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Boys Basketball

The all-Tampa Bay men’s college basketball team



Notre Dame's Juwan Durham

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.  

Notre Dame's Juwan Durham
Notre Dame’s Juwan Durham/Photo credit (including feature above): Fighting Irish Media

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. 

Oklahoma State’s Thomas Dziagwa/Photo credit: OSU Athletics

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.

St. John's LJ Figueroa
St. John’s LJ Figueroa

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.  

UCF’s Darin Green Jr./Photo credit: UCF Athletics

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. 

Liberty’s Scottie James/Photo credit: Liberty Athletics

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.   

North Dakota State’s Tyson Ward/Photo credit: NDSU Athletics

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. 

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Boys Basketball

Former St. Petersburg star Serrel Smith Jr. commits to USF



For years, the USF men’s basketball program has tried to land a prized prospect from the bay area, extending offers to local stars such as Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox and Thomas Dziagwa, Tampa Prep’s Juwan Durham and St. Petersburg’s Serrel Smith Jr..

All went elsewhere.

On Friday, one of those standouts decided to give the Bulls a chance. 

Smith Jr., who played two seasons at Maryland before transferring to East Tennessee State, announced on his Twitter page that he was committing USF.

The move comes exactly two weeks after Smith Jr. entered the transfer portal. This is Smith Jr.’s third school in as many seasons. Still, the latest stop gives the Bulls a homegrown star, something that has eluded the program for years. 

Only three other locals — Hudson’s Mark Calleja, Seminole’s Henry Beard and Oldsmar Christian’s Troy Holston, have made the USF roster in the past five seasons. Calleja and Beard were walk-ons. 

Smith Jr. was a coveted recruit who continued to receive interest from the Bulls a year ago when he transferred to East Tennessee State. 

“The way the transfer portal is now, players are constantly coming and going,” Green Devils coach Chris Blackwell Jr. said. “Their journeys are always evolving but eventually they end up playing where they should have been all along.

“I’m happy for Serrel. He’s back home, and it should be a good situation for him.”

During his two seasons at Maryland, Smith Jr. played sparingly, averaging 10 minutes and 2.6 points per game. Last season, Smith Jr. averaged seven points and 2.3 rebounds per game at East Tennessee State.   

He was a star throughout his high school career at St. Petersburg. As a senior, Smith Jr. was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 8A state player of the year after averaging 29. 3 points per game and helping the Green Devils reach the state semifinals for the third time in his four seasons with the program. 

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Boys Basketball

Tony Livingston transfers to King



Tony Livingston, a two-sport star who committed to Florida earlier this month, has transferred from Carrollwood Day to King. 

The rising senior will play football and basketball for the Lions. 

“We’re happy to have him for his last year,” said King basketball coach Chris Senoga-Zake, who previously coached at Carrollwood Day. “He’s grown a lot from the time I had him as a freshman and has been working hard this off season. I’m hoping we can change the culture at King and give him the opportunity to showcase his true talent on the court.”

Three weeks ago, Livingston became the first area player in the 2022 class to commit to the Gators. . 

Livingston (featured photo above courtesy of JJ Battle/Battle Tested Photography) is a 6-foot-6, 250 pound offensive tackle who is athletic enough to play tight end, too. The four-star recruit is rated as the 18th-best player in the state and 19-best offensive tackle in the nation in the 2022 class according to 247 Sports’ composite list.

Though Livingston’s primary sport is football, he also played a key role in helping Carrollwood Day’s basketball team win a district title and reach the Class 3A region semifinals. Earlier this month, Florida became the first school to extend offers to Livingston in both sports. 

He could end up playing both in college, much like his former Carrollwood Day teammate Mike Trigg plans to do at Southern California this coming fall.   

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Boys Basketball

City of Hoops Classic set for today



City of Hoops Classic 

Where: Bishop McLaughlin

When: Today

Schedule: Girls rising stars game, 2; Girls senior game, 3:30; 3-point/dunk contest, 5; Boys rising stars game, 6; Boys senior game, 7:30

Livestream: Florida Athletics Network


Boys senior game

Home team

G Ray Perry, St. Petersburg

F Jayven Millien, Riverview

F Ezereke Dawson, Plant City

G Dean Gabrelcik, East Lake

G Anthony Bittar, East Lake

G Mikey Shane, East Lake

F Trae Martin, Brooks DeBartolo

G Gavin Martinez, Cambridge Christian

G Oteman Delancy, Lakewood

Away team

G/F Mike Trigg, Carrollwood Day

G Mark Mulfinger, Berkeley Prep

G Christian Rolack, Robinson

G CJ Crews, Bayshore Christian

G Deon Brown, Bayshore Christian

F Tripp Burdgess, Alonso

F Matt Lentz, Durant

F/G Jaylen Wharton, Durant

G Ryan Weir, Jesuit

Boys rising stars

Home team

G Emanuel Sharp, Bishop McLaughlin

F Dillon Mitchell, Bishop McLaughlin

F Matthew Webster, Bishop McLaughlin

F/G Josh Watkins, Bishop McLaughlin

G Trent Scott, Alonso

G AJ Wright, Clearwater

G Braylon Jackson, Riverview

G CJ Lee, Clearwater

Away team

G Jason Jackson, Sarasota Riverview

F/G Tony Livingston, Carrollwood Day

G Javohn Thomas, Sickles

G George Kimble, Bishop McLaughlin

G Karter Knox, Tampa Catholic

F CJ Hawkins, Berkeley Prep

G Tristan Gross, Calvary Christian

G Kamrin Oriol, Admiral Farragut

Girls Senior Game

Home team

G O’Mariah Gordon, Braden River

G Cheyenne Stubbs, Braden River

G/F Adina Davis, Chamberlain

F Chimera Iloanya, Seffner Christian

G Jasmine Peaks, Tampa Bay Tech

F Jayla Murray, Tampa Bay Tech

F/G Tavi’yanna Habib, Armwood

G Courtni Demorest, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic

Away team

G Nyla Jean, Plant

F Kendal Cheesman, Plant

C/F Mya Lamar, Tampa Bay Tech

G Isabella Prada, Bishop McLaughlin

G Amarie Godwin, Brooks DeBartolo

G Triniti Youngblood, Brooks DeBartolo

F/G Brionna McClinton, Brooks DeBartolo

G/F Kassidy Jones, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic

Girls rising stars

Home team

G Jade Thompson, Tampa Bay Tech

G Sydney Shaw, Miami Country Day

G E’marie Lewis, Lady Drive Nation

F Nicole Carreno, Seffner Christian

F Amiya Evans, Tampa Bay Tech

G Arianna Mosley, Tampa Prep

Away team

G Olivia Delancy, Carrollwood Day

G Tanner Strickland, Plant

G/F Jaela Davis, Brooks DeBartolo

G/F Keyara Bromley, Armwood

G/F Tyra Kennedy, Hillsborough

F Leah Barnes, Carrollwood Day

G Ja’Leah Williams, Blanche Ely

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