Marianna, FL---Florida may be a football state, but the basketball here on the high school level features a deep talent pool.
One look at the gym at Marianna High School Saturday shows you that where the first ever Panhandle Exposure Showcase was hosted by Next Up Recruits, a certified NCAA scouting source based out of the area.
65 players from Florida, Alabama, and Southern Georgia spent the day working on their games in the one-day camp, while working to get noticed by the scouts and media, all hoping to get their name out to college coaches and recruiters.
Next Up's been serving Panhandle high school and Juco hoops for over three years now, providing an outlet and opportunity to our local hoop dreamers, while continuing to grow by leaps and bounds.
"This is our first actual event as an organization, but we're eventually planning on trying to get two or three a year, high school and junior college level," said event organizer and Chipley native Glen Mayo. "Just mix it up. We really just try to help kids get to college, especially in this area, a rural area, there's not a whole lot. That's why we tend to have a little success, because we don't have a lot of competition. We want to help coaches find players and players find coaches."
While other kids lounge at the end of their summer break, showing up and taking advantage of the showcase is a huge sign to show colleges that those participating want to push themselves.
Local high school and Juco coaches were in the building to both volunteer and just watch the event, all whom back up that the summer work is serious.
"Summer time is where you make yourself a player," says Chipola Women's Basketball head coach Greg Franklin. "If you don't serve the sport in the summer, then you're actually going to fall behind because somebody's going to win the day. And if you're not that person that's going to win the day, then you're falling behind."
"As a coach, you always want to see your kids invested in their own progress and the harder they work, the better they get," says Bay head coach Michael Grady. "And sometimes it's good to see them seeing the intangible proof that hard work pays off."