This past Sunday (March 13) we visited the University of Tampa’s beautiful campus to watch some of the best talent southwest Florida has to offer at Bay Area Hoops and Big County Preps 5th annual Breakdown Showcase. This event is run by Reggie Burke and has become a must attend for early spring exposure camps in the state of Florida. Here is a breakdown of The Breakdown.
2016 6’1″ CG David Jones of Leto High School (Tampa, Fla.): There’s no question that the 6-foot-1-inch Jones has the bounce that most guards his size would like to have. His explosion can be a bit deceptive. The senior handles the ball pretty well and shows flashes of being able to not only score, but occasionally find open teammates off the dribble. Jones has become somewhat of an annual feature at this event and continues to showcase himself as one of the standout players. While Jones is able to score at all three levels, he must develop a better and more reliable jump shot so that he’s not labeled as just a slasher. David needs to learn to play with a higher motor. For us, at least seeing him in this event the last two years, he seems to be set at playing on first gear and never really shifting to that next level. While he can give you the highlight dunk and make it look relatively easy, his overall skill set is still developing. Defensively he has to learn to stay in front of his man, remain in a stance, keep himself in a good position and not gamble as much as he wants to. Despite the areas of needed improvement, Jones comes off very humble and coachable and is a pleasure to watch.
2016 6’0″ PG Reinard Burke of Strawberry Crest High School (Dover, Fla.): Burke is a pass-first point guard who willingly moves the ball and tries to find open teammates. The senior looks for his shot within the flow of the offense and attacking off the dribble when he has the angle to do so. He pushes the pace when the opportunity to get in the open floor is there. Burke is also showing some improvement of his jumper as well. While Burke certainly is willing to give up the ball to teammates he needs to learn to attack more. His lack of explosion means he will have to be creative in various ways to get his shot off. He’ll want to continue to add to his pull up jumper and floater, continue to work on finishing at the rim, and being able to knock down open threes off the catch.
2019 5’11” Romaire Burke of Strawberry High School (Dover, Fla.): Like older brother, Reinard, Romaire is a developing pass-first point guard. From the last time we saw him, we are pleased that he is looking more confident playing and scoring on the ball. His jump shot still needs some work including his form, but as he matures we’ll see how that comes along. Burke has added some size since we last saw him and he will need to continue to do so to be able to fill out his frame and so he can get stronger. Right now Romaire isn’t not exactly explosive or quick off the bounce, but he’s reasonable efficient with his handle and gives up the ball easily if he doesn’t have a shot. It’s still relatively too early in the younger Burke’s development to make any major declarations of his college prospects, but we’re happy to see he’s continuing to maintain a coachable attitude on the floor.
2016 6’5″ SF Jerome Merritt of Oldsmar Christian Academy (Oldsmar, Fla.): Merritt was arguable the best athlete and on ball defender at this event. At 6-foot-5-inches Merritt is physical and dialed in enough to guard multiple positions. He uses his size well to turn opposing players and disrupt their dribble. He does a solid job of rebounding, starting the break, and can finish strong above the rim. He runs the floor, fills a lane and has reliable hands to finish the alley-oop on the break. While Merritt is a capable producer at different aspects of the game he still struggles to shoot it from the outside. He’ll also need to improve his handle to take his ability to attack the rim to another level. His overall ball skills will have to expand for him to become the sort of player who is more than just a transition nightmare. Overall, we like the energy Merritt brings to the floor and his athleticism is unquestionable. It feels like his best years should be ahead of him as he takes his game to the collegiate level.
2017 6’5″ SG L.J. Figueroa of Oldsmar Christian Academy (Oldsmar, Fla.): Figueroa didn’t play up to his normal standards this past Sunday. He struggled with his shot, wasn’t in attack mode as much as he normally is and didn’t feel like the same player we’re used to seeing. He showed mostly flashes of the player we’re used to. The flashes we did see included his ability to score off the catch or off the dribble. L.J. is a long, rangy player who can rebound the basketball pretty well, make open shots, and handle it pretty well to create offense for himself and for others. His passing ability is a bit overlooked given the rest of his offensive gifts. He’s not overly explosive, but he shows a solid understanding of where he likes to score from and either shoots or attacks with confidence. We’d like to see him become a more focused and assertive defender and continue to work on his jump shot. Figueroa has the potential to be a consistent shooter, transition finisher, and and overall three-level scorer with touch in college. Additionally he has the size and length to be potentially transformed into a skilled two-way player over time.
2018 6’3″ SG Ricardo Clouden of Lennard High School (Ruskin, Fla.): This was our first time seeing the 6-foot-3-inch Clouden and we’re glad we had the opportunity. Clouden is a two-sport athlete with a solid, pretty strong frame. Clouden’s shot was a bit streaky in the drill sessions, but became more accurate as the day went on. He showed he could shoot off the catch pretty well by the end of the event. Ricardo struggled to finish for most of the day, but by the top 20 game, he made a few finishes that made us feel a bit better about him in that area of his game. Clouden has the size and foot speed to become a good defender if he focuses himself on that end of the floor. He didn’t show much in the mid-range area, but the couple of shots we did see looked promising. Overall, Clouden is a pretty good athlete on the hardwood. If he can improve his ball skills and learn to move without the basketball he could become a two guard to keep an eye on in Florida’s rising junior class.
No basketball highlights of Ricardo could be found as of press time. Follow Ricardo on Twitter @slight_workrick
2017 6’2″ CG Tyler White of Durant High School (Plant City, Fla.): Tyler kept the gym on alert and buzzing all day with his outside shooting. He certainly made it clear that he came to put on a show and boldly took and connected on shots from every part of the floor. White’s fearless shooting style led to a swarm of long-distance perimeter shots. Defenders figured out that Tyler likes to pull-up quickly off the dribble and yet he kept making shots over outreaching hands. However, as we approached the top 20 game, it was clear he’d shot even himself out of the gym. Despite the increasing inaccuracy late in the evening, White continued to pull the trigger which highlighted his questionable shot selection that much more. At 6-foot-2 it will benefit him more in the long run to become efficient with his offense and have a better and more balanced understanding of how to be a point guard who can score the ball. His handle can be a bit too loose at times and his style can be herky jerky. His athleticism lacks and it’s concerning just how much he will actually be able to get to the rim if he were to play at the next level. Defensively he needs to work on keeping himself in front of his opponent and improve his lateral quickness. Overall, while there is room for shooters– especially ones who can be accurate– it’s important that he learn when and where it’s time to take the types of shots he wants to take. Finally, he must become a guard who understands how to run a team, initiate offense, and distribute without being turnover prone. White was unquestionably the best shooter in the gym at this event and we’re hoping he can learn to harness his shooting prowess and become efficient.
2016 6’4″ SG Deontae Weaver of Dunnellon High School (Dunnellon, Fla.): Weaver proved to be a big, physical attacker who used his body well to get to the rim. Deontae liked to be in transition and finish strong with one hand dunks. He showed he could handle it some and made some solid passes at times. Typically Weaver looked to score and we wished we’d seen more from him making plays on the ball as a creator like he does for his high school team. That said, Weaver showed some solid athleticism to round out his performance. He must add more consistency to his shot. While his shot overall didn’t look bad, unfortunately most of them did not fall. We’d also like to see him add a mid-range game and continue to tighten his handle. Additionally the missed shots and finishes around the rim made it clear he has to be more efficient. He’ll need to improve his quickness and continue to learn to use his size to become a better defender. Weaver has a thick frame that he’s unafraid to use it to draw contact. As long as he finishes that part of his game can be an asset. However, the concern lies in just how much space he can create without being able to use his body and that’s where added ball skill and quickness will help.
2017 6’4″ SG Jonathan Bryant of Oakleaf High School (Orange Park, Fla.): Bryant is another big thick-frame guard who likes to be physical getting to the rim. Bryant consistently shows his above-the-rim athleticism at these events and this past weekend was no different. To go along with his high flying, Bryant is showing some improvement in his perimeter game. This has been an area of focus and concern for us with Bryant in the past and we were happy to see a little bit of change. While the difference is there he certainly will need to continue to key in on that area of his game along with his handle. We really want for Bryant to be able to consistently use his size to attack the rim off the dribble and to be able to pull up or shoot of the catch with his jumper. Adding a complete offensive game will allow him to keep defenses guessing and allow him to become a more difficult scorer to game plan for. Bryant can do a solid job on the glass and we’d like to see him continue to assert himself on the glass given his size and willingness to go get the ball. The more ways he can use his size and athleticism, the more value Bryant will add to his game. Defensively he’ll want to continue to keep himself focused and learn to use his size to impact opposing players. He moves pretty well for his size, but his foot work is another fundamental area he’ll want to key in on. Overall, we like Bryant’s determination to get better and once he learns to put his game all together it’ll be interesting to see what he can become at the collegiate level.
2018 6’1″ PG Decorian Patterson of Lake Weir High School (Ocala, Fla.): This was the second event that we’d seen Patterson in the last few weeks– the first being at the Hoop Exchange Spring Showcase in Orlando. After both of these events we came away with almost identical conclusions and thoughts of Decorian. Patterson has good instincts as a passer. He keeps his head up and gives up the ball easily to teammates that can lead to scoring opportunities. When he looks to advance the ball he typically throws a good pass. As a pass-first point guard he plays with confidence and shows he understands what’s expected to play with pace but to also get others involved. As a scorer, he has a ways to go. He did not finish consistently and his jump shots generally did not fall. He did a have some instances where he showed he could pull up and score as well as shoot off the catch, but those were exceptions and not typically what you can expect from Patterson at this stage of his development. As a slasher is where we think he could develop and be more efficient within the short term while he works to get his jump shot up to par. He has a chiseled, well-built frame with solid length. He’s willing to compete on defense and move his feet to stay in front of opposing guards. While he may not always be a successful on ball defender, he certainly has the mindset and some physical tools to become more developed in that area. Overall, Patterson has some tools in his foundation that we like and hope he can build on down the line.
Check out Patterson’s skill right here.
2017 6’3″ PG Marcus Cohen of Sickles High School (Tampa, Fla.): Marcus is a point guard with good height combined with craftiness. While not an explosive player, he shows he understands how to use his dribble to get to the spots that he wants to on the floor. Once he does Cohen is most comfortable getting to the rim off the bounce or finding an open teammate with a drive and kick or dropping it off to a player near the rim. He has pretty good passing instincts and plays with a balance of creating for himself and others. He’s a solid athlete at this stage who can finish above the rim in transition and he possesses a smooth drive game in the half court. He can be developed into a three level scorer once he’s able to knock down jumpers more consistently. Cohen is an opportunistic defender who can use his length to get in passing lanes and use his overall size to be disruptive on the ball. When Cohen rounds out his offensive game he has a chance to be a solid scorer and capable defender in college. Look for Cohen’s stock to possibly rise this spring and summer.
2017 6’10” C Avery Diggs of Spoto High School (Riverview, Fla.): This was our first viewing of the big man and Diggs was an intriguing prospect at this event. While his jumper was not falling this past weekend, it’s clear his offensive skill is more geared towards being able to shoot it. His post game appears to be coming along, but still a work in progress at this stage. Avery changes ends of the court well and moves well, generally speaking. He’s not quite a paint presence in terms of blocking shots or being a high level rebounder from what we saw. However, his mobility did allow him to grab some boards out of his area. Diggs will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on simply to see how his post game and foot work on the block develop. We wished his jump shot would have had more success in going through the net because he certainly appears to be a big who is capable of playing some pick and pop in college. Diggs is a legit 6’10” and already has some solid bulk to him.
No basketball highlights of Avery could be found as of press time. Follow Avery on Twitter @avery_diggs
2016 6’4″ SG Sheldon Odunna of Freedom High School (Tampa, Fla.): Odunna was yet another thick-framed dunker at this event who looked to excel in the open floor. Sheldon showed he was willing to make the extra pass when he didn’t have an open shot. Odunna also demonstrated he could make an open three, but our overall impression was that his shot is not as consistent as it needs to be to play as a two-guard. Additionally he missed a couple of dunks and defensively he was not as in tune as he needs to be to defend the perimeter. Sheldon certainly has some ability to be a scorer in an event like this, but his overall skill and quickness are concerns as a prospect.
2016 6’3″ SG Carlos Acevedo of Oldsmar Christian Academy (Oldsmar, Fla.): Acevedo was a bit of a known unknown for us. While we’ve seen him before, it’s typically in limited action for Oldsmar. Our impressions from this event were able to evolve somewhat from what we saw this weekend. Carlos has a skill set to be more of a three-and-D glue guy. A player who can make open shots from the perimeter and then compete defensively for you. While he’s not overly athletic or explosive, he had some moments where he showed he could play some above the rim. He’ll need to improve playing off the ball and develop his handle more to help make the transition to college, should he get that opportunity. Additionally his body will need to continue to fill out. If Acevedo can improve his ball skills and continue to work to becoming a consistent floor-spacing shooter, he may be able to find a spot at the next level.
No basketball highlights of Carlos could be found as of press time. Follow Carlos on Twitter @Changethegame__
2017 6′ PG Marquez Cooper of Anclote High School (Holiday, Fla.): Cooper opened our eyes early on in the day during the drill sessions showing good bounce for standing 6-feet tall as well as solid defensive work in the one-on-one drills. However, in some other viewings he was also seen gambling a little too much on defense. He moves his feet well and can be pretty quick when he’s looking to attack. Cooper has a very slender frame at this point and will need to add size. He definitely has more of a scorer’s mentality and will need to learn to balance that out with an ability to create for others. Cooper also needs to continue to work on his jump shot as he’s a bit streaky as a shooter right now.
No basketball highlights of Marquez could be found as of press time. Follow Marquez on Twitter @CoopMixtape
Here is a list of a few more players who caught our eye:
2018 PG Darryl Mercer of Leto High School
2019 PG Norris Taylor of Sebring High School
2016 PG Michael Raiford of East River High School
2017 G/F Christian Noskey of Seffner Christian Academy
2018 PG Vecarie Pettis of Hagerty High School
2018 G/F Gaetan Dalencour of Somerset Academy
2018 PG Dollar Davis of Lakewood High School
2018 PG Elias Perez of Dunnellon High School
2016 PG Erick Hernandez of Durant High School
We would like to thank Reggie Burke and Big County Preps for having us out. Bay Area Hoops is running a first class showcase each year with this event and we’re always pleased to be in attendance. Check out Bay Area Hoops on their website for more information. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @BayAreaHoopsFL