Very few regular season games are as hotly contested as the one Saturday night
between Jacksonville prep basketball powers Arlington Country Day, ranked 13th nationally by USA Today and Providence, the defending class 3A state champions.
In the end Providence prevailed 93-74, but many of the combatants could face each other on the next level as the contest featured six Division I signees. Those who stood out include Brandone Francis (Florida), Dante Buford (Oklahoma), K.J. Maura (Abilene Christian), Nate Mason Jr. (Minnesota) Grayson Allen (Duke) and Christian Terrell (Florida Gulf Coast); as well as well as several players that are being recruited to Division I schools including up-and-coming sophomore Lamonte Turner.
* Francis scored beyond the arc and at the basket early in the game. His dribble drives got him to the line leading to 11 first half points. In the second half ACD had a stretch of twelve consecutive possessions where Francis didn't touch the ball. In fact, he only attempted one field goal in the 3rd quarter. Francis finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals on the night.
* Turner is a solid combo guard. He plays under control on offense and is a good
on-ball defender. He'll need to strengthen his point guard skills as that will
be his position at the next level but we don't see that being a difficult transition for the sophomore. When you see him you can tell that he understands how to play the game. Florida has already offered this very highly sought after player. He finished with 16 points on the night.
* Mason Jr. is a crafty point guard capable of breaking his man down off the dribble
and getting into the lane.
* After two early first quarter baskets Buford was largely silent in this contest (10 points) while his teammates were living and dying by the 3-ball. Once the defense forced ACD into more of a half court contest he chose to let the game come to him and wasn't able to get himself going.
* Maura, ACDs diminutive point guard, is a speedy floor general who is very opportunistic on defense, particularly coming up from behind or to the side of his man when he has the ball. At only 140-pounds he'll have to add strength before he gets to Abilene.
* Terrell (32 points) may be the most undervalued member of Providence's team. He can play either guard position, but is best suited for the 2G spot. He sees the floor very well which allows him to be an excellent passer, he can score at all three
levels and he's got some lift. He's a terrific pick up for FGCU.
* Allen showed off his strength and slashing ability, getting to the basket for lay-ups which helped open the mid range game for him. ACD did a good job defending him on the perimeter in the first half. He finished with 34 points (25 in the 2nd half), 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. It's almost unthinkable that just over one year ago the Duke signee was writing college coaches and asking them to recruit him.
* Two coaches were noticed in the crowd - Florida assistants Rashon Burno and John Pelphrey.