When looking at a player and what their upside maybe like, one has to think about a few things. Physical attributes like length, size, skill set, athleticism are just a few that come to mind. In some, you may just get two of those, athleticism and length, some you just get the athleticism but their is one in 2018 that could end up being the total package, his name, Rod Brown. The 2018 product and Cordova High player is oozing with potential to become a high major 3 and make a name not only locally but nationally when it all said and done. Athletically, he maybe unmatched by anyone in the city with the maybe the exception of 1 or 2 maybe, Brown gets high on his jumper, a good mid range jump shooter and capable off the dribble who can get his shot over anyone. He’s explosive to the rim where’s he a finisher strong, plays above the rim at all times and a good rebounder. He can take a hit at the basket and finish because of his strong body and has great body control.
He can score in a lot of ways, over the top of you, through you or around you but he’s still a work in progress on offense. In transition, he maybe at this best where he can show off the bounce with lobs at the rim and get the rebound and go Defensively, he a good shot blocker, catching shots on the way up, strong enough to hold his position against bigger strong players and nimble enough to guard some shooting guards. As I mentioned, he’s still a bit raw offensively at this stage as his ball handling needs to improve some and extend his range to the 3. I would also love to see him be a little more aggressive offensively as with his physical gifts, somethings could come easier to him than most. He has a good motor but increased a level, his stock will go higher. It’s vital for him to be able to handle the ball some this summer and have the ability to work in space with the ball in hand or next year as upside and potential must meet production soon but he’s got everything you can want in a what could be a high major player in the years to come.
1. Cameron Matthews SF 6’4 (TGAND) Physical tools with size to match, Matthews is right now the best prospect in this class locally. Matthews is a 3-4 right now but looks to have a future as 2-3. Mismatch type where can take bigger defenders put on him off the dribble to the rim or post a smaller defender when the chance is given for easy opportunities. Has gotten bigger it seems over the last few months which does nothing but add to upside as a he could become a dominate scorer with increased motor. He rebounds it and doesn’t need to find a guard as he can bring it up, find an open teammate or create the jumper for his self which it looks like he had worked on as well. His athleticism has increased drastically as he is dunking it with ease and now is a player who can play over the rim on a regular basis. Physically imposing but has touch on the jumper he also a player who can become a big time finisher at the rim in the future. He’s a versatile defender right now as he can play the 3-4 and some 5 because of his strong body and could maybe guard some guards at this stage. Still would love to see him get even more assertive with his offense and add the post game to his arsenal as well. As the jumper gets better, it will open everything up to him especially when he’s knocking down the 3 on a regular basis. Lateral quickness might be concern but as he matures, he will become more explosive and his ceiling could rise even more.There is a lot to like about him right now and he has a chance to become a player people begin to take notice of nationally with a big spring and summer
2. Matthew Murrell CG 6’1 (TGAND) Quietly is becoming a player that will make you know his name and it’s easy to see why. He’s has become bouncy, quicker, confidence has increased to the level where he is becoming a scorer on a more consistent basis as he had to take over that role more this year in Middle School. He doesn’t try to force the issue much and will take whatever the defense gives him whether it’s the jumper through the 3 or mid range which he is knocking down now or tot he rim where he finishes with both hands. Right now, he’s more of a combo guard but he could become a pg because he sees the floor well, gets off the ball quick in transition and shows the signs of running a team because of leadership qualities. Never seems to high or low and looks like he enjoys playing the game. As I’ve said about him in the past, the more his confidence grows, the better player he becomes and it looks like it’s happening before our eyes.
3. Tayson Parker CG 5’10 (Team Thad) Some say he’s the best player in this class and the talent is there definitely. I really love his athleticism and people now know about it evidenced by a video floating showing him throwing it down on the break in playoff game for his home school. More of a scorer than anything else right, Parker’s eventual level could be decided by what position some see him as if he doesn’t continue to grow. I’m not sure anyone can touch him right now as a leaper in this class but some are catching up just in the last few months alone. Parker will be a name around a lot now and maybe it’s time to see if he can become a name nationally with his play. Athleticism is premium but so is position especially at his size but a very very talented young guy with a nice future.
4. Omari Thomas PF/C 6’3 ( Team Thad) The best big in Middle School this past season and while some could make the claim for others, Thomas was the focal point his teams offense. He was simply dominate at times off the catch and finish around the rim or in the post with his footwork and low post scoring ability. He possesses really soft hands and touch and can step out and hit the perimeter jumper and while it wasn’t shown a lot, he definitely has that ability. He has a good feel when he catches it low and where the double is coming from and is good passer from the post. Big body and knows how to use it, once he seals you, it’s pretty much foul or finish for him right now. Good rebounder, he might be better offensive board player than defensively because of the space that he eats up inside. Growth in length will be key for him if he is to remain here or lower but his production is high right now and it can’t be overlooked.
5. Marcellus Brigham SG/SF 6’4 (Team Thad) Really talented scorer with big time ability and maybe the most upside of anyone in this class Looks like a classic scoring 2 in the making utilizing the floater and the mid range pull up or the 3, Brigham score it in a lot of of ways. He could be a good defender as well if the desire and want picks up but as a young player, I kind of expect that to come and go at times. Consistency as a shooter from the 3 will lift him more as right now he’s more of a 15 foot shot maker but because of length, he can get that whenever he wants. Plays with a smoothness to his game that’s oozes high major ability and if the killer attitude develops, he goes to the next level. Would love to see him add the post game as well which would increase his production as well.
6. Rodney Mason Jr SF/PF ( Team Thad) The best player on a championship team at St George and he had an outstanding season. Played a lot more on the wing this year than I had seen in year’s past and looked more like he’s adjusting to being there more full time. He has tools you love, size, strength, improving skill set and the look of 6’6 if he continues to keep growing. Kind of still in the inbetween stages of becoming a 3 full time but that’s okay because of his ability to playing the 4 right now and be a problem offensively. Athleticism is increasing however, he’s not playing above the rim quite yet but I expect that to change soon for him if he keeps working hard. Handle is getting better but full time at the 3 will still require more work this summer. Ultimately, how hard he works individually could decide if he’s an “elite” level player and thought of across the country in this talented class.
7.Jaylin Lucas WF 6’3 (??) Strongly built 3-4 man near the rim, really made a name this year and threw himself here with the best players in the class. Tough to guard because his ability to overpower his defenders, he is difficult cover because his physical attributes and ability to hit the jumper. Plays with an aggression and will attack his man off the dribble with pull ups over the top or attack the rim and is a rebounder in traffic and doesn’t quit on plays and can start and finish a break. Needs to tighten handle like in Middle School if he wants to continue that progression to perimeter because he might end up being a big 2 guard or risk becoming that classic “tweener” without added length.
8. Reggie Neely 5’9 PG (Team Thad) Best guard that you may not know much about, Neely is a name you need to remember. Solid to the rim and with the jumper, Neely can play both guard spots right now but as I said in an earlier ranking of this class, is more so a scorer by nature. Shoots it well from 3 but maybe at his best to the basket on drives down hill and is a good decision maker with the ball in hands. Pretty good IQ, plays well off the ball and puts himself in position to score or make a positive play. I think the aggressive nature might be in him, question is, how long before it comes fully out.
9. Isaiah Cathey 5’10 PG (TGAND) Point guard on state championship winning team, Cathey’s best comparison to someone maybe Alex Lomax of East, just slightly bigger at the same age. Plays with a good pace at the lead spot, gets into the lane not with primarily quickness but more savvy and smarts and body. Can be creative with the pass and more of a pass first but is capable offensively when the need is there. Needs to keep refining he jumper to make when teams may lay off of him and be able to hurt teams off the jumper at the free throw line once a defender decides to stop the drive.
10. Caleb London 6’2 SG/WF (Memphis Magic Elite) To talented to take out of the top 10 altogether because I know how talented he is among this class. This spring/summer is big for him to play well among this age group with his slashing and athletic ability.
11. Issac Smith 6’3 SG/SG (Team Thad) Played along side Mason at St George and was in some games, their leading scorer. Has good upside, length, can get hot from the 3 line and put together games where he can hit 3-5. Can be another ball handler and option defensively against opposing wings and 4 men. Would love to see him rebound more from his position and get to the rim to more him more versatile as a scorer in the future.
12.Cedric Davis 6’4 PF (Memphis Magic Elite) Big body 4 with nimble feet and a soft touch around the rim. Has good motor. Raw offensively really but can score with his back to the basket with the over the left shoulder baby hook and really runs the floor well for a player his size. Davis along with Thomas are two of the bigger players in this class in Memphis.
13.Cameron Howard 6’2 SG (Memphis Magic Elite) Built to score, Howard is looking to do one thing, as I said, score. Always on the attack, Howard can score it from all 3 levels so you have to pay attention to him but what makes him pretty good can also be his downfall as sometimes his shot selection may not be ideal. When going though, he is as tough a cover as any guard in the city in this class.
14. Rodney Newsome Jr 6’3 PF/C (Team Thad) Among the best big men in the city, Newsome, is a little different from Davis and Thomas. Mainly because he sometimes plays up at the high post where he can turn face and hit the mid range jumper on the regular and it’s not uncommon for him to linger out to the 3 line and knock one down every so often. He has really good hands, can play with his back to the basket and put it on the floor some. He might end up being one that chooses a football in the future.
15. Joshua Stinson 5’7 PG (??) Scoring point guard that can get hot and put up numbers in bunches. Stinson can make it happen at the rim but at this point, he’s more score score than a creator for others. He put one of the best performances of the seasons up against American Way in the championship game and almost willed his team into a win. Like so many guards at that stature, the evolution into becoming a point guard will be key for his development going forward.
Do It For Dez, Do It For Ms Shaw, those were this year’s mantra for East High’s Basketball team and as you know by now, that was done on yesterday. For those who may not know the story, Binghampton legend and former coach of Lester and East died on last year after a long battle with cancer followed by Sharon Shaw. Shaw, the grandmother of Alex Lomax and loyal member of the community and team mom, suddenly during the summer. The season was dedicated to both and it came to pass as East defeated a good Cordova team, 64-60 reaching number 7 and taking over the state as the leader in titles in Triple A and it’s second title in 4 years but it wasn’t easy, not at all.
Up 36-21 after a great half by reserve junior TK Smith who scored 9 points along with TJ Moss who was good early, and holding one of the state’s best scorers to just 3 at the break, East was feeling good about their chances. They pushed the lead up to 18 after a Rodarius Washington steal under the goal produced a lay up plus the foul, it looked like it might have turned into a route in the 4th but that’s not what was on his mind of the WolfPack. Cordova went on a 17-3 run capped by an awaken Tyler Harris who’s Curry (Stephen) pretty behind the back move and rise with the deep 3 moved them closer, 58-53 late in the 4th. East had to make free throws down the stretch and after a missed free throw by Lomax, Cordova still had a chance to tie but they couldn’t get the 3 try to go down and Lomax was fouled again. Lomax was would go on to make 4 free ones and freshman Chandler Lawson was fouled with 18 seconds left where he made both. All year, the Mustangs didn’t fold in the final moments and it held true on Saturday for a 64-60 win a state title. “I’ve given enough speeches man, I just want to enjoy this” said Coach Rocky Johnson who brought the team down last year and came a game away from state. Penny Hardaway, who Coach Dez asked to come in and be coach years ago at Lester added, “All the hard work, it’s led to this, I’m really proud of you guys, I know Dez and Ms. Sharon looking down on us and they smiling, everybody get they fingers up, one time for D-MAC” Do it For Dez and Ms Sharon, now has turned into Did it for them both. Congratulations East, Triple A state Champs.
Mitchell Gets The 3 Peat!!!
It wasn’t pretty, both teams didn’t shoot it that well from the floor, it was a low scoring affair but it was the end that first year head coach Andre Turner wanted, a state title, his first at the helm and Mitchell’s 3rd state title in a row. The team’s had played each other 3 times before Saturday with Booker T Washington beating them for the city and district and Mitchell beating them in the regional and again on Saturday. I thought earlier, Mitchell just looked like they wanted the game more and late in the game it showed as well. I thought Coach Turner did a great job of it not being a track meet, his team was patient on offense and they leaned on state MVP Tevin Ollison who scored a game high 27 points. Ollison was the best guard in the tournament in Single A easily in my opinion and his college options should be flowing even more now. Mitchell got contributions all tournament long from who they relied on the entire season including Tyran Davis, Ladarius Lee and Tominique Marion, all who were named all tournament. 50-40 was the final, how sweet it is for the Tigers, 3 in a row, can they make it 4 next year? I wouldn’t bet against Andre Turner and his Mitchell Tigers next season.
Also, congratulations to Cordova and Booker T Washington on their year as well. Cordova honestly, I could see making another run back here next year. Tyler Harris, Blake Williams and Rod Brown will all return next year but replacing Jalen Dupree will be very hard. The Murray State commit is load inside and replacing his production might be a 2-3 person job. Coach Terrance Scales after the game said, “All year, all we heard about was East and Germantown, we wanted to prove that we belonged and we did that” For Booker T Washingotn, rebuilding will be even harder for them, they will lose a bulk of their scoring in senior guards Chauncey Blakely who is underrated in the city and Tyree Beason, their shooter but Tyrone Sumlin and Ethan Jones will return, both over 6’5. Booker T Washington always seems to come up with guards so it may not be a huge problem but losing guards of that caliber will be really hard to replace.
It’s Saturday, game day and most importantly, state championships are on the line for 4 Memphis teams all looking to capture what everyone’s goal is at the beginning of the year. In Single A, Mitchell is going for a 3 peat in Coach Andre Turner’s first year at the helm of the program where he played high school basketball. Coach Turner and I talked the other day and he said, “It’s been fun man, a bunch of fun man, been fun all year long, just the ride with these guys has been tremendous, and it’s the work ethic that these guys have that’s propelled us all year long” Mitchell will take on Booker T Washington whose in the championship game after beating Van Buren 54-40 in a game that was probably decided long before the horn went off. BTW is led by Chauncey Blakely and Tyree Beason who have had good tournament showings along with Ethan Jones, a 6’5 junior forward and Tyrone Sumlin, another 6’5 junior and another player who can give them a lift, Decorian McDaniel. This I believe is there 3rd meeting in the last month or so and Mitchell is 2-1 against them in that time frame with that loss coming in the city championship game and the other 2 were decided by slim margins. Mitchell’s back court features arguably the best Single A guard in the state, Tevin Ollison who has been playing lights out recently scoring 19 points yesterday and Tyran Davis. Davis is a defensive minded guard who’s shot the 3 well up in Mufreesboro and has played well all year long. Tominique Marion, a 6’5 forward had nice game yesterday with 16 points in the second half .
I think Mitchell has the advantage overall with their talent level however, Chauncey Blakely is a capable game changer and if Beason is going with the 3, he can be a problem. Mitchell’s guard tandem will shoulder a bulk of the scoring load however I think in this game today, they will need someone else to step up as well. I love the play of Ladarius Lee, who can rebound despite his stature and just plays hard, all the time. I think you might see him on Blakely some today and he could end up a player in double figures. Whichever team is able to get something from someone outside the big two is to me the team who will win the state title today. Who’s going to step up? We find out at 330.
This is the game that people have been talking about all year but well, never happened but on today, that all changes. Cordova vs East, probably the only team that East hasn’t played in Triple A that was pretty good this year in Memphis and the same could be said for Cordova. They missed out playing in the city championship but it’s something much bigger on the line today. East beat Blackman yesterday who was undefeated and the number 1 team in the state 46-40 while Cordova blew out Station Camp 77-59 who was previously 36-1 on the year. I think this is a game that people have been looking forward too for awhile and now that it’s here, it’s time to look at some keys to the game for both teams. Cordova is the only team that can match up with East length in their starting line up, not overall but definitely in their starting 5. Brown and Dupree (6’8) are both really athletic and do most of their scoring inside and off dunk and athletic finishes. Dupree is a monster to contain, simply put, I’m not sure if East can keep him off the glass but Cordova hasn’t faced a team all year with the size that East has. Brown is more of a jump shooting 3-4 but they will find him and he will deliver with big time dunks and Cordova gets out in transition probably more so than East and they score 10 points or more there every game I’ve seen them. If they can do that, I think they are in the game for the long haul however, a slow down set up game gives more an edge to East. Tyler Harris and Blake Williams are two of the best guards in the state. Harris averaged over 20 points a game this year, including a 46 point game earlier this year. He can score it on all 3 levels and might be the best 3 ball shooter of anyone in the state. Williams is a top 5 pg in Memphis and demonstrated the vision and decision making that made him one of the best players in the country coming up. Another key to Cordova, the play of Curtis Reeder and O’bryan Owens. Both can hurt you with but Reeder to the rim more so but he is very solid. East has a few scoring options but the show starts with Lomax, Mr.Basketball and the Gatorade Player of The Year. TJ Moss can have a 20-25 pt game on any given day, Chandler Lawson had 11 on yesterday and Pig Washington is their guy off the bench who can score some in the post. I think the key for East maybe a game that’s unexpected from Teddrick McGhee or Courtney Carter, their defensive star or maybe even Eric Banks who got the MVP of the region championship game. If it’s and up and down game, it might favor East as well because of depth and Cordova can’t afford to get Dupree in foul trouble today and most definitely can’t have both he and Brown on the bench like yesterday. Harris goes on a scoring binge and Blake is being Blake and Dupree is dunking left and right, the WolfPack will be a tough out. This is going to be a great game, let the best team win it!!
If someone told you this morning that Nashville Hillsboro would be up by almost double digits on East in first half, you would say they were crazy. If someone told you it would be pretty tightly contested game until last quarter, you wouldn’t believe it either. You definitely would’t believe someone that would tell you that the Nashville team would hit 14 -3 pointers including 8 in the first half and that’s exactly what happened. What many observers and fans thought would be a blowout in the making turned into an entertaining game, well for the fans I’m sure but not for the East staff during the game. All of Hillsboro’s shot were 3 pointers in the first half as they jumped out as many as 7 on East who was sloppy early which led to their 8 first half turnovers and couldn’t make any shots only shooting 43 percent from the field in the first half. Hillsboro was able to capitalize on open opportunities at the 3 and they made the Mustangs pay often including hitting a half court buzzer beater to end the 2nd quarter. Everything was working for Hillsboro and it appeared that the magic hadn’t ended for them to start the 3rd as they opened with 2 more 3 pointers but East got going thanks to freshman forward, Chandler Lawson. He scored the first points of the last half before scoring 9 more points in the quarter as East found it’s way offensively (22-12 in the 4th) and defensively, East picked it up and forced turnovers and converted off of them and eventually took control for a win in their opening game, 70-61. Alex Lomax led with 12, followed by 11 by both Lawson and Moss.
Coach Rocky Johnson said, “Those guys did good, they definitely stepped up to the occasion, they made it real tough for us to advance but at the end, it’s all about how you finish the game and finishing on top, I don’t care if it’s a 1 point win or a 50 point win, we will take a half a point win, as long as we end up with more on the scoreboard than them”
SINGLE A: Memphis Booker T Washington got their first win of the tournament over Nashville Christian 63-51 putting 3 in double figures with Decorian McDaniel scoring 19, Chauncey Blakely scoring 18 and Tyree Beason accounting for 13 points.
It started out close but it was the old cliche “how long, not long” as Cordova built a 15 point half time lead behind Tyler Harris who was outstanding hitting 3-8 deep scoring 16 points in the first half. In the second, Walker Valley cut it to 9 but they had no answer in final 2 quarters this time for Jalen Dupree who had several crowd pleasing dunks, Rod Brown who’s athleticism was on display with the behind the stuff dunk off a steal and Blake Williams who got much more aggressive and won it easily, 79-58. Next up for Cordova on Friday will be the winner of Station Camp and David Crockett High School. Coach Scales said after the game, “We feel like once you come out of that gauntlet in Memphis, you can compete with anyone, it’s almost like a sigh of relief when you make it out, and even though you know you made it out, you still gotta bring your A game” This team is suspect will be in the championship game on Saturday.
The regular season is gone but the the post season is upon us as we have 3 teams from the Memphis area all vying for state titles. Each of those teams has a player that maybe you could say is one of the best at his position in Memphis. From Alex Lomax who just won Mr.Basketball to Chauncey Blakely who is by the way a stud and will be jewel for whomever gets him, both players you could say are top 5 point guards in the city. Cordova has maybe the best big man in Memphis in Jalen Dupree, Mitchell has a top 3 to 5 shooting guard in the city in Tevin Ollison, all are huge reasons as to why their teams are still playing. My question is though, who are the top 10 players irregardless of class in the city?
When I say irregardless of class, that’s exactly what it means so feel free to choose anyone and you can comment underneath on “Disqus” and get the conversation started. People ask me, where did the message board go Chuck, bring it back and I’ve thought about it however, Disqus is the same and you don’t need to sign up as most of you have social media, Facebook accounts so it’s easy to just start commenting.
Now again, I will hit with my top 10 soon, it’s already done so comments won’t sway my opinion however, I want the fans of the basketball in the city opinions. Is Tyler Harris the best guard in Memphis or was it Jaylen Fisher? Where does Darrell Brown belong in the equation as a top 10 player in the city? What about Antonio Reed from Douglass? TJ Moss from East, Jaylen Crutcher from Ridgeway? Let’s get it started…