2017-18 #PBCHOOPS Season Preview
The 2017-18 high school basketball season is less than 2 weeks away. While there is much anticipation for the upcoming season, things will be a little bit different than what we have seen recently. The last 3 years of #PBCHOOPS basketball have produced arguably some of the best talent this area has ever seen. 2 State champions, 1 NBA lottery pick, 2 Florida Players of the Year and more than two dozen student-athletes receiving scholarships to play college basketball. This new crop of players may not be as well-known as some of the players in the past but that does not mean there is not talent here, there is.
The most accurate words that can be used to describe the 2017-18 season is "Wide Open". There will always be a few teams that stand out above the rest, but the overall talent is spread equally across the county with several programs looking to make some noise this year. We will get in to the #PBCHOOPS Top 5 teams in another post on another day. Today we breakdown the teams to watch and what to expect this season:
Small and Private Schools
No team comes into the 2017-18 season with a bigger target on their back than Oxbridge Academy. The Thunderwolves are a contender to win the 5A state title, even in a stacked 5A, Oxbridge has every piece necessary to back up the claim. They roll out a squad with size, athleticism, multiple knock down shooters, chemistry, defense and the PG. That PG is 2017 #PBCHOOPS Fall League MVP AJ Cajuste, Cajuste has been dominant playing thus far in summer and fall league play headed into his junior year. Not far behind is fellow 2019 6' 6" F Dante Wilcox bringing an added dimension with his outside shooting to match highlight dunks and defensive presence inside. The Thunderwolves are a complete team and play a tough schedule which should make them battle tested come playoff time.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Ronique Spencer, 2018 TJ Williams, 2018 Jack Meyers, 2019 Klein Alexander,
The Buccaneers come into the season with another year of experience for a talented group. Junior Ben Lubarsky has emerged as one of the top 2019 prospects in the state and had a stellar summer season on the travel circuit with Ball4Lyfe. Playing in 5-4A Benjamin has a tough draw with Ft. Lauderdale Westminster Academy, they face the Lions twice during the regular season and will most likely need to beat them in the playoffs to advance on the road to Lakeland. Look for Benjamin to be competitive all season and make a push in the playoffs.
More Players to Watch : 2019 Kaiir Elam, 2018 Jordan Travis, 2018 Roberto Lama
The Hurricanes come into the 2017-18 season looking to make some noise. Senior Dante Moses is poised to have a huge season, the 6' 4" SG is an elite scorer with an automatic jump shot. Moses will have some help with fellow seniors Javaris Chevelon and Dwyer transfer Kevin Anders on the court as they look to advance in a district controlled by Oxbridge Academy and Cardinal Newman the last several years.
St Andrew's, like several other #PBCHOOPS teams comes into this year having to replace big pieces from last year’s squad. Head Coach John O'Connell won his 500th game last season and has group this year that will be led by seniors Marcus Pelissier, Ben Milstien and Jamison Pierre-Louis. The Scots should still be considered the favorites in 12-5A and will be a tough out come playoff time.
More Players to Watch : 2020 Koby Pelissier, 2019 Alejandro Ralat
Village Academy is coming off the best season in school history, falling 3 points short of a trip to Lakeland in the 3A regional final. This season coach Terrence Atkinson and the Tigers are in rebuilding mode but play in a district 7-3A that is up for grabs. Look for Village to make another run at a district title.
After a 4 year run that included top prospects, district championships and state championship appearances, Cardinal Newman is another team looking to rebuild. Graduation and transfers hit the Crusaders hard and they will start the 2017-18 season with only 3 players who made contributions last season. Senior SG Jeremy Golson plus junior big men Emmanuel Onuama and Peter Igwilo will need to step up if Newman hopes to contend for a district title.
More Players to Watch : 2019 Chris Kent, 2020 Castra Gedeon, Jr. , 2020 Jonathon Mogbo, 2021 Devin Hines
Grandview Prep has been the class of the small schools for several years running with state titles and multiple final four appearances on their resume. Last year's leader Matt Schner is now at Emory University so the Pride will need to rely on a new crop of players to get the job done. Senior Chance Donovan will be called on to lead the way if Grandview looks to make another run.
Jupiter Christian will be another team to watch this year, playing in the district 7-3A. The Eagles have added some talent via transfer as junior twin guards Gedeon and Gethro Germinal join senior PG Clay Fitzmorris as they shoot for a district title.
Big Public Schools
Anyone who thought Wellington's reign as the top program in Palm Beach County ended with last year’s heartbreaking loss in the state semi-final is mistaken. All doubt was erased with a stellar summer camp season winning both the Palm Beach State and Lynn University team camps. Fast forward to our #PBCHOOPS Fall League where the Wolverines went toe to toe with powerhouse Oxbridge and beat one of Broward's top teams Westminster Academy. This year’s squad will be led by senior guard duo Bryan Williams and Nico Toledo alongside a group that includes the best 2019 player many never heard of Linton Brown. Don't be surprise if the Wolverines are back in Lakeland once again.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Jon Phillistin, 2018 Texan Molten, 2020 Kemari Brown
Royal Palm Beach
The Wildcats are coming into the 2107-18 with a new look. After graduating a very successful group of seniors last season they also have a new head coach on the sideline as Dion Griffin takes over. We got a chance to see Royal Palm in the #PBCHOOPS Fall League and coach Griffin has his squad playing fast, with tons of energy and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats will be right back in the mix of the district 13-8A mix which should be even more intense with the rise of teams in the district.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Shaquille Peters, 2018 Patler Levasseur, 2018 Deandre Morris, 2019 Moltere Charles, 2019 Yves Fleuranvil, 2021 Christopher George
Playing in arguably the toughest district in Palm Beach County last year, the Bobcats came up just short of advancing to the playoffs. This season Boca returns the backcourt of Rollins commit Cade Long and 2019 PG Maxime Demeus along with a nice mix of players including 6-8 big man David Dakinko who has already drawn interest from D1 colleges. Once again district 10-9A will be a tough fight, with no nights off.
The time is now for the Eagles, on paper they have the most talented team in the county and size to go along with all that talent. Senior PG Rodwens Albert is a flat out scorer and is looking to lead Atlantic once again back to the playoffs. The emergence of 2019 big man RJ Duhart however may be just the thing needed to push the Eagles over the top. The 6' 8" big man is a shot blocker in the paint and has expanded his offense game, knocking down open shots and cleaning up the boards. 6' 6" senior Michael Lankford may be the X- Factor, as his athleticism and defensive presence could be the difference in district play. Add to that 2020 young guns DJ Tucker and Ladarien Variance, Atlantic should be the team to beat in 10-9A.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Bryan Henry
The defending 10-9A district champion has been laying low for most of the summer and fall preseason. That could be bad news for the rest of the district., The wounds from the gut wrenching loss to Wellington in the regional semi-final are still fresh in their mind. Marques Spann and his Trojans look to make it back again this year and close the deal. Spann, who has proven himself to be an elite defender and pass first PG, now has some additional fire power with the addition of senior guard Jay Medor. The combination of Medor and Spann’s quickness and scoring will make Lake Worth tough once again.
More Players to Watch : 2019 Avery Brooks
Palm Beach Lakes
After last year’s state Final 4 run and the graduation of 4 seniors it's easy to expect a drop off from Lakes this season. But reality is the Rams will be tough once again and have their sights set on another district title and playoff run. Senior Ty Hands will lead this group, last year he proved he was not only a shooter but did all the little things necessary to win. Expect even more this year from him but he won’t be alone. Lakes will once again have weapons on offense who can knock down shots and get in your face on defense. Look for 2019 sharp shooter Sheldon Edwards to have a breakout season along with an expanded role for 2020 big man Giancarlo Rosado.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Denzel Robinson, 2020 Jalen Holman, 2019 Steven Ayuso, 2021 Tre Hands.
Suncoast looks to build off last year’s breakout season and push toward a state Final 4 appearance. Senior Miclenby Geffrard along with 2016-17 #PBCHOOPS Rookie of the Year Sam Rolle look to pick up where they left off last season as Suncoast notched several big wins and advanced to the 6A Regional Semi-Final. The Chargers always play a tough schedule and this year is no different which should have them ready once February rolls around.
More Players to Watch : 2019 Torrin Andrews, 2019 Max Fulton, 2020 Isaiah Edden, 2020 Cristnel Francios, 2021 Darius Runner, 2021 Makye Boles, 2021 Evan Stinson
The Falcons may be a surprise to some but anyone who played or watched them play last year knows this team has a chance to be special this year. Coach Tony Watson has a senior heavy squad that boast nice size and ruggedness. The duo of Phillip Lyttle and Tristan Stephens will be a force to deal with all season as they both get to the boards and can get up on the offensive end. Forest Hill has built a deep talented squad that should not be taken lightly, look for them to crash the traditional powerhouses in 13-8A.
More Players to Watch : 2018 Shawn Martin, 2021 Jalen Jeter, 2019 Justin Jeter
After being down last season the Chiefs are back and looking to make some noise in the already stacked 10-9A district. Santaluces made an appearance in the #PBCHOOPS Fall League and looked good incorporating some new pieces into the lineup. They will be a tough team to beat in a tough district.
Players to Watch : 2018 Darius Dixon, 2018 Marcus Bentley, 2019 Ryan O'Connor, 2020 Chance Dixon
Last seasons Dwyer team had a good run but fell short in a playoff OT loss to Blance-Ely 68-63. The Panthers are always talented but didn't seem to hit their stride last year. Coming into 2017-18 we expect another loaded Dwyer team to compete for a district title and make a run for the Final 4 in Lakeland. The team will be led by senior Miles Coleman and mix of talented underclassman who will need to step up after losing key players from last year’s squad to graduation and transfer.
Well that's it for now, make sure to check back for the release of this seasons Preseason #PBCHOOPS Top 5 next week.
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