Posted On: 01/2/21 12:15 PM

On Wednesday, I made my way up the Florida Turnpike to the Villages for the 7th annual Battle at the Villages tournament. While there were plenty of my Orlando teams on display I also got a look at some top Jacksonville talent and got to see last year state semifinalist Columbia (Lake City). These are some of the players who stood out to me:

SG Deebo ColemanDeeboColeman6'6" | SGWest Nassau | 2021State#49NationFL 6-6 West Nassau (2021) Georgia Tech Commit

 Coleman had himself a much better tournament than at the Clash at the Cross. West Nassau’s number one scoring option, every opposing team seems to create a game plan to slow Coleman down, a challenge that is easier said than done. Against Columbia (Lake City) the future Yellow Jacket was getting to the hoop at will using his athleticism and strong 6-6 frame to bully his way to the basket and frequently the foul line. On the game the wing added 24 points to his career total that just reached over 2,0000 points last week.

G/F Charleston PondsCharlestonPonds6'3" | CGColumbia | 2021StateFL 6-4 Columbia (Lake City) (2021)

 Last season Ponds was a roll player on a loaded state semifinalist Tiger team. You could tell the guard was capable of more, and this season he has embraced the roll of being the primary scoring option well. At 6-4 with long arms the wing can score the ball in many different ways. In addition to being a threat from behind the 3-point line, he also was able to find success attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. A willing passer, he made the some nice reads finding teammates in scoring positions, and displayed a high IQ defensively taking a charge. After scoring 25 points against West Nassau , Ponds was named to the all tournament team. Recruiting wise the senior is a bit under the radar as he is just beginning to hear from Division II schools and junior colleges. The senior is a full academic qualifier.

PG Quinton Jackson 5-10 Paxon School for Advanced Studies (2021)

 After watching Paxon School beat a tough Impact Christian team, I came away very impressed with senior Quinton Jackson. Scoring 19 points on the night, Jackson displayed quite a bit of toughness especially on defense and a high basketball IQ. The senior leader hit many key baskets throughout the game shooting a high percentage from beyond the 3-point line making three, and was always looking to push the ball in transition. With a variety of moves going to the basket, and a quick first step Jackson obtains qualities that could help a college program right away.

PF Ivan LawsonIvanLawson6'5" | CGImpact Christian | 2021StateFL 6-5 Impact Christian (2021)

 Although a bit undersized in the post, Lawson makes up for it using his quickness and grittiness to his advantage. The forward catches people off guard as he is left hand dominant, and is athletic enough to play above the rim and score off the bounce and in transition. Against Paxon the forward went for 18 points which included a rim rattling 2 handed dunk in transition and a handful of drives and points in the paint finishing left handed. ………Teammate 5-9 PG Devean KnowlesDeveanKnowles5'10" | PGImpact Christian | 2022StateFL (2022) is also worthy of note. An undersized guard Knowles plays with more heart than just about any player I’ve seen this year. He can shoot the 3, gets after it defensively, and finds his teammates cutting to the basket for scoring opportunities often. It’s not hard to tell Knowles is a gym rat and a player that is a joy to coach.

SG A.J. Brown 6-4 Orlando Christian Prep (2022)

 Lately it seems that the junior guard has been at every tournament I attend, and his play makes it impossible for me not to write about him. Named the Battle at the Villages tournament MVP Brown had an impressive 16 point performance in the championship game. The wing knocked down a couple three’s and had an impressive two handed dunk in traffic. While he currently has five Division I offers including Alabama, it would be wise for college coaches to jump into the mix as soon as possible. This is a player that is going to blow up over the next eight months.