In arguably the game of the year thus far, #3 Snowden took on #5 Germantown at the home of the Red Devils on Thursday night and they gave the fans a show. At the start of the game, it was apparent that Snowden’s guards would have a huge say in this game evidenced by Jamarius Brooks coming out like he was on a mission.
He scored on the first 2 of 3 possessions as Snowden jumped out to an early lead. Up 8 points in the 2nd quarter, 22-14. Cameron Miller quickly scored two buckets off steals and cut it to 4 and just a 5 point lead which could have been worse going into the half, 23-18.
In the third, both teams traded 3 pointers to start including one by Pittman who was quiet in the first half and then one by 6’1 Daniel Egunibwe. Brooks got a tough lay to go down to make it 37-26 for Snowden’s biggest lead of the game and it looked like Snowden was about to blow it open but Miller wasn’t having it. The 6’2 G/F scored the last 6 points for his team and made it 37-32, once again down just 5 and in striking distance.
The 4th was a repeat of the 3rd with early long ball jumpers but once again, Miller was there when his team needed a shoulder to lean on. After a Deshun Dunn steal, the Red Devils got their first lead of the game, 49-47 but like Miller was to his team, Brooks was for his. He rebounded his own miss and mustered it up over 2 bigger defenders for the bucket and foul to put his team up 50-49. After a timeout by Germantown, Dunn took it with 7 seconds left and shot the wing 3 but the ball took a bounce Germantown’s way and ended up going out of bounds setting up the last shot with 1.3. 8th grade combo guard, Chris Martin popped wide open with no one around him and knocked down the game winning 3 for the 52-50 win.
Great game by teams and at some point, these 2 could meet again, down the line during post season. Expect Germantown to move up a spot or 2 in the next rankings.. Brooks led all scores with 22 points, Cameron Miller had 20 for his team in the win.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that I can’t wait for basketball season to come from so many people. Well the wait is over and we are finally here as the first week of high school basketball is upon us.
Now I know that many people are wondering, who is going to be good this year, what teams are primed for a state tournament run, who are the best 5, 10 teams in the city, what freshmen can make an impacts and on and on. I’m going to give you 10 things to watch for this season as we get ready to go on the roller coaster that is high school basketball in Memphis.
1. Obviously, East has a very very talented team, in fact, by some, the best team in the country. They return Mr. Basketball and now Wichita State commit, Alex Lomax, 6’8 Chandler Lawson, 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge and have added a consensus top 3 player in the country in James Wiseman, a 7 ft and 6’5 UAB commit Ryan Boyce. They also have a strong freshman class with Johnathan Lawson, a 6’6 guard, 6’4 Jalen Brown and 5’11 Tadarius Jacobs. 5’11 Dee Merriwether, Nautica Hartwell and 4 star receiver Keveon Mullins will provide depth nightly. Okay, enough with the semantics, the question is this, will Wiseman and Boyce be eligible to play and the answer is, I don’t know and neither does anyone else at the moment.
I’ve heard all that comes with it, it’s not fair, I’ve heard about coaches calling to the TSSAA and I’ve heard some other stuff that I can’t share here however, with the rules in place, I think those surrounding East including Penny Hardaway seem to think they should be fine. When will they have the answer to their question about their eligibility,? I’m assuming soon enough, as they have games approaching, one in fact his weekend at home against Mitchell. If the 2 don’t play, they will be hindered some but you still have to contend with Lomax, Dandridge and Lawson who are all division 1 players who have been in wars and played against the best players in the country. They will be a different team this year though based on the defections of TJ Moss and Antavion Collum and will rely on some inexperience and youth to counteract those losses. They will have to defend with bigs and depend on them to handle the ball in situations that they may not necessarily be used to and in some in game moments, you could see Chandler Lawson running the offense. All of this to though is contingent upon the TSSAA and their ruling which again, they hope to find out something soon on.
2.Are the Raleigh Egypt Pharaohs back? I know fans in that area are excited and they should be. Coach Moe Miller, a former player there as well as a GA Tech alum , is trying to resurrect it back from the past few years where they fell on tough times. Some people are saying, they are the best team in 2A this year and a team that can make that run to Mufreesboro this year.
Deovaunta Williams, a 6’2 guard will be a major catalyst for this year’s team as well as senior forward, Jadakiss Williams,a 6’7 who was able to get his confidence up this summer playing with a good Team Thad team. Ethan Burnett led them in scoring last season and they have some more guards in Darrell Christian, a 6’2 guard and another 6’4 guard in Quintavios Bailey. I think it’s great when certain schools are good and with this group, Raleigh Egypt should be in the convo as one of the best teams in Memphis. I can’t forget about 6’4 Jordan Johnson as well, one of the areas best kept secrets in 2020. There is no question in my mind, he’s right now a top 10 player in that class and can move up into conversation as a top 5 guy by the end of the season.
3. Is Double A this most competitive classification this year in Memphis? Perhaps it is and there are reasons. For one, I think there are at least 2 times right now that can get out of here this year, the aforementioned Pharaohs and the Hamilton Wildcats. I also think that Mitchell has a shot as well. The Tigers coached by legendary Tiger star Andre Turner will be good and get better as the season goes along. They will need younger guards to step up but have the height and size to compete everyone locally. Remember when I said that it’s good to see certain teams be good? Hamilton is another one of those teams.
They won a state title in 2015 in Triple A but since, things didn’t go so well.2 players from that teams are still playing, Kevon McMahan and Martrell Brooks. Both are starters this year but they got some big news when Jordan “Poppi” Johnson transferred in for this senior year. Johnson is legit as if not the best shooter, the second best shooter in the area. I’m telling you, barring injury, Hamilton is a top 2 team in Double A in Memphis.
4. Is there a better story right now in Memphis than Nick London? If there is, someone let me know but his comeback has been amazing to watch. For those who don’t know, Nick was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago as an incoming 9th grader. Fast forward a few years later, Nick is playing again and starting at Hamilton where his father played years almost 20 years ago. You can’t make up a story like his and it’s one that if you get a chance this year, you must see.
5. On November 25th, the first annual Larry Finch classic will take place on the campus of the University of Memphis at the ElmaRoane Field house. The event will feature 2 coaches who played for the legendary coach in Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, and Andre Turner. The main event will be East vs Findlay Prep who will feature TJ Moss who left for the Nevada school from East, University of Memphis commit, 7’3 Connor Vanover and 7’3, Bol Bol, a top 5 player in the country in 2018 who just transferred there recently. There should be a lot of excitement in the air for that one and some emotion as well headlined by a game that will have 10 or more division one basketball players.
6. Are the old powers of Memphis High School basketball coming back around? Raleigh Egypt seems to be moving in the right direction and reclaiming their position as school to fear when it comes to basketball, Can White Station do the same this year? To be fair, the answer is probably no if your comparing it to the days of Joe Jackson and more recently, Chris Chiozza (FLA) Leron Black but this team is capable of a top 2 finish in 16AAA and right there with Whitehaven vying for that spot. Allen Hatchett and Brandon Brown are going to have to produce numbers every night as scorers and rebound guys. Hatchett’s leadership will be key, it should be his team. Melrose who won a state a few years ago is still a few year away but a move to Double A should definitely speed up the rebuild for first year head coach, Joe Washington.
7. How good will Cordova be this year? It’s pretty much a new cast for Tyler Harris who many think is the best player in Memphis in 2018. Gone, Rod Brown who enrolled at Wichita State early and Blake Williams who’s he’s played with over half his basketball playing career. Tyler is a dynamic scorer who you simply can’t leave from anywhere on the floor. He’s been a player who played off the ball a lot but this year, the situation may call for him to be more on it which I’m sure he will be comfortable with. There has been a lot talk around his recruitment but I’m sure that Tyler is just looking forward to playing in his final high school season and he will have some help. 6’6 Bruce Guy will be there and should be able to take up some of the slack that Brown left. For them to be pretty good, he needs to adjust and adjust fast in a new district but Bruce is talented enough to get the job done. I can see him being a 18 and 9 or 10 rebound type forming a nice duo.
8. Does Lausanne have 2 peat in them? They like a lot of teams lost a few seniors and while maybe not their best players, they were invaluable as leaders for them for years. This is where point guard Ashton Smith and Sky Forrest must will come into play. They are the old guys on the team as juniors along with football players Cameron Simms and Eric Gray with a host of youthfulness and the second best freshman class in the city. Alden Applewhite, Calvin Jennings and Eddie Buxton are their future but at least one of them could be counted on to log some minutes and that will probably be 6’5 Applewhite. 6’4 guard, Bo Montgomery will step into a bigger role this year as well as 6’6 Johnathan Dejurnett who was lost last year to injury and 6’6 Kohan Thompson. On paper, I think this is the best team on the private school side in the city but they still must prove it on the court as well.
9.Outside of East who most think will be a lock to go to the state,who will be that other team? Southwind, Ridgeway? Southwind will have to replace CJ Marshall’s scoring and maybe they can do it by committee there with guard play. LIU-Brooklyn commit Mark Freeman will do his part and pick up his scoring but where else will it come from nightly? Christian Jones is capable from the outside and had some big games last year for them. 6’8 Kameron Jones who was probably just a bit in their offense last year will now be a big piece to the puzzle if Southwind want’s to go back. Ridgeway without Jalen Crutcher early on will be a transition. They have a nice trio with Antwan Beans, Antonio Thomas and new to the party, Brandon Mason. Tylar Haynes is a bit undersized but plays a bigger, will be asked to rebound and score probably more than he’s used to along with Will Wilson, a 6’6 who can go inbetween the 3 and 4 position. Maybe that other team can be Cordova? Anyone with Tyler Harris has a chance but a lot teams will be keying in on him and he will see his share of 2 guys on him to take the ball out of his hands and the keys for their state trip. Maybe it’s Whitehaven’s turn to make that ride with Coach Phillips who took several trips there while at Mitchell. Cameron Jones and Matthew Murrell will be in 2 front seats if they take that ride though.
10. Could Bartlett win 14AAA? It’s been a few years since you could mention Bartlett as maybe winning this district. I think last time it happened, Anthlon Bell was lighting it up there before he headed to Arkansas for 4 years. Now let me say this, are they favorites? No, probably not but that doesn’t meant they won’t end up winning over there but that league still goes through Tyler Harris and Bartlett has to get over that hump as well as a sound Arlington team who will be ready to play in every game. Coach Real has a few transfers who could help this year in 6’4 Rodney Mason, 6’5 Takori Rooks to go along with guards, Sylvester Thompson, Shemar Brown and 6’2 Jeff Walker. I could be a year early on the prediction but don’t be surprised by them this year.
In Large School, the proverbial favorites heading into the season were the Red Devils of Germantown and the Ridgeway Roadrunners but you have to add another team to that mix as well. In middle school, guards are kings and having a good one or 2 can make or break your season but try 4 and you really have a fun group to watch in Snowden.
Kyler Dandridge, Armani McFagdon, Jamarius Brooks and Madricus Pittman all bring different strengths to the game and have impacts individually . Pittman might be the best shooter in middle school, Dandridge scores via the drive, McFagdon is their defender slasher and Brooks gets it done with the jumper, drive and probably is their best facilitator. My #3 ranked team right now, expect them to be in the hunt all season.
East High School point guard Alex Lomax has made a decision for college for the next 4 years and it’s the Shockers of Wichita State University. Is it some what surprising? No, if you have followed the Lomax recruitment over the last few months,it’s one that took a few twist and a few turns. For almost a year, the thought was that he might end up being a Memphis Tiger like his high school coach and hometown hero, Penny Hardaway. Memphis made him a priority but seemed to turn their attention towards another Memphis point guard, Tyler Harris of Cordova High School recently when it was taking longer than anticipated to get a commitment .I guess in their eyes, it seemed as though the 6’0 guard started to think that getting out of area might be a good idea as he was exploring other options for college.
Could that have been the reason that Lomax chose another school other than the Tigers? Did he feel kind of slighted when it seemed as though the Tigers fell of him? “No, not at all, I understand that this is a business and I respect it 100%” said Lomax. The Shockers who under Greg Marshall have gone to the NCAA tournament for 6 straight years have now made Memphis a place where they feel comfortable coming to recruit, most recently with now freshman, Rod Brown. “Wichita State was a great choice with great atmosphere , program , great coaching staff” and according to close sources, his father loved their visit and the school a few months back.
Lomax has always been a winner since I’ve watched him, multiple state titles even going back to the middle school days,2 back to back state titles for East looking to 3 peat this year, and a 2x time winner of the Mr.Basketball award in Tennessee. When asked what Wichita State fans should expect from him, he said “They will see a player who loves to win, defend and make everyone better.” Now with the attention off where will he go, he can now focus on leading his team to another state title and maybe becoming Mr.Basketball for the 3rd year in a row which might be unprecedented in Tennessee.
I truly believe Lomax could become an all conference type performer by his sophomore campaign and be recognized as one of the country’s best point guards.
For years, the MAM Christmas Classic has been a staple in the middle school basketball community in Memphis. Each year, this was the tournament to see the city’s best in Large, Small and Private to see who the best team in the city was overall. It’s usually a good indication of who could win the state as well, seen last year by White Station who won the tournament last year, however, things are about to change, at least for the year.
For the first time in the 8-10 years that I’ve covered the MAM, the best teams in the city will not be in the event but in another first year tournament . Bartlett High School will host a holiday tournament that will have 6 of the top 10 teams in the city. It will be held December 21st-23rd and have the likes of Ridgeway, Lester, Snowden, Germantown, Elmore Park and the Memphis Nighthawks who I’ve heard some good things about from several people. This will be an opportunity for them to show how good they are to those who haven’t seen them as well. St. Ann and Appling will also be in the tournament as well from what I was told and there could be potentially really good games that we see in this event. Possible Lester Ridgeway part 2? Snowden Lester? How about a Memphis Nighthawks and Lester game.? Some are convinced that the Nighthawks could be a good game for them.
Whatever the games maybe, it will be new and something different that fans can look forward to seeing this year. I’m sure, details of the tournament will be coming soon.
1. Lester Middle (2-0) Everyone should be convinced that was in the building on Saturday night. This is the most talented Middle School team in Memphis. There won’t be many close games for this group all season until the MAM or Bartlett tournament around the Christmas holiday. You have to start mentioning Jamarion Harvey as one of the best 7th graders in the city but a bigger statement, Markese might be the best 8th grader in the city. Chauncey Holmes looked as good as I’ve seen him and Lemarkus Wilkerson was a spark despite being in foul trouble on Saturday in their win over Ridgeway.
2. Ridgeway Middle 1-1 How can they be in this spot still? Well it comes down to this, they lost to the best team around, no shame in that and it was 2 point ball game in the 3rd quarter. They also beat my pre-season at the time #3 Germantown. Now that they see somethings to work for going forward, this is still a very good team but they will need to identify their go to scorer in crunch time.
3. Snowden Middle 1-0 You won’t find a team in Memphis 4 good 8th guards and especially as experienced as this group but you have one here . Guards go a long way in Middle School and this team has the ingredients to be successful all year long.
4. Bellevue Middle 1-0 Dangerous team because of their guards, this is a group that their new coach is excited about. AJ Dillworth, Jr Jacobs who had 19 in the opener, Amar Knox and Dustin Richmond will be who they go to in every game. They are on the road tonight and then back at home Wednesday.
5. Germantown Middle 2-1 After a loss to Ridgeway, they were able to get back in the win column last week but this is a team capable of more, a lot more. With the early loss, it could make them hungrier to get back in the convo as a top 2 team again.
Please take notes ladies and gentlemen, a statement was made last night in the Elite Middle School Classic at Bolton High School. The Lester Lions are the best middle school team in the city, bar none and right now, it’s not close. Not saying that they can’t lose because anyone can be beaten but if I were to pencil in anyone this year as a team that could go undefeated, it would definitely be this team.
With a huge crowd in attendance, #1 vs #2 was everything it was billed to be. Both teams matched intensity early on with the game going back and forth with each team not able to get that big run to put it out of reach that you see a lot in middle school games. It looked at one moment like Ridgeway was about to go up 7-8 points but Lester behind the heroics of Jamarion “Woody” Harvey who hit some huge shots to stay close and go up 34-32 to end the 3rd quarter. Lester’s Markese Washington hit a 3 but Kris “Chip” Brunt answered him with a bucket plus the foul with 5:29 left in the last quarter to make it 37-35. After though, Lester took control going on a 13-5 run that ended with pretty reverse by guard Chauncey Holmes and a 3 by Harvey to put them up 10.
Ridgeway had opportunities but they traded baskets and couldn’t get enough stops down double digits late but a lot of that was due to Lester’s length and ability to challenge everything at the basket. Lester showed their depth, perseverance and the ability to rely on different players when they needed to score. Markese Washington was every where for Lester. I stopped counting but I know he had at least 16 rebounds to go with double digits in points. He scored in a variety of ways , had 3-4 impressive blocks and flashed why he might be the best player in middle school. I know the consensus is Chandler Jackson and he’s super talented but for those who don’t know, Markese is nipping on his heels. Every player from the starters to the bench seemed to have an impact in some facet of the game.
Ridgeway will still be tough in Large School and shouldn’t in any way hold their heads down. Lester’s the #1 team in the city and with a win over at the time, #3 Germantown, they still are among the better teams in the city and this too, it’s very early in the season. There were some bright spots from them in EJ Smith who showed some toughness, along with Kristian Spencer. I think when they needed bucket, they just didn’t have enough weapons to be able to keep up with a team like Lester and more than likely, they won’t play a team like them again.
Lester showed why they are who they are and are clear cut favorites in Small Schools at this time.
We are 3 days and counting away from what has become of the best middle school events in the city, the “Elite Middle School Classic” . This year, the classic has moved to Bolton High School and features 9 games this year which will begin at 9:00 am with 2 girls games. With several of the city’s top teams and talent, this has become a must see if your a middle school fan and looking for indicators of who might be the teams to watch this season.
Judging by the talent, this year maybe the best in terms of match-ups according to the teams and features a few teams from outside of Memphis including, Blytheville (Arkansas) who will play against Elmore Park in the boys opener at 12:00.
Individually, the talent will be tremendous and those in attendance will get a chance to see from Southaven (Johnny Ruffin), Highland Oaks (Regale Moore) and Josh Holloway, both in the 2023 class, FACS who maybe the best team that no one is talking about much in the area with Tim Thomas Jr, Kobe Wilkes, Corey Savage and Landon Jeffries. Lester’s Marquise Washington, Lemarkus Wilkerson (2023), Chauncey Holmes, Jamarion Harvey (2023) and 2024 6’1 Khylan Page who might be the best 6th grade prospect in Memphis. Ridgeway has a very talented group of guards and players who have a lot of experience in big games from last year. EJ Smith (2023) is one of the top 5 players in the city in that class followed by Chris “Chip” Brunt, 5’11 Kristian Spencer who is coming off an arm injury but should be able to go on Saturday and a really good 6th grade class with Javion Stephen and Cody Hickerson.
The showcase game or the “Main Event” as called by event coordinators will be one to watch. The team I designated as my #1 team in the city will square off against #2 Ridgeway who’s looking to make a name in this game. Some I’ve heard feel like Ridgeway should be number 1 and believe me, they can probably make a case and are most definitely looking for the upset on Saturday evening. They are deep and can throw 9 or 10 at you and really not lose a lot offensively or defensively.
All in all, it should be a quality event as always and one that could determine whether we have a new #1 next week or not.
Lester vs Kate Bond – 9:40 a.m. Kate Bond normally has nice team and I would bank on that again this year. Lester’s girls will have their work cut out for them in this one
PCA vs Munford- 10:40 a.m. PCA lost a lot of talent last year and probably will be in rebuild mode.
Blytheville Arkansas vs Elmore Park– 12:00 p.m Been hearing some good things about Elmore Park so far and now it’s time for the good things to turn into reality for them.
Fayette East vs Havenview 1:30 Fayette East from sources will be a team that plays hard while Havenview returns a few players from last year’s team including Emerson Tenner, a 7th grader who will be better this season.
Bolivar vs PCA 2:45 PCA will be extremely young this year but have more talent than last season. 6th grade guard Marlon Mcshane will probably be relied upon a lot in his first season.
St. George vs Northpoint (MS) 4:00 Northpoint has some young players coming up but not sure if they allow their 7th graders to play on the 8th grade team there. St.George always seems to be competitive, why not this year as well…
Southaven vs Highland Oaks 5:15 Getting to the pretty games now at this stage on Saturday. Southaven has a pretty big team from what I’ve heard. They will probably be led by Johnny Ruffin who can swing to the guard spot if necessary. Highland Oaks will be relying upon 2 young guards in Regale Moore and Josh Holloway. I will say this again, Holloway’s progression as more of pass first pg will be big for them. Moore has to be a consistent scorer but he has that ability to do so.
FACS vs Colonial 6:30 FACS quiet as it’s kept might be top 5 team on paper. At the point, Kobe Wilkes or you can interchange him and Landon Jeffries who can also play that spot, Corey Savage, one of the best middle school shooters and 3-4 Tim Thomas who you can put on the other team’s best offensive player and slow him down. Colonial has a few pieces but are still looking for that consistent leader. Jacquez Brown or Cedric Franklin could be that but one way to find out will be against a good team like FACS.
Lester vs Ridgeway 7:30 In the headline game of the event, this game will determine a lot of things. For one, Lester looks legit in every way, they are long, versatile at 2-3 spots and have maybe the best player in Middle School. On the other hand, they haven’t seen a team as talented as Ridgeway in a scrimmage this year and they haven’t been tested just yet. That might just be testament of how talented they are but like they say, the game is played on the floor so it’s time to see what this team is really capable of becoming.
Ridgeway will be coming in looking for respect and I don’t blame them. I had a hard time putting them at #3 and after watching them in a scrimmage, I thought again, maybe I was wrong but their chance is on Saturday. Again, I think their depth, guard play and ability to defend will be what determines the game. I think they are on par with Lester in terms of talent and with the hit of Lester losing a player who could have helped them, it will make them more susceptible especially in a game of this magnitude. This game will be big for them in terms of how people see this year’s team and I think it’s one that has a chance to be right there in