One glance at the University School Sharks’ roster shows why they were one of the top boys’ basketball teams in the country last year.
And it shows why they’re poised to be in that spot once again.
With two of the top recruits in the country and contributors returning from a roster that easily won the Class 5A state title and finished as the runner-up in the GEICO National tournament last year, University School has the pieces to make yet another deep run this season.
“Like every new group, it’s excited to get a season started,” said first-year University School head coach Jim Carr, who was promoted from his assistant coach role when Adrian Sosa resigned this offseason to pursue other opportunities. “Every group has it’s different challenges. “This is a group of gym rats. It’s a group of kids that likes to play the right way. It’s a defensive-minded group. It’s real exciting.”
Leading the Sharks will be center Vernon Carey Jr. and forward Scottie Barnes.
Carey, a 6-10 senior who is the No. 2 prospect in the 2019 class and top prospect in the state, averaged a staggering 26 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game last year to help the Sharks go 35-2 — their lone losses being an 83-69 defeat to Virginia powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in the Hall of Fame ESPNU game and a 76-58 loss to Montverde Academy in the GEICO National finals.
Carey last week narrowed his top-three college choices to perennial powers Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina.
“He can score at all three levels, which is rare for a kid that size,” Carr said. “Vernon works extremely hard. He’s a hell of a competitor.”
Barnes, a 6-7 small forward and the third-ranked prospect in the class of 2020, averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game last season.
Cal commit Logan Alters, David Perez and Roger McFarland will comprise University School’s backcourt rotation. Brothers Jace and Jett Howard will play from the wing.
And the Sharks will continue to play the best of the best.
After opening the season against Pine Crest on Tuesday and facing South Miami on Wednesday in the Hoop Hall Invitational, University School will face defending Class 8A champion Blanche Ely as part of the Kreul Showcase.
From there, they face Class 4A champion Westminster Academy twice and then play in a pair of nationally recognized tournaments in the City of Palms in Fort Myers and the Les Schwab Invitational in Portland, Oregon.
Five more Broward teams to watch
▪ Blanche Ely: Ely is the defending Class 8A champ and has won five state titles in the past seven years. The Tigers return second-team All-County forward Joshua Scott from their starting lineup last year and will look for players such as forward Lance Rainer to step up as they replace four starters.
▪ Westminster Academy: The defending Class 4A champions return three starters from last season’s team in point guard Sam Griffin, combo guard Chase Johnston and forward Dudley Blackwell. The trio combined to average 45.9 points per game last year.
▪ Miramar: The Patriots made their first state semifinal appearance last year since 2011 and eye another long playoff run this season in Class 9A. Inexperience could be Miramar’s biggest obstacle early on, returning just three regulars from last year’s title run. But with an influx of transfers and three talented freshmen in Deshawn Jean-Charles, Faheim Meran and Caleb Walters, Miramar has the potential to make noise again this year.
▪ Boyd Anderson: The Cobras will once again try to get over the hump in Class 7A after falling in the regional semifinals to district rival Northeast last year. Seniors RJ Durhart and Kenny Anderson will lead the way on a veteran-heavy lineup.
▪ Deerfield Beach: The Bucks went 22-9 last season before ultimately falling in the Class 9A regional final to Wellington. Senior guards Michael Johnson (11 points, 5 rebounds 3 assists per game in 2017-18) and Victor Robinson (10 points, 8 rebounds per game in 2017-18) will lead coach Kenny Brown’s up-tempo offense as Deerfield aims to make it back to state for the first time since 2013.