Posted On: 02/26/18 7:00 PM
Post-season basketball in South Florida tends to extract marquee and memorable performances from under the radar prospects.
With the road to Lakeland well under way, several expected and unexpected players have ramped up their quality of play.
Here’s a look at a few of the many top performers in the local Palm Beach County area and beyond this post-season.
Dion Fernander, Jupiter Christian
A multi-sport athlete and two-way threat on the court, Fernander scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards in helping spearhead Jupiter Christian to a 64-56 victory over Village Academy in the 7-3 District Title. A Class of 2018 combination guard, Fernander provides on-ball defensive toughness. Offensively, he can barrel to the rim and dissect a defense. He’s displayed adequate 3-point shooting as well, knocking down timely shots throughout the stretch run.
Carlson Steel, Benjamin High
One of the area’s lesser acclaimed recruits, Steel provided the spark which propelled Benjamin’s vaunted perimeter game during a recent post-season loss to Westminster. Providing an efficient account of himself on a massive stage, Steel scorched the nets to to tune of 18 points on six 3-pointers. On an undersized team that can spread out defenders on the perimeter but also score inside, Steel was indicative of the firepower stemming from the program’s handful of shooters.
Ben Lubarsky, Benjamin
At 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds, Lubarsky has the physical attributes necessary to make a struggle free transition to the rigors of the NCAA level. Beyond his high-level shooting aptitude and ability to carve his way into the lane and finish, the Class of 2019 guard/forward has the ability to constantly rack up double digits in boards. His handle has progressed, an aspect that’s catapulted him to the point forward position multiple times this season. He’s instrumental in engineering Benjamin’s high-low attack. A big, physical defender, Lubarsky knows how to utilize his size and tool-set on defenders and read the opponent.
Zach Scott, Westminster Academy
It has certainly been a season rife with deja vu for Westminster coach Ehren Wallhoff. The coach witnessed his star player and FGCU-bound guard, Zach Scott, surpass him as the program’s all time leading scorer. Wallhoff also seems to be living the same moments over and over again once the fourth quarter comes around. It’s Groundhog Day for Wallhoff as Westminster gets into a rut and falls behind, only to have Scott help them recover and score during pressure spiked moments to regain the lead. When Westminster undergoes a scoring drought or spurts of stagnant play, more of the same again resurfaces. Scott turns in dazzling plays under pressure, rattles off points in a hurry, and re-charges them. When the pressure is cranked up, Westminster has a tendency to rely on Scott and sharpshooting Class of 2019 guard (an FGCU target himself) Chase Johnston.
Both players have the wealth of experience and skill set (Johnston played significant varsity minutes as an eighth grader, started since his freshman year) to take game-changing matters into their own hands. Next stop is Lakeland.
Abdou N’Diaye, The Nations Prep (pictured above)
At 6-foot-9 and possessing prodigious leaping ability, N’Diaye has the skill-set and make up of a surefire high major player. A menacing shot blocker and natural rim protector, N’Diaye is widely regarded as one of the country’s most advanced defensive players. He’s multi-positional on both sides of the ball, bolstered by length and all around shooting ability. These attributes, coupled with more polish in the post, has enabled the transfer via The Masters School (N.Y.) to emerge into one of the state’s best kept secrets.
Idrissa Bivens, The Nations Prep
The 6-foot-3 guard has shown consistency as a knockdown threat and has a knack for creating space to get his shot off. The Class of 2019 guard has the appearance of a surefire peg for the team’s future. He displayed promise against IMG’s post grad team, going at 2018 NBA draft prospect Anfernee Simons and showing unbridled toughness throughout. Bivens makes timely passes and avoids bad habits such as overdribbling, a pattern which many at this level fall into.
Sam Griffin, Westminster Academy
When flanked by high-caliber Division-I talent such as the aforementioned Zach Scott, Chase Johnston, as well as uber athletic high major prospect Dudley Blackwell, it’s easy to get overlooked. Griffin, a well-built point guard who already has an offer on the table from Northern Arizona, erupted with a 22-point performance during the Montverde Invitational last month. Griffin wound up following this performance up with another stellar one, showcasing a prominent catch-and-stick game and adeptness as a game manager. Griffin’s sharpshooting performance, on a stage that included highly touted prospects such as RJ Barrett (Duke), Andrew Nembhard (Florida), Micheal Devoe (Georgia Tech), and highly lauded 7-foot-1 Balsa Koprivica, should certainly put more eyes on the Division-I prospect and Class of 2019 guard.
Eddie Davis, TLAP Sports Academy
The 6-foot-6 guard/forward has been a sleeper all year, buoyed by wealth of scoring tools on all three levels. With a rarified skill set, he’s shown an innate ability to break down a defense with an array of manipulative one on one moves. He’s also been a reliable slasher, getting to the rim and embracing the contact and finishing over taller rim protectors in the trenches. Washington State appears to be interested in the under the radar recruit.
Rodwens Albert, Atlantic
The crafty 6-foot guard recently joined an elite group by reaching the 1,000-point milestone. The Class of 2018 guard has evolved into more of a go-to option this season, operating the offense and initiating as the quarterback. During the six-week period that RJ Duhart was suspended, Albert really spearheaded the team and guided them during pressure-hiked moments. He’s also made considerable strides in becoming a better defender. Atlantic’s coaching staff continues to hold him to a high standard in that category. While nearby Barry University has expressed interest in the seasoned senior guard out of Delray Beach, Albert could potentially pursue the prep route to garner more exposure/opportunities with a post-graduate season.