Boys basketball: Hillsborough County buzz — June 30

After reaching the region finals this past season, Jesuit basketball coach Neal Goldman wanted his team to build off that success this summer. 

The Tigers set out to enhance their leadership, to fine-tune their identity and to continue developing the right culture – all qualities that helped them overcome the loss of their top two scorers from 2020-21 and come within one game of advancing to the final four. 

As for wins, those were just an added bonus. 

But they kept coming, so much that Jesuit was undefeated heading into the Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association title game this past Wednesday. 

To remain perfect, the Tigers had to get past archnemesis Tampa Catholic, which had won the past two summer league titles. 

Jesuit trailed 31-16 in the first half but kept rallying. Early in the second half, the Tigers seized control, taking the lead and keeping it in a 73-59 victory. 

“We haven’t been behind by double digits all summer, so that was big,” Goldman said. “We preached that it’s a game of runs, and we were able to overcome some adversity in that situation and pull through.”

Besides going 10-0 in the TBBCA Summer League, the Tigers won all four games at the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) team camp earlier this month. 

Better still, they did it while battling through an assortment of injuries. 

Goldman credited the senior leadership of Nate Boakye, Jack Burkard and Julian Parker, all of whom performed well throughout June.

The depleted lineup also allowed the Jesuit to develop some depth. 

On Wednesday, another key senior, Christopher Moliere, returned from an injury and scored a team-high 22 points against the rival Crusaders. Burkard finished with 13 points and Boakye added 10. 

“We didn’t go in with the goal of winning every game,” Goldman said. “Going undefeated was rewarding, especially with the injuries, and guys leading and others stepping up to provide depth.

“It’s something to build on going into this season.”

Berkeley Prep’s George Kimble named Alston “Mac” McGahagin

Berkeley Prep’s George Kimble, who led the Buccaneers to a 22-4 record and a trip to the Class 3A region quarterfinals, was named the winner of the Alston “Mac” McGahagin award, presented annually to the top boys basketball senior in Hillsborough County.

Kimble, the team’s top scorer, played a pivotal role in Berkeley Prep’s dominant regular season. The Buccaneers were 21-2 entering the district tournament with their only two losses coming by a combined four points.  

Six county players named to all-state teams

Several county players were named as all-state selections last month by Source Hoops. 

Tampa Catholic’s Karter Knox and Tampa SLAM’s Ramone Seals, who each led their teams to the state semifinals, were first-team selections in Class 3A and 2A, respectively. 

Wharton’s Karmello Branch, who helped the Wildcats reach the state semifinals, was a second-team selection in 6A. Berkeley Prep’s George Kimble made the second team in 3A. 

Two other players, Newsome’s Jonathan Moore and Jesuit’s Christopher Moliere, were third-team picks in 7A and 5A, respectively. 

TC’s Karter Knox narrows college choices

Tampa Catholic’s Karter Knox, a consensus five-star recruit, whittled his list of offers to eight possible destinations, one of which would not involve attending college at all. 

The schools include Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Louisville and South Florida. 

Several programs on the list have family ties. 

  • Knox’s father, Kevin Knox, played football at FSU. 
  • One of his older brothers, Kevin, played one season at Kentucky before becoming an NBA lottery pick and is currently with the Portland Trail Blazers. 
  • Another older brother, Kobe, recently committed to USF.

The final one to make the cut was the NBA G League Ignite, a developmental team designed for elite NBA prospects. 

Karter, ranked as the top prospect in the state and seventh-best nationally in the 2024 class by ESPN, has not set a date when he will announce his decision. 

NBA prospects Broome, Mitchell decide to stay in college

Two former county standouts, Auburn’s Johni Broome (Plant City/Tampa Catholic) and Texas’ Dillon Mitchell (Sickles/Bishop McLaughlin/Montverde), decided to return to college this season after declaring for the NBA Draft. 

By making their draft intentions known this offseason, Broome and Mitchell  were eligible for NBA workouts. But they each decided not to hire an agent in order to keep his amateur status should they opt to stay in college.

Broome, who led Tampa Catholic to the state title game during the 2019-20 season, averaged 14.2 points and 8.4 rebounds during his first season at Auburn to earn All-SEC second team honors last year. 

Mitchell, a key starter in Bishop McLaughlin’s run to the state title game in 2020-21, averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds as a true freshman with the Longhorns last season.