Miami becoming a hot commodity for college recruiters
The South Florida area, especially Miami, is known for its hot weather and salsa dancing but in recent years a fair amount of basketball talent has began to emerge. This year is no exception with one of the most talented summer traveling teams, the Miami Tropics, boasting several division-one prospects.
“There’s no doubt that this area is loaded with talent and the college coaches are beginning to take notice,” Tropics head coach Art Alvarez said. “Our summer team will certainly have its fair share. We are pretty much loaded and several teams have already been through here to see us.
“We have eight kids invited to the Nike camp and we’ll have two groups of five that can compete with anyone in the country. Total we might have 12 high major kids.”
Tropics starting backcourt boasts two high-majors
One familiar face that will be leading the Tropics charge is 2005 shooting guard David Huertas from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville (Fla.).
Huertas, 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, enjoyed a strong showing at last years Nike camp where he displayed the ability to knock down the long-range jumper with impressive consistency.
“David can flat out shoot the ball, in my opinion he’s the best shooter in the country. But his game is much more complete than just jumpshots,” Alvarez said. “He has a good basketball I.Q., nice handle and likes to get his teammates involved.
“He is receiving interest from schools across the country and I think his stock will only rise as he becomes more visible this summer.”
Rivals.com’s 19th ranked player in the 2005 class has offers from Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida State, and Indiana and a host of other schools. He will narrow his list down during the summer.
Teaming with Huertas in the backcourt will be another highly recruited 2005 prospect, point guard Denis Clemente from Calusa Prep in Miami.
“Denis is the one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen from one end of the floor to the other,” Alvarez said. “He led the state of Florida in scoring last year and he handles the ball well. Also, he’s a good athlete that can get to the basket or score from the perimeter.
“This summer I think he will blow up. Right now, a lot of people don’t know about him but that is about to change.”
Clemente, 6-foot-1, 165-pounds, has an early offer from the Arkansas staff with Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech and LSU among others showing heavy interest.
2006 Big man stock expected to rise
One underclassmen to keep an eye on will be 2006 power forward, Luis Colon who Alvarez believes has major potential.
“Luis has a tremendous upside but he is already strong under the basket and does a nice job finishing,” Alvarez said. “He’s long and does a good job of rebounding on both ends of the floor and for a big guy he really moves well.
"He will end up being one of the top players in his class and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he was the best overall player. He has that kind of potential."
Colon, 6-foot-10, 270-pounds, has an early list of favorites which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, Miami and Mississippi State.
Tropics expected to push early and often
Having so much talent on one team might make for a tricky situation with some coaches trying to keep all his players happy but Alvarez indicated that he had a plan in place.
“Usually I play an eight man rotation but this year I’ve switched to two groups of five,” Alavarez said. “We are going to press on defense and push the ball up the floor on offense.
“The team is very athletic and we have a lot of kids who can shoot the ball or take you off the dribble.”
Alvarez, who was a successful high school coach, has high hopes for this summer.
“My goals as a coach are to do the same thing I did at Miami Christian,” Alvarez said. “I want the kids to have fun but I want to win. Our goal is to win the traveling team national championship and as many major tournaments as we can.”
Steve Rodriquez and Miquel Mercado will serve as assistant coaches for the Tropics.
Other Prospects to Watch
PG-Josue Sato (2005), PG-Edwin Rios (2007), SF-Sammy Hernandez (2005), C-Jason Bennett (2005), PF-Dwayne Collins (2006), SG-Brian Hoff (2005)
Tip off for the Tropics: Boo Williams Invitational April 9th-11th.