After winning a national title and saying goodbye to Kasey Hill (Florida), Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) and Devin Williams (West Virginia), it would be natural to assume Montverde Academy (Fla.)
might take a slight step back in 2013-14.
Don't count on that happening this year – or any year as long as Kevin Boyle remains on the sideline at the Orlando-area school.
The Eagles have seven seniors already committed to Division I programs. Junior wing Ben Simmons
– an Australian import firmly on the NBA radar – has already delivered a pledge to LSU.
"I feel that we can definitely be as good, but we will be different (than last year's team)," Boyle said. "We had a big, physical presence down low last year with Dakari Johnson and Devin Williams but this year's team will be quicker and more athletic."
The backcourt is stocked with experienced winners in D'Angelo Russell
, Justin Bibbs
, Ahmaad Rorie
, Jalyn Patterson
and coach's kid Brendan Boyle
– who should become an eighth senior Division I signee at some point.
Russell is the most accomplished of the group, playing a prominent role during Montverde's run at the National High School Invitational last April and following with a title on Nike's EYBL summer circuit.
and Simmons add versatility as 3/4 combos while Canadian import Chris Egi
and Makinde London
will man the post. Egi was being pursued by Duke before electing to pursue his education and hoops career at Harvard.
Fans got just a brief glimpse of Simmons last season and he should blossom into a full-fledged star this winter. The 6-8 Australian arrived after Christmas and didn't debut until Montverde's appearance in the National High School Invitational.
247Sports.com has Simmons rated the No. 7 prospect in the 2015 class and Boyle described him as "Kyrie Irving-good" – referencing one of his former pupils at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.).
At 7-foot-4, international transfer Jean Marc Koumadje
will be worth keeping an eye on as well.
Two years after leaving New Jersey for Montverde, Boyle sounds like a man just getting started at his new school.
"I have great affection and love for St. Pat's," Boyle said. "That being said, I'm in such a great situation here at a school with great academics and athletic facilities, the campus, the weather. I can't imagine a better high school job than this."
The MaxPreps preseason No. 1 opens Friday night against Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) in the Montverde Academy Champions Classic. The Eagles play defending Georgia AAAAAA state champion Norcross in the same event Saturday.View gallery of Montverde Academy preseason photo shoot
Montverde Academy last five years:
2012-13 (Kevin Boyle) – 25-2, Academy Top 10 national champions
2011-12 (Kevin Boyle) – 23-4, No. 4 final Academy Top 10 national ranking
2010-11 (Kevin Sutton) – 21-5
2009-10 (Kevin Sutton) – 23-5
2008-09 (Kevin Sutton) – 17-5