Harris & Johnson Provide Premium Shooting

Tyler Harris- Cordova High School
Tyler Harris- Cordova High School

I’ve been to a lot of games this year and I see players constantly jack the 3 ball. I guess that’s just a part of the today’s game especially with the revolution of the 3 by Stephen Curry. In a way it’s become the great equalizer  because your never completely out of a game if your team can make the 3. Having players who can knock it down from deep is just so valuable now and with shooters being such a hot commodity, colleges are on the prowl for it constantly.

There are 2 players in Memphis come to mind when I think of great shooters and I want to look at both. Now I’m not saying that there are just these two  guys  because there are others like Sky Forrest at Lausanne and Quentin Williams at Southwind but Tyler Harris and Jordan Johnson to me are the 2 best shooters in the area. I think both are really similar in their games and the way that they approach shooting. Tyler is the smaller of the 2 but that doesn’t take away from his ability to stretch the floor better than most in the country. In fact, if I had to make a list nationally because I’ve seen the 2018 class since the 7th grade, I would say that he’s among the best shooters in the country. Johnson doesn’t  come with the fanfare but he’s just as good a shot maker from 3 and all over as Harris. Former middle school coach and  now Hamilton girls Coach Chris Adams knows Johnson about as well as any, he coached for him for 3 years. He says, “Jordan has always been able to shoot since he was young but what makes him such a great shooter he puts the work in in summer and he has great shooting form and balance ”

Both have really good range, Harris routinely pulls up 5-6 feet behind the line as well as Johnson. Both are really good in catch and shoot situations, off the dribble and with defenders close using assortment of step backs to the left or right to get their shots off. The thing I like most about Johnson is that he never seems rushed and he takes the good shot as opposed to the tougher shot. Harris will take the tougher shot at times but he makes them at a little bit higher clip than Johnson because of the chances that he takes.

Jordan Johnson- Hamilton High School
Jordan Johnson- Hamilton High School

Tyler has the ball a bit more and has a little more freedom to do more and he doesn’t have 2 other guards like Montrell Brooks or Kevon McMahan to take some of the scoring pressure off so teams tend to run 2 at him or box him. Does it stop him from getting 25-30, most nights or keep him from shooting the basketball, not a whole lot. I think he could move a little better without the basketball but at the same times he does create a lot of attention which works out for teammates. When you have to beat 1 guy off the dribble because of the focus  he receives defensively, it makes life  a little easier on them. Not to take away from Jordan though because even on a team with a little more talent at the guard position, Jordan commands respect with his shooting ability and I think and this is just my opinion, if you switched teams for both, stats would be similar. Tyler is at 30 right now and Jordan around 20 but I think with more attempts for a different team, that average would go to 25-26 for Johnson. Would Tyler’s number jump up if he was on Hamilton’s team? Perhaps his would as well.

I look at if the shooters shot always looks the same whether it be from 15 or 25 feet, does it look the same mechanically. I can say for both, yes in fact I think Tyler’s pull up game from inside the 3 line is maybe his strong suit and that says a lot considering how well he shoots the 3. Jordan I think might shoot it a little better than Harris from the top of the key but Harris is a little more consistent from the wing and the corner. Both can make big shots in the clutch and neither have much fear in failing because they’ve seen every situation you can see so  far in their young careers as players.

In today where shooting is a premium, these 2 players are carrying the torch for 2018 in Memphis and next year, into college.

Top 5 Middle School Rankings (01-09-2018)

 

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With these season about over and the fans looking forward the the upcoming playoffs, it’s time to do my first top 5 rankings of the 2018 season. Enjoy….

1. Germantown Middle School (18-1) One loss on the season and that was early in the year, the Red Devils are clearly the best team in the city right now. They had 2 test last week and made A’s both times with wins over at the time #2 Bellevue and Ridgeway for the 2nd time this year to break the tie. With their side’s playoffs being at Ridgeway, I think we are looking at Germantown and them playing at least once or twice more before it’s said and done.

2. Ridgeway Middle (16-4) Don’t look at their 4 losses and conclude that they shouldn’t be here because you would be wrong in my opinion. Ridgeway has played a really tough schedule and their 3 losses have come to teams currently in my top 5 including 2 to Germantown, 1 to Lester and the other to FACS.  They lost to Germantownn 43-38 in the Anti-Bullying Classic last week in a tight game but like I said up top another upcoming game could be possible should they take care of business and I suspect they will. Their big 3 will need to be their big 3 down the stretch if they want to win the city title and state sectional.

3. Lester Prep (17-2) Beat a solid Lowrance team last night and won the Area2B championship. This is the part of the season though where players make names for themselves. Who will be the player to step up outside of Chauncey Holmes and Markese Washington for them? We will see soon. Playoffs start for them on Thursday.

4. FACS (20-1) With a few more games on the schedule, they still have a little ways to go but have to go in as favorites in their league playoffs when they start at the end of January.

5. Bellevue Middle (21-1) Why did I put them here? It’s not because I don’t think this group is good or not talented enough. I looked at the teams ahead of them and I thought, all of them have beat one of the other top 5 teams. The Bobcats had a chance last week with Germantown but lost a game that came down to missed opportunities and a injury to AJ Dilworth. Good news for them, Cartier Beverly seems to be finding his stride some, moving a lot better and getting back to his old attacking ways. They will need him down the stretch as well as Dilworth back healthy which Coach Taylor expects to happen. JR Jacobs has had big games scoring this year and he will need that to continue as they get ready for what could be a 4th state sectional title in a row.

Penny Hoopfest Review

 

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In world now filled with social media, twitter, instagram, Facebook and more, I don’t have to tell you what happened on Friday and Saturday night in the Penny Hardaway National Hoopfest. The goal for me is now to give you  some of my thoughts of what happened  over the weekend about certain teams, especially locally.

Well  ran event as usual and standing room only at Olive Branch on Friday night and in the last game on Saturday at White Station.  One thing you can tell about Memphis, people still love high school basketball, good, bad or indifferent, people showed up in huge way despite the hawk being outside.

With all that said, let’s get on with what somethings I noticed on Friday and Saturday.

 

Duo in 2020 In Memphis Starting To National Noise- For those shocked by the play of Cameron Matthews and Matthew Murrell, you shouldn’t be. Matthews was as good as I’ve ever seen him  whether it be summer, spring or school ball, he was really good both days particularly Friday night. The dunk off the cross with 2 hands plus the foul was one of the best I’ve seen all year and in awhile. He looks more comfortable handing full court than I’ve seen and he was attacking the basket reckless abandon that I hadn’t seen from him. Saturday even in the loss, he was good again around the rim with his motor and touch close. Murrell I think right now maybe the more polished of the 2, known more for his mid game, Murrell is shooting the 3 with more confidence to go along with the forays to the rim for athletic finishes. You have to consider both of these players the top 10th graders in the city.

Matthew Murrell (Whitehaven HS)
Matthew Murrell (Whitehaven HS)

With that said, other sophomores that I noticed..Jeremy Roach and of course Jaemyn Brakfield. Roach is stud and people were shocked looking at his frame when I told them that he was only a 2020 player. He was so under control, poised at the pg position, got into the lane but was patient when he attacked as well. He hits the 3 and he didn’t look to score the ball a lot but when he did, he was really good. Brakefield is so long,  he looks like he’s coming at you at 7 ft but he can score and does it well. He’s a match up problem for long players because he can handle it and hard because of his length against smaller players.

Talen Horton Tucker Is Really Good I’ve seen a lot of basketball over the past year, 150 plus games from the summer till now and I don’t know if I’ve seen to many guards better than him. The Iowa State commit is in that big guard Mark Aguirre type mold at 6’5 and he giving it to you. The step back off the dribble, footwork to create separation, hitting you with the shoulder to knock you off balance for the shot. He even posted and hit the tough fade away during the East game at a crucial moment. He’s just advanced offensively and there isn’t much that he can’t do well and Iowa State is getting an absolute star in him and a future pro, mark it down. Xavier Stinson was also really good for them. The slim 6’2 almost 6’3 has to be one of the best uncommitted seniors in the country. I love the way he competes, he gets where he wants to go, makes the jumper and is an above average athlete who you can bounce between the 1 and the 2 and he’s more of a pg than a 2.

East Looking For An Identity As  Team East has lost 3 games in a row and while it seems like the world is falling in front of them, it could actually help them late. Adversity tends to bring teams closer together but they must avoid letting these losses linger with district play coming up for them. Honestly, I thought that they might have took the losses earlier and maybe had a similar skid early in the season but they were able to get by some really good teams. Their schedule has been tough and I think it caught up to them but with that said, that brutal road should help them. Chandler Lawson had 27 and 11 rebounds in their loss with Simeon with Alex Lomax notching a triple double for the second time this season if not third time. I thought Laquincy Parker gave them a nice spark in the starting line up yesterday and it will be interesting to see if he starts the rest of the way for the Mustangs. 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge is with the second unit now and must be the anchor for the young group off the bench. I still think he could be key in what they do the rest of the way. They looked invincible early on with the big time win over Findlay Prep but now look like mortals after this and a team that many think are now beatable locally especially after Friday night.

Olive Branch and Cordova Made It Difficult To Rank Teams With OB beating East on Friday night, you could  have made the case that they were the new #1 team in the city. On Saturday though in a game that didn’t have as much emotion, they lost to Cordova who they were favored to beat. Is that thing of anyone can be beat on any given day in Memphis? Maybe but I think they were drained from how much they put out on Friday night at home.  Now does Cordova belong in that spot, OB or you still going East? How about Whitehaven with their win over Huntingdon Prep? Right now, I’m not sure but it makes for good talk around the areas as who has the number 1 team in the city right now. You might have to say right now, it’s the Tigers.

Cordova High School
Cordova High School

 

 

 

National HoopFest Takes Over Memphis This Weekend

 

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The 2018 version of the National Hoopfest will go down this weekend starting Friday in Olive Branch with 2 games followed by 6 games on Saturday at White Station High School. There will be 2 games on the first day with Raleigh Egypt taking Huntingdon Prep and the headline game right after, Olive Branch vs Memphis East.

Here are 3 things to watch for on Friday and Saturday at the Penny Hardaway National Hoopfest.

Darius Garland Is The Real Deal In Memphis, it’s Alex Lomax, Tyler Harris, Mark Freeman but national rankings suggest that Darius Garland is the best point guard of them all. Ranked as the 11th best player in the country, Garland is as fun to watch as anyone nationally regardless of class. He has vision, ball like a yo yo in hand, the pull up game and what he was known before before he hit the growth spurt, the 3 ball. He plays like the new age point guards of today but he can play the facilitate role as well. Young point guards in Memphis, if you have a chance to watch him on Saturday, I suggest you watch how a high major point guard looks this weekend.

Darius Garland 6'1 Brentwood (Vanderbilt Commit)
Darius Garland 6’1 Brentwood (Vanderbilt Commit)

The Talent Will Be Plentiful  There will be a lot of future division 1 players in this event representing their respective classes. When Sunrise Christian comes up, most mention N’Faly Diante first and for good reason. The 6’11 10th grader is ranked among the top 10-15 players in the country in this class but he has a lot teammates with a lot of ability. Malik Hall, a 6’5 guard who played with the Mississippi Express (EYBL) has a Kansas offer, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri just to name a few. He’s a scorer at all 3 levels.  Austin Crowley, a 6’5 guard who transferred this season is a Mississippi native and holds offers from Ole Miss and Alabama. Huntingdon Prep doesn’t just have  top 20 6’8 wing Jaemyn  Brakefield who has been blowing up lately, they also have Quinn Slazinski, a 6’8  who holds a Unviversity of California offer, Marvin Price, a 6’4 guard and a top 20 freshman in the country,6’7  Johnathan Kuminga. Johnathan McGriff is a flashy small guard who plays an exciting brand of basketball from the point guard position for them and he’s in the 2019 class.

Quinn Slazinski 6'8 WF (Huntingdon Prep)
Quinn Slazinski 6’8 WF (Huntingdon Prep)

Simeon doesn’t have anyone the caliber of a Jabari Parker who prepped their years ago but Talen Horton Tucker is pretty good. The 6’5 big guard committed to Iowa State a few months ago and played pretty well against East 2 weeks ago at the City Of Palms. East beat them 70-60 but the game was much closer and source told me that they maybe better than University School who gave them their first loss.They are a top 20 team for a reason nationally.  We also can’t forget about the local talent of Tyler Harris who’s averaging an other worldly 30 plus points a game, DJ Jeffries who is a top 5-10 player in the country in 2019 and teammate Joe Cooper of the Conquistadors who holds several offers. Those who haven’t seen East will get their chance with their roster which features the #1 player in the country by ESPN, James Wiseman, top 25 in ’19, Chandler Lawson, 2x Mr.Basketball and Wichia State commit Alex Lomax and UAB 6’5 wing, Ryan Boyce. 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge is another top 60 player in one of the strongest junior glasses that Memphis has seen in a long time.  Paul VI has 2 really good guards in Brandon Slater who has committed to Villanova and another really good sophomore in this event, Jeremy Roach, a 6’2 guard who is ranked 14th by ESPN and holds offers from Texas, Maryland, Miami and Villanova.

Malcolm Dandridge (East HS)
Malcolm Dandridge (East HS)

Interesting Match-Ups Best thing about events like these, it gives fans a chance to see there favorite high school teams against some of the better teams across the country. Hungtingdon vs Whitehaven comes to mind. I’m looking forward to seeing Cameron Jones go head to head with Jameyn Brakefield and seeing 6’2 Matthew Murrell and Marvin Price go at it. Chicago is know to produce tough gritty guards and that game with Hamilton is going to be full of just that on both sides. Darius Garland vs Jeremy Roach should be a nice pairing of two of the elite guards in the country. Even looking at the Olive Branch and East game, there was  a lot of talk about that during the summer and how close the game was when they scrimmaged at Olive Branch. That game has the energy of real game and tomorrow, it will be just that, real.

Remember, this event begins tomorrow at Olive Branch, first game is at 6 followed by the last game of the evening which will be at 730 pm. Games move to White Station on Saturday and start at 12:00.

 

Top 5 High School Teams In Memphis

 

 

Kevon McMahan (Hamilton HS)
Kevon McMahan (Hamilton HS)

Doing a middle school team ranking and doing a high school team rankings are some what similar but a little different. In middle school, you never really know what your going to get out of teams because your dealing with 6th,7th and 8th graders night in night out. One week, a team can look like world beaters and the next, they play a close game with a team that shouldn’t be close to them. On the high school side, its a little different because as we know,  players makes up teams and at that point as 11th and 12th graders, you know the make up of older players. It’s a little bit easier to predict and while you still have upsets , for the most part, a team that’s in the top 5 or for someone else top 10, they will be that at season’s end.

Will that being said, here is my view on who are the top 5 teams in Memphis high school basketball right now….

1.East High School (11-1) The City of Palms didn’t end the way they wanted it to taking their first loss but with that said, still a top 5 team in the country. Sometimes a loss is a learn and in this, I think this could be that for the Mustangs. Alex Lomax had a triple double against University School and was named to the all tournament team along with James Wiseman who I think had 20-10 in the first 2 games. Up next for them, the National Hoopfest against Olive Branch next Friday and on Saturday, another entertaining game against Simeon, a top 25 team in the country. I expect a very aggressive  team on Friday night and one that will looking to make a statement on the road in what is sure to be a wild environment.

2. Whitehaven High School (10-1) First loss of the season came just a few days ago to Brentwood Academy led by the best point guard in the country, Darius Garland. The Tigers  get after you defensively and have a lot of guard depth and a few players who will lead them every night. Cameron Jones has played well so far as well as Matthew Murrell, the best 10th grader in Memphis and it’s not up for debate to me.  Sophomores  Alvin Miles and Jessie Payne will must continue to trend upwards as the season progresses and they need timely scoring from  Simmie Jones.  Latrell Carter and Anthony Whitmore  are their inside players who can score some but will be most relied upon for rebounding . They will play Huntingdon Prep at 3:00 pm on Saturday January 6th as a part of the National Hoopfest.

3. Olive Branch High School (12-2) I wasn’t going to put this team in the ranking at first and  not because they haven’t been playing well but because I wanted it to be all Memphis teams. Since they have started to play more Memphis teams though, I figured that they should apart of this as well. They played against Whitehaven over a month ago and the Tigers gave them one of their only 2 losses on the season. The other loss  was to Madison Prep, a team out Louisiana but as of right now, I think they are the #1 team in Mississippi HS basketball. DJ Jeffries is doing what a top 5 player in 2019 does but the player who might make them go the most is Kelvin Allen. Not saying he is their most talented player but Allen takes on the role as is the defensive stopper  and his scoring as increased this season. Shamar Brown was huge in their win against Southwind with big shots from the perimeter, something that you can tell he’s really worked at. Next up, Memphis East, at their school on January 5th at 7:30 pm in their biggest game of the season.

4. Southwind High School (18-1) One loss team the fourth best team in the city? I took into account that they lost to Olive Branch so I wasn’t going to put them ahead of a team they lost to. The Jaguars are going into district play as the favorites but once again, Ridgeway will still be right there with them. Mark Freeman has to be put among the top 3-4 guards in the city with how he’s played so far and the Jaguars have gotten contributions from several including Quentin Williams and 6’8 Cameron Jones, a 2019 who more people should know about.

5. Hamilton High School (14-2) Jordan Johnson’s impact has been felt but people forget that Hamilton has pretty good talent overall. Montrell Brooks and Kevon McMahan have been the steady anchors and the only 2 players from the 2015 state championship that they won as a Triple A school. Now apart of a strong Double A, Hamilton right now is the best team in it and while close, the Wildcats have that plaque on the wall for now. Julian Woods is a good piece to what they do with the dirty work near the rim and his rebounding  and surprising ability to turn over the should and score and James Dejesus has hit some big shots for head coach, Will Smith. They will take on 11-3 Whitney Young out of Chicago Saturday in the National Hoopfest at 1:30 pm.

 

 

SCIAA Anti-Bullying Tournament

 

 

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With 3 of my top 5 middle school teams in the  and the best girls team in the city, Colonial, the SCIAA  Anti-Bullying Classic promises to be one that will create a lot of movement in the next rankings . Starting tomorrow at Airways Middle on the boys side, #1 Germantown will play against A Maceo Walker with Colonial girls right behind them at 2:30 pm with Snowden and Dexter to follow setting up to me, two really good games the following day.

I have Germantown advancing to play Bellevue who is my #2 team  and undefeated right now in what maybe the best game of the entire tournament. That game will be on January 4th at 6:00 pm followed by another pretty good one, Snowden and Ridgeway. I don’t know but maybe I would have found a way to put them on opposite sides so we could see that Red Devils Bobcat game in the title game but either way, I’m really looking forward to that game.

JR Jacobs (Bellevue)
JR Jacobs (Bellevue)

Guard play versus length and we know how important it is to have guards in middle school but this one has two contrasting styles. Bellevue has really good guards in JR Jacobs, AJ Dillworth, Amar Knox, Dustin Richmond and a recovering Cartier Beverly who has a few more practices under his belt coming off injury. Germantown beats you with skilled length and player who can control a game with his motor and scoring around the basketball, Cameron Miller. Bellevue is pretty good defensively and will get after you and try to pressure you into turnovers which turn into easy scores for them.  In that game, Jhamal Ross of Germantown and Chris Martin will have to big to counteract Bellevue’s scoring from the guard position. Handling the ball and making the right decisions with the ball and taking good shots will be key. Bellevue isn’t the biggest team and Germantown must play to their strength which is their skilled bigs. If they try to “out guard” Bellevue, their will be a new #1.

Snowden Ridgeway should be pretty good as well. Ridgeway is a team that is still very very capable of winning the Large School State Sectional and they have their own formula of how they can beat you. Feed Kristian Spencer and get EJ Smith and Chip Brunt going early. Snowden was a top 5 team earlier in the season and a team I wouldn’t want to play late in post season. Madricus Pittman is a shooter who can hit from deep all over the floor but who gets them going, Jamarius Brooks. He’s an attacking guard and Ridgeway must keep him out the paint and stop the drive to make him and others become jump shooters. They could also be without a key player but we will see on tomorrow in their first game.

Deshun Dunn
Deshun Dunn

We could see Bellevue Ridgeway for the first time this year in the title game or we could see Snowden Bellevue or maybe Germantown Ridgeway for another really good game. Any of them would be fun to watch but my prediction is Bellevue for the overall tournament champion. For some reason I think Bellevue has a chip on their shoulder after not being named the best team in the city and will be out to prove that they are.  On the girls side, I have Colonial in a tight one over Havenview.

The SCIAA Anti-Bullying Tournament starts tomorrow at 1:00 pm.

 

Wilkes Continuing Progress As One To Watch!!

 

 

 

Memphis is known as a guard city and the 2022 class has plenty of good ones to follow for the future. One in particular though should be higher on everyone’s list, Kobe Wilkes. The lefty has increased his reputation after one of the better showings at the Bartlett Middle School Sweet 16 tournament.

His offensive high IQ is really good knowing where he can pick angles on the floor for drives but also when to use utilize the runner/floater which he hits at good clip.  He’s really good as a finisher in the lane because of his body control  but can kick to open shooters as well. In transition he flourishes but he also makes good decisions when it’s thinking time in half court. He has a good release on his shot and he shoots the 3 well but I think he’s at his best on the move with the ball in his hands.

Defensively, he relies on instincts and position and while not overly quick, he’s able to stay in front and be a pest. A coach’s  son, Wilkes knows how to play basketball, he’s confident in his ability, makes plays and will find ways to affect a game even when his offense isn’t going. His teams relies a lot on him but he’s more than up for that task going into every game. I think as he matures and gets stronger, he will become the pg that can score it but also run your team as well. Wilkes has a bright future and one that will be worth watching.

 

Bartlett Sweet 16 Tournament, MAM & Top 5 Team Rankings…

 

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With Christmas now over and the New Year holiday just days away, I figure why not look back at the 2 featured tournaments last week. First, congratulations to both the Bellevue Bobcats and the Germantown Red Devils on their championship wins in their respective tournaments.  The Bartlett Middle School Sweet 16 was the new kid on the block with several of the city’s best teams all in one gym while the Middle School stalwart (MAM Christmas Classic) was well ran as usual.

Which tournament was better,  I won’t get into all that but I will say while I don’t usually do a top 10 because I think top 5 is a bit more exclusive for  middle school,  8 of my top 10 if I was to do that were in Bartlett.  I was able to catch a lot more Bartlett than I was the MAM I guess because of the curiosity and the match-ups and there were some good ones.

On the second day, Germantown played against Lester, for some fans, the most anticipated game of the season because you won’t see it again being that one team is Large School and the other a Small School.  You saw FACS, who shocked some getting to the championship game at Bartlett, Lester, the city’s #1 team losing 2 games in a row and Germantown winning the 1st annual tournament going through a gauntlet of teams.

In the MAM, I saw Bellevue and I marked Bellevue down to win that but had no idea that West out of Jackson would be in that championship game with them. St. Louis with Chandler Jackson went a little further than I anticipated making it to the Final 4. It  just proved the notion, if you have that caliber of player in Middle School, it can take you a long way.  Bellevue has kind of flown under the radar a bit with the early success of Lester and it can be viewed a few different ways but mainly due to them being a little less visible than Lester. That can be a good and bad thing but right now, it’s not hurting them. They won he MAM big by plus 25 and right now, are the best team Small Schools and it could be that way at least until the end of the season.

I remember talking to a few people about FACS before the season started and one thing that I liked about them was that they have been together for awhile and a few play summer basketball together so it makes up for great chemistry among each other.  2, Kobe Wilkes is probably the among the top 10 players in the city in the 8th grade along with a much improved Corey Savage and Tim Thomas Jr who used to be a really good defender but is now becoming a nice offensive player as well. I think people saw what type of team they were but this to, they were also missing a big part of what they do in the tournament as well due to vacation. They used to be a secret but definitely not anymore.

After all that, I guess one could conclude that doing a team ranking would be simple but it’s not easy. I try to be fair and I take into account a few variables. One, competition level, who have you played and with those tournaments last week, I took into account, who played who and which tournament may have been the stronger of the 2. When I thought about it, I decided that this would be my top 5.

1. Germantown Middle School(16-1) The Red Devils were the first team in the city to beat undefeated at the time Lester, they avenged an earlier loss in the season to Ridgeway making them the only team in the city to beat both teams and they beat a good FACS team in the championship game Saturday. They can beat you in a multitude of ways, inside, with the 3, through good guard play,  on the boards and defensively, they can put bigger players on your guards and make it tough to score. With their tough games seemingly behind them, you have to think that they could hold this spot for awhile. Did I mention that Cameron Miller was the best player in the tournament for his team? Deshun Dunn also his normal self, but was hitting the outside jumper to open it for drives later in the drive for himself. Their point guard Jhamal Ross was pretty good able to hit some open shots to take the pressure of Chris Martin.

Germantown Middle
Germantown Middle

2. Bellevue Middle (19-0) Wait a minute, what? How can an undefeated team be #2? Well, see my above paragraph before the rankings. The Bobcats are really good, it’s apparent, no blemishes, just got Cartier Beverly back, JR Jacobs was the tournament MVP, AJ Dillworth is perhaps the best guard in the 7th grade and #2? I would have loved to see this team in Bartlett, could you imagine a final 4 with them in it? I was hoping to see that but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Should I take that into account? I did but they are the best team in the city in Small Schools right now and you can’t take that away from them. It will take some time with Beverly to return to his old self  that’s expected but if he doesn’t , this team will still be extremely hard to beat.  We just have to wait a little bit more to see them challenged on their side.

3. Ridgeway Middle (16-3) Lost to FACS who made the championship game and  came back after a tough loss to  to beat Lester in their second match-up of the season on Saturday. I see this team improving, I see at times where they look like they could be the sectional champions. EJ Smith shot the ball as well as I’ve seen him shoot it against Elmore Park, Kristian Spencer was really good in the games I watched. He has a knack for the finish around the basket and his ball handling seems to be improving but their key could be Chip Brunt. He’s really really talented, you see it, he can handle, hit the jumper, good passer, picks his spots but I would love to see him be more aggressive. I think he can be a player down the stretch for them that truly has a say in if they can beat Germantown.

Ridgeway Middle
Ridgeway Middle

4.Lester Prep (16-2) Coming off back to back to losses, I’m interested to see how they bounce back once school starts back. Through adversity you can see what your team is made of but I know Coach Terrell has a resilient group and one that will take on his characteristics. Markese Washington was named to the all tournament but for his team, he must be their leader down the home stretch and into the playoffs if they want to make a run at a sectional. Ladies and gentlemen, this is still a really good team, that hasn’t changed.

5. FACS Middle (17-1) Even though they lost to the #1 team in middle school, everyone knows  who they are now. Coming into the tournament previously undefeated, they were pretty much a secret but beating Ridgeway and a long Memphis Nighthawks team in their first game, on the private school side, they have to be considered the best team. Kobe Wilkes, Corey Savage and Tim Thomas Jr are really good trio. Add Landon Jeffries to that mix as well and you have 4 seasoned guards who have all been through big games and they will be tough to beat. Wilkes was maybe the best guard I saw during the tournament. He had everything on display offensively and when they needed a basket, they leaned on him. For those who still haven’t see this group, you still have time, you will not be disappointed.

FACS Middle
FACS Middle

MAM Christmas Classic

Chandler Jackson(St. Louis Cardinals)
Chandler Jackson(St. Louis Cardinals)

The 2017 MAM Christmas Classic is off to a great start and with the Elite 8 later this evening, things are about to heat up for a few teams. Today at MUS in the 7:00 games, Southaven will take on a scrappy West Lions team and on Court 1 at the same time, Highland Oaks will take on the St.Louis Cardinals  who pulled off  the upset last night on last second lay up over John P Freeman.

In the 8:00 games, Bellevue will take on Dexter on Court 2 while St.George will play against MUS on Court 1. I think Southaven might be one of the more athletic teams in the tournament and it will be too much for West but the game to watch on that side of the bracket will be Highland and St.Louis. The Cardinals have the best player in middle school in the city in Chandler Jackson and he’s a handful for anyone. He’s a play maker, rebounder and get to rim player and he pretty much does everything for them including handing out the water in timeouts.  Basically a nightmare match-up for most teams in the city and it will be no different tonight for Highland Oaks.

I have a feeling though that Coach Mark Freeman also knows what I know watching them last night  and a different game plan will be in place. Highland has a young group though and they rely on two 7th graders a lot so will it be to much to ask them to stop the best player in the city? I think Regale Moore has a huge game and  I have Highland in the upset in a close low scoring game but it will be a tall task to ask of them.  On the other side, I have Bellevue cruising against an improved Dexter team but a team that hasn’t  seen a team like the Bobcats all year long. Cartier Beverly is now back to playing as well and will take a few games to get the rust off but I expect him to have an impact in this tournament as well. The MUS St.George will a pick em type game but I have MUS advancing to the Final 4 in that one.

Picks

  1. Bellevue vs Dexter – Bellevue
  2. St.George’s vs MUS- MUS
  3. Southaven vs West- Southaven
  4. Highland Oaks  vs St.Louis- Highland

Final 4 (Friday)

  1. Bellevue vs MUS
  2. Southaven vs Highland Oaks