Saturday, July 21, 2018
Prep Sports Report

HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball players to watch

Boys basketball season tipped off Monday. Once again the area is filled not only with talented teams, but talented players. Here's a look at some of the top returners in Tampa Bay:

G Dionte Blanch, So., East Lake: After averaging 11.8 points per game as a freshman, Blanch is poised to put up even bigger numbers. He had 20 points and eight assists in Tuesday's season-opening win over rival Palm Harbor University.

G Tyrick Brascom, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech: A dynamic scorer, Brascom averaged 17 points per game while leading the Titans to their first postseason win since 1999. Last week, he averaged 22 points and eight assists in preseason wins over Haines City and Auburndale.

G Mark Calleja, Sr., Hudson: Averaged 19 points and 5.6 rebounds last season while leading the Cobras to the district semifinals. With an experienced team around him, Hudson should be playoff contenders this season.

F Duncan Demuth, Sr., Seminole: The Oklahoma State commit is a three-star recruit who had 14 offers. His height (6-8) and deft touch make him a viable option inside. Demuth had 17 points in a season-opening win over Clearwater.

G Frank Gilliam, So., Gibbs: The Northside Christian transfer already has a lot of varsity experience. Last season, he averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists for the Gladiators. Gilliam provided most of the scoring in the preseason.

G Darin Green, Jr., Wharton: The 6-foot-4 guard already has offers from schools such as Florida Gulf Coast, Northern Arizona and Rider. He should put up solid numbers as the Wildcats' go-to player.

G/F Andreas Fuller, Sr., Admiral Farragut: The UCF recruit has a knack for getting to the basket and finishing. He also has the height (6-6) and athleticism to play multiple positions. His versatility helped the Blue Jackets win the Class 4A, District 4 title last season.

F Alijah Harrison, So., Tampa Catholic: A starter on last year's state final team, Harrison will be a bigger factor this season. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Crusaders' big season-opening win over Windermere Prep, one of the favorites to win the Class 3A state title.

G Isaiah Islam, Sr., Newsome: With Nick Stuck graduated, Islam will take on the bulk of the scoring duties. Last season, Islam averaged 16 points per game. On Tuesday, he scored a team-high 23 in a 56-52 overtime win over Armwood.

G Caleb Johnson, Sr., Central: A prolific scorer, Johnson averaged 19.8 points last season to rank among the top 50 in the state. His play helped the Bears snap a 17-game losing streak to rival Nature Coast and make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

F Justyn King, Jr., Plant City: At 6-foot-7, King creates mismatches inside. Last season, he averaged 16.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. On Tuesday, King scored 17 and had 11 rebounds in a season-opening win over Gaither.

G Stephonse Mack, Sr., Armwood: The Brandon transfer came back from a broken foot to lead the Hawks in scoring last season with 14.3 points per game. He should continue to be Armwood's biggest point producer this season.

G/F Zach Mathis, Sr., Berkeley Prep: The younger brother of Ole Miss tight end Jacob Mathis will have a significant role on one of the tallest frontcourts in the area, especially after the 6-foot-7 standout averaged 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a year ago.

G Thierry Moliere, Sr., Jesuit: The only returner who averaged double figures in scoring last season, Moliere is off to a strong start with 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals in Tuesday's win over Mitchell.

G Jaren Phillips, Jr., Tampa Prep: Ranked sixth in the state on ESPN's list of top basketball recruits for the 2019 class, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard will start getting plenty of offers. He averaged 15.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season.

G David Pierce, Sr., Gibbs: The Coastal Carolina commit averaged 23 points and led the Gladiators to a district title last season. He did not play in the preseason because of a knee injury but should return soon.

G Ty Quiroz, Sr., Ridgewood: After averaging 16.7 points last season, the point production might go down this season because of a more balanced lineup thanks to the addition of two key transfers. But Quiroz still is capable of putting up big-time numbers.

G Zhahidi Robinson, Sr., Largo: After helping the Packers reach the region final last season, Robinson will be counted on even more as a scorer and leader for a team that is favored to repeat as district champions.

F Alec Sherman, Sr., Ridgewood: The former Mitchell standout brings an inside presence to the Rams. Last season, the 6-foot-5 Sherman averaged 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds while leading the Mustangs to the region semifinals.

F Trey Sibert, Sr., Tampa Prep: Last season, Sibert averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He will team with Jaren Phillips to form one of the top duos in the area.

G Serrel Smith, Sr., St. Petersburg: The Tampa Bay Times' all-Pinellas County player of the year averaged 28 points, six rebounds and five assists last season. Those numbers helped him become a big-time recruit and he signed with Ole Miss earlier this month. In the preseason, he scored 28 against Lakewood and 31 against Gibbs.

G Tai Strickland, Sr., St. Petersburg: Ranked 15th in the state on ESPN's list of 2018 recruits, the Tampa Catholic transfer adds another layer to an already potent Green Devils' lineup. On Tuesday, Strickland had 20 points, including six 3-pointers, in a season-opening win over Northeast.

F Bryce Workman, Sr., Sickles: The 6-foot-8 post player averaged 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds, and was key during the team's state championship run last season. He is ranked 16th in the state among 2018 recruits by ESPN.

F Jalen White, Jr., Lakewood: The 6-foot-6 strong forward has offers from schools such as UCF, James Madison and Marshall. He will lead what could be an imposing frontcourt for the Spartans this season.

G CJ Williams, Sr., Countryside: A consistent playmaker, Williams put up solid numbers last season, averaging 12.1 points, 5.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He helped the Cougars make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and has them among the contenders for the Class 8A, District 10 title.