to replace 10 players who are gone. But there is young talent, including the 6-8 Dexter, who has a lot of potential.

Lakeland

Coach: Deron Collins (14th year/193-123; 27th overall/442-233).

Class, District: 7A-7.

2015-16 Record: 19-9.

Key Losses: Shaquan McArthur, Taye Green, Kevonte Wilson, Xavier Porter, Cole Brutcher, Fazion Stephenson, Mason Collins

Returning Players: Luke Anderson (So., F, 6-4), Dorian Ervin, Shawn Daniels (Jr., G, 6-1), AJ Davis (Jr., F, 6-0).

Newcomers: JD Brown (Sr., G, 6-1), Jacobe Joyner (Sr., G), Guard Mahmoud Andesha (Jr., PG), Malique Calixte (So., PG), Jack Smith (Jr., F), Sam Gray (Jr., G), Tevon Booker (Jr., G), Keavis Dyer (So., F).

Outlook: The Dreadnaughts took a heavy hit to graduation and lost another key player when Brutcher opted not to play basketball this season. They will rebuild around a core of four returning players, Davis, Anderson, Ervin and Daniels. They’ll be reinforced by players off a strong JV team from last year and three transfers, Brown, Joyner and Andesha. Brown was Kathleen’s leading scorer last year. Anderson, just a sophomore, is a top recruit in the state for the class of 2018. He has both an outside/inside game and if he continues to develop he could be one of the top players in the state this year. Seniors Brown, Davis and Joyner are outstanding athletes who will provide much need leadership and also contribute in scoring and defense. Lakeland again will be challenging for a district title.

Lakeland Christian

Coach: Todd Radford (7th year, 91-72).

Class, District: 4A-3.

2015-16 Record: 4-18.

Key Losses: Adam Webb.

Returning Players: Tyler Horne (Sr. F, 6-5), Gannon Martin (Sr., G, 5-11), Andy Averitt (Sr., G, 6-2).

Top Newcomers: Ethan Whitehurst (Sr., G, 5-11), Dayle Palmer (Sr., F, 6-4).

Outlook: The Vikings will have to replace the production of Webb, who averaged 18.5 points and 9.9 rebounds. Horne will be a key player in the post, and a strength could be athleticism and depth.

McKeel

Coach: Chris Osman (1st year)

Class, District: 5A-8.

2015-16 Record: 6-18.

Returning Players: Marquan Brinson (JR., G, 6-0), Wyatt Watts (JR., G, 6-3).

Top Newcomers: Nick Wilson (Jr., C, 6-5), David Small (Jr., C, 6-3), Drew Brown (Jr., PG, 6-0), Mathew Sheffield (So., G, 6-4), Ethan Grant (Jr., G, 5-10).

Outlook: Osman moves to McKeel from Santa Fe Catholic and takes over for Milton Coward. He’ll build his program under a relatively young team that has just two seniors. Brinson will be relied upon for his leadership and defense. Brown has done a nice job as point guard and is a lockdown defender. Small and Wilson will control the inside, and Wyatt Watts and Grant will help with perimeter shooting.

Mulberry

Coach: Chris Jesse (10th year).

Class, District: 5A-8.

2015-16 Record: 12-8.

Key Losses: Kahari Love.

Returning Players: Devion Richards (Sr., G, 6-3), Demarcus Williams (Sr., F, 6-3), Antwon Stancil (Sr., G, 5-8), Aiden Brown (Sr., G, 5-10), Kevyn Baker (Jr., F, 6-2), Wedley Rios (Jr., G, 5-7), Zavien Ervin (Jr., G, 5-10), Brian Washington (Jr., G, 5-7), Lewis Marshall (Sr., G, 5-10).

Top Newcomers: Cameron Andrews (Jr., F), Josh Aberto (Jr., F), Jaquon Nicholson (Jr., C), Tyler Walden (Fr., C).

Outlook: The Panthers will be led by seniors Richards, who was the top scorer from last season, and Williams, the top rebounder. Both players have received attention from a few small colleges. Role players Baker, Rios, Ervin, Brown, Washington and Nicholson will be key role players. Walden is expected to make an impact as a freshman..

Ridge Community

Coach: Anthony Jones (1st).

Class, District: 9A-7.

2015-16 Record: 12-11.

Key Losses: Paul Carter, Chris Clark.

Returning Players: Dae’Shawn Cobb (Sr., PF, 6-3), Dondre White (Sr., PG, 5-10), Ty Eaton (Sr., SG, 6-1), Jerell Williams (Sr.,PF, 6-3), Khay’non Henderson (Sr., PG, 6-0).

Top Newcomers: BJ Foster (Jr., SG), Edward James (Jr., SG).

Outlook: The Bolts are a veteran group of five seniors led by Eaton,Cobb and White. Quickness, athleticism and the ability to turn defense to offense is the strength. Size is an issue, so rebounding, rim protection and defending in the paint must be a group effort.

Santa Fe Catholic

Coach: Mike Blicher (1st year).

Class, District: 4A-3.

2015-16 Record: 23-1.

Key Losses: Henry Perry, Kenard King, Demario Vanover.

Returning Players: Kareem Alamm (Sr., G, 6-0), Nate Williams (Sr., G, 5-10), Marcus Parks (Sr., G, 6-0).

Top Newcomers: Javon Bell (Fr., F/G), Kenny Quiles (Sr., F/C), Miles Thompson (So., F), Jaylon Smith (So., C), Daniel Massarella (Sr., G).

Outlook: The loss of key players, Perry (graduation) and King (transfer), got worse when the Crimson Hawks lost Vanover for the season with an ACL injury. Still, there are talented veterans back from last year’s one-loss team. Williams will be the starting point guard for the third consecutive year. Senior guards Alamm and Parks along with freshman sensation Bell are expected to do the majority of the scoring. The front court will be a rotation of Quiles, Smith and Thompson. All three are versatile to play multiple positions. Senior guard Massarella will be counted on for valuable minutes off the bench.

Tenoroc

Coach: Alvin Pearsall Jr. (9th year).

Class, District: 4A-8.

2015-16 record: 14-10.

Key Losses: Kevin Bryant.

Returning Players: Jacquez Williams (Sr., G, 6-2), Kahleel Sowell (Jr., G, 5-11), Santiago Dimas (Jr., G, 6-1), Adriean Frazier (Jr., F/G, 6-2).

Top Newcomers: Javiez Williams (So., G, 5-11), Darick Scott (Sr., F, 6-4), Sam Olinger (Sr., F/C, 6-4), Keshaun Ladler (Jr, F, 6-3), Ralph Tima (Jr., G, 5-9), Gerson Natareno (Sr., 5-4, G), Alex Noel (Sr., F), De’ Arian Jones (Fr., G).

Outlook: Tenoroc returns two starters off last year’s district championship team led by senior Williams, who is getting closer to breaking the school’s scoring record. He is receiving interest from schools like Florida Memorial, Palm Beach Atlantic and Chicago. Junior guard Sowell and Javiez Williams will provide stability in the backcourt along with Tima, Dimas, Natareno and Frazier whom all moved up from JV last year. Rebounding will be a key. Scott, Olinger, Noel, Ladler and Jones the Titans look to fill this void.

Vanguard

Coach: Dan Sheppard (34th year).

Class, District: 2A-5.

2015-16 Record: 19-5.

Key Losses: Arin Taylor, Juwan Ebanks.

Returning Players: Dennis Gonzales (Sr., SG, 5-10), Ira Pierre (Sr., 6-3, PG), Ben Davis (Sr., C, 6-8), Alybis Amaya (Sr., PF, 6-5), Jeremiah Santiago (Sr., 6-3, SG).

Top Newcomers: James Lee (Jr., SF, 6-3), Rai Robinson (Fr., PG, 6-0), Bobby Harris (Fr., SG, 6-3), Tyler Ebanks (Fr., 6-4, C).

Outlook: Vanguard lost their leading scorere in Taylor, but returns a strong core. Pierre is being recruited by Stetson and is a strong floor leader with a high basketball IQ. Gonzales is a strong 3-point shooter (44.8 percent last year) and is being recruited by Southwest State College. Davis is dominant on the boards and is being recruited by Johnson & Wales, while Lee is a slasher/shooter and is getting looks from Southern Utah.

Victory Christian

Coach: Steve Fitzgerald (1st year; 24th overall/396-259).

Class, District: 2A-5.

2015-16 Record: 14-6.

Key Losses: Josh Mobley, Deondre Pride, Jacobe Joyner, Bryson Grasse, Josh Herrington, Xavier Lockwood.

Returning Players: Sean Marshall (Sr., F/G).

Top Newcomers: Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald (Sr., F, 6-8), Eugene Hinton (Sr., PG, 5-9), Jackson Fitzgerald (Jr., G, 6-2), Roman Brown (So., G, 5-10).;

Outlook: With Fitzgerald taking over for Travis Young and having just one returning player, this is a rebuilding year for the Storm. The strengths should be the inside plays of Abadi-Fitzgerald, who is being recruited for football and basketball and was second team, All-Dade last year when he averaged 19.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg.

Winter Haven

Coach: Tyrone Woodside (9th year).

Class, District: 8A-7.

2015-16 Record: 12-15.

Key Losses: Derrick Wiggins, Keyshawn Bryant.

Returning Players: Dorian James (Jr. SF, 6-6), Bryson Birdsong (Jr., G, 6-2), Wilton Storr (Sr., F, 6-4), Terrance “TJ” Anglin (Jr., PG, 5-8), Tim Lowery (Jr., SG, 5-11).

Top Newcomers: Camren McSpadden (Sr., G, 5-9), Chrishawn Butler Jr. G, 6-0.

Outlook: The Blue Devils’ goal of making a big move this year hit a snag when Bryant transferred to Huntington Prep. They’ll build around James, who has received offers from North Florida.

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