Middle School- 901″Prep” Poll

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12-06-2016- Top 5 Teams In Middle School

1. White Station Middle (12-0) – Best team in the city right now and it’s not close. To big, to talented and in a few weeks, their biggest challenge might be the MAM of everything left in the season. One team has played them close and that was Highland who might be their biggest challenge on the large school side along with Schilling Farms. Jelani Willis has become their x factor and best utility player able to guard the best player on the other team, rebound and score through the drive.

2. Schilling Farms Middle (9-0) -Rolling in municipal right now, still without a blemish to their record. Really hoping to see them in the MAM against the best of the best.

3. Bellevue Middle (9-1) – After a big loss to the #1 team, Bellevue has rebounded but another opportunity is lurking around the corner but in small schools right now, clear cut favorite to win it for the 3rd straight year. Cartier Beverly and AP Paige must be big in the upcoming weeks, defensively and offensively.

4. Highland Oaks Middle (8-2) – Only team in the city to have White Station on the ropes late in a game and from fans, probably should have won it however, the Hawks remain a formidable threat for the crown.

5.Briarcrest Middle (10-3)– Lost a few tough ones without one of their leader at the point guard position but Briarcrest is still going to be a tough out late in the season. They will be tough draw for any team in the MAM tournament.

Top 10 High School Players In Memphis

 

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Naming  a top 10 list in Memphis regarding high school basketball players is hard on any level, middle school or high school but harder on the high school level. Why? Well, it’s simple, there is just so much talent  in the city. Keep in mind now, when talking about the best 10 players in the 901, it’s not just the 10 best seniors, 10 best juniors, I’m talking about the top 10 players overall, regardless of class. Get the picture now but hey, why not, I’ve done it before so with that said, here is who I think are top 10 players in Memphis regardless of class in high school.

To those who may want to put this in order, you can however, I’m not. THIS IS JUST A LIST AND NOT RANKING!!!

1.TJ Moss 6’4 CG (East HS) 2018  – There was a lot of talent in Memphis last year but Moss could have been in that conversation as well however, definitely this year. Moss is a flat out scorer of the basketball whether from the 3 to mid range or as a slasher, Moss can put up numbers any night. He attacks you, attacks you and then attacks you again, always looking to keep pressure on his defender, finishes with soft floaters over the rim showing great touch close. He might be the best finisher in transition in the city but when fouled, he goes to the line and makes free throws. Loves the pull 3 in transition as well but he an adept 3 point shooter spotting up and off the dribble.   He looks a little quicker to me this year and is getting lower on the dribble in the open floor, seeing the floor and hitting players teammates for lay ups.  Has everything in his repertoire to be dominant scorer nightly and when needed, Moss that ability to turn it on. The East high team is so talented that some nights he may not lead them but make no mistake, he’s a capable 20 point a night guy every time he touches the floor.

TJ Moss (1 of 3 in Double Figures)

2. Tyler Harris 5’10 PG (Cordova HS) 2018 – Best pure shooter in Memphis, hands down. It’s not close, I know there a lot of good shooters here however, Harris on the catch, off the crossover, the pull up, lights out. He will  lead the city in scoring this year but Harris has added some find you in his game over the last year. He’s a  clutch type who isn’t afraid to take and make huge shots in game evidenced by catching fire last year in the state title game against East late. Catch and shoot, off the dribble, the crossover, behind the back, their simply isn’t a shot that he can’t take and you don’t think it’s going in.  Not only is he the 3 ball maker in the state, he may have the best handle of anyone as well and is one of best one on one guys I’ve seen in while. Tyler can put up huge numbers on any night against anyone, evidenced by his 29 point performance against Mae Jemison this past weekend who won their state tournament in Alabama last year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some 40 point games this year from him, that’s just how talented he is.

Tyler Harris (One of the Best Guards In The State)

3.Alex Lomax 5’11 PG (East HS) 2018 –  Went into the summer underrated and came out with 8 high major offers? Not bad for a player who virtually had no offers   the summer before but it’s not for any reason, Lomax is the real deal. Tough physical punish you for mistakes guard with some flair at times, Lomax may not win a lot of style points but always ends up finding ways to get Ws in the column. Lomax plays with great pace to him, knows when to go to the extra gear, finishes on bigger player and will do something that a lot of guards don’t do, post. An underrated passer as well, Lomax gets in the lane at will,  if you pull up to help, he lobs for dunks or drops off passes for easy points or gets the 2 himself.  He’s the strongest pg in the city and he knows how to take advantage of it and is a solid on ball defender. He plays within himself at all times, never trying to do what he can’t and he looks a bit more explosive with the ball in his hands than in years past.  His shooting has increased so that you can’t leave him for the 3 and he creates space for the jumper via the crossover and step back dribble and uses a variety of floaters and runners for scores. He’s very crafty  and he plays bigger than most opposing point guards locally at 190, Lomax is a handful for anyone.   The state MVP and Mr.Basketball is back for more this year but the scary thing is, he’s still only a junior who’s getting better each year.

aloanddarrell

4. William Douglas 6’4 SG (CBHS) 2017 – SMU commit now, Douglass can play free this year and get that elusive state title that he’s been chasing and his team has a chance to do it this year. A lot will be on him though but I think he can handle it.  An athletic fundamentally sound 2 who can score it at a high clip and defend the 1,2 and 3 positions at the high school level. He takes what you give him, the short jumper if you play off, you play tight, he can go back and get to the line or finish. Can flourish in the open court or in half court and is sneaky athletic, probably more so than people give him credit for. Douglass gets good elevation on the jumper and is as unselfish as they come being as talented as he is. He is fighting an injury right now but Douglas is the best private school player in the city and this year, he will live up to that title.

Will Douglas Made His Name Known This Weekend (Pictured W/Ball)

5. Jalen Crutcher 6’3 CG (Ridgeway HS) 2017– When he was younger, you saw the potential, long wiry with scoring ability with size. As the years have gone by, you saw potential start to produce and produce big time and now, he’s  a D-1 commit (UT-Chattanooga) and one of the most feared guards in Memphis. He hit 7-3 pointers  in there first  win scoring 33 points putting it out there that he might be coming for the scoring title this year. He has deep range on the 3, 5-6 feet behind the line at times and the soft floater at the basket which I would love to see him use more often because he can do it when he wants.  20 plus for him should be a given and he must carry a Ridgeway team with some pieces but still fighting an uphill battle with Southwind and Houston for supremacy in district 15AAA. Behind Harris, I think he’s the best shooter but I can see some point guard in him particularly at the college level going forward.I think he scores because he has to for Ridgeway but could also be comfortable with the ball in his hands leading. Crutcher is without a doubt, one of the best guards in the city and fans it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you went to see him.

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6. Chandler Lawson 6’9 WF (East HS) 2019–  The most unique player probably in the state with his ability to post, play on the wing and defend 1-5. Freakishly long, Lawson is as athletic as any 6’9 in the state, has touch around the rim with the jump hook and jumper and is finishing stronger at the rim and over it more than in years  past. Handling the ball this year more for East especially off the rebound,  he can score on all 3 levels, start the offense and be a player you can go to when you need a basket. Has a smoothness to his game and great feel for when to be aggressive, he’s unselfish at times to a fault but non the less, a great quality to have. His length and wing span make him a nightmare offensively and defensively because on the offensive boards, he’s hard to keep away because of his reach, tipping the ball to himself and defensively he gets a lot of deflections and steals because of his ability to cover so much ground with his length . Has some point forward in him and play maker ability and is a mismatch for bigger players and hard to guard for smaller players because he can just go over the top. Might end up stretching out to 6’10 which makes an already elite prospect  have a scary future as a player who will be able to play on the wing full time

TJ Moss (1 of 3 In Double Figures For East)

7. Ryan Boyce 6’5 SF (Houston HS) 2018– Bouncy 3-4 who will be the go to for Houston this year and I think he’s ready for that role. He might have been in that  last year but this year, it’s definitely his team. Boyce knocks down the 15 footer with regularity but has also worked to improve range to the 3 as well. He  has improved his ball handling  and he plays above the rim at all times. Maybe the most athletic player in the city, he uses it to the rim for athletic finishes. Can create for himself off the dribble but seems more comfortable with shooting the short jumper off the catch.  He crashes the offensive and defensive boards with his high motor, making him a double double virtually every game and he is an active defender capable of high light blocks because of his athleticism.  He boast a few offers on his plate as a player who projects as a wing on the college level including from the likes of  Ole Miss, UT-Martin and Florida.  He’s is the heart and soul of Houston and as he goes, they go this year.

 6'5 Ryan Boyce Already Has Ole Miss Offer  (2018)

8. DJ Jeffries 6’7 WF (Olive Branch MS) 2019– Plays in Olive Branch but with Memphis ties and running with Memphis based Team Thad, Jeffries deserves to be here and why not. Top 5-10 player in the country by several scouting services including ESPN and 247 Sports.  Jeffries might be the best scorer of anyone in this 10 and anyone in the surrounding area. Athletically, you won’t find many in the country on his level. He gets numbers off the bounce, the 3, to the rim with dunks, dribble pull ups, Jeffries is a terror offensively, super skilled, just flat out knows how to score the  and is a threat to get 25-30 points in every game. For Olive Branch to make the jump to an elite team and be in the mix for state, Jeffries production will have to be high but I think he’s a player who is ready to take that step this year with his team.

djjeffries

9. Mark Freeman 5’10 PG (Southwind HS) 2018 – Stable over the last 3 years for Paul Edwards, Freeman is undoubtedly one of the best point guards in the state. Natural point guard with scoring ability, Freeman excels in the transition game using his quickness as a finisher and a passer and has the  ability to run offense in the half court. Freeman has really improved his jumper over the years and is a player who can get going and score in spurts via the 3. He’s a ball hawk on the ball, who frequents creates open court steals in the games that I’ve watched him. He plays angles well, has quick hands and takes chances as a defender when they present themselves which makes him maybe the best point guard defenders in the area. Freeman has really good handle and uses it to create space for his jumper or finding gaps in the defense for his or a teammate offense.  He’s capable of impacting a game either scoring or distributing and shows all the signs of a college pg at a high level proved by his offer from Alabama and Coach Avery Johnson. A big time gamer, Freeman is the type of guard who can carry a team deep into the post season and I think he can do that . If Southwind is to go back to the state for the first time since 2012, it will be based on how Freeman leads this season.

Mark Freeman  2018 (Southwind HS)

10. Carlos “CJ” Marshall 6’5 WF (Southwind HS) 2017- The UT-Martin commit  has kind of been overlooked through the years among the best players in the city but not this year, Marshall deserves this spot. Marshall is do it all 3-4 who can score the ball from anywhere but does a lot of work through the mid range game. Loves the pull up jumper from the elbow to 15 feet out  but won’t hesitate from 3 where he can get hot.  He gets to the rim with a good first step, can  play the mismatch game and tries to  find the mismatch and  and exploit  smaller players. He can post and finish over the top. Aggressive with the ball  in his hands, Marshall can also initiate offense for his team and is a he’s a versatile defender who you can put on a 2, 3 or 4 and guard some 5s on the high school level.  Hard nose type of player, Marshall is as tough as any player in the city and the type of player you need if you want to be playing in March.

Others In Consideration

1. Desmond Johnson 5’11 PG( Kirby High School) 2017 – Was hard to leave him off, really hard, dynamic scoring point guard.

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2. Blake Williams 5’11 PG (Cordova High School) 2017 – Another that was tough to leave off.  One of the top 3-5 point guards in the city still and a player who you just can’t forget about when your playing Cordova because Williams will hurt you.  I think he’s as important as Harris in their success this year.

blakewilliams

3. Demarcus Mitchell 6’7 PF (Germantown High School) 2017– UT-Chattanooga commit is a strong athletic 4-5.

4. Rod Brown 6’5 Forward (Cordova High School) 2018 27 in game over the weekend for athletically unmatched forward in the city.The Arkansas Razorbacks I believe have offered.

Rod Brown 6'6  (Cordova HS)

5. DJ Jackson 6’5 Forward (Fayette Ware High School) 2017 – Constant in the conversation over the years as a top 5 player in this class locally. Jackson should be back on the court soon coming off surgery.

6. Jordan Johnson 5’9 PG  (Central High School) 2018 – 26 in a win over a big Central Park team last Friday.  Johnson can play with any guard in Memphis.

7. Cameron Jones 6’6 WF (Whitehaven High School) 2018- Will be in much different role this year for this team as their leader. Has to be get the bucket guy and rebounder if Whitehaven hopes to finish above 4th in district as predicted by league coaches.

kjones

8. Chase Hayden 5’11 PG (St.George) 2017– Wouldn’t you know, the Arkansas football commit  is a  pretty good basketball player as well winning Mr.Basketball  last year. Chase is the best point  guard in private school and it would take a lot for anyone to dispute that in my eyes.

9. Malcolm Dandridge 6’8 PF/C (East High School) 2019– Big time prospect, hasn’t sniffed potential yet but looks really good so far in this young season.

10. Taeylr Gatlin 6’3 PG (Brighton High School) 2018 – If he was in the city, Gatlin would be more talked but let me give you look into him. Big point guard who can score it but is a passer at heart. Gatlin is a division 1 basketball player.

Again, THIS IS NOT RANKING but a list of who I think are the top 10 players in the city.

The “Prep” Poll (Middle School)

 

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Update 11-14-2016

1. Bellevue Middle (3-0) Test are on the way with the MLK tournament fast approaching but I don’t see any problems on the horizon for them this week. It’s easy right now but it could be a problem next week when competition gets stiffer in tournament play but I think they will be up to task.

2. White Station Middle (4-0) Was tempted by this team and I still am to put them at #1 heading into the King tournament.  Played  closer than expected games twice last week against league foes so they have to be careful to overlook anyone as a easy win in their area.

3. Schilling Farms Middle (6-0) Best team on the municipal side right now with their last win coming over Bon Lin last week. They are the best team that no one hardly talks about locally in Middle School but with an undefeated record, maybe it’s time to start.

4. Briarcrest Christian (2-0) Won 44-32 over FACS on Friday in the Harding Tip Off Classic and will play again on tomorrow night. 6’5 Zander Yates is one of the best bigs in Middle School.

5. Hickory Ridge Middle (4-0) Another team that’s doing it’s job under the radar. Be on the look out for this team in the MLK.

16AAA Media Day

 

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Whitehaven High School and Coach Faragi Phillips hosted a first of it’s kind media day for the 16AAA district on Wednesday evening giving players and coaches a glimpse at  the annually super competitive league. I’ve been  around awhile and I don’t think it’s ever been done but then again, I could be wrong but never the less, a great event and something that is much needed especially for those seniors who have committed and will go through this every year in college. Coach Jesus Patino of White Station said to the players on hand, “you should embrace this, all of you that are here, you all hope to go on and play in college but this maybe the only time you get to do something like this for some of you” A true and profound statement but one needed to get the attention of some who may have thought that it was just another evening with teammates and their coach.

Legendary head coach, Verties Sails spoke of the importance of education to the players and getting a degree. “I worked in athletics for 50 years as an administrator and coach but without that piece of paper, I couldn’t have done it” He spoke on some of the history of high school basketball and mentioned to the players that they were standing on the shoulders of those who played before them and that that those after them would be on the shoulders of them. Then the good part, the pre-season predictions for 1st, 2nd and 3rd team all district and predictions on how each team would finish on the boys and girls side.

*The predictions for 16AAA were done by the coaches

16AAA Pre-Season Predicted Order Of Finish (Girls)

1.White Station – Absolutely loaded group for Coach Warren. 4 Division 1 commits, Teal Battle, Zaire Hicks, Damiah Griffin, Taylor Williams along with Tamia Jones. Brittni Moore, Taelor Manning and Kyla Harris  will also be really important to this team with state aspirations. Best team in the city easily…

White Station Picked Pre-Season Number 1 In District
                                              White Station Picked Pre-Season Number 1 In District

2. Central– Lost one of the better guards in the city but don’t feel sorry for the Lady Warriors. Still have one of the best trio of guards in Johne Stewart, Brianna Cooks and a top 10 player in the city regardless of class, Jireh Washington. I love Jireh’s scoring ability and and she can create offense for herself when she wants but si also a really good passer in the half court or in transition. Dynamic defensive guard Kynandi  Kuykendoll was a 1st team selection and Brittany Ivory must be big for them this year.

Central
                                                                                                Central 

2. Whitehaven– This could be a team that can see battling for that second spot as well. Dontrecia Johnson, Aexus Williams and Ariel Williams will carry the load but 5’11  forward, Shmya Ward  could be due for a break out season this year. On any given night, this team can beat anyone locally.

3. Hamilton – Has the best player in the city to me in Tesia Thompson but I’m wondering what options she will have beside her.

4. Melrose– Their coach got it started yesterday with some strong words and he hopes that his confidence in his girls.Keanna Conner who was picked on the 2nd team by the coaches along with Zandra Watkins as a player to watch, translates to the court.

5. Overton– Lost their coach to district foe Whitehaven  and will be in total rebuild mode this year.

 6.East – Another team  with a new coach in Demond Fason who is returns to his old alma mater from the middle school ranks. He was able to coach a few of the players who are on the roster from his Lester Middle days and is happy to be in his new position. Kayla Freeman is one of the best players in the city that you may not know much about as well as teammate Japerria Robinson who were in their new coaches back court as 8th graders. I can see a higher finish for them if they come together quickly.

Pre-Season 1st Team Selections

  1. Jasmine Carson -Whitehaven
  2. Damiah Griffin- White Station
  3. Kynandi Kuykendoll- Central
  4. Brittni Moore- White Station
  5. Johne Stewart- Central
  6. Tesia Thompson- Hamilton
  7. Jireh Washington- Central
  8. Ariel Williams- Whitehaven

Pre-Season 2nd Team Selections

  1. Dontrecia Johnson- Whitehaven
  2. Alexus Williams- Whitehaven
  3. Kyla Harris- White Station
  4. Taylor Williams- White Station
  5. Shmya Ward- Whitehaven
  6. Kayla Bradley- White Station
  7. Keanna Conner- Melrose

Pre-Season 3rd Team Selections

  1. Montysia Bennet- Central
  2. Kayla Downs- Central
  3. Brittney Ivory- Central
  4. Tamia Jones- Whitehaven
  5. Ariel Lane- Central
  6. Danielle McAdams- Hamilton
  7. D’Aysia Reeder- Whitehaven
  8. Faith Rodgers- Central
  9. Joelysia Spencer- Melrose
  10. Taylor Williams- White Station
  11. Jayla Woods- Whitehaven

16AAA Pre-Season Predicted Order Of Finish (Boys)

1. East– #3 ranked by MaxPreps in the country, returns 3 starters and overall, 9 players from a team that won the state title last year. The Mustangs are the hunted and one of the best teams in the country so everyone is coming with their best to upset them. They have a few new players who will have to get acclimated to style of play but this team is really really talented so those thinking beating them will have an uphill battle locally. Look out for newcomers Antavion “Dude” Collum and 6’4 guard, Jay Hardaway.

easttrio

2. White Station– Aaron Strother, Adam Price and Allen Hatchett are back for Coach Patino and a good freshman class headlined by Tyland Mitchell. Price is the team’s best shooter, Strother and Hatchett will lead them in scoring most nights and junior Braxton Winford had some moments last year but should be better this year.

3. Central– Another team that if you put in another district, they might come in first. Long with some depth at the forward position and guard position, Central is still pretty young however.  Guards Jordan Johnson, Brandon Mason and John Anderson Jr are all underclassmen. They could find themselves in the second spot in district my years end.

4. Whitehaven– Mike Fofana, Romero Hill, Javion Hamlet, all gone, how will second year head coach Faragi Phillips replace their production? The emergence of Cameron Jones will play into that this year as well as Marquavious Lobbins and point guard Paul Williams. Freshman Matthew Murrell could be in the rotation and be one of the only players in this year’s freshman class to be contributor as a freshman.

Whitehaven
                                                                                     Whitehaven

5. Hamilton–  Will Smith inherits two of the district’s best players in Kevon McMahan and Martrell Brooks and they give them a chance at upsets in district. Bad news is, they play in this district and every night will be tough as there are  no pencil that in as a W type games.

Hamilton
                                                                                          Hamilton

6. Melrose– Sherman Jones has realistic expectations of his team and he knows what he’s up against. “We trying to get it together” said Jones who is in his 4th year as head coach and trying to get the Golden Wildcats back on track as one of the premier teams in Triple A. Devante Luellen is a tough guard who will be asked to do a lot of scoring for Melrose as well as Shajuan Jones and senior guard, Ahmad Webster

7. Overton– Eric Brent takes over for the Wolverines this year but he is familiar with the program because he’s been at the school for almost 8 years.  They are really young with only 1 senior but do have some players who have some good futures. Monterrio Ryan is really good off the spot up from 3, Anterrius Jeffries shows’s promise as a freshman at 6’6 and they have a go to in Brandon Brown, a 6’3 attack guard who can score the basketball. Only a sophomore, Brown will have to lead this team but is a capable 15-18 pt a night type player.

Overton
                                                                                               Overton

Pre-Season 1st Team Selections

  1. Alex Lomax- East
  2. TJ Moss- East
  3. Devonte Leuellyn- Melrose
  4. Chandler Lawson- East
  5. Kevon McMahan- Hamilton
  6. Aaron Strother- White Station
  7. Cameron Jones- Whitehaven
  8. Jordan Johnson- Central

Pre-Season 2nd Team Selections

  1. John Anderson Jr- Central
  2. Martrell Brooks – Hamilton
  3. Allen Hatchett- White Station
  4. Nick Merriwether- East
  5.  Rodarius Washington- East
  6. Paul Williams- Whitehaven
  7. Ahmad Webster- Melrose

Pre-Season 3rd Team Selections

  1. Brandon Brown- Overton
  2. Latrell Carter- Central
  3. Malcolm Dandridge- East
  4. Shajuan Jones- Melrose
  5. Marquavious Lobbins – Whitehaven
  6. Adam Price- White Station

 

 

 

Observations From The GBC Lock-In

 

 

pigwashington

You always know what time it is when you see the GBC Lock-In, the start of high school basketball.  For several years, Germantown Baptist Church has hosted the lock in where several of area’s high school come together for a weekend of bonding with teammates and fellowship on Sunday at church. It also gives players a chances to see old middle school teammates and AAU teammates before it get’s serious in the next few weeks. It consisted of 20 teams, some just trying to get a feel for what they had, some maybe even using it for a try out of sorts to see who will be on the varsity roster but for some, business as usual.  There were the teams that you know are going to be pretty good, like East, Southwind, Houston, Mitchell but then were a few surprises as you can expect in an event of this nature.

Let’s start with the known, East has star power, length and size and are coming off a season where they won the state title and returning a majority of their team. They are led by Alex Lomax, TJ Moss and Chandler Lawson, the glue, Rodarious “Pig” Washington (pictured up top) and transfers Jay Hardaway and Dude Collum. Malcolm Dandridge will play a bigger role this season as well as Nick Merriwether who will likely be the back up point guard but Laquincy Parker is another back up guard who will be needed this year defensively. East lost 2 of the best defenders in the area last season so they will have to as a team make up defensively for what gave them last season. Roles will have to be established early on and they must know, that every night will be dog fight with teams looking to knock them off. As evidenced by W.E.B Dubois on Saturday as they escaped with a 41-40 win. Running clock games, you know never know and who knows  what would happen in a real game with both teams however, they can expect that type of game on the average because everyone wants to beat you and some teams will have nights where they play out of their minds against you.

Speaking of Dubois, I was impressed with their team overall as they may have placed themselves in the thick of it in the Single A race to state. Coach Johnson has a lot to be excited about in Rameek Wooten, Chris Mitchell and Josh Conrad. The 6’4 guard is a knock down 3 shooter off the set, hitting I know at least 5 against East. His point guard, Branson Bush was getting where he wanted and when he wanted as well and Mitchell and Wooten can score as well. We are used to Mitchell and BTW being there for Single A but you have to throw Dubois is there as well, they are pretty good.

Arlington will be a top 2-3 team in 14AAA and they will be that on the heals of Luke Wiseman and 6’6 Garrett Golday. The 6’2 guard is as steady as they come and should be one of the top guards in that district and Golday will be the big who can step out and make the 15 footer on the regular as well as play inside with his back to the basket. He gives them a rebounding and shot blocking presence and might be the best big in that league. Southwind will be bigger than they have been in past years this season with the addition of Khaliff Davis. That gives them, 6’7, 6’5 (CJ Marshall) 6’5 (Robert Boyd) and 6’7 (KJ Johnson). That will help out Mark Freeman who is one of the best players in 2018 in Memphis. Davis gives them size and will be a starter for them at the season’s tip and will be vital to them as a rebounder. Freeman and Marshall will provide the scoring but that third person who can be in double digits for them will have to be Boyd. Ridgeway and Houston will have to something to say in 15AAA but right now, I might be more apt to say that Southwind should be the favorite in an always competitive district.

Robert Boyd  (2017)
Robert Boyd (2017)

Mitchell should be pretty good once again but not the overpowering favorite as they have been in the past. They lost their leading scorer last year as well as several key players who stepped it up late in the season. Tyran Davis, a 5’11 guard will be their go to for leadership and points as he comes back to a team that will truly need him this year. 6’5 Tominique Marion will also be called upon for more this year particularly on the offensive end, rebounding and as a player who can protect the basket. Their will be a lot of new faces to this team including a few transfers however the quicker they adapt to Coach Andre Turner’s system will be big in deciding how far they go this season.

Tominique Marion
Tominique Marion 6’5 2017 (Mitchell High)

The Kirby Cougars are interesting because they have a lot of talent but a few fresh faces to Cheyenne Gibson’s team. Darius Carter, Shemar Chambers and Nick Jackson will likely be starters along with Desmond Johnson who some say is one of more underrated guards in the state. Johnson can score with the best of them and as he goes, they go. Carter is a bouncy combo who will be good for double figures virtually every game and lead them on  some nights. There is no reason to think that this team can’t be right there with a shot to win the district. Houston was without Ryan Boyce when I saw them and that was big because of what he brings to them but they do have a lot to go around him. Expect to see a lot more of Takori Rooks this year along with guard Kavious Newsome. Freshmen Rodney Mason Jr and Jaylen Saulsberry could see time as well.

Shemar Chambers Kirby High School (Blue Jersey)
Shemar Chambers Kirby High School (Blue Jersey)

Central will be long and could have a Whitehaven like year last year this season, meaning being the second team in district but I still think that White Station could have a say in that as well. Brandon Mason, Jordan Johnson, John Anderson, Latrell Carter and 6’7 Karl Johnson are all back from last season, older, stronger and knowing what to expect every night. The leader must be identified and it’s Johnson’s job to lose. This has a chance to be a good team late in the season but early on they have to also establish a number 2 guy.  Bartlett might be sneaky to play but losing their 2 best guards to transfer will hurt them. I like the job that Coach Real is doing there, his players are buying in. Sophomore Jeff Walker should be who he can count for production in tough games. Melrose also got hit with the transfer bug as their best player from last season left for the north side of town but Coach Jones is ready for the challenge for this upcoming. They beat Mitchell on the first night and he said, “we have somethings to work on but we getting there” Shajuan Jones and Ahmad Webster will anchor them and they have a 6’8 and 6’4 so they should be in games but the question for the Golden Wildcats is, can they improve on last year?

Germantown will be young and rebuilding after losing 10 plus seniors last year but do have 6’7 Demarcus Mitchell.  City University has a pretty good guard in TD Bonds and Hamilton has talent in Martell Brooks and Kevon McMahon but needs someone else to step up and play with them this year. PCA (Power Center Academy) is a program still building but has some young guys who will get better this year and Craigmont, is Craigmont, tough, scrappy and will press you into turnovers. This is not going to be a team that you wanna play as the season progresses.

In all, a great weekend of basketball, another successful GBC Lock In but most all, a look into the the high school basketball season.

Two Best In Large Match-Up: Highland Oaks Vs White Station

 

 

camerondonegan

 

 

In what maybe a preview to a few match-ups later on in the season, tonight the Highland Hawks take on the White Station Spartans. This game while early will is to determine right now who is the king of Large Schools.  White Station is now 2-0 after beating Snowden last night by double digits in a game that got interesting in the 3rd after the Spartans built a 20 point lead in the first half. In the 2nd, Snowden made it a game cutting the lead to 7 but the Spartans settled down in the 4th and got it going again. For Highland Oaks, I believe this is there first game of the season but they are a team as I said that is capable of becoming the best team in Large School before the season is over. What better chance than now though for Highland right? They come into the game knowing the opportunity that is before them, a chance to make a statement and say we are for real or they may not have this chance until the MAM tournament if they are not in the MLK which will be later on in the month.

Some of the things to watch in this game will be  Allen Anderson and Alden Applewhite going head to head. Anderson is the more aggressive of the 2 while Applewhite is the better shot maker. Both will have huge say so in who win this game. Cameron Donegan could also have the duty of Applewhite because he and Anderson both play on the ball. Donegan is a gamer from what I’ve seen in the past and this will be his type of atmosphere. I’m not sure if they will be able to keep him out of the lane if he’s driving with the intent to score but he’s a good passer and his teammates around him will have to step up and make shots. Wille Foreman is tough around the rim and on the offensive glass for White Station. For Highland to win, they have to make sure they find and seal him from crashing the boards. Highland must also limit turnovers but so must White Station who had a few in the 3rd quarter last night which made that game closer than they wanted to. White Station likes to shoot the 3 and have a few players that are capable from there but they must not fall in love with that because Highland has some players capable of making them pay off the long rebounds. Looking for a player to make a big shot that you may not normally think of? For Highland, I might be inclined to say 6th grader Josh Holloway. In a game like this, it will be someone you may not expect to make a shot to change the momentum or outcome of the game and he could be just that player. Regale Moore, another 6th grader will play some minutes and isn’t scared of the moment.  Will White Station’s size and athleticism be to much for Highland? Does Jelani Willis break out this game and be the player that the Hawks have no answer for? Does Donegan have a monster game where he’s being aggressive looking for his shot?

Prediction: Highland Oaks

The “Prep” Poll

 

Jelani Willis (On The Right)
Jelani Willis (On The Right)

 

The try outs, the hard work, the practices and now the season is here as the first week of games have arrived. Last year I started the “Prep” Poll as a way for fans to keep up with some of the better teams in the area and once again, I will do the same thing. There are some interesting games this week and a few that could affect this season’s very first week of basketball. Next week, we could see a whole new top 5 or will it remain the same? It’s  time for young players to step up and for new players to emerge. For those that find it hard to find recognition, this is the time for you and your teams. Coaches who feel there teams deserve more attention, this is the start of a new season, the chance to be mentioned among the best teams in the city. How do you do that? In the immortal words of Al Davis, Just win! I give you the first regular season “Prep” Poll.

1. Bellevue Middle (1-0) Got off a to a good start last night with a win by a huge margin over Westside. Johnathan Lawson, Tadarius Jacobs and Eric Roberts and JR Jacobs were all in double figures as the team scored 80 points. Not bad for a team that Coach Byron Harris says has only practiced 3 times as a full team.  They are without point guard  Cartier Beverly right now due to injury but expect him to be back in mid November. This team has 3-4 players only any given night that can get 15-20 points but Lawson will probably will lead them in scoring in most of their games. He’s more than capable of carrying a team but on this team, there is a lot of talent around him so he can play passer as well. Also watch for Carlito Tuggle, a stand out running back who will play some back up pg and be a defensive nightmare on teams best guards. Tadarius Jacobs is coming into his own, more confident in his scoring ability, he has underrated athleticism and the best defensive instincts of any guard in the city and can make the open 3 at a high rate and an effective slasher. His brother Jr. Jacobs is instant offense and will be that all season for the Bobcats but you can play him on the ball as well. Right now as constructed, the Bobcats will be extremely hard to beat in Small Schools or Large.

2. White Station Middle (1-0) Once again, probably overall, the biggest team in the city hands down with size at every position accept the pg position and they can go big there depending on who starts. They will be led by Willie Foreman, Aldon Applewhite who have been heavily counted out since the 6th grade. This year, if they want to finish the season as champions, both most be huge along with Jelani Willis, an athletic who can swing at the 2,3, and 4 positions and guard them. Willis will lead them in scoring some nights because of his motor alone. Dorian George could end up being vital to their success playing inside along with Foreman but like Willis, he can go to other spots and be valuable as a utility player.  They have 2 pretty tough games this week back to back, Wednesday against Snowden at their place and Highland Oaks on the road on Thursday. Snowden ended there season last year and will be a thorn in their side this year once again.  They are probably favorites by most in both games but must be careful or they could drop both games.

3. Highland Oaks Middle(0-0) I missed them in my pre-season rankings but I won’t make that mistake again because the Hawks are state contenders. Why? Well it starts with Cameron Donegan and Allen Anderson who form maybe the best guard duo in the city. 6th graders Josh Holloway and Regale Moore will be in the rotation as well and will be asked to play minutes even though both are capable but still very young. Donegan and Anderson had Highland in at the end of the last season before losing to American Way, the eventual state champs but this year they are looking for more. Highland is very capable of being the best team in the city this year and they have a chance to prove it starting on Thursday if they can upset White Station. Going to be tough but playing at their gym will have a hand in the game.

4. Ridgeway Middle (0-0) Youngest team out of their group with 4 starters in 6th or 7th graders including their 2 guards who are in 6th grade. This is the most talent that Coach Stephen has had since the state run at Hamilton Middle a few years back and while he may not admit it, I will say it for him, this team could do the same thing. Yes, the inexperience of at the middle school level will be something to overcome for them early on but by the middle of the season, they should be fine. David Dixon is their x factor this year and rightfully so. The 6’5 rim protector is one of of the longest players in middle school this year, his presence alone should play dividends for a team looking for someone to be their leader. Again early on, they may lose a game or 2 that they shouldn’t lose but by December this will be a dangerous team.  Their first game is tonight against Hickory Ridge Middle.

5. Kingsbury (0-0) Jalen Brown, Jalen Brown and more Jalen Brown, Mario Taylor will lean on his nationally ranked guard and locally #3 in the 2021 class . The Falcons have had good guards over the years but Brown might be the best of them, he will have to score 20 plus, rebound, play defense and be asked to find offense for his teammates. Someone else will have to step up and they have a few candidates in Caleb Jackson and Tristan Jones. Jackson is a 7th grade guard who will start along side Brown and Jones who will be asked to provide rebounding also to go along with the shooting that he can give them. Chris Nelson, an 8th grade guard is another who has experience of playing the last few years will be someone that Coach Taylor can rely on in key games this year.

 

2016 Middle School Elite Basketball Classic

 

Pictured - #23 (Kristian Spencer, #3 (Bryson Nash) David Dixon (Far Right)
Pictured – #23 (Kristian Spencer, #3 (Bryson Nash) David Dixon (Far Right)

 

The middle school season is upon us and one of the best events in the city is back for it’s fourth year, the Middle School Elite Basketball Classic. This event will highlight some of the city’s best teams and players all in one location and give an early indication for some fans of who the best teams may be in middle school. The event will start at 9:00 am with 2 more girls basketball games to follow ending at 11:30 am and the boys games will begin at 12:45 pm and end  with the 7:00 pm showcase game for a total of 9 games for the event.

Sequoia Allmond, regarded by some as the best 8th grader in the city highlights the talent on the girls side. An attacking guard off the dribble, Allmond gets it done offensively and will be hard to guard for anyone in the city and she will be problem for a good Kate Bond team but that’s if she will be able to give it a go after suffering a hand injury.  Bellevue also has some length and talent in Skylar Arnold who should be among the best players in the city, Serena Lee and Jamia Brooks. Lyric Cole, Kayla Howard and Carlia Northcross will be ones to watch for Kate Bond in what should be a pretty competitive game. Colonial lost the best girls player in the city last year, Endya Buford but, they still be very competitive. PCA versus Germantown tips the opener at 9:00 am with the Squires looking to continue to build up their new program with the addition of Sirrea “CC” Drew who is one of the better defensive guards in the city.

In the boys first game, PCA coached Robert Scales will take on Metro Home School at 12:45 pm. Like the the girls, PCA is looking to make a name for itself and while it could be a challenge early on, I look for them to get better and better through out the year.

In the 2:00 tip, Bolivar takes on Colonial who also has a new coach in Cedric Franklin who led American Way to a state sectional title last year. He has a new team but some talent in 7th grader, James Cox,  Emanuel Walters who will take up some of the scoring and 6’2 Landon Rhodes, who will be their leading scorer in some games this year.

Kate Bond and Havenview could be interesting at 3:15 with 2 more coaches who are new to their programs, try to get key wins. For Kate Bond, Kerwin Whitfield, who’s been playing minutes since 6th grade, Devin Haliburton, Kennon Thompson and Garret Crume will all be contributors this year on a Kate Bond team that plays in one of the toughest leagues in the city.   Whitfield will have to be their leader for them as well as a scorer and set up guy for them.  The 2 years prior experience should be helpful this season for the point guard. For Havenview, former Whitehaven head coach Lawrence Myers, youth is the movement. Travis Dockery and Desmond Bratcher will be the guards but a 6th and 7th grader will be have to play and be integral parts, Emerson Tenner, the backup pg as a 6th grader and son of Fairley legend, Deuce Ford’s son, Sylvester Ford.  The 6’1 6’2 ish plays inside right now and can finish around the rim.

Southaven vs Germantown start what should be the start of 3 pretty good games. In this 4:30 game, the young Red Devils could be led by Cameron Miller, a 6’1 forward who has really grown since the summer, not just in height but in confidence as a scorer. Chris Martin, could be starter by the middle of the season will also proving some shooting and scoring as well as the ability to play on the ball if needed. Southaven has a pretty good guard trio in Jordan Hibbler who can score it and BJ Morgan who will have the ball in his hands a lot as the pg. Both can hurt you and Desimen Rogers will be another contributor. Hibbler is an athletic 2-3 who can score in bunches so for those who may not know a lot about him, Hibbler is one of the best 20 8th graders in the area. Morgan is a cat quick guard who plays big regardless of this, makes the open 3 and is a driver to the rim but more as a passer. This has a chance to be maybe the best game of the classic.

At 5:45, Briarcrest takes on Ridgeway in a game that could have headlined the entire classic. Briarcrest will be led by Zander Yates, a 6’5 touching 6’6 post and if healthy, Hunter Higdon who’s coming off injury. Yates will be imposing for the Saints but to counter him, Ridgeway has a 6’5 of their own, David Dixon. Dixon is a developing 4-5, who runs the floor, blocks shots and shows some scoring ability around the rim. Two of the best bigs in the city going at each other, should make for a fun game but Ridgeway will feature the most talent on their side. Young but ready, the Roadrunners have Bryson Nash and EJ Smith, both 6th graders playing guard. Let me say this again, 2 6th graders running the show but these are not your average 6th graders. Nash is one of the best point guards in the country, according to several services and Smith is a really good guard in his own right, my second best player in the class of 2023 in the city. Chris Brunt can play on the ball and at the 1,2 or 3 for them and is easily one of the more versatile players in 2022 in the city. Kristian Spencer is 3-4 who can rebound and defend and is developing as a scorer. This might be the most talent that Briarcrest sees all year on one team and it will be tough game for them but I expect them to be in the game as well.

Zander Yates (Briarcrest)
                                                      Zander Yates (Briarcrest)

The headliner game at 7:00 is a good one, host school Lausanne takes on Highland Oaks led by Mark Freeman. Freeman is excited about this team and for several reasons, one of which is Alex Anderson. Anderson is a long 6’2 guard who can play both guard positions and will likely be there leading scorer on the season. His match-up with Lausanne’s Deebo Coleman is one I’m looking forward to the most of all the games on Saturday.  Cameron Donegan of Highland is another player who will be big in this game. His ability to find you and score timely points will be crucial for them not only in this game but all year. Owen Babb  and Landon Jeffries will play quality minutes for them as 7th graders and Dillon Woods who has some raving about his athletic abilit .  I think Lausanne’s youth outside of Coleman could prove to be costly against the 8th grade combo of Donegan and Anderson but Lausanne will be looking for upset and the Hawks better be mindful of that.

Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)
                                                             Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)

 

 

Tesia Thompson Is The Real Deal!!!

 

Tesia Thompson (Hamilton High School)
                                            Tesia Thompson (Hamilton High School)

Back over a decade ago, Hamilton High School was a fixture in the basketball circle as a powerhouse in girls basketball. I remember the names of Patosha Jeffery,  April Allen, Tiffany Beasley, Alshaa Hodges, Catriece Webster, Ashley Shields before she left for Melrose and so many more.  There maybe another player that people will remember like the greats of girls basketball at Hamilton, Tesia Thompson because she could have a special year in her final season of high school basketball.

The 5’10 guard can do it all, versatility is her strength, she can guard multiple positions, play  the 1,2,3 and some fours in some instances and defend all of those spots.  She can facilitate and run a team, rebound, score at all 3 levels, you can put her anywhere and she will produce for you at a high level.  She can stretch the floor with the 3, shoot the short jumper off the pull up but she’s more  effective  as a slasher and finisher when she gets there. When you think of “big” guard, that’s what she is and  I think she could be a 20 point a night scorer if that’s what she wanted to do but because of her ability to do a little of everything well, you will regularly see 17, 7 and 6 in most games.  There has been some debate as to  who is the best player in the city on the girls side. I know many make strong cases, Elizabeth Dixon, Jayla Hemmingway, Myah Taylor (Olive Branch) and a few more however, Thompson can be utilized so much, which is why she is a special player in my opinion. While some are close,  Thompson to me is the best girls player in the city, irregardless of class.

 

 

Which Transfer Will Have The Biggest Impact?

 

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There are 3 things that are certain in life, death, paying taxes and kids tranferring in Memphis high school basketball. Well maybe the later isn’t necessarily true but in Memphis, it’s about as concrete as it gets. While some new rules have be put in place to try and stop it from being so common,  it still happens and it will continue to happen. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, I know some do however if you feel like it maybe a better opportunity some where else for your son or daughter, so be it.  Some transfers are bigger than others while some may not appear to be so important but they pay off huge later in the season.  There will be few impact transfers this year that will affect Triple, Double and Single A and play into the success of various programs across the city. Below is a list of a few  to watch this year.

The players mentioned are not in any particular order

1. Jay Hardaway 6’4 G, East H.S. Comes into the city from Florida to an extremely talented team in at East. The old saying was, it’s so hard to be a Mustang but but with Jay’s shooting ability, he will fit right with this team who won it all last year and are looking to go back to back.

2. Antavion Collum 6’5 F, East H.S. Versatile 3,4, Collum’s unselfish style of play will put him in the mix as a starter for East this year. He can slide to 2-3 positions on the floor and be a value, make plays for others, help rebound and be a mismatch for other teams offensively for other teams. He can lead the break and find teammates, be a finisher for  East at the basket, Collum  might be the single biggest impact of any player on this list.

3. Antwan Beans 5’10 PG Ridgeway H.S. Not the names of Alex Lomax or Tyler Harris or Trey Davis but you shouldn’t doubt Antwan’s ability as a player. He jumps to a higher level of competition going to Triple A from Kingsbury so it will be an adjustment initially but I think Beans can step in and play well right off. It will be a new style of offense for him, deliberate but effective and it might take time for him to assert himself but Beans comes in as a top 10 guard in that district already.

4. Parrish Hewitt 6’2 SG Douglas H.S. One of the best shooters in the city off the spot up, Hewitt can shoot it with the best. New Douglas Coach Greg Williams should be smiling from ear to ear as he gets one of the more underrated players in the city.

5. Rayshad Williams 6’3 G Whitehaven H.S. Helped lead Lausanne to the state tournament last year before exiting and now, he’s a Tiger. A standout football player as well, Williams might get to the team late but he will find himself in the starting line up probably by mid seaon. Williams likes the pull up jumper and should be offense for a team who will be in search of a lot it after losing their main scorers from last year’s team.

6. Carlos Sandifer 5’11 PG Houston H.S. At Bartlett last year, had some good moments and looked like he would be the go to this year but now the fast pg is a Houston Mustang. Probably a day 1 starter, Sandifer brings experience having played a lot at Bartlet last year. He can score some but where he will benefit them the most, he can run a team.

7. Joe Cooper 5’11 PG Olive Branch H.S. Back with his old AAU and middle school teammates, DJ Jeffries and Shemar Brown, Cooper is hoping to replicate that success for the Quistors this year. He missed the second half of last season and I’m sure he’s hungry to remind some who may not remember,  how good he was as a 8th grader entering high school. A blur with ball in his hands and he can get into the lane and make plays,  Cooper still possesses that passing ability that will make him a division 1 player in a few years. There is a lot of depth at his position but Cooper’s talent should have him in games when it’s winning time.

8. Kenny Giggers 6’5 PF Booker T. Washington H.S. Saw him this summer and was impressed and now Giggers is at BTW to form one of the bigger front lines in the area with Tyrone Sumlin and Ethan Jones. Giggers is a physical no nonsense player who will bring up the level of play for his two post teammates. Giggers is rebounder who can score off the glass via putbacks but can step out and hit the jumper as well. He will be a difference maker for them this year.

9. Antavious Buford 5’9 PG Douglas H.S. Former Overton pg will now be on the North side of town and looking to make a name in Double A. Teaming up with Nathan Payne and Hewitt, Douglas should have a nice trio of guards to get people worried about the Devils this year.

10.Khalif Davis 6’6 PF/C Southwind H.S. Davis adds much needed size to the Jaguars and will help immediately inside. With him, Southwind has 6’5, 6’6’7, 6’6 inside and with that, they become maybe the favorites in 15AAA. Again, that’s  maybe but Davis will help there interior defense and be a presence on the offensive glass.