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One of the hottest names in Florida hoops circles in the 2015 recruiting class belongs to an explosive and athletic Sarasota player that USF Head Coach Stan Heath has been keeping a watchful eye on the prospect.
Cardinal Mooney sophomore Antonio Blakeney is having a the kind of breakout season that will make him a sought after "national" recruit, resulting in offers, rankings by recruiting service and lots of attention by opposing team's defense.
Blakeney, a 6-foot 4, 170 pound shooting guard with nice hops and a smooth and efficient game, had a strong spring and summer playing AAU ball for Each One Teach One (E1T1) on the Nike EYBL circuit.
He's continued that solid play into his high school season and is currently averaging 24.2 points,8.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Recently he was voted the MVP of the Suncoast Holiday Classic that his Cardinal Mooney team won.
"My game is trying to rebound the most I can so I can get out in transition and make plays," Blakeney said. "I can score off the dribble and catch and shoot! My team is undefeated right now, we are most successful when everyone is sharing the ball and running the floor for easy baskets."
Blakeney credits Cardinal Mooney coach Stefan Gates and playing for E1T1 with helping his development.
"Coach Gates has helped my game a lot; he teaches me the easy way to get buckets and helps me keep a level head," Blakeney said. Playing for E1T1 has helped me a lot, by playing with and against good players. Playing with great coaches that make you play your but off, and it got me a lot of exposure."
Like many residents of the Sunshine State, Blakeney is a transplant from up north.
"I was born in Watertown, New York," he said. "We moved to Sarasota when I was three." "I have a real good family, I'm real close to my parents and grandparents, I have 2 brothers, one is 18 and one is 13."
Last month Cardinal Mooney competed in the annual City of Tampa Tournament hosted by Tampa Prep. Although the Cougars didn't win the tournament, Blakeney was named to the All Tournament team. And perhaps more importantly, USF Head Coach Stan Heath watched Blakeney play twice during the tournament. In one of the two games Heath watched Blakeney get 34 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
"It felt good to know he was there evaluating me, Blakeney said. "I know before the Thursday game [USF assistant coach Andy] Hipsher talked to Coach Gates about me."
One of the keys to successful recruiting is identifying prospects and getting them on campus early in their recruitment. South Florida has done both with Antonio Blakeney.
"I've been to their campus at their elite camp. I loved it," he said. "And yes they offered me! I'm really interested in them"
Blakeney told us that he also holds offers from Georgia Southern and UCF. He added that he's getting mail from Miami, Virginia Tech, FSU, Stanford, Murray State, Virginia, West Virginia, George Mason and Clemson.
Cardinal Mooney, under coach Gates, is focused on making a deep run towards a 3A title. With Blakeney, he has a terrific young player to build around. He can get his shot most anywhere on the floor and can explode over taller players for wicked one-handed slams. He has a nice, stroke and is a willing rebounder for his position thanks in part to his ability to play 'above the rim' with his athleticism.
Blakeney, without question, is a prime target in the class of 2015 for USF, a class which will have numbers.