With a new opportunity at hand, Alex Ordoqui’s move to Palmetto Senior High (Miami, Fla.) was one he couldn’t pass on.
“Palmetto was a destination job for me,” Ordoqui told 305Sports following his recent move from Coral Park.
Ordoqui, who served as an assistant coach at Palmetto before taking the job at Coral Park, helped change the basketball culture for the Rams, who quickly surged into a top team in Miami-Dade County.
Joining the program in 2018, Ordoqui totaled a 30-20 record as head coach of Coral Park, including an impressive 18-8 outing in their 2019-20 campaign, featuring victories over Coral Gables, Florida Christian and Columbus.
While they never accomplished a successful playoff run, an impressive leap from prior seasons before Ordoqui’s hiring show just how effective his coaching can be.
“Coral Park was a school that had won 5 games combined in the 3 years before I accepted the position,” Ordoqui said. “We were fortunate to have guys like Ga’Khari [Lacount], Jason [Don], Albie [Henriquez], Adrian [Salcedo] and David [Pazo] that were able to turn the school into one of the best teams in Miami in less than two years.”
Ordoqui’s decision to leave the Rams comes solely through the chance to return to the school he garnered the love for teaching the sport.
“I loved my time at Coral Park and I am eternally grateful to Principal [Scott] Weiner and Athletic Director Emilio Condis for the support and opportunity they provided us at CP, but I just felt Palmetto was a situation that was too good to pass up.”
As for Palmetto — home to Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Tim Haradway Jr. and University of Georgia guard Mikal Starks — have lately notched national attention for their football program, which currently includes seven players committed to play at a Division I program.
Ordoqui hopes to translate those winning ways to the court.
Led by a backcourt of Marcus Molina and Sean Zabari, the Panthers look to bounce back from their recent 14-11 season and capture its first district title since 2016-17.
“They have a group of young talented players that have a chance to be really good high school players,” he said. “The senior group has some guys that have played a lot of competitive basketball. There are some underclassmen at Palmetto that have a chance to have breakout seasons.
“Palmetto is a school that is very attractive for parents and students.”
On a positive note, Palmetto strived in league play, recording a 10-0 record. Ordoqui is confident that cycle will continue to repeat.
“I thought our district at Coral Park was the best in Miami last season. That district produced four regional playoff teams. We were in the same district as Ferguson and Braddock two years ago so we have some familiarity with our new district opponents. We expect to compete for a District Championship every season at Palmetto.”
He’ll also look to find his next prodigy, who as of recent was Ga’Khari Lacount. Previously coached by Ordoqui on junior varsity as a sophomore, Lacount stood by his coach as they both made the move to Coral Park.
Lacount was the Rams’ captain his senior season, averaging 31 points and 5.7 assists, deserving of 305Sports All-Dade First-Team honors.
Back in April, Lacount announced that he’ll be reclassifying and playing at Link Year Prep, a post-grad program.
“Ga’Khari is the person most responsible for the success we had at Coral Park,” Ordoqui said. “He’s the best player in Rams history and it is not even close. He’s living proof of how hard work pays off. The most valuable lesson he provided is a road map for young players that want to be great. He was a pleasure to coach and I can’t wait to see how successful he will be at the next level.”
For now, Ordoqui’s excited to return to Palmetto and grow powerful relationships alongside AJ Gomez, his assistant coach.
“It feels great to be back at Palmetto,” he said. “I’m thankful to Principal Victoria Dobbs and Athletic Director Steve Batten for giving me this chance.
“AJ Gomez, who was the main assistant at Coral Park, will be headed back to Palmetto with me as well and he is one of the best coaches in Miami. I was an assistant there with coach [Marcos] Molina and coached some great young men there like Mikal Starks, Danilo [Castellano], Joey [Martinez], Jovan [Debrito], Noah [Louis] and [Jordan] Hamburger.
“I feel fortunate we are headed back to a place I consider one of the best high schools in Florida.”