10.18.18 | News
University School (Fort Lauderdale) enters the 2018 Culligan City of Palms Classic as the defending champs, but the Sharks still have something to prove. Montverde Academy pounded University School in the championship game of the GEICO High School Nationals last spring, leaving Scottie Barnes, Vernon Carey Jr. and company one step short of a dream season.
Something that took place in the offseason no doubt left a sour taste in Barnes’ and Carey’s mouths, too. Both elite prospects play for Team Florida in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, but Team Florida took a 90-64 beating from the AOT Running Rebels, who featured Sharife Cooper and Isaac Okoro, both of whom play their high school ball for McEachern (Powder Springs, Georgia).
That summertime matchup was tinged with revenge, since University School knocked off McEachern in last year’s City of Palms semifinals. The four top-flight prospects all figured prominently on that December day. Cooper had 26 points and Okoro had 16 for McEachern, while Carey put up 21 points and 10 rebounds and Barnes had a well-rounded 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals for University School.
But another prominent figure for University School in that game isn’t there anymore. Drue Drinnon shot 8 for 13 from the field and had 20 points, the kind of performance New Mexico coach Paul Weir would love for him to have as a freshman for the Lobos this year.
Drinnon wasn’t on the Team Florida squad with Barnes and Carey this summer, and it was clear they missed him in their blowout lost to AOT. But Barnes, Carey and the rest of the University School squad could get another shot at Cooper and Okoro in this year’s City of Palms.
If it happens, it would be in the finals, with much more than just bragging rights on the line. And if University School and McEachern get there, each will have stared down a gauntlet of three imposing foes in the preliminary rounds.
So, it’s premature for Barnes and Carey, and Cooper and Okoro, to start thinking seriously about their next matchup. But in the back of their minds, the alluring, tantalizing possibility surely looms.