Posted On: 03/30/18 5:32 PM
It will be a matchup of the top two Florida squads on Saturday.
Undefeated Montverde (34-0) will battle University School (35-1) for the Geico National Title at New York Christ The King School.
Montverde held off a scrappy Utah Lone Peak on Thursday and then beat Nevada Findlay Prep 71-53 to advance on Friday. Senior Duke commit R.J. Barrett was the star for the Eagles in both games.
Senior forward Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga commit), senior guard Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech commit), senior guard Andrew Nembhard (Florida commit) and junior forward Balsa Koprivica round out the starting five. Alongside Barrett, the five starters are high-major Division I players.
The length and athleticness are both highly impressive for Montverde. The unit is very in-sync as Nembhard dishes with the best of them and Devoe and Barrett push the ball in-tempo. Petrusev is a superb outside shooter and Koprivica, a former University starter has settled in at Montverde after a mid-season transfer from Windermere Prep.
Friday’s leaders for Montverde: Barrett (22 points and 10 rebounds), Petrusev (21 points and seven rebounds), Devoe (11 points, four rebounds and three assists), Nembhard & Koprivica (8 points each).
University doesn’t have the overly impressive size that Montverde has, but junior forward Vernon Carey Jr. is a load inside at his 6’10” frame. Sophomore forward Scottie Barnes is getting better with each game as a shooter, attacker and passer. Then, there are senior guards Drue Drinnon (New Mexico commit) and Trey Doomes (West Virginia commit).
Also, senior guard Logan Alters is an x-factor if left open due to his 3-point shooting ability.
The Sharks offense runs through all four players, Carey Jr., Barnes, Drinnon and Doomes. All four are well-rounded ballhandlers who play well off of one another. University beat Arizona Shadow Mountain on Thursday and then took down powerhouse Virginia Oak Hill 80-65 on Friday.
Friday’s leaders for University: Carey Jr. (29 points and six rebounds), Barnes (22 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Doomes (17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists).
Montverde has so much size with Koprivica (7’1″) and Petrusev (6’11”) while University has one legitimate big in Carey Jr. (6’10”). Barnes will be tasked to have a monster game and at his 6’7″ frame, he is a versatile chess piece.
The guard play will be fun to watch with Nembhard and Devoe matching up against Doomes and Drinnon.
Obviously, I haven’t even listed Barrett, the most complete and determined player in the tournament.
University has come a long way with its efforts and ferocious defense, but I think Montverde simply has too much. The Sharks aren’t the best outside shooting team and Montverde is fresh off a performance where it shot 60 percent from beyond the arc.
This game should be close up until the fourth quarter when I see Montverde pulling away. The Eagles also have size and depth off the bench with Mekhel Mitchell, Karrington Davis, Kevin Chang and Trevin Wade.