The successor to Devin Bush at Flanagan has been made official, and the Falcons are staying within the family.
Stanford Samuels Jr., who served as Bush's defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, was promoted to head coach on Tuesday after Bush took a position on the football staff with the University of Michigan.
"Everybody's excited," Flanagan athletic director Al Guzzo said. "[Samuels] is excited and Coach Bush is ecstatic... this is the first branch of the Coach Bush coaching tree.
"They have a lot of similar qualities in terms of coaching style and Coach Samuels is going to bring in his own little dimension of coaching."
Bush, in a message to the Herald, said Samuels "deserves it."
Samuels will be looking to pick up right where the Falcons left off under Bush, winning the Class 8A state title.
"The goal hasn't changed. Since Day One the goal has been to win a state championship," Samuels said.
Bush and Samuels both played their college ball at Florida State, and the similarities don't end there.
Samuels takes over in a similar situation that Bush was in last season with his son, Stanford Samuels III, a highly-touted four-star senior recruit. Bush went along with son and linebacker Devin Bush Jr. to Michigan, and Samuels isn't ruling out any possibilities in the future.
"The one thing I know for sure is that I'll be coaching," Samuels said. "Outside of that, as to where, I love Flanagan, we built a foundation there, a different atmosphere. We renamed it -- Dirty Bird Nation. With that being said, there's no place like home.
"Being honest, it is a possibility that a college job would come up, but you never can tell with those things. For me, it's just about taking care of this season."
Samuels is going on his seventh consecutive season coaching Samuels III. He coached his son at Flanagan his first three years of high school and the previous three years in optimist play.
While many dubbed Samuels the favorite for the job, Guzzo says that was not the case and he had to beat out other candidates that interviewed.
"We left it wide open. Going in, there was no clear-cut favorite," Guzzo said. "Everybody was on a level plain."
Bush put in a good word for Samuels.
"Coach Bush did a great job of making it evident that I am capable of doing it with the responsibilities he had given me the past three years," Samuels said. "I feel like the work was already put out there. You could already see the type of things I would do as the head guy."
On top of serving as defensive coordinator the past three seasons, Samuels has also dabbled with the offense and special teams at Flanagan, making it clear he was an all-around top candidate being involved in coaching all three phases of the game.
Samuels, who attended Miami Carol City, was quite the defensive back in his playing days. He may be most famous for this hit on Roscoe Parrish in a big rivalry game against the Miami Hurricanes while at FSU.
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 world of recruiting never ceases to provide something unforeseen.
On Tuesday night, it appeared the Miami Hurricanes had picked up a commitment in their 2018 recruiting class only to have the player go back on that commitment moments later.
It started with coordinator of on-campus recruiting Jorge Baez and wide receivers coach Ron Dugans announcing an addition to the class. Scout.com's Corey Bender reported in a tweet that has since been deleted that the commitment came from Seffner Armwood 6-4 wide receiver Warren Thompson, which was accurate -- only the news changed shortly thereafter.
A report on CaneSport.com delved deeper into the matter and quoted his mother, Theresa Thompson, saying Warren will wait as he has a lot of time left before he has to decide. Both acknowledged in the report that UM is Warren's top choice, which is evident in how he was ready to commit Tuesday night.
All in all, while fans may have been teased with the thought of a commitment, it's still an encouraging sign that this talented receiver (as you can see in the highlights below) is so high on the Canes early in his recruitment.
There will be no drama next season as to where St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Drew White is going.
White, who will be a senior in the fall, announced on Monday night on Twitter that he will take his football talents in the next level to Notre Dame. He spoke with the Miami Herald on Tuesday afternoon about the decision at a gathering at the Aquinas gym to announce the football team will travel to Las Vegas to play against defending national champion Bishop Gorman in September.
“When I visited there, it really felt like home,” said White, a 6-1, 225-pound three-star prospect. “The campus was beautiful and I toured all of the facilities. I got to meet with every coach and I just really felt like I would fit in well in every aspect. It was the total package between football and academics it really was a no-brainer.”
White, who will be looking to help the Raiders win a third consecutive state title next fall, said that committing early wasn’t something he felt he necessarily had to do but just felt like he didn’t need to wait any longer because his mind was made up -- as was Notre Dame’s.
“It wasn’t necessarily a thing where I wanted to get it out of the way early but Notre Dame has always been the school I’ve loved since I was a kid,” said White. “I grew up watching them on TV every week so I really didn’t see any reason for me to wait any longer because I knew that was the school I wanted to go to. Now I can start getting to know all the coaches and building relationships early.”
**Make sure to check the Herald's high school sports page later for the full story on Aquinas' announcement on the big game.
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.
Wide receiver Kevaughn Dingle and quarterback N'Kosi Perry committed to Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Photos: Twitter.
While the UM men's basketball team was notching its second NCAA Tournament victory on Saturday afternoon to become the first team into the Sweet 16, on the Miami campus one could say the football team hit both shots of a clutch one-and-one with a pair of commitments.
They are two that could be seen connecting on a lot of plays in the future. Carol City wide receiver Kevaughn Dingle and Ocala Vanguard quarterback N'Kosi Perry, both rated as high as four stars depending on the service, decided to commit to coach Mark Richt and the Hurricanes after viewing practice Saturday morning.
Perry commits to the Canes for the second time after decommitting in February from his original pledge. Dingle has been known to be high on the Hurricanes for some time now. Dingle and Perry were two of many invited recruits on campus on Saturday.
Aside from the desire to make an impact for his hometown team, Dingle wanted to go where other recent Carol City Chiefs like Allen Hurns and Trayone Gray went for college.
"I chose Miami because I feel like I can be a big impact," Dingle said. "I just want to keep the legacy going from Carol City to Miami."
Perry has ideal height to see over the line at 6-3 1/2, according to his 247 Sports page, which also ranks him as the ninth-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
Ironically enough, while being a dual threat, Perry said it's the pro-style aspects of Richt's offense that drew him in an interview with CaneSport.
"I was talking to him about the style of offense. He said good things about it," Perry told CaneSport. "He told me that if I want to go play in the NFL that I am best off playing in a system like what he runs, that that is a system similar to the NFL style."
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.
Al Blades Jr. at The Opening Miami Regionals on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo: David Furones.
Al Blades Jr., the highly-sought 2018 cornerback who transferred this offseason from University School to St. Thomas Aquinas, went in depth with the Miami Herald on the move.
"My development," Blades (6-0, 170 pounds) says. "I basically just want to get better and be ready for college.
"[Aquinas] pushes you as a student, which is great so when you go into college you're not going into the deep end. It also pushes you as a player because you're surrounded by people just like you. If you have a man next to you on the same level as you, that just makes you want to work even harder."
A prime example would be five-star senior wide receiver Trevon Grimes, whom he'll now get a chance to go up against on a consistent basis in practice.
"That's really a blessing to go up against someone like that every day," Blades says. "If you can go against the No. 1 player in the nation, you should fear no man -- no matter what. That just helps you with your confidence going into games."
In the Rivals Camp, Blades says Grimes beat him one-on-one quite a bit, but he learned from the experience.
Recruiting-wise, Blades says that since decommitting from UM, he doesn't have any top schools.
He does say Florida State, UCLA and UM are recruiting him a little harder than other schools -- the Bruins from which he is still awaiting an offer. He adds that he likes the Hurricanes combination of head coach Mark Richt and cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph.
He has also received recent offers from Georgia and Mississippi State.
Blades went back to the day he became the second player invited to the 2018 Under Armour All-America game, receiving the invitation in person from Deion Sanders.
"I was on my A-game that day," he recalled. "I played really well that day at the Deion camp and he saw the potential in me and we just got together."
Blades recently debuted his recruit diary. If you missed that, make sure you check it out.
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.