Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay boys basketball teams

Hillsborough County Player of the Year

F Kevin Knox, Sr., Tampa Catholic

The bay area's premier prospect, Knox lived up to the hype throughout the season. He became Hillsborough County's all-time leading scorer with 2,691 career points, surpassing former Plant City standout Russell Evans. Knox's ultimate goal, though, was to lead the Crusaders to a state title. He came close, helping Tampa Catholic reach the Class 5A title game. His accomplishments were recognized throughout the state. Knox was the Hillsborough County player of the year by the Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association and the state player of the year by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches. The biggest honors came with his selection as a McDonald's All-American and Mr. Basketball, the Florida Dairy Farmers' state player of the year. Knox joins former Tampa Prep standout Casey Sanders as the only area players to accomplish both. "I've worked hard to make sure my goals become achievements. About the only one I wasn't able to get, at least this season, was win a state championship."

Final stats: Knox averaged 28.9 points and 11.3 points per game his senior season. It was his third straight season of averaging 20 or more.

Season highlight: In the Class 5A state semifinals, Knox tied a season high with 40 points and matched a career high with 20 rebounds in a victory over the Villages Charter.

What's next: After playing in the McDonald's All-American Game, the Nike Hoops Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic, Knox had considerable downtime. On Saturday night, he made his long-awaited college decision, choosing Kentucky over Duke, FSU, Missouri and North Carolina.

Did you know? The Knox legacy will continue. Younger brother Kobe was a freshman who played on varsity the last half of the season.

Pinellas Player of the Year

G Serrel Smith, Jr., St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg dealt with injuries throughout the season. Senior starters AJ Ford (Richmond) and Darius Banks (James Madison), who are both Division I-A bound, missed significant time. Smith was the one constant. The guard had to take over the bulk of the scoring duties while other starters were out. And Smith had to do it against tough competition. The Green Devils had made the state semifinals the previous two seasons and played a national schedule to prepare for another deep playoff run. Despite opponents zeroed in to stop Smith, the junior thrived. He led the team in scoring in just about every game. The bigger the stakes, the better he performed. Smith had 30 points against Plant City in the Class 8A region quarterfinals and 36 against Tampa Bay Tech in the region semifinals. That got St. Petersburg back to a familiar spot: the region final. The Green Devils fell short, losing to Lakewood Ranch to end their two-year state semifinal run. Smith, who ran into foul trouble early, still led all scorers with 19 points. "We had a lot of ups and downs, especially with the injuries. I had to carry the team on my back until our seniors got back. We still made it pretty far this season."

Final stats: Smith averaged 28 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Season highlight: At the ARS National Hoopfest, Smith scored 39 points in a loss to national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. "That was probably my most memorable moment just because of who we were playing. People thought it was a going to be a blowout, and I helped us stay in it."

What's next: Smith will play travel ball this summer. He has offers from Florida Gulf Coast, James Madison, Rhode Island and Wyoming. USF stopped by to watch him work out recently.

Did you know? Described as a hermit by family members, Smith started to socialize more once he started playing basketball. "Once people get to know me they find out I'm pretty laid back."

North Suncoast Player of the Year

G Kaine McColley, Sr., Nature Coast

Nature Coast has been a consistent playoff contender, making the postseason eight straight seasons. The Sharks wanted more. This season, Nature Coast went undefeated in the regular season for the first time and reached the region final after a one-year absence. McColley had a lot do with the Sharks' dominance. The 6-foot-6 guard created mismatches with his height and consistently came through in big moments. Against Mitchell, McColley hit two free throws in the final 2.9 seconds to complete a 14-point second-half rally in a 55-53 win. "It was crazy, just a roller-coaster ride the whole season. After the Christmas break, we were still undefeated and had a big target. Everyone wanted to beat us. You can see it on social media. It was tough, but you can't think about the pressure. If they're not trying to beat us, it's not going to make us better."

Final stats: McColley averaged a team-leading 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. It was the second straight season he averaged more than 15 points per game.

Season highlight: Nature Coast had its unbeaten streak end in the district final to rival Central. The teams met again in the Class 6A region semifinals. The Sharks got revenge, winning 70-48. McColley had a game-high 21 points. "That game was the most memorable because the stakes were the highest. It was supposed to be the biggest game in Hernando County history."

What's next: McColley will play for Clearwater Academy, a postgraduate school that will prepare him for college. He plans to stay for a year in hopes of landing a scholarship.

Did you know? McColley may seem quiet, but he says he is more outgoing than people think. "If you get to know me I'm not as reserved as people think. I actually have a personality."

Coach of the Year

Renaldo Garcia, Sickles: The long-time coach led the Gryphons to the Class 8A state title, ending a 35-year drought for Hillsborough County public schools.

First team

F Bryce Beamer, Sr., Sickles: Averaged 16.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in leading the Gryphons to the Class 8A state title.

G Tyrick Brascom, Jr., Tampa Bay Tech: A solid outside shooter, Brascom averaged 17.5 points and led the Titans to their first postseason win since 1999.

G David Pierce, Jr., Gibbs: The electrifying scorer averaged 23 points and led the Gladiators to a district title.

G Reid Walker, Sr., Seffner Christian: The team's leading scorer (15.3 points) helped the Crusaders advance to the state semifinals for the first time.

F Bryce Workman, Jr., Sickles: The Gryphons' big man averaged 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds, and was key during the team's state championship run.

Second team

G Marcus Cohen, Sr., Sickles

G Marquez Cooper, Sr., Anclote

G Stevie Darst, Sr., Jesuit

F Derek Webster, Sr., Seffner Christian

G CJ Williams, Jr., Countryside

Third team

F Andreas Fuller, Jr., Admiral Farragut

F Duncan Demuth, Jr., Seminole

G Amari Goulbourne, Sr., Tampa Prep

F Alec Sherman, Jr., Mitchell

G Tai Strickland, Jr., Tampa Catholic

Honorable mention

Calvary Christian: Paxton Wilson; Central: Caleb Johnson, Andrew Krienes; Clearwater Central Catholic: Andrew Cavanaugh; Hillsborough: Bryce Moragne; Hudson: Mark Calleja; Lakewood: Tyrese Hurst; Land O'Lakes: Trivone Hill; Largo: Zhahidi Robinson; Nature Coast: Jordan Baxter; Plant City: Tarik Mckelphin; Ridgewood: Ty Quiroz; St. Petersburg: Darius Banks, AJ Ford; Wiregrass Ranch: Devin Wilson; Zephyrhills: Aliza Quiles

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