Nych Smith Is The Favorite To Lead The City In Scoring
Now that the high school teams in the area have had their 2 weeks of getting a feel for each other, freshman seeing the speed of older competition for the first time, it’s time to discuss some of the things that I saw as that will be the last time we see these teams and players. Let me say this, this will be unlike any of the last few years in Triple A being there is not clear cut favorite among the teams and one normally strong team will not be like years past, White Station. Now, let me say this, doesn’t mean they don’t have talent because they do in Nych Smith and Dillon Mitchell and Aaron Strother who will be coming off knee surgery but when you look at what they have had in years past, it’s not that caliber of Spartan teams. I think Smith will lead the city in scoring but if not him, Lagerald Vick at Douglas but right now, my odds on favorite for that will be the Spartan lead guard but this as well, don’t be surprised if Dillon Mitchell is in the top 10 as well in the city in that category. A team that some are sleeping on in my opinion is the Overton Wolverines and to me, I don’t see why they can’t be the best team in 16AAA. They return 3 and a part time starter in 6’6 Paris London Jr who is getting better and better heading into his junior year. They will have pg Jerry Hurt who is capable of putting together some big time scoring nights, 6’6 Malik Smith, a senior forward/center, Keith Wilson, who can score it as well and will have some young pieces in Jordan Johnson and John Anderson Jr, Coach Anderson’s son.
Mitchell without a doubt is the best team in the city regards of classification. The Single A state champion has their core returning of Naba Echols, Jeremiah Martin and Kylan Phillips and have added a transfer in Lorenzo Hunt, a 6’4 forward who will help them inside and have the ability to score some away from the basket. He will definitely help them. I don’t see why they can’t repeat as Single A state champs but again, it’s early if anyone is a favorite, it’s them in Single A, easily. Two other teams that went to the state last year, Arlington and Hamilton will look vastly different. Arlington lost CJ Anderson and KJ Bates (both D-1) along with a few other key contributors so early on as always with teams losing a lot, early might be a little difficult. They do have Nate Hoover who is best spot up shooter in the city along with athletic Adarius Avery and sophmore Luke Wiseman who will be counted to help with scoring after playing a little bit last year as a freshman. I think even with the loss of those seniors last, they still could make a run at a district title but it will be tougher this year. Hamilton will lose the Lawson Brothers, both to prep school, the two biggest losses in the city and why I think Triple A is as open as ever this year for someone to get out and make a run at a state title. They will still have a solid team if they are able to keep some players in the revolving door of the city, key upon Romero Hill and Terrance “Woo” Baker. You might say huh but anyone who keeps up with basketball here knows, it’s not uncommon for it to be transferals however if they can keep those two and add some pieces to Hamilton, I think it’s still a good team right on that edge of competing in 16AAA. Here are a few other teams that I had a chance to see over the last few weeks.
Southwind High School – Will rely heavily upon Donte Fitzpatrick, it’s really simple for leadership, scoring, rebounding, you name, he will have to do it. Not that the Jaguars don’t have players capable but because he’s capable and this year being his last, I expect that from him. Other key players for them will be Julian Richardson, a 6’7 WF, 6’5 Jacob Patten, an athletic rebounder who will be counted on to do that nightly, Leland Kirkendoll, a player who could start at the point and incoming freshman Mark Freeman, who can help right away and be effective as a defender/ true point guard for his team Carlos Marshall is a name to remember to for Southwind, the 6’5 forward will be in the rotation this year.
Briarcrest Christian – State contender in private schools, this team is experienced but yet still young with 4 starters being all juniors. Micah Thomas is a bouncy 6’7 who can stroke the 3 or catch if off the rim. Quiet as it’s kept, might be as athletic as any in this class, maybe in the city. Maceo Woodard, a 6’5 forward can be used at 2 positions offensively and defensively and be counted on player to score points for the Saints along with shooter Will Hrubes, a 6’5 G/F but the smallest of them all leads the group, Mark French. He pushes, makes great decisions, can make the open shot and one of the toughest point guards around.
East High School – Don’t look now but after taking their lumps last year, East is back in contention as one of the better teams in the city, probably top 10 at least. They have a nice front line in 6’7 Robert Washington, a two year starter, Justin Small, a 6’7 who can get off the floor with Washington’s brother, Rodarius Washington, a 6’4 who started most of last year as a freshman. Lot of talk about Lucky Cheatham possibly attending there as well but from sources, a likely destination if so, gives them a player who started his first year at Whitehaven and played well. Freshman TJ Moss and Alex Lomax will also play a lot of minutes but by mid season be adjusted and play well late into the season.
Germantown High School – This is my pick to win 15AAA, I know, Houston is good, Southwind is good, can never count out Ridgeway but Germantown I think is ready to win district this year and possibly next year because of their youth at key positions and overall. They will be lead by junior Darrell Brown Jr, 6’4 Rodney Williams, who’s improvement over the last few years should be noted, Johnathan Bins, Jacob Ivey and Michael Bamrick who started at St.Benedict as a 9th grader and will take over the role that Jake Miller (Harding University) had last year and could be better at that spot.
Here are a few other team that I saw briefly at either MUS, Memphis or Raleigh Egypt
Whitehaven High School – Not a bad team, length with Reggie Taylor at 6’9, good guard play with football star Braylon Rochelle and Ernest Palmer and coming back off ACL injury from football, Jordan Williams who would have helped a lot of last year because of his ability to score off the jumper, particularly mid range. Am I going to say they could win 16AAA right now? Probably not but could they be sneaky and be around that 1 or 2 spot, definitely.
Houston High School – Lost a lot last season but still have Marlon Hunter and some young pieces in Justin Benton, a rising junior and Ryan Boyce, a player I like a lot in 2018 which good upside as a wing prospect.
Central High School – Another team in that range of being the best team in 16AAA, they are well coached by Ricardo Patton, play within a system and have a key transfer from Melrose (Bradley Walker) go along with Darius Thompson and guard Antonio Gillespie who also started last year.
Center Hill High School – If you don’t know now, Carter Sweat is one of the best players 2015 in the area and he will put up numbers this year. Job Vernor should also return at the point guard spot where he’s been the starter the last few years.
Big Impact Freshman (In no order)
1. Alex Lomax East High School
2. TJ Moss East High School
3. Mark Freeman Southwind High
4.Ryan Boyce Houston High
5.Carlos Sandifer Bartlett High
6.Tyler Harris Ridgeway High
7.Jordan Johnson Overton High
8.Trey Davis St.Benedict
9.Braxton Winford White Station High
10.Garrett Golday Arlington High