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Travel Team Preview: South Florida Heat
Posted, 3/28/2005 1:17:52 PM

By Rick Staudt

The South Florida Heat are part of the Nike family of travel teams. The talent pool they draw from stretches from Palm Beach to Miami-Dade county. With a large population base and a deep talent pool, it is easy to see why coach Ed Auricchio is so excited about this team

"Not only are we talented, but all of the kids have played on successful high school teams and are battle-tested", says Auricchio. "They are both physically and mentally tough."

Florida State commitment Jon Kreft, a 7'0 center from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Douglas, will be the anchor in the frontcourt. Joining him will be 6'7 small forward Damien Hollis of Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Taravella, 6'8 power forward Zachery Peacock from Miami (FL) Norland, and Steve Toyloy, a 6'7 power forward from West Palm Beach (FL) Palm Beach Lakes.

"Kreft is very mobile for a guy his size", says coach Auricchio. "He can shoot the 15 footer as well as score with his back to the basket. Toyloy is an athletic shotblocker and rebounder. Zach Peacock is very athletic and skilled at the four spot. We are really excited about Damien Hollis. At 6'7, he will play some point for us. He is a good shooter as well and can play the 1, 2, or 3 spot comfortably.

The backcourt is filled with guards that are effective at either the point or shooting guard position. Leading the way will be 6'2 combo guard Cory Claitt from West Palm Beach (FL) Palm Beach Lakes. Others in the mix will be Avery Holley, a 6'0 point guard from Pompano Beach (FL) Ely, 6'5 wing guard Xavier Perkins from Boca Raton (FL) St. Andrews, Brandon Williams, a 5'11 point from Miami (FL) Pace, and two from the class of 2007: 6'2 combo guard Virgil Philstan from Miami (FL) Pace and 6'3 wing guard Leonard Hankerson from Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas.

"Claitt is a very physical and confident player that is a great scorer", says Auricchio. "Holley is as fast with the ball as you will see, but plays under control and can really shoot it. Perkins has a build like a football player, but is very good at slashing to the hoop and finishing in transition. Williams can fill it up. He made 6 threes in a state tournament game. I am very excited about our young guys. Philistan is such a complete player. He defends very well and can pass as well as score. Hankerson is "freaky"athletic, much like Guillermo Diaz before he discovered basketball."

The Heat will be taking on a very ambitious schedule. Expect to hear a great deal from this Florida team.

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

  • March 25-27: Disney Easter Classic, Orlando
  • April 1-3: Nike Team Florida Raptor Challenge, Orlando
  • April 15-17: Spring Showcase, Las Vegas
  • April 22-24: Nike 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: Nike Peach Jam, Augusta
  • July 23-27: AAU Super Showcase, Orlando
  • July 26-Aug 1: AAU 17U Nationals, Orlando


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