Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Basketball recruiting: Shift from football pays off for Dunedin's Andrew Gordon

Andrew Gordon's plan all along was to play football in college. The Dunedin defensive end wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season. In the Pinellas County senior all-star game, he was named defensive MVP.

The only hold back was academics. Gordon did not have the grade-point average or test score to qualify so he signed with Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

It seemed his future was set. Then Gordon decided to play basketball for the first time this year because he said he wanted to stay busy.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward thrived, averaging 9.8 points and 2.5 rebounds to help the Falcons reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and win a postseason game for the first time since 1968.

Gordon's stock continued to soar playing basketball for Team Speights on a national travel circuit this spring. He now has offers from several schools including Florida Gulf Coast, Memphis, Richmond and Xavier.

"I didn't think everything would happen this fast for me in basketball," Gordon said.

Aaron Holmes, who coaches Gordon with Team Speights, said the potential in basketball was always there.

"I watched Andrew play in a high school game this season, and it took me 10 minutes to realize he could be something special," Holmes said. "With his height and athleticism, college coaches were going to be enamored with him.

Gordon admits football is his first love. But when forced to weigh factors such as education and longevity in deciding his future, Gordon concluded the four-year scholarships offered by major Division I colleges in basketball are too hard to pass up.

Gordon decided to forgo his scholarship to Garden City and enroll in a prep school (most likely Hargraves (Va.) Military Academy) to reclassify as a 2016 recruit in basketball. The offers could continue to pour in after a busy summer of tournaments.

"With Andrew's size, big things are going to happen," Holmes said. "By August, he should have 10 to 20 more Division I offers. The hardest thing was convincing him that basketball was the best route for his future. I think he understands that now."

Durham on the mend: Tampa Prep's Juwan Durham tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Feb. 17. The injury usually takes about 10 months to fully recover. Durham, though, has accelerated his timetable, so much that the rising senior could return to full basketball activities as early as August.

"Juwan's had tremendous progress," Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon said. "He's ahead of schedule."

Durham continues his rehabilitation three days a week, lifting weights and going through resistance training. He already is in the gym shooting jumpers.

This summer was supposed to be a big one for Durham, one of the most coveted recruits in the country. The 6-foot-11 power forward is a five-star recruit who has 15 offers from major Division I schools.

He was supposed to visit UConn, Syracuse and Villanova during his spring break but those trips were pushed back to the fall because of his injury. Last month, Durham went to Louisville and he is going to a team camp June 19-21 at Miami. He also is scheduled to meet with new Florida coach Mike White this summer, but the date has not been set.

As far as basketball, Fenlon said he hopes to have Durham back by September or October.

"It could be sooner than that the way things are going," Fenlon said. "But we certainly are not trying to rush anything. Juwan has too much at stake and too much a future ahead of him to push anything too hard. I'd be ecstatic if he were able to be back with us by September or October. Right now, everything is moving in the right direction."

Increased expectations: Gibbs' Barry Brown, who signed with Kansas State in November, has a chance to become a starter as a freshman.

Six underclassmen have left the Wildcats this year. Marcus Foster, Malek Harris and Tre Harris were each dismissed from the program. Jack Karapetyan, Nigel Johnson and Jevon Thomas all transferred.

Brown, a three-star recruit who averaged 22.9 points as a senior, is one of three guards from the 2015 class competing to replace Johnson and Thomas at the point.

Earlier this month, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber told a Kansas radio station that Brown could the surprise of this year's incoming class.

James picks Bradley: At the start of the season, Tarpon Springs forward Scottie James did not know if he would even get the opportunity to play for a Division I program.

After averaging 19.4 points and 13.8 rebounds per game and leading the Spongers to the state semifinals, James started to get significant interest. He had offers from Division I schools Bradley, Florida Gulf Coast and Wofford and had bigger programs, such as Kansas State, eyeing him the past few months.

James had waited long enough. Two weeks ago, he signed with Bradley during his official visit.

"It was tough because I was getting new schools that were following me every week," James said. "But I really liked Bradley. I was impressed with the coaching staff, and the engineering program. It just felt like the right place to be."

James said he most likely will be redshirted his first season.

Staying home: Despite averaging 23 points per game, reaching the 1,000-point plateau in his career and guiding his team to the playoffs the past three seasons, Seminole guard Marco Behori knew that his obstacle in playing at the collegiate level was his height.

Listed at 5 feet, 11 inches, Behori showed that tall isn't all when measuring potential recruits. Earlier this month, Behori signed with Eckerd, giving him a chance to continue playing locally.

Behori is the third Tampa Bay area player on the Tritons' roster, joining Keshawn Ingram (Steinbrenner) and Steven Pasquali (Clearwater Central Catholic).

Whirlwind for Banks: Darius Banks, who helped St. Petersburg reach the Class 8A state semifinals, will not have much time off this summer.

The rising junior, who is a three-star recruit, will be at the Nike Elite 100 camp June 11-14 and the LeBron James Skills Academy camp June 26-30. Banks also will attend the NBA development camp though the date still is to be determined.

In July, there will be more tournaments and showcase events during the evaluation period for high school prospects.

This past season, Banks averaged 19 points per game and led the Green Devils to their first state semifinal appearance since 2012.

Quick shots: Seffner Christian's Kent Hegarty signed with Division II Harding in Arkansas. He averaged a team-high 16.5 points and 6.4 rebounds and led the Crusaders to the Class 3A region semifinals. …Plant's Tyler Beale signed with Marymount University. The 6-10 center averaged 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds this past season.

Contact Bob Putnam at [email protected] Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.

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