When looking at prospects, everyone’s criteria isn’t the same as some others when judging players and seeing a future in them. Some players you see, they just pass the eye test but don’t perform up to the level of their look but one that does and he stands out in a big way, 2022 Chandler Jackson. When you see the 5’10 guard, you see length, lead ability, big time size, scoring ability, handle, a good get it off the rim and good player who can create for himself and others. I saw him last summer a little and I can tell he’s been working on his game in particular, his perimeter jumper where he can make shots from wherever on the court. He’s really tough to stay in front, has a really good first step right now and a problem offensively because at a young age, he can create his shot off the dribble but is most effective at this stage a finisher and player who gets to the rim at will due t his strength. He handles well, makes good decisions and is very unselfish for a such a talented player. Definitely a big guard at this stage and likely will always be in that role and right now, he looks like he has a big time future. Easily one of the better players in the 7th grade and I wouldn’t argue with you if you said he was the best player in the class right now.
I remember going to the 16AAA media day at Whitehaven at the start of the season and wondering a little if the expectations might be a bit much for this East team. Sure, I knew they were defending champs but I also knew that this year, there would be a target big enough to fit on the side of the Fed Ex Forum on their backs, Every team in the city’s best shot, every night and it showed right at the beginning of the season. Melrose fought them hard in their first district game and was within 10 in the 3rd quarter of that game but after a 20 something to 4 run, East found it’s stride in that game and never looked back during the season.
By now we all know what the Mustangs led by Coach Penny Hardaway and Rocky Johnson did on Saturday, they repeated as TSSAA Triple A State champions beating Southwind in an all Memphis final for the second straight year in a row. It wasn’t easy though especially the second game having to come back down from 6 a few times in the game against a good Oak Ridge team to win it with some big plays down the stretch from their trio of Moss, Lawson and Alex Lomax. The title game I felt like was one that would be won in the 3rd quarter and I just knew that East would go on one of those runs like they always do and win in by double digits because I just felt like Southwind was a good team but they didn’t have enough scoring to be able to keep up with East.
Let me say this, the story is amazing in a sense because this was years in the making. We remember the story of Desmond Merriwether and fast forward up to now and you just shake your head and say wow. These Mustangs have been to the state tournament 3 straight years and if you really want to think about it, players like Alex Lomax, Pig Washington and Nick Merriwether have been to the state 5 straight years with 4 state titles if you want to include Middle School in as well (Lester). This is a group that I will remember for as long as been doing middle school and high school coverage as one of the more memorable teams that I can recall.
Chandler Lawson was named MVP of the state tournament with Lomax, Moss and Malcolm Dandridge making the all tournament. Christian Jones, Mark Freeman and Carlos “CJ” Marshall were also members of the all tournament team for Southwind. Southwind who won it a few years ago (2012) had a nice run to end the year I thought and Freeman and Marshall were their catalyst. Freeman will return next season along with Jones who played well in the state and Kameron Jones, a 6’7 touching 6’8 developing post who should start to draw interest from colleges this summer. Guard Quentin Williams who had some huge moments in the post season for the Jaguars will also return in a starters role and they should have big Kristian Williams back as well. Someone will have to take up the scoring slack for Marshall and rebounding of Robert Boyd in order for them to be in the running again next season but they will have as good a shot as anyone.
East could return 4 of their 5 starters for next season and it will likely not only make them the state favorite again but also be in the running as a top 3-5 team in the country next season. Some are saying number possibly and that would be incredible for the school located in Binghampton. Could be see a 3-peat for East? One would have to think that they have a pretty good chance but we can wait till next season to give a definitive answer but for right now, congrats to the East Mustangs, your 2016-2017 State Champs.
The 6th Annual 901PrepScoop All Star Games will be held Sunday, February 19th at Lausanne Collegiate School at 1381 W.Massey Rd, Memphis TN, 38120. The games will begin a showcase 5th grade game, followed by the all star contest. These games has featured several players who have went on the play college basketball including Darrell Brown Jr (Bradley), Jaylen Fisher (TCU), Dedric Lawson (University of Memphis) and several players who are still tearing it up on the high school level as sophomores, juniors and seniors including Tesia Thompson (Hamilton) and Dontrecia Johnson (Whitehaven). This year is no different with talent on the boys side with players like Jalen Brown, Johnathan Lawson, Aldon Applewhite, Calvin Jennings , Kennedy Chandler, Deebo Coleman and Zander Yates. I could keep going but it would take me another 2 paragraphs to talk about all the talent in this game but the girls aren’t slacking in that department either. Sequoia Allmond, 6’4 Dionna Reed, Amaya Mull, Schilling Farms’s Destiny Todd, the Taylor twins at Arlington and many many more. This year’s 8th grade girls class might be one of the best in years with what looks like at least 10 division 1 caliber players in the future.
There will be some Mississippi flavor in this year’s game as well with Olive Branch’s Amya Black, Desoto Central’s Rachel Hightower and playing in the boys game, Kaiden Laws from Center Hill. This is the first year that I’ve ever had kids from out of the area in the game and they bring immense talent to the event.
Their are a total of 3 games on Sunday with the Memphis Wildcats playing Memphis United showcasing two of the area’s best team’s in the 5th grade at 2:00 pm. Then at 3, the All Star Games begin with the girls tipping it and followed by the boys at 4:30. The event is $6.00 dollar for the boys and girls all star games. Come see the future of Memphis high school basketball!!!
Checkout some of the selected participants in this year's 901prepscoop.com Middle School All-Star Game. Chuck Lawson provides excellent coverage for Middle School hoops and he puts on an outstanding All-Star event every year. This year's game will be held on February 19, 2017 at Lausanne Collegiate School, 1381 West Massey Rd., Memphis, Tennessee. Girls tip off at 3pm, boys tip off at 4:30pm.
Note* As you can see, several players have been selected for both teams on the girls and boys side, however, only 30 will be selected. You must confirm that you plan to play by February 17th. The West teams will wear full white school uniforms while the East team will wear full away uniforms. I’m asking that players who play in the game arrive at least an hour before their game. The girls game will begin at 3:00 pm followed by the boys game at 4:30 pm. Confirm your attendance by email (Charles.901PrepScoop@yahoo.com) or through text or call at 901-287-0057.
West Girls Roster
1. Sequoia Allmond-Bellevue
2.Kyla Mason- White Station
3.Queniesha Sumerall- Havenview
4.Sharmen Taylor- Arlington
5.Anandi Farrell Rosseau- Schilling Farms
6.Deja Pryor- Cordova
7.Tiera Jones- Lowrance
8.Lyric Cole- Kate Bond
9.Maddy Prather- Hutchison
10.Monique Chew- Colonial
11.Chakhia Blockett- Bolivar
12.Makayla Dockery- Colonial
13.Arielle Everett- Union City
14.Micah Williams- Hickory Ridge
15.Kennedy Trice- Schilling Farms
16.Diana Early- Ridgeway
17.Ayanna Collins- Dexter
18.Jaslin Wood- Desoto Central
19.Rachel Hightower- Desoto Central
20.Lauren Robinson- Schilling Farms
21.CC Drew- PCA
East Girls Roster
1.KK Howard- Dyersburg
2.Amaya Mull- Colonial
3.Zavia Harris- Highland Oaks
4.Dionna Reed- Steam Academy
5.Carmen Taylor- Arlington
6.Diana Taylor- Ridgeway
7.Destiny Todd- Schilling Farms
8.Skylar Arnold- Bellevue’
9.Ciara Taylor- Three Oaks
10.Jamia Brooks- Bellevue
11.Demia Bess- Colonial
12.Carmen Harrison- Hutchison
13.Jada Williams- Union City
14.Kylie Mccadney- Union City
15.Hannah Powell- PCA
16.Kataya Grissom- Sherwood
17.Ialla Sharp- Ridgeway
18.Amya Black- Olive Branch
19.Raylen Smith- American Way
Boys West Roster
1. Johnathan Lawson- Bellevue
2. Tadarius Jacobs- Bellevue
3.Kaiden Laws- Center Hill (MS)
4.Tristan Jones- Kingsbury
5.Cameron Donegan- Kingsbury
6. Peyton Moore- Briarcrest
7.Daveonne Warfield- Hickory Ridge
8.David Dixon- Ridgeway
9.Eddie Buxton- Mt.Pisgah
10.Jace Lockhart- Arlington
11.Travis Dockery- Havenview
12.Dorian George- White Station
13.Jelani Willis- White Station
14.Bryson Potts- Houston
15.Brennan Jones- ECS
16.Alex Anderson- Highland Oaks
17.Jordan Jenkins- Schilling Farms
18.Desmond Bratcher- Havenview
19.Ariyon Paige- Bellevue
Boys East Roster
1. Jalen Brown- Kingsbury
2.Deebo Coleman- Lausanne
3.Kennedy Chandler- Briarcrest
4.Tyler Harrington- Briarcrest
5. Zander Yates- Briarcrest
6. Nathan Kyzar- Memphis Nighthawks
7.Eli Federman- St.George
8.Dillon Woods- Lausanne
9. Jordan Hibbler- Southaven (MS)
10.Ethan Roberts- Houston
11.Thomas Kizer- ECS
12.Travis Dockery- Havenview
13 Calvin Jennings- Snowden
14.Alden Applewhite- White Station
15.Willie Foreman- White Station
16.Kameron Jones- Cordova
17.Roderick Lewis- MUS
18.Eric Roberts- Bellevue-
19.Davon Barnes- White Station
With the season heading into January and teams having their rotations set in place, a few freshmen are providing quality minutes and producing for their varsity teams. To even be able to play as a freshman speaks volumes for such a young player who has to adjust to faster, bigger and older players coming from middle school but a few have done it at a much quicker pace than most. Some of the names that you will see mentioned might not be at top of 2020 in Memphis however, their play thus far has put them in position to be mentioned among the best young players in the city. While they still have some ways to go, these young guys have impressed at this early stage of their prep careers.
1. Caleb London 6’2 (MUS) Easily, the most productive member of the 2020 class to the varsity ranks of this year. Not only is London playing well, he’s starting and playing like a junior and he might be their leading scorer overall. Has had more than 4 games of 20 or more points and played well against Memphis East, London has easily pushed himself into the upper echelon of the 2020 class. He’s made strides with his jumper off the pull up and is taking what the defense gives him and being more patient offensively. Right now, he could make a case as the best 9th grader in the city. I know there are other talented players but London has been really good.
2. Marcellus Brigham 6’5 (Briarcrest Christian) When you look at him, Brigham just looks like a division 1 basketball and with the flashes that he shows, that looks like it will be happening for him. Brigham is a long 2 guard with a good pull up game who has shown that he can play big minutes in the Saints system and for a program that rarely plays players so young, Coach John Harrington has to be happy knowing that he has him for 3 more years and watching him develop into maybe one of the best players that he has had there. I can see him leading them in scoring by next year as he continues to get better and better.
3. Kendall Thomas 6’2 (Harding) Quietly having an outstanding season, just last night scoring 27 hitting 7-9 from 3 in a tournament in Nashville. Thomas is big physical guard who can play some forward, who has grown a lot of height but has also gotten much stronger since the end of the summer. After losing Anthony Yarbrough last year who played 4 years there and was a big time stand out, Kendall was a welcomed addition to a team looking for another player to score. Thomas just recently was named MVP of the Battle Ground Tournament scoring 27 in game 1, 18 game 2 and 15 in game 3 of the event. When thinking of the top players in this class, Thomas has to be put into the conversation.
4. Rickey Shotwell 5’5 (Melrose) One of the smallest players in the city playing varsity in any classification, Shotwell’s play is shocking some who might have doubted him. He’s started some games for Melrose and had 15 in a win over W.E.B. Dubois at a Holiday Tournament in St. Louis. Coach Sherman Jones said “More poised than I could have ever imagined he would be, lost a lot of the scoring that came as a surprise but the IQ and toughness that as replaced the scoring has be vital and I have no reason to believe that he will take a step backwards” I remember Jones being high on him telling me, he would be more than role player this season and from the looks of it, he’s right.
5.Anterrius Jeffries 6’6(Overton) All arms and legs forward who’s also started some games for his high school team, Jeffries best days are clearly ahead of him. Jeffries is averaging 7 and 7 for a young Overton team that boast only 2 seniors so as to be expected, they will struggle in 16AAA but Jeffries has displayed some touch and rebounding ability and might end up being a player who can play some on the perimeter the older he gets. The more who adjust to playing with his back to the basket and as he gets stronger, Jeffries might turn into a big name in this class.
1. White Station (20-0) MLK title check, MAM title check and now they will be looking to finish the regular season strong on their way to a middle school state title. In the playoffs though, anything can happen and Snowden is still lurking but right now, the Spartans look invincible right now.
2. Bellevue Middle (15-2) Played White Station pretty close before they pulled off in the 4th quarter without their best player in the MAM Championship game. Bellevue is still the leader right in Small Schools with everyone else looking at them but Kingsbury will be an obstacle down the road that they could see during their state run.
3. Highland Oaks Middle (14-3) Third in the MAM and probably the only team that give White Station problems right now in Large Schools that I’ve seen. The Hawks must watch for let downs against teams that they should beat.
4. Kingsbury Middle (13-4) Good showing in the MAM making it to the Final 4 before losing to a much more talented White Station team. The Falcons right now are the second best team in small schools and will need to play like it down the home stretch.
5. Schilling Farms Middle (13-1) Suffered their first loss before the break I believe to Bon Lin so they dropped a little bit here but Schilling Farms is still in position to be in it late in the year. I think the Stallions will refocus and finish the season strong but they can’t let that loss linger with them.
So much for my bracket, Highland and Kingsbury, you killed me lol. Seriously though, that’s what it’s all about, advancing to the next game at this point of the MAM which is the Final 4 today. Bellevue won yesterday, 70-55 after finding themselves down early to a Snowden team who was looking for the upset but in the end, Snowden’s guard play and Johnathan Lawson was to much for them to overcome. Highland Oaks beat Southaven 67-44, Kingsbury beat Lausanne, 44-36 behind Jalen Brown’s 22 points and Tristan Jones was pretty good with 18 points. He’s a player who’s improved steadily through out the season to me and one that could have a nice future as a big guard. White Station beat Briarcrest 45-40 in a game that Briarcrest was up in some in the first half. The Spartans sped up the pace some by pressing Briarcrest in the 2nd half and forcing them into turnovers which proved to be vital in the end. The Saints had a chances but as I said yesterday, they would have to do a lot right to win that game.
Today, the final 4 and title game will be held at Harding Academy. The times are 430 pm for both games as the old and new gym at the school will be used. White Station will take on an upstart Kingsbury team who looks like a different team from when I saw them just a month or so ago. They are getting contributions from role players, making shots and playing like a team that looks like they can beat anyone. This game will be their toughest one of the season thus far against a White Station team who hasn’t lost a game and at times has looked dominant. White Station looked a little vulnerable but I just think they are the most talented team and most of the time, the team with that wins. If Jalen Brown gets going early, he will score a lot of points for Kingsbury but Jones and someone else will be needed to score. Not only that, both will have to rebound with a bigger White Station team and keep them off the offensive glass where they thrive. They must take care of the ball as well and not have to many unforced turnovers because that gets them going. Set the tone early and don’t get into an up and down game and the Falcons can have a chance but again, White Station didn’t play great early on against Briarcrest last night because they played at Briarcrest pace. It wasn’t until late that they got going and were able to do somethings that they are accustomed to doing in games. White Station I think is just to talented and their depth will come into play but in the Final 4, you never know but I think they pull it out.
Bellevue and Highland should be a pretty good game I believe because both like to get out and go for easy scores but the up and down favors Bellevue. Highland’s Alex Anderson and Cameron Donegan both will present challenges for Bellevue because of their ability to pass and get others involved as well as score. Anderson will be the determining factor in the game for Highland Oaks because of his versatility but he also must stay on the floor meaning that he can’t get into foul trouble as Highland gets much much smaller when he’s off the court. Donegan must be aggressive offensively and not sit back and wait to get going. He’s a patient guard and looks for his spots but he will need to be a 15-20 point player today. Will it be enough though if just those 2 play well? Who else is stepping up for Highland? Josh Holloway is the kind of player who can but in a game of this magnitude, someone will have to relieve some of the pressure off their two key guys. Their will be opportunities when the ball is swung to make something happen and he will have to be ready. For Bellevue, it’s pretty simple, rely on what you have been relying on to get you there. The combination of Lawson, Beverly, Tuggle and Jacobs has been good in the MAM. Carlito and brother Cartier have been great of late, causing havoc defensively on the ball and off it. AP Paige has played well and they are getting contributions from the bench from a few. They are getting to the rim when they get ready and being the sparks that their team has needed all year. It looks like Bellevue is playing well at the right time and I see them winning the game as I said in my first post about the MAM a few days ago.
The sweet 16 has turned into the Elite 8 with teams advancing, some by small margins, others in lop sided wins. Today will be interesting because all of the championship bracket games will move to the Grizz Center to give it that true MAM feel before the final 4 and championship game move to Harding tomorrow. Below is a schedule of today’s games which go at 7:00 and 8:00 on both courts at the MAM on Ball road.
Bellevue vs Snowden – 7:00 pm Grizz Center East- Hearing that Calvin Jennings didn’t play last night and don’t know it’s he playing tonight. That will leave Snowden with one true big and that might not be good especially with a team that’s bigger and has rebounder in 6’6 Johnathan Lawson, Aryion Paige who played pretty well yesterday and along with Tadarius Jacobs. Lawson as a passer was as good as I’ve seen him yesterday. Look for him to continue to be aggressive today as a play maker and scorer.
Highland Oaks vs Southaven– 7:00 pm Grizz Center West- “He doesn’t think we can the game” That’s what I heard yesterday from a Highland Oaks player but let’s say this, it’s one way to prove me wrong. Southaven got a win yesterday over a Sherwood and Highland Oaks cruised to an easy win over Grace St. Luke. Alex Anderson was big time for his team last night as well as Cameron Donegan. If both play well tonight, they can come away with the win but they need both to play up to expectation. Southaven plays hard and Highland will see that tonight. Show and prove Highland Oaks, make my prediction on this game wrong.
Briarcrest vs White Station– 8:00 pm Grizz Center East- White Station should win this one going away but I have a feeling it won’t be easy. A few things go there way, the Saints can make it a game but the problem is, more things have to go right for them than have to go wrong for White Station. If they get behind early, I don’t think Briarcrest will have enough fire power to come back from a big deficit. If Briarcrest can keep it within a 8-10 game, it will be interesting late. Big if though…
Lausanne VS Kingsbury– 8:00 pm Grizz Center West- Maybe the best overall scorer in Middle School (Jalen Brown) against another scorer in Deebo Coleman and it will make for a great game. Problem for Lausanne will be if Dillon Woods doesn’t play tonight because he was out last night. My guess is though, he plays and he can cause problems for Kingsbury because he keeps a lot of missed shots alive for them. Kingsbury is really reliant on Brown to do a little of everything but Tristan Jones and Caleb Jackson both have to play well tonight. Watch for a big shot or 2 from Owen Babb and Landon Jeffries in this one.