Boys basketball in the area could be undergoing a resurgence, with multiple players from our traditional school possibly receiving a Division I scholarship.
Tre Clark, Palmetto High's sharpshooting 6-4 guard, is the most sought-after player at the moment. He has a big suitor in University of South Alabama head coach Matt Graves, a former assistant at Butler, who has been a regular at Palmetto's games.
Clark has a huge upside. He is a young senior (recently turned 17) who excels in the classroom and has plenty of room to grow. He has turned himself into a deadly long-range shooter to go along with his point guard skills.
Clark is averaging close to 21 points per game. The Naval Academy wants him and he has received offers from Youngstown State and Rider University from New Jersey.
Florida Gulf Coast is taking a serious interest in him and South Alabama already has flown him up for a visit.
Clark has received an endorsement from our own Dick Vitale, and when the ESPN college basketball analyst likes you the sky could be the limit. Remember how Cardinal Mooney's Ryan McMahon rose from being an unknown to getting a scholarship to Louisville last year?
Tre's father, Palmetto High Principal Willie Clark, played football at Notre Dame with Vitale's son-in-law, local judge Thomas Krug.
NOLES ON DEMAND -- Southeast also has two prospects who could earn a Division I scholarship in seniors Ronald Taylor and Tre Alexandrea, who give the Seminoles a formidable backcourt.
The 6-4 Taylor picked up national attention prior to his sophomore year when ESPN ranked him one of the top 34 point guards in the country. He
scored a season high of 25 points against Braden River and 22 points against St. Pete Northeast and Tarpon Springs.
The versatile Alexandrea is averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 assists per game with 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He scored 27 points each in back-to-back victories over St. Pete Lakewood and Tarpon Springs, and is averaging 25 points in the Noles' current three-game win streak.
PANTHER POWER -- How good is the Bradenton Christian boys basketball team? The Panthers' (6-1) only loss was a 61-58 defeat loss to undefeated St. Pete Gibbs, which is ranked fourth in Class 5A. Later this month they play undefeated Lakewood Ranch, which is also making a bid to be the top team in the county.
The Panthers have a senior-dominated roster with good size led 6by 6-8 J.T. Noellert (12.6 ppg/7.5 rpg) and 6-3 guard Ryan Leunk (17.8 ppg/7 rpg), who has an offer from NAIA Division II Dordt College (Iowa). Lakewood Ranch has a bunch of talented kids led by Sam Hester, who thrive on playing team basketball.
ON THE RISE -- Southeast showed the best improvement of any Manatee County football team this past season, going 5-6 after that 1-9 debacle in 2014. The Seminoles might be on the verge of a second significant turnaround in 2016.
The Noles should be strong defensively, with their top two linebackers, top defensive back and top defensive lineman returning.
Southeast returns junior linebackers Jon Locke, who led the Noles with 116 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss, and Dequan Williams. Joining them will be sophomore defensive end Teriq Houston. The trio combined for 64 tackles for loss.
Braden River loses quarterback Jacob Huesman and other offensive weapons, but the Pirates can still put up their no- fly zone with returning defensive backs in sophomore Tyrone Collins and junior Demetrius Lawson.
Manatee returns A.J. Colagiovanni, the area's most versatile quarterback, who will have one of his favorite targets back in wide receiver Tarique Milton.