Prep pulse: Suwannee's Hayes starts summer right
Published: Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 11:11 p.m.
Just because school is out and it is close to summer (June 21) doesn't mean high school athletes around the area are taking it easy. Far from it.
In the case of incoming junior Kevarrius Hayes of Suwannee, his summer break got off to an exciting start.
Hayes, a 6-foot-8 center, traveled to St. Louis with Bulldogs coach Jeremy Ulmer recently as one of the nation's promising underclassmen invited to the Nike Elite 100. A second-team all-area performer, Hayes averaged 11.3 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks a game for Suwannee during his sophomore year as the Bulldogs reached the regional semifinals, falling to Tallahassee Rickards.
That team was led by standout guard Jimmie Taylor III, the area's leading scorer at 24 points per game and signed to Rider in what is believed to be the first Division I boys basketball signing ever at Suwannee. Considering Hayes is already getting attention from Florida, Alabama and Kansas State, the Bulldogs will likely have another Division I signee in two years.
“Kevarrius has everything it takes to be a major D-I player,” Ulmer said. “He has athletic and academic ability, a positive attitude and a great work ethic. He is everything a coach could ask for in a player.”
Hayes, who plays travel basketball for Nike Team Florida, was invited to St. Louis because of his outstanding play during the spring Elite Youth Basketball League season. A sample of his play (a dominating dunk) can be seen online at http://bit.ly/13J6sLM
The center has also been a member of the track and field team for two years, and won a district title in the high jump (6 feet) this past season. Active in student government, Hayes was the sophomore class president and has been active with Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).
His future plans include going to medical school where he hopes to become a surgeon.
“We have worked very hard the last three years to establish a quality basketball program at Suwannee High School that will benefit our students and the community,” Ulmer said. “My goal is to get kids to college.”
CEDAR KEY GETS HONOR: For the second straight year, the Sharks have been recognized by the Florida High School Athletic Association with the Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award for Class 1A. Cedar Key was the overall winner in the classification as well as a section winner. As a result, the school will receive $3,000 and a large plaque.
“This is a special award for our member schools, honoring those who truly do things the right way,” said FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing. “Sportsmanship is the most important value we can install in our young student-athletes, and the schools we honor today have demonstrated a deep commitment to integrity and the spirit of fair play.”
The award, presented annually since 1991, is named in honor of FHSAA commissioner emeritus Fred E. Rozelle. It is presented to one school in each classification whose overall sports program best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship as demonstrated by its coaches, players and spectators.
In May, Hawthorne was awarded the Lee Scruggs Memorial by the Mid-Florida Officials Association for outstanding sportsmanship by the administration, coaches, athletes and fans during the past school year.
CHANGES IN DISTRICTS: With the FHSAA updating district assignments every two years, beginning this fall will be the first year of the new cycle and there are some interesting changes.
One of the biggest is Williston's drop to from Class 4A to 1A in basketball and baseball. The Red Devils, who will play in the competitive District 7-1A this fall in football after two years as an independent, have had very talented teams in both boys basketball and baseball the last two years, but were stuck in 4A. This despite having a student population of 604 in 2011 and 593 in 2012.
The enrollment for 4A in those years had the biggest gap of any classification: 525-1216 in 2011 and 466-1127.
That all changes next school year in District 7 as the Devils appropriately will play in 1A, battling against the likes of Union County, Chiefland, Newberry and Dixie County in football, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.
“I think whoever wins in that district should go a long way in the playoffs” said Jamie Baker, Williston's football coach and athletic director.
Other changes have Buchholz, still in 7A, but in a completely different district with Jacksonville Atlantic Coast, Neptune Beach Fletcher, Orange Park and Orange Park Oakleaf in football. The district pretty much stays the same in volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball, except that Oakleaf drops to 6A.
P.K. Yonge, also independent the previous two years in football, will play in District 2-3A this fall, which includes state power Ocala Trinity Catholic. But in volleyball, girls and boys basketball, baseball and softball, the Blue Wave will move up to 4A and play in District 5, which includes area teams Bradford, Fort White, Interlachen, Keystone Heights and Santa Fe.
While a great P.K. Yonge-St. Francis district rivalry in volleyball will be gone for the next two years, an intriguing Blue Wave-Bradford softball rivalry is something to look forward to next spring. Both were among the best softball teams in the area this past season, with the young Tornadoes reaching state tournament for the first time in school history.
PARTICIPATION DIPS: Despite an increase in enrollment across the state in schools, participation in sports dropped this past school year, according to the FHSAA. The total enrollment swelled to 788,003 among FHSAA member schools with 31 percent or 243,427 students participating in sports. But a year earlier, total enrollment was 781,677 with 259,885 or 33 percent participation.
That total number of participation during the 2011-2012 school year was the best in the last five years.