Right now, going into his sophomore year, San Antonio, TX/Brennan star Jordan Murphy who has also represented the US Virgin Islands in FIBA is one of the NCAA's top sophomores with Virgin Islands ties. The Minnesota Gopher led the Big Ten in double doubles last year, no easy feat in a very physical high major conference.
In speaking with David Edole he informed me of an impressive list of USVI alumni in the NCAA including Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse/Indiana Pacers), John Collins (Wake Forest), Desi Rodriguez (Seton Hall), Angel Rivera (Stetson), and Khallid Hart (Marist). Let's have a look at this year's Dandy Dozen going into the fall.
12. 2018 ASHOY SIMMONDS, 5-8, GUARD, (USVI/Central)
Speed, Speed, Speed. Simmons came off the bench but had his moments when I said, “Who is that guy?” He plays tough defense and uses his speed to put a defensive player in tough positions. However, he
is not only a defender; Simmons has the ability to score by getting to the basket. With him at the spear of Central's defense it could be a banner year for the Caribs.
11. 2018 JORDAN KNIGHT, 5-10, GUARD, USVI/Montessori)
Happy feet! Knight is known for traveling from time to time but he still has the quickest first step in the territory. Knight could be really good but has to be serious about putting in the work. He is very fast but simply has a tough time finishing.
10. 2018 VALLON TOUSSAINT, 5-10, GUARD, (USVI/Charlotte Amalie)
There's much ado about Toussaint. When he was a freshman many believed that he should have been on varsity. However, last season showed he has a lot of work to do. The talent is there but I don’t remember any standout game for Toussaint who started for Charlotte Amalie. He has a post game despite his size and attacks the basket relentlessly.
9. 2018 DAVEON PLUMMER, 6-3, FORWARD USVI/Eudora Kean)
Big strong kid. He has a mean streak that should serve
Eudora Kean real well. Plummer came off the bench and used his size in the paint to get off shots. He rebounds well for his size but could do much more and it will show with more playing time. One surprising thing about the big man is his ability to hit a three pointer, really stretching the defense.
8. 2018 RAHKEEM SWANSTON, 5-10, GUARD, (USVI/Central)
COMMENT: The return to the territory was supposed to be special and things simply did not work out. Central High fell to their rivals and even got crushed in a game. That was the sophomore slump and the junior year the old "Bobo" should return. If he does Central should win
the St. Croix District title. Swanston is a shooter like his older brothers but he also attacks the basket with impunity.
7. 2017 ISSA TATEM, 6-0, GUARD, (USVI/Charlotte Amalie)
Tatem is charged with carrying the torch for Charlotte Amalie this coming season. He does not have to look over his shoulder if he makes a mistake. The guard has come into his own after leading Zero Tolerance to a title in Turks and Caicos. When he was the man, he poured in 31 points including a big three pointer to seal
the game. Tatem loves to play defense and usually ask to defend the opposing team's best player.
6. 2017 ZION JONES, 6-0, GUARD, USVI/Central)
The best pure shooter in the territory has the prettiest
outside shot. He acts like Stephen Curry by taking way deep three pointers and he makes them. Central did not find a way to get him open and that is why Educational Complex reigned supreme. Like most Central guards, Jones is relentless attacking the basket and is a
tenacious on the ball defender.
5. 2017 D’MOI HODGE, 6-2, GUARD, USVI/Elmore Stout)
Before the season started, Steve Parillon told me Hodge is the best player in the Virgin Islands. At the beginning I was on another band wagon but as the season progressed and the all star game showed, Hodge could be a bad man. He plays both sides of the ball with conviction. He is a scoring guard, who can hit from almost everywhere on the court. Hodge usually shouts out instruction to his teammates when they are out of defensive position, acting as another coach between the lines..
4. 2017 MIGUEL LOPEZ JR., 6-3, FORWARD, (USVI/Central)
Lopez is a big, strong player who did not have the junior year most anticipated. Luckily for him there is a senior season ahead. Lopez did have two memorable plays. When he spun and threw down a two handed flush it was a real eye opener. His ability to knock down
an outside shot has improved tremendously and even grown to beyond the arc. He is very physical and not afraid to touch someone and get dirty.
3. 2017 FRANKLYN PENN, 6-2, GUARD, (B/Elmore Stoutt)
The arrival of Penn was the most anticipated event this past season. He was a revelation at the Caribbean Basketball Championships where he led the British Virgin Ilands in scoring average. The season started tumultuously when he did not play at the MLK Jr. Tournament. He did not show out versus Charlotte Amalie in their second meeting. However, Penn did help St. Thomas-St. John district back into the all star game. Penn is a good shooter and when his jumper is
going he is tough to stop. I expect a major showing and perhaps an Elmore Stoutt championship in his final year.
2. 2017 EMARI HOWE, 6-2, GUARD, USVI/Eudora Kean)
Howe has been a revelation all season long, from his play at the Martin Luther King Tournament where he showed his ability to get to the basket and pull up from deep. Although a left hander, Howe has shown he can dribble with either hand. He is freakishly athletic
and had the crowd in disbelief while watching his swoops to the basket.
1.2017 SHAKEEM ALCINDOR, 6-6, FORWARD, (USVI/Educational Complex)
Where did Alcindor come from? He was not even mentioned as one of the twelve best players last year. Boy did he make an impactlast season! Alcindor used his size and athleticism to help Educational Complex to the St. Croix Interscholastic championship and saved his impact for the Annual All Virgin Islands Hoop Classic. Thebig man altered and blocked many shots while pouring in 16 points and eight rebounds on his way to an MVP of the Sun Stroke game. He is good in the low post, has an excellent medium range jump shot and should be the best big man in the territory this upcoming
season. His play above the rim is inspiring and he even has the nerve to dunk on people if they don't put a body on him.