Penny Hoopfest Review

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In world now filled with social media, twitter, instagram, Facebook and more, I don’t have to tell you what happened on Friday and Saturday night in the Penny Hardaway National Hoopfest. The goal for me is now to give you  some of my thoughts of what happened  over the weekend about certain teams, especially locally.

Well  ran event as usual and standing room only at Olive Branch on Friday night and in the last game on Saturday at White Station.  One thing you can tell about Memphis, people still love high school basketball, good, bad or indifferent, people showed up in huge way despite the hawk being outside.

With all that said, let’s get on with what somethings I noticed on Friday and Saturday.


Duo in 2020 In Memphis Starting To National Noise- For those shocked by the play of Cameron Matthews and Matthew Murrell, you shouldn’t be. Matthews was as good as I’ve ever seen him  whether it be summer, spring or school ball, he was really good both days particularly Friday night. The dunk off the cross with 2 hands plus the foul was one of the best I’ve seen all year and in awhile. He looks more comfortable handing full court than I’ve seen and he was attacking the basket reckless abandon that I hadn’t seen from him. Saturday even in the loss, he was good again around the rim with his motor and touch close. Murrell I think right now maybe the more polished of the 2, known more for his mid game, Murrell is shooting the 3 with more confidence to go along with the forays to the rim for athletic finishes. You have to consider both of these players the top 10th graders in the city.

Matthew Murrell (Whitehaven HS)
Matthew Murrell (Whitehaven HS)

With that said, other sophomores that I noticed..Jeremy Roach and of course Jaemyn Brakfield. Roach is stud and people were shocked looking at his frame when I told them that he was only a 2020 player. He was so under control, poised at the pg position, got into the lane but was patient when he attacked as well. He hits the 3 and he didn’t look to score the ball a lot but when he did, he was really good. Brakefield is so long,  he looks like he’s coming at you at 7 ft but he can score and does it well. He’s a match up problem for long players because he can handle it and hard because of his length against smaller players.

Talen Horton Tucker Is Really Good I’ve seen a lot of basketball over the past year, 150 plus games from the summer till now and I don’t know if I’ve seen to many guards better than him. The Iowa State commit is in that big guard Mark Aguirre type mold at 6’5 and he giving it to you. The step back off the dribble, footwork to create separation, hitting you with the shoulder to knock you off balance for the shot. He even posted and hit the tough fade away during the East game at a crucial moment. He’s just advanced offensively and there isn’t much that he can’t do well and Iowa State is getting an absolute star in him and a future pro, mark it down. Xavier Stinson was also really good for them. The slim 6’2 almost 6’3 has to be one of the best uncommitted seniors in the country. I love the way he competes, he gets where he wants to go, makes the jumper and is an above average athlete who you can bounce between the 1 and the 2 and he’s more of a pg than a 2.

East Looking For An Identity As  Team East has lost 3 games in a row and while it seems like the world is falling in front of them, it could actually help them late. Adversity tends to bring teams closer together but they must avoid letting these losses linger with district play coming up for them. Honestly, I thought that they might have took the losses earlier and maybe had a similar skid early in the season but they were able to get by some really good teams. Their schedule has been tough and I think it caught up to them but with that said, that brutal road should help them. Chandler Lawson had 27 and 11 rebounds in their loss with Simeon with Alex Lomax notching a triple double for the second time this season if not third time. I thought Laquincy Parker gave them a nice spark in the starting line up yesterday and it will be interesting to see if he starts the rest of the way for the Mustangs. 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge is with the second unit now and must be the anchor for the young group off the bench. I still think he could be key in what they do the rest of the way. They looked invincible early on with the big time win over Findlay Prep but now look like mortals after this and a team that many think are now beatable locally especially after Friday night.

Olive Branch and Cordova Made It Difficult To Rank Teams With OB beating East on Friday night, you could  have made the case that they were the new #1 team in the city. On Saturday though in a game that didn’t have as much emotion, they lost to Cordova who they were favored to beat. Is that thing of anyone can be beat on any given day in Memphis? Maybe but I think they were drained from how much they put out on Friday night at home.  Now does Cordova belong in that spot, OB or you still going East? How about Whitehaven with their win over Huntingdon Prep? Right now, I’m not sure but it makes for good talk around the areas as who has the number 1 team in the city right now. You might have to say right now, it’s the Tigers.

Cordova High School
Cordova High School