For the first time in the 25-year history of the annual Junior Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, there will be a European high school competing.
This year’s tournament, set for Friday, Saturday and Monday at Doral’s Reagan High, also features teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The European school is Gimnazija Bezigrad from Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the team boasts three top seniors – 6-3 point guard Jure Span, 6-4 shooting guard Jan Novak and 6-8 power forward Jan Dolensek. All three played for the Slovenia U-18 national team.
Two other players – 6-3 junior shooting guard Sandi Grubelic and 6-7 junior small forward Matej Kavas – played on the U-16 national team. In addition, the team has a promising young center in 6-10 junior Luka Pirc.
Among the teams expected to challenge the Slovenian side is South Miami (10-1), which is led by Winthrop recruit Joseph Lopez, a 6-6 forward. Lopez averaged 11.3 points and 10.1 rebounds last season, helping South Miami reach the Class 8A state final with a 28-3 record.
Some other noteworthy boys’ teams in the tournament:
The boys’ schedule begins Friday at noon with Putnam City West against Mater Academy (9-1). The rest of Friday’s schedule has South Miami playing the Slovenian team at 1:30 p.m.; Bartow vs. Pembroke Pines Charter at 6:30 p.m.; and Gonzaga against American (6-4) at 8 p.m.
Among the girls’ team in the tournament, it may be tough to beat Miami High (15-0). The Stings return all five starters from the team that made it to last season’s Class 8A state final, including 6-3 junior center Beatrice Mompremier.
ESPN ranks Mompremier the nation’s fifth-best center in the Class of 2015.
Other girls’ teams of note:
MORE BOYS’ BASKETBALLPalmetto 71, Miami Christian 64: PAL (6-4): MC:
MORE GIRLS’ BASKETBALL