There were few things Boca Ciega senior David Ross couldn't do this season. And even fewer things opponents could do to stop him.
The 6-foot-7 Ross could play the point or the post, shoot three-pointers to keep the Pirates in close games and rebound with the best in Pinellas County.
He was a thinker, a leader, a passer, and most conspicuously, a shooter. He could be counted on for 23 points a game _ in addition to his eight rebounds and four assists _ and shot an amazing 47 percent from the three-point arc.
Ross' versatility and consistency earned him a spot on the Class 5A all-state first team, and was the key reason Boca Ciega advanced as far as the regional quarterfinal this season. Not only did Ross make something happen nearly every time he stepped onto the court, his leadership inspired his teammates to play better.
For his efforts, he is the Times All-Suncoast Boys Player of the Year.
"Even when he had a bad game," Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said, "he was still pretty good. He was just so consistent with everything that he did."
Ross, one of the most recruited players in the state during the past two seasons _ thanks in part to an appearance in the AAU nationals over the summer _ signed with Southeastern Conference power South Carolina in the preseason. Before he heads to Columbia, his next stop will be the national Coca-Cola Classic all-star game in South Bend, Ind.
Ross was not a unanimous choice. Robinson's Desmond Allison was arguably the best player on the Suncoast, but missed out on player of the year because he sat out 12 games during a six-week suspension.
Allison, a 6-5 junior guard/forward, had eye-popping numbers: He averaged 36.3 points, 12 rebounds and 9.8 assists a game. And his raw ability is considerable. Division I schools are clamoring for his attention, and he has been invited to attend the elite Nike basketball camp this summer.
But in mid-December he was ejected from his second high school game of the school year and thus, under Florida High School Activities Association rules, was forced to sit out six weeks. He was ejected from a football game in October after throwing a punch, and then was issued consecutive technicals for unsportsmanlike conduct in the December basketball game, resulting in another ejection.
Allison has had his share of post-season honors. He was the Tampa Bay Boys Basketball Coaches Association player of the year and was named to the Class 4A all-state first team.
Joining Ross and Allison on the All-Suncoast first team are Gaither senior forward Clint Moore, a 6A all-state first-team selection; Leto junior forward Ricky McConnell, who averaged 27 points a game and is drawing plenty of attention from college scouts; Tampa Prep senior forward Sean McClain, the Terrapins' all-time leading scorer; and Tampa Bay Tech senior center Antoine Broxsie, who improved considerably this season to average 17 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocked shots a game.
Meanwhile, Gary Anders of Ridgewood is the All-Suncoast Coach of the Year. Anders took a diverse group of players and molded them into a team that finished 28-5 and reached the regional final, one game away from the 5A Final Four.