Posted On: 03/2/20 3:35 PM
Over the course of this season, I have witnessed a lot of players in South Florida. While more experienced players receive a lot of headlines, first year players on the high school circuit have made a significant impact on the 2019-2020 season.
Before I get into the list below, I would like to stress these are players I have seen. If you have a freshman who you feel I’ve left out, please leave a comment and I would be happy to profile them in the future. All in all, the state of South Florida basketball is in good hands with these talented stars on the horizon.
1) Matthew Bewley: Northeast – The 6-foot-9 forward burst onto the seen for the Hurricanes this season, helping Northeast to a 21-7 record and district championship. Against rival Fort Lauderdale in January, Bewley dominated with 28 points and 20 rebounds according to MaxPreps. Of all the games I saw this year, the Hurricanes freshman line was one of the best. Bewley is a type of player who can dominant in the paint while having the quickness of a guard on the perimeter. His versatility extends to that of a back-court player with his ability to hit a 3-point shot. On a nightly basis, you are looking at kid who will put up a double-double and pepper a highlight reel with above the rim dunks on a fast break. Overall, his offensive game is already polished to that of a four-year starter. I am perfectly comfortable with calling Bewley the best player in South Florida. Currently, he has offers from Florida, Alabama, DePaul, Iowa State and South Florida.
2) Ryan Bewley: Northeast – You can copy and paste almost everything I said above and apply it to the 6-foot-8 forward. In contrast to his brother, Ryan’s core strength starts on the defensive end with a high curve to become more dominant on the offensive side of the floor. However, don’t let that observation fool you as the second part of the “twin towers” can put up points. In that very same game against Fort Lauderdale, Ryan had 17 points and eight rebounds. Anyway you slice it, Ryan was an integral part of Northeast this season. Again, we are talking about two freshmen who will continue to morph their games with sky high ceilings. Bewley holds similar D-1 offers to that of his brother above.
3) Osmar Garcia – Araujo: Riviera Prep – I saw the 6-foot-7 Garcia-Araujo a couple times this season and came out thoroughly impressed each time. Back in January, the freshman Bulldog finished with 16 points and nine rebounds against Belen Jesuit. Recently, Garcia-Araujo dropped 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds while facing Richmond bound Andre Weir in the 3A regional final. For the forward position, Garcia-Arajuo has great footwork and elusiveness in the paint to create a shot. Moreover, Garcia-Arajuo can drive into the lane and hit you with ball fakes to get an opposing defender to commit in the air. From that standpoint, he has a great basketball IQ for such a young player. In the Miami-Dade area, he is already one of the best.
4) Anthony Floyd: Mater Lakes Academy – My first “he’s a freshman” drop came from Floyd back in December when he finished with 17 points against defending state champion Stranahan. Coming out of that game, I was impressed with Floyd’s poise in the back-court and ability to control the Bears offensive sets. The 5-foot-7 guard is a strong ball handler and can cross up defenders on dribble drives to the rim. Furthermore, Floyd is a guard who can finish with his left or right hand, something that is not always developed at young age. Statistically, Floyd finished in the top two of points, assists and steals for the Bears this season.
5) Jamai Tejada: Mater Lakes Academy – Along with Floyd, Tejada is another reason why I believe the Bears are team to watch moving forward. The 5-foot-9 guard led the Bears in scoring while helping the team to 16 wins. Moreover, Tejada has a strong athletic background with his cousin (Lance Tejada, Jr.) playing overseas. While being a natural scorer, Tejada has good vision and can contribute on the glass from the guard position. Overall, you are looking at a kid who can make a difference from every aspect on the floor.
6) Daniel Fernandez: Belen Jesuit – Fernandez was a stat-sheet stuffer for the Wolverines this season. In February, Fernandez posted 21 points, six assists and four rebounds against Killian. Back in January, the 5’10” guard posted 16 points, ten assists and four rebounds against Florida Christian. Point being, Fernandez is a stat-sheet stuffer for Belen Jesuit.
7) Justin Johnson: Doral Academy – While most of the attention went to D-1 prospect Devin Carter, the 6-foot-7 Johnson is a kid to keep an eye on for the Firebirds. Against Coral Gables, I watched Johnson score 15 points while knocking down a couple of 3-pointers. A long player with defensive versatility, Johnson has a high upside and a big opportunity to become a team leader with Carter moving on to college next season.
For any South Florida Prep Hoops news or information…please contact Michael Costeines @Steins_23 on Instagram or follow him on twitter @Mungertown_Mike23.