Five Things Friday with Josh Tec: Five Florida Favorites
Welcome back to Five Things Friday!
For this week’s five things, I wanted to take a look at some of the prospects that impressed me from one of my favorite states in the country.
That’s right, baby! We’re going down to Florida this Friday. I know it’s polarizing, but I’m a big-time fan of the Sunshine State. It’s got everything I love and need in a location, and that includes good basketball across the board.
From the highest level of prospects to some of the best sleepers around, Florida never disappoints. To avoid some general repetition, I’m going to avoid some of the guys that I’ve written about a ton in the past. I’ll also skip over the Boozers for now because we’ll be talking about them plenty for the next few years. You’re welcome in advance.
So without further adieu, let’s take a look at some alliteration with five Florida favorites.
I’m not sure that any player grabbed my attention as much as Etienne did late in the season when I got to take in more Florida action. Throughout the entire travel season, I don’t recall one player impacting team success as much as Etienne did. I mean, this guy did everything. He routinely flirted with quadruple doubles and poured in 20-plus points with regularity. He’s a big point guard that can fly up the court. Etienne became the focal point of defenses, but teams struggled to keep him in front because of his speed. It was funny to watch opposing coaches go from being frustrated at their team’s inability to stop Etienne to just accepting that he was just that good. His defensive timing and ability to rack up steals is my favorite part of his game. Etienne gets his team easy points in transition via his defense. The word on the street is that he’s even better at football. I need someone to confirm because he’s a pretty damn productive basketball player.
Playing up with Florida Pro’s 17U squad 2024 point guard Stone Bureau never looked out of place. In fact, he was downright impressive as the floor general for their team. Bureau is a strong guard with some bounce to his game. He’s a stopper on defense. Bureau does a good job at bodying guards up and keeping them in front of him, and he’s a deceptively adept shot blocker for his size. Offensively, he sees the floor well and makes tremendous reads to set his teammates up for success. He doesn’t shy away from physicality on drives to the basket and keeps teams honest with his 3-point shot. Florida Pro always has players. That’s why they’re so successful on a year-by-year basis. When we enter the next travel season and Stone Bureau is garnering more attention, don’t be surprised.
Florida’s 2025 class probably deserves a closer examination of its own because it’s shaping up to be pretty impressive. One of the guys that adds depth to the young class is Ladanian Brooks. He’s a long, lanky 6-foot-6 wing. When I got to see Brooks, he was playing up in the 17U division with Team Wright, and he looked like one of the best players on the floor. He was certainly the guy with the highest ceiling. He showed a lot in terms of being a dominant presence around the basket. Brooks used his length on the glass and when finishing at the rim. He puts the ball on the floor well enough to serve as a playmaker from the wing, and I think the continual development in his skill work as a perimeter player is what makes his ceiling so high. Physically, he’s there. As his jumper and ball handling continue to get better with reps, he could be a guy that we’re talking about a lot in the future.
Dawson Barr rightly gained a lot of attention after continuing his compilation of year-after-year greatness. Right alongside him, however, is Jalon Cole. The two have combined for a solid one-two punch for TNBA South for quite some time. Cole’s certainly someone who should be garnering some looks from colleges in the area. He has a ton of tools to be successful at the next level. Cole’s a big, 6-foot-4 guard with wiry length. He plays on and off the ball well because of his ability to create offense for himself and everyone around him and his ability to knock down open jumpers. Cole’s a bit of a sleeper prospect who shouldn’t be slept on. He brings a ton to the table in terms of physical attributes and has steadily gotten better over the years. In the right program, that development should continue at the next level and pay dividends down the line.
Abaev could be the most intriguing long-term prospect in this list. He’s another part of the loaded 2025 class down in Florida. I remember seeing him early in the spring for the first time with the Georgia Stars, and I was immediately enamored with his upside. Abaev is a 6-foot-5 guard with tremendous vision. He can see over defenses and deliver on-target passes through tight windows. If he’s not a quarterback, he would probably excel in the position. Not only is he great with passing, Abaev has a consistent jumper that could further develop with time. While it’s still early, Abaev has shown a lot in terms of upside. He will certainly be a player that I follow as time goes on.