OTR #BattleattheBeach – Four Part Notebook Chapter 1

WINTER HAVEN, FL – With typical Central Florida T-storms rolling through all weekend, the “storming” on the inside of beautiful Advent Health Fieldhouse took place at the rim and beyond the arc as players and fans alike were treated to 6 courts of more high-level basketball during OTR’s Battle at the Beach.

With our own Summer Jam happening at Next Play 360 and Hiram HS in Atlanta at the same time, OTR took its act to the forefront of the Southeast travel scene with deep fields at both spots. A predominantly Florida-based field took on all comers in Winter Haven over 3 days, but plenty of out-of-state talent made our superlatives list.

Here’s the first group of four to come who created a whole bunch of buzz all weekend in the Sunshine State (in no particular order, GA guys have high schools in parentheses).

By: Keith Agran

Karter Knox | Florida Rebels EYBL 16U | 2024

It was a Rebels kind of weekend as the marquee program on hand did not disappoint and will feature multiple names in this notebook, Knox once again just like in Daytona with OTR was a deadly combination of mean interior play and high-flying antics as the Rebels can be downright devastating on athletic skill alone, Knox is the full future D1 package with shooting, defending and rebounding albeit in a slightly smaller package than older brother former Kentucky star Kevin.

Elijah Elliott | Florida Rebels EYBL 16U | 2024

With such depth of talent on the 16U group in particular it can be hard to stand out and the guards for the Rebs can be easily overlooked with the frontcourt talent slamming and jamming their way through games, Elliott looked sharp and decisive in a lead guard role handling a lot more of the ball alongside the always fun to watch Daniel MacGregor, Elliott projects as a potential mid to high major PG with still a year more of seasoning and a jump shot that doesn’t get talked about enough.

Marquan Murray | SBT 16U | 2024 (Hillgrove)

It’s the pure speed and pace that immediately blow you away when Murray gets going out there as he combines good basketball senses with elite athleticism, not the biggest guy but fits well with what the Hawks are doing down there with guards galore who can all run, jump and guard you.

Christian Brown | PSB-Tampa 16U | 2024

An arc assassin Brown was poised and ready off the catch with a sweet release and makes a high percentage from deep, had had some monster games upwards of 30+ knocking down treys in high volume, good size for the wing around 6-3.

Nicho Simes | PSB-Tampa 16U | 2024

Speaking of speed and pace much like SBT’s Murray above Simes plays a similar brand of blinding push up the floor and at the goal, also in the under 6-foot category he makes up for that with good leaping ability and good lead guard instincts to go with superb on-ball defense.

Gabe Cupps | Midwest Basketball Club 3SSB 17U | 2023 (pictured at top)

Didn’t get a good look at the Indiana-commit the weekend prior in Gatlinburg but got several good looks in Florida and the hype is real, playing on a team with what is likely 5 or perhaps more future D1 players much is made of his scoring ability and he showed that off against a variety of opponents but it was his passing that really impressed and will be a formidable weapon with the rest of his toolbox in the Big Ten.

Tre Lockett | PSB-Tampa 17U | 2023

Has rapidly evolved into one of my favorite players of the whole travel season as the 6-4 hybrid guard can play and guard 4 spots and score from anywhere inside halfcourt, isn’t necessarily going to wow you with athletic gifts but there’s more than enough there to be a dangerous weapon across the floor and is taking himself and his recruitment into a much higher stratosphere with his play with us and everywhere else since March, came down with a non-covid sickness after Friday night and missed the remainder of the weekend, PSB gunners Will Willard or 2024 Austin White playing up easily deserved mention as well launching and making a ton of 3’s all weekend.

Kent Jackson | Team Parsons CP25 Gold 17U | 2023

“KJ” was a weekend eye-opener with his dynamic PG-play as he can be a shredder and cut up defenses with surprising burst and a strong understanding of how to score it or he can play classic point and be a precise distributor and hang back at the arc for long-range bombing, wasn’t a ton he didn’t show in putting together that eye-opening weekend.

Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at keithagran1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.