Memphis Makes Noise In Vegas!!!

 

Memphis Wildcats Win Big Foot Classic (13U)
Memphis Wildcats Win Big Foot Classic (13U)- Photo Cred-Angela Potts

 

Each year, hundreds of teams from across the country converge on the city that never sleeps, where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but two Memphis teams are bringing hardware to the city. The Memphis Wildcats 13U led by Coach Dedra Lawson won the Big Foot Classic defeating Vegas Elite 7 Premier 82-76 in the title game but it wasn’t easy. The young team that has been together awhile found themselves down big early, a total of 22 but clawed back into it by shortening the court and picking up the defense according to an observer who was present at the game. Down a player (Marquan Dean) and only having 6 at their disposal for the last two games of the tournament and  the night before going  into 8 overtimes in a game that was won by 1 point, I’m sure fatigue was a factor on Sunday but they got it together enough to win 1 game that morning and then the title game, in come back fashion The big 3 of Johnathan Lawson 24 points and 11 rebounds, Jalen Brown, 25 points and 8 rebounds and Tadarius Jacobs  who had 20 and was a catalyst on defense, combined for 69 of the 82 points scored for the Wildcats. Next up for them, the Primetime Nationals which will be held in Dallas this week.

 

 

M32P22 Wins Las Vegas Fab 48 (16U)
M32P22 Wins Las Vegas Fab 48 (16U) – Photo Cred- Marcus Moody

 

Newly founded M32P22 coached by former University of Memphis players Marcus Moody and Paris London went to Las Vegas on one  mission and one mission only, to earn respect as one of the best upcoming  teams in the country. and that’s exactly what they did. In a  city  that features Team Penny, Team Thad and M33M, bigger programs through admission by most,  the 16U squad won the FAB 48 coming back from a deficit with  under 10 minutes left in the game. The Hoop 4 Life Foundation sponsored team features a few players who have  shined some this summer and at their high schools including Allen Hatchett, a 6’3 (White Station) progressing guard who works near the rim and with the mid range jumper who had a game high  30 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game, 6’6 Cameron Jones (Whitehaven) 20 points and 6 rebounds and 8 assists,  6’5 Reco Gibson (St.Benedict) 16 points and 8 rebounds and Jalin Clay (Houston) who ended the game with 16 points 6 rebounds. I got a chance to speak with Coach Moody earlier and he said, “It was a great tournament, my team stayed poised & focused throughout the title game, Sacramento had incredible guard play, but I think our depth & length was too much for them” . This is a team that could draw some looks of a shoe company by next year as they continue to establish themselves as a top 3-5 organization in the city.  With this  FAB 48  title under their belt, M32P22 is taking a step forward in doing just that.

 

Crutcher Looking To Add To Offers

 

IMG_9558

There was a discussion  the other day on social media about the top guards in the city of  Memphis and there was a lot of debate about who should be on the list. There were the same names mentioned by most,  the consensus players and a few surprises mentioned by some  on the post. One of the names though that I think should be on everybody’s list though, Jalen Crutcher.  The 6’3 combo guard has good length, range on the jumper, the ability to make others better and great touch around the basket where he uses an assortment of runners and floaters. He’s really crafty with the ball and one of those players that just knows how to score it from anywhere on the floor.   He boast offers from UC-Santa Barbara, UMASS who has for years been trying to get into the Memphis high school scene and have had success with a Ridgeway product before (Sampson Carter), UT-Chatt, Missouri State, SEMO and Missouri State and Murray State. Of course we all know the the success they had with now Oklahoma City player, Cameron Payne who played two years there before being a lottery pick last year.  He has interest from LSU, Wake Forrest, Alabama and Arkansas but with the live period starting this week in Spartanburg South Carolina for his travel team,  the interest could take a boost up in the right direction.

Crutcher also has value as a shooter off the spot up or creating the jumper off the dribble and could be a pretty good defender with his arms and instincts defensively. Memphis Magic Elite Coach Eric Robinson says, “he’s an all around point guard can score with the best but loves to get his teammates involved and people may not know he a great defender”. His  best days are clearly ahead of him and those days are of Jalen  being a D-1 guard at the school of his choice.

Cedric Henderson Jr Is Trying To Make His Own Way

 

Cedric Henderson Jr (Briarcrest Christian School)
 2018  SF-Cedric Henderson Jr (Briarcrest Christian School)

 

Almost 20 years ago, Cedric Henderson averaged 16 points a game at Memphis State (University of Memphis) to go along with 6 rebounds and was regarded as one of the best defenders in college basketball. That summer, he went on to be drafted with the 45th pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He went on to have a 5 year career in the NBA followed by stints in other countries and overseas before returning home to Memphis. Henderson is enshrined in Memphis basketball culture because  he’s a  Memphis product who made it the biggest stage in the world for basketball but now, he’s hoping the next Henderson can make his own name for himself.

A bit of an unknown right now, the 6’5 SF with the broad shoulders of his father is a developing rangy prospect who is improving each time I see him. Right now, he’s more effective as slasher rather than player who scores often off the jumper but he can make the outside shot. He gets his shoulders square and has a good release on his jumper so the mechanics are there for him to be a solid shot maker as he continues to mature. He’s a good ball handler and a  versatile defender who can guard some 2-3 and 4 position and is a better than average passer. Really unselfish, sometimes to a fault, I would love to see him pick up his motor as a scorer and as a rebounder. With the Adidas Gauntlet coming up, a chance to boost his stock nationally is right around the corner and for him, the time is now entering his junior season to make a little noise in this last period before school starts back . The chance to make himself more well known locally and lead a Briarcrest team looking for leadership to a nice season this year as it’s best player would solidify him as one of the best players in the city in the vaunted 2018 class.  I see him as a late bloomer who has a chance to play at the D-1 level and has he gets more confident and into himself as a player, you will start to see it as well.

Trey Davis Is A Name To Respect Among Memphis Prospects

 

 2018 Guard Trey Davis Needs To Have Your Respect!!
2018 Guard Trey Davis Needs To Have Your Respect!!

 

2018 and 2019 are both classes that many people locally and across the country are looking forward to and they should. In 2018, Alex Lomax , TJ Moss, Tyler Harris and Ryan Boyce are the names you hear the most. Mark Freeman is another player that is discussed a lot as well but there is another guard that everyone should know about in Memphis and his name is Trey Davis. Davis is a 6’0 guard with a great feel for the attack in transition or in the half court setting and one not afraid to embrace big situations. He has strong handle with ball in his hands, picks and chooses his spots and can get to where he wants on the floor for the floater for pull up jumpers and is very aggressive to the basket where he’s a finisher or finder for teammates. He plays with a lot of confidence and poise and it shows as he never gets to up or down during the course of games.

The St Benedict/Team Penny product has an offer from Rice University but has interest from Kent State, Wofford, Virginia, Belmont and Florida State. Next week is Peach Jam for his 16U group so I expect his interest and maybe some offers to come his way after the tournament but for now when you thinking of players in the city in this class, make sure you remember to add Davis to it as he is one of the city’s best 10 players in that class.

“Summer16″ Team Camps (What We Learned)

 

 

901

 

What We Learned This Summer (Team Camps)

1.East is the team to beat in Tripe A, No question about it however it’s a group that will be new in some aspects because but also have the familiarity that prompted them to a state title last season. They are the biggest team in the city bar none, talented with 2-3 guys in some spots.  Keys for them, establishing roles for Martrell Brooks, Kevon Mcmahan and Antavion” Dude” Mccollom and getting Alex Lomax back to 100 percent. They also have to get Malcolm Dandridge back to playing how he was at the beginning of the season last year before having to sit a few games.  Saw some this weekend that Chandler Lawson will play a lot more on the wing this year than last which will be a new look to them as well.

  1. Whitehaven will be pretty good once again and be in contention with East in 16AAA. Reasons why? Coach Faragi Phillips is a good coach who knows to get the most from his players, that’s 1. Number 2, lots of guards to help in creating turnovers off the press, so essentially, lots of guard depth. Number 3, the addition of Rashad Williams will help tremendously, he’s a good scorer off the mid-range jumper and should be the guy they have to count on to score along with Kameron Jones. Jones is a long 6’6 who will likely lead them in scoring this year and rebounding. They lost a lot last year in Hill, Hamlet and Fofana, replacing them will be hard.  If they can get one more to step up like Marquavious Lobbins and another post to rebound and take pressure off Jones, the Tigers will be right there with East.
  1. Kirby is a scary team because they have 2 guards that can get 20 any night, Desmond Johnson and Darius Carter. The 6’0 guard had prepped at Woodale for 3 years but from all indication, he’s headed to Kirby to form a great duo with Johnson. Desmond has been called the best guard in the city by some and if the summer is any indication, expect a huge senior season for him. I can see him being a 20 plus point scorer nightly. Transfer Nick Jackson will also help out with energy on the glass and Dontrell Sanders will help with scoring when Johnson and Carter’s shots are not falling. Is this the year we give Kirby a chance of winning district?
  1. How many freshmen will have impacts this year? Marcellus Brigham? Matthew Murrell? Cameron Matthews? Rodney Mason Jr? The biggest impact I believe will come from  Caleb London, who might start this year at MUS. He had a 29 point game this past weekend and looked very comfortable doing so. The 6’3 bouncy 2 guard has a bright future for the Owls and a move up in the rankings in 2020 is inevitable. I also expect Cameron Matthews to make the second biggest impact on his high school team next year along with Matthew Murrell and maybe, Marcellus Brigham of Briarcrest but there will be a sleeper or 2 to come out of no where as freshmen. Watch out for Delvin White, Cat Moore and Jaylin Lucas.
  1. Who will have the best freshmen class in the city? Most of the time, it’s a Triple A school or city school however this year, Briarcrest Christian has that locked up with 3 of my top 10 players in the 2020 including Omari Thomas, Marcellus Brigham and Reggie Neely which will make for an exciting future for the Saints. Maybe they can get back to the days of Leslie McDonald with that young group.
  1. Graduation has hit a lot of teams hard and the effects will be seen immediately at the start of the next season. Arlington lost Nate Hoover to Wofford, Jalen Fisher was Mr Everything at Bolton for 4 years and now, he’s at TCU among others. Arlington will now rely heavily on Garret Golday, a 6’5 2018 post, Luke Wiseman and Ray Price. Bolton will struggle some early on and could struggle all season if they don’t find someone to score. Germantown must rely on a young core of 10th and 11th graders and 6’7 senior, Demarcus Mitchell. He will have to lead a team that lost 13 seniors last year, a team that lost more than anyone in the city. Right now, it looks like Houston, Southwind or Southwind Houston, whichever you prefer, then Kirby; it’s up to them how much that order changes. Houston will be pretty good again but graduation hit them with body blow as well losing 6 of their top 9 players.  6’5 Ryan Boyce has turned into one of the top 10 players in the city, 6’6  Bruce Guy is worker around the rim and Takori Rooks will be put in the rotation and might be a starter. Kavious Newsome will have to play well this season as he will be vital to their success.
  1. Will Douglass is a top 3-5 player in the city in 2017 without a doubt. With Isaiah Stokes rumored to be leaving the city for prep, whether he left or not, Douglass would have had a spot but now, it’s cemented. So when you making your top 5, don’t forget about him and he could be number 1.
  1. Along with CBHS, expect Lausanne to be pretty good this year in private school. They didn’t lose a summer game and were without Jessie Neloms at MUS and Eric Gray. It’s still an extremely young team and even with some defections, this team is still formidable led by Ashton Smith, (10th) Sky Forrest, (10th) Kobe Jeffries (10th) and 6’4 James Babb and Camren Taylor both seniors who won a state titles as a freshmen. The three guards above will be important for Lausanne and might determine how far they go. MUS will be solid with Zach Street, John McBride, Luke Wilfong and Josh Gray. Don’t forget about Trey Davis at St. Benedict, he’s one of the best guards in the city.
  1. Who is going to challenge Mitchell this year? Judging from the summer, my best guess would be MAHS and Booker T Washington. BTW has a nice front line with Tyrone Sumlin and Ethan Jones but at the guard position, that’s when the edge goes significantly to the state champions. MAHS has nice size, Demetrius Morrow, a few 6’3 6’4, a 6’7,  Brandon Streeter and a host of other players who will help however until then, Mitchell is the favorite again in the city in Single A.
  1. Transfers happen every year and this year is no different. East has 3 in what will bolster an already great team. However there will be more and I know of 1 that is for certain that will be big in 16AAA and possibly 2 that could shake up a spot in that district.

 

 

 

MUS Summer Classic Provides Look Into 2016-2017 Season

 

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

 

Team camp month has come to an end after what I think is the best event during the month of June for high schools, the MUS Summer Classic . 20 plus high schools every year, great competition and most of all, a chance to take a look into the upcoming high school basketball season. Of course, some teams don’t have their whole compliment of players for whatever reasons, whether some kids are deciding to transfer, family vacations, working jobs or not playing because they saving themselves for the pivotal month of July for evaluation period that’s so important especially for sophomores and juniors. Sometimes though, events like this can make people get a high sense of hope depending of who they played through out the event but any who, let’s take a look who I thought were the best 5 teams at the Mus Summer Classic. Before I do that though, let me say this, this is by no means, who might start out as Top 5 teams in the city on my end as a team or 2 who could be in the discussion didn’t not play in the classic. So with that being said, let’s start the show.

1. Brentwood Academy (Nashville Tn) 6-0 – First, I wouldn’t normally do this, put a team from outside of the area in this discussion because well they not from here but the reason I’m doing so now is because, they came in and put everyone on notice, they are the team to beat not only in their classification but in the entire state at least until further notice. Reason why, well there are many but it’s starts with D and D, Darius Garland. He might be the best guard in the state and I know there are a lot of talented guards, 1 here who didn’t play over the weekend due to injury however, Garland particularly against East looked as good as any I’ve seen in the state. Handle on a string, poise, confidence, runs the show but still finds ways to score when he has to. They are very well coached by former a coach who many should remember in Memphis, Hubie Smith who was the helm of Bartlett at one time. Garland isn’t their only player though as they have several players who can hurt you in Jeremiah Oatsvall who is also one of the state’s best quarterbacks and a player who played on the national championship team coached by the late Desmond Merriwether a few years back. Cameron Johnson is a all state wide receiver who was once a top 30 player in the country in basketball as a youngster and Gavin Schoenwald, who was considered the number player in the country by many before a young man named Marvin Bagley came along and took over the crown 4 years ago. Did I mention that Johnson, Schoenwald and Garland have been playing together for 5 years or more so talk about continuity and cohesiveness and it’s them for sure. I’m not saying they can’t be beat but I think it’s safe to go ahead book for room for the state if your a Brenwood fan.

2. East High School (5-1) Took one loss to the team above in a great game on Friday night but make no mistake about it, the road to the state goes through the defending state champions once again. This a group that is definitely a little different though in terms of players than last year. I know what’s probably going through your head if your reading this, they have the same team and they have a lot of same pieces however, 3 of those pieces are new this year. Martrell Brooks and Kevon Mcmahon are new along with 6’6 Dude Mccollum. They must replace their two defensive stalwarts from last season, Courtney Carter and Teddrick McGhee and Kevon I think can do that along with Brooks who maybe than both players from last year  offensively. Mccollum brings versatility, length, scoring and rebounding and of course their main core is back for this year. Gatorade Player of the Year, Mr Basketball and Best Of The Preps player of the Year Alex Lomax didn’t play this weekend and was missed particularly in that game against Brentwood because of his defensive ability. TJ Moss, looked pretty good at times, hitting the 3 and showed the ability to play on the ball as the lead guard on occasions as well. Chandler Lawson was the subject of conversation a few weeks back about whether he would return or possibly prep school it at Oak Hill or IMG Academy but this weekend, he was with his team and showing why he’s one of the elite player in the country in 2019. Malcolm Dandridge, 6’8 improved game by game, at times looks like one of the better bigs in the city at that says a lot because he’s only a sophomore. His progression is key this year as he will play a lot beside senior Rodarius Washington, who cleans everything up on the glass and can be another ball handler when needed. Senior Nick Merriwether will be another player asked to give them quality minutes. Senior TK Smith didn’t play due to illness but will be counted on heavily once again as a primary guy off the bench for the Mustangs.  East is once again, the favorites to come out of Memphis but everyone is gunning to knock them off and they will have to be on their A game every night but I expect that from a Penny Hardaway coached team.

3. Christian Brothers High School (4-2) Played both Brentwood and East really close and was up 7-8 in both games in the 3rd and it wasn’t by default, they deserved to be up in those games and probably should have won. Memphis, let me introduce you to Will Douglass if you don’t know about him already. He’s arguably the best prospect in the class and it shouldn’t be a debate. 6’4 long, best on ball guy in the city of defense, great instincts playing passing lanes, scoring it more with confidence I haven’t seen, hitting the 3, Douglass did it all this week. He had 36 against Brentwood and almost beat them by his self, that’s just how well he played that game as I think it was his coming out party if you were there in attendance. When you mention Blake Williams, DJ Jackson, Chase Hayden, make sure you mention his as well in that top tier. 6’0 Ryan Schweitzer is as pure a  set shooter as you will see in the area off the spot up and is a lefty who will lead them in scoring on some nights along with Jacob Lyons, a strong 4-5, who can put it on the floor or play with his back to the basket and score it. Ben Spence, 6’6, will also be very valuable to his team as he seems to be their glue type, can handle some.They have seen their nemesis the last two season once already (Brentwood) so they know what to expect if they didn’t already but they are probably the best threat to beat them in the state on the private school side.

4.White Station High School (5-1) Only loss over the weekend was to Fayette Ware from a source on a controversial call that led to a 4 point loss but other than that, White Station was pretty good all weekend. A year old with a good group mixed with seniors and juniors, the Spartans will be in the mix in 16AAA this year and they will be there because of Aaron Strother, a 6’2 guard who can play bigger than his height and provide scoring, Adam Price who’s one of the better shooters in the city, 6’3 Michael Watkins, Braxton Winford and 6’2 Allen Hatchett who hit seven 3 pointers in the game against Fayette Ware showing improved outside jumper. He works as hard as anyone in the city on his game and it will pay dividends for him this year. Price is another player who I think can be among the best seniors in the city with his shooting.  Keep an eye on White Station this year.

5. Bartlett High School (5-1) No one really talked about them much this weekend but they quietly went into Saturday undefeated before losing to White Station in the evening game. Coach Real is quietly doing a good job and what they lack in size, they make up for in good guards  with Carlos Sandifer who had a 25 point game over the weekend, sophomore Jeff Walker who’s one of the better players in 2019 and senior Jalen Reed, a 6’1 who could be pretty good for Bartlett this year. Quentin Williams who was used a lot last year maybe counted on this year as well to score this year but they do have a few options that they can go to because of their guard depth. Questions about size will be persist but this is a team that can scare top teams.  Can this be the year that Bartlett makes a lot of noise in 14AAA? With Cordova on that side, not sure but you know, anything is possible in Memphis, night in night out.

Now that I’ve talked about teams, let’s look at the top 10 players from the event in my opinion. I have to say this, this is not a rankings list, just a list of player that I thought were the best players that I saw over the weekend.

1. Darius Garland 6’1 (Brentwood Academy 2018) Regarded as top guard in the state, did little to make people dispute it.

2. TJ Moss 6’4 (East High 2018) Top 3-5 scorer in Memphis

3. Will Douglass 6’4 (Christian Brothers High 2017) You can make a case now that he’s the best player in this class in Memphis.

4. Chandler Lawson 6’9 ( East High 2019) The most unique player in the state

5.Ryan Boyce 6’5 ( Houston High 2018) Was a little bothered by injured back but showed enough to make him appear here.

6. Desmond Johnson 5’11 (Kirby High 2017) Expect big numbers this year, leading candidate to lead city in scoring.

7. Jeremiah Oatsvall 6’1 (Brentwood Academy 2017) Shot maker, tough, heady player.

8. Cameron Johnson 6’1 (Brentwood Academy 2018) Athletic finisher, good mid range game.

9. Taeylr Gatlin 6’2 (Brighton High 2018) Big lead guard, great passer, excellent in transition with his vision.

10.Parker Stewart (Union City) Best shooter maybe in the state

,

Talented 2020 Team Switches Team Affiliation!!

 

New Team Penny 8th Grade Team

 

A big time move was made by a very talented 8th grade team featuring some of the best players in the city earlier in the week. They were  Team Thad but now they are  Team Penny according to team sources and bringing over a nice early spring resume. They won the Coach T Classic in St.Louis and the Southern Spring Invitational most recently but now are on to new beginnings with a different organization. They have pretty good size and their guard play is outstanding with Tayson Parker, Kennedy Chandler and Reggie Neely and good length with Marcellus Brigham Jr, Issac Smith and Rodney Mason Jr, all 6’3-6’4. Inside they are strong as well with Rodney Newsome Jr and Omari “Big O” Thomas and 6’5 Markeston Douglas (Haywood County0 forming a strong tandem which can compete with anyone in the country. The are headed up by Head  Coach Zach Davis who said, “I’m glad to be apart of the program, we felt this was the best opportunity and position for everyone”  He will be assisted by Coach Rod Davis (Arlington Middle) and Coach Joe Washington (Bellevue)

This move also gives some flexibility with Kennedy Chandler being a 7th grader possibly teaming up Memphis Wildcats duo and top 5 players in 2021 in the city , Johnathan Lawson (#1) and Jaylen Brown (#3). Or the possibility of Lawson and Brown playing some with the older group along with a few other possibilities at some point in time during the summer which could affect at least 1 age group . All in all, it’s a nice move as Team Penny loads up for the future as you could see some of these players on the Nike EYBL circuit in a few years.

 

What Happens Now Memphis?

 

coachlawson

 

The University of Memphis finds itself in a bit of an awkward premise and it’s making national noise through social media and websites around the country. Here is what most know who have followed the story,  Memphis has a new coach in Tubby Smith, formerly of Texas Tech who was brought in after Josh Pastner left for the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.  Questions started to fly around town, who’s going to be on staff and will Coach Smith keep assistant coach Keelon Lawson on staff.  You know Keelon, he’s the father of players Dedric and KJ Lawson, 2019 top 10 player in the country, Chandler Lawson and 2021 Johnathan Lawson who will be a top 10-20 player in the country, already in the top 10 by one national site. The table started to be set by Tubby who hired Pooh Williamson, who’s been with him for years and Joe Esposito who worked under him as well at Texas Tech.  With those two being added, one spot remained, who would be the third assistant? Well according to several media sources, it wouldn’t be Coach Lawson and this is where we stand now.

Coach Lawson, who’s been at the University of Memphis for 2 years met with Coach Smith and it was apparent that Coach Smith wasn’t to fond of the idea of him as the third assistant. Which is what I thought would happen honestly when I first heard Tubby coming to Memphis , old school, 60 plus year old coach, ” You guys will not tell me who I can hire type of guy. He didn’t know Coach Lawson, probably honestly never heard of him or the 4 Lawson offspring so why would I keep him but just wait, this is where it heats up. Dedric Lawson is your best player, he will be your best player next season, he averaged 16 and 9 as a supposed to be senior in high school. He averaged 20 and 10 in the AAC tournament before losing to UCONN in the championship game and he took his name out of the draft immediately after Coach Smith committed to the program. Well just a few days ago, he put his name back in to test the waters and it started, why would Dedric do this? It’s apparent, that something has happened right?

I think there was a little bit of behind the back kind of done in secret meetings, hey guys, I’m gonna do things my way, you guys hired me, I’m not keeping Keelon, okay how about this Tubby, let’s see if we can get Coach Lawson off the bench and into another role like player development.  Well, that won’t work because the NCAA rules say that you can’t hire a guy who has ties to a player just to get him and it’s a 2 year time frame and KJ and Dedric are just in that first year so that wouldn’t work. So, how about this, maybe we can get a waiver, yeah that’s the ticket but talk to Keelon and see if he will go for it. Problem is, Keelon didn’t go for it, he’s smarter than what they thought and he felt played to an extent. So much for that plan and besides that, that waiver thing, not happening because it would go against what the rule was put into place for.  Now you have a Coach in Lawson who was told to kind of keep the guys together when the administration was looking for the new guy and  was also told that he would be okay as an assistant irregardless of who comes in. Maybe that was contingent upon a younger guy coming in who kind of knows how things are done and not a 65 year old who lives by my way or the high way mentality but it was the kind that he University hired.

Keelon is leveraging his kids, Keelon is a pimp, Keelon doesn’t the deserve the job, he’s under qualified for it and Dedric and KJ aren’t that good any way, let them leave. Those are the things I’ve heard the most.  Well, let me tackle a few of those and this is something that I’ve pondered doing a few days because some may think, hey man, you to close to this and maybe I am but I have to give my opinion on it. I remember last year around this time, it was all good, people were really excited about Keelon and the boys and now you are calling Keelon a pimp? Now, let’s get rid of Keelon, screw em, don’t need em? Same fan base begged Josh to get it done and he did, Keelon did what he promised and delivered both sons as the third assistant, a McDonald’s All American and a top 50 in the country.  If he’s not hired on by Coach Smith, why would the sons stay? What did you really think would happen? Ah, don’t worry about it, you guys go ahead and stay but that’s fantasy land and that ain’t how it works. If you say your going to do something and then go back on, there will be some backlash and this is it. Keelon doesn’t deserve the job? What are his qualifications? There have been 2 high school basketball coaches to go undefeated in Tennessee High School Basketball history, one is the legendary Verties Sails, the other, I will let you take a stab at it, I’m sure you can figure it out. In his household, there are a total of 5 High School state titles, 9 AAU/Travel ball national championships and over 20 years of coaching experience on his resume. Who do you think is at the head of all that? His name, Keelon Lawson.

He’s not just a guy, basketball has been his whole life and he has college degree for those who might be wondering.  This is what bothers me about people, most don’t know any of what I said in the previous paragraph, most probably think, he just a big dumb guy with good kids but there is a reason they are good and it all points at him.  If you just could see the  the hours of work put in by him over the years and for those who know him, you wouldn’t be so eager to put him in the “daddy needs the money” category . That’s insulting to him and his sons and part of the reason why I sometimes wished that all 3 were not apart of the Memphis program from the start.

I understand the culture that surrounds the city when it comes to basketball. I understand the under tones of you not supposed to get or have that type of position which most will say I’m tripping about but well, it’s true.  I understand that everyone wasn’t happy for him when the job was given to him 2 years ago. I know how people can be concerning the Tigers, if they are good, everyone is Tiger blue, if you lose, them dudes suck and that’s pretty must the gist of it or am I wrong?  Don’t take this from Coach Lawson, he holding the program hostage, stand your ground right Tubby? This is another thing that’s coming from this, KJ Lawson is some what of an after thought and people think that he can’t play because of what they last season which was 50 percent version of himself. He didn’t have any lift on his foot which had been giving him some problems for awhile but he tried to play through it and it resulted in, KJ is a serviceable player, he wasn’t good when he played tweets and post on social media. He’s since had surgery on his foot, that’s kind of what happens when you try to give it a go but you really not 100 percent but you playing anyway. People don’t see you at full potential and think your just mediocre  player even though you were  a top 30 guy all the way up until you committed to the University of Memphis.

Now that it’s all come out, the University of Memphis is trying to sort of save face by saying well, we thought he would be okay with just a job but if that was the case, why did you already have a  waiver from the NCAA in mind before you asked him about another position on staff?  Coach Lawson was pretty straight up years ago and has always been that however the same was not done to him. Maybe it put Tubby in a weird spot and he’s still on the I’m doing it my way tip but one thing Coach Smith, this is Memphis, your grace period won’t be long. You would lose your 2 top scorers from the previous year and have to fill 5-7 roster spots instead of 4-5.  So what’s happens now? Does Tubby give in and say, Coach Lawson your my 3rd guy for this year or does he say, Coach it’s been real? Does he go ahead and make the hire of Saul, his son who played under him at Kentucky? What’s kind of funny, he’s trying to replace the father of kids with his son who played for him, kind of ironic. What guys are the new assistants going to bring in that are better than the two that you will lose? Based on track record and Tubby not having a NBA guy on his rosters in 8 years, I would say that the odds of them bringing in a stud this late are slim to none. People here like 4 stars and up players and the 2 stars that Tubby new staff is accustomed to getting, that won’t fly in Memphis. There are some on both sides of this, saying he would be making a mistake by not doing the deal and some saying, let him leave, question is, who you listening to because while they are praising your moral stand now, they will screaming for your head if you don’t win. With all that’s happened,  how do you know that Coach Lawson,  Dedric and KJ stay regardless of whether they offer the job or not because of everything that occurred in the last few days? Their father and family name as been ran into the ground and the patriarch has been vilified as Pimp of The Year locally. Don’t think that they haven’t heard and seen what’s been written about their father and them as well so it makes it bad on bot sides. The weight of the scrutiny is a lot especially with a personal issue that’s been affecting the family since last week. With all of this being said, the ball is in Tubby’s hands and it’s up to him and as the old saying going, let your next move be your best move.

Who’s Coming Out Of The East And West?

 

Tim Duncan (Last Time Around?)
Tim Duncan (Last Time Around?)

 

East and West- Who’s Coming Out?

The 2016 NBA post season is finally here after a year in where the NBA regular season seemed like it took forever to end.  Golden State broke the league record for wins with 73 surpassing the 95-96 Bulls and putting themselves in the history books. How do you feel honestly about that? Lots of questions were asked in the last few weeks, some to former players, coaches and each said great things about this year’s Warriors. Charles Barkley said that the Bulls of that year would kill the little Warriors, Scottie Pippen said that they would have swept the Warriors in 4 in a series. Some slick shade but today’s game is different than in the mid and early 90’s. The game has evolved a lot, some good some bad but I think the league is definitely softer but that’s another article in itself.  One question for you to think about though, Who’s your favorite out of the East? Who’s your favorite out of the West?

I think Golden State’s road is tougher than in the East because of 2 teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder are led by the best duo in the league in my opinion, regardless of what you may feel about Russell Westbrook, he’s a savage, averaging 23 ppg and 10 assist and has a league high 16 triple doubles on the season. That’s second to only Michael Jordan for Triple Doubles in a season who had 17 of them in the 88-89 season. The knock on him used to be that he didn’t pass enough to Kevin Durant, well, what say you now? If it wasn’t for Curry’s year in Golden State, he would probably be right there as a league’s MVP. His teammate I mentioned, arguably the best scorer in the league, the 6’9, even though we know he’s taller than that Durant, oh, he’s just putting in 28 a night. They are going to cause a lot of problems for teams as evidenced by their thrashing of Dallas yesterday by 30 plus. The Spurs are well, the Spurs, model of consistency for years and this year is no different. It’s the same cast with a splash of youthfulness and one of the best young players in the league in Kawhi Leonard.

67-15 on the year but yet people have kinda of forgotten about them because of the year that the Warriors have had. I think they give the Warriors the toughest out of anyone in the West in a 7 game series because they are veterans, PDG (Parker, Duncan Ginobli) have been there, done that, 5 titles with Popovich as the head and maybe the best coach as a strategist guy in the league. I just have a feeling that they haven’t showed it all to Golden State and Pop might pull out a trick or two when both teams meet up. I do have the Spurs meeting them eventually though, what did you think I would take the Grizzlies over them? I think Aldridge will be more involved if both teams play because there is a clear advantage there for them because the Warriors like to play small ball and it works for them but it can hinder them defensively. I think this is Duncan’s last go around but  he’s not going to make it all about himself like someone I know, I think he will be huge in that series when they play. Sorry Clippers, Chris Paul is great but nothing they have done in recent memory makes me think they will do anything this year. Memphis, too many injuries, not enough scoring, my dad had a 10 day with them this year, sad but that’s how the Grizzlies year has been. Portland, no deals, Houston has James Harden but outside of him, who else, Dwight Howard, who hasn’t been good since he left Orlando?

I know Steph Curry is that dude right now, averaged 30 on the year, Klay Thompon is the second best shooter in the league behind his teammate averaging 22 ppg on 42 percent shooting from 3 which is absurd but Curry was 46 percent, that’s even more absurd. Most guys don’t even shoot over 42 percent from 2 but you two guys on your team shooting the cover off it nightly. Curry is of another planet, something we haven’t seen before, on the break 2 on 1, he shooting the 3, in half court, guys hanging on him, he’s still taking and making. Sometimes, it looks like he’s playing against high school kids, making guys fall with his handle, dabbing doing whatever he wants,  that’s how good he’s looked this season and this off last year where they won a title.  They have other guys who can hurt you as well with Draymond Green who led them in rebounding, Andrew Bogut and player who doesn’t get a lot of credit, Shawn Livington who kills with his post-up game from the guard position. Andre Iguodala is another versatile guy who defends multiple spots and can make shots. I just have this feeling about San Antonio, it’s like they turn it on every other year and I love Popovich and the games that he plays within the game The Spurs will need a big time playoff series from Danny Green another veteran and David West who always seems to play big in the playoffs. This is what he was brought to the Spurs for, now it’s time to see it. If they can’t get key contributions, the Warriors will handle them but I like the Spurs chances and I pick them to come out of the West.

In the East, I think it’s the Cavaliers coming out because I can’t see anyone beating them in a 7 game series in their conference. I know the Raptors are good with Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan, Detroit is a tough team with the best rebounder in the league in Andre Drummond a guy who could be an all-star, Reggie Jackson. The Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all had the same record at 48-34 this year but to me, the Miami Heat are their biggest opposition. I think star power this time of the year is where it’s at and Miami has a future first ballot hall of famer in Dwayne Wade. All those teams I mentioned have good players, a few of them all stars in their own right but how many of them are on Wade’s level? Can take a game over, even at his age, through all the miles and bumps on those legs, Wade is still Wade and very capable. He’s stayed injury free for the most part so we know he’s fresher than he has been in the past at this time of the year which is a great for Miami. Joe Johnson was a nice pick up when he chose the Heat over the Cavs, at a time when they needed after Chris Bosh went down. Not having Bosh isn’t what fans envisioned but Johnson has been a welcomed sight and Hassan Whiteside has continued to get better and better. He’s the best shot blocker in the league and improving offensively but he has mentor help in Amare Stoudemire and a good young shooter from the University of Tennessee, Josh Richardson. Goran Dragic was a fringe all-star with the Suns and is kind of underrated among point guards in the world’s best league. I would love to say a Wade Lebron match-up, his old stomping grounds, where he won his first two titles and going at it with his guy in the Eastern Conference finals would be epic.

Remember that star power thing I was telling you about? The takeover type guys, the reason I give Cleveland the nod out East, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. I know most reading, probably don’t like Lebron but to some, still the best player in the game, different from Curry but results nonetheless, you can’t deny. 25 a night, 6 assist and 7 boards a night are great numbers but ho hum numbers for him and his impact is over looked by most because he’s been doing numbers for years. Kyrie Irving is one of the best scoring point guards I’ve seen, off the jumper, step back, the 3, floater game, everything is at his disposal. He had 31 today and Kevin Love, the forgotten amigo had 28 and 13 today as all 3 combined for 81 points and 24 rebounds. Tristan Thompson is great rebounder especially on the offensive glass, JR Smith was third in the league in 3 point makes and they have good role guys who do their jobs in Mozgov who’s been down from last year but solid still, Richard Jefferson and Matthew Delladova. Mo Williams and Iman Shumphert will also contribute to, defensively and offensively at some point if both can stay healthy. The one thing that bothers me about Cleveland though, their outside shooting, it’s not great but good and in the playoffs, that can get you beat. Not saying they are going to win the title but I do think, this is your team out of Eastern Conference.

Don’t ask me whose winning, I haven’t made up my mind yet but I guess I will get into that in the coming days and when I do, I will tell you my reasons why.

 

“MAMBA” OUT

kobecollage

“MAMBA OUT”

Written by Darrell Faulkner

Some things you witness in life leaves you speechless, which is why I am glad that I am writing while watching Kobe Bryant go out in style in the last game of his career. Honestly, I am fighting back the tears, which have won by the way, as I sit here reflecting on what I have just seen. I feel as though I’m sitting there in the HOV’s with Jay Z and the rest of the A-listers, watching in disbelief as this man went out there and put up sixty points. I repeat sixty points, while leading the Lakers to a victory. Talk about over delivering.

As I prepared to watch the game, I did my best to make it as eventful as possible. The television gods were on point doing what they could to make it a night to remember. Another great episode of Empire put me in the mood to see the final “Lakers Show,” starring Kobe Bryant. In the back of my mind I thought to myself, another game in the losing column for the Lakers and one more reminder as to why Kobe should, in fact, hang it up. In retrospect, I’m almost embarrassed to write the truth regarding my pregame thoughts, because what I witnessed tonight almost felt like a dream. The theme song that I heard over and over in my head while I watched Kobe’s performance came in the voice of Tyrese, saying, “Shame on me.”

Though I expected to be a little excited about the game, I got a lot more than what I bargained for, and some. Kobe put the hot sauce in this bag of chips as he stunned all of his critics with a performance that placed his desire and determination in a space visited by only a few. No list required.

It almost seemed as if the crowd was feeling sorry not only for Kobe, but the team in general because of their slow start, taking over five minutes to put points on the board. Kobe set the tone during this time missing his first five shots and my consciousness started to go into validation mode. Then Kobe hit not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight shots to give us believers hope all over again. My face displayed its first smile of the night during that stretch, not knowing what was to come. Ending the first quarter with fifteen points satisfied my thirst and put me in a good place regarding what to expect out of Kobe for the night. At that point, I would have been happy with a twenty or twenty-two points showing for the night, which, in my opinion, would have exceeded his call to duty.

Often you hear people say that you never realize when you’re making history because you get caught up into the actions of your moments. For some odd reason, the crowd at Staples, who were there to see Kobe’s grand finale seemed to go into a certain mode during the second quarter, realizing how special the night was, not only for Kobe, but everyone who witnessed. Shaq, who showed up at the beginning of the second quarter, received the HOV treatment, getting a comfortable seat on the floor, which enabled him and Kobe to embrace each other in a huge hug in front of Laker Nation and the world. Even Jack Nicholson escaped to a special place during a courtside interview in which he acknowledged Kobe as one of the greatest Lakers ever, stating that when you got nothing else going, you still have Kobe going. The reactions of the star studded crowd intensified the importance of the moment as the Lakers’ fan base cheered Kobe on. For a while they got to forget about having their worst season in the history of the franchise as Kobe slapped Utah Jazz in the face with twenty- two first half points.

Monitoring Kobe’s minutes was a sincere point of interest for Coach Byron Scott, who said Kobe would play thirty-six minutes, twelve in the first and third quarters and six minutes in second and fourth quarter. Funny how competition pushed Kobe to his limits in his quest for brashness beyond baskets, playing the entire second half, except for four seconds. So, when asked by Coach Scott if he had seven and a half minutes left in that body of his, Kobe respectively replied as only Kobe could, saying with exuberating confidence, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

How many times have you sat and watched an over hyped sporting event, only to be disappointed afterwards realizing that you did not get as much bang for your buck as you had wished? Well, this was not the case as Kobe just kept on giving and giving and giving the viewing world one amazing play after another. It’s easy to say that as he blew past forty points for the game, we all would have been ecstatic watching such a performance. Then we all got greedy with our expectations, now not only realizing we were witnessing history in the making, but now wanting a Laker win to boot. As only a true warrior in his last and final battle would leave his all, including his life on the battlefield, Kobe graced us all with such a show.

Coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the game remained close, as Kobe hit the fifty points mark. By now, the attending crowd and the millions and millions of fans viewing around the world were full of every emotion they had in their bodies and souls, looking but still not believing what they were seeing. The jump shots, the free throws and almost dunks added up, coming down to the final count with Kobe delivering shot after amazing shot giving himself a fifty points performance. Who could ask for more? No one, but Kobe demanded more.

When he hit the jumper to give himself fifty eight points for the game and the lead with less than a minute left in the game, I said to myself that’s it. Take him out before he gets hurts. The game was basically sealed, but Kobe had to be sure as he got fouled one last time and ended his point totals as he began them by hitting two free throws, giving himself a modest game high of sixty points with a Lakers win on the side. He did have fifty shots, however, something that hadn’t happened in the NBA since 1967 when Rick Barry put it up a few times.

We all got to witness a first in the history of sports. Father time was defeated by Kobe Bryant for one night. Those who saw this will tell their version of the story as long as they live. A new video needs to be made immediately for those old enough to remember every Saturday watching the Wild World of Sports’ promo with the famous words being emphatically said, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Yea, a Kobe highlight needs to be thrown in there somehow. Please join me as I give the man who is loved by many and hated by probably more, a thank you that will last forever. He gave his all and left it all on the court for all of us to see, making even his haters love to hate him one last time. Thanks Kobe. We Love You. And what a way to add those last finishing touches to an unbelievable moment in time. Drop the mike Kobe and leave us screaming in silence.

MAMBA OUT

© Darrell Faulkner April 14, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

MAMBA OUT

Written by Darrell Faulkner

 

Some things you witness in life leaves you speechless, which is why I am glad that I am writing while watching Kobe Bryant go out in style in the last game of his career. Honestly, I am fighting back the tears, which have won by the way, as I sit here reflecting on what I have just seen. I feel as though I’m sitting there in the HOV’s with Jay Z and the rest of the A-listers, watching in disbelief as this man went out there and put up sixty points. I repeat sixty points, while leading the Lakers to a victory. Talk about over delivering.

As I prepared to watch the game, I did my best to make it as eventful as possible. The television gods were on point doing what they could to make it a night to remember. Another great episode of Empire put me in the mood to see the final “Lakers Show,” starring Kobe Bryant. In the back of my mind I thought to myself, another game in the losing column for the Lakers and one more reminder as to why Kobe should, in fact, hang it up. In retrospect, I’m almost embarrassed to write the truth regarding my pregame thoughts, because what I witnessed tonight almost felt like a dream. The theme song that I heard over and over in my head while I watched Kobe’s performance came in the voice of Tyrese, saying, “Shame on me.”

Though I expected to be a little excited about the game, I got a lot more than what I bargained for, and some. Kobe put the hot sauce in this bag of chips as he stunned all of his critics with a performance that placed his desire and determination in a space visited by only a few. No list required.

It almost seemed as if the crowd was feeling sorry not only for Kobe, but the team in general because of their slow start, taking over five minutes to put points on the board. Kobe set the tone during this time missing his first five shots and my consciousness started to go into validation mode. Then Kobe hit not one, not two, not three, not four, but five straight shots to give us believers hope all over again. My face displayed its first smile of the night during that stretch, not knowing what was to come. Ending the first quarter with fifteen points satisfied my thirst and put me in a good place regarding what to expect out of Kobe for the night. At that point, I would have been happy with a twenty or twenty-two points showing for the night, which, in my opinion, would have exceeded his call to duty.

Often you hear people say that you never realize when you’re making history because you get caught up into the actions of your moments. For some odd reason, the crowd at Staples, who were there to see Kobe’s grand finale seemed to go into a certain mode during the second quarter, realizing how special the night was, not only for Kobe, but everyone who witnessed. Shaq, who showed up at the beginning of the second quarter, received the HOV treatment, getting a comfortable seat on the floor, which enabled him and Kobe to embrace each other in a huge hug in front of Laker Nation and the world. Even Jack Nicholson escaped to a special place during a courtside interview in which he acknowledged Kobe as one of the greatest Lakers ever, stating that when you got nothing else going, you still have Kobe going. The reactions of the star studded crowd intensified the importance of the moment as the Lakers’ fan base cheered Kobe on. For a while they got to forget about having their worst season in the history of the franchise as Kobe slapped Utah Jazz in the face with twenty- two first half points.

Monitoring Kobe’s minutes was a sincere point of interest for Coach Byron Scott, who said Kobe would play thirty-six minutes, twelve in the first and third quarters and six minutes in second and fourth quarter. Funny how competition pushed Kobe to his limits in his quest for brashness beyond baskets, playing the entire second half, except for four seconds. So, when asked by Coach Scott if he had seven and a half minutes left in that body of his, Kobe respectively replied as only Kobe could, saying with exuberating confidence, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

How many times have you sat and watched an over hyped sporting event, only to be disappointed afterwards realizing that you did not get as much bang for your buck as you had wished? Well, this was not the case as Kobe just kept on giving and giving and giving the viewing world one amazing play after another. It’s easy to say that as he blew past forty points for the game, we all would have been ecstatic watching such a performance. Then we all got greedy with our expectations, now not only realizing we were witnessing history in the making, but now wanting a Laker win to boot. As only a true warrior in his last and final battle would leave his all, including his life on the battlefield, Kobe graced us all with such a show.

Coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter, the game remained close, as Kobe hit the fifty points mark. By now, the attending crowd and the millions and millions of fans viewing around the world were full of every emotion they had in their bodies and souls, looking but still not believing what they were seeing. The jump shots, the free throws and almost dunks added up, coming down to the final count with Kobe delivering shot after amazing shot giving himself a fifty points performance. Who could ask for more? No one, but Kobe demanded more.

When he hit the jumper to give himself fifty eight points for the game and the lead with less than a minute left in the game, I said to myself that’s it. Take him out before he gets hurts. The game was basically sealed, but Kobe had to be sure as he got fouled one last time and ended his point totals as he began them by hitting two free throws, giving himself a modest game high of sixty points with a Lakers win on the side. He did have fifty shots, however, something that hadn’t happened in the NBA since 1967 when Rick Barry put it up a few times.

We all got to witness a first in the history of sports. Father time was defeated by Kobe Bryant for one night. Those who saw this will tell their version of the story as long as they live. A new video needs to be made immediately for those old enough to remember every Saturday watching the Wild World of Sports’ promo with the famous words being emphatically said, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Yea, a Kobe highlight needs to be thrown in there somehow. Please join me as I give the man who is loved by many and hated by probably more, a thank you that will last forever. He gave his all and left it all on the court for all of us to see, making even his haters love to hate him one last time. Thanks Kobe. We Love You. And what a way to add those last finishing touches to an unbelievable moment in time. Drop the mike Kobe and leave us screaming in silence.

MAMBA OUT

© Darrell Faulkner April 14, 2016