GEICO Nationals: Breaking down the eight-team field

Photo: AP/Gregory Payan

GEICO Nationals: Breaking down the eight-team field

Boys Basketball

GEICO Nationals: Breaking down the eight-team field

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Vernon Carey Jr. of University School dunks against Vashon High School in Game 9 of the City of Palms Classic on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers. (Photo: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press)

University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
GEICO Seeding: 7
Super 25 Rank: 18

Key players: Vernon Carey, Jr., Scottie Barnes, Roger McFarlane, Jeff Howard, Jace Howard

Why they’ll win: The Sharks punish teams in the paint and have the size and talent to do it to anyone, with 6-foot-10 forward Carey, a Duke signee who is ranked No. 4 overall in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2019, in the middle, averaging 22 points and nine rebounds a game. Also, Barnes, a 6-8 forward who is ranked No. 5 overall in the Chosen 25 for 2020, is pumping in 15 points and 7.5 rebounds a game this season for the Sharks who are shooting 60 percent on two-point field goals this season. University also overwhelms its opponents on the glass, averaging 35 rebounds to go along with 15.3 assists a game. The Sharks have clear-cut star power, but their X-factor is shooting guard McFarlane. They’re 9-1 when McFarlane scores in double figures this season.

Why they may slip-up: While the Sharks dominate the paint, they struggle mightily from the perimeter, making just 32 percent of their three-pointers this season. That could come back to bite them at GEICO if teams pack it in and dare the Sharks to beat them from outside.

The bottom line: University will have to inflict its will on Montverde (Fla.) Academy, which is no easy task. It certainly helps the Sharks’ chances that they share the ball exceptionally well; six different players have led them in scoring this season. The matchup to zero-in on will be Carey against his former teammate at University Balsa Koprivica. Precious Achiuwa and Barnes will be another matchup to keep an eye on.

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