Commentary | Southeast's Ronald Taylor becoming area's newest hoops prodigy

adell@bradenton.comJune 30, 2013 

Southeast point guard Ronald Taylor is starting to receive national acclaim after putting on a memorable performance at a recent basketball showcase in Clearwater.

ESPN was there and now lists the 6-foot-2, 160-pound lefty among the top 34 point guards in the country for the class of 2016.

Taylor's emergence as a top college prospect lessens the disappointment local basketball fans felt when nationally touted Antonio Blakeney transferred out of Cardinal Mooney last spring.

Taylor started as a freshman last year for the Seminoles, averaged about nine points per game and showed maturity and knowledge of the game well beyond his years. His coach at Southeast, Elliot Washington, who just took over the State College of Florida men's basketball job, said Taylor is a special player.

The youngster is unfazed by the sudden attention and isn't sure what it all means. He just wants to play basketball and put on a nice performance last week at the DRC Foundation Basketball Camp in Palmetto.

Southeast candidates

Washington's departure after 14 years running the Southeast program leaves an attractive opening, and Southeast athletic director Paul Maechtle welcomes input on Washington's successor.

The early leaders for the job figure to be former Booker High coach Derrick Kirce and Floyd Watkins, who played at Eckerd College and Southeast.

Kirce coached Booker to the state title in 2006 and

is considered one of the greatest players to come out of the Manatee-Sarasota area. He was the star on Booker's previous state championship basketball team in 1985. He also holds the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga single-game record for field goals and averaged 19.5 points per game during his career there.

Currently an assistant at Eckerd, Watkins played for the Tritons' Sunshine State Conference teams in 1994 and '95. He has been an assistant volunteer there for 12 seasons.

Other names that come to mind are Stan Cromartie and Wilmore Fowler.

Cromartie is a former Southeast hoops standout who is assistant athletic director at Edward Waters College, and Fowler is the career scoring leader for Palmetto. Cromartie says he wants to stay in college.

There won't be a shortage of candidates. This is one of the best high school coaching jobs in the area.

Blakely likely juco bound

If Mike Blakely plays football next season, expect it to be for Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. The running back enrolled early at Florida during his senior year at Manatee, did not play and then transferred to Auburn where he saw limited action last season.

After one season at Hutchinson, he would be eligible to return to a four-year school, and don't be surprised if he winds up at USF.

Hart still with BC Lions

Former Southeast quarterback Chris Hart has been placed on injured reserve for the Canadian Football League's BC Lions. Hopefully, it will give him an opportunity to learn about the pro game in Canada.

Hart performed well in college, but got himself in predicaments that led to him four schools. He has some baggage, but the college coaches speak highly about this talent.

Hart played at Valdosta State, Georgia Military College, Towson University and finished up at Webber International, where he threw for 1,285 yards and 15 TDs.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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