Lamarcus Golden and Team Penny captured a national title, 86 66 over the Michigan Gators at Southwind High School. That’s 2 in a row for this organization with last year Desmond Merriweather coached team winning last AAU season. I think this 2018 group has a chance to be a really good EYBL team next season!! Congratulations to Coach Golden, Coach Freeman and Team Penny!!!
Now that the team camps are over for high school teams, we can get to who I think are the top 5 teams in the city. This doesn’t mean that this team may stay there all the way through when the season actually starts however just a look into some of the best teams that I saw, key word being “saw” during the month of June. Ladies and gentlemen, 901Prep’s Top 5 ranking of high school teams in Memphis.
1. East High School – From what I saw, this is the best team in the city and there are several reasons for my decision to put them here. For starters, they return their virtually their entire core and when I say entire, I mean everyone. Rising Sophmores Alex Lomax, TJ Moss, Jr Courtney Mclemore, Jr Rodarius Washington who were starters last year are all back and Teddrick Mcghee who is also a great football player and was a starter . Last year, they went on a great run to end the season and made it to Mufreesboro losing in the Final 4 game to Brentwood, just a game away from a dream season. Not bad for a team full of freshman and sophomores with no expectations right? That team will be back, a year older, more mature and ready to finish this year off with a state championship but with a few new faces including 2019, 6’8 Chandler Lawson, a consensus top 10 player in the country and Malcolm Dandridge,a burgeoning 6’7 with high upside to match. They have great guard play, length, lots of talent but still lots of youth which can’t be discounted but this is a team very very capable of going back to state and this time winning but again, this is way early and again a young group to depend on. Have to mention also that they may have a new coach in the fold in Memphis legend Penny Hardaway who coached them at the University Of Memphis team camp and MUS. His addition is huge to a group that he knows because of his time at Lester where he won 3 middle school state sectionals will greatly enhance their chances because of his familiarity them. The only starter or future starters in the group that didn’t play for him is Lawson and Moss. They took a loss to Brentwood Academy in the MUS Summer Classic who won state in private last year but turned around and beat very good Germantown team who beat Brentwood by double digits the next day after their loss. I had two teams to choose from then but that made the decision a little easier. This is the team to beat and one likely to be in this position through out the season.
Key Players: 6’4 TJ Moss, (#18 on ESPN 2018 rankings) 2018 5’11 Alex Lomax, 2017 6’4 Rodarius Washington, 2016 6’2 Courtney Mclemore, 2016 6’7 Robert Washington, 2017 5’7 Nick Merriwether, 2019 6’8 Chandler Lawson, 2019 6’7 Malcolm Dandridge
2. Germantown High School – Senior laden team and a good one!!! Strong guard play with Darrell Brown Jr, a Tulsa commit, who is one of the best scoring guards in the state, Jonathan Bins, 6’2 Michael Bamrick, a shooter, Rodney Williams, a strong athletic 4 man, Jacob Ivey and transfer, 6’7 Marcus Mitchell, who will provide some inside scoring ability and rebounding which they needed at times last year.While it can be tough to repeat what you did in Middle School, parts of this team has been together since 7th and 8th grade and were apart of a state sectional championship 5 years ago. This is group that has a lot of chemistry and cohesion, been through tough games and now, many are expecting this to be the year for Germantown to get out of here and on the state and with that becomes expectations and a little pressure. Brown is the heart and soul of this team but Williams does the dirty work while Bins is a solid guard who can be another point guard and get you 10-15 points a game. Mitchell will be a big time addition for the Red Devils and Coach Davis. The added length will allow them to have interchangeable lineups, big or small and give Williams help on the glass. Is this the year for Germantown? It happened in 8th grade for a few of them, maybe history repeat itself.
Key Players: 2016 6’0 Darrell Brown Jr, 6’0 2016 Jonathan Bins, 2016 6’5 Rodney Williams, 2016 6’7 Marcus Mitchell, 6’4 2016 Jacob Ivey, 2016 6’2 Michael Bamrick, 5’9 2016 Dacoda Stone, 6’0 2016 London Gool
3. Cordova High School – One of the more talented rosters in the city, Cordova after a few years off, came back to the scene last season where they finished just a few games away from a state berth. At the head of this team, Blake Williams, a name that’s been among the city’s best players for the last few years but really came on strong late in the year. Blake is one of the top 4 pgs in the City and you could argue, that he could be the best. It will all start with him but Rod Brown, a rising sophmore and one of the best young players in the state could come into his own this year. Brown is super athletic 3-4 who in transition and at the rim maybe as good as anyone in Memphis. 6’8 Jalen Dupree has turned himself into one of the best big man prospects in the city and rumored to have interest from Memphis. Dupree is a rebounder shot blocker who will benefit from playing summer basketball this year at a high level. Kavion Stewart will also play a large role with his ability to slash and hit the jumper but also look for Cordova to make a splash with a transfer or two. The lights will be on them this year and they should be, Cordova has a really talented team.
Key Players: 2017 5’11 Blake Williams, 2016 6’4 Kavion Stewart, 2016 6’8 Jalen Dupree, 2018 6’6 Rod Brown
4.Southwind High School – Like Arlington, the Jaguars lost a lot of talent last year and must find players on the roster to take up for what they lost. Donte Fitzpatrick is off to Ole Miss, was their top scorer, best player last year and now, they have to find a go to guy to fill his shoes. Enter in Carlos Marshall, a 6’4 forward who can play with the ball in his hands on the perimeter and score from mid to low post. His value to his team will substantially increase as he will likely be required to be that guy but Mark Freeman could be a player who they can go to as well. Freeman quick true pg who can score and a terrific defender on the ball where he can wreck havoc for opposing point guards. His jumper has improved as as made him a viable scoring option any where on the floor. 2017 Robert Boyd is starting to come into his own some and will be relied upon this year, maybe in a starters role and Tyler Brewer who didn’t play last year is said to be back in the fold again as one of the teams guards. 6’6 Freshman, Antavion Collom is top 3 player in the freshman class and one of the immediate impact freshmen in the city. He’s a versatile as any, can be a guy than can start the offense as big guard/forward, handle, create with the pass and be an added rebounder to help Boyd and Marshall on the boards. Maybe not as talented as their teams have been in the past but this is still maybe even the team to beat still in 15AAA because they have always seemed to be right there and winning in the past few years and even with #2 Germantown being in this district. I’m looking for big years from Mark Freeman and Carlos Marshall and to keep them in contention all year long.
Key Players: 2017 6’4 Carlos Marshall, 2018 5’10 Mark Freeman, 2019 6’6 Dude Collom, 2017 6’6 Robert Boyd
5.Arlington High School – One year removed away from a state appearance in 2014, Arlington was just a game away losing to eventual state champions, Hamilton. They lost keys guy in Adarius Avery and Kendall Jefferson but do return Nathan Hoover, one of the best shooters around in 2016 who has received multiple interest and some offers from schools around the country. 6’6 Sophmore Garret Golday is also back after a starters role last year and he should be much better after summer on the circuit but had a nice year in his freshman season. Luke Wiseman will be another handler who maybe asked to score a little bit more this year but is I think up to the task and transfer Demonte Person, a best of the preps player from last year is now there and will bring scoring from the point guard position and a guard who can give them 15-20 point per night on average. I think Hoover becomes one of the top 5 scorers in the city and could theoretically make a case as the best player in 2016 with Fisher, Thomas leaving the city.They will have a lot of competition in district however from the #3 ranked Cordova but this is like last season, a team that capable of a similar run as last season.
Key Players: 2016 6’3 Nate Hoover, 2016 5’10 Demonte Person, 2017 6’2 Luke Wiseman
This is just a look into the upcoming season. One of these teams could drop out depending on who I see in scrimmages etc before the next season starts and again, these are based on teams that I’ve seen in person.
1. Cameron Matthews 6’3 G/F (Bluff City Ballers) Good looking prospect with big time promise at the big guard or wing position, Matthews has the look of a future d-1. Has a good first step where he can take bigger or smaller players off the dribble using his size and body to shed defenders. He’s very reliable inside where he plays for his summer team but is a ball handler who can get where he wants. Playing inside right now, will make him better long term but he projects as strong, big body 2-3 who will be able to knock score at all 3 levels and cause mismatches. He can finish with either hand, a good rebounder and shows some versatility as a defender. He’s a good and willing passer who can pass out the post and the high post and can post smaller players for lay ups. Pretty athletic right now but by this time next year, I think lay ups will turn into dunks for him as I look for him to stretch some and grow into his strong frame and keep his spot atop the ranking for some time.
2. Rodney Mason 6’3 Forward (Team Impact) Skilled 3-4, Mason is coming into his own and growing on me the more I see him as a player as I thought long and hard about him being the overall best player. Has really worked on his perimeter game, improved athletically and while he’s more so a face up type right now, Mason can go over the top or around and while jumper has improved, to the 3 where he shows that ability, he’s still more or a mid range player where the jumper looks a little more fluid. Mason doesn’t mind being physical defensively or rebounding and won’t back down from a challenge by stronger players. He projects as a possible 3 with his skill set and will be fun to watch him develop over time.
3. Matthew Murrell 5’10 G/F (Bluff City Ballers) Really a scorer, right now at 2 levels to the rim and in 15 feet in, the 3 will come as he matures, Murrell can put up points in bunches. His demeanor never changes and you never know whether his team is up or not as he goes along about business and operating at a efficient clip. Not flashy, doesn’t try to do things he can’t do, he has great fundamentals where he uses the ball fake and loves to get middle for scoring opportunities. He has good form on his shot and elevates enough to get it off and is a solid rebounder from the guard position. The more confident he becomes, the better player he will become and that will elevate him even more.
4. Alfred White Jr 5’8 SG (Memphis WarEagles) Talented shooter who can score it from all over and what I like most is the confidence he displays in himself. He has a good quick release and isn’t shy letting it go but also can make it happen to the rim where he can stop for the pull up and the floater. He can come off the screen but like his younger teammate (Jones) looks more comfortable off the spot up. Really smart player to, when the jumper may not be going, White can get to the line as well, willing to go to the rim but again, is a shooter mostly. As he gets older, scoring in a variety of ways will become a point of emphasis but right now, White is as good as any at what he does in middle school in the city.
5. Marcellus Brigham 6’0 SG/SF (Memphis WarEagles) Effective with the jumper, Brigham’s upside is as high as any in this class in Memphis. Doesn’t wow with athleticism just yet but has the looks of a player who knows how to play the game and get it done. The jumper off the dribble is I think his go to but can attack in the half court or transition. Can create space for the jumper and release it fluidly and is a player who you can go to late in games for a shot to win.
TOP 5 In 2021
This is the first time, I’ve done rankings in awhile and it takes sometime, some will hate them, some will like them, some will love them however it’s what makes the basketball world go in Memphis. I do not look at other rankings when I do my own locally. Well, why is this person over this person and on this site, they are higher than that person on another site. The answer, I don’t know but I don’t base my opinion on the opinion of another because that’s their opinion. Thank you to those who continue to support the site.
1. Johnathan Lawson 6’2 Guard/Forward (Memphis Wildcats) – The last in line of the Lawson brothers, Johnathan definitely takes after his siblings. The freakish long 6’2 pushing 6’3 guard has a piece of each brother which could lead him to become the best brother of them all, high praise but if you watch him, you don”t have to watch long to see. More of a playmaker, than dogged scorer of older brother KJ but he’s very capable, showing it when it’s needed. Highly skilled, Johnathan is a big gamer, Lawson doesn’t shy away from the moment and isn’t afraid of the moment when it arises. He handles like a player much smaller, has vision in the open court as a passer and can finish to the basket. More driver make it happen type right now, he can keep you honest with the 3 and be a shot maker, taker but is at his best finding where he uses his length to his advantage where he is creative with the pass to find the easy scores. He’s anticipates well defensively and knows when and when not to gamble in the passing lanes for a steal and can guard both guard positions as well as the 3 spot when needed. His basketball IQ is as high his age as any of his brothers and his will to win is in measurable. Lawson has the tools to make his own name and be not only the last out but the best in a long line of his brothers.
2. Willie Foreman 6’2 PF (M33M) -Relentless worker on the glass, offensively and defensively, Foreman’s biggest strength is his motor and ability to finish around the rim. He fights for every rebound, using his long arms and is an improving offensive player outside of 5 feet where he can step out to the free throw line and make the jumper and shows some ability to handle in the open court off the rebound but will mostly score off energy and hustle. He’s a good help side defender where he can be a shot blocker/ shot alter type and he will go to war with bigger players for rebounds. He will expand his offensive game because he seems to be a hard worker which will help him become more versatile as offensive player.
3. Kennedy Chandler 5’5 PG (Team Izod)– Diminutive in stature, Chandler gets it done with great ball handling and knack for scoring off the jumper or the drive on floaters and runners. What he may not have in size, he makes up for with skill and toughness and he can run a team in the half court and he can make shots from all over the court which makes him a very viable scoring option. He’s a sneaky good passer and pest as a defender able to bother his opponents using good positioning and quick hands for steals. He plays with excellent pace and savvy beyond his years and never gets rattled under pressure. While not the quickest, Chandler gets by you with handle and is good enough to get his shot on the pull up. Chandler already known around the country as one of the best players in the country, should be among the best players in this class for years to come especially locally.
4. Jaylen Brown 5’9 Guard (Memphis Wildcats) – Puts constant pressure on the defense by always being in attack mode, Brown is a classic scoring point guard that many have become accustomed to in Memphis. Can play off the ball and on, Brown scores it with an assortment of runners, pull up jumpers and hits the 3 at a above average rate so you just can’t play him for the drive. Tough to the basket, where he’s not afraid of contact from bigger strong players. He just has that ability to make the big shot in big moments for his team and seems to relish in that opportunity. He seems to really work well from baseline where he utilizes the floater game and the short jumper and can create space for the jumper from the free throw line to the short corners. He seems to be more comfortable scoring but over time, I think he becomes more of traditional point guard who can score but also facilitate when needed.
5. Kameron Jones PG 5’5 (Memphis WarEagles) -Shooter to the core, Jones is one of if not the best 6th grade shooters in the city. Off the spot up is where he excels especially spotting up in the corner but is a better than given credit for off the catch and shoot 3. He was productive primarily as a shooter but will be asked more of this year at Cordova to be a ball handler and player who can make his teammates better in half court and in transition off the pass. His knock is size but shooting is value and Jones does it as well as any in this class in Memphis.