By James Oyola
Florida’s south region headlines the state’s 2008-2009 basketball season as it is home to many of its reigning champions. Miami Norland (6A), Dillard (5A), Monsignor Pace (4A) and Pine Crest (3A) won titles last year and look to defend them against a strong group of competitors within their respective classifications.
South Florida is also home to two of the country’s top guards within their respective classes, senior Kenny Boynton (American Heritage, Plantation) and junior Brandon Knight (Pine Crest, Fort Lauderdale). Boynton and Knight led their AAU team Team Breakdown to two national championships this summer and headline our peak at the top players in south Florida this season.
2007-2008 record: 26-6, Class 6A state champions
Led by senior guard Tony Mincy, the Vikings, who lost some key starters from last year's team to graduation, return to the hardwood ready to defend their Class 6A title. Norland defeated Boyd Anderson, who was then ranked No. 1 in the state, 59-54, to capture its second title in three years. Mincy backed up Campbell University signee Amir Celestin last season, but will now resume sole leadership of a young Viking team.
2007-2008 record: 30-2, state runner-up
Led by senior guards Martavious Irving and Tyrone Davis, the Cobras, who lost to Norland in the state championship game, are a favorite to return to the 6A finals. Irving (6-2), a first team All-Broward selection, averaged 15 points and five rebounds per game last season, while Davis (5-5) led the Cobras with eight assists and three steals per contest.
Last season, Boyd Anderson dominated its competition by averaging an amazing 75 points per game while holding its opponents to only 47 points per contest.
2007-2008 record: 23-7
South Miami may have the most talented group of players in Miami-Dade County and look to return to the postseason after losing to Norland 50-43 in the regional final. Senior forward Keion Palmer (6-9) and center Paul Hazel (6-7) lead the way for the Cobras. Palmer averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game last season, while Hazel averaged 14 points and 7.8 rebounds.
2007-2008 record: 29-2, Class 5A state champions
The Panthers, led by guard Robert Burger, lost many of last year’s starters due to graduation but are still viable contenders for another trip to the finals. Burger, who averaged 13 points and six rebounds per game last season, will lead this young team and receiver help from point guard Javier Frazier and forward Fred Landers, whom are also viable pieces of Dillard’s program.
2007-2008 record: 23-9, Class 4A state champions
Senior guard Rakeem Buckles, a first team All-Dade selection and University of Louisville commit, leads the way for the two-time Class 4A champion Spartans. Buckles, 6-8, averaged 12.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season and will look to increase his numbers in part to the departure of standout guard Ray Shipman who graduated and now attends the Unviersity of Florida.
2007-2008 record: 28-4, Class 3A state champion
The Panthers were led by guard Brandon Knight and forward Ed Waite en route to their first state title last season. Knight (6-3), a junior and first team All-Broward County selection, averaged 20.5 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game and is widely regarded as one of the top underclassmen in the country. Waite (6-5), a senior and first team All-Broward County selection, averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds per game last season and controlled the paint, while Knight dominated the perimeter.
2007-2008 record: 19-10
Led by standout guard Kenny Boynton (6-2), the Patriots are viable contenders for another run at the Class 3A championship after falling to Pine Crest 90-76 in the regional final. Boynton, a first team All-Broward County selection and University of Florida commit, is widely regarded as one of the top guards in the country. The 6-foot-2 All-American averaged 34.4 points per game and led Florida in scoring for the second consecutive season. He averaged 31.7 points per game as a sophomore.
Point guard Ray Taylor (5-5), a Florida Atlantic University commit, is also a big part of the Patriot program. Taylor averaged 15 points and eight assists per game last season and was deemed “the best little player in America” by FAU Head Coach Mike Jarvis.
2007-2008 record: 23-9, state runner-up
The Lions might have lost their head coach and all-county guard Marlon Rivera, who averaged 20 points and seven assists per game, but have not lost their structure and look to rebuild for another solid season. Sagemont has been a top 2A contender for the past two seasons and will look to forward Rod Days in leading them back to the postseason.
Other Notable Players:
Andy Diaz (Sr.), Center, Hialeah-Miami Lakes
Ed Stinson (Sr.), Forward, South Dade
Henry Berroa (Sr.), Guard, Hialeah-Miami Lakes
Jerron Granberry (Sr.), Center, Coral Reef
Christian Ortiz (Sr.), Guard, Curley
Christopher Ortiz (Sr.), Guard, Curley
Jezreel De Jesus (Jr.), Guard, La Salle
Christian Molinet (Sr.), Guard, Ransom
Jonathan Holton (So.), Forward, Calusa Prep
John Pierre (Sr.), Forward, Westwood Christian
Khyle Marshall (Jr.), Guard/Forward, Flanagan
Josh Freelove (Sr.), Guard, North Broward Prep