The boys’ varsity basketball season kicked off with a shirt signing and photo taking session before they took the court for an intra-squad game. This sky-high team boasts five players 6’8” and taller. Don’t be fooled, the “shorter” players (none shorter than 6’1”) on this squad are fierce and ready to compete.
Every year the team takes time to develop their rhythm, while building their trust on with each other and this year is no different. Balsa Korprivica from Belgrade, Serbia, returns for his senior year and has committed to join the Seminole’s team at Florida State University in 2019. As the tallest member of the team at 7’1” and the only returning starter from last year’s undefeated team, he will bring his big dunk and rebound prowess to the Eagles team.
He’ll be joined on the court by fellow “big men.” Omar Payne is a giant slam dunk, 6’9” defender from Kissimmee who ranks No. 35 in the ESPN poll, and Precious Achiuwa, also a 6’9” gravity-defying player whose speed, agility and grace on the court, ranked t No. 10 in the ESPN poll, have already begun to demonstrate their dominance on the court in the first few games of the season.
Down the ladder in height is the 6’8” deadly duo of returning senior Jordan Mitchell, a hard-working forward who’s ready for action, and Caleb Houstan, a Canadian National team member who brings his effortless and accurate three-point shot to the court. Next up are 6’7” players Cade Cunningham, a daunting guard from Texas whose skill and athleticism place him in the No. 12 position in ESPN’s poll; and Moses Moody, a junior also ranked by EPSN as one of the 20 best in his class, who has a sweet jump shot and is armed with skill and finesse that position the team for non-stop scoring.
The youngest player bringing his big skill to the court is freshman, Dariq Whitehead, who is making plays and scoring during his second year on varsity. Also at 6’5” is a knockdown shooter and Kentucky native, Justin Powell. His unflappable demeanor helps calm his teammates and find the scoring groove in the fast-paced action.
Three Center for Basketball Development players have earned their varsity spots through their hard work, dedication and ability that adds a positive energy to the team. Jesse Jones and Osei Price are local boys from Clermont and Winter Garden, and Joshua Paul, from Bogota, Columbia, have stepped up their game as part of the varsity squad.
Rounding out the team are 6’4” guard, Harlond Beverly, who joins the team from Michigan, bringing his dedication and skill to plays on and off the ball. Last, but certainly not least is Ryan Nembhard. This Ontario, Canada native, and yes, brother of MVA grad and UF Gator Andrew Nembhard, is a high-energy player who lights the Eagles team on fire with his command of the court as point guard. As a freshman, he too is one to keep an eye on long-term at MVA!
These student-athletes may be piling up points on the court, they are also balancing key aspects of academics and community as part of their MVA experience. The varsity team participates in Basketball Buddies, a program that partners the players with a Lower School classroom. Players spend time as mentors in the classrooms reading, working on homework and doing special projects with the younger students. In addition, the team also takes part in Coach Boyle’s basketball clinics that have served as fundraisers for Special Olympics, most recently raising $1,000 for the nonprofit.
“Our program is focused on playing great basketball as part of the varsity team or playing in CBD, but that’s not the only aspect that we focus on,” said Kevin Boyle, head coach. “There are many aspects to our basketball program. Achieving in academics as well as being a part of the great culture we have here at Montverde Academy is important. We field a varsity team every year that hopes to compete for the national championship. And we have a thriving CBD program as well as the middle school basketball program, which all work together to represent the school in a positive way. We want to continue to excel in every aspect, which I think we do very well.”
With four wins racked up early in the season, our Eagles are off to Washington D.C. for tournaments and then on to the Lolani Classic in Hawaii. They return to the Nest court on January 11 to take on Admiral Farragut Academy and Miramar High School on January 12. Our annual MAIT will be held on January 24-26.
Come cheer on our MVA Eagles!