They can produce powerful dunks or step back to fire away from long range. There are plenty of former Tampa Bay area standouts, now in college at the Division I level, who can do it all, perhaps even lead a team on a deep run in the NCAA tournament if they all joined forces. Of course, there is no March Madness this year. That leaves many to wonder what might have been. And imagine if the area was able to put together its own squad. Well, here it is, the all-Tampa Bay Division I college basketball team.
G Darius Banks, Jr., James Madison/St. Petersburg
Since joining the Dukes three years ago, Banks has been productive, averaging double figures in scoring in each of the past three seasons. This past season, he averaged 12.1 points per game, slightly below his career high of 12.3 as a sophomore. Earlier this month, James Madison parted ways with coach Louis Rowe, a former standout at Lakewood. That prompted Banks to move on, too. Two weeks ago, he announced on social media that he was entering the transfer portal. Banks has received interest from several schools, including USF.
F Juwan Durham, Sr., Notre Dame/Tampa Prep
The lanky forward has gone through plenty of hardships to become a solid post player for Notre Dame. Durham endured ACL tears in each knee late in his high school career and missed the 2017-18 college basketball season after transferring from Connecticut. That season away was particularly tough for Durham, who had to regain his confidence while getting back in playing shape. Slowly, he reassembled his game. Using his 6-foot-11 frame to his advantage, Durham swats shots with regularity. This past season, he led the Irish with 66 blocks. Durham also averaged 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. With another year eligibility left, Durham is expected to return and take on an even bigger role.
G Thomas Dziagwa, Sr., Oklahoma State/Tampa Catholic
The Cowboys were playing their best basketball at the end of the season, winning eight of their final 11 games, including an opening-round victory in the Big 12 tournament. Dziagwa, a sharpshooter, contributed heavily to the late-season surge. He finished his college career ranked fourth in Oklahoma State history in 3-pointers with 251. Dziagwa’s long-range touch got him an invitation to participate in a 3-point shooting contest at the Final Four that was ultimately cancelled because of the spread of coronavirus. During Dziagwa’s career, he endured three coaching changes, an NCAA investigation and a coaching change.
G/F LJ Figueroa, Jr., St. John’s/Oldsmar Christian
After starting off at Oldsmar Christian, Figueroa finished his high school career at West Oaks. He played his freshman season at Odessa College, earning NJCAA Division I first-team honors, before transferring to St. John’s. The past two seasons, Figueroa started in 64 of the 66 games he appeared in for the Red Storm. His athleticism helped him put up big numbers. Figueroa reached double figures in scoring in 20 games this past season and averaged 14.5 points per game. He also led the Big East in steals with an average of 1.9 per game. This past weekend, Figueroa announced he was declaring for the NBA draft but has yet to hire an agent in order to still keep his amateur status.
G Darin Green Jr., Fr., UCF/Wharton
The Hillsborough County player of the year last season had quite an impact in his debut season with the Knights. Green Jr. quickly emerged as one of UCF’s best long-range shooters and a school record for most 3-pointers made by a freshman with 68. As the season progressed, Green Jr. continued to improve, becoming one of the Knights’ most consistent scorers. He averaged double figures in scoring in seven of his final eight games, including a career-high 26 points against Tulsa in February. Green Jr. finished as the team’s second-leading scorer this season with an average of 10.1 points per game.
F Scottie James, R-Sr., Liberty/Tarpon Springs
James is used to playing for titles. A three-year captain at Tarpon Springs, he led the program to a 32-2 record and a trip to the Class 5A state semifinals as a senior during the 2014-15 season. After starting out his college career at Bradley, James transferred to Liberty and sat out the entire 2016-17 season. He has averaged double figures in scoring each of the past three seasons and helped the Flames win two straight Atlantic Sun Conference titles. This past week, James joined Tyson Ward (North Dakota State/Tampa Prep) as the only locals who were selected to the Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American team.
G Tyson Ward, Sr., North Dakota State/Tampa Prep
Last week, Ward became just the fourth player ever from North Dakota State to be selected for the Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American team, joining Ben Woodside (2009), Taylor Braun (2014) and Lawrence Alexander (2015). Judging by career stats, Ward ranks as one of the school’s all-time greats. He is the only player in Bison history with more than 1,500 points, 700 rebounds and 250 assists in his career. This past season, Ward averaged 19.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while leading North Dakota State to its second straight Summit League title. Last month, he scored a career-high 29 points on senior night, a game attended by most of his family members. Ward followed that up by being named to the Summit League all-tournament team after scoring 23 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds in a championship game win over North Dakota.