UNC recruit Berry leads Florida high school to Holiday Invitational
Posted December 25, 2013
Hailing from Orlando, Fla., Lake Highland Prep travels up the East Coast to make its first Holiday Invitational appearance.
The Highlanders are coached by Jason Vallery, and the team’s performance on the court is boosted by talented point guard Joel Berry. A 6-foot, 185-pound senior, Berry has signed to play college basketball at North Carolina.
Heavily recruited across the nation, Berry is the third-ranked point guard in the Class of 2014, according to ESPN.com.
Berry is the leading scorer for the Highlanders but is also a balanced point guard who averaged 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game during his junior season to go along with 25.3 points per game.
“He’ll probably be the best player and best person I’ve ever coached,” Vallery said. “He is not only a phenomenal athlete, but when you compare him to other kids who garner national attention, what makes him unique is that he isn’t your typical superstar who takes 100 shots per game.
“He scores within our system, distributes to his teammates and plays a fundamental game at an extremely high level.”
In the last two years, Lake Highland Prep has finished as a state runner-up and a state champion in Florida, but Vallery says the 2013-14 Highlanders are a faster and more offensively talented team than squads he has coached in the past. Earlier this season, the Highlanders scored more than 100 points for the first time in school history.
“We play a style that most people aren’t comfortable with,” Vallery said. “That’s where we hang our hat. We practice fast, we play fast and most teams aren’t ready to do that.”
Joining Berry in the Highlanders’ backcourt is 6-foot-4, 175 pound shooting guard Jay Henderson. Also a player attracting national attention, Henderson is a three-star recruit, according to ESPN.com and has scholarship offers from schools including Stanford, Florida State, Purdue and Seton Hall. Vallery points to Henderson as the team’s best on-ball defender.
Jaren Lewis, Marc Epstein, Michael Albertson and Malcolm Laws complement Berry and Henderson as talented leaders for Vallery’s up-tempo and explosive Highlander team. The coach is excited to bring his team to the Holiday Invitational.
“Every year, we try to take the chance to go somewhere outside our area and challenge ourselves against different styles of play,” Vallery said. “To do it on a national level is a very exciting opportunity.”