From the Sidelines

Talk of the Town

2022 C Tawfiq Thomas - Gaither

BULLY BALL!!! Possibly the most physically dominant player in the county and another dual-sport athlete who is making noise on the basketball court instead of the football field. The Gaither big man and Louisville football signee is a monster in the paint on both ends of the floor. Tawfiq controls the glass on both ends, with his size doing his work early, putting himself in a great position. Tawfiq commands double teams in the post, one defender is never enough to get the job done. He's developed as a passer out of double teams, making quick reads and decisions. He is not an overly explosive athlete but lighter on his feet than most of his size. He is able to carve out space defensively in the lane. He is well-coached to be disciplined with his hands and challenging plays vertically at the basket. Intimidating any guard from attacking the rim, knowing a brick wall is waiting for them at the basket. It is refreshing to see a throwback of this caliber thriving this year in an era where true centers seem to be completely nonexistent.

Talk of the Town

2022 G DJ Haynes - Plant City

DJ Haynes has been on an absolute tear this year, with Plant City holding an 18-5 record in no small part, thanks to DJ. Averaging 16.7PPG, 7.7RPG, 4.3APG, 2.4SPG, leading them in each category. He is a terror on the court, with a physical body, defenders tend to bounce off him. DJ gets to the basket with relentless effort, using his strength to maintain his line and balance heading to the basket. He's got a solid pull-up game that allows him to keep defenders honest, opening up his game off the bounce to create for the entire team. He's the engine that keeps the Plant City train moving on either end of the floor. His ball pressure and ability to switch on to and guard multiple positions are invaluable. The athleticism and instinct to play passing lanes and create turnovers on the ball allow their entire unit to thrive. DJ is definitely a guy you have to game plan on the defensive end. If you don't, he will go around recking your offense if not dealt with. As they prep for a playoff run, he's going to be the key to how far they can make it based off of his play.

Talk of the Town

2023 G George Kimble - Berkeley Prep

Berkeley Prep has a gem in this junior combo guard. He's got solid size and strength, and he is a big-time scorer at all three levels. He plays with poise and maturity beyond his years. An absolute problem for any defender when he gets them on their heels. A slick combination of quick-twitch moves with the ball in his hands allows him to get to his spots on the floor with relative ease. George is a defender's worst nightmare with a pull-up jumper that he can get off anytime from everywhere on the court. With that deadly combination, he can get going at any moment, putting up points at high efficiency. A sneaky above-the-rim athleticism can have him catching defenders if they challenge him too late. I love his grit and intensity; he rises to the moment and makes his best play when the lights are brightest. Berkeley Prep has a chance in almost any matchup when he plays at his best.

Talk of the Town

2022 F Tony Livingston - King

This future University of Florida tight end is also a monster on the basketball court. Tony is a walking double-double averaging a dominant 24PPG and 10RPG coming down the home stretch. He is physically imposing every second he is on the basketball court. Tony is highly skilled and surprisingly explosive. He is a do-everything guy for the King High offense, the primary initiator, playmaker, and scorer for this group. He can hurt you in so many ways, no matter the matchup. He's got a reliable handle that allows him to use his mobility to beat large defenders off the defense. Put a smaller defender in front of him, and he's going to use his vast size to punish them in the paint. On top of all of that, he is shooting the 3-ball at a 40% rate. There is absolutely nothing you can do with that when he has all three phases of his game going from the 3-ball to the post-game to his freight train drives to the basket. He's an excellent rebounder on both sides of the ball, understanding how to use his body to create space and positioning. Tony is a problem when he gets the ball in his hands, especially after a defensive rebound where he can get downhill and play off pure instinct. One of the most physically dominant basketball players in Hillsborough County, his future may lie on the gridiron. However, he's still a terror right now on the hardwood.

Talk of the Town

2022 G Trent Scott - Alonso

I will say it because everyone seems to be skating around the subject. Trent Scott, in my opinion, is the best player in Hillsborough County... and there might be a considerable gap too. There is not another player in our area who has the skillset or the same impact on his team. Trent has the complete package to play the point guard position. The first thing that jumps out at you is the smooth demeanor. He has a stoic presence that allows him to never be rattled. He's the same guy, whether there are 5 seconds to go in overtime or 5 minutes left in a blowout. Trent has a tremendous feel for what a game needs from him. This unteachable instinct allows him to know when to be aggressive scoring the basketball and when it's right to make plays for his teammates. He gets downhill with ease, especially in transition, able to finish at the basket with either hand. Great range on his jump shot, but he never settles for it, constantly in attack mode threatening the defense off the bounce opening up the game for himself and others. With all that's in his arsenal, he's still a true pass-first point guard, looking to lift up his teammates before himself. He seems to be a scorer as a second instinct but still capable of getting it done in bunches. On the other end of the floor, at 6'4 with long arms and quick feet, he's able to defend multiple positions at an elite level. He's constantly in passing lanes, and his explosiveness allows him to challenge shots and be a pest on the ball. There really isn't a hole I can see in his game. The senior PG is a must-see basketball, whether throwing one-handed passes cross court to open teammates or throwing down lobs on a defender's head. It is always a fun night when he's on the floor.

Talk of the Town

2022 G Jasiah Taylor - Strawberry Crest

Jasiah is a true scorer in every sense of the word, with a deep trigger. He can get things going in an absolute hurry. He lets the ball fly from the perimeter with no consciousness from absolutely anywhere on the floor. It only takes a little bit of space off the bounce, coming off screens or off the catch; it doesn't matter this kid can flat out shoot the basketball. Jasiah plays downhill out of the pick & roll and in transition, attacking the basket fearlessly with the heart of a guy twice his size. He has a killer instinct on the floor, the type of attack mentality you cannot teach. The best part is his ability to be critical of himself, striving to get the best out of himself every time he steps on the floor. He is a natural leader, outspoken, and an extension of the coach on the floor. He's grown so much this season, from becoming a more consistent scorer to adjusting his game to make things easier for his teammates and creating opportunities for himself. He's a rare type of kid; look out for the impact he makes during the second half of the season.

Talk of the Town

2024 W Karter Knox - Tampa Catholic

Karter Knox is the real deal, simple and plain. The best way to define this kid is that he is an absolute stud. A 6'5" Wing, this freshman is on track to be one of the best players to come through the bay area. Offensively there are very few holes in his game, an athlete with great size and build to him and able to score at all three levels. Karter checks the boxes across the board, able to shoot the ball from the three-point line at a high clip. He's a pure shooter of the basketball with good form and solid footwork, knocking down perimeter shots off the catch or on the move. With a strong and solid body frame, he can take bumps and contact to finish at the rim and has no problems punching it above the rim as well. He rebounds well for his size and can defend multiple positions when he decides to sit down in a stance. To be just a freshman, Karter has unlimited potential in his game; as he matures and continues to grow, there is no telling where he will end up. One thing that is for sure about Karter is that he is not someone you want to miss out on the chance to see; he is showtime every time he steps on the court.

Talk of the Town

2022 G Javohn Thomas - Sickles High

Javohn Thomas has been big-time here early in the season for Sickles the 6'3" lefty guard is a matchup nightmare that does a lot of different things from a lot of different places. Coming off a Sophmore campaign where he averaged 11PPG 4RPG and 4APG, he has been thrust into an even more prominent role leading following the pair of big-time departures from the Sickles frontcourt. Javohn gets it done on both ends of the floor. He is an absolute pest on the defensive end of the floor; strong and physical as a defender, he takes on the challenge of guarding multiple positions. As the tallest player in the Sickles rotation, he's finding himself having to defend out of position and matchup against plenty of guys who are bigger than him. His craftiness and high basketball IQ allow him to use his athleticism to his advantage in these scenarios. Javohn will be featured in this sickles offense night in and night out, no matter what a defense throws at them. With his jack of all trades skillset, he will be able to impact the game differently with every matchup. From defending the opposition's best player to attacking the rim to setting up teammates, he will give any team problems.