Posted: 4:24 pm Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Boys’ hoops: Inside the Top 10, Player of the Year Watch, photos and more 

By Jeff Greer

Grandview Prep coach Joe Dawson sat behind the south basket in Atlantic’s gym last Thursday night, taking notes as he watched Palm Beach Lakes punish Atlantic.

Kamil Williams and Palm Beach Lakes look awfully tough in this season's early going.

“These guys are really good,” he said about Lakes. Dawson always speaks with a friendly tone, one that projects confidence but a sort of calming kindness. On Thursday night he sounded pretty excited. Why? His Grandview Prep squad, ranked first in the Post rankings since the beginning of the season, gets to play Lakes in January. After Lakes’ 66-44 win at Atlantic last week, that Jan. 24 meeting with Grandview, which plays state power Weston-Sagement the day before that matchup, could be the county game of the year.

Lakes possesses four scorers, a distributor and a big guy. The scorers come in different shapes and talents. Grandview transfer Kamil Williams (10.7 points per game) and fellow guard Quincy Rideau (10.7 ppg) are wing scorers who can slash a bit but are most dangerous from distance. Gito St. Fort (11 ppg) and the team’s leading scorer Quinn Cole (13.3) tend to do more damage around the basket. JD Coleman is a disruptive on-ball defender who runs a good break and makes smart passes from the point, and Max Caines is a lanky and active 6-foot-5 center who does well in a hybrid post position.

I know, I know: Spare you the scout language. The point is this: Lakes is a well-rounded team that has six legitimate starting options and three good bench players behind them. Five guys average seven or more points a game. That’s what concerns Dawson, though Grandview has the area’s best player in Ivan Canete.

NOTE: Starting this week, we’ll have this weekly feature, breaking down the boys’ hoops Top 10, our on-going player of the year race, short previews of the week ahead and photos from last week’s games.

Let’s break down this week’s Post Top 10:

1. Grandview Prep (8-0)
2. Palm Beach Lakes (6-0)
3. Atlantic (7-2)
4. Jupiter (6-2)
5. Suncoast (8-1)
6. St. Andrew’s (8-1)
7. Lake Worth (8-1)
8. Royal Palm Beach (6-2)
9. Wellington (8-2)
10. Spanish River (5-2)
Best of the Treasure Coast: Martin County, Jensen Beach, Treasure Coast.

Atlantic and Jupiter, despite both losing this past week, stay at Nos. 3 and 4. Atlantic blew out both Royal Palm and Spanish River, and the Eagles’ two losses are to Nos. 1 and 2, though the Grandview loss was a lot closer than the Lakes one. And Jupiter blasted Suncoast when those two met.

It’s hard to compare St. Andrew’s with the rest of group. The Scots have four wins against other Palm Beach County teams, including a 13-point W over Boca. That is the best we can use for now. A matchup with West Boca will help, too, but given the Scots’ reputation, placing them ahead of the uncertain large-school teams is probably a safe bet.

Nos. 7 through 9 are tied. Wellington beat Lake Worth, which beat Royal Palm, which beat Wellington. Lake Worth climbs ahead because its win in that triangle is the most recent. It also helps the Trojans that they’ve only dropped one game. Royal Palm, in addition to the Lake Worth loss, didn’t show much in an 86-57 loss to Atlantic a few weeks ago. Wellington forgot its sneakers when it showed up at Jupiter, and the Warriors minced the Wolverines.

Spanish River, despite losing a lot of talent from last year, has cobbled together some nice wins early in the season and left behind the pack of middling schools. Village Academy is the closest to the Top 10, with its only loss a one-point thriller to St. Andrew’s.

Martin County’s clearly the best T-Coast team at this point, thanks to its win over Jupiter. T-Coast beat Jensen Beach, but both teams are good.

Player of the Year Watch, Dec. 18
I took a lot of heat for leaving Grandview’s Canete off my preseason Special Six, and rightfully so. I actually expected that. He’s clearly the best player in the county at this juncture in the season, though Atlantic’s Jamal Palmer has the most potential. Before the season started, I compiled a list of 10-12 guys who I’d consider for the Special Six. Canete’s name was the first I wrote down. But as I thought about his academic troubles and limited action last year, I decided to keep him off this year’s list until he proved himself. Well, he has. Big time.

Ivan Canete, PG, Grandview Prep, 26.2 ppg: Right now he’s the frontrunner for Small Schools Player of the Year, and there isn’t even much competition. A quick glance over the roundups so far this year find stat lines ranging from 40 points and 11 boards to 25, 12 and eight. He’s been a stud, and Dawson raved about Canete’s smooth game when I saw him Thursday night.

Atlantic's Jamal Palmer has continued last year's breakout success.

Jamal Palmer, SG, Atlantic, 19.6 ppg: At the large-schools level Palmer’s the only kid who can show up, have an off-night and still get 15 or 20 points. He’s that good, and he’s only a sophomore. Atlantic coach Brad Flaig, when asked if his young star had Division I potential, said Miami, on the final evaluation day on last year’s recruiting calendar, came to Atlantic to watch Palmer, then a freshman. So, there’s your answer.

Aaron Horne, W, Lake Worth, 20.1 ppg: The lanky transfer can get his points inside and out. He’s been the leading talent on a resurgent Lake Worth, and he’s lived up to the preseason billing. The Trojans are 8-1, with their only loss against a good Wellington team, and Horne is a big reason why.

LaTerrence Butts, G, Suncoast, 16.1 ppg: Another young player, Butts is a sophomore who’s one of the top scorers in the county and has the Chargers sitting pretty at No. 5 in the rankings. I put this in the paper and I’ll reiterate it here: Suncoast has a fantastic supporting group around Butts. But the kid’s been phenomenal so far.

Big games this week
Jupiter at Dwyer, Friday, 7 p.m.
Atlantic at Park Vista, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Palm Beach Gardens at Wellington, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Palm Beach Central at Royal Palm Beach, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Photos
We’ve got one of the best photo staffs in the country here at the Post, so check out some of my colleagues’ photo galleries from recent hoops matchups:

Santaluces-Wellington, Dec. 14

Jupiter-Palm Beach Lakes, Nov. 27

Spanish River-Santaluces, Nov. 20

Get more updates
Follow me on Twitter (@jeffgreer) for regular news and updates from around the area’s basketball scene. I do a lot of in-game updates when I’m courtside, but also post links to interesting hoops stories and more.

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