Teammates Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine and Alex Klatsky threw a lot of people off by choosing to spend their much-anticipated high-school basketball careers at the Ranney School.

They so much enjoyed defying expectations, Lewis said, they decided to do the same with their respective college choices.

On Wednesday morning, the Ranney trio signed national letters of intent after announcing their commitments earlier in the school year - Antoine with Villanova and Lewis and Klatsky with the University of Florida.

From left, Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine and Alex Klatsky signed their national letters of intent at Ranney on Wednesday. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

"A lot of people thought I was going to be a solid Kentucky guy, Bryan was going to go to Duke and Alex was going to end up in the Ivy League," Lewis said. "That's just what people expected us to do, but we changed it around and found places that fit for us and based it off of communications and relationships we had with the people at those schools.

"We're always changing and doing something different and making our own names for ourselves. That's definitely something we wanted to carry out on the next level and I think that's what we are doing."

Lewis and Klatsky will remain teammates next season at Florida, where Klatsky will be a preferred walk-on and Lewis will be the crown jewel in a strong recruiting class for head coach Mike White.

"We're all excited and we're prepared," Lewis said of himself and his fellow recruits. "We're going to get there in early June, work hard and push each other. There is a lot of hype going around as far as us coming in and we're going to have to live up to that."

Klatsky grew up a fan of Florida basketball and the chance to suit up for his favorite team with one of his best friends was too good to pass up.

"This is a lifelong dream of mine," Klatsky said. "Ever since I was a really little boy, I wanted to be a Gator basketball player. I saw this opportunity and I know I am going to have to work hard and I will do everything I can to earn whatever role I can to do whatever I need to do to help us win a national championship."

The two future Gators will also play against another one of their fellow Florida commits when Ranney meats Omar Payne and Montverde Academy in a high-profile game at Kean University on Feb. 8.

"We're figuring myself, Alex and Omar will wear the same warm-ups that game and get a picture," Lewis said. "It's going to be a battle. I have never really got a chance to watch Omar play so playing against him, I am going to get to see how he plays and he is going to get a chance to see how Alex and I play. It's going to be cool."

Antoine went his own way, choosing Villanova over Duke in order to stay close to home and join the program that not only won the national championship in 2017-18 but also was the first coaching staff to meet Antoine when he was in eighth grade.

"I don't know if I have ever had a time when things felt normal, but it's calmed down," Antoine said of the recruiting process ending. "I don't have coaches texting me everyday anymore. It's just the people that mean the most to me - coach (Jay) Wright, the coaches at Nova, my teammates, my friends, my family. It's good to have just those core people."

The signing brings to a close a hectic, intense recruiting process for Lewis and Antoine, who will now focus on leading Ranney to an NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title after the Panthers lost to eventual T of C champion Roselle Catholic, 63-61, in last year's Non-Public B final.

Now, the only distraction will be the hype that both five-star guards are already used to, even if it is a more graduated form. Not only do both Lewis and Antoine now have a national program attached to each but both are considered strong possibilities as lottery picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.

"Having people like Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) and all the big coaches reaching out to me during the recruiting process, I had people like Brian Klatsky, Coach Tahj (Holden) and Mike Rice telling me to stay calm and don't get too caught up in it," Antoine said. "Then people started texted me screenshots of my commitment on ESPN and stuff like that and for a couple seconds, I was like, 'That's cool,' but for the most part, I was at a loss of words."

Ranney will likely be the consensus favorite to win the T of C in March, which would make them the first Shore Conference team to do so and just the second to reach the championship game. On top of returnees Antoine, Lewis, Klatsky, Chris Autino and Ahmadu Sarnor, the Panthers will have 6-foot-7 junior and Rumson-Fair Haven transfer Phillip Wheeler, as well as promising 6-3 freshman Elijah Perkins in what shapes up to be Ranney's deepest, most talented lineup since the Antoine, Lewis, Klatsky and Autino arrived as freshmen.

"It's T.O.C. or bust at this point," Lewis said. "If you aren't coming to practice everyday with that love and passion for the game, we're going to get on you. We're going to make sure we all have that mindset that we're here to play basketball and we're here to win."

 

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