Three of the area’s top rising junior basketball players have migrated from perennial public school power Dr. Phillips to The First Academy, a Class 3A state championship contender.
DP coach Anthony Long and TFA coach Chris Mayberry confirmed that 6-foot, 6-inch wing Chaundee Brown, 6-7 forward Malik William and 5-11 guard Elijah Jordan have enrolled at First Academy, which went 26-5 and reached the 3A final four last season.
FloridaHoops ranks Brown No. 4, William No. 16 and Jordan No. 47 among the state’s top 50 Class of 2017 prospects.
“We’re sorry to see them go. They are three very good players and very good kids,” Long said. “Obviously, they weren’t happy at DP or they think they can be better served at TFA. So we wish them well.”
The two schools sit 5.1 miles away from each other in Orlando.
Dr. Phillips went 20-9 last season, extending its state-leading streak of 20-win records to 22 consecutive years. The Panthers beat TFA 69-55 in a head-to-head matchup. But the Royals went deeper into the playoffs and ended up ranked No. 2 in the Sentinel Super 16 rankings behind national champion Montverde Academy.
TFA lost a state semifinal to 3A champion Jacksonville Providence Christian.
“I started hearing rumors and was as surprised as anybody,” First Academy coach Chris Mayberry said of his new players. “Obviously we have a great school and we have a smaller environment, and there may be some other factors. I’m really not sure.”
DP, which has key returners in guard Jaquarius “Q” Bargnare, forward Justin Tucker and wing Nick Smith, was tabbed by many as the early favorite to finally win an elusive 8A state championship before the departures.
“We’ve benefitted from transfers for the last 13 years. I’m sure no one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Long said. “We’re still going to have our same goals. We’re still going to be good. I’ve come to terms with it.”
The trio add top-end talent to a deep TFA lineup that graduated four starters and lost 6-6 junior prospect David Nickleberry to Windermere Prep. The Royals rotated 10 players the past two weekends and went undefeated in summer camp play at Rollins and Orlando Christian Prep.
The Royals are participating in Embry-Riddle University’s team camp in Daytona Beach this weekend.
“Obviously, these new guys are great kids,” Mayberry said. “And we had a lot of really good guys coming back that played behind guys last year. I like my team.”