2020 Players You Need To Know!

Kendall Thomas (Harding Academy)
     Kendall Thomas (Harding Academy)

With the season heading into January and teams having their rotations set in place, a few freshmen are providing quality minutes and producing for their varsity teams.  To even be able to play as a freshman  speaks volumes for such a young player who has to adjust to faster, bigger and older players coming from middle school but a few have done it at a much quicker pace than most. Some of the names that you will see mentioned  might not be at top of 2020 in Memphis however, their play thus far has put them in position to be mentioned among the best young players in the city. While they still have some ways to go, these young guys  have impressed at this early stage of their prep careers.

1. Caleb London 6’2  (MUS) Easily, the most productive member of the 2020 class to the varsity ranks of this year. Not only is London playing well, he’s starting and playing like a junior and he might be their leading scorer overall. Has had more than 4 games of 20 or more points and played well against Memphis East, London has easily pushed himself into the upper echelon of the 2020 class. He’s made strides with his jumper off the pull up and is taking what the defense gives him and being more patient offensively.  Right now, he could make a case as the best 9th grader in the city. I know there are other talented players but London has been really good.

2. Marcellus Brigham 6’5 (Briarcrest Christian) When you look at him, Brigham just looks like a division 1 basketball and with the flashes that he shows, that looks like it will be happening for him. Brigham is a long 2 guard with a good pull up game who has shown that he can play big minutes in the Saints system and for a program that rarely plays players so young, Coach John Harrington has to be happy knowing that he has him for 3 more years and watching him develop into maybe one of the best players that he has had there. I can see him leading them in scoring by next year as he continues to get better and better.

3. Kendall Thomas  6’2 (Harding) Quietly having an outstanding season, just last night scoring 27 hitting 7-9 from 3 in a tournament in Nashville. Thomas is big physical guard who can play some forward,  who has grown a lot of height but has also gotten much stronger since the end of the summer.  After losing Anthony Yarbrough last year who played 4 years there and was a big time stand out, Kendall was a welcomed addition to a team looking for another player to score. Thomas just recently was named MVP of the Battle Ground Tournament scoring 27 in game 1, 18 game 2 and 15 in game 3 of the event.  When thinking of the top players in this class, Thomas has to be put into the conversation.

4. Rickey Shotwell 5’5 (Melrose)  One of the smallest players in the city playing varsity in any classification, Shotwell’s play is shocking some who might have doubted him.  He’s started some games for Melrose and had 15 in a win over W.E.B. Dubois at a Holiday Tournament in St. Louis.  Coach Sherman Jones said “More poised than I could have ever imagined he would be, lost a lot of the scoring that came as a surprise but the IQ and toughness that as replaced the scoring has be vital and I have no reason to believe that he will take a step backwards” I remember Jones being high on him telling me, he would be more than role player this season and from the looks of it, he’s right.

5.Anterrius Jeffries 6’6 (Overton) All arms and legs forward who’s also started some games for his high school team, Jeffries best days are clearly ahead of him. Jeffries is averaging 7 and 7 for a young Overton team that boast only 2 seniors so as to be expected, they will struggle in 16AAA but Jeffries has displayed some touch and rebounding ability and might end up being a player who can play some on the perimeter the older he gets. The more who adjust to playing with his back to the basket  and as he gets stronger, Jeffries might turn into a big name in this class.

901 “Prep” Poll Updated Rankings (Middle School)

 

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01-03-2016

1. White Station (20-0) MLK title check, MAM title check and now they will be looking to finish the regular season strong on their way to a middle school state title. In the playoffs though, anything can happen and Snowden is still  lurking but  right now, the Spartans look invincible right now.

2. Bellevue Middle (15-2) Played White Station pretty close before they pulled off in the 4th quarter without their best player in the MAM Championship game. Bellevue is still the leader right in Small Schools with everyone else looking at them but Kingsbury will be an obstacle down the road that they could see during their state run.

3. Highland Oaks Middle (14-3) Third in the MAM and probably the only team that give White Station problems right now in Large Schools that I’ve seen. The Hawks must watch for let downs against teams that they should beat.

4. Kingsbury Middle (13-4) Good showing in the MAM making it to the Final 4 before losing to a much more talented White Station team. The Falcons right now are the second best team in small schools and will need to play like it down the home stretch.

5. Schilling Farms Middle (13-1) Suffered their first loss before the break  I believe to Bon Lin so they dropped a little bit here  but Schilling Farms is still in position to be in it late in the year. I think the Stallions will refocus and finish the season strong but they can’t let that loss linger with them.

MAM Final 4 Predictions

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So much for my bracket, Highland and Kingsbury, you killed me lol. Seriously though, that’s what it’s all about, advancing to the next game at this point of the MAM which is the Final 4 today. Bellevue won yesterday, 70-55 after finding themselves down early to a Snowden team who was looking for the upset but in the end, Snowden’s guard play and Johnathan Lawson was to much for them to overcome. Highland Oaks beat Southaven 67-44,  Kingsbury beat Lausanne, 44-36 behind Jalen Brown’s 22 points and Tristan Jones was pretty good with 18 points. He’s a player who’s improved steadily through out the season to me and one that could have a nice future as a big guard. White Station beat Briarcrest 45-40 in a game that Briarcrest was up in some in the first half. The Spartans sped up the pace some by pressing Briarcrest in the 2nd half and forcing them into turnovers which proved to be vital in the end. The Saints had a chances but as I said yesterday, they would have to do a lot right to win that game.

Today, the final 4 and title game will be held at Harding Academy. The times are 430 pm for both games as the old and new gym at the school will be used.  White Station will take on an upstart Kingsbury team who looks like a different team from when I saw them  just a month or so ago. They are getting contributions from role players, making shots and playing like a team that looks like they can beat anyone.  This game will be their toughest one of the season thus far against a White Station team who hasn’t lost a game and at times has looked dominant.  White Station looked a little vulnerable but I just think they are the most talented team and most of the time, the team with that wins. If Jalen Brown gets going early, he will score a lot of points for Kingsbury but Jones and someone else will be needed to score. Not only that, both will have to rebound with a bigger White Station team and keep them off the offensive glass where they thrive. They must take care of the ball as well and not have to many unforced turnovers because that gets them  going.  Set the tone early and don’t get into an up and down game and the Falcons can have a chance but again, White Station didn’t play great early on against Briarcrest last night because they played at Briarcrest pace. It wasn’t until late that they got going and were able to do somethings that they are accustomed to doing in games. White Station I think is just to talented and their depth will come into play but in the Final 4, you never know but I think they pull it out.

Bellevue and Highland should be a pretty good game I believe because both like to get out and go for easy scores but the up and down favors Bellevue.  Highland’s Alex Anderson and Cameron Donegan both will present challenges for Bellevue because of their ability to pass and get others involved as well as score. Anderson will be the determining factor in the game for Highland Oaks because of his versatility but he also must stay on the floor meaning that he can’t get into foul trouble as Highland gets much much smaller when he’s off the court. Donegan must be aggressive offensively and not sit back and wait to get going. He’s a patient guard and looks for his spots but he will need to be a 15-20 point player today. Will it be enough though if just those 2 play well? Who else is stepping up for Highland? Josh Holloway is the kind of player who can but in a game of this magnitude, someone will have to relieve some of the pressure off their two key guys. Their will be opportunities when the ball is swung to make something happen and he will have to be ready.  For Bellevue, it’s pretty simple, rely on what you have been relying on to get you there. The combination of Lawson, Beverly, Tuggle and Jacobs has been good in the MAM. Carlito and brother Cartier have been great of late, causing havoc defensively on the ball and off it. AP Paige has played well and they are getting contributions from the bench from a few. They are getting to the rim when they get ready and being the sparks that their team has needed all year. It looks like Bellevue is playing well at the right time and I see them winning the game as I said in my first post about the MAM a few days ago.

 

 

MAM Elite 8 Preview

 

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The sweet 16 has turned into the Elite 8 with teams advancing, some by small margins, others  in lop sided wins. Today will be interesting because all of the championship bracket games will move to the Grizz Center to give it that true MAM feel before the final 4 and championship game move to Harding tomorrow. Below is a schedule of today’s games which go at 7:00 and 8:00 on both courts at the MAM on Ball road.

Bellevue vs Snowden – 7:00 pm Grizz Center East- Hearing that Calvin Jennings didn’t play last night and don’t know it’s he playing tonight. That will leave Snowden with one true big and that might not be good especially with a team that’s bigger and has rebounder in 6’6 Johnathan Lawson, Aryion Paige who played pretty well yesterday and along with Tadarius Jacobs. Lawson as a passer was as good as I’ve seen him yesterday. Look for him to continue to be aggressive today as a play maker and scorer.

Highland Oaks vs Southaven– 7:00 pm  Grizz Center West-  “He doesn’t think we can the game” That’s what I heard yesterday from a Highland Oaks player but let’s say this, it’s one way to prove me wrong. Southaven got a win yesterday over a Sherwood and Highland Oaks cruised to an easy win over Grace St. Luke. Alex Anderson was big time for his team last night as well as Cameron Donegan. If both play well tonight, they can come away with the win but they need both to play up to expectation. Southaven plays hard and Highland will see that tonight. Show and prove Highland Oaks, make my prediction on this game wrong.

Briarcrest vs White Station– 8:00 pm Grizz Center East- White Station should win this one going away but I have a feeling it won’t be easy. A few things go there way, the Saints can make it a game but the problem is, more things have to go right for them than have to go wrong for White Station. If they get behind early, I don’t think Briarcrest will have enough fire power to come back from a big deficit. If Briarcrest can keep it within a 8-10 game, it will be interesting late. Big if though…

Lausanne VS Kingsbury– 8:00 pm Grizz Center West- Maybe the best overall scorer in Middle School (Jalen Brown) against another scorer in Deebo Coleman and it will  make for a great game. Problem for Lausanne will be if Dillon Woods doesn’t play tonight because he was out last night. My guess is though, he plays and he can cause problems for Kingsbury because he keeps a lot of missed shots alive for them. Kingsbury is really reliant on Brown to do a little of everything but Tristan Jones and Caleb Jackson both have to play well tonight. Watch for a big shot or 2 from Owen Babb and Landon Jeffries in this one.

MAM Update (Sweet 16)

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Day 1 of the MAM is over, 8-4 in first round predictions but hey, that’s why this is the MAM. You never know because of the match ups in some games. I saw Lester lose on what would have been a game winning lay up, Kirby lost to Grace St Luke by 3, Grizzlies Prep over Harding by 13 and the surprise of the night, the Memphis Nighthawks. This team is one that could very well make a run to the final 4 and end up in the title game. Well coached group ,6’1 who can get the rebound and go and finish and a 6’2 who provides a rebounding and shot blocking presence. They do something that a lot of teams don’t do, run a lock of pick and roll and they do it till they get lay ups, and lay ups and more lay ups. I like the look of them and they will be tough for anyone to play against.

Day 2 (Sweet 16)

Riverdale vs Briarcrest– 7:00 pm @ World Overcomers Ct – After getting past Lester yesterday,  Riverdale will have a much tougher challenge today in Briarcrest.
Kate Bond vs Lausanne– 7:00 pm @ Grizz Center West- More competitive game tonight for them but likely one that goes in their favor as well. Kate Bond will be reliant on their guards to do bulk of their scoring while Lausanne has edge inside with Dillon Woods who is as athletic a player as you will see in Middle School this year.
Southaven vs Sherwood– 7:00 pm @ World Overcomers Ct 1 – Sherwood cruised yesterday to a 20 point win over Woodstock yesterday. If Sherwood’s guards out play Southaven’s guard, they can win but Southaven has more depth and can match guards. Sherwood has to be patient offensively or they will play into the hands of their opponents.


Bellevue vs Ridgeway– 7:00 pm @ Grizz Center East- Ridgeway blew out MAHS last night and now get the number 1 player in the 8th grade Johnathan Lawson on tonight.  Ridgeway can keep this close but David Dixon can’t get in foul trouble early as he has had a tendency to do. He will be key as well as Chris Brunt and their young guards.

White Station vs Grizzlies Prep 8:00 pm @ Harding Academy- To much White Station.
Kingsbury vs PCA– 8:00 pm @ Grizz Center West- Jalen Brown will look to continue his scoring tear that he’s been on the last few weeks since he came back off injury.
Highland vs GSL– 8:00 pm @ Grizz Center East- Might be a game for a bit but I think GSL lack of depth might cause issue the later it gets in the game.
Memphis Nighthawks vs Snowden– 8:00 pm @ World Overcomers Ct 2- As mentioned, the Nighthawks are going to be tough to beat. Snowden is going to have to play extremely well to beat them. Calvin Jennings must be relied on heavily tonight but they don’t have much in the way of size so hitting the glass will be hard for Snowden. Guards will have to play huge and make shots, or otherwise the Nighhawks might open up a big lead early.

 

 

 

MAM Classic Predictions!!!

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The 2016 MAM Christmas Classic starts on today with  everyone having  the same goal, to play on Thursday in the championship. Last year, the White Station Spartans won the event beating American Way and this year and this year, look to be the overwhelming favorite. The number 1 middle school in the city has everything needed to win it, length, guard play and a lot of talent, all keys to having a great team in middle school.  Along with White Station, the other  teams that could be looked as the other top 3 schools were, Highland Oaks,  Bellevue and Kingsbury.

The best part of the MAM to me is to see all the teams regardless of classification in the same tournament. Large Schools, Small Schools and Private Schools because you really never see them all one event until this. In fact, this is probably the only time you see this all year which makes the MAM Classic, the biggest stage of the year in my opinion for middle school players locally. It’s going to have a little different feel this year because it’s starting earlier in the month than it normally would, usually starting after Christmas and ending on a Saturday but never the less, the MAM is the MAM, the biggest middle school tournament of the year and it’s starts on today.

Here are my MAM classic predictions for the entire tournament

12-19-2016 

Sherwood vs Woodstock 5:30 pm – Grizz Center West (Winner-Sherwood)

Bon Lin vs Snowden 5:30 pm– Grizz Center East – Has a chance to be one of the better games of the day. Bon Lin is coming off a win over previously undefeated Schilling Farms (Winner-Snowden)

Kate Bond vs Collierville– Grizz Center East- 4:30pm (Winner- Kate Bond)

Lester vs Riverdale– Grizz Center West- 4:30pm (Winner-Lester)

Briarcrest vs SBEC– World Overcomers CT 2 – 4:30pm (Winner-Briarcrest)

Lowrance vs Southaven– World Overcomers CT 1-  5:30pm (Winner-Southaven)

Memphis Nighthawks vs Colonial– World Overcomers CT 2- 7:00pm (Winner-Colonial)

Lausanne vs Dexter– World Overcomers CT 2-7:00 pm (Winner- Lausanne)

MAHS vs Ridgeway– Grizz Center East- 8:00 pm (Winner- Ridgeway)

PCA Knights vs Rise Academy – Grizz Center East- 8:00 pm (Winner- PCA)

Grizzlies Prep vs Harding– Harding Academy – Gym 1- 8:00 pm (Winner-Harding)

Kirby vs GSL– World Overcomers CT 2- 8:00 pm (Winner-Kirby)

12-20- Sweet 16

Bellevue vs Ridgeway– Grizz Center East- 7:00 pm- (Winner- Bellevue) This game can be close if  the young players play up to their talent level and not necessarily their grade. Ridgeway’s talent level is pretty good, just young. If David Dixon plays extremely well, Ridgeway can make it uncomfortable for Bellevue.

Kate Bond vs Lausanne- Grizz Center West- 7:00 pm (Winner-Lausanne) I think Deebo Coleman maybe one of the best players that they have seen this year and they are going to see a lot of him in this game.

Lester vs Briarcrest– World Overcomers CT1 7:00 pm (Winner-Briarcrest)

Southaven vs Sherwood– World Overcomers CT 1- (Winner- Southaven) Sherwood is dangerous if they are making shots from 3 because they shoot a lot of them but if not, I look for Southaven to take advantage.

Highland Oaks vs Kirby– Grizz Center East- 8:00 pm- (Winner-Highland Oaks) These two teams played each other a few weeks ago and it was a closer than anticipated game with Highland getting the W. Highland shouldn’t over look them at all but I think they win this one.

Kingsbury vs PCA– Grizz Center West-8:00 pm- (Winner-Kingsbury) The Falcons will be to much for PCA from the start.

Colonial vs Snowden-World Overcomers CT 2- 8:00 pm (Winner-Snowden) Tempted, Colonial has some size but experience leans towards Snowden.

White Station vs Harding- Harding Academy- Harding Gym 1 -8:00 pm (Winner- White Station)

12-21 Elite 8

Bellevue vs Snowden – Grizz Center East- 7:00 pm- (Winner-Bellevue) Interesting game, Snowden has the guards to stay in it but Bellevue has the guards to match them.

Highland Oaks vs Southaven- Grizz Center West- 7:00 pm- (Winner-Southaven) Jordan Hibbler and BJ Morgan make up a nice guard duo and one that Highland is going to have to contend with. Anderson and Donegan are going to be lot to deal with but I think Southaven role players might be a little bit better.

Briarcrest vs White Station-Grizz Center East- 8:00 pm- (Winner- White Station) Contrast in styles for both teams but this another game that can be closer than what fans might think. I think if the Saints can keep it close and make it to the 3rd without being down big, they will have say so in the 4th. Easier said than done though and I think White Station’s talent takes over in the 2nd half  for a victory. Watch out for Zander Yates and Willie Foreman match up.

Lausanne vs Kingsbury– Grizz Center West- 8:00 pm- (Winner- Lausanne) Kingsbury has a top 5 player in Kingsbury but so does Lausanne, Deebo Coleman. I think it might come down to players like Owen Babb, Landon Jeffries and Dillon Woods. Woods athleticism may give Kingsbury problems. I look for Lausanne for pull away in the 4th quarter.

12-22 Final Four

Bellevue vs Southaven – Harding Academy (New Gym)- 4:30 pm- These teams are familiar with each other from a pre-season scrimmage and both know who each has.  Bellevue tends to start slow and if they do, Southaven will take advantage. If they come out in the mode to take them out of the game early, the Chargers will have problems.

White Station vs Lausanne– Harding Academy (Old Gym) – 4:30 pm- Like the other final 4 game, White Station and Lausanne have faced each other before but in a real game during the season where White Station won at Lausanne.  Coleman will have to do a little of everything for them to have a chance but in the end, it may not be enough.

The championship game will be the same day as the final 4 at 7:30 pm

White Station vs Bellevue– Last time these two faced each other, the Spartans were as good as I’ve seen them all season. They shot it well and ran Bellevue out of the gym. Can it be different it time? Maybe, keys for Bellevue, another person has to step up, Johnathan Lawson played extremely well the last time they played but needed a second to help out with the scoring slack. Tadarius Jacobs will have to be the player for them in order for them to stay in the game. Can White Station play that same way again, I’m not sure, they looked like they prepared for that game for a few weeks. In the end, I think White Station is the better team, on paper, on the floor but things can be different if changes are made in strategy. Bellevue is good but who’s stopping White Station? MAM Champs: White Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School- 901″Prep” Poll

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 High School Players In Memphis

 

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

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

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

TJ Moss (1 of 3 in Double Figures)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djjeffries

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

Mark Freeman  2018 (Southwind HS)

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

Others In Consideration

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

IMG_9578

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

blakewilliams

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

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

Rod Brown 6'6  (Cordova HS)

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

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

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

kjones

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

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

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

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

The “Prep” Poll (Middle School)

 

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Update 11-14-2016

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

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

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

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

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

16AAA Media Day

 

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

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

*The predictions for 16AAA were done by the coaches

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

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

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

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

Central
                                                                                                Central 

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Season 1st Team Selections

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

Pre-Season 2nd Team Selections

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

Pre-Season 3rd Team Selections

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

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

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

easttrio

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

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

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

Whitehaven
                                                                                     Whitehaven

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

Hamilton
                                                                                          Hamilton

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

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

Overton
                                                                                               Overton

Pre-Season 1st Team Selections

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

Pre-Season 2nd Team Selections

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

Pre-Season 3rd Team Selections

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