Defending 6A boys’ basketball state champion Leesburg a preseaon No. 1

Strive Fitness - George352-339-1230

Strive Fitness – George
352-339-1230

Defending Class 6A state champions, Leesburg, on top of preseason regional boys’ hoops rankings

GAINESVILLE – Last year, Leesburg won the FHSAA Class 6A Boys’ Basketball state title, just its third state championship in school history but the second since 2011.

The Yellow Jackets, who finished 23-6 last season, are talented enough to repeat. They raced past Eustis, 87-63, in their season opener, and their only loss is to Independent West Oaks Academy (Orlando), 79-70.

Lance Erving, who had 20 in last year’s state championship game, and Cordrayius Graham, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, are two of several returning players. Plus, Decorian Patterson is back in from Dunnellon, while Leonard Manuel of Vanguard (Ocala) recently transferred to Leesburg too.Leesburg Yellow Jackets

Despite earning just two of the six first-place votes, they are the top-ranked team in The Prep Zone Power Poll preseason boys’ basketball regional rankings.

Providence (Jacksonville), which received three of the six first-place votes, is ranked second.

The Stallions (25-6 in 2016-17) lost to Westminster Academy (Ft. Lauderdale) in the Class 4A state championship game last year. Despite the loss of Zack Bryant, fourth all-time in Northeast Florida with 2,274 points, head coach Jim Martin still has plenty of talent.

Creekside (St. Johns), which received the other first-place vote, is third in the regional rankings.

The Knights finished 26-4 last year, making a run all the way to the Class 8A Region Final before falling in overtime to eventual state runner-up Lincoln (Tallahassee).

They are led by senior point guard J’Michael Plummer, a preseason All-State selection by Source Hoops. Plummer flirted with a quadruple-double, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and seven steals in their season-opening 73-42 win against Nease (Ponte Vedra).

Vanguard (Ocala), which advanced to its first state semifinal since 1982, is ranked fourth.

The Knights finished 24-7 last year after falling to eventual state champion Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale) in the 6A state semifinals. Vanguard opened the season with a 51-46 win against West Port (Ocala) and will play a very challenging schedule to help them get ready for another postseason run.

Rounding out the top five is Raines (Jacksonville), whose football team plays for the Class 4A state title against Cocoa.

The Vikings (3-0) should be one of the top teams in Northeast Florida after returning several players from last season’s Class 5A Regional Final team which went 20-10.

Class 5A state semifinalist The Villages leads off the next five, followed by Ribault (Jacksonville), Eastside (Gainesville), Gainesville, and co-No. 10s Palatka and Hawthorne, who were both in the state semifinals in 6A and 1A, respectively.

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters. It is powered by Strive Fitness.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2017-18 BOYS BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, last year’s final record, record through 12/2, and total voting points)
1. Leesburg (6A) (2) (23-6) (2-1) – 113
2. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (3) (25-6) (2-0) – 109
3. Creekside (St. Johns) (8A) (1) (26-4) (2-0) – 105
4. Vanguard (Ocala) (7A) (24-7) (1-0) – 79
5. Raines (Jacksonville) (5A) (20-10) (3-0) – 73
6. The Villages (5A) (28-3) (1-1) – 66
7. Ribault (Jacksonville) (6A) (25-7) (1-0) – 65
8. Eastside (Gainesville) (6A) (11-12) (3-0) – 59
9. Gainesville (7A) (25-4) (1-1) – 54
T-10. Hawthorne (1A) (24-6) (2-0) – 45
T-10. Palatka (6A) (21-9) (2-0) – 45
12. Wildwood (1A) (25-4) (0-1) – 41
13. P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (19-8) (2-2) – 40
14. Deltona (7A) (16-11) (2-0) – 39
15. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (6A) (27-2) (2-0) – 37
16. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (6A) (20-7) (3-0) – 36
17. Atlantic (Port Orange) (7A) (23-5) (1-0) – 34
18. Flagler Palm Coast (9A) (17-12) (2-0) – 31
19. First Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (21-5) (2-0) – 23
20. Terry Parker (Jacksonville) (6A) (22-4) (1-1) – 22
Also receiving votes: Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (13-13) (3-0) – 19; North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) (2A) (21-9) (1-2) – 18; Englewood (Jacksonville) (7A) (17-10) (1-1) – 16; Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (5A) (15-11) (0-1) – 12; Temple Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (25-4) (0-0) – 12; Fernandina Beach (5A) (22-5) (2-0) – 11; Lake Minneola (8A) (8-17) (2-0) – 10; Trinity Christian (Deltona) (3A) (22-9) (0-3) – 9; DeLand (9A) (17-11) (1-2) – 9; New Smyrna Beach (7A) (18-7) (1-0) – 7; Mount Dora Christian Academy (3A) (18-8) (2-1) – 5; University Christian (Jacksonville) (4A) (4-16) (0-1) – 3; Madison County (1A) (22-5) – 3; Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville) (8A) (17-8) (0-1) – 3; Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (16-10) (1-0) – 3; Dunnellon (6A) (9-18) (3-0) – 2; St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) (3A) (18-8) (1-1) – 1; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6-15) (2-0) – 1.