Sunshine State Preseason Classic: Five takeaways

High School
Florida

Posted On: 11/26/18 5:24 PM

Over the weekend I was out at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale for the 2018 Sunshine State Preseason Classic. Saturday’s five final scores were:

Westminster Academy 68, The Rock School 65

North Broward Prep 66, Cardinal Gibbons 57

Victory Rock Prep 49, Chaminade-Madonna 43

University School 78, Stranahan 76 (OT)

Coral Springs Charter 59, American Heritage-Plantation 46

Here are the top five takeaways from the Sunshine State Preseason Classic: 

STRANAHAN IS FOR REAL

Stranahan High, out of Fort Lauderdale, is going to do some damage. The Dragons are coached by Terrence 

Williams (pictured below) and have made a major jump from last season.

Saturday, Class 6A Stranahan gave defending 5A state champion University School all it could handle, falling by two in overtime. Junior guard Brian Dugazon was sensational, pouring in a game-high 35 points and fellow junior Chayse Culpepper hit double-digits with 11. 

The 5-foot-9 Dugazon gave University School’s guards fits with his quick stops and starts … excellent ball-handler. He has an uncanny ability to drive to the basket and get shots off from every angle.

“He’s taken a leap,” coach Williams said of Dugazon. “His offseason work has been tremendous and it’s starting to show in his game. Hopefully he can continue to go with the schedule we have.”

Stranahan went 20-7 in 2017-18, winning its district over American Heritage-Plantation and advancing to the regional finals. The Dragons, who started four sophomores and a junior, would lose to eventual 6A state champ Leesburg in a contest to go to state.

Now, Dugazon, Culpepper, Dave Herard (2020, 6-2), Daquion Vickers (2020, 6-1), Inady Legiste (2020, 6-6) & Co. are back, a year older and a year wiser. Only Cyrus Nance did not return (transferred to Heritage).

“Last year was kind of a rush,” said Williams, in his second year. “This year we had a lot of time to implement plays and put things in perspective from an offensive and defensive standpoint.”

WESTMINSTER’S CORE ROCK SOLID

Seniors Sam Griffin, Chase Johnston and Anthony Atkinson provide two-time defending 4A state champion Westminster Academy with a strong core to make another run at Lakeland.

The 6-2 Griffin — who signed with Texas Arlington — drilled the game-winning 3-pointer with .7 seconds left Saturday to knock off The Rock School.  The Rock, out of Gainesville, had beaten University School, 92-81, Friday night.

Griffin finished with 26 points (four 3s). Johnston — a Purdue Fort Wayne signee — added 22 points (six 3s), while the 6-8 Atkinson had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds).

The Lions will need Atkinson to anchor the middle and be big on the boards. He is the younger brother of Yale’s Paul Atkinson. James Madison, Army and Navy are among the programs interested in Atkinson.

NEW FACES AT CHAMINADE

Chaminade-Madonna returns Georgia signee Toumani Camara (pictured below). But from there, there are a ton of new faces. 

Chaminade came up short against Victory Rock. The 6-7 Camara, who played with Team Knight on the travel circuit, finished with 13 points.

“I love where we stand,” said coach Andre Torres. “On our team right now we have 10 players that did not play varsity basketball last year.” 

“We did good,” Camara added. “… We just need to be more consistent every shot we take and make better decisions. It’s a new team.”

MITCHELL TURNING HEADS

Victory Rock Prep senior point guard Kolton Mitchell checks all of the boxes.

Mitchell popped in 20 points (two 3s) in the W over Chaminade-Madonna. But it is everything else the 6-4 standout does that turns heads. He has excellent handle, is a very good passer and was up high on the glass blocking shots. 

He says the coaches ask him to “control the pace.” Schools showing interest in Mitchell include Fresno State, New Mexico, Loyola Marymount, Western Kentucky and FAU. He took an unofficial visit to see the Owls Sunday.

“We’re 3-2,” Mitchell said. “Got off to a pretty slow start. But we’re starting to pick it up defensively and figuring things out offensively. We’re a young group.”

U-SCHOOL GUARDS WORK IN PROGRESS

University School lost to The Rock on Friday and had to go overtime to hold off Stranahan on Saturday.

But by no means would I write off the 2018 GEICO Nationals finalists and defending 5A state champs.

Preseason All-Americans Vernon Carey Jr. (2019, 6-10) and Scottie Barnes (2020, 6-8) will still be the focal point. The Sharks, however, lost several talented players around them, including Drue Drinnon, Trey Doomes and Josh Sanguinetti. Early on it will take time for the new pieces to get up to speed — mentally and physically.

Stranahan played some zone and tried to pack it in to slow Carey and Barnes. Other foes will adopt the strategy so the Sharks will have to be able to hit from the outside.

Junior newcomers Jace Howard and Roger McFarlane both had 12 points. Junior David Perez was held scoreless and freshman Jett Howard had 3 points.

Carey, who is down to choosing between Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina, led the Sharks with 24 points. Barnes had 15.

If you have high school basketball news, you can reach Pat Lammer via e-mail at PatALammer@Gmail.com or via text at 954-661-9671.