2016 Middle School Elite Basketball Classic

 

Pictured - #23 (Kristian Spencer, #3 (Bryson Nash) David Dixon (Far Right)
Pictured – #23 (Kristian Spencer, #3 (Bryson Nash) David Dixon (Far Right)

 

The middle school season is upon us and one of the best events in the city is back for it’s fourth year, the Middle School Elite Basketball Classic. This event will highlight some of the city’s best teams and players all in one location and give an early indication for some fans of who the best teams may be in middle school. The event will start at 9:00 am with 2 more girls basketball games to follow ending at 11:30 am and the boys games will begin at 12:45 pm and end  with the 7:00 pm showcase game for a total of 9 games for the event.

Sequoia Allmond, regarded by some as the best 8th grader in the city highlights the talent on the girls side. An attacking guard off the dribble, Allmond gets it done offensively and will be hard to guard for anyone in the city and she will be problem for a good Kate Bond team but that’s if she will be able to give it a go after suffering a hand injury.  Bellevue also has some length and talent in Skylar Arnold who should be among the best players in the city, Serena Lee and Jamia Brooks. Lyric Cole, Kayla Howard and Carlia Northcross will be ones to watch for Kate Bond in what should be a pretty competitive game. Colonial lost the best girls player in the city last year, Endya Buford but, they still be very competitive. PCA versus Germantown tips the opener at 9:00 am with the Squires looking to continue to build up their new program with the addition of Sirrea “CC” Drew who is one of the better defensive guards in the city.

In the boys first game, PCA coached Robert Scales will take on Metro Home School at 12:45 pm. Like the the girls, PCA is looking to make a name for itself and while it could be a challenge early on, I look for them to get better and better through out the year.

In the 2:00 tip, Bolivar takes on Colonial who also has a new coach in Cedric Franklin who led American Way to a state sectional title last year. He has a new team but some talent in 7th grader, James Cox,  Emanuel Walters who will take up some of the scoring and 6’2 Landon Rhodes, who will be their leading scorer in some games this year.

Kate Bond and Havenview could be interesting at 3:15 with 2 more coaches who are new to their programs, try to get key wins. For Kate Bond, Kerwin Whitfield, who’s been playing minutes since 6th grade, Devin Haliburton, Kennon Thompson and Garret Crume will all be contributors this year on a Kate Bond team that plays in one of the toughest leagues in the city.   Whitfield will have to be their leader for them as well as a scorer and set up guy for them.  The 2 years prior experience should be helpful this season for the point guard. For Havenview, former Whitehaven head coach Lawrence Myers, youth is the movement. Travis Dockery and Desmond Bratcher will be the guards but a 6th and 7th grader will be have to play and be integral parts, Emerson Tenner, the backup pg as a 6th grader and son of Fairley legend, Deuce Ford’s son, Sylvester Ford.  The 6’1 6’2 ish plays inside right now and can finish around the rim.

Southaven vs Germantown start what should be the start of 3 pretty good games. In this 4:30 game, the young Red Devils could be led by Cameron Miller, a 6’1 forward who has really grown since the summer, not just in height but in confidence as a scorer. Chris Martin, could be starter by the middle of the season will also proving some shooting and scoring as well as the ability to play on the ball if needed. Southaven has a pretty good guard trio in Jordan Hibbler who can score it and BJ Morgan who will have the ball in his hands a lot as the pg. Both can hurt you and Desimen Rogers will be another contributor. Hibbler is an athletic 2-3 who can score in bunches so for those who may not know a lot about him, Hibbler is one of the best 20 8th graders in the area. Morgan is a cat quick guard who plays big regardless of this, makes the open 3 and is a driver to the rim but more as a passer. This has a chance to be maybe the best game of the classic.

At 5:45, Briarcrest takes on Ridgeway in a game that could have headlined the entire classic. Briarcrest will be led by Zander Yates, a 6’5 touching 6’6 post and if healthy, Hunter Higdon who’s coming off injury. Yates will be imposing for the Saints but to counter him, Ridgeway has a 6’5 of their own, David Dixon. Dixon is a developing 4-5, who runs the floor, blocks shots and shows some scoring ability around the rim. Two of the best bigs in the city going at each other, should make for a fun game but Ridgeway will feature the most talent on their side. Young but ready, the Roadrunners have Bryson Nash and EJ Smith, both 6th graders playing guard. Let me say this again, 2 6th graders running the show but these are not your average 6th graders. Nash is one of the best point guards in the country, according to several services and Smith is a really good guard in his own right, my second best player in the class of 2023 in the city. Chris Brunt can play on the ball and at the 1,2 or 3 for them and is easily one of the more versatile players in 2022 in the city. Kristian Spencer is 3-4 who can rebound and defend and is developing as a scorer. This might be the most talent that Briarcrest sees all year on one team and it will be tough game for them but I expect them to be in the game as well.

Zander Yates (Briarcrest)
                                                      Zander Yates (Briarcrest)

The headliner game at 7:00 is a good one, host school Lausanne takes on Highland Oaks led by Mark Freeman. Freeman is excited about this team and for several reasons, one of which is Alex Anderson. Anderson is a long 6’2 guard who can play both guard positions and will likely be there leading scorer on the season. His match-up with Lausanne’s Deebo Coleman is one I’m looking forward to the most of all the games on Saturday.  Cameron Donegan of Highland is another player who will be big in this game. His ability to find you and score timely points will be crucial for them not only in this game but all year. Owen Babb  and Landon Jeffries will play quality minutes for them as 7th graders and Dillon Woods who has some raving about his athletic abilit .  I think Lausanne’s youth outside of Coleman could prove to be costly against the 8th grade combo of Donegan and Anderson but Lausanne will be looking for upset and the Hawks better be mindful of that.

Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)
                                                             Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)

 

 

Tesia Thompson Is The Real Deal!!!

 

Tesia Thompson (Hamilton High School)
                                            Tesia Thompson (Hamilton High School)

Back over a decade ago, Hamilton High School was a fixture in the basketball circle as a powerhouse in girls basketball. I remember the names of Patosha Jeffery,  April Allen, Tiffany Beasley, Alshaa Hodges, Catriece Webster, Ashley Shields before she left for Melrose and so many more.  There maybe another player that people will remember like the greats of girls basketball at Hamilton, Tesia Thompson because she could have a special year in her final season of high school basketball.

The 5’10 guard can do it all, versatility is her strength, she can guard multiple positions, play  the 1,2,3 and some fours in some instances and defend all of those spots.  She can facilitate and run a team, rebound, score at all 3 levels, you can put her anywhere and she will produce for you at a high level.  She can stretch the floor with the 3, shoot the short jumper off the pull up but she’s more  effective  as a slasher and finisher when she gets there. When you think of “big” guard, that’s what she is and  I think she could be a 20 point a night scorer if that’s what she wanted to do but because of her ability to do a little of everything well, you will regularly see 17, 7 and 6 in most games.  There has been some debate as to  who is the best player in the city on the girls side. I know many make strong cases, Elizabeth Dixon, Jayla Hemmingway, Myah Taylor (Olive Branch) and a few more however, Thompson can be utilized so much, which is why she is a special player in my opinion. While some are close,  Thompson to me is the best girls player in the city, irregardless of class.

 

 

Which Transfer Will Have The Biggest Impact?

 

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There are 3 things that are certain in life, death, paying taxes and kids tranferring in Memphis high school basketball. Well maybe the later isn’t necessarily true but in Memphis, it’s about as concrete as it gets. While some new rules have be put in place to try and stop it from being so common,  it still happens and it will continue to happen. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, I know some do however if you feel like it maybe a better opportunity some where else for your son or daughter, so be it.  Some transfers are bigger than others while some may not appear to be so important but they pay off huge later in the season.  There will be few impact transfers this year that will affect Triple, Double and Single A and play into the success of various programs across the city. Below is a list of a few  to watch this year.

The players mentioned are not in any particular order

1. Jay Hardaway 6’4 G, East H.S. Comes into the city from Florida to an extremely talented team in at East. The old saying was, it’s so hard to be a Mustang but but with Jay’s shooting ability, he will fit right with this team who won it all last year and are looking to go back to back.

2. Antavion Collum 6’5 F, East H.S. Versatile 3,4, Collum’s unselfish style of play will put him in the mix as a starter for East this year. He can slide to 2-3 positions on the floor and be a value, make plays for others, help rebound and be a mismatch for other teams offensively for other teams. He can lead the break and find teammates, be a finisher for  East at the basket, Collum  might be the single biggest impact of any player on this list.

3. Antwan Beans 5’10 PG Ridgeway H.S. Not the names of Alex Lomax or Tyler Harris or Trey Davis but you shouldn’t doubt Antwan’s ability as a player. He jumps to a higher level of competition going to Triple A from Kingsbury so it will be an adjustment initially but I think Beans can step in and play well right off. It will be a new style of offense for him, deliberate but effective and it might take time for him to assert himself but Beans comes in as a top 10 guard in that district already.

4. Parrish Hewitt 6’2 SG Douglas H.S. One of the best shooters in the city off the spot up, Hewitt can shoot it with the best. New Douglas Coach Greg Williams should be smiling from ear to ear as he gets one of the more underrated players in the city.

5. Rayshad Williams 6’3 G Whitehaven H.S. Helped lead Lausanne to the state tournament last year before exiting and now, he’s a Tiger. A standout football player as well, Williams might get to the team late but he will find himself in the starting line up probably by mid seaon. Williams likes the pull up jumper and should be offense for a team who will be in search of a lot it after losing their main scorers from last year’s team.

6. Carlos Sandifer 5’11 PG Houston H.S. At Bartlett last year, had some good moments and looked like he would be the go to this year but now the fast pg is a Houston Mustang. Probably a day 1 starter, Sandifer brings experience having played a lot at Bartlet last year. He can score some but where he will benefit them the most, he can run a team.

7. Joe Cooper 5’11 PG Olive Branch H.S. Back with his old AAU and middle school teammates, DJ Jeffries and Shemar Brown, Cooper is hoping to replicate that success for the Quistors this year. He missed the second half of last season and I’m sure he’s hungry to remind some who may not remember,  how good he was as a 8th grader entering high school. A blur with ball in his hands and he can get into the lane and make plays,  Cooper still possesses that passing ability that will make him a division 1 player in a few years. There is a lot of depth at his position but Cooper’s talent should have him in games when it’s winning time.

8. Kenny Giggers 6’5 PF Booker T. Washington H.S. Saw him this summer and was impressed and now Giggers is at BTW to form one of the bigger front lines in the area with Tyrone Sumlin and Ethan Jones. Giggers is a physical no nonsense player who will bring up the level of play for his two post teammates. Giggers is rebounder who can score off the glass via putbacks but can step out and hit the jumper as well. He will be a difference maker for them this year.

9. Antavious Buford 5’9 PG Douglas H.S. Former Overton pg will now be on the North side of town and looking to make a name in Double A. Teaming up with Nathan Payne and Hewitt, Douglas should have a nice trio of guards to get people worried about the Devils this year.

10.Khalif Davis 6’6 PF/C Southwind H.S. Davis adds much needed size to the Jaguars and will help immediately inside. With him, Southwind has 6’5, 6’6’7, 6’6 inside and with that, they become maybe the favorites in 15AAA. Again, that’s  maybe but Davis will help there interior defense and be a presence on the offensive glass.

 

Lausanne Middle School Play Day

Lausanne Middle School Play Day

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Girls

8:00 Collierville vs MHEA

8:35 Lowrance vs Arlington

9:10 White Station vs MHEA

9:45 Collierville vs Bellevue

10:20 Lowrance vs White Station

10:55 Hickory Ridge vs Colonial

11:30 Schilling Farms, vs Arlington

12:05 Hickory Ridge vs Bellevue

12:40 Schilling Farms vs Colonial

Boys

1:05 Lowrance vs Collierville

1:40 A Maceo Walker vs Schilling Farms

2:15 Kirby vs MHEA

2:50 Germantown vs Collierville

3:25 Kingsbury vs White Station

4:00 A Maceo Walker vs Colonial

4:35 Lowrance vs Schilling Farms

5:10 Highland Oaks vs MHEA

5:45 Germantown vs Bellevue

6:20 Kirby vs White Station

6:55 Kingsbury vs Colonial

7:30 Highland Oaks vs Bellevue

It's the very first play day of the year for Middle School basketball and it gets started, October 8th at Lausanne.  6 of who I  consider are the top 10 teams in the city will all be in the event with several players who you may want to see early this year. Some of the games that you maybe interested will be Hickory Ridge vs Bellevue (Girls) because of one the area's best young players, Se'quoia Allmond and 2 because Hickory Ridge has one of the best girls programs in the city.  White Station vs MHEA should also be one that fans want to see because the Spartans have a really good guard in Kyla Mason. Like Hickory Ridge, MHEA is normally pretty good so I think this will be a great opportunity to see who maybe the best teams in the city on the girls side. Bellevue might be the class of the city when it comes to girls this year, very talented with the addition of Allmond but also have some returners that will be pretty good. Schilling Farms coached by Patty Gardner is a another team that should be pretty good and it will be interesting to see what Colonial has well after losing the best 8th grader in the city last year, Endya Buford to high school.

For the boys, this year could prove to be wide open or is it a one team race for Large School supremacy?  It's start with the biggest team in the city with White Station in front followed by Highland Oaks and people should see indication as to why I say that both should be at the top of the list early on at least.  I know there will be others vying in Large but the talent on paper suggest, these are two teams you want to see on Saturday.  A Maceo will be one to see, they are another team that lost so much as  team last year, probably 95 percent of their scoring and rebounding if not a higher percentage. Will they be a top 3 team in Small Schools this year as they have been in the past 3 seasons?  Can Lowrance create some excitment in Small this year?  Could it be a year in which they get into the conversation as being a team to take notice of? Germantown has some young pieces to count on this year but this is a team that can surprise and it starts on Saturday. Kirby has a new coach in Kenny Kimble and he's excited about the start of the new era in Cougar basketball with a 6'4 almost 6'5  player who might develop into a big contributor by season's end.  Some say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, I beg to differ, this is my favorite time of the year, basketball is about to crank up!!

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