From the Sidelines
2/21 Regional Quarterfinal Matchups
Dr. Phillips @ Alonso
Lakeland @ Wharton
St. Pete @ Tampa Bay Tech
Sunlake @ Hillsborough
Booker(Sarasota) @ Jesuit
Labelle @ Berkeley Prep
Santa Fe Catholic @ Seffner Christian
Calvary Christian @ Bayshore Christian
Freedom @ Bartow
Plant City @ East Lake
King @ Land O' Lakes
Robinson @ Lake Wales
Tampa Catholic @ Community School of Naples
Tampa Prep @ Master's Academy
Talk of the Town
2019 G Collin Sowada & 2019 W Logan Morrissey - Plant High
The season may be over for Plant's 2019 G Collin Sowada and W Logan Morrissey, but their basketball careers are far from over the future is bright for these two young men at the collegiate level. The two made a dynamic backcourt throughout the course of this season despite the up and down season that they battled through. Collin, a transfer from Seminole High School, is a craft pass-first point guard that steered the ship the Panthers, his ability to get into the lane and make mind-blowing passes was worth the price of admission by itself. The definition of a true point guard, averaging 10 points per game and more importantly 7.3 assists per game, he has been able to create for others and make the game so much better for his teammates on the offensive side of the ball. Collin has such a great feel for the game, he's not going to rush into everything, and his most significant tool is not even physical but is his vision with the ball in his hands, his ability to know where everyone on the floor is and see plays develop is utterly unique. The biggest beneficiary of Collin's infusion into the Plant offense was Logan Morrissey, the Air Force signee, a deadly sharpshooter from the perimeter, shooting 37% from behind the arc while scoring at a consistent rate of 17 points per game. Logan stepped into a much more significant role this season as the offense's main focal point and did not shy away from the spotlight, with a jump of nearly 6 points per game to his scoring average and an aggressive offensive mindset. Logan loves to shoot the basketball, but that is not his only gift, is also is a deceptive athlete with good body control allowing him to finish at the rim and through contact. Logan and his ability to play off screens with and especially without the basketball are highly underrated, but it is key to his increase in scoring output as he elevated his game. Using screens to get good looks from beyond the arc, at the basket and in between. All season the two have been a fun pairing to watch, as they played off their chemistry making the game look almost effortless and driving the Plant Panthers throughout the season.
Talk of the Town
2021 G Mike Trigg - Seffner Christian
Seffner Christian's 2021 G Mike Trigg may be just a sophomore, but he looks like a man amongst boys when he steps onto the court at 6'3" 200lbs, he is a force to be reckoned with. Mike is the definition of versatility on both ends of the court. Long arms and a strong body allow him to be apest on the defensive side of the ball, an absolute ballhawk with great hands and instincts. Solid lateral quickness and first step enable him to play a physical rand of on-ball defense forcing opposing guards out of the comfort zones and disrupting opposing offenses. His strong frame and grit allow him to guard players much taller than him and make possessions much more difficult for his opponents. He plays passing lanes exceptionally well, creating transition oppurtunities, where he is highly effective using his athleticism and high IQ to carve paths to the basket. On the offensive end, Mike has a great package of tools that allow him to hurt teams in a slew of ways. He is a big guard that plays with a great pace, attacking the basket with a downhill mentality lowing to use a slowed down euro to take defenders out of rhythm and absorb contact. A much-improved jump shot for Mike makes him a difficult cover for whoever steps in front of him because he is so effective getting to the rim, once defenders play off he can knock down shots from the perimeter off the bounce or the catch. With Mike at the reigns for the next couple of years, the future is bright for the young guard and the Seffner Christian basketball program.
Talk of the Town
2019 W Jaren Phillips - Tampa Prep
2019 Tampa Prep W Jaren Phillips is an absolute beast on the basketball court, at 6'5" his a man amongst boys every time he steps out onto the basketball court. Jaren plays a physical brand of basketball, always in attack mode getting to the basket and creating easy opportunities for himself over and over again. An all-around athlete, he has all of the physical tools to change any game on both ends of the floor. He has the strength to post up and abuse smaller defenders on the low block and in the mid-post. Matched up against stronger defenders, and he has the first step and the handle to beat them off the bounce and get to the basket. He has the ability to use that same physical gifts on the defensive end, with great hands and solid body frame, defenders struggle to get good looks off. The physicality of Jaren's play style on both ends wears down on opponents, and defenders seem to fall off of him when he is attacking the rim in transition. He plays smart with his strength using it as a means of creating mismatches while playing under control, a credit to the great coaching he has received from his Head Coach. Jaren is most deadly when he can get out in transition, whether he is leading the break or on the end of it, he is nearly unstoppable. Especially when he can grab a rebound and take off with it, he's like a runaway freight train; you know that he is in his element and there is a chance for a highlight play with each transition.
Talk of the Town
2020 W Kobe Knox - Tampa Catholic
2020 Tampa Catholic W Kobe Knox, yes he is the young brother of current New York Knick and Tampa Catholic alumni Kevin Knox, but that is where the connection stops. Kobe is growing into his name and making his mark on Hillsborough County basketball. The Junior guard has taken the mantle as the offensive leader of this ball club and run with it. Raising his statistical averages in every category, including raising his scoring output from 13.9 PPG to 19.4 PPG he has shouldered the load of pushing his team to a 19-5 record and an undefeated district record. At 6'4" the scoring guard can score the basketball in a multitude of ways, but first and foremost he loves to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. Kobe has had to shoulder a much bigger load of the playmaking and ball-handling responsibilities in comparison to last season for the Crusaders. This load has taken a hit to his efficiency from the perimeter but don't let the numbers mislead you, he is a knockdown shooter when he has the chance to get his feet set, and he doesn't need much space to get his shot off. Kobe's Second greatest strength comes from his ability to score the ball in transition, with his length and highly underrated athleticism. That transition scoring ability makes him a perfect fit for the uptempo pace that Tampa Catholic plays at, giving him countless options to get out on the break. Kobe still growing into his game, he has all the tools to become a big-time off guard at the next level as he continues to make the best of his opportunities.
Talk of the Town
2019 G Christian DeLeon - Hillsborough High
The head of the snake at Hillsborough High School, 2019 PG Christian DeLeon lead the Terrier to a Final 4 appearance in Lakeland last season and is looking to take things a couple steps further this season. Christian is a speed demon with the ball in his hands; Arguably the fastest G in the area end to end with the ball in his hands, he turns transition plays into wide-open layups in the blink of an eye each and every night. He is the heart and engine of this Hillsborough High ball club, bringing energy and intensity to a very disciplined and well-coached ball team. Christian tends to break away from the Terrier mold. He plays on the edge of being quick and in a hurry at all times sometimes crossing over the line between them, but more times than not he finds a way to make the right play for the moment. The Terriers go as he goes with his speedy crossover and a nasty step back, he has a bag of tricks that puts defenders on their heels. Christian is also crafty at the rim, with a set of circus finishes at the basket and a strong upper body that allows him to absorb contact and finish in traffic amongst the trees despite his size. A true floor general he is always in control of the ball game, you can not speed him, he is always going to play at the speed he wants to go at.
Talk of the Town
2019 G Malcolm Whitlow - Carrollwood Day
The 2019 Carrollwood Day School Guard Malcolm Whitlow is doing it again, putting up video game numbers against all levels of competition, putting together a big-time senior campaign that includes a 57 point outing just last week in an overtime victory against Calvary Christian. Despite an up and down season from his team, that included an off-season and a mid-season coaching change, he has been the stabilizing factor for this ball club. He has shined bright as one of the best guards in the state of Florida, following up a junior campaign as the 3rd leading scorer in the state of Florida. Malcolm plays the game in a manner different than that of his peers in the area. Strong and skilled his game is less reliant on speed or an incredible jumping ability but marked by his high basketball IQ. Malcolm plays at his own pace, cerebral and efficient with the ball in his game. It is about getting the job done more so than making the highlight play. He plays in a way that he can quietly have 20 point half and you are looking around thinking he has only 8 because he grinds out his baskets. Getting into the lane and inviting contact from primary and secondary defenders, he can score at the rim at will and is consistent about creating high percentage opportunities. Not a high volume 3pt shooter but he shoots it well enough to be respected, and when the moment is big it seems that he is at his best, not afraid to take the big shot no matter how difficult or from what range.
Talk of the Town
2019 F Jack Cooper - Jesuit High
Silently 2019 F Jack Cooper has turned into a big time PF for the Jesuit Tigers and the sky is the limit for him. Without the hoopla and the hype, Jack has grown into a game that will shine at the next level. Listed as 6'6" 200lbs with a versatile skill set, he is a nightmare for opposing defenses. He doesn't put up gaudy numbers because he plays within the flow of the offense, making the right basketball play consistently, whether it is for him or his teammates. His scoring ability inside and outside of the lane makes him a difficult cover. With a variety of post moves on the low block and great technique forgetting position early in possessions, he can take small or big defenders down there and create easy opportunities for himself or others. His skills on the perimeter match his interior repertoire, athletic and skilled enough to push the ball off a rebound and attack slower defenders off the bounce in half court set. With a range on his jumper and a mid-range pull-up that makes him a handful, it is "pick your poison" for opposing defenders. Jack has a bright future at the next level for sure; he will be a fit for almost any system with the size and skill combination he brings to the floor. But he still has a few more things to get done, with the next big step being an attempt to lead the Tigers program on a run back to Lakeland. With the pieces they have surrounding him, there is no doubt that Jack has a legitimate chance to lead them there.
Talk of the Town
2019 G Darin Green - Wharton High
The 2019 UCF signee has been lighting up defenses all season long, one of the best players in the county he has had an extraordinary impact on the Wharton Wildcats. A Shooting Guard with a beautiful and effortless stroke from the perimeter, he is undoubtedly one of the best shooters not only in the Bay Area but in the entire state of Florida. He is what you look for in the prototypical Shooting Guard. Excellent in making catch and shoot jumpers, able to effectively able to come off screens, and great size and focus that allows him to shoot over defenders to knock down contested jumpers. Green is not all about shooting, his muscular frame and tight handle enable him to get into the paint and create scoring opportunities on the interior. Then when he gets out in the open court, get ready for a show, his athleticism, and quick instincts can turn any fast break into a big-time play above the rim. His greatest skill might be his efficiency, the efficiency that he shoots the ball from the field but also his proficiency with his movements and decision making. Green never forces the issue and always plays within himself, never trying to do too much but making the right play over and over again. With a game that built for the next level Darin Green is set up to be successful the moment he steps on campus at Central Florida, and it will be fun to see another bay area guy represent the city.
Talk of the Town
2022 G Emanuel Sharp - Blake High
Blake Guard Emanuel Sharp has spectacularly arrived on the scene. The 6'3 200 lbs freshman guard had been putting defenders on notice averaging 26 points per game so far this season. Sharp is leading the Blake Yellow Jackets to more wins(6) at this point in the season than they had the entirety of the last season(3). As a natural SG Sharp is an elite scorer at all three levels, shooting the three ball at a high clip, a mood range game that is pretty much automatic and multiple ways to finish on the paint. With great size and build, he is physical on the interior, with numerous floaters and angle shots to score inside. Sharp plays at his own pace never in a hurry able to get to where ever he wants on the court with a combination of craftiness and strength. Thrust into the point guard role for this Blake team, he has shown a complete offensive game, able to run an offense and distribute the basketball at a level far beyond his age. He is definitely primed for one of the great high school careers here in Hillsborough County. Emanuel is already one of the best if not the best pure scorer in the area as just a freshman, it's scary to think about what he can grow into physically and mentally over the next four years. Definetly looking forward to seeing the growth and maturity in his game, at this rate he is on track to be one of the best players to come out of the bay area and eclipse the all-time scoring record.
FSP Hoops Season Preview
Teams to Watch For
Led by Division I prospect W Jaren Phillips the Terrapins are primed for a potentially special season if things fall into place for them. Phillips is a do it all wing, W Gabriel Sharp's got a knack for scoring in bunches, and you pair these two with a dynamic backcourt duo of G Jaden Gray and G Isaac Ward, who can control the pace at any tempo and that's a scary team. Expect them to be right in the mix for 1st place with Carrollwood Day and Seffner Christian in a loaded district.
The backcourt pairing of G Malcolm Whitlow and W Edgar Ziegler may be one of the most prolific, and these two guys can put up points with the best of them. Whitlow lead the state in scoring last year with just under 32 PPG, and Ziegler is no slouch shooting 40% from behind the line and scoring at 17.5 PPG. They will need to someone else on the roster to step up and help, but with two guys who can score like that, they will be able to beat anyone in the county.
This team looks unrecognizable in comparison to last year's squad below .500 team, they are much bigger, more athletic and deeper than they were. This team is definitely going to surprise a lot of people, it is not so much about one particular person, but how well they play together as a collective unit. W Mike Trigg and G Khalil Waleed are the guys who make things happen for this squad, but on any given night someone different can be the X-factor.
If you love shooters then this is definitely the team for you, they move the basketball and play the right way with shooters galore it is fun basketball to watch for sure. F Chase Bars is excellent defensively at the rim and in the pick and roll and should be a standout for this ball club. G Kegan Karnes and W Ronnie Williams are elite shooters on this ball their ability to score the basketball and space the floor will be critical for them to be successful.
A blossoming 2020 trio of W Kobe Knox, F Alijah Harrison, and F Isaiah Elmore is going to be tough to match up with, the size length and versatility of this group is tough to find. Knox is an elite shooter able to catch fire in an instant. Harrison is able to do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor scoring, playmaking, rebounding and defending. Elmore is the best rim protector in the county, commanding the paint with his length and athleticism.
Fundamental and well coached as always, the Tigers will be favorites in their district lead by skilled F Jack Cooper. Their bevy of offensive sets and 2-3 zone defense will allow them to control the pace as always, forcing teams to beat them on their own terms.
Coming off a trip to Lakeland last year the Terrier will be looking to make it 4 district championships in a row. G Christian De Leon is one of the best at the position in the area, he will head this ball club once again. They lack perimeter shooting but, they are long and athletic across the board, and will dominate the paint and the glass.
This gritty crew are big and athletic and play extremely hard, they are on sleeper watch going into the season. They just may be able to surprise a lot of teams, by years end they may among the best of the best. G Chris Romkey has a unique game, they are going to need a big year from him if they want to make the jump to the next level, but he is undoubtedly capable of doing it.
One of the best teams from last year, they will miss some of their departed seniors but the wing combination Logan Morrissey and Reagan Weiss are returning, and they are a pair of snipers, with D1 level talent. The addition of PG Colin Sowada may be just what the need to make a deep playoff push, his playmaking is next level and his ability to get into the lane is going to be huge for the Panthers.
Discipline, execution, and poise are the calling card of this Wharton just like those that have come before them. This group has a little extra swagger to them, and with G Darin Green leading the charge, they have a chance to beat anyone. Green is a big-time scorer and highly efficient, but he is surrounded by a more than capable supporting cast with pieces like G Gio Reyes, F Mackinley Theirse, and W Carr Thiam.
Tampa Bay Tech
The Titans have been a changing of the Guard at the PG spot, with the ball being placed in the hands of David Cexil. After playing his past season as a lights out spot-up shooter, it will be interesting to see what this team looks like with him as the primary ball handler. Expect a big year from W Jamarcus Robertson, as he is asked to take on a more significant load on the offensive end. A breakout season may be in the works for F Gavin Antoine he has performed well all offseason, this should be his statement year.
Justyn King is an absolute monster, the lefty is versatile and skilled he is going to be the engine that drives this Plant City team this year. Paired next to Jaydn Strawder in the frontcourt, they are going to be in complete control of the paint. The rest of the team is well rounded and molded around these two, they should have a great shot at being repeat District Champions.
Alonso just might have the best frontcourt in the county with W Kamalii Findlay & F Sager Cavalier to sure up the middle, and they will be relied on heavily to hand the load for this Alonso ball club. The physicality of these two is a heavy load for teams to match up with, and they will be able to dominate ball games from start to finish.
This Riverview team should when all is said and done have the most substantial amount of growth in comparison to last season. These boys can play, with plenty of length and athleticism, they get up and down and play with great pace. They may be a year away from truly being one of the top teams, but they will definitely be able to make some noise throughout the season as they learn to how to win.