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Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Laura Keeley, Matt Baker, John C. Cotey, Joey Knight

Several ties bind Jesuit, Wharton

There's a certain symmetrical quality to the appearances by Jesuit and Wharton in this week's state boys basketball tournament, and it goes far deeper than the fact both will play Friday.

Probe a bit further, and you discover:

* Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli attended a Jesuit high school (Chicago's Loyola Academy).

* Tigers guards J.J. Weir and Jack Fleming annually attended Tonelli's summer camp at Wharton while growing up.

* Fleming's dad, Dan, coached Tonelli's youngest son, Matthew, at the AAU level.

* Both coaches, Tonelli and Jesuit's Neal Goldman, attended USF.
 
* Both teams' mascots are cats.

* Both schools' primary color is blue (albeit different shades).

We'd also mention the Wharton and Jesuit student sections are called the Blue Crew and Blue Tide, respectively, but that gets downright creepy. Anyway, you get the picture.


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Shaquem Griffin appears in Sports Illustrated

Lakewood senior Shaquem Griffin continues to gain national attention.

The UCF recruit appeared in the Faces in the Crowd feature in the latest Sports Illustrated (in my mailbox a few days ago, or online over here).

Griffin drew praise for his interception at the recent International Bowl in Texas. That play got him a shout-out in SportsCenter’s Top 10, too.

Griffin is the second Tampa Bay athlete who’s appeared in the weekly feature in the last year. Hernando baseball player Christian Arroyo (a Florida commit) earned the honor after being named the MVP of an international baseball tournament.

 

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USF to host eligibility, recruiting 'super seminar'

USF is playing host to a unique doubleheader Sunday -- entertainment followed by education.

A free collegiate eligibility/recruiting seminar for middle- and high-school athletes, parents, coaches and counselors will be held at the Sun Dome immediately after the Bulls' 2 p.m. men's basketball game against DePaul.

Dan Eassa, a former local TV sports producer-turned-eligibility guru who founded the freerecruitingwebinar.org site, is sponsoring the event in conjunction with USF and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association.

Billed as a "Super Seminar," the 90-minute event will touch on a variety of topics including scholarship "myths and facts," NAIA and junior college education, NCAA core course requirements and saving for college.

Though a free event, pre-registration is encouraged. Pre-registrants can choose to make the event an unofficial visit to USF and receive up to three free game tickets. For information, click here.

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Another club casualty for high school soccer

If Berkeley Prep's boys soccer team hopes to earn a third consecutive final four berth next season, it apparently will have to do it without top scorer Daniel Felman.

Felman's father, Dave, confirmed to The Tampa Bay Times in a recent e-mail that his son, who led the Buccaneers in goals (22) and assists (14) this past season, will forego his senior to compete with the year-round Clearwater Chargers Academy.

The Chargers are one of the U.S. Soccer Federation's two local Development Academy teams on a 10-month training schedule -- September through June -- that conflicts directly with the high school season. The academy's extended training schedule and participation in elite showcase events generally provides greater exposure to college coaches.

The conflict has had a greater impact on Pinellas County prep rosters, though Hillsborough certainly has felt some ripples. Wharton midfielder Jordan Lue, who enjoyed a promising sophomore season in 2012, bypassed his junior year to play for the Chargers.

Just how deeply the allure of academy soccer will bite into the bay area prep talent base remains unclear. Gaither boys coach Eric Sims, executive director of the sprawling Tampa Bay United club program, remains a proponent of the high school product. So do many of his prep peers.

But with the benefits academy soccer affords (i.e. year-round training, elite competition, greater scholarship chances), few doubt it will continue to tug at the high school talent base.

Question is, will it ultimately become a gravitational pull?

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Weeki Wachee hosting golf fundraiser

Weeki Wachee's athletic department will host a golf fundraiser on March 2 at Brooksville Country Club.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Hornets' athletic department and to Nick LaBarbara, the son of principal Troy LaBarbara. Nick was diagnosed with cancer over the summer.

The cost, which includes dinner, is $100 for an individual or $300 per foursome.

Sponsorships begin at $100.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and a shotgun start takes place at 8:30 a.m. The event will also have prizes for a hole in one, a closest to the pin competition and the longest drive.

For more information, contact Weeki Wachee athletic director Mark lee at (352-797-7029, ext. 230, or Lee_m2@hcsb.k12.fl.us.


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Artavis Scott is Tampa Bay's only top 100 junior

Now that signing day 2013 is almost a whole week behind us, it’s time to look at 2014.

So says Rivals, apparently. The recruiting site released its top 100 prospects for the class of 2014 today.
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Maryland Terps coach chased from the Muck

Lotsa weird stuff going on with recruiting in south Florida. You've probably heard about Alex Collins, who wanted to sign with Arkansas before his mom took his letter of intent away.

You probably didn't see this story, courtesy of the Washington Post, about how Maryland coach Randy Edsall and an assistant were tailed by a truck in Belle Glade.

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Check it out: Joel Anderson tweets his thoughts on the Ignite Combine and the recruiting process, we put it in order for you.

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Don't follow the money, and why top recruits flame out

With national signing day almost here, Twitter has turned to former Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis for some advice: “DON'T go with the money!”
Seriously. Check out what The Clarion-Ledger has on its website.

In other news, part of my lunchtime reading was this story in The Post and Courier on why so many recruits flame out. The paper says that 42 percent of Rivals’ top 100 prospects turn out to be busts. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t have anything to do with their physical skills. Check it out.

 

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'Juco is nothing to be scared of'

When recruits sign letters of intent this week, many will sign with junior colleges. Many more will sign with jucos later, if they don't qualify academically at other universities.

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Recruiting drama in Miami & generous running backs

Two recruiting links to share on the Friday before signing day, which I’ve arbitrarily decided to call Blue-Chip Friday. You know, like Black Friday? OK, onto the links:

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