Behind the 2018-19 Boys Preseason #PBCHOOPSTOP5 and Season Preview
The 2018-19 high school basketball regular season starts in less than 10 days, capping off a long off season filled with excitement and major moves. The season couldn't have gotten off to a better start with several 2019 prospects committing to play basketball at various colleges throughout the country and finally signing on the dotted line as the NCAA Fall Signing period opened up on November 14th. 2019 has a chance to be a record year in terms of players moving on to the next level with no less than 8 players on the boys and girls side expected to sign with Division 1 schools with over a dozen more in D2, D3, NAIA and JuCo.
This overflow of talent should make for an exciting season of hoops with great games night in and night out. The end result all teams are playing for is a chance to be the last ones standing in Lakeland..
To get us on our way here's a look behind the new Preseason #PBCHOOPS Top 5 along with a breakdown of the teams to watch this upcoming season in our 2018-19 Boys Season Preview..
2018-19 PRESEASON Boys #PBCHOOPS Top 5:
3. Royal Palm Beach
4. Forest Hill
5. Oxbridge Academy #pbchoopsTop5#Next5 - Expect these teams to make a #Top5 appearance at some point this season.
Palm Beach Lakes
— #PBCHOOPS (@PBCBBallForum) November 19, 2018
If you don't like seeing Wellington in the #PBCHOOPS Top 5 every year, beat them, until then the Wolverines will be here and hold the #1 spot heading into tonight's preseason action. The reason? Wellington doesn't rebuild they reload. Last season as a program (Varsity, JV, Freshman) the Wolverines lost a total of two games. Yes, two games as a program for the entire year, the lone varsity loss came in the 9A State Championship game. With that type of success in the lower division it's absolutely no surprise Wellington will be a top team in the state once again. The key is the ability of Head Coach Matthew Colin and staff to transfer the development from year to year, always having a new group ready to go when it is their turn. Think the U in the 80's and 90's, every year churning out top players and winning at the highest level. This seasons the leading players will be seniors Linton Brown, Myles Samuels and Cornelius Butler complemented by a strong 2020 junior class highlighted by Zach Steffason, Leonty Frazier and Caleb Gordon. While nothing is guaranteed this group has a chance once again to go far.
Last year we made the mistake of not ranking Dwyer in the preseason Top 5, we didn't make the same mistake this year. While they graduated quite a few seniors everyone can expect big things from the Panthers as they set out to prove once again their dominance in Palm Beach County. Last season was a memorable one for the Panthers as they went 26-2 with the only 2 losses coming to eventual 5A champions University School in a game of the year contender at the Charger Classic and eventual 8A champion Blanche-Ely in the Regional Final. This seasons team will be led by experienced seniors Michael Ingraham and Brandon Williams, both have been major contributors to the success of the program in their careers thus far. Add to that a truck load of young talent in the lower classes, expect the Panthers to be making noise once again late in the season;.
#3 Royal Palm Beach
The Wildcats had a strong summer winning the super competitive Palm Beach State Team Camp in June and individually players represented well at the #PBCHOOPS "Showtime" event last month. The Wildcats will be right back in the mix of the most competitive district in the county, 13-8A, which should be even more intense with the continued rise of teams in the district. They return all but 3 players. from last years squad and have spent a significant amount of time in the weight room as well as the gym to get ready for the season. With the experiences from last year, close tough losses, not understanding how to win and close out games etc, their growth as a team has created a competitive atmosphere in practice. With 7 seniors the focus is much different than the previous year. The Wildcats have high hopes and understand that each game is critical and nothing is taken for granted. The team is versatile showing the ability to play fast with a certain unit and play solid half court basketball with a different group. The core belief out in Royal Palm is they wont be out worked and that defense is the backbone of the program. Coach Griffin is expecting big things from his seniors 6' 6" Yves Fluranvil, 6' 5" De'Andre Morris, 5'9 Demerrick Warren, 6' 3" Moltere Charles and a huge addition in transfer 6' 3" shooter Ryan Moore. Add to that up and coming 6' 7" sophomore Christopher George and you can understand why expectations are high out west.
#4 Forest Hill
The Falcons are LOADED and have a legitimate argument at being in the #1 spot. They are deep and play a style that will give opposing teams headaches all year. Last season we saw Forest Hill have defending champs Blanche-Ely on the ropes late before falling in the last seconds, that heart breaking loss serves as the back drop for the motivation of this program moving forward. Coach Tony Watson once again has a group ready to compete in 13-8A which is not only the toughest district in Palm Beach County but 8A region overall in South Florida may be the toughest top to bottom in the state.Expect senior transfer Torrin Andrews, Cody Forbes and Brayden Washington to have a major impact along with returners D'ante Daniels and Donovan Draper.
#5 Oxbridge Academy
After a somewhat disappointing regular season last year due to an avalanche of injuries the Thunderwolves hit stride at the right time as things started to come together at playoff time. Oxbridge won another district title and advanced to the 5A Regional Final before falling to Tampa Catholic for the 3rd time in a row. This year Oxbridge comes in a bit under the radar as the team has been quiet in the preseason but still returns perhaps the county's most talented and experienced group of seniors, recent FIU signee Dante Wilcox, dynamic PG AJ Cajuste, Klien Alexandre and Troy Joseph II have been there all 4 years and experienced the good and bad. Expect more good as the Thunderwolves to close the deal and punch their ticket to Lakeland.
Small and Private Schools
Benjamin will be a force to be reckoned with all year and have proven they can compete in a tough class 4A with stacked teams down south. The unquestioned leader and go to guy for Coach Brandon Arnette and the Buccaneers is recent American University signee, senior Ben Lubarsky, last years #PBCHOOPS Private School Player of the Year and MVP. Lubarsky is a walking double double and has had a dominant year as a whole on both the high school and grassroots scene over the last calendar year. Expect him to lead the Buccaneers once again along with fellow senior Kaiir Elam and 8th grader (yes 8th grader) Marvell Allen who we expect to be a major contributor from day one.
New Hurricanes head coach Marcus Stringer Inlet Grove is returning just 4 players from last years team that had one of the areas top scorers, The Hurricanes look to remain competitive in a very tough 13-5A district. Yet surpising to some there isn’t a huge dropoff in talent heading into the season. Four year starter Jaylen Joyce is ready to come from the shadows and will provide great leadership, scoring and outside shooting along with defense for the team. Transfer point guard Jaheim Franklin is posed and determined to make a name for himself in a big way on both ends of the court. While 6' 10" junior center D’Ontaye Strawter looks to make a splash as one of the only true big men in the county. Former #PBCHOOPS Middle School 3-Point Champion and current freshman Michael Cooper is expected to make an impact right away with his scoring and pesky defense. This years Hurricane team has something that wasn't present last year, depth. Coach Stringer plans on utilizing every player on the roster this season and putting pressure on opposing teams for tip off.
After an off year by their standards last season the Scot's return in 2018-19 as a team looking to make big noise in district 6-5A. Coach John O'Connell has a squad this year that will make some noise. Senior guard Alejandro Ralat is back healthy after he struggled last season with injury, he along with the 2020's Koby Pelissier and big man Yussif Basa-Ama will give opponents problems. The emergence of 6' 5"wing Joshua Minot make the Scots a team to watch in what has turned into a surprisingly tough 12-5A district.
Players to Watch : 2020 Jackson May
Village Academy is back once again after a slightly down season last year looking to compete for another district title with a young team featuring only 2 seniors on our roster. The Tiger will be led by juniors Jose Passius and sophomore Shane Allen both players are versatile and can put the ball in the basket. Coach Terrence Atkinson always has his team ready to play and ducks no one when it comes to scheduling making his team a tough out in the post season. This years Village once again faces some of the best big school in the area with games against 9A Boca Raton, 8A Palm Beach lakes and West Boca Raton, 5A St Andrews, 4A Benjamin and what has turned out to be one of the more competitive games of the year versus district rival Jupiter Christian.
Players to Watch : Jonel Telisca, Chad Napoleon, Zech Bennett, Zeph Bennett.
The Eagles are the defending 7-3A district champions but that was not enough for last years group as they fell short in the regional semi-finals to Champagnat Catholic out of Miami. This season expectations are even higher with a senior laden team led by point guard Richie Maldonado, Toler Reiff and twins Gedeon Germinal and Gethro Germinal. All 4 seniors were major contributors last season and will be counted on this year even more if Jupiter Christian hopes to advance to the Final 4 in Lakeland,
Big Public Schools
Palm Beach Lakes
The Rams were the next team up in the Preseason #PBCHOOPS Top 5 just missing out by the smallest of margin and have what it takes to compete with the top teams in south Florida. 6' 3" senior sharp shooter Sheldon Edwards has been on a tear since season end, as he produced a stellar spring and summer season putting up huge numbers shooting the basketball. Expect that to continue into the season as he is expected to lead his team along with fellow senior guard Steve Ayuso and junior big man Giancarlo Rosado. Lakes combination of size, shooting and scoring will make them a headache for the opposition. Playing in the stacked 13-8A district along with Dwyer, Royal Palm Beach and Forest Hill every night out will be a test. Look for the Rams to be competing once again for the top spot.
A shake up at the top in Delray Beach as Rodney Dobard comes back to a place where he starred to lead an Eagles squad that couldn't get over the hump these last few years. Atlantic returns a core group of juniors led by Damian Tucker and Ladarian Variance. Atlantic the defending champs in the tough 10-9A district have enough fire power with the addition of a few transfers, Willie Razz Jr and big man Jacquan Gatling. Expect Tucker, Variance and crew to once again compete for a district title and make a push deep into the playoffs.
More Players to Watch : 2021 Tyrell Bouie
For the first time in many years not much is expected from Coach Murray Smith and the Lake Worth Trojans, a true under the radar team. Yet this group has the chance to be very good and should surprise. The Trojans will be led by 2017-18 Breakout Player of the Year Avery Brookes. Brookes is a high level scorer that can get his team points from anywhere on the floor, leading the team in scoring last season. Expect even more of that this year as he will be option number 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for Lake Worth forcing opposing teams to try and shut him down, If that does happen the Trojans have a nice group of complementary players led by seniors Chanchlor Hanniford, Datruice Jeune and junior Kerry Osias.
Suncoast returns 4 starters including two seniors 6' 6" forward Maximus Fulton-Durant and 5' 11" combo guard Jakobe Cox but make no mistake about it, this team is led by junior point guard Samuel Rolle IV. Rolle is the motor that makes the Chargers go and does so on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Rolle is a playmaker and true floor general who can shoot the ball and makes the right decision with the ball every time down the floor, rarely giving opponents added opportunity. 6' 5" sophomore Makye Boles is coming off an excellent freshman campaign and is poised to take on an even bigger role. 6'3 sophomore Evan Stinson will also be a huge contributor to this years team success along with fellow sophomore 6 '6" Darius Runner, who is looking to return from an ACL injury earlier this spring. The Chargers always play a tough schedule and will match up with some of the best teams in the area and are the favorites once again in 15-6A.
The Chiefs are back once again and have roster filled with talent looking to make an impact this season. Santaluces is talented and deep, very deep, making them the favorite in district 10-9A going into the year. Lacking a true big man may be their only notch but they make up for the overall lack of size with a team filled with long athletic players with high motors. Shooting is another strength of this team with junior sniper Chance Dixon leading the way with seniors Ed-ga Laloi and Ryan O'Connor providing added punch. 6. 3" junior Kemari Brown is a name people need to make note of now as he will be a player to watch closely these next 2 years, very few players have the vision and passing ability he possesses. Sophomore point guard Justine Roseme is an absolute blur with the ball and is always in attack mode keeping defenses of balance. Add to that juniors Wilfred Bureau, King Matelus and Jeff Rozier the Chiefs will be a handful for opponents.
Well that's it for now, while we covered quite a few teams there are still several more that will look to make an impact this year. Teams to look out for Palm Beach Central, Jupiter, Grandview Prep, Boca Raton and Somerset Canyons just to name a few.
Make sure to check back for the release of this seasons #PBCHOOPS Preseason List which include our Watch List, Sleeper 25 and Top players in the county.
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