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Travel Team Preview: Miami Tropics
Posted, 3/26/2005 10:03:08 PM

By Rick Staudt

Even though they are somewhat new to the travel circuit, Coach Art Alvarez and his Miami Tropics have had a great deal of success. As an elite Nike team, they have participated in such prestigious events as Boo Williams, Nike Memorial Day tournament, and the Peach Jam. Last year's dominant players, Denis Clemente and David Huertas may have moved on to Miami and Florida respectively, but Alvarez believes his team will be very successful.

"We have a great combination of size on the interior and firepower from the perimeter", says the veteran coach. "We will be big, with only one anticipated starter under 6'6, but we will still be athletic enough to keep up with anybody."

The paint will be patrolled by 7'3 Jason Bennett of Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School and 6'10 Luis Colon of Montverde (FL) Academy. Franck Ndango, also of Montverde Academy and 2007 Orane Chin of Miami (FL) Dr. Krop are both in the 6'6 to 6'7 range and are considered the small forwards of the group.

"Shots inside and offensive rebounds will be difficult for other teams to get with both Bennett and Colon in there", states Alvarez. "Both guys are pretty good offensively as well. Jason has developed a reliable hook shot and foul line jumper while Luis has a consistent shot around the basket. Ndango and Chin can create their own shots off the dribble and are very good athletes. Ndango will also play some wing guard. Both are very quick laterally and can guard people out on the wings."

Guard play will come from 6'0 point guard Josue Soto of Jacksonville (FL) Arlington Country Day School, 6'3 wing guard Ray Waters of Lake Suzy (FL) Florida Prep, 2007 6'2 wing guard Ian Fells of Miami (FL) Dr. Krop, 5'9 2007 point guard Eric Rodriguez, also of Dr. Krop, 5'9 shooter Lucas Newton of Ft. Lauderdale (FL) North Broward Prep, and Chris Hall, a 6'1 combo guard from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Westminster Academy.

"Josue will be one of the top 5 point guards in the country going into the camps in July and one of the top 50-75 players in the country", says Alvarez. "He is a complete player on both sides of the ball. Waters is a strong combo who gets to the rim in a hurry and finishes. Fells and Newton are excellent from beyond the arc and only need a sliver of daylight to get off a shot. Eric is the son of legendary HS coach "Shaky" Rodriguez and has a great basketball IQ. We are very excited about Chris Hall. He may be slight of build, but he has a great all-around offensive game and quickness on the defensive end."

"As good as I believe our roster is now, I am not done completing the squad", says Alvarez. "We will be adding some major surprises to the Tropics. Those players should be with us by our second event. High-major college coaches will be very impressed by what they see."

The Tropics will take on a very challenging schedule and look forward to proving the can play and beat the best. Below is their tentative schedule:

  • April 1-3: Nike Team Florida Jamboree, Orlando
  • April 15-17: Spring Showcase, Las Vegas
  • April 22-24: Kingwood Classic, Houston
  • May 13-15: Travel Basketball Championships, Gainesville
  • May 28-30: Nike Memorial Day Classic, New Orleans
  • June 10-12: Rumble in the Bronx, New York
  • June 17-19: Big Bend Shootout, Tallahassee
  • July 12-15: Peach Jam, Augusta
  • July 23-27: AAU 17U Super Showcase, Orlando
  • July 27-Aug 1: 17U AAU Nationals, Orlando

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