Posted: 11:54 am Monday, November 21st, 2011
By Jeff Greer
Our area’s three powerhouses are back for more this winter.
Summit Christian returns two stars, guard Farad Cobb and big man Brandon Williams. Dwyer’s built around 6-foot-11 center Joel James. Grandview Prep has a stable of guards who can score at will. There are a few schools that can challenge the top three — Leonard, Jupiter and Spanish River look tough.
But to start the season, it was easy for me to pick No. 1. It’s Summit. The Saints return the best shooter in the area in Cobb and the most athletic interior player in Williams. Toss in the assumed breakout year for wing Josue Levy, who can jump through the roof, and Summit has the pieces necessary to make a run at a repeat state title.
Cobb will slide over to point. Williams will be the inside presence, though he can step out and make a mid-range jumper. Levy and Dorian O’Neal will be on the wings, and Summit’s group of young underclassmen will fill in the rest of the roles.
“I like this team,” Summit Christian coach Murray Smith said. “Farad’s at another level. Not just shooting, everything else. He’s already a great shooter. He’s better with the ball … I like our other pieces, too. As long as the coach doesn’t screw it up, we’ll be pretty good.”
Grandview returns point guard Ivan Canete and three wings, Daniel Garga, Eric Mance and Kamil Williams. Garga’s athleticism will give Grandview a slasher, while Mance and Williams have improved as shooters. Canete, as was the case last year, will direct traffic. The biggest hole, obviously, will be Ismaila Dauda’s. The 6-9 center is gone, and his impact on Grandview was huge. He altered shots, scored in the post and kept defenders honest with shooters on the wing. Teams won’t sag their defense this year.Dwyer, of course, has James, a UNC commit with an ever-improving game. A lot of the Panthers’ success this year rides on James, who needs to stay out of foul trouble, become a scoring focus and dominate the lane. All indications are that he should do that. The Panthers have some talent around him, particularly speedy guard Delrionte Allen and 6-5 forwards Daniel Decius and Tarus Heath. They also will get some interior help from 6-3 transfer Malik Brown, who came over from Gardens before the school year.
Leonard returns senior point Chris Hall, who averaged 18 points, five rebounds and three assists a game last season. He’s an electric player when he’s healthy and playing well. He’ll have help from guards Trae Dixon and Zeke Bennett and developing big man Aaron Horne, but Hall has to be the guy. With versatile wing Will Sparkman gone, it’s Hall’s show now.
Jupiter will have one of the bigger lineups in the area, if not the biggest. Grant Pelchen, a 6-10 center, struggled to stay healthy last year, but his rebounding and shot-blocking will be huge for the Warriors. He’s only a junior, so he has plenty of time to develop. Youngstown State signee Bobby Hain, a 6-9 swingman, will be the go-to guy. He plays a European style game for his size, with a nice shooting touch. Kyle Case will be the Warriors’ shooter on the wing, and a talented group of newcomers and returning reserves makes Jupiter awfully interesting.
At the small, private level, St. Andrew’s and Benjamin should have nice teams, too. St. Andrew’s gets physical guard Gary Gladden and point Max Ralby back. Sure, the Scots lost Eric Sanders, but Ralby and Gladden give them some serious perimeter punch. Benjamin lost two Division I players in Brett Rosenthal and Kevin Crescenzi, but the Bucs expect big things from uber-athletic big man Jon Pavlov and young guards Austin Rosenthal and Isaiah Hobbs.
Wellington, Atlantic, Lake Worth, Santaluces and West Boca will each take a step back after significant players left each program. Wellington lost five key seniors, though the very athletic 6-8 forward Stephane Beneche is back. Atlantic, which last season reached the regional final for the first time in school history, lost its five leading contributors. Junior point David Knowles will need to fill some big shoes left by Marquale Thomas. West Boca lost just about everything from last season, so the Bulls will be in rebuilding mode. Same goes for Santaluces. And at Lake Worth, 38 points a game are gone as star guards Rigueson Desorvil and Nelson Presendieu both moved on.
Expect Palm Beach Lakes to improve from last year’s team. And Spanish River, with guard Dante Scholl and forwards Reggie Love and Evan Kupferberg, will be locked and loaded. Boca Raton also returns a ton of players from last year’s, so there should be improvement there. Suncoast, Gardens, Park Vista and Glades Central should at least be competitive. Same goes for Royal Palm Beach.
Players to Watch
Joel James, 6-11, center, Dwyer
Bobby Hain, 6-9, wing, Jupiter
Farad Cobb, 6-0, point guard, Summit Christian
Brandon Williams, 6-8, forward, Summit Christian
Daniel Garga, 6-3, wing, Grandview Prep
Eric Mance, 6-1, wing, Grandview Prep
Chris Hall, 6-0, point guard, John I. Leonard
Evan Kupferberg, 6-6, forward, Spanish River
Reggie Love, 6-3, forward, Spanish River
Paul Jones, 6-6, forward, Lake Worth Christian
Preseason Top 10
1. Summit Christian
2. Grandview Prep
5. John I. Leonard
6. Spanish River
7. Martin County
8. St. Andrew’s
10. Palm Beach Lakes