Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Players on the brink of a breakthrough

More than likely, you've seen at least one of them this summer without realizing it. They're all around, really, from seven-on-seven to summer leagues to soccer camps: fledgling prep stars poised to burst from their cocoon of obscurity. These are the athletes who will break through in the 2010-11 school year. They arrive annually, as sure as heavy storms hail from the Caribbean. Think about it: Who really knew about Plant City's Jordan Prestwood or Berkeley Prep's Nelson Agholor before last fall? And who will follow with breakthrough years of their own in the coming months? Here are a few who may not sound familiar now, but we suspect soon will:

Charlotte Hill, libero, Plant (volleyball)

Hill steps in to replace the most important position on the court for the four-time defending state champs. The 5-foot-6 senior has been on the varsity since she was a sophomore, but played behind Under Armour second-team All-American Ali McCurdy. With McCurdy, who averaged 6.3 digs, now at Duke, this is Hill's chance to play a key role for the Panthers. "She's learned from watching Ali all these years," Plant coach Leanna Taylor said. "She's going to be important because of the position she plays."

Xavier Owens, F, Wharton (boys basketball)

A 6-foot-4 rising senior, Owens has been nothing short of dominant this summer. Before helping guide the Wildcats to the finals of the 22-team SEBA summer league tournament, he led all local players with 21 points in a junior-senior state all-star game at Ocala Vanguard. With complementary players such as rangy swingman A.J. Astroth and point guard C.J. McGill, Owens could flourish for a team projected to contend for a state tournament berth.

Scott Greacen, WR, Plant (football)

Someone has to catch Phillip Ely's passes, right? We like this cerebral senior who knows the intricacies of Plant's offense as well as Ely. In the spring jamboree against Jefferson, Greacen had three catches (for 37 yards) on Plant's first 11 plays, and reminded us a little of ex-Panther great Derek Winter with his soft hands and ability to find a seam in the secondary. "He's leaps and bounds coming on," coach Robert Weiner said. "He has become one of our really, really, really reliable players."

Travis Johnson, WR, Jesuit (football)

Barring injury or other unforeseen catastrophe, this 6-foot-4, 200-pound rising sophomore will evolve into Jesuit's next football legend. The fleetness and physical upside are there, as are the hands. Last season, Johnson was among four Tigers with at least 23 catches. We suspect new offensive coordinator Chris Taylor will find creative methods of getting Johnson the ball even more often in the fall. As for the winter? Well, Johnson's just as promising in basketball.

Mackenzie Audas, P, Plant City (softball)

This rising Raiders senior is coming off a splendid season (13-6, 1.05 ERA, 228 strikeouts). So why is she on this list? She pitched in the shadow of East Bay all-galaxy ace Kayla Cox. With Cox gone, Audas, who has committed to the University of Central Florida, could emerge as the county's top pitcher in 2011. What's more, virtually the entire Raiders lineup returns to support her.

Adrian Jenkins, WR, Jefferson/Aaron Jenkins, WR, Jefferson (football)

There's no shortage of wideout talent at Jefferson, especially with receivers Andre Davis and Chris Moore emerging as the bay area's top receiving recruits. But Dragons offensive coordinator Jeremy Earle said the Jenkins brothers "will be the next great wideouts to come out of here." They combined for only 12 catches last year, but look for Adrian and Aaron — 6-3 junior and 6-4 sophomore, respectively — to play a bigger role in Jefferson's air attack. Aaron might be the backup quarterback, too.

Michael Bajza, MF, Sickles (boys soccer)

As a freshman last winter, Bajza was the wunderkind on a Gryphons team loaded with veterans. He ranked second on the team in goals (12) and points (34) despite missing the final two playoff games while competing in Costa Rica with the U.S. Soccer Olympic Development Program. With him, Sickles just might have snuck into the state tournament.

Spencer Trayner, P/SS, Jesuit (baseball)

With the Tigers losing their top two starters — Daniel Gibson and Willi Martin — Trayner is suddenly Jesuit's most experienced starter. He was 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA in 10 appearances as a freshman last season. "He doesn't pitch like a 15-year-old," pitching coach Geoff Goetz said. Even though the Tigers' staff will be young this season, Jesuit will have at least six arms — headlined by junior phenom closer Lance McCullers — who will throw in the mid-to-high 80s.

Players on the brink of a breakthrough 07/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …