Memphis basketball appears to be in the pretty good shape for the future and that was evident by some of the young talent that I saw on Sunday. The SuperChamps Elite JV in it’s second year has some of the premier in the talent in the city in the 2023 and 2024 classes and I able to see some standouts in the 3 games that I was able to see.
Bellevue Middle (6th Graders) Was really impressed with their guard play and plethora of them at that. Sam Franklin Jr, Devin Rutherford Jr, Antonio Thomas and Damion Cox are the future at the guard positions for Bellevue and I know that it has to have Coach Mario Taylor excited for the next few years. Franklin Jr is dynamic in the way he can get to rim and finish at such a young age and Rutherford is very similar to Franklin. Julius Thedford Jr was one of the more athletic finishers that I saw on Sunday. He hit the corner 3 and drove for the runners for scores. Two names that should be familiar to some are Gerald Burris and John Grice both who prepped at Central High School before their college careers, Burris (West Alabama/Oral Roberts) and Grice (Shelby State/University Of Memphis). Both have sons on this teams who have bright futures as well and are the namesakes of their fathers, John Grice II and Gerald Burris Jr.
Colonial Middle (JV) Their 8th grade team plays for it’s season tomorrow at Havenview but if and again if they lose, the Patriots are set up to be pretty good for the next 2 years. Brice Horne an athletic defender, Courtney Carter and 2 6th graders are at the head for this team and they show a lot of promise. Cordell Bailey and PJ Mask are 2 names to keep an eye on in the 2024 class. Bailey can get to his spot and create his own shot ans Mask is tough minded pg who can score it to the basket and with the 3.
Lester Middle (JV) The Lions founds themselves on the losing side to a good Havenview team but a few players showed why they should be regarded among the best players in their class. Marcus Crawford has the herky jerky type game, excellent passer on the move, and he’s one of the bigger guards in the 2023 class locally. Let me say this, my next few statements might rattle some feathers but it is what it is. I’m not sure why Crawford isn’t in the conversation as one of the top 3-4 guards in the 7th grade in the city. He may not have the name of the some of the others and the other guards in that class are pretty good however, he might have to be considered among that group. Last but not least, Khylan Payne might be the best 6th grader in Memphis. I love Cooper Hayes at Elmore Park but when your 6’4, block shots, rebound, finish around the rim and again, 6’4, well it’s hard to overlook. He has the look of 6’5 6’6 next year as a 7th grader with the future of a 6’9. He might have more upside than any player in Middle School, I know that’s saying a lot but you just can’t overlook his length and not be intrigued with who he could become.
Havenview Middle (JV) I looked at Coach Myers and I saw him just kicking back not in coaching mode being a spectator and I thought, I know he can’t contain himself on the inside. Along with Payne, the Tigers have their own 6’3, Kevin Washington. He looks to be a bit raw but you can’t teach what he has and he mixed it up well with Payne. That was my first time seeing them match-up but I know it won’t be the last. William Carver was another one of the really good 6th graders that I saw. He seems to be at a different speed with the ball in his hands, he hit the the pull up the free throw line with confidence and aggressively attacked the rim not looking for a foul. Emerson “KJ” Tenner was really good in the first half showing it all. The ability to control the game and make shots when he had to and looked much more confident from the last time I saw him play. He’s coming along nicely and should be really key next year. Another big for Havenview was Evan McClary, a 6’1 with good hands who caught and finished on a few occasions. He even showed the drop step off the glass close in the 2nd half. They led pretty much the whole game against Lester and while Lester made a late run, they were able to hold them off.
January 28th is championship Sunday with the first game starting at 1:00 pm. For more information, please visit SuperChampsusa.org