Bandy had two interceptions and impressed onlookers at the Miami Opening Regionals at Plantation American Heritage on March 6, even being dubbed the "alpha dog" of those competing in a 247 Sports article. Somehow, though, he was not one of the six to "get open" in announcements immediately following the event.
That all changed on Monday.
"I never doubted myself. I just prayed on it, and I just kept grinding every single day," Bandy says. "I had people doubting me, but I just ignore them."
Now Bandy will get the opportunity to showcase his abilities in the spotlight of probably the greatest collection of high school talent in the nation.
"I just want to go out there and show that I am an elite cornerback and your size (Bandy is 5-9) doesn't matter," he says. "It's about heart and how you got passion for the game."
The Opening will be held July 5-10 at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
The top high school senior basketball players in South Florida gathered at SLAM Academy's Little Havana gym for the HoopMIA All-Star Game. Photo: David Furones.
The HoopMIA All-Star Game presented by the Junior Orange Bowl on Sunday at SLAM Academy was a tremendous display of the hoops talent South Florida possesses.
A pair of stacked rosters of high school seniors, headlined by Miami Norland's five-star McDonald's All-American power forward and UM signee Dewan Huell (make sure to also read my full post on him), congregated to put on a show at SLAM's beautiful seventh-floor gym in Little Havana with scenic views of downtown Miami/Brickell through the windows on the east side and a glance at Marlins Park to the west.
The entertaining all-star game, which was preceded by a slam dunk contest and three-point shootout, played two 20-minute halves of high-flying, fast-paced action and even provided some free basketball with the grey and white teams tied at the end of regulation.
In overtime, McArthur's Nate Johnson sank a corner three for the white team to tie it at 133 with 11 seconds remaining. Pines Charter's Matt Johnson was then fouled with 2.3 seconds left and hit the game-winning second free throw for the grey squad. The white team could just throw up a halfcourt shot that missed at the buzzer and grey won 134-133.
Miami Central's Anthony Wilson sent it into overtime with a basket with 30 seconds remaining in regulation while Mater Academy point guard Dylan Frye held for the last shot and missed on a three.
Frye won the MVP for the winning grey team while PJ Hall of Coral Gables took the award for the white team.
As I watched Frye, who is signed to Bowling Green, I couldn't help but think of "White Chocolate" Jason Williams with the way he ran the floor in the all-star game setting. He was flashy while always making the right pass and anticipating teammate cuts before the passing lane was even open (particularly impressive considering he doesn't usually play alongside a lot of his all-star companions). Whenever he was running point, it was alley-oops aplenty for his cutters.
I was pleased to learn postgame that my J-Will assessment was correct as he told me Williams is one of the players he likes to model his game after.
"Jason Williams, Steve Nash are my favorite there," Frye said. "I try to look at things they do, practice them and put it into my game."
Frye touched on what made him decide on Bowling Green.
"I like the campus, the school's great, the teammates," he said. "The offense, I like. It's a lot of screen and rolls, and that's where my favorite part of my game is."
With that being the case, I also recommended some John Stockton to Karl Malone film on top of Williams and Nash before he arrives in Bowling Green, although Nash was very proficient at the pick and roll with Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix as well.
**Nate Johnson, like he does for his Mustangs, was able to score in a multitude of ways inside and out.
He said postgame that he's good friends with Frye and was glad to get to go up against him one final time after they met in Class 7A regional semifinals when Johnson got the best of that matchup with his clutch free throws after getting fouled on a last-second three.
Johnson holds offers from Delaware, Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern and has also begun to hear from Kansas State and Boise State. He takes a visit to Delaware on Thursday and Gardner-Webb on April 8 and also hopes to take a trip to K-State.
"I'm looking for the style of play, coaching and just the atmosphere of the college," he says.
**Coral Springs guard Myron Dewar, after winning a Class 8A player of the year award and leading his Colts to their first state championship this season, showed an array of his on-ball moves and his instincts defensively to cut off passing lanes and get steals.
He noticed the intensity in the mostly free-flowing all-star game pick up as the game was close late.
"At the end everybody just had to tighten up because nobody likes to lose -- whether it's an all-star game, regular game -- so at the end you see everyone getting competitive," he said.
Dewar is currently undecided and had his recruitment pick up after leading Coral Springs' state run. He is getting interest from Bowling Green, Murray State, Akron and New Orleans University while also holding junior college and Division-II offers.
"I just look for somewhere I'm going to play and somewhere I'm going to be comfortable, somewhere where I like the coaching staff and the players around me," Dewar says.
**Wilson, an athletic wing, was a strong defender and distributed to teammates. He exhibited his closing speed defensively when he stole a long outlook pass to an opponent that appeared to be wide open.
Kennesaw State and FIU are schools that have offered Wilson while College of Charleston has also been recruiting him. He plans to visit Kennesaw State on Friday. FIU will be easy for him to visit whenever.
"I just want to go to a team that fits my offensive play and where I feel like I can play," Wilson says.
The offensive style he wants to play in involves running in transition and a lot of off-ball cuts in the halfcourt.
SLAM DUNK CONTEST & THREE-POINT SHOOTOUT
**Boyd Anderson's Brian Patrick won the slam dunk contest with a 47 in the final with windmill alley-oop off a bounce pass to beat out Huell. Even more impressive was when he jumped over Dewar sitting in a chair for a perfect 50.
Wellington's Alex Dieudonne was equally impressive but may have used his best dunks too early. He scored a 49 and a 50 in the first round, going between his legs in the air with one of them and nearly jumping over someone standing in front of the basket but going to the side of him.
**Hall won the three-point shootout by hitting 11 of 15 three-pointers in the final and beating out Frye by one. Chaminade's Leandro Allende hit that same 11 mark but in the first round.
MORE ASG OBSERVATIONS
**Westminster Christian guard Justin Brown drew oohs and ahs from the crowd as he elevated for some of the more thunderous dunks of the afternoon. He has a knack for timely cuts.
**South Miami power forward Keith Stewart is adroit in the post and able to quickly get the ball up and in through tight spaces on the low block if a team doubles him.
**Champagnat 6-8 center Denzel Jenoure has the ability to muscle through contact and finish inside. Krop guard Karl Jeanty is able to do the same.
**Florida Christian forward Gabriel Perez is dangerous when open for three -- not only as a shooter but he can counter an aggressive close-out with a pump fake and penetrate to create a better shot for himself or someone else.
**Miami High forward Marlon Sierra has a nice mid-range game.
**I definitely missed a number of players in this recap, but go ahead and watch this great video Hoop Journey put together on the day's events to see for yourself what I'm talking about or anything I didn't include. I put rosters underneath it so you can match numbers to names.
0- Justin Brown, 6-2 G, Westminster Christian
0- Mark Emmanuel Jr., 6-6 F, Calusa Prep
00- Karl Jeanty, 6-4 G, Krop
1- Matt Johnson, 6-0 PG, Pines Charter
1- Marc Syle, 6-9 C, Miami Christian
2- Alex Dieudonne, 6-4 SG, Wellington
4- PJ Hall, 6-2 G, Coral Gables
4- Ian Cruz, 5-11 PG, LaSalle
5- Dylan Frye, 6-1 PG, Mater Academy
10- Leandro Allende, 6-5 SG, Chaminade
10- Jonathan Andre, 6-6 F, Norland
14- Shaq Carter, 6-8 PF, Zion Lutheran
20- Dewan Huell, 6-10 PF, Norland
23- Jon Brown, 6-5 SG, SLAM
32- Gabriel Perez, 6-5 F, Florida Christian
1- Nate Johnson, 6-4 G, McArthur
1- Marcus Cassesa, 6-4 G, Taravella
1- Keith Stewart, 6-7 PF, South Miami
2- Brian Patrick, 6-4 SG, Boyd Anderson
4- Ralph Diaz, 6-6 W, Mater Academy
5- David Jean Baptiste, 6-2 SG, Norland
10- Jesus Cruz, 6-4 SG, LaSalle
12- Malik Harper, 6-8 PF, Pines Charter
13-Anthony Wilson, 6-6 W, Miami Central
21- Marlon Sierra, 6-6 PF, Miami High
23- Luwan Tyler, 6-0 G, SLAM
23- Denzel Jenoure, 6-8 C, Champagnat
32- Myron Dewar, 6-3 G, Coral Springs
45- Levi Cook, 6-10 C, Elev8 Academy
*Chaminade's 6-5 SG Darius Allen was on the roster but did not attend as he was on a college visit.
Five-star power forward out of Miami Norland, McDonald's All-American and UM signee Dewan Huell at HoopMIA All-Star Game on Sunday, March 20, 2016. Photo: David Furones.
In addition to deep NCAA Tournament runs, which UM is currently in the midst of with entry into the Sweet 16, another sign of an elite college basketball program can be the ability to reel in the blue-chip "one-and-done" prospects.
Dewan Huell, the signed McDonald's All-American five-star 6-10 power forward out of Miami Norland who is ranked the No. 21 high school senior in the nation by 247 Sports (23 by Rivals, ESPN and 25 by Scout), indicated on Sunday at the HoopMIA All-Star Game that if given the opportunity to go pro after one year of college he would go for it.
When I asked him about the possibility of being one and done with the Hurricanes, he said, "That's the goal."
At the moment, though, neither DraftExpress nor nbadraft.net have Huell going in the 2017 NBA Draft -- the former listing 10 current high school seniors as freshman one-and-dones next year and the latter 16.
Huell, however, says he doesn't pay attention to the early 2017 predictions as he's more focused on a more immediate concern that will in turn help him potentially crack those projections.
"Work is on my mind -- getting better, improving," Huell said. "I need to work on everything -- just take it to the next level."
Huell's participation in the HoopMIA all-star game and slam dunk contest was his final high school appearance before the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday, March 30. He leaves for Chicago on Saturday.
Dunks and alley-oops came just about as easy for Huell in the game as they did in the dunk contest. So much so that at one point in the second half he began comically passing up easy dunk opportunities to dish it to a teammate and get others involved.
Huell didn't get many looks on the low block due to the quick pace of the game, but he was fierce in driving to the basket from the middle of the floor/elbow area and also showed he can counter it by stopping on a dime for a turnaround fadeaway while the defender is still backing up. His spot-up shooting range extends to the three-point line.
With some similarities evident, Huell says he models his game after Anthony Davis.
"He's a stretch four, pops the three, goes down there [in the post] -- all-around guy," he said.
Huell will look to be more aggressive in the McDonald's game and take advantage of every opportunity in the game at the United Center that will be broadcast on ESPN.
After that, it's off to UM. He touched on what made him side with coach Jim Larranaga and the Hurricanes.
"He's a very seasoned guy, real cool and relaxed. He's a good coach, ACC Coach of the Year," Huell said. "[I like] the fact that it's a hometown school, my hometown."
On what UM is getting in him, Huell said a "dependable guy. When you need me, I'm going to be there."
**Also make sure to read the full wrap on day's events and analysis on standouts, including recruiting updates.
Mejia, who is soon to visit Southeast Louisiana of the Division-I Southland Conference to see if that's where he'll sign, slammed home a pair of thunderous dunks -- one off an alley-oop -- in the waning minutes. His athletic build and long arms make him a tough perimeter defender and someone who can break down an opponent with the ball in his hands.
At 6-4, Perez was often the tallest player on the floor for the South. A banger in the paint for most of his high school career, Perez developed an outside game as a senior and showed in the all-star affair he can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, which will be vital for him in college. Perez is looking at a trio of Division-III schools -- Ithaca College in New York, Ohio's Marietta College and Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
--Also with the length and athleticism that could translate to the next level were Joshua Moncur of Northwest Christian and a pair of Pace Spartans in Phillip Brunson and Isaiah St. Fleur. Another Spartan, Don King (no relation to the boxing promoter, I don't think), put on a shooting display late draining back-to-back threes and having a third in a row go in and out.
--Twin brothers from Divine Savior, Danny and Juan Pineda, were the smallest players on the court but were explosively quick and possess excellent ball-handling and distributing skills running the point. With defense frowned upon on Wednesday, they weren't pressing as often as they may like to, but it's clear they can pester opponents defensively and showed it once or twice with backcourt steals.
--Doral Academy's Fabian Corraliza was sinking threes in the first half and looked a bit like Doug McDermott in the Firebirds' Chicago Bulls-esque away uniforms.
--Homecourt heroes Luis Mejer and Daniel Puente of host Belen drained back-to-back three-pointers late.
--Westminster Christian's FAU-bound football-playing tight end John Raine showed off some flashiness and handles in the open court. A couple other Warriors, Tyler Halfaker and Keon Pricely, got into the act with emphatic dunks.
--Nearly every player on both sides was able to hit one from long range as closing out on open shooters was not a top priority.
James Cook after 2015 Class 6A state championship game. Photo: Manny Navarro.
One thing star 2019 Miami Central running back James Cook always points to when talking about Florida State is that the Seminoles feel like family to him.
The figurative notion is accurate in a quite literal sense considering his older brother, Dalvin Cook, is at FSU and one of the elite running backs in the nation.
Although he still has three more high school years between now and any kind of enrollment, James decided to announce he would be following Dalvin's footsteps to FSU with a tweet Friday morning that had -- guess who -- Dalvin's picture in it.
"When I went up, they showed me love. That gives them an edge," James Cook (5-11, 182 pounds) told the Miami Herald on Sunday before announcing any commitment. "They treat me like I'm their family. They show everybody the same amount of love."
Cook first started receiving college scholarship offers before he played a down of high school football in the spring of his eighth grade year.
"It feels great, but you can't just let that go to your head because it'll all be gone in a matter of time if you don't keep working," Cook says. "I approach it like keep working hard and I'm going to keep grinding."
On the gridiron, Cook proved his worth with the early scholarship offers. He spearheaded the Rockets rushing attack in the Class 6A state championship victory with 178 yards and three touchdowns.
Cook would become the third Central Rocket in recent memory to head to Florida State with Devonta Freeman, now with the Atlanta Falcons, preceding the Cook brothers in this pipeline that has developed.
At The Opening Miami Regionals on Sunday, where Cook won running back MVP, he said he had UM, Ohio State and Alabama alongside the Seminoles in his top.
Cook says he runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and hopes to get it down to a 4.4.
Waynmon Steed at The Opening Miami Regionals. Photo: David Furones.
Four-star Miami Central linebacker and UM commit Waynmon Steed says his shoulder is feeling "100 percent," and it showed on Sunday as he took home linebacker MVP honors at The Opening Miami Regionals.
Steed sat out his entire junior season recovering from surgery on a torn labrum. He initially committed to the Hurricanes under the previous coaching staff in February of 2015 (before the surgery), and the new staff is only making positive strides in his recruitment.
"I like the 4-3 defense and I like the linebackers coach, Coach Manny Diaz," said Steed (5-11, 221 pounds). "He treats me like I'm already there, a true UM commit. That's what I like about him."
Steed likes how the defense will play aggressively.
"He talked to me about that, he showed me film and everything on how he's going to change the concept," Steed said. "It was great to hear. That's what we run [at Central], so I'm kind of used to it a little bit."
And not just Central, but mostly all high schools in South Florida. Steed thinks more local defensive recruits that weren't previously considering Miami will now pay more attention to the Canes because of the scheme.
Steed says his shoulder has been fully recovered since January. It originally popped out of place in a playoff game his sophomore season. He would continue to pop it back in and play through it all the way through the following spring, but with the injury constantly lingering, he learned he tore his labrum after the spring and had surgery, sidelining him his entire junior season.
Steed, who added an LSU offer in January and a Cal offer last week, runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash and a 4.3 in the shuttle.
His highlights that got UM to offer after his sophomore campaign:
Since putting his skills on display at the South Florida Express tryouts in January, Coral Gables 2018 defensive back Gilbert Frierson has seen his recruitment erupt with major programs from across the country offering him scholarships.
On Saturday at UM's Junior Day, Frierson got the one he was apparently looking for the whole time as it turned out to be the offer he would commit to on Tuesday -- the Miami Hurricanes.
"I was truly blessed to receive an offer from my hometown team," said Frierson, who is the cousin of another Coral Gables Cavalier turned Miami Hurricane in Frank Gore. "It felt like home.
"On Junior Day when I was out there, [defensive coordinator] Manny Diaz told me [I had an offer]. It was a great feeling."
Although early for the sophomore that measures up at 6-1 and 170 pounds, Frierson adds that "so far" he is certain UM is the school he'll sign with in nearly two years.
"Real long limbs, long arms, very rangy at that safety position or at corner. Just very instinctive," say Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard. "He's working on his speed right now running track."
In the past month, Frierson has received other offers from Alabama, Georgia, USC, LSU and Oklahoma among his 10 in total.
"The attention and all of the offers from all over the country I think is a tribute to the caliber of player he's going to be and really that he is right now" Pollard says. "I'm excited that I've got him for two more seasons."
Mark Richt has been able to recruit Coral Gables in the past with wide receiver Shaquery Wilson currently a Georgia Bulldog.
On top of being Gore's cousin, Frierson's brother is senior Gables linebacker Shakur Cooper, who signed with FIU.
"He's the youngest of a lot of talented guys to play football," Pollard said. "His football knowledge is through the ceiling."
Frierson is now one of five prospects committed in UM's 2018 recruiting class -- four of which are fellow defensive backs.
Despite the decommitment of St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Tyler Dunning -- one that was a foregone conclusion anyway -- new UM football coach Mark Richt's first Junior Day with the Hurricanes received rave reviews on social media from recruits.
We begin with committed four-star defensive lineman out of Fort Lauderdale Dillard, a former teammate of Dunning's in Jon Ford.
Ford wasn't the only one posing with new defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski on Saturday as he endured quite the photo shoot in front of the big U on campus based on the frequency of tweets from other recruits that took pictures with him.
Below we see Mobile (Alabama) St. Paul's Episcopal defensive lineman Ryan Johnson and Miami Carol City defensive tackle Rashad Colson with the man they call Coach Kool.
A top priority in four-star outside linebacker/defensive end out of Carol City, De'Andre Wilder, who currently lists UM as his leader, is seen here in this post by Hialeah Champagnat Catholic linebacker Donovan Georges, a 2018 prospect.
Junior Day isn't only for juniors, of course -- you already saw the high-profile Georges. Another key development on Saturday was that 2018 Coral Gables defensive back Gilbert Frierson, who lists numerous other offers from major programs got his hometown scholarship offer.
Below we see reaction from one prospect who's certain to be a top 2019 recruit in Loganville (Georgia) Grayson outside linebacker OwenPappoe, who is throwing up the U with co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown.
Apopka 2018 athlete Steven Billings-Larson Jr., someone with incredible credentials on the field and in the classroom, said he "got to know the entire staff and received encouraging feedback from the coaches." Because he's so ahead academically, he may be able to reclassify to 2017 and would look into it if he gets a UM offer.
Former Miramar coach Damon Cogdell is coming back to South Florida.
After a two-year stint as co-defensive line coach at West Virginia, Cogdell was named defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Carol City under coach Aubrey Hill.
It's a homecoming of sorts for Cogdell, who grew up in Opa-Locka but moved when he was in ninth grade and attended Miramar High. While Miramar is in Broward County and Carol City is in Miami-Dade, the two are very close to each other geographically and Cogdell says most of his family members attended Carol City.
"It's going to be a treat for me," Cogdell told the Herald. "It was a home away from home; it was up the street."
Cogdell's contract with the Mountaineers expired on Jan. 30.
"I had some other things that I could've done [at West Virginia], but it was tough for me to be away from my kids," Cogdell said. "It was a great experience for me up at West Virginia -- glad to be back at home with the wife and kids, though."
Cogdell will get the opportunity to coach a talented defense, spearheaded by outside linebacker/defensive end De'Andre Wilder, defensive tackle Rashad Colson and defensive back transfer from American, Naytron Culpepper.