Doing a middle school team ranking and doing a high school team rankings are some what similar but a little different. In middle school, you never really know what your going to get out of teams because your dealing with 6th,7th and 8th graders night in night out. One week, a team can look like world beaters and the next, they play a close game with a team that shouldn’t be close to them. On the high school side, its a little different because as we know, players makes up teams and at that point as 11th and 12th graders, you know the make up of older players. It’s a little bit easier to predict and while you still have upsets , for the most part, a team that’s in the top 5 or for someone else top 10, they will be that at season’s end.
Will that being said, here is my view on who are the top 5 teams in Memphis high school basketball right now….
1.East High School (11-1) The City of Palms didn’t end the way they wanted it to taking their first loss but with that said, still a top 5 team in the country. Sometimes a loss is a learn and in this, I think this could be that for the Mustangs. Alex Lomax had a triple double against University School and was named to the all tournament team along with James Wiseman who I think had 20-10 in the first 2 games. Up next for them, the National Hoopfest against Olive Branch next Friday and on Saturday, another entertaining game against Simeon, a top 25 team in the country. I expect a very aggressive team on Friday night and one that will looking to make a statement on the road in what is sure to be a wild environment.
2. Whitehaven High School (10-1) First loss of the season came just a few days ago to Brentwood Academy led by the best point guard in the country, Darius Garland. The Tigers get after you defensively and have a lot of guard depth and a few players who will lead them every night. Cameron Jones has played well so far as well as Matthew Murrell, the best 10th grader in Memphis and it’s not up for debate to me. Sophomores Alvin Miles and Jessie Payne will must continue to trend upwards as the season progresses and they need timely scoring from Simmie Jones. Latrell Carter and Anthony Whitmore are their inside players who can score some but will be most relied upon for rebounding . They will play Huntingdon Prep at 3:00 pm on Saturday January 6th as a part of the National Hoopfest.
3. Olive Branch High School (12-2) I wasn’t going to put this team in the ranking at first and not because they haven’t been playing well but because I wanted it to be all Memphis teams. Since they have started to play more Memphis teams though, I figured that they should apart of this as well. They played against Whitehaven over a month ago and the Tigers gave them one of their only 2 losses on the season. The other loss was to Madison Prep, a team out Louisiana but as of right now, I think they are the #1 team in Mississippi HS basketball. DJ Jeffries is doing what a top 5 player in 2019 does but the player who might make them go the most is Kelvin Allen. Not saying he is their most talented player but Allen takes on the role as is the defensive stopper and his scoring as increased this season. Shamar Brown was huge in their win against Southwind with big shots from the perimeter, something that you can tell he’s really worked at. Next up, Memphis East, at their school on January 5th at 7:30 pm in their biggest game of the season.
4. Southwind High School (18-1) One loss team the fourth best team in the city? I took into account that they lost to Olive Branch so I wasn’t going to put them ahead of a team they lost to. The Jaguars are going into district play as the favorites but once again, Ridgeway will still be right there with them. Mark Freeman has to be put among the top 3-4 guards in the city with how he’s played so far and the Jaguars have gotten contributions from several including Quentin Williams and 6’8 Cameron Jones, a 2019 who more people should know about.
5. Hamilton High School (14-2) Jordan Johnson’s impact has been felt but people forget that Hamilton has pretty good talent overall. Montrell Brooks and Kevon McMahan have been the steady anchors and the only 2 players from the 2015 state championship that they won as a Triple A school. Now apart of a strong Double A, Hamilton right now is the best team in it and while close, the Wildcats have that plaque on the wall for now. Julian Woods is a good piece to what they do with the dirty work near the rim and his rebounding and surprising ability to turn over the should and score and James Dejesus has hit some big shots for head coach, Will Smith. They will take on 11-3 Whitney Young out of Chicago Saturday in the National Hoopfest at 1:30 pm.