Sometimes in a camp setting like the Cream of The Crop, the youngest class gets swallowed up by the talent of the older classes. In this camp, that wasn’t the case, 2024 was very noticeable including one player who may have the most upside of any player in middle school in the city going into next year.
Payne Making Clear Case #1 In The City
It’s clear to see what makes Payne stand out among his class locally in Memphis. At 6’3 and growing by the day it seems, Payne looks every bit like a 6’9 6’10 player in the future. What makes you watch him, his ability to dominate the glass, great hands, rebounding ability and timing as a shot blocker, his future is special. Payne rebounds well out his area and has a nose for where the ball will come off right now is the best rebounder in this class in the city. He rim runs, has some touch around the rim where he routinely caught and finished around the rim and scored time and time again during camp. He’s still rough around the edges offensively and that’s expected but the ability is clearly there and signs point him to being a player who can face up or play with his back to basket as he gets older. Right now, it’s hard not to envision him as a top 2 player in this class locally if not #1 and be among the elite in the country in the near future if not already.
Jackson Flipping The Switch To Top 10 Status?
Hard to see this 2024 and not like his tremendous upside as a future long 2-3 with the ability to get hot and hit the 3 ball with regularity. Keron Jackson right now is a big 2 who can masquerade some as 3 and defend that spot now but looks like more a scorer/shooter right now. He has a solid strong frame right now with good length and he looks like he might shoot up a few inches anytime especially with his genetics with a father who is 6’9. Thing that impresses you is his ability create space and and shoot the jumper but he can score the ball in a lot of different ways. Right now, I think on appearance, he looks like a big but his true future I think will be as a wing. Jackson is among the elite 6th graders in the city and it’s time people know.
Bachelor’s Progression Noticeable
More of a post right now but Bachelor has some put it on the floor in him as well. Bachelor rebounds well, can score off the catch close or make a move and finish from 5-10 feet out where he’s more comfortable. One of the things I like about him, he has physical nature which most of times is something that you just have or you don’t but he likes contact. He’s impacts game on the floor with his motor and accept challenges whether that be getting rebound or getting a stop defensively. He was good in one on one drills showing that he can handle it make a move and finish. I think this spring and summer will be big for him developing more as a player who can switch between the 3-4 spots and be able to handle both offensively and defensively. The Memphis Wildcats have a good young core and he’s definitely a part of it.
Morris Coming Along Nicely
Was a surprise to some of the coaches at the camp but not to me. Having watched him weeks earlier, Morris was one of the better young guards that I’ve seen all year. I think he’s just starting to scratch the surface and gain the confidence needed to put him among the best guards in Memphis in 2024. I think he’s more of a combo guard right now but eventually will make the full time switch to the point guard position. He’s a capable scorer with the jumper or the drive and showing that he wasn’t afraid mixing it up with stronger players with the attack. He’s definitely a player to keep your eye on this summer and next year where he should play a key role as a 7th grader at White Station.
Talent Is There For McShane
About year ago or so, I started to hear a lot about Marlon McShane and I waited a little bit before I saw him because I normally don’t look at kids under the 6th grade. When I did see him, I could see what so many have said about him, he’s a talent. He’s in that mold of point guard right now that likes to score it, he can handle pressure from guards in this group right now and can score off the jumper but I think the next phase for him going into the summer and for next year, evolving more as a point guard. The IQ is there for him so learning how to control tempo and run offense will I think be easy for him as a player. Defensively I think he would do well taking more chances on ball and trying create steals for himself and trying to disrupt other teams offenses. I think he has somethings to work on like most young players but he’s definitely a talented player. Catch him this summer playing with WACG (We All Can Go) an always talented group out of Nashville and Nike based program.
Armani Watson– Barrett’s Chapel (Memphis United)– Plays with a lot of poise for such a young player and confidence to boot. He was among the best finishers in 2024 in camp, gets out in the open floor with the push and pass and he can score with the runner. I think he could be a really good defender because he has quick hands and he’s a physical guard who likes to use his hands and stature to bump smaller guards off the ball but his biggest asset is his ability to get out and be a play maker. Improving with the jumper will take him to the next level and maybe be in the discussion as a top 10-15 player in this class.
Trey Goodwin– ECS (Memphis United) Can definitely tell, he’s a coaches son because he knows how to play. Right now, I think he’s a pure point and that’s hard to find especially with what Memphis is known for producing and that bodes well for him long term. He understands when to get off the ball and when to try and make a play for his teammates and he always looking for the pass ahead but he can make the 3 if he leave him. For him just like with a lot of ball players, confidence is key for him but he’s on track as a pretty good guard right now.
KJ Smith- Barrett’s Chapel– First time really seeing Smith and I really impressed with him. He competed at a high level and showed a lot of skill at the guard position. He was good in drills and often stood out when eyes were on him.
VJ Simmons- Mt.Pisgah– Diminutive in stature but there are somethings you like about him as a player going forward. He didn’t shy away from competition but wanted to see him be a little more aggressive particularly in the 5 on 5 games during camp when he got opportunities. He got a little bit banged up at one point during the camp but was tough and came back to finish it out. Confidence, confidence, confidence is key for him but the skills are there.
Myron Jones- Lausanne– If I were ranking guards there, he would be among the top 5 in the 6th grade. Savvy with the ball in his hands, Myron is fun to watch as a player. He gets after you defensively all over the court and he makes plays for himself and for teammates. He can finish with both hands and in transition, he can get to the rim or make the pass for the score and he has pretty good body control for such a young player. He just at the point understands how to play basketball and it appears natural for him. He can play off the ball but will be one of those smart point guards who you just love having your team down the line.