At some point this afternoon, I made the decision without consulting Mr. Charm to name an FBGM Coaches Central Florida Player of the Year. The selection was obvious. It’s Joel Berry, sophomore guard from Lake Highland Prep. His accomplishments are many. He is a nationally rated player in his class. He averaged 23.5 points per game. He dropped 49 points in the Winter Park Rotary final against West Orange. He led his team to the State Final. No player in the area accomplished as much this season.
Berry lost the State Final yesterday, and after fouling out on a soft charge, had to watch the final 3:07 from the bench. I wanted to see him finish the game, even lead his team to a come back win, but what I want even more is to see how he reacts. Not just to losing the final, but more importantly to wearing the target that comes with being the best.
“Which one is he?”
“I thought he would be bigger.”
“He don’t look that good.”
These are the murmurs that will follow him the remainder of his high school career. He won’t have to actually hear them to know they are there. They are the haters and doubters. I hope if you have the chance to see him play, that you are not one of them. Enjoy watching him play. Bask in the glory of his grind. It is he, not you that gets up hundreds of shots a day, builds his body and hones his skill.
Lake Highland Prep returns all five starters and I expect them to return and win the State Final. Berry will lead them. I sincerely hope that he enjoys the fruits of his labor, plays with passion and genuine fun.