On the court, Armwood’s Adam Sollazzo caused headaches for opposing coaches.
A 6-foot-6 guard with superior ball-handling skills and court vision, Sollazzo was Hillsborough County’s Player of the Year as a senior in 2008. He went on to star at East Tennessee State University, where he led the team to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He currently plays professional basketball in Italy.
On Thursday night, Sollazzo became the first former Armwood basketball player to have his jersey retired. Sollazzo, still in Italy, could not attend the event, but was represented by his family.
“I feel truly honored and blessed to have my number and jersey retired,” Sollazzo said via email earlier. “It has always been a dream of mine. I spent countless hours alone in the gym perfecting my game and always dreamed of the day that my jersey would hang in the gym for everyone to see.”
Armwood coach Jeff Pafunda said the school is forming a committee that will select former players to have jerseys retired. He said Sollazzo was the prime candidate for the inaugural jersey retirement ceremony.
“He was a scholar-athlete and he represented the community well,” Pafunda said.
Sollazzo scored 1,061 career points at Armwood, and at ETSU he finished fourth on the all-time assists list. He is the first American to play for Italy’s Acmar Ravenna and hopes to sign with an NBA team in the near future.
“It wasn’t easy to reach this achievement,” Sollazzo said. “It took tons of hard work and the help of many people. I would like to thank my family, as they are my biggest support system. Most importantly my parents, who instilled hard work in me at a very young age and challenged me to be the best on and off the court.
“I hope one day a young athlete will see my jersey and hear stories about me which will inspire them to outwork everyone else and become the best they can possibly be.”
The inaugural Derrick Brooks Shootout on Saturday at Brooks-DeBartolo will feature eight teams from the state.
The game schedule: Chamberlain-East Bay, 3 p.m.; Sarasota Impact Academy-Tampa Bay Christian, 4:40; Delray Beach Nike Elev/8-Largo, 6:20; Brooks-DeBartolo-Pensacola Washington, 8.
Jesuit and Tampa Prep have opportunities next week to continue winning streaks against rivals.
Jesuit has won five straight against Tampa Catholic, including a double-digit victory this season, and will host the Crusaders on Jan. 31.
Tampa Prep has won nine in a row against Berkeley Prep, including 56-34 on Jan. 11. Their next matchup is Jan. 31.