Boys basketball players to watch in Tampa Bay

Get to know these shoe aficionados, budding chefs and future music producers.
Tampa Bay Tech's Gavin Antoine, No. 10, and David Cexil, right, will help lead the Titans into the 2018-19 season. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Tampa Bay Tech's Gavin Antoine, No. 10, and David Cexil, right, will help lead the Titans into the 2018-19 season. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published December 6 2018

Gavin Antoine, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech

Height/position: 6-5, F

Last season: Averaged 4.6 points and 6.0 rebounds

Three things to know

1. Antoine wants to be a graphic designer. He got into it by playing video games, and his interest continued when he took a shop class at Tampa Bay Tech. He is now enrolled in the Commercial Arts Academy at the school.

2. He loves music and said it helps him get ready for anything he does, not just basketball. He listens mostly to hip-hop. His favorite artist is Playboi Carti.

3. When the Titans need to get pumped, they turn to Antoine. "If my whole team looks sluggish, I'll try to hype everyone up everyone around me to bring energy towards the whole team."

RELATED: Boys basketball power rankings

Chase Barrs, Sr., Berkeley Prep

Height/position: 6-9, F

Last season: Averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocked shots

Three things to know

1. Barrs started playing basketball when he was 3 at a YMCA. He also played in pickup games at Blake for his father, Calvin, who coached the Yellow Jackets for 11 seasons.

2. Because Barrs keeps growing (he is projected to be 6-11), it is hard to shop for pants. He wears a 36 inseam. Usually, he shops for pants online and get them tailored to adjust the length.

3. Barrs has committed to Western Michigan. He picked the Broncos over offers from eight others schools, including James Madison, Western Carolina and Wofford.

Dionte Blanch, Jr., East Lake

Height/position: 6-3, G

Last season: Averaged 18.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4 assists

Three things to know

1. Blanch says he cannot be beat at NBA 2K. His plays with the Milwaukee Bucks, in part because his favorite player is Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak. Blanch even tries to emulate Antetokounmpo's moves on the court, such as the Euro-step and the behind-the-back wrap.

2. Sports runs in the family. Blanch has four brothers. His two oldest brothers, Kenny and Tupac, both played football. But Dionte gave up the sport last year to concentrate on basketball.

3. This offseason, Dionte contemplated leaving East Lake to go to Superior Collegiate. He said he stayed at East Lake because it was a better academic fit for him.

Alonso forward Sager Cavalier drives the floor against Sarasota Riverview during last season’s Class 9A, District 6 final. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

Sager Cavalier, Sr., Alonso

Height/position: 6-4, F

Last season: Averaged 19.8 points and 5.4 rebounds

Know this: Cavalier's production in the paint helped the Ravens win a district title last season. He is continuing to be a force around the basket this season, averaging 19 points per game.

Jack Cooper, Sr., Jesuit

Height/position: 6-6, F

Last season: Averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds

Know this: The Tigers have plenty of sharpshooters, but Cooper gives them the inside presence they need. He has reached double figures in scoring in each of his last three games, including a season-high 24 in a win over Admiral Farragut on Wednesday.

Christian DeLeon, Sr., Hillsborough

Height/position: 5-10, G

Last season: Averaged 11.9 points and 3.9 assists per game.

Know this: The quarterback of the Terriers' offense, DeLeon is trying to help the program make a return trip to the state semifinals. He could put up big numbers this season. In the opener, DeLeon scored a team-high 21 in a win over Robinson.

Tre Gilliam, Sr., Gibbs

Height/position: 6-0, G

Last season: Averaged 24.9 points and 3.2 assists

Three things to know

1. Gilliam is a music producer who has made a few beats for local rappers such as Quando Rondo, Project Youngin and Foolio for a little more than a year.

2. He started trying to solve the Rubik's Cube after watching rapper Logic do it while freestyling on stage. Gilliam can solve one in less than a minute.

3. His given name is Frank Gilliam. It is the same as his younger brother, father and grandfather.

Robert Gomez, Sr., Nature Coast

Height/position: 6-4, G

Last season: Averaged 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists

Three things to know

1. Gomez said he is consumed with winning. "There's always a way in my head. I will be the water boy, the ball boy, anything to win. If I have to score, pass, break the trap, get the assist, create, I will do it for my team to get a win."

2. In his spare time, Gomez helps the Sharks coaching staff runs camps and league to teach kids how to play the game.

3. The biggest goals Gomez has are to play basketball in college so he can have four years of free education, study physical therapy and eventually play overseas.

Darrin Green Jr., Sr., Wharton

Height/position: 6-5, G

Last season: Averaged more than 20 points

Know this: A first team all-Tampa Bay selection last season, Green was the go-to player for the Wildcats, leading his team to a district title and the region semifinals. The UCF commit already is off to a strong start, averaging more than 20 points per game.

Jakob Hester, Jr., Anclote

Height/position: 6-6, F

Last season: Averaged 21.7 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks

Know this: The reigning Sunshine Athletic Conference player of the year is a dominant post player who uses his size to his advantage. He is a big reason the Sharks are a legitimate playoff contender this season.

Elijah Howell, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch

Height/position: 6-0, G

Last season: Averaged 12.2 points and 3.1 rebounds

Know this: Howell's experience running the offense is needed, especially playing Class 8A, District 8, which includes Freedom, Plant, Sickles and Wharton.

Justyn King, Sr., Plant City

Height/position: 6-7, F

Last season: Averaged 13.1 points and eight rebounds per game.

Three things to know

1. King says he is naturally  funny. "I'm a type of funny person who doesn't tell jokes. It's just the things I say that make people laugh. It's not planned. I just say stuff that comes to mind."

2. Eventually, King wants to become a coach. He already has gotten a head start by helping Raiders coach Billy Teeden conduct camps in the offseason. King helps children learn how to dribble, among other skills. He said his biggest success story was teaching a child to post up, then watching the kid use the move in a game.

3. King has already signed with Bethune Cookman. "They showed me love since Day 1 and came to every single one of my AAU games in the summer. There was not one game they missed. And the guys there are like family. Once I stepped foot on campus I knew I was home."

Tampa Catholic guard Kobe Knox (4) moves the ball up the court during a state playoff game against University last season. (Times file)

Kobe Knox, Jr., Tampa Catholic

Height/position: 6-4, G

Last season: Averaged 13.9 points and 2.7 assists

Three things to know

1. Knox said he loves to work out. His routine usually includes finishing dribble moves, shooting on the gun machine and working on ball handling.

2. His favorite hobby is playing NBA 2K. Usually, he plays against his older brother, Kevin, the former Crusader standout who is now in his rookie season with the New York Knicks. Kobe plays with the Lakers because his favorite player is LeBron James.

3. Kobe stays mostly low-key at school, displaying the same personality as his older brother. "I just like to chill and not try to get in any trouble."

Dakota Moore, Sr., Boca Ciega

Height/position: 6-1, G

Last season: Averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 assists and 2 rebounds

Three things to know

1. Moore owns more than 200 pairs of shoes. He sold a few on eBay, but the rest of the collection is stored in his closet or displayed in his room. The most expensive pair were Gucci shoes that cost $600.

2. Moore wants to become a sports broadcaster. His interest in the profession started when he provided commentary during pickup games, even while he was on the court. "I'll say something about someone, and they may get mad or just laugh. It depends. But after I say something it can be pretty strange because I'll be waiting for their reaction."

3. One of Moore's favorite pastimes is crunching numbers. It started with Moore trying to figure stats for his older brother, Dallas, a former standout with the Pirates who is playing professionally in Europe.

Logan Morrissey, Sr., Plant

Height/position: 6-3, G

Last season: Averaged 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds

Know this: The Air Force signee is a sharpshooter who is taking on an even bigger role for the Panthers this season. He has already displayed his playmaking ability with 32 points in a season-opening loss to Wharton and 29 in a win over Wiregrass Ranch.

Nirobi Peeler, Sr., Clearwater

Height/position: 6-0, G

Last season: Averaged 14.7 points and 2.1 rebounds

Three things to know

1. Peeler works out four hours a day. It is mostly basketball related with drills on shooting and passing. "Pretty much every aspect of my game," he said. Sometimes, Peeler lifts weights and does conditioning.

2. The most points Peeler scored in a game was 44 in an AAU tournament when he was a sophomore.

3. When Peeler was 3, he watched the original Halloween movie for the first time. It quickly became his favorite and started his love of horror movies.

Mekhi Perry, Jr., Land O’Lakes

Height/position: 6-0, G

Last season: Averaged 17 points, 4.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds

Know this: A first-team all-Pasco County selection, Perry directs an efficient Gators offense. He has helped Land O'Lakes get off to a 2-0 start and had 20 points in a win over Springstead last week.

Jaren Phillips, Sr., Tampa Prep

Height/position: 6-5, G

Last season: Averaged 13.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists

Three things to know

1. Phillips started out as a football player. He was a quarterback and free safety in youth leagues. Once Phillips entered high school, he gave the sport up to concentrate on basketball.

2. He enjoys watching movies with his family. His favorite is Love & Basketball.

3. Food is something Phillips also enjoys. "I can eat all day," he said. He craves barbecue the most, but said he could also go for a good steak.

Isaiah Ramsey, Jr., Wesley Chapel

Height/position: 6-3, G

Last season: Averaged 18.7 points and 4.9 rebounds

Three things to know

1. Ramsey comes from a big family. He has eight nephews, three brothers and two sisters. Only two played basketball, an older brother and a nephew.

2. One of Ramsey's greatest attributes is his admiration for his teammates. "We're always working hard for each other and always have each other back on and off the court."

3. At first, Ramsey said he has no other hobbies besides basketball. After some nudging, he said he likes to play Madden and NBA 2K video games. His favorite teams are the Houston Rockets and the Seattle Seahawks.

Jamille Reynolds, Jr., Lakewood

Height/position: 6-10, C

Last season: Averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds

Know this: One of the area's best post players, Reynolds is coming back from a strained patellar tendon in his knee that sidelined him the second half of last season. He had an impressive summer once he returned from his injury and has offers from Florida, James Madison, Louisiana Tech, Miami, Oklahoma State and UCF among others.

Emanuel Sharp, Fr., Blake

Height/position: 6-3, G

Last season: N/A

Know this: The son of former USF standout and Yellow Jackets coach Derrick Sharp is the area's top newcomer. Emanuel has had an impressive debut, scoring 38 points in the season opener and averaging 32.7 through the first three games. By piling up the points, Emanuel has helped Blake get off to a 2-1 start, one less win than the Yellow Jackets had all of last season.

Terell Strickland, Sr., St. Petersburg

Height/position: 5-9, G

Last season: Averaged 11 points and 2 assists

Three things to know

1. Basketball is in his blood. His father, Rod, is a former NBA standout and his older brother, Tai, played at Tampa Catholic and with the Green Devils and is now a freshman at Wisconsin. Terell said he started playing as soon as he could walk in recreational leagues with baby rims in Maryland.

2. Terell learned how to cook by the time he was 6. His favorite dish is pork chops with yellow rice and broccoli.

3. Terrel owns more than 60 shoes. He stores them on a shelf on his bedroom wall or in his closet.

Sincere Torain, Sr., Springstead

Height/position: 6-1, G

Last season: Averaged 15.2 points and 3.2 rebounds

Know this: A prolific scorer, Torain reached double figures in all but three games last season. His production has increased with an average of 18.5 points through four games. In last week's loss to Land O'Lakes, Torain had a season-high 29.

Jalen White, Sr., Lakewood

Height/position: 6-5, F

Last season: Averaged 15 points

Know this: The son of former Boca Ciega All-American David White was playing well last season before missing the second half with a broken wrist. Jalen is stronger, more focused and injury-free, Spartans coach Anthony Lawrence said.

Carrollwood Day guard Malcolm Whitlow led the Patriots with a school-record 47 points last season in a 78-60 victory over Durant. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

Malcolm Whitlow, Sr., Carrollwood Day

Height/position: 6-1, G

Last season: Averaged 31.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists

Two things to know

1. Whitlow has five older brothers. His oldest lives in Nebraska. The four younger ones live here. Three of his brothers play basketball, including Amon, an eighth-grader who is on the varsity roster this season.

2. While most high school students brag about their ability to play Fortnite, Whitlow readily admits he is terrible at the video game. "I've never won a game of Fortnite," he said jokingly.