Bradenton, Fla - The Herd has returned to campus at the State College of Florida in sunny Bradenton. Fresh off the Manatees' most successful basketball season in six years, SCF's #2ndHerd aims to take the NJCAA hoops world by storm in Head Coach Tom Parks' second season at the school. In the 2018-19 campaign, the Manatees won the Suncoast Conference Tournament Championship and made the State Tournament for the first time since 2012-13, obliterating expectations and setting the stage for 2019-20.
Leading the way for SCF are sophomore guards D'Moi Hodge and Isiah Dasher, who were the team's first and second leading scorers last season, averaging 19.3 and 16.5 points per game respectively. Over the summer, Hodge and Dasher have collectively received interest from over 40 NCAA Divison-1 schools. The duo returns to take the reins of another potent, high-flying, high-powered Manatee offense.
Last season, Hodge held court with jaw-dropping individual performances, including games of 50 and 43 points. Dasher, through high basketball IQ and craftiness, also showed stunning offensive acumen in his own right, quietly scoring 20+ points night after night. Aside from scoring, the two guards led last year's team in rebounding as well, with Hodge grabbing 8.1 and Dasher snagging 5.4 rebounds per game.
Other returners include sharp-shooting three-point specialist Remy Robert II from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and versatile wing Max Bell-Ramos from Cumana, Venezuela. Robert shined early last season as a long-range scorer and lockdown defender. In back to back games on consecutive days, Robert scored 10 total three-pointers against Santa Fe and Florida State Jacksonville. Bell proved to be one of the team's most dynamic players, adept at driving and either finishing at the rim or finding the open man. He shot 40% from both the three-point line and the field last season.
The lone returning big man to SCF's #2ndHerd is Chris Scarborough, who contributed big minutes down the stretch last season and was crucial to the #1stHerd's Suncoast Conference Tournament Championship run. He showed great touch from mid-range as well as the post, shooting over 50% from the field, and being a monster rebounder in the paint. In a critical conference game against a very tall, very strong St. Petersburg College team, Scarborough muscled his way to the rim and secured what was essentially the game-winning rebound that sealed the Manatees' victory.
Redshirt freshmen point guards Jaylen Jones and Calvin McCutcheon will take the court for the first time this season, after a year of growth from being in practices, watching film sessions, and taking classes at SCF last season. Jones and McCutcheon's time in the trenches with last season's Suncoast Conference Tournament Champions will undoubtedly give them a huge head start entering their freshmen campaigns. Both players came from storied Florida high school programs in Booker (Sarasota) and Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach) respectively. McCutcheon was a State Champion and Jones was a State Runner-Up.
A blue-chip recruiting class of talented newcomers joins the #2ndHerd for the 2019-2020 season. The incoming class of true freshmen starts overseas with a pair of Aussies in Marshall Kearing and Sam Grayson. Kearing is from Perth, Australia, while Grayson is from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. Both play in the front court and each will add a unique new layer to the Manatee inside game. At six-foot-nine, Kearing can defend anywhere on the court and brings explosiveness on the offensive end. At six-foot-eight, Grayson displays major power on the boards and around the rim.
Joining the corps of post men is Jean-Pierre (JP) Frederick, another international star from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. A late signee, the six-foot-eight JP could be the team's biggest mystery and enigmatic player, with unlimited upside. The Caribbean theme continues with this year's Manatees as six-foot-six swingman J-Quan Ferrol also joins the squad. Originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Ferrol comes to SCF as a versatile scorer and rebounder who will add more size to the middle of the Manatee line-up.
The #2ndHerd backcourt is bolstered by the signings of three of the most talented 2019 high school guards in the state of Florida. Jordan Clark is another local product from Booker High School in Sarasota. The rangy, six-foot-three Clark led the perennial state contender Tornadoes with 16.3 points per game last season. Joining Clark is Jamal Qualls, a six-foot-two power guard who averaged 23.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game at Marathon High School. The trio is completed by scoring machine and point guard Michael Gavin, who scored 60 points in a high school game, and averaged 29.6 during his senior season. Gavin hails from Lake Mary and was another late signee at the end of July.
Rounding out the #2ndHerd are two redshirt additions in six-foot-seven wing Rae Miller and six-foot-two guard Christian Nieto. Miller and Nieto are both extremely hard workers who have immediately added to the positive, gritty, grind-it-out culture of the Manatee basketball squad.
With the team now on campus, the #2ndHerd begins team workouts in the upcoming week. Official team practices start in October, and the first regular season game will be on November 6 at 7:00pm against Pasco Hernando State College in New Port Richey. Home opener at Hal Chasey Gymnasium on the SCF campus will be on November 13 at 6:00pm against Palm Beach State College.
By Rob Beckmann, Head Assistant Basketball Coach