Opinions….How Many Of Us Have Them?

Dillon Mitchell-  White Station ( MUS Summer League 2012)
Dillon Mitchell- White Station ( MUS Summer League 2012)

A few weeks ago,  there was a guy who did a ranking based on Memphis players in the 2019 class ( freshman class) and there was an uproar of some sort. Now, I don’t know him, never heard of him honestly and still don’t know who he is even after going on social media and announcing that he was real after some said it was a fake guy doing rankings. More power to whomever it may be but welcome to Memphis basketball and as you know, some were not happy about it. There were long facebook post on the subject, some upset, some saying the guy didn’t know what he was talking about, the rankings are “crap” and they don’t mean anything. This player is better, my guy isn’t ranked but that’s okay because it doesn’t matter because your not big time like “ESPN” are many of the things I heard after the rankings. Some even brought in the 2020 class saying that no one talks about this class at all which to me was directed towards myself because I’m the only person who has done any sort of ranking on the class.  I will say to that, no one talked about the 2019 class till last year either for you see, most don’t even look at middle school players until their 8th grade year to see how well they play. I remember years ago, I really didn’t know who was who until they hit 8th grade because on their teams as  6th and 7th graders, the “8th” graders overshadowed them.  I’ve tried to do better since then, getting some names to keep an eye as younger players and those who would pop up out of no where because of big growth spurts or ones who would move in the area.

Doing rankings has always been something tough to do and honestly, this is why, I stopped doing rankings after 2009 because of how it does people and how it makes people change on you. Some people I called friends, after I did rankings, they didn’t speak anymore or barely spoke,  and some even tried to confront me based on my “opinion” of their son. You can never be right, you can’t please everyone even though you try to be objective in your opinion about young players. Some think that you purposely don’t talk about their children because for some strange reason, you just don’t like them or the parents which is crazy but trust me, I’ve heard it. Even when I think I’ve done a great job of putting together a good list, someone is going to feel slighted and it bothered me for awhile because I’ve always thought I was fair. You only rank Team Penny guys, you only rank Team Thad guys or whoever the big organization that has all the players. Even when guys have talked bad about me, yes I know you have but you still cool with me,  I’ve still shown their players and children love because I don’t have it in me to hurt a kid by not ranking them based on my opinion of the parents or who their coach may be. I’ve received countless you don’t know what you talking about emails over the years and it made me say, man, it’s not worth the hassle to rank so I simply stopped.

From  time to time, I would put together a list of players, not ranking them and people would still go crazy over the notion that their son was not mentioned on the list. This is or was just a list mentioning some of the best players in whatever class and it was still a problem. Me and a good friend of mine were talking one day about who the best players were and he said to me, man you have a good idea, why don’t you do rankings anymore? I told him my reasons why and he said man I understand but people need to know, people want to know who you think the best players are, your opinion carries a little clout. Well I thought about, I’ve been in this game for a long time, 7 almost 8 years now with website stuff, watching players and honestly, I’m getting old but never the less, I love this. I’ve seen guys come and go, some showed a lot of promise young and they faded, some weren’t great young and ended up being pretty good later on. I worked hard, thousands of pictures, hot gyms, you name the gym, I’ve been there and I’ve parlayed it into becoming a national scout with a great friend of mine, Spencer Pulliam (PrepInsiders) who is revered in the youth grassroots basketball. I started to think, maybe my opinion is valued some what and when you love something and your passionate about it, you don’t give it up or stop talking about an aspect of it just because of how it may make 1,2 3 or 50 people feel. At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, these are just opinions, nothing more, nothing less.

There is no dislike for any groups, teams, coaches although some may feel that way but still, there isn’t any on my end. I can only speak for me but never the less, I have nothing against anyone. When I talk basketball, it’s all coming from a basketball stand point, nothing personal. If you don’t like my opinion on the game or your son or daughter, it’s very easy, this website may not be what you want to read and there are others you can go to and browse but based on the thousands of hits each month, I would say someone is reading it and reading it a lot. If I haven’t spoken on your son, keep them working and I will have no choice but to see them if they are producing. When people start to talk about kids, believe me, I will want to see them for myself. Some may say, well Middle School is to young to watch, I beg to differ because the same guys you watching now, will be some of if

not all the ones you watching in High School. If I haven’t seen you yet, charge it to me being only person in this outfit as opposed to a website which may have 5-10 writers covering. I’m just a guy that wears glasses that loves the game, catch me with my backpack on, I’m not the most outspoken person in the gym and I don’t talk much but one thing I do love, is the game of basketball and I love Memphis basketball and as long as I can, I will continue to try and do the best I can to cover it here.

2019 Guard Showing Promise

Ashton Smith ( Lausanne 2019)
Ashton Smith ( Lausanne 2019)

Among 2019 in Memphis, many know of the bigger name players because I’ve mentioned that this class maybe one of the best to come out of Memphis in awhile, however, it might be time to mention another point guard among Joe Cooper and others, Ashton Smith. The 5’9 guard is heading to Lausanne for his freshman season and looking to make a name for himself in a loaded 2019 group. Ashton is cerebral guard who can make the open jumper, 3 to mid but looks to be more of a passer trying to find others shots with the drive and kick out. He doesn’t try to do much that he can’t do and can be a guard that can run an offense in the half court and while not super quick, he has just enough get by to keep defenders from playing up close and you have to respect the jumper as he’s known as a knock down shooter locally. I really like the progression that I’m seeing from him as a point guard and recently, Smith held his own among the elite guards in the country at the CP3 camp in North Carolina. Some guys will always get the lime light but if Smith keeps doing the things that he is doing, he will make you mention him among the elite in Memphis and maybe beyond.

Gatlin Looking To Make Name Once Again.

Taeylr Gatlin
Taelyr Gatlin 6’2 (Brighton High School)

 

When the season first started last year, all eyes were on a few outstanding freshman in the city, TJ Moss, Alex Lomax, Mark Freeman, Tre Davis and others that made up one the best overall classes in Memphis but early on in the season, the best player in his varsity season may have been Taelyr Gatlin. The 6’2 guard was averaging 18 almost 19 a game, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assist and shooting 45 percent from 3. He hit eight 3-pointers against Houston in the MLK Tournament before in what looked to be the  start of a big time scoring spree for awhile and had he  kept it up  been in the conversation as having the best freshman season of anyone in the area. However 6 games in, just 6 into the season, Gatlin tore his LCL completely from the bone against Melrose with 3.4 seconds left to go in a game where he hit five 3 pointers ending his season sidelining him for his first season with surgery to repair his knee.

After months of rehabilitation, getting the knee stronger, Gatlin came back in early June to play in the MUS Summer Classic where he scored 28 points against Harding University and being a key part of the Team Penny’s 2018 AAU National Championship here in Memphis. Now back fully healthy, Gatlin is looking to get back on track where he started from last year, leading all of the areas freshman in scoring, being a creator for others and one of the best overall in his class locally who some may have forgotten about due to his injury.   His father and coach says ” He’s the most unselfish kid I’ve ever coached with a tremendous work ethic” With that being said, expect for people to once again mention Taelyr’s name among the elite players in 2018 in the city and surrounding area.