Behind the 2019-20 Boys Preseason #PBCHOOPSTOP5 and Season Preview

There are 2 words that can be used to describe the upcoming 2019-20 #PBCHOOPS high school basketball season.

The first? Separation. The boys high school season starts next week and heading in there is a group of six to eight teams that on paper have separated themselves from the other programs in the county. While basketball is arguable as popular as its every been in South Florida as a whole, the balance of power seems to remain with the same schools at the top year in, year out. The heightened popularity has as increased the spotlight on the areas top players allowing for them to showcase their ability. First here locally during the high school season, then on the national scene during the travel season.This formula proved successful as six players picked up Division 1 offers since the end of the 2018-19 season.

The second? Popcorn. Yes popcorn. Why you ask? The FHSAA has made sweeping changes, consolidating from nine classes to seven. While the jury is still out on the change and on the motives behind it, what can't be argued is that it just made for must see basketball in quite a few districts, one in particular. For years District 13-8A which included Palm Beach Lakes, Royal Palm Beach, Forest Hill and Dwyer has arguably been the toughest in the county. In the new alignment district 10-7A keeps Lakes, Royal Palm, Forest Hill and loses Dwyer but adds Wellington, Jupiter and Palm Beach Central. Making it one of the toughest district in the state of Florida, not just Palm Beach. Therefore if you are attending a 10-7A games this season make sure to have your popcorn ready.

To get us on our way here's a look at the 2019-20 Preseason #PBCHOOPS Top 5 along with a breakdown of the teams to watch this upcoming season in our Boys Season Preview:

#1 Wellington

How can it be possible to lose 5+ seniors from a team that made it to the Class 9A State Championship game and come back the next year, even better? Well, this just may be the case out west as the Wolverines are loaded with experienced upperclassmen and a strong group of talented underclassmen led by top freshman prospect Marvel Allen. If the fall circuit is any indication you can expect to see a Wellington team that will play defense but also come at opponents in waves on the offensive end. The Wolverines are DEEP, always prepared and well coached. Sky's the limit for this team with a strong chance to come out of Region 3-7A.

Players to Watch: 2020 De' Ante Perez, 2020 Leanty Frazier, 2020 Jagger Ruiz, 2020 Zach Stephenson, 2020 Castra Gedeon, 2021 Christopher Walker, 2021 Trey Perry, 2021 Elijah Andrews, 2022 Keon Kindred, 2023 Marvel Allen

#2 Palm Beach Lakes

The Rams are one of only three Palm Beach County teams since 2017 teams to have made it to the state Final 4, a great accomplishment. On that 2017 squad were then freshman PG Jailen Holman and big man GianCarlo Rosado, both contributed during that season. Fast forward to 2019-20, Rosado is now a 6' 8" senior signing his NLI to FAU on Wednesday November 13, 2019 and is one of the top players in the county. Rosado averaged 19.7 points a game last season and is the reigning #PBCHOOPS Breakout Player of the Year. He will be the undisputed leader of the Rams and will be a tough cover for any opponent this season making Lakes a contender.

More Players to Watch: 2020 Jailen Holman, 2021 Trevon Taylor, 2021 Chase Springs, 2021 Yohance Smith

#3 St Andrew's

St Andrew's has been the team of the summer and fall so far. After coming minutes away from a trip to the Final 4 to end last season, the Scot's have looked like a team on a mission. While summer basketball and fall leagues don't technically count for anything come high school season, it does provide a look into what to expect. The Scot's are big at ever position, long, talented and highly skilled with 3 players that currently hold Division 1 offers. Back from last year are 6' 9" Yale commit Yusif Basa-Ama, 6' 8" junior wing Josh Minott, 6' 4' senior Jackson May and 6' senior guard Koby Pelissier. Adding to that solid core is 6' 3" transfer junior guard Devin Hines. Minott and Hines both hold offers, Minnott with five (FGCU, FAU, Rice, North Texas, Steson) and Hines picked up his first D1 offer from Rice earlier this fall. St Andrews has been knocking at the door of a state championship over the last several years, trying to get where the two teams ahead of them in the rankings have already been and look like the most complete team in county. They will be able to prove their metal on the court with a monster schedule that includes games versus some Broward county's best Blanche-Ely, Dillard, Calvary Christian, North Broward Prep and Pine Crest. Add that to a winter calendar that features participation in some of the states elite holiday tournaments and St Andrew's has the chance at a memorable season.

More Players to Watch: 2021 Landy Brody, 2021 Jasper Schwartz

#4 Forest Hill

Forest Hill basketball is here to stay after another solid season that once again ended with a district title and a loss at the hands of the Blanche Ely Tigers in the 8A Regional Semi-Finals. Now a new year features a new set of challenges and challengers. Gone on the road to Lakeland is the Palm Beach County KILLER Ely but in it's place the Falcons will now need to navigate perhaps the areas most difficult region. The Falcons should be ready however, they will be led by dynamic playmaking PG D'ante Daniels, who has proven to be one of the toughest covers in the county with returning juniors Donovan Draper and Jalen Jeter both entering their 3rd year as varsity contributors. The Falcons also loaded up with key senior transfers Troy Joseph, Jonathan Mogbo and 6' 10" big man D'ontaye Strawter. Forest Hill's style of play in itself gives them an advantage almost every time they step on the court. Five in five out, full court pressure defense has proven effective in wearing out even the best of teams. Time will tell if the Falcons can break through and secure a spot in Lakeland in a very competitive Region 3 - 7A.

More Players to Watch: 2020 Wilfred Bureau, 2022 Michael Cooper

#5 Dwyer

Some may be surprised to see the Panthers in the Top 5 to start the year but if you haven't figured out by now there is a pattern. Pedigree and program consistency play a huge factor in our preseason rankings. Last season Dwyer's Maxpreps strength of schedule was 12.0, the toughest in the county and top 10 in South Florida. While the Panthers lost a core group of seniors they did rely heavily on some very talented underclassmen that played big towards the end of the season. That returning group and an equally tough schedule will make Dwyer a force come playoff time. Add to that a change in district alignment expect them to be the class of District 9-7A and in good position to battle for a spot in Lakeland come playoff time.

Players to Watch: 2020 Courtney Grant, 2020 John Scott, 2021 Rodrick Johnson, 2021 Cameron Gordon, 2021 Jonathan Paul, 2023 Xavier Scott

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BOYS PREVIEW

Big Public Schools

Park Vista

Park Vista was the next team up in the Preseason #PBCHOOPS Top 5 just missing out by the smallest of margin, talent isn't the reason. The Cobras will have arguably the best backcourt in the county when seniors Erik Pratt and John Saenz step on the court. Pratt is a 6' 4" lefty with a deadly shooting touch that can go off at any time. Saenz plays with a high motor, getting to the basket, creating for others and finishing in traffic. Both complement each other and are the engine that will make this Park Vista team run. The Cobras will be an exciting team to watch and should give the scoreboard a lot of work.

More Players to Watch: 2021 Hantz Jeune, 2021 Jalien Francois, 2020 Jordan Ray

Jupiter

The Jupiter Warriors have been building toward what could be a championship season for several years now. 6' 3" senior Larry Scott holds a Division 1 offer from Navy and has really developed into a solid lead guard. He will run once again alongside fellow senior guards Kyle Feldman, Sean Gormley and 6' 8" sniper Josh Glesil. These 4 have developed an unmatched chemistry and toughness playing together on the travel circuit with the Jupiter Jaguars program, competing against some of the best players in the south. Expect that cohesion to transfer this season as they will need it competing in the tough District 10-7A.

More Players to Watch: 2022 Alex Houck

Lake Worth

There has been a change at the top for the Trojans as Errol King takes over for a program that has had much success recently. Lake Worth is flying completely under the radar after graduating it's core group of seniors but have a strong underclassmen group to go along with some talented seniors. One senior that will be counted on is 6' 4" transfer Chad Napolean, a very active player that can scores in a variety of ways, not afraid to do the dirty work. The underclassmen will be led by junior shooting guard Maurice Campbell, an athletic shooter that has also improved his scoring off the dribble. The Trojans have always been solid defensively over the years and that shouldn't change, expect Lake Worth to be a tough game for any opponent and for them to make a run in wide open District 11-7A.

More Players to Watch: 2020 Deshon Sirmans, 2020 Travis Harris, 2020 Keri Oasis, 2023 Zakiah Saez

Atlantic

If Lake Worth is flying under the radar, Atlantic may not even be on the radar for many followers. That is a mistake. The Eagles under second year head coach Rodney Dobard drop down in a newly constructed District 13-6A and should be the favorite along with Martin County to take the crown. Look for senior Damian Tucker and Chase Saez to lead what should be a good Atlantic squad.

More Players to Watch: 2021 Kenny Aubin, 2023 Kavoris Dean

Suncoast

The Chargers once again will be in contention for a district title, now in District 13-5A, will also be one of the more exciting teams to watch the season. Senior PG Sam Rolle IV leads the way for Suncoast, Rolle is a 4 year varsity player and true lead guard, great decision making, solid defense and a knock down shooter. This year expect even bigger roles from juniors Evan Stinson and Darius Runner, they will be counted on by head coach Jason Powell to navigate what will be another tough schedule which includes trips to the Kingdom of the Sun Holiday Tournament and their own Charger Classic.

More Players to Watch: 2021 Ethan Barnes, 2021 Jose Lopez

Santaluces

The demise of the Santaluces Chiefs has been greatly exaggerated. Santaluces is still alive and kicking, preparing for what should be another strong season for head coach Reggie Dixon. The Chiefs will battle in one of the more competitive districts in the county which features Park Vista, Boca High, Lake Worth, John I Leonard and Spanish River. Santaluces has all the pieces, athleticism, shooting, guard play, defense and depth. There is no reason why they shouldn't make a deep run into the playoffs.

Players to Watch: 2020 Chance Dixon, 2020 Crisnel Francois, 2020 Devonte White, 2020 King Metelus, 2021 Justine Roseme

Royal Palm Beach

The Wildcats will be under new coach Marshall Riddle and will be looking to surprise opponents in District 10-7A.

Players to Watch: 2020 Dishon Francis, 2021 Christopher George, 2021 Max Marius, 2021 Lincoln Riddle, 2022 Ken Williams

Boca Raton

The Bobcats are few years removed from being a county powerhouse. Look for a step in the right direction this year.

Players to Watch: 2020 Oliver Beardsley, 2020 Michael Eisenberg, 2020 Willie Williams, 2021 Bobby Stewart, 2022 Michael Kalina, 2023 Sebastien Saint-Louis

Palm Beach Central

Central has very strong guard play and experience. The will need to get over the hump and play in a knock down drag out District 10-7A.

Players to Watch: 2020 Eduardo Diaz, 2020 Andrew Flete, 2021 Will VanHook

John I Leonard

John I Leonard is a sleeper, they have talent and will make for a tough game any and all opponents.

Players to Watch: 2020 Jevon Allen, 2020 Samuel Devariste, 2020 Kobe Hamilton, 2022 Pat Preseindeu

Small and Private Schools

Village Academy

The Tigers have been knocking on the door, literally just a few ticks away from getting to the state Final 4. Now dropping from 3A into a newly formed 2A, Village Academy finds itself in a district with a familiar foe Grandview Prep and a group of powerhouse teams out of Miami. The ultimate goal for every team is a state title and in order for that to happen coach Terrence Atkinsons squad will need to face and beat the likes of Champagnat, Schoolhouse Prep and Miami Christian. All 3 have either won state or made it to the Final 4 in their respective class at least once in the last 3 years. One thing for sure the Tigers will be ready as always playing a tough schedule to prepare for the road ahead.

Players to Watch: 2020 Jose Passius, 2021 Shane Allen

Grandview Prep

The Pride have had a championship tradition winning two state titles in the last seven years. Recent history however hasn't been so kind, Grandview has fallen from the counties elite over the last couple of season. This years hope is to change that and return to it's championship ways. Grandview has completely revamped it's team with incoming transfers and key freshmen that plan to play a big role. The Pride will be led by junior transfers Micah Octave and Harry Santiago, both are playmakers that will need to produce along side freshman Nate Sasser III and Jermaine Hunter. Grandview has size, length and shooting, all the components necessary to make a run at a state championship title but still will face a tough road ahead as they will need to beat not only Village Academy but the same group out of Miami to advance.

More Players to Watch: 2020 Jalin Thomason, 2021 Pedro Brown, 2021 Makye Boles, 2021 AJ Gilles

Somerset Canyons

The Cougars are coming off a disappointing season where they finished 8-11. For fortunes to change this year coach Horace Smith will need rely heavily on 6' 1" senior guard Banathi Mrwebi and solid supporting cast. Mrwebi has developed nicely and has had a strong off season, he will need to step up big for Somerset to compete in a loaded district 13-4A.

Oxbridge Academy

The Thunderwolves are a completely new team for 2019-20. Losing not only highly productive senior class but also a head coach. New for this year is head coach Antwan Harrington who was a former assistant coach at Oxbridge two seasons ago before taking the head job at American Heritage-Boca/Delray. Now that Harrington is back he is inheriting a squad with only one player who contributed from last years team, senior guard Casey Meyers. The squad will be young, it will be interesting to see how they fare in a tough district 11-3A.

More Players to Watch: 2021 CJ Leslie, 2023 Parker Lanosa

Inlet Grove

The Hurricanes may be the surprise team in the county. First year head coach Rodney Bennett has been very active with his squad during the off season, one thing that has stepped out is the level effort of his squad. Tough nose, hard playing defense will be the Hurricanes calling card this season. Now don't mistake the fact the they will be a blue collar team to mean they don't have talent, they having a budding prospect in 6' 2" junior Vedan Cowan who is high motor, strong, athletic guard that can score the basketball. Now playing in district 12-4A Inlet Grove has it's site set on a district title and will be a tough matchup for any opponent they face.

Jupiter Christian

Jupiter Christian reach the State 3A Final 4 last season with a senior heavy squad, this year will be a rebuilding year. The Eagles will be led by senior transfer guard Bidje Pierre who had an excellent summer of the travel circuit running with the Jupiter Jags 17U squad. It will be an uphill battle for Pierre and his Jupiter Christian squad as the move into District 11-3A led by St Andrew's.

Benjamin

Benjamin is another school hit hard by graduation. Gone is Ben Lubarsky to American University and his scoring punch, now head coach Brandon Arnette has a rebuild on his hands. Benjamin will be young but not void of talent, last season allowed then freshman Isaiah Nesmith and Mark Cueto to gain valuable experience and much needed minutes. This season Nesmith and Cueto along with more freshman talent will counted on to lead. Benjamin may be down this year but will be back soon.

More Players to Watch: 2023 Darrell Sweeting

Well that's it for now, make sure to check back for our spotlight on individual players in our #PBCHOOPS Preseason List which include the Player Watch List, Super 25, Starting 5 and Fantastic 5 highlighting the top players in the county.

Also remember to check in every week to pbchoops.com during the high school season for the #PBCHOOPS Boys and Girls Player of the Week Powered by HANDLELIFE. Weekly winners will get exclusive HANDLELIFE merchandise!!

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