State Tournament Preview: 1A-7A

The FHSAA state tournament gets underway on Wednesday as the semifinal tips off in Class 3A at 10 a.m. ET.

Seven state champions between Class 1A-7A will be crowned this week in Lakeland at the RP Funding Center.

Here is a look at the matchups and breakdown of each class’s Final Four teams.

Class 7A

Schedule: Friday, March 3 – Colonial vs. Columbus (12:30 PM), Oak Ridge vs. Winter Haven (2:30 PM), Saturday, March 4 – State Championship (8 PM).

Players to Watch: Columbus – 2025 6-9 F Cameron Boozer, 2025 6-5 G Cayden Boozer, 2024 6-8 F Malik Abdullahi; Colonial – 2023 6-0 G Dominic Sanders; Winter Haven – 2023 6-8 F Dylan James, 2024 6-5 G Jamie Phillips Jr., 2024 6-6 F Isaac Celiscar; Oak Ridge – 2023 6-5 G Jordan Tillery, 2023 6-3 G Elijah Elliott.

Championship Matchup Prediction: Columbus (24-4) vs. Winter Haven (26-4)

—Class 7A is very good and these two programs have been playing a national schedule this season and have a deep roster of Division I athletes. Columbus is peaking at the right time while Winter Haven is no slouch, cruising to Lakeland behind some 30 plus point wins in the regional tournament.

Class 6A

Schedule: Thursday, March 2 – Wharton vs. Dwyer (6 PM), Ponte Vedra vs. Wekiva (8 PM), Saturday, March 4 – State Championship (5:30 PM).

Players to Watch: Wharton – 2023 6-5 G Karmello Branch, 2023 6-5 G Chandler Davis; Dwyer – 2023 6-3 G Kyle McNeal, 2023 6-4 F Mason Brown, 2023 6-6 F Blake Wilson; Ponte Vedra – 2023 6-4 F Israel Nuhu, 2023 6-4 F Ben Ritchie, 2023 6-1 G Sam Ritchie; Wekiva – 2023 6-3 G KJ Robinson, 2023 6-6 G/F Malachi Hampton, 2025 6-0 G Darius Livingston.

Championship Matchup Prediction: Dwyer (27-1) vs. Wekiva (26-4)

—These two teams match up very nicely and have more than enough length and athleticness to win a state title. It should be a fun one. Dwyer is deep from 1 to 5 with size, shooting and speed while Wekiva is more of the same.

Class 5A

Schedule: Thursday, March 2 – Jones vs. Belen Jesuit (2 PM), St. Pete vs. Mainland (4 PM), Saturday, March 4 – State Championship (3 PM).

Players to Watch: Jones – 2024 6-1 G Telario Pringle, 2024 6-3 G Keishaun Robinson, 2024 6-3 G Calvin Liptrot; Belen Jesuit – 2023 6-0 G Ryan Cuellar, 2023 5-11 G Javi Rosell, 2025 6-1 G Bryce Fitzgerald; St. Pete – 2023 6-5 G Tristan Gross, 2023 6-6 F Dylan Kramer, 2023 5-11 G Quez Curry, 2023 6-0 G Sam Ducksworth; Mainland – 2024 6-5 F Narayan Thomas, 2026 6-0 G Nate Kirk, 2024 6-8 F DeAndre Newland.

Championship Matchup Prediction: St. Pete (23-5) vs. Belen Jesuit (26-4)

—This is really a wide open class. St. Pete has continued to win close games and will have to grind it out against a physical and low scoring Mainland team back in the state semis for the first time since 1998. Belen Jesuit has continued its hot run and a win over Jones would really make a statement.

Class 4A

Schedule: Thursday, March 2 – Gibbs vs. Mater Lakes (10 AM), The Villages vs. Ribault (12 PM), Saturday, March 4 – State Championship (12:30 PM).

Players to Watch: Gibbs – 2025 6-0 G Jacob Daniels, 2025 6-1 G Mathis Roberts, 2023 6-3 F Marcus Calvin; Mater Lakes – 2024 6-5 F Christian Reid, 2025 6-0 G Anthony Knowles, 2023 6-3 G Michael Bradley; The Villages – 2023 6-9 G/F Sam Walters, 2026 F Chris Washington Jr., 2026 F Kymani Weathers; Ribault – 2024 6-0 G Caleb Williams, 2023 6-1 G George Woods, 2023 6-1 G/F Kevin Stokes.

Championship Matchup Prediction: Mater Lakes (26-3) vs. The Villages (22-8)

—4A is another class that could go in any direction. Mater Lakes has lost only two games to Florida squads in Sagemont and Columbus and is a hard working and skilled group. The Villages has size and 2023 Alabama commit Sam Walters running the show to get to the finals.

Class 3A

Schedule: Wednesday, March 1 – Windermere Prep vs. Providence (10 AM), Tampa Catholic vs. Riviera Prep (12 PM), Saturday, March 4 – State Championship (10 AM)

Players to Watch: Windermere Prep – 2026 6-4 G Brandon Bass Jr., 2024 6-5 G Chandler Watts, 2023 5-11 G Aiden Fletcher; Providence – 2024 6-6 F Jaylen Robinson, 2024 6-6 G Chris Arias, 2023 6-6 G/F Mason Lee; Tampa Catholic – 2024 6-6 G Karter Knox, 2023 6-3 G Eddrin Bronson, 2025 6-0 G Isaiah Campbell-Finch; Riviera Prep – 2025 6-4 F Dante Allen, 2023 6-3 G Cooper Josefsberg, 2027 6-0 G Myles Fuentes

Championship Matchup Prediction: Providence (28-2) vs. Riviera Prep (25-6)

—Class 3A was always fascinating to look at before the season. Providence will see a familiar foe in Windermere Prep head coach Brian Hoff (a former longtime assistant with head coach Jim Martin). Windermere Prep is young and talented but Providence is one of the most in-sync groups who just knocked off defending state champion Florida State University High. RIviera Prep overcame a 15-point deficit to take out a super deep Westminster team. This should be close.

Class 2A

Schedule: Wednesday, March 1 – SLAM Tampa vs. Orlando Christian Prep (2 PM), North Florida Educational vs. Sagemont (4 PM), Friday, March 3 – State Championship (4:30 PM)

Players to Watch: SLAM Tampa – 2024 6-5 G Ramone Seals, 2023 6-4 G Xavier Finney, 2023 6-8 F Michael Jones; Orlando Christian Prep – 2024 6-4 G Isaiah Brown, 2024 6-0 G Ameer Ramadan; North Florida Educational – 2023 6-6 G Isaac Tavares, 2023 6-2 G Juan Barbista, 2023 6-2 G Tommie Hall; Sagemont – 2023 6-7 G Tynan Becker, 2023 6-4 G Maxx Martinez, 2023 6-3 G Cameron Gibson

Championship Matchup Prediction: Orlando Christian Prep (24-3) vs. North Florida Educational (22-8)

—Orlando Christian Prep still has enough to get back to the state title, the norm in 2A but SLAM Tampa will give a true test in the semis. North Florida Educational and Sagemont could go either way but I just feel that NFEI has a deep roster and a truly unselfish squad to clash with OCP in the state final.

Class 1A

Schedule: Wednesday, March 1 – Franklin County vs. Williston (6 PM), Chipley vs. Hawthorne (8 PM), Friday, March 3 – State Championship (7 PM)

Players to Watch: Franklin County – 2023 6-1 G Owen Poloronis, 2024 6-4 F Ethan Kembro, 2023 6-3 G Jaidyn Rhodes; Williston – 2023 6-3 G Greg Maxwell, 2024 6-6 F Kyler Lamb, 2024 6-6 F Javon Brown; Chipley – 2024 6-2 G Kyler Bryant, 2024 6-0 G Izayah Eldridge, 2023 6-2 G/F Daquayvious Sorey; Hawthorne – 2025 6-4 G CJ Ingram, 2025 6-0 G Leland Johnson

Championship Matchup Prediction: Williston (23-7) vs. Chipley (20-6)

—In 1A, it comes down to best team play and Williston has four players averaging 8.0 PPG or more with Greg Maxwell (18.4 PPG) carrying the load. He’s a special talent. Chipley is deep as well with four players, averaging 8.0 PPG or more with Kyler Bryant (12.3 PPG) leading nightly.

Must Attend: Spring Showcase

Looking to get your prospect to play against the top competition while also earning coverage from The Hoop Vibe scouts as well as media and college coaches in attendance evaluating? Make sure to attend the Spring Showcase on Saturday, March 18 at Bradenton Christian to further your game. Use the code JPerper10 to receive $10 off your purchase. Group discounts are available upon request.

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Jake Perper has been a sports writer since 2010 and a basketball scout since 2015. He was the Southeast Scouting Director for the Prep Hoops Circuit and the lead scout for Prep Hoops’ Florida site for seven years. You can follow him on Twitter @thehoopvibe.