MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Michael Avery made the difficult decision this past year to travel across the country to Montverde Academy in Florida from his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and it is paying off.
Schools from across the country are now showing interest in Avery, a 6-foot-5, 197-pound shooting guard in the 2012 class who was one of the best players Monday at the Breakdown Hoops Festival at St. Thomas University.
"I originally thought it was going to be tough but I'm happy that I did it and I wouldn't have changed a thing," Avery said.
"There are minuses like you're leaving your family when you're young and you don't get to spend time with them but going to Montverde was the best learning experience because I got to play against top competition every day. We had five or six guys go high DI so the competition, you couldn't beat that."
Avery didn't score the most points or have the most assists or rebounds in Team Breakdown's victory but he had a certain poise about his game that it's clear to see why so many programs are interested.
He's intelligent with the basketball in his hands, uses his body to get to the basket, is a good ball handler, can pull up and hit jump shots and is a talented passer who plays the game under control. Avery just has a nice overall feel for the game.
Alabama, Virginia, Florida, Florida State, Stanford and others have shown interest in Avery, who said Pepperdine also has a legitimate shot at landing him because he's open to returning to southern California to play college basketball. A Pepperdine assistant coach was seen in the gym Monday.
"I'm wide open, I'm willing to look at any school but I really like Pepperdine," Avery said. "It's a school that I've liked since I was little and it's real close to my house but I'm still looking at everything and I'm wide open.
"I would be interested in (going back home for college). It's always good to be close to your family but also it would be good to stay in Florida because I've grown close to a lot of people out here so it's like I have two families now."
Early standouts at Breakdown event
Billydee Williams has a commanding name and a commanding presence on the court. The 6-foot-5 small forward is playing for Florida Assault and scored his 24 points in a variety of ways. The Orlando (Fla.) Evans recruit said South Florida and UCF are his favorites and that he's also hearing from Virginia Tech, Miami and Stetson.
** Florida Prospects White is led by lefty point guard DeAndre Bullard, who is hearing more from High Point than other schools, and athletic, wiry 6-foot-7 small forward Aluk Adub, who said Weber State, Winthrop, Furman, Jacksonville and North Florida are most involved. Adub is especially athletic and aggressive going to the rim. Bullard creates off the dribble and can finish at the basket or find open teammates.
** The Broward Tigers 17-under team is led by two 2012 guards from Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely and they're clearly the leaders on the court. Krishaun Myers is a 6-foot point guard who rarely rushes things and knows when to defer and when to take his own shot.
Myers can hit the three-point shot but is better going to the rim. Anterio Smith is the other rising junior and his game is best played from behind the arc. Smith is 6 feet 3 and works best when he runs off a screen or gets free on the perimeter and gets the ball off a kick-out pass which usually comes from Myers.
** Breakdown guard Marcus Maye from Melbourne (Fla.) Holy Trinity said Iowa, Alabama, Miami and South Carolina are showing the most interest. Maye is a natural scorer but doesn't force things plus he has a good body frame - strong and built but not too bulky that he can't keep up with quick point guards.
** Two players to watch on the South Florida Panthers are point guard Kyle Phanord from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School and 6-foot-1 shooting guard Javon Price from South Dade. Both are 2012 prospects.
** The Gold Coast 15-under team has two intriguing big men in 6-foot-9 Rashad Thompkins and 6-foot-8 Wadley Mompremier. They didn't get to play Monday afternoon though because Long Island Lightning was a no-show.
Keeping an eye out: Tuesday is the first full day at the Breakdown event and there are a bunch of top players to look out for including Florida Assault's Shane Larkin and Robert Brown, Gold Coast's Eddie Odio, Breakdown's Trevor Franklin and Daniel Sapp and the 16-under team of Heart & Hustle which features Carlos Morris and Shawn Smith.
Coaches seen in the gym: Seen in the stands were coaches from Drexel, High Point, James Madison, North Florida, Pepperdine, Furman, Winthrop, UCF, Florida International, UMBC, FAU, Virginia Tech and Tennessee-Chattanooga.