Exactly half of the nominees for this year's coveted Mr. Basketball award are from South Florida. The award, presented each year by the Florida Dairy Farmers -- will nothing stop them from showing kids the benefits of drinking milk? -- is given to the top boy's basketball player from a pool of finalists picked from each FHSAA classification.
Charles Hankerson, Jr. of Miami Coral Reef led the Barracudas to their first state championship, scoring an average of 21.7 points a game en route to being named the 6A Player of the Year. Hankerson, a junior guard, has received offers from Auburn and Virginia Commonwealth.
Miami Monsignor Pace's power forward Rakeem Buckles is currently watching his future Louisville teammates as they make their way through March Madness. Buckles is the Player of the Year for class 4A, and would become the second player from Pace in a row to win Mr. Basketball if it goes his way; former teammate and previous winner Ray Shipman is now with the Florida Gators.
Point guard Brandon Knight from Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest is Player of the Year in class 3A. Oh, he's also considered the #1 junior prospect in America, with offers from UConn, Florida, Miami, Syracuse, Duke, and Georgia Tech. Knight, who averaged over 31 points for the season, holds school records for most points in a season and career, three-pointers in a season and career, and career assists -- and there's one more year to go for Knight after leading the Panthers to their second consecutive state championship.
Well, isn't that nice, you think, but aren't these awards kind of arbitrary?
Actually, the Mr. and Miss titles are pretty accurate in picking athletes with career potential. Former Florida prep winners include NBA ballers Vince Carter of the Nets (1994-Daytona Beach Mainland), Chris Richard of the Timberwolves (2003-Lakeland Kathleen), and Amar'e Stoudemire of the Suns (2002-Orlando Cypress Creek); college quarterbacks -- you may have heard of them -- and Mr. Footballs Tim Tebow (2005-Ponte Vedra Neese), Robert Marve (2006-Tampa Plant), and Jacory Harris (2007-Miami Northwestern); Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin (1998's Mr. Football-Pahokee); Oakland Raiders QB Daunte Culpepper (1994's Mr. Football-Ocala Vanguard); Michelle Snow of the WNBA's Houston Comets (1997's Miss Basketball-Pensacola); and someone called Alex Rodriguez (1992's Mr. Baseball, Fort Lauderdale Westminster).
Now if we could just get this voting committee on the Heisman. Where is Eric Crouch these days?
Janie Campbell played high school basketball, but the only award she received from that time period was "Best Senior Hair." She was just that good. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.