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.
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.
It's the very first play day of the year for Middle School basketball and it gets started, October 8th at Lausanne. 6 of who I consider are the top 10 teams in the city will all be in the event with several players who you may want to see early this year. Some of the games that you maybe interested will be Hickory Ridge vs Bellevue (Girls) because of one the area's best young players, Se'quoia Allmond and 2 because Hickory Ridge has one of the best girls programs in the city. White Station vs MHEA should also be one that fans want to see because the Spartans have a really good guard in Kyla Mason. Like Hickory Ridge, MHEA is normally pretty good so I think this will be a great opportunity to see who maybe the best teams in the city on the girls side. Bellevue might be the class of the city when it comes to girls this year, very talented with the addition of Allmond but also have some returners that will be pretty good. Schilling Farms coached by Patty Gardner is a another team that should be pretty good and it will be interesting to see what Colonial has well after losing the best 8th grader in the city last year, Endya Buford to high school.
For the boys, this year could prove to be wide open or is it a one team race for Large School supremacy? It's start with the biggest team in the city with White Station in front followed by Highland Oaks and people should see indication as to why I say that both should be at the top of the list early on at least. I know there will be others vying in Large but the talent on paper suggest, these are two teams you want to see on Saturday. A Maceo will be one to see, they are another team that lost so much as team last year, probably 95 percent of their scoring and rebounding if not a higher percentage. Will they be a top 3 team in Small Schools this year as they have been in the past 3 seasons? Can Lowrance create some excitment in Small this year? Could it be a year in which they get into the conversation as being a team to take notice of? Germantown has some young pieces to count on this year but this is a team that can surprise and it starts on Saturday. Kirby has a new coach in Kenny Kimble and he's excited about the start of the new era in Cougar basketball with a 6'4 almost 6'5 player who might develop into a big contributor by season's end. Some say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, I beg to differ, this is my favorite time of the year, basketball is about to crank up!!
The 8th grade class is one that is interesting because there are a few nationally rated players at the top in Lawson, Chandler and Brown, so it has some flair to it. It’s one that interesting too because it’s one that a few players will be the main causes in their team success this season, a position that they haven’t been in before. 8th grade is crucial because it can set the tone going forward as these players head to high school next year. I’m really excited about a lot of these players this year and to see how they react to having the spotlight placed on them. The final rankings from the “Cream Of The Crop” Camp, the 2020 class.
Nehemiah Ausley (St George) was able to do some positives in camp. He came into against some of the best players in his class and held his own. Teaming up with Eli Federman this year, Ausley has a chance to get his name out there more. Fredric Morgan (Southaven) is a quick guard who should be one of the best players in that area this year. Jordan Hibbler (Southhaven) is a talented 2-3, who looked pretty good in drills. He along with Morgan had to leave a little before the games started otherwise he could have put himself up a bit more here. Justin Collier (Desoto Central) is another Mississippi product, long frame, another who is trying to change positions as he’s been primarily undersized at the 4 in the past. Ball skills, handle and becoming more confident in his ability as a player will take him up this list because the talent is there. Jaylon Holmes (Kirby) is a high high motor player who was every where during game play. Right now, his best attribute is as a rebounder and defender because he can guard 2,3,4 right now. He has infectious energy and is a worker and I think his upside is good with the ability to create offense for himself off his own and ball handling.
Thomas Kizer (MUS) put himself in the conversation as one of the best shooters in this class. He hit several deep spotting up, hitting the wing 3, handled pressure well and showed fight as a defender. I think he is capable of more offensively because of his jumper. Would love to see him add the pull up from 10-15 feet out in the future but Kizer is a good young player. Eric Roberts (Bellevue) Aggressive tough guard who can score and get to the rim. Strong with it, Roberts is player who you can depend offensively and I think he’s in route to a spurt that will really help him going forward. You can play him at the 1 some, 2 and against some teams, some 3 as well. Jace Lockhart (Arlington) one of the best on ball defender in this class, easily, he will draw the other teams best player nightly. You can put him on bigger guards or smaller guards, Lockhart competes has good hands and good instincts and quick feet that make for an elite perimeter defender. I’ve seen him score in the past so I know the ability is there however, in camp, his biggest impact as as an on ball defender.
Ethan Roberts (Houston) Roberts is another shooter in this class who’s up there as a top 3-5 shooter in 2020 but that’s not all he can do. He’s a better than you think passer, can lead as the point guard as well. Really smart as a player, he’s another that plays to his strengths but again, the shooting ability stands out for him. Dorian George (White Station) Strong frame makes him able to play inside and battle with bigger players but shows some future as a really good player who you can put on a guard as well. His future projects as a guard and he’s been working on that as he showed the 2 and 3 dribble pull up from mid range and he’s improved as a jumper maker. He can be a bit loose with the ball at times which can lead to turnovers in open court but those are things he can tighten up on by staying lower on the dribble.
Tyler Harrington (Briarcrest) New to the scene in 2021, Harrington is arguably a top 2 shooter in this class right now. He has good mechanics on his shot which makes him a consistent knock down 3 shooter right now. He makes the right pass, uses the shot fake to get the defenders in the air where he can step in and take the jumper. Late bloomer type who can move up this list in time.
Bryson Potts(Houston) another player who keeps getting better, Potts was really good when he set his feet on the jumper and he put it on the floor where he used the floater. He’s gotten a lot more confident in himself as a player and it shows in his play. Potts showed a willingness to drive it tough to the rim, something that I haven’t seen in the past well. He’s coming along as a player and will be counted heavily this year at Houston. Eli Federman (St George) has blown up from fall leagues and he played well in camp. The thing you notice about Eli first is his scoring ability, off the dribble pull ups, the 3, off the catch, Federman can fill it up. He’s a player who can get into a groove and get you 25 in games. Just knows how to fill it up and by now, most middle school fans will be familiar with him by the end of the season.. More of a 2 right now, Federman’s ability to be a pg in the future by creating for others by penetrating to find instead of to score.
10. Zander Yates (Briacrest) Upside, Upside, Upside!!! Reminds me a lot of Austin Nichols at the same age but Yates is bigger, Yates has the look of a high major player down the line. Runs the floor, soft hands, has the turn over the left shoulder short hook, keeps high on the rebound, has touch around the rim and can play with his back to the basket. Yates offensively is still raw but the key is, he shows that he’s capable of being a consistent back to back post because right now, he’s a traditional post player. As I said though, right now, more of a 4-5, he will need to be able to face up and take the dribble and power up and shoot the free throw line jumper so he’s not just a back to the basket player. He’s still growing into his body so it may take a little longer because he’s a big however, all signs point to him being really good and I wouldn’t bet against that right now.
9. Jelani Willis (White Station) Plays extremely hard, Willis is not going to let you out work him. He’s extremely effective free throw extended where he can use his athleticism and finish and get off the floor quick for put backs off offensive rebounds. An improving ball handler, Willis is much better spotting up than creating off the dribble for his shot but will shoot the pull up. He’s multi-dimensional defender who you can play against 1-4 spots and he will defend those spots well. As he becomes better with creating for himself going both directions and becoming a more consistent jumper maker, he will become a much more versatile player but right now, he’s highly effective because of his motor.
8. Kameron Jones (Cordova) Best shooter in this class, hands down, you can’t leave the lefty guard. He can get it with the step back, off the crossover dribble, spotting up, Jones is a consistent 3 point shooter. Creating his own jumper was a concern for me a year ago but not anymore. Jones impacts games as a scorer and is deceptive with his handle and deliberate. He has the soft runner at the basket and stops and shoots the 15 ft shot which he didn’t do a lot of earlier in his 6th, 7th grade days. He’s definitely added to game from somethings that I saw in camp. As a player who will have the ball a lot this year in the go to role, Jones will have an opportunity to prove that he’s learning to be a point guard as well. I think he’s capable as a defender but taking certain angles will be important for him. Was kind of uncharacteristic at points during the camp with his shooting but again, he’s a great shooter so I expect the confidence to be there because he does it well. I think he’s headed for a great year and with that, a move ahead in the rankings is possible.
7. Tadarius Jacobs (Bellevue) Added confidence from big time end to the summer, Jacobs is in the “elite” group of defenders in Middle School. In fact, I will that he is the best perimeter defender at the 1 and 2 position in the city because of his instincts and anticipation on the ball. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s going to defend his man and make an impact late with a steal or get in the passing lane for a deflection. His demeanor never changes on the floor, takes and makes big shots, another really good shooter who gets through gaps in defenses using his slender frame, offensively his game is expanding. He’s a finisher in transition and makes the right decision with the pass in transition as well. Takes on challenges and is another player who score 15 quiet points and gets 4-5 rebounds because of his athleticism. I would love to see him attack the rim more because I think he’s one of the best finishers in the class.
6. Kaeden Laws (Center Hill) Should be the best player playing in Mississippi Middle Schools locally this year, Laws name is here and it will be here for awhile. A player who’s getting better and better, Laws known as more of post last year, now he’s putting it on the floor more shooting the jumper off the dribble and hitting the occasional 3 using his expanded ranged but still showing the face and post game. He doesn’t force much, he’s patient offensively and is very unselfish and he works well from the high post. Laws is also a good passer who displayed that on several occasions during camp and he finishes around the rim. He doesn’t give up on plays and he and his motor is pretty good. Continuing progression as a guard/wing with added ball skills will be important to him.
5. Deebo Coleman (Lausanne) The 6 ft guard has made tremendous strides since the last time I saw him. For one, he’s added inches to his frame and he has a lot of confidence in himself now. He was driving to rim expecting contact, something I hadn’t really seen him because he’s been known as more of a shooter in the past. He looked more fluid with the dribble, attacked in both directions and hit the pull up jumper on multiple occasions and just was always on the attack when it was there to attack. Like most taller young guards, Coleman tends to stand upright at times especially when tired and sometimes when all else fails, he goes his strong suit, the 3 when he could attack off the dribble. Coleman should be the best player in Private School this year.
4. Calvin Jennings (Snowden) Had the most motor of anyone in camp, Jennings was absolutely relentless during the camp. He attacked, attacked and attacked again. If you played up on him, he attacked, if you played off, he attacked, he wasn’t letting his man off the hook at any point. A junk yard type of mentality, he tried to get every rebound, he pushed it in transition and he had a mind to score it by any means necessary. Didn’t turn down any challenge defensively either contesting and closing out on everything and plays a physical style of basketball that will bother other teams and he’s ultra competitive. At this stage, not sure if he’s a combo forward of big guard as he hasn’t really defined his self with a position. He’s stretched out some and will likely stretch some more because of his frame. Handled the ball well in attack situations and drove it hard one direction, would love to see him add going both directions and finishing strong with either hand. You just have to love how hard he plays right though and that alone make him one that could swing Snowden into the mix of things in their tough league.
3.Jalen Brown (Kingsbury) Another year but Brown has come back much longer than when some remember him from last year. A natural scorer, simply no other way to put it, a get the bucket type player, Brown does it with the best. Takes driving lanes never afraid of big games or big situations, Brown has clutch game in him because he has taken and made huge shots in games. You can’t keep him from getting to his spots on the floor, handles it well and is one of the few players that shoots the mid range jumper on the regular with pull ups at the free throw line. Operates on the baseline, really good touch near with the float game and a better than you think shooter, there just isn’t a way that he can’t score it. Is a natural 2 right now but has some combo guard in him, he showed some underrated vision during camp leading teammates with passes for lay ups. Can finish with the bump and is a really good free throw shooter when he gets there. Will be he go to guy easily this year for Kingsbury and I expect him to have a huge year for the Falcons. Would love to see him use his length for steals, he could create problems because he’s long. A good rebounder at his position as well and while he shoots the mid range jumper well on the move, hitting that 3 off the dribble and creating separation on it will be somethings he can work with. I can see him getting 30 on multiple occasions this season at his new school.
2.Kennedy Chandler (Briarcrest) Chandler has went from being a score first type to more of a true pg and it’s showing. Ball on a string, Chandler handles it better than anyone in Middle School, in traffic, in tight spaces and he puts pressure on the defense and his defender by always trying to to push tempo and find or if you play off, hit the jumper. More shifty than quick, Chandler works out of hesitation dribbles and the crossover and uses them to get off the jumper with his quick release on his shot. Just always seem to be relaxed and under control as a point guard, he sees the entire floor has a IQ and great overall feel for how to play his position. Knows when to look for his shot and can get it off on bigger defenders where he gets them off balance with his handle and he just has a knack for big shots. Knocks down the 3 and understands how to play off the pick roll, is a play maker off penetration looking for shooters and he has vision, chandler just knows how to play basketball. Improving quickness and getting better athletically for Kennedy are things to work towards but he’s not afraid of the work and doing what it takes to get to where he trying to go.
1. Johnathan Lawson (Bellevue) Do it all type of forward, Lawson is a combination of all his brothers before him. KJ’s fiery demeanor, Dedric’s passing ability and versatility , Chandler’s length, Johnathan is only getting better. A 6’5 touching 6’6, Lawson oozes high major talent, more of a play maker early on and it’s still in him but now he’s scoring it more to go along with that ability. Lawson is just hard to guard for anyone, to long for guards because he can finish and shoo over the top of them, to skilled for bigger players because he can go around them, he’s a mismatch nightmare for opposing coaches. As a scorer, he scores at all 3 levels and with his length, it’s just hard to keep him out of lane and as a passer, he can see over the top of smaller players and find teammates for scores. He’s the best big passer in middle school and he can raise up the level of play of others. Can score with his back to the basket as well with the jump hook and face He rebounds it well, gets it and goes to find teammates for finishes at the rim. He can be almost to unselfish at times but when it’s time, can take over games. Probably a better 3 point shooter than a mid range shooter right now but that’s something that will improve over time for him. There’s a reason why a few websites across the country have him as high as #7 in the country in the 2021 class. He could end up being the best of all the Lawson brothers.
The 2022 class is one that is really guard heavy right now but it’s heavy with good ones. Most will have a bigger role this year at their respective middle schools which means of course, the more people will see them. There will be a few from this list who will be starters and they will be counted heavily for production this year, meaning they will have to grow up fast from their 6th grade years. Some are getting ready to make statements this year on the bigger stage and the fans will be watching but now, the Cream Of The Crop camp 2022 rankings from camp.
Cedric Franklin Jr (Colonial) is trying to evolve from more of a 3 to a guard position,this year will be key for him. He has some scoring ability and as he increases athleticism and foot speed, he will become a more consistent player offensively and defensively. Corey Savage (FACS) is a quick guard who can spot up and knock it down from 3 and has improved as a ball handler from when I saw him in the summer. Winston Moore (Millington) had a good camp, finished, handled well and got off the ball early and played at a good pace in the games.
Harold Draper Jr (John P Freeman) makes good decisions and didn’t try to do what he couldn’t do. Makes the right play for others with his patient dribble and the jumper looks good on the catch right now. Landon Jeffries (Lausanne) is a very talented pg who can hurt you in a lot of ways. Was good with it in his hands and was able to get into the paint when he wanted and use the floater. He’s a confident player who should be one of the main pieces at Lausanne this year. Caleb Jackson is very quick with the ball in his hands, Jackson is great in isolation and his ball handling allows to operate well in tight space. As he evolves from an isolation player, Jackson can go up this list.
Dallan Hayden (St George) is an athlete who plays downhill to the rim and isn’t afraid of the bump or fouls. His strong frame allows him to guard both guard spots and he is a fierce competitor and will never back down. He’s the type of guard that you love to have on your team. Kyler Dandridge (Snowden) was quiet in drills but when games started, he looked like the player I saw in a few tournaments this summer. He can run a team, lead and do it all quietly but effectively. He has some shooting ability and will drive it. Not overly quick, he just simply gets it done. Tim Thomas Jr, athletic strong defender who you can put on 1,2,3 and he can do a good job of containment. He can score too but his calling card right now, his athleticism and defensive ability. Anticipates well and takes gambles and is a slasher to the rim.
10. Phillip Dotson Jr (Arlington) Solid well rounded guard, who can score but looked in camp like he was trying to get everyone involved and them himself. He played well without the ball trying to find open spots in the defense and he defended with enthusiasm. As a play maker, he seems to be comfortable and that will take him a long way as a point guard.
9. Kristian Spencer (Ridgeway) Lanky 3-4 athletic player,who’s always around the rim, Spencer is intriguing because he looks like a future 6’4 6’5. Has good instincts, plays out of the triple threat and can play with his back to the basket some, showing versatility. A good rebounder and active as a defender, Spencer definitely has some upside to him.
8. Christopher Brunt (Ridgeway) Was in passer mode and was really good in that role finding his teammates in transition and in open court. His vision is really good for a bigger guard right now and his length allows him to see over smaller guards for lay ups for lay ups. Ideal size as 2 right now, Brunt is in the mold of a big lead guard.
7.Daniel Egubwnie (Germantown) Old school type type of forward who can both forward positions, Daniel is a skilled big who can put it on the floor against bigger players. He shoots the 3, hits the boards and has good touch inside, Daniel is another name who could rise in the future.
6. Bryce Daniels (John P. Freeman) Oozes number 1 type in his class type talent.Handles full court, size, length, everything you want in a player so young. He’s a capable rebounder, can take the length of the floor pass it or score it on the break. If he asserts himself more offensively and revs up the motor a little, Daniels jumps 3-4 spots on this list. Reminds me a lot of Rodarius “Pig” Washington at East.
5. Chris Martin (Germantown) Prototypical 2 guard, Martin is a knock down shooter but is effective on the move scoring the ball as well. Has some combo in him but right now, he a smooth scorer with attitude that says he’s as confident as any player in this class. He has a fluid jumper and is a player who excels in the catch and shoot and shoots a soft runner/floater that he hit regularly during the camp. Martin just knows how to score it.
4. Cartier Beverly (Bellevue) As aggressive to the rim as any player in Middle School, Beverly is a problem that you can’t stop in front of. He imposes his will on his way to the basket where he can get to the free throw line and score there or through and ones. Has blow by speed, quickness and displays characteristics as a good on ball defender. Beverly just needs polish as a point guard but right now, he’s one of the best in middle school.
3. Kobe Wilkes (St.George) Skilled guard combo guard with added length, Wilkes is starting to realize his potential. He has reliable handle, can score in bunches via the the jumper, 3 but has become better at attacking his defender off the dribble going both left and right. Very poised, Kobe is a talented offensive player who seemed to raise his game during the camp games.
2. Terrence “JR” Jacobs (Bellevue) Don’t let his size fool you, Jacobs is hard to guard and is the best pg at scoring the ball as you will see in this class. He shoots the 3 and can hit it with range, runner, floater, mid range, Jr is just a bonafied scorer from the point guard position and is fearless, irregardless of who’s in front of him, he’s going to keep coming at you. He’s finishes equally with both hands and is another who can put up big scoring numbers in any game he plays in. Defensively, he struggles with bigger guards but isn’t afraid of taking on those assignments.
1. Kyler Herring (MUS) There wasn’t a player at camp in this class that was more dominant than Herring in this class. Size on size, Herring eats space and has the best touch around the rim of any big in the 7th grade. Once he catches and seals, there isn’t much you can do to stop him from scoring. Everything he touches sticks him because of his great hands and he isn’t shy about punishing you or taking you with him for scores in close. He’s gotten noticeably more nimble and his footwork is pretty good which could have to do with his football background. Simply put, there was not a player who could stop Herring from doing what he wanted once he caught it deep.
Some of the best players in the city, skilled and drilled, matched up to compete in groups against the best in their class in one gym on this past Saturday, let’s just say the “Cream Of The Crop” was absolutely loaded with future of Memphis basketball. This was the first inaugural camp and it was an opportunity for the city’s best to put it on display against the “elite” of Memphis middle school basketball. To be the best, you have to want to play against the best and the campers rose to the occasion and made names for themselves including some who many may not have known much about. Kennedy Chandler, Johnathan Lawson, Jaylen Brown, Terrance “JR” Jacobs, Cartier Beverly, Bryson “Jay” Nash, Earnest “EJ” Smith, I could keep going but the point, it was crazy talented. Some newcomers hit the scene as well as several players really surprised with their play and put themselves into the conversation as some of the city’s best young talent. I know what everyone is waiting for, the rankings from the camp, so with that, I give you the rankings starting with the 6th grade class (2023) followed by the 7th grade (2022) on tomorrow and 8th grade (2021) to follow.
The young ones of the camp, I was extremely impressed with the skill levels of this group. A few players, I hadn’t seen much of but I can see why many are excited about this 2023 group across Memphis. At number 10 in the group, Emerson Tenner (Havenview) is a new name that some will want to keep an eye on, the diminutive guard didn’t shy away from competition during camp against the names. Jailon Hardaway (Ridgeway) is an in between position type of player right now that can do some positive things for you as a player. Not a scorer right now but can rebound and guard most teams forwards in his class right now. Fred Deere Jr (Bon Lin) of the Dream Chasers is an offensive minded guard who’s best days are clearly ahead of him. Rashad Williams (Arlington Middle) is very intriguing because of his length and size right now and he can hit the perimeter jumper due to his touch. Offensively he’s raw but where makes the most impact is defensively with his ability to alter and block shots. Williams will be one of the bigger names to watch in this class and as as he continues to develop, expect to see him near the top of this list.
6. Wesley Street is a new name that I got an opportunity to see and he was impressive on first sight. He was always in the right opportunity to score using the floater over taller defenders and showing big time confidence as a player. He hit the jumper from 3 and mid range and showed off the handle to get to his spots and make it happen. Really crafty with the ball in hands,Street finds ways to score and can play some point guard as well. Don’t forget about this name in this class.
5. Braylen Ragland– Briarcrest Christian – Size, ability and potential put him in this spot and he’s a player who has tools to be really good down the line. He has good range on his shot, shoots the 3 and is a willing to the rim but operates much more off the jumper. Expanding to one, two dribble pull up game and using his strength will add to repertoire as a player who could become the best scorer in this class.
4. Javar Daniels -Super long forward, Daniels is probably the tallest player in this class right now in Memphis. Like a lot of young bigs, Daniels is still a work in progress with his back to the basket, to be expected but he’s really active inside getting his hands on the ball, as showed some ability as offensive rebounder and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the bigger 7th graders during camp play. He showed some versatility to and put it on the floor a few times showing some future as maybe face up type. He has good hands, sprints the floor and is a shot changer right now more so than a shot blocker. Daniels has huge upside, maybe the best upside of anyone in his class, lots to like about him.
3. Regale Moore – -Highland Oaks Middle – Long guard who’s future projects as a athletic slasher, finisher. Drives with the intent to score and has a nice first step, Moore is oozes potential as a go to scorer later on down the road. He has good size his position right now, attacks in transition and has active hands as a defender. Going to be really good in the future!
2. Ernest “EJ” Smith – Ridgeway Middle – The son of former Memphis Tiger Ernest Smith, EJ is going to make a name for himself locally. Fundamentally sound guard, not flashy but gets it done and displays a really good IQ at such a young age. Has a good feel for when to pass it to teammate for a better chance to score or get it himself, He’s much of a point guard than a combo guard right now but he can score through the jumper on the catch and shoot or spot up. He never seems to up or down but is a gamer and one that can silently put together great games without doing a lot of scoring.
1. Bryson “Jay” Nash – Ridgeway Middle – Maturity beyond years and sky high confidence, Nash is a point guard, not a “points” guard. Passing ability, get into the middle for kick outs, thinks the game, very cerebral, what he lacks in size, he makes up in smarts on the floor. He can get his shot through the step back and runners, Nash picks up his game when needed to score. He keeps his dribble low, head up and looks to make the pass and is more than capable with the 3 ball and short jumper to keep you honest. He’s a winner and someone you want with the ball because you know he he’s going to make the right play at the end of the game.
I would like to thank those who have responded and confirmed for the camp so far. There will be pre-registration on Friday, September 9th at Applebees on 3895 Hacks Cross Rd, 38125. The time will be from 5-6:30pm. The cost is $30.00. Again, I would like to thank everyone who has responded. Over 30 names have filled up spots, don’t wait until the last minute, this is your chance to be on display with the best in your class. Come compete!!
There is always talk about about who’s the best player every year in Memphis, whether it’s 5th, 6th graders or high school juniors and seniors, the conversations don’t change, who’s the best player in their respective class? Many times, we don’t get to see the match-ups that may put an end to debates but now, I’m giving an opportunity for those who say they are the best, to come and show you are the best.
901PrepScoop presents, the first ever “Cream Of The Crop” Camp, September 17th at Lausanne Collegiate School (1381 W.Massey Rd) The camp will take place from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and the cost per player will be 30.00 dollars which will go towards jerseys and registration fee. Each player will receive profiles on 901PrepScoop and video highlights will be provided. This camp is INVITE only and all players have been selected by myself and staff and thus, the invites below. Please note that on the list provided, you will see 60 invites however, only 50 players will make up the camp. 20-8th graders, 20- 7th graders and 10- 6th graders. It is first come, first serve, so the first 20, 20 and 10 players of each class will make up the 50 players in the camp. Each players who plans to attend needs to confirm with me at Charles.901PrepScoop@yahoo.com or send text to 901-287-0057 by September 14th of next week.
901PrepScoop’s rankings of the 2021, 2022 and 2023 classes will come from this camp. The camp will consist of skills and drills and each player will play in at least 3 games in the afternoon session of the camp. I’m looking at who really wants to compete against the best in their class to determine who will go in what spot. I will only rank who attends the camp and again, I’m looking for who wants to compete! I hear this all the time, come check out my son, my son is the best, he’s top 5, you have that kid ranked over mine, if you think this, this is your opportunity!! If you say your the best, come and prove it!! Only the Cream Shall Rise!
Patosha Jeffery has been in girls basketball for over a decade and she continues to put out a great product through her passion for the game of basketball. Her Fall Exposure League has plethora of talent in the Memphis and surrounding area and features such players as Gigi Lewis (MHEA) Endya Buford respected by many as the best 9th grader in the area (Olive Branch) Ashtyn Baker, (Northpoint) who had fans raving on Saturday, Bionka Massie (Central), Sade Hudson (Trezevant) and several other names that people should know in the girls game.
I hate that I missed the first match up of the day which featured Buford and Baker against each other as I heard both played very well but I did see the last 2. In the second game, Syracuse vs Washington, Jayla Hemmingway was incredible. The 5’11 scored on all 3 levels and with the improved jumper especially from 3, Hemmingway might contend as the area’s leading scorer. She’s so physical on her way to the rim and can finish with fouls with either hand. Jayla’s very good with the ball in her hands and she makes good decisions as a passer but she’s at her best with the intent to score and she’s down hill, not a lot of east to west in her game. She looks for mismatches and when she sees it, she exploits it to her advantage. Hemmingway was the best player that I saw on Saturday, hands down but others stood out s well.
Johnna Jones, a 5’8 guard from Munford and CBU commit was really good, polished shooter who can maybe able to play some combo next year when she begins college. You simply can’t leave her because every time she shot the ball, it looked like it was going in. Really sound fundamentals, she moved well without the ball and got in positions to score via the jumper. Christian Brothers is getting a really good player in Jones, an absolute steal.
Tamia Aldridge was a surprise for me because when the game first started, it appeared she was more of a pure post but as the game progressed, so did she. She put it on the floor, handled full court and looked comfortable enough to play on the perimeter maybe more than she has in the past at her new school, Bolton High. She’s more athletic than one may think at first glance and plays every possession hard. She showed she can score it close and be a finisher and while she didn’t shoot the ball a lot from the perimeter, her mechanics were good when she did. She’s going to do some really positive things for Bolton this year and make a name for herself while doing so. Her teammate Heaven Thompson just keeps going and going, so active and she’s more than a ball hawk, I might call her a ball eagle. You can’t loft passes around her and you better guard your basketball because she gets after whoever she’s guarding . She takes chances and will gamble a lot but it’s something you can live with because of how hard she plays. She was the best on ball defender that I saw Saturday but Thompson isn’t just a defensive pest, she can score it as well. She did most of her damage off lay ups in transition where she thrives because of her speed and showed she can get where she wants in a half court setting. She’s just a ball of energy and she’s fun to watch because she looks like she loves to play.
Stay tuned to more coverage from Patosha Jeffery’s Fall Exposure League in the coming weeks.
Pictured Left To Right (Beverly, Willis, Donegan, Holloway)
After not getting a chance to get out on the first weekend of the Major Prep Basketball League, I thought Sunday was a good opportunity to see some the best young talent in the city and I came away impressed. Some players, I already had a feel for after seeing them last year and during the summer but a few players that I’d heard great things about but only had limited views on them as players like Joshua Holloway who some consider as the best player in the 6th grade class. Holloway is smallish in stature but big in game as a player right now who’s at his best scoring the ball. Has a little twitch to his game where he can change speeds, something you don’t see in kids so young and has creative ways to score whether off the dribble or through as assortment of floaters. He will team up with Cameron Donegan at Highland Oaks and make a formidable duo and make the Hawks a threat in Large Schools this year. Speaking of Donegan, the more I see him, the more I start to say that he might be the best pure point guard in this class in 8th grade. He’s the prototypical pass first who can knock down the shot, either the 3 or mid range and he’s always under control. He has a good feel for when to be aggressive offensively and he values the basketball.
Known as Turtle across the city by his peers and coaches, Cartier Beverly is a tough as they come as a guard in 2022. The stocky strong pg lives to get into the lane and is a fearless attacker off the pick or just straight line down hill. He gets to his spot off the dribble and plays with a lot of confidence and as his jumper gets better, he will be able to keep opponents more honest but his development as a finder is more important then just being a finisher because he has a solid future. 5’10 Jelani Willis is an athletic 2-3 with motor on top of motor and he plays a physical brand of basketball due to his football background. He’s at his best on the attack 10-15 feet out from the basket and is a really good rebounder from his position. Willis will be important to White Station this year and he could raise his stock in this class locally.
Other players who stood out on Sunday
7th and 8th Grade Division
Eli Federman 5’8 (St George) Filed it up off the pull up, runners, however he wanted to score, he did it. He will be among the best guards in Private School this year. He leads the league in scoring right now and shouldn’t drop below the top 5 of scoring unless he starts to get doubled.
Cedric Franklin 5’6 (Colonial) Shows a lot of promise, scored 5 of his teams last 7 points including an and 1 to put his team up. Good fundamentally, improving as an athlete will up him in this class.
Ashton Smith 5’8 2019 (Lausanne) Probably a starter this year but at no worse, will see starter minutes. Smith might be the best guard in the league. Can shoot the 3 off the spot up but is becoming for adept penetrating and making it happen as a playmaker.
Kennedy Chandler 5’7 (Briarcrest) Shifty and looks to have added more quickness, Chandler’s talent was on display even playing up high school. Scored with the hesitation dribble, made decisive moves to the rim and constantly put pressure on the defense. Chandler certainly didn’t look out of sorts with older competition
Brogan Brewer 6’3 (Arlington High) The worker 3-4 looks like he has put on some weight and it’s showing in his game. Always a worker around the rim, he does all of the work that coaches value, whether it’s grabbing an offensive rebound or hitting the floor for a loose ball, Brewer plays hard and doesn’t take possessions off.
Matthew Murrell 6’2 (Whitehaven High) Looks like he has stretched some and his frame might see another inch or two added in his future but Murrell is a driver/slasher and a top 5 player in 2020 easily. Continued progression as a jump shot maker from the perimeter will add versatility to his game but there is so much to like about his future. The team he is on will force him to be more assertive in this league and he should benefit from that.
Jalen Brown 6’0 (Kingsbury Middle) Like Murrell, Brown has added some inches to his slender frame and will be a terror this year in Middle School. Like Kennedy Chandler, Brown is playing up and looks like he belongs. I think it will help him kind of get used to some of the physicality of high school.
I think Coach Brown has the best team in the High School division (Team Oregon) talent wise and on paper however some coaches are gunning for him. Next week might be there toughest challenge when they face Ethan Jones (BTW) who is senior and should give them some problems if they don’t rebound. Coach Drapers team with Federman should be pretty good along with the Knicks, Raptors and Spurs (Donegan) all which play in the 7th and 8th grade division of the MBL.