Ole Miss recently became the third Southeastern Conference school to enter the Phillip Ely sweepstakes, joining LSU and Vanderbilt with a scholarship offer to the Plant quarterback.
Ely, who has more than 20 offers, is sure to collect more in the coming weeks, when he participates in a series of showcases and high-profile seven-on-seven events. He and several Panthers teammates leave Wednesday for the third annual Nike "7 On" tournament in Oregon.
Plant, behind then-quarterback Aaron Murray, won the inaugural Nike event in 2008.
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TC wins summer league
Tampa Catholic held off a late Wharton rally for a 37-36 triumph in Thursday's title game of the Southeast Basketball Academy (SEBA) summer league tournament at Tampa Prep.
The league featured 22 teams from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. TC, 10-2 in league play, earned a berth in the championship with a quarterfinal victory against Gibbs and a semifinals win against Jesuit, which upset top-seeded and previously undefeated Tampa Prep in the quarterfinals.
Rising junior point guard Lashawn Harrison - who led the Crusaders in points (19.1 ppg), assists (4.4), rebounds (5.0) and steals (3.7) last season - led TC with 15 points in the final. Wharton, down by as many as nine in the fourth, failed to convert on four chances for the winning basket in the waning seconds.
"I'd put (Harrison) in the class of being really good. Not just pretty good, but really good," said Crusaders coach DonDziagwa, who missed the tournament while coaching a youth level AAU team at a national tournament in Memphis. "I told him, 'You've just got to be coach on the court,' and according to my assistant coaches that's what he was."
OWENS SHINES IN SHOOTOUT: If Xavier Owens' winter bears any resemblance to his summer, he'll be vying for county boys basketball player of the year honors.
Before leading Wharton to the finals of the SEBA summer league tournament, Owens, a 6-foot-4 rising senior, led all local players with 21 points in the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches' Futures Shootout held June 26 at Ocala Vanguard.
The all-star game, a showcase of the state's top rising juniors and seniors, also featured Wildcats teammate A.J. Astroth, Plant's Michael Frazier and Tampa Prep's Devontae Morgan and Quincy Mitchell. Owens scored nine of his points in the fourth quarter for the White, which earned a 100-82 overtime win against the Navy.
Morgan, a 6-3 incoming junior, added 12 points, five rebounds and an assist for the White. Frazier had 10 for the Navy, while Astroth had nine points and five boards.
In the Young Guns game, featuring rising freshmen and sophomores, Strawberry Crest incoming sophomore guard DevinDiggs tallied 13 points and three rebounds for the Navy in a 65-63 defeat. Classmate Josh Heath of Tampa Prep added 12.
7-ON-7 AT JEFFERSON: Eight local teams and one from Fort Myers will vie Wednesday at Jefferson High for a spot in this weekend's NFL 7-on-7 National Tournament, also to be hosted by the Dragons.
Wednesday's event, a region qualifier, starts at 9 a.m. Tampa Catholic, Alonso, Sickles, Gaither, Middleton and Steinbrenner are the local teams joining Jefferson in the field. The winner secures a spot in the two-day, 22-team national tournament starting Saturday.
Today, all region entrants participate in the NFL's High School Player Development Program, a 10-hour course focusing on skill and character development.
TC'S OWEN BOUND FOR ALABAMA CC: Tampa Catholic left-hander T.J. Owen, who racked up a team-high 49 strikeouts while helping guide the Crusaders to the Class 3A state tournament, will play next season at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia, Ala.
In 20 appearances last season, Owen went 4-1 with one save and a 3.50 ERA.