JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Josiah Sabino is the All-News4JAX boys basketball player of the year and headed to Jacksonville University on a scholarship.
Talk about a change.
It wasn’t that long ago that Sabino, a 6-foot-3 senior guard at Orange Park, wasn’t even good enough to make his junior high school team.
The sport he loved to play and grew up playing put Sabino at a crossroad in his early development. He cried. He hugged his parents. He was upset.
Something Sabino didn’t do — quit.
“Clearly I wasn’t good enough. But not going in a rabbit hole or giving up on myself, just being able to become a better person and a better person on the court,” he said.
“And … not even just on the court but off the court and just get better every day. Really just thankful. Thankful for the coaches and everything, my trainers and my family, though they see me as not a failure, but just like a lesson learned. Just being able to get better every day and become the man I am today.”
He took that rejection in seventh grade and used it to fuel the rest of his basketball journey, something he says was the fulcrum in his life to never stop working.
“I learned nothing’s really guaranteed in life, that work hard is going to get you to where you need to be, just not just settling and just keep working every day,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t think I would be where I am today without that little bump in the road. And just thankful for that to be able to guide myself and be able to become the player I am on the court.”
Sabino made the team the following year and has been on a collision course with excellence ever since. When he arrived in high school, Sabino was a solid player by his sophomore year and then hit his stride the following two season, making the Raiders a must-see attraction.
Sabino scored more than 1,000 points in his career, averaging double figures in three varsity seasons, including a 20.8 ppg average as a senior. That was against constant defensive attention that being the area’s best player and top recruit player brought. The Raiders finished 23-5 in Sabino’s final season and were a fixture in the News4JAX Super 6 rankings all season.
The fact that Sabino caught JU’s attention and under new coach Jordan Mincy to have an opportunity to stay home and play in front of his family is still something that he gets a little sentimental about.
“That’s truly an honor that I was able to be recognized by JU and get a scholarship to go to play at the next level,” he said. “It’s a really big accomplishment and my family, you know, it’s really going to help us, full ride. I’m blessed, extremely blessed. Just thankful for that.”
ALL-NEWS4JAX BOYS BASKETBALL FIRST TEAM
Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable
G Ross Candelino, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
Made his only season with the Sharks count, averaging 14.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg and leading the team to a 27-4 record and Class 6A state runner-up finish. Catalyst for the Sharks.
G/F Lajae Jones, Fletcher, Sr.
Excellent final season for Jones, who averaged 20.7 points, 7.4 rebounds per game. Shot 34% from the 3-point arc and 77% from the foul line.
G Ben McGraw, Bolles, Sr.
Averaged 19.3 points per game for the Bulldogs and managed to thrive against constant double teams. Shot 45% from 3-point arc and 80% from the foul line.
C Stephon Payne, Jackson, Sr.
Saw his production jump during his final season. Played a role on three consecutive state semifinalist teams (sophomore-senior seasons). Averaged 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks per game.
G Logan Ryan, Nease, Sr.
Averaged 18.8 ppg and shot 43% from the 3-point arc for the Panthers. Has signed with St. Leo.
G Josiah Sabino, Orange Park, Sr.
All-News4JAX player of the year. Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Averaged 20.8 points, 6.4 rebounds per game and shot 76% from the free throw line for 23-5 Raiders. Scored more than 1,400 career points. Signed with Jacksonville University.
Pos., Player, School, Class, Notable
G David Compere, Oakleaf, Sr.: High-scoring Knights player averaged 19 ppg and more than doubled his scoring average from last season
G Jalen Gilmore, Bishop Snyder, Sr.: Averaged 13.5 points, 3 rebounds per game for Cardinals.
F Ahman Greenidge, Fleming Island, Sr.: Averaged 12.5 points, 10 rebounds a game for regional finalist Golden Eagles. Wingate signee.
G/F Mason Lee, Providence, Jr.: Strong season for the Stallions, he averaged 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
F Luke Pirris, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: Averaged 11.9 points, 5.7 rebounds per game for Class 6A state runner-up Sharks. Scored 1,013 career points. Will play football in college at Navy. Second-team All-News4JAX selection last year.
G Camden Tyner, Paxon, Sr.: Biggest threat on the 25-4 Golden Eagles, he averaged 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds per game.
Pos., Player, School, Class
G Chris Arias, Providence, So.
G Moise Balungu, Bishop Snyder, Sr.
G Isaac Broxey, Columbia, Jr.
G Nathan Bunkosky, Ponte Vedra, Jr.
G Camden Cooper, SJCD, 6th
G/F Shayne Davis, Bradford, Jr.
G Montez Dunson, Riverside, Jr.
F Mark Flakus, Episcopal, Sr.
G Malachi Flowers, Middleburg, Sr.
G Bryant Foster, Baldwin, Sr.
G DJ Fowler, Bartram Trail, Sr.
G Bruce Gee III, Bartram Trail, Sr.
G Abraham Garjah, Paxon, Sr.
G Orel Gray, University Christian, Jr.
G Matthew Guzie, Nease, Sr.
G Kent Jackson, Episcopal, So.
G/F Zach Johnson, Yulee, Sr.
G/F Amari Jones, Bradford, Sr.
G/F Kyle Jones, Paxon, Jr.
G JT Kelly, Ponte Vedra, Sr.
G Devean Knowles, Impact Christian, Sr.
G Drew McAtee, Bishop Kenny, Sr.
G Caleb McAbee, Creekside, So.
G Beza Miller, Episcopal, Jr.
C Larry Mitchell, St. Joseph, Jr.
F James Morris, Jackson, Sr.
F Andre Myers, Jackson, Sr.
G Kevin Odom, Jackson, Sr.
G Brendon Pate, Atlantic Coast, Sr.
F Brandon Peavy, Clay, Sr.
F Marcus Peterson, Columbia, Sr.
G Hampton Reidl, Creekside, Jr.
C Jaylen Robinson, Providence, So.
G Anthony Ross, Atlantic Coast, Sr.
F Dominick Scott, Riverside, Jr.
G Jordan Smith, Sandalwood, Sr.
G Mason Sword, St. Joseph, Jr.
G Isaac Tevarus, North Florida Educational, Jr.
F Jye Thompson, West Nassau, Jr.
G Eddie Whipple, Ridgeview, Sr.
G Caleb Williams, Ribault, So.
F Ezarius Wilson, Ridgeview, Sr.
G Kenneth Young, White, Sr.
G Colton Zapp, Fleming Island, Sr.