football

Speights high on two early on

Get to know the name Marreese Speights. It's a name that will probably be written about a lot this summer. In fact, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward from Admiral Farragut High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., has already been talked about a lot this year in the Sunshine State. Now, the big man is hoping more people across the nation knows a little bit more about him come AAU time.
Speights has been a tough player to stop in Florida this season. He's averaging 17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and shooting a shade over 60 percent from the floor this season. Now mix into the equation he missed seven games due to a bruised foot in midseason. According to Admiral Farragut assistant coach Tommy Brown, Speights is getting back to tip top shape.
"That didn't help," Brown said. "His cardio work needed to improve and he just needed to be back in shape. But he came back strong. He's been playing well ever since. The last three, four games, he's been really good."
Speights has put in 20 points a game over three times in the last five games en route to claiming a district championship. Brown, a former USBL head coach, knows what kind of player Speights is and can eventually become.
"If I had to name just one thing, it's been his rebounding ability," Brown said of Speights's improvements this year. "He's a big force under the basket and I think he's beginning to recognize that. His tenacity under the basket has just really improved.
"I think he's known he can always be a scorer but what makes him more effective this year is he's hitting his shots more often. He can step out and hit the three. He just goes after it. It seems like the light went off in that area."
Still a bit under the radar nationally, Speights has received attention from some schools in the South. Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Memphis are all asking or have been in to see him this year. But to Speights, two stand out early on.
"I like Florida and Memphis," the big man said. "I like their style of play and how they get the big man the ball inside. I call them about once a week just to say what's up. They've been there since the summer so I'd say that gives them a little bit of an advantage."
Brown knows what the assistants are looking at.
"They like his size, of course, and the fact that his upside is just huge is something else they really like about him," Brown said of all of the schools involved. "He's relatively young. He's just a few months into being 17."
Throw into the mix that Speights will need to take a prep school year next year, coaches like the fact that the big man will spend another year refining his academics and improving on his "high-ceiling skill set" as Brown said.
Speights will be a guy that Rivals.com watches closely come April when the busy AAU season picks up.
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