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St. Andrew’s Anthony Polite: Small-schools basketball player of year

Anthony Polite closed his high school basketball career with a flourish this season.

The senior combo guard averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists a game, and helped lead the Scots to a district championship.

St. Andrew’s finished 25-3.

“He’s got tremendous ability,” longtime Scots coach John O’Connell said.

Polite, who signed with FSU in November, began playing varsity basketball at St. Andrew’s as a freshman.

His game has grown steadily through the years, and this past season he earned Small Schools Player of the Year recognition after averaging 22 points, eight rebounds and three steals. The Scots finished 26-2 and advanced to the regional finals.

“I’ve grown mentally and physically,” said Polite, who drew numerous offers from Power 5 schools before choosing Florida State in August. Polite’s dad, Michael, played for the Seminoles from 1987-91. “I’ve adjusted to our game.”

A tall guard who can shoot, handle the ball well and drive to the basket, the 6-foot-6 Polite has begun preparing for his college basketball career, both on and off the court.

“I want to focus on getting better,” he said. “I’m always watching college basketball. I can see how strong and how fast the game is. Every single piece of game that I can improve, I’ll be doing next year.”

O’Connell expects a smooth transition from high school to college basketball for Polite, who will spend the summer traveling and training.

“He’s physically and mentally prepared for the next level,” O’Connell said. “He’s so athletic and strong already. He’s going to make an immediate impact in college basketball.”

Polite’s impact at St. Andrew’s was just as quick.

O’Connell, who has coached at the school for 32 years and picked up his 600th career win there in January, said Polite’s ability and leadership — which became more vocal through the years — helped carry the Scots to multiple district championships, and also grew the team’s fan base.

During Polite’s junior and senior seasons, St. Andrew’s went 51-5 and packed the school’s gymnasium.

“He’s had such an impact on the program and his teammates,” O’Connell said. “People love to support St. Andrew’s basketball. Over the last two years, we’ve had our best crowds ever, and a lot of that was because of Anthony.”

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