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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam is a fourth-generation Floridian who was born in St. Petersburg and graduated from Dixie Hollins High School (Class of '91). He went to St. Petersburg College (1991-93) and USF (1993-95) before working at the Times as a staff writer in 1996.

Phone: (727) 445-4169

Email: putnam@tampabay.com

  1. Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox decides to stick to one sport


    By Bob Putnam and Kelly Parsons

    Times Staff Writer

    For as long as Kevin Knox can remember, he has divided his time between football and basketball.

    But after a fast ascent in basketball, Knox has decided to give up playing on the gridiron. He made the decision after talking with the Crusaders football coaching staff following Tuesday's practice.

    "Kevin understands that basketball is where he needs to be," coach Mike Gregory said. "I wish him the best of luck. He's a terrific kid."...

    Kevin Knox, a Tampa Catholic basketball player who recently helped his  USA 16U team win gold in an international tournament.
  2. Gibbs nabs summer basketball title


    Gibbs opened play in the TASCO boys basketball league two months ago with a 10-point loss to St. Petersburg. Since then, the Gladiators went undefeated, setting up a rematch with the Green Devils in Monday’s championship game at Fossil Park.
    This time, Gibbs applied the pressure and rallied from an early deficit to win 40-32.
    “We played (St. Petersburg) the first game in the summer after two days of practice,” Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said. “I told our guys afterward I would like to see us play them again at the end of the summer. That was kind of our game plan from June 11 to now to see how much improvement we’ve made.
    “For us, this was sort of a validation of the summer to show what we’ve done since June.”
    It was fitting that the neighboring rivals squared off in the championship game. After all, Gibbs and St. Petersburg each advanced to the state semifinals in their respective classifications last season and were meeting in the final of the TASCO league for the second time in the past three years.
    The Gladiators had some rebuilding to do after losing two Division I players – Barry Brown (Kansas State) and Sajon Ford (Northeastern). Because of that, Murphy went light on next season’s schedule to help a young team gain more confidence early on.
    But after a strong showing in the summer, culminating with Monday’s win, the Gladiators still have high expectations. In typical Gibbs fashion, the defensive pressure was the catalyst in turning a 17-15 halftime deficit into a resounding win.
    “Marquez Walls played well, Jerard Williams hit some big shots and David Pierce was solid throughout,” Murphy said. “DJ Johnson came on in the second half. He had some foul trouble early but the second half he helped us control the game.
    “We’re young, but we’re going to be in the thick of things next season. I think we have a shot to win the district and make another run to be honest.”...

    Gibbs players after defeating St. Petersburg for the TASCO championship.
  3. Pinellas Park boys basketball coach Nick Miller steps down


    Pinellas Park boys basketball coach Nick Miller stepped down after two seasons to pursue a better opportunity in private business.

    "The decision basically was about money," Miller said. "I've been working outside the school system, and it was going to be hard to devote the time I needed to the program. I just had an opportunity that will work best for my family."

    Miller, a former assistant at Clearwater, led the Patriots to their first district title and first region semifinal appearance since 2008 this past season. He had been working toward getting certified as a full-time teacher....

  4. Day 1 a wash for many area football teams


    After three weeks of heavy rain, area football players and coaches were hoping for some kind of refuge for the start of fall practice on Monday.

    But the monsoons continued and flood warnings were issued for parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties that lasted until 4:30 p.m. Because of the conditions, most practices were washed out.

    “We had to (cancel),” Anclote coach Matt Wicks said. “There’s lots of flooding. I just didn’t want to risk it.”...

  5. East Lake's Jake Hansen commits to Iowa State


    East Lake linebacker Jake Hansen put an end to his recruiting process by committing to Iowa State over the weekend.

    "I felt comfortable there and the coaching staff was very down to earth," Hansen said of Iowa State. "They have great facilities as well as a nice college town."

    Hansen, a two-star prospect according to 247Sports, made his decision Saturday, two days before the start of fall practice. He took an unofficial visit to Iowa State on June 20. He also visited Army, Northwestern, Utah and Wake Forest this offseason....

  6. Ex-Gibbs star Trayvon Bromell chases Olympic dream


    Trayvon Bromell honed his appreciation of track and field by watching endless YouTube videos of the greatest American sprinters. The former Gibbs High standout studied the blistering starts of Tyson Gay, the perfect form of Justin Gatlin and the cocksure attitude of Michael Johnson. "I've always been a fan of the sport and have studied the style of all the successful runners," Bromell said. "I've been doing it my whole life, as a matter of fact." By emulating the best traits of his idols, Bromell has solidified himself as the premier up-and-coming 100-meter runner in the nation, if not the world, with the start of the 2016 Olympics a year from Wednesday. The proof is in the times Bromell has posted, from the high school record 9.99 seconds he clocked at the Great Southwest Classic in 2013 to the 9.84 he ran at the U.S. championships this year. But of all the numbers Bromell has recorded, perhaps the one that sticks out the most is his age. He is 20 years old....

    Trayvon Bromell was second in the 100 at this year’s U.S. championships.
  7. Late transfers remake high school football rosters in Hernando and Pasco


    High school football programs in Hernando and Pasco counties are just now starting to catch their breath after a frenzied summer of transfers, particularly among offensive skill players.

    The latest notable transfer came last week when Anclote running back/safety Demetrius Barry transferred to Springstead. Barry said the move was made because his mother now lives in Springstead's zone.

    "It was tough to leave," Barry said. "It'll be an adjustment, but I'm just going with the flow."...

    Demetrius Barry of Anclote High School, left, reaches for Daniel Davis of Tarpon Springs High during a preseason game last August. Barry recently transferred to Springstead.
  8. Coach Bob Hudson changes mind, stays at East Lake


    East Lake's Bob Hudson, who walked away as football coach two weeks ago, had a change of heart and returned to the program Monday, athletic coordinator Tim O'Keefe said.

    Hudson initially announced his resignation July 6 to take another job outside of the teaching and coaching profession. But he never signed any resignation papers.

    "I found out I would still be able to coach and accomplish things that I needed to take care of," Hudson said....

    East Lake coach Bob Hudson had stepped down earlier this month but had a change of heart. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD
 | Times
  9. Plant QB Rex Culpepper tears ACL


    TAMPA —Plant High quarterback Rex Culpepper tore his right ACL on Saturday at USF's Sling N Shoot 7-on-7 tournament and is out for the season, Panthers coach Robert Weiner confirmed.

    "Incredibly devastating," Weiner said. "(Rex) is the most amazing kid and one of the hardest workers I have ever met. He does not deserve this."

    Culpepper will have surgery within the next 10 days, Weiner said. The injury is a major blow for the Panthers, who have state title aspirations....

    Plant QB Rex Culpepper during practice at Plant High School on Monday, May 15, 2015.
  10. East Lake football coach Bob Hudson steps down


    East Lake football coach Bob Hudson, who led the program to the state semifinals the past two seasons, said he has stepped down after 12 seasons to pursue a career opportunity outside of the teaching and coaching worlds.

    "It was a tough decision, but now was the time to do it," Hudson said. "It just came down to something that will be better to help my family."

    Hudson told the players about the decision Monday. He went 91-48 during his tenure, which is currently the third-longest in Pinellas County. He led the Eagles to the playoffs eight times, including four straight region final appearances and two straight trips to the state semifinals. The Eagles also own a 25-game regular-season win streak....

    Bob Hudson was 91-48 in 12 years at East Lake including eight playoff appearances.
  11. Veteran QB gives Countryside edge


    Countryside already has an edge over the four other teams in the newly formed Class 7A, District 10 at one of the most important positions: quarterback.

    The Cougars' Trent Chmelik, a senior, is the only quarterback in the district who is returning as a starter after St. Petersburg's Austyn Causey transferred to Admiral Farragut. Last year, Chmelik set the school record with 1,801 yards passing....

    “Having Trent back is huge for us,” Countryside coach Eric Schmitz said of Trent Chmelik. “… As far as teaching, we’re already ahead in a lot of ways.”
  12. Gaither's Samson Moore named Gatorade's state track athlete of year


    Samson Moore was named the state's Gatorade track and field male athlete of the year on Friday.

    Moore, who recently graduated from Gaither, is the first male athlete from the Tampa Bay area to win the award since former Gibbs standout Trayvon Bromell (now at Baylor) in 2013 and the first from Hillsborough County since former Jesuit distance runner Andy Biladeau in 2005.

    Moore, also the Tampa Bay Times' track athlete of the year for Hillsborough County, is eligible for Gatorade's national award, which will be announced this month....

    Samson Moore’s seasonlong domination of the 300-meter hurdles led to a Class 3A title and Gatorade’s top state award.
  13. Michael Frazier, Matt Ramker hope player-agent bond pays off at NBA draft


    Michael Frazier was well aware of what most were thinking. • When he announced in March that he would forgo his senior season at Florida and enter the NBA draft, he was barely on the NBA radar. You couldn't find his name on any mock drafts. NBA and college draft analysts questioned the wisdom of the decision. • Frazier was coming off a season in which he sustained a severely sprained ankle Feb. 7, missed seven games and played sparingly — and in pain — the final three games of the season. UF won just 16 games and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. • The Tampa native knew the general perception was there was no way he would get drafted. • "I knew what people were saying, but it didn't really matter to me," he said. "I knew that if I could get the opportunity to show what I could do, I would make the most of it. … My concern was just getting into the combine, just getting an opportunity to get into the combine. I knew that if I could just get into that, everything else would take care of itself."...

    Tampa’s Michael Frazier, left, and Boca Ciega High graduate Kenny Smith both aim to be taken in Thursday’s NBA draft.
  14. Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox makes mark internationally


    Last week, Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox went to Argentina, his first trip to a foreign country. He visited the beaches in Buenos Aires before heading to Bahia Blanca to tour the Land Plaza Hotel, which is owned by San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili.

    Mostly, though, Knox played basketball. After all, it was the reason for the trip.

    Knox, a junior, was one of 12 players selected for USA Basketball's under-16 national team, which played for the FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina. Knox played a pivotal role, averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in five games — all wins — to help the Americans win the title. They beat Canada 77-60 in the final....

    Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox  recently helped his USA 16U team win gold in an international tournament. Photo courtesy of Kevin Knox
  15. Tampa Bay Times' all-county softball teams



    Player of the Year: Logyn Lilley, Sr., Palm Harbor University

    Pitcher of the Year: Kama Woodall, So., Canterbury

    Coach of the Year: Jerry King, Osceola

    First team

    P Aubrey Ehlers, Sr., Dunedin

    P Corynn Miner, Jr., Admiral Farragut

    P Stella Preston, Jr., Countryside

    P Riley Randolph, Sr., Northeast

    C Danielle Romanello, So., Canterbury...