Category Archives: Prep Basketball

901PrepScoop Pre-Season Middle School Top 5

 

Markese Washington (Lester Middle)
                                                 Markese Washington (Lester Middle)

 With tryouts which began on Monday officially, It’s almost that time of the year again, the 2017-2018 Middle School Basketball season is here in  what promises to be one of the more interesting years that I’ve seen in awhile. There are a lot of questions  this season   but  a lot of them  will be answered soon as play days are on the way as well with the first being next week at Lausanne on October 7th.

Who is the best player in Middle School this year? Is it Chandler Jackson who finishing up his final year at St.Louis? Markese Washington at Lester?  Are the Roadrunners of Ridgeway the best Middle School in Large Schools this year or the Germantown Red Devils who are equally talented in the starting 5? Speaking of Germantown, transfer Cartier Beverly, a two sport standout who won a state title at Bellevue last year hurt his leg and will be out for a substantial amount of time. If he’s able to get back during the season, Germantown could be become the favorite. Expect 6’1 Cameron to make a push as a top 3-5 player in this class this season.

Will Lester turn back the clock to a few years ago where they were the best team in the city or will Bellevue who lost a lot of production be right there with them with Jr Jacobs? Can John P Freeman put themselves in position to make a run this season? How much better will Lowrance be this year with Braxton Jumper and ever improving Javar Daniels, a 6’2 7th grader with tons of potential?  Can Snowden contend with their guards? There are a lot of questions but soon and very soon, we will begin to see our thoughts and questions become realities as we are within a few weeks of the season getting underway.

Below, my pre-season top 5 middle school teams in the city based on what I think they have right now. Will it be the same when the season starts? Maybe, maybe not, can a team jump into the top 5, yes they can. Will the number 1 team right now but the # 1 team when the season starts, I can’t say, but it will be fun to watch and see.

1. Lester Prep- On paper, they are so talented starting with Markese Washington, to me a top  5 player in this class in Memphis. Nearing 6’2 if not there already, Washington will be there best player most nights and have a chance to be the best player in Small Schools and perhaps, maybe the city. Lemarkus Wilkerson and Ahmed Abdulahi will be besides him to form maybe the best duo in Middle School. Wilkerson and Abdulahi are to 5’10 plus guards who can score for Coach Steve Terrell who’s excited about this year’s team. Abdulahi has kind of flown under the radar but I think a lot of people will be high on him by the end of the year.  6th grader Khylan Page will be leaned on a little because of is size alone  but with their experience, they will able to bring him along  slowly along with Jamarion Harvey. Watch for Chauncey Holmes as well.

2. Ridgeway Middle – Was very tempted to put them at #1 for several reasons. Chip Brunt, EJ Smith and Kristian Spencer all got better last year put into situations where they had to play and it should pay off this year.  Smith is getting better and better and should play the lead guard spot this year. Brunt had some big moments for them last year and Spencer gives them value as a defender and athleticism from the 3-4 spot. All of them should be big this year and take that next step up to be the early favorite in Large. They have enough talent to do so but they will also be counting on others to be help the trio. Adarion Miles must play big on the glass and Coach Stephen expect a nice group of 6th graders to play a lot including Kody Hickerson, Javion Stephen and Tyler Wilson.  Might be the deepest team in the top 5, top to bottom.

Kristian Spencer (Ridgeway)
                          Kristian Spencer (Ridgeway)

3. Germantown Middle– Cameron Miller, Daniel Egbuniwe and Chris Martin are all back this year and will have them vying for a state title this season.  Miller has a chance to put his name on everybody’s list as a top 5 player in 2022. He’s a scorer who you can put on the other team’s best player, go get you rebound and take over the game type and he will be all those things this year for this team. Chris Martin is one of the areas best shooters if not the best and Egbuniwe is quiet stat sheet stuffer. The key for them to make that run might be if Cartier Beverly can get back to basketball after a football injury. If he can and from sources, its possible, Beverly could put them above anyone locally in Large Schools. Rayquan Williams must contribute with Beverly being out but he’s a capable piece to their aspirations of becoming champions. Even if Beverly doesn’t return, the Red Devils will be in the thick of it at the end of the year.

Daniel Egbuniwe (Germantown)
                         Daniel Egbuniwe (Germantown)

4. Snowden Middle– Very guard laden team but a team never the less that will be tough to play against on any given night. Guard play reigns supreme in Middle School and if you have it, chances are, you can go a long way and Snowden as a lot of it. Kyler “KD” Dandridge, Madricus Pittman, another one of the area’s best shooters and Jamarius “Chunky’ Brooks give Snowden some firepower. Armani Mcfagdon will be asked to do a little bit of everything for this team but he’s more than capable of accepting that challenge.

5. Bellevue Middle- Beside White Station, not sure if one school lost more than them. Coming off back to back state tournament titles, the Bobcats will have a brand new look all the way around. Enter in former Kingsbury Middle coch, Mario Taylor who will be in his first year there but he will have a few players to help ease the transition. Terrance “JR” Jacobs, is diminutive in stature but big in game is ready to lead after playing some last year but will be in an entirely different role this year. Jacobs is very capable 15-20 point scorer and if he gets rolling, can put up big numbers.  AJ Dillworth and Amar Knox will both have to play well this year if they are to continue the tradition of Bellevue and deep playoff runs.

JR Jacobs (Bellevue)
                                       JR Jacobs (Bellevue)

 

Other teams to watch out for

FACS– Maybe the most talented private school in the city with Landon Jeffries, Kobe Wilks, Corey Savage and Tim Thomas Jr. Don’t be surprised if they appear in the top 5 next time around.

John P Freeman Middle- Bryce Dailey had a nice summer and he hopes to continue that into this season. He should lead this group along with Eric Steward and Harold Draper Jr.

Highland Oaks Middle– I’m really interested in watching Regale Moore and Josh Holloway this season. Their progression from last year to this year will determine how far Highland could go.

Lausanne Middle- A name you need to remember, Hayden Ledbetter is there and he’s one of the more talented 8th graders you may not know much about. Owen Babb and Peyton Piacetti will give them perimeter shooting.

Colonial Middle– Jacquez Brown and Cedric Franklin Jr will be trying to turn around a some what unmemorable season last year in Coach Franklin’s first year. He’s excited about Antonyus Moore as well.

 

Fresh “50” Camp (2021 Class Only)

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The first annual Fresh “50” Camp will be held at Lausanne Collegiate School (1381 W.Massey Rd) on Saturday October 14th. This camp is for the 2021 class (9th graders). This camp is in conjunction with premierbballservices.com and will provide maximum exposure as well as an opportunity to see where some of the areas’s best player measure.  Their  will be station/drill work, 3 on 3, 1 on 1, 5 on 5 games and much more inside the camp. There will only be 50 players accepted for the camp and it will be, first come, first serve.

For more information in the coming days, please continue to monitor here and premierbballservies.com or you can contact 901-287-0057 or send email to premierbballservices@gmail.com

Johnson’s Move Could Pay Huge Dividends!

 

Jordan Johnson To Hamilton High School
                                               Jordan Johnson To Hamilton High School

Former Central High standout and Team Penny 2018 guard Jordan Johnson is on the move. The 5’10 known for his scoring and 3 making ability  is headed to South Memphis to play for Hamilton High School.  This is a huge addition for Hamilton who will be in  Double A this year  and could have a huge say in who comes out of a much improved classification.

Johnson will give Hamilton maybe the best trio of guards AA this upcoming year pairing him with Kevon Williams, Martrell Brooks and you can’t forget about Delvin Lane, a 6’2 guard who can score. Hamilton who last won a state title in 2015 could find themselves back in the picture this year as a team you definitely have to pay attention to this season.

 

What We Learned: Summer Team Camps

 

East HS Guard TJ Moss
                                                                             East HS Guard TJ Moss

When it comes to the summer, really how much can you tell when it comes to high school basketball? June kind of gives you a small look into what could be for the next high school basketball season as teams get together for team camps and look for something to build on before November comes around.

It’s also a good chance to see the always plentiful transfers because let’s face reality, it happens here and it happens a lot. Good or bad but always interesting, there were a lot and a few will be able to help their respective teams in some way. Some will be starters, some will be valuable role guys and some might become the ” go to” types on their new teams. It’s also a great time to see where the the 2021 class of freshmen could end up but let me say this, just because you saw them there, doesn’t mean that they stay there. I saw a few kids who played for one high school in one team camp, play for another in the last team camp (MUS. That goes for transfers as well because until you are enrolled in that school, then there is a chance that that player ends up at another school or at his original school.

Now, let’s take a look at somethings I learned over the course of June and give an early look into the city’s top 5 schools for the 2017-2018 season.

1. There has been a lot of talk about East and deservedly so.They ended the year last season ranked in the top 10 in the country by most and while they will lose some valuable contributors in Jay Hardaway, Pig Washington and Nick Merriwether, East is in position to maybe be better than last years. They added one of the top 5 players in the city in 2018 in 6’5 Ryan Boyce who adds unmatched athleticism and scoring to them and 3 of the areas top 5 freshmen in 6’6 Johnathan Lawson, 6’3 Jalen Brown and 5’8 Kennedy Chandler and Tadarius Jacobs, another really 2021. 4 starters return for them in Lomax, Lawson, Moss and Malcolm Dandridge and a sometime starter last year, Dude Collum might be their 5th starter. Their veterans will carry the load and bring the young freshmen along with Dee Merriwether, James Dejesus who could start for a lot of teams here, Isaiah Cathey and 6’4 George Bee who will be in the rotation. There a lot of rumors flying about James Wiseman being at one their games last week and he was there however, there hasn’t been a transfer on his part. Could it happen? That remains to be seen but regardless if that happens or not, this team has a chance to do something similar to last season and end it with something special late in the year.

2. The 2021 class was out in full effect during the team camps which is always fun to see. The adjustment from middle school to high school can be rough for some and this was a chance to get their feet wet so to speak with a chance to play against juniors and sophomores. It’s in essence, starting back over but most I think will have good transitions although it might take until December January before they get comfortable. As mentioned earlier Johnathan Lawson, Jalen Brown, Kennedy Chandler and Tadarius Jacobs are all at East. That’s 4 of the areas top 10 freshmen but where did everyone else land?

  1. Willie Foreman 6’4 White Station- Might be a starter for the Spartans this year.  Didn’t look intimidated at all in the times I saw him. Will play in the best district in TN so he will grow up fast.
  2. Alden Applewhite 6’5 Lausanne– Gives last year state champs another ball handler with length and ability to shoot the 3. Like former middle school teammate, he has a chance to start the season off in the first 5.
  3. Davon Barnes White Station– Will see some minutes this year and get a lot of time this year to make young mistakes. Not really talked about a lot in this class but the 6’2 Barnes is a sleeper.
  4. Zander Yates  Briarcrest-Might be closer to 6’8 now, Yates should see a lot of time this year for the Saints. Besides the value that he adds on the glass, Yates can also score with his back to the basket.
  5. Jelani Willis 6’0 FACS– With FACS losing 8 seniors last season, Willis will play and play a lot. Question is, will that be sooner or later as he also shines on the football field.
  6. Kaeden Laws Center Hill- Had some good moments for his high school team. Might play some 3 for them in spots as he is looking to expand his game to the perimeter some.
  7. Kameron Jones ECS- Coach Tippett’s group looks pretty set at guard spot so finding minutes might be hard to come by for the point guard. Jones shooting ability could land him on the floor at some point of the year though.
  8. Reese McMullen CBHS– Another name that’s not mentioned among the elite in this class but McMullen might play a lot of minutes this year for the Purple Wave. Can play both guard spots and be a scorer.
  9. Bryson Potts- Houston- With all the transfers from Houston, Potts might be forced into the show quickly but it could help him adjust quickly in 15AAA.
  10. Jace Lockhart- Arlington-Really solid guard, good defensively on ball, good fit for him with the Tigers and might have an opportunity for some playing time there.

Other 2021 players include, Brennan Jones- ECS, Eddie Buxton- Lausanne, Rod Seals- Cordova, Tyler Harrington- Briarcrest Christian, Tristen Jones- TN Prep

3. Ah, the aforementioned transfers and there have been a lot of them. At one school, it seemed like the entire team left with the exception of one or two players. Bartlett was able to snap a few from the 15AAA school putting them in the running as a favorite in 14 Triple A. Takori Rooks and Rodney Mason will probably be starters for them and on for Kirby, Coach Spears got a good guard in Jaylen Saulsberry, a good size lead guard who might lead them in scoring next season. Brandon Brown who last year played at Overton is now heading to White Station where he could form a nice duo with Allen Hatchett and have them in the running for a nice finish in district. Brown is a 6’3 6’4 big guard who can get you a bucket and improving jump shooter. He led Overton in scoring last year and is the type of pick up that White Station was used to getting in the past.

The Harding Lion got two of the biggest pick ups in the city in the Howard Brothers, Luke and Anthony. Both from Canada, Luke is a 6’9 who can put it on the deck and finish with both hands, shoot the 3 and rebound A part of the 2019 class, Howard could have a say in the top 10 by  season’s end. His brother is a 2020 6’6 forward who has to get used to the different style of play than he’s accustomed to and the physicality of Memphis but he’s skilled enough that he will be able to be on the floor this year for Harding. Luke’s transfer could have the most impact of anyone this year especially on the private school side. Brandon Mason is also heading to Ridgeway to be a Roadrunner to form a nice trio of guard with Antwan Beans and Antonio Thomas.  6’6 Mark Johnson will help at Southwind and add a long forward who can help inside with Kameron Jones who will have to help pick up scoring slack after the departure of CJ Marshall.

 2019 6'9 Luke Howard- Harding Lions
2019 6’9 Luke Howard- Harding Lions

4. What schools will be in contention with East to be in state next season? Looking at it, kind of hard to say right now but I guess I would say Southwind and Ridgeway for starters. Maybe Bartlett in 14AAA or maybe even Arlington who also has 2-3 starters back and the return of Tate Kolwyck to the basketball court who is stand out at quarterback. For those who remember, Kolwyck can play and will definitely help this year. Whitehaven I think will be pretty good but state run, not sure but remember the name of Matthew Murrell, he will take a huge step this year for Coach Phillips. Only a sophomore, Murrell has big time athleticism and can score in bunches and looks more like a D-1 player every time you see him.  Can Coach Real’s Bartlett team make a run this year? They have some pieces and a steady guard in Jeff Walker to help lead this year. With their transfers and guards, Wynne Brown and Sylvester Thompson, Bartlett can have a say in who wins that district and beyond.

5. Can Lausanne repeat as state champs next season? Who will have the best private school team in the city next year? Bubba Luckett always has CBHS in the mix as well as Briarcrest who has really solid 9th and 10th group grade,maybe the best in the city. MUS with  Caleb London, John McBride and Zach Street should have the Owls in the conversation. St.George’s with Issac Smith and the best shooter you haven’t heard of, Hagan Imorde will be good for St.George as well as a 6’7 transfer out of Mississippi who will start for them.

 2018 John McBride MUS (One Of The Best Forwards In Private School
2018 John McBride MUS (One Of The Best Forwards In Private School

Early Top 5: 2017-2018

  1. East High School- Best team in the city, the eyes are watching and everyone is hoping to knock you off. They went through it last year and this year will be no different. This year is a little different for them because of they have some youth this year on the bench as opposed to 11th graders and 12th Not to say that’s a bad thing because they are very talented but will be different nonetheless. They will need to bring them along slowly but I’m sure they can with their core talent. Talks of a national schedule, will East play TSSAA this year, there is a lot of chatter when to the Mustangs this year but one thing remains, this team is really really good with a chance to 3-peat.
  1. Olive Branch High School– DJ Jeffries, Joe Cooper and Kelvin Allen lead this very talented team who should make that move to state this year with a chance to win it all. Jeffries is a top 10 prospect in the country that should put up crazy numbers this year. Cooper had some early injuries this spring but is coming on strong late which should will parlay into a great high school season. Kelvin Allen might be their heart and soul of this team, he guards the opposing teams best guard, a relentless defender and has bounce to him, when he’s on the floor, good things happen. Watch out for Josh Stevenson, 6’6 Cameron Matthews who could break out this year and Wes Taylor.
  1. Southwind High School– This is Mark Freeman’s team now and as he goes, they will go. His leadership will be key this year as well as his ability to make his teammates better all way having to score a lot as well for them. Another player who will have to increase production and he has the ability to do it, Kameron Jones, a 6’8 long forward who has shown flashes but as a junior now must be counted on every game. Christian Jones and Quentin Williams must be big as well.
  1. Whitehaven High School– Kameron Jones and Matt Murrell will be the bulk of their offense and another one of last year’s freshmen will have to be ready to contribute nightly for them.  Latrell Carter returns to the Tigers after playing at Central last year and gives them another player on the glass and will have a lot of silent double digit games this year.

5. Lausanne Collegiate School– Last year’s state champs return Ashton Smith, Sky Forrest, Cameron Sims and Eric Gray from last year’s team. Add Kobe Jeffries to that who was hurt last year as well as Johnathan Dejurnett, a 6’6 2022 and freshman Alden Applewhite and it looks like Lausanne has the ingredients to make it back but it will be tough.

 

 

Rod Brown Commits To The Wichita Shockers!!

 

Rod Brown
                                                                              Rod Brown

Cordova High School and Team Thad stand out Rod Brown as committed to the Wichita State Shockers announcing via twitter this morning. The 6’6  2018 forward still hasn’t made it clear if he plans to join the 2017 class as reports indicated a month or so ago or just finish his career out in his original graduating class but it’s a great move for him and Wichita State. Brown is an athletic freak with a man physique and tools that spell out stand out in the AAC conference where he will have a chance to come home and play the Tigers once a year. Congratulations to Brown on his college choice!!

Trio In Memphis Could Make Memphis Popular In 2020!

 

 

Top (Marcellus Brigham) Bottom (Cameron Matthews) and right (Matthew Murrell)
                       Top (Marcellus Brigham) Bottom (Cameron Matthews) and right (Matthew Murrell)

 

2018 has Alex Lomax, Tyler Harris and TJ Moss at the top who are all receiving a ton of attention from coaches around the country followed by 2019 who which is probably the best upcoming class to most locally which includes Chandler Lawson, DJ Jeffries and Malcolm Dandridge.  There is another class though whose  starting to show that their trio should be mentioned as well. 2020’s Cameron Matthews, Whitehaven High School Matthew Murrell and Briacrest 6’5 guard ,Marcellus Brigham. All different in how they play but one thing that they do have in common, they are all future division 1 basketball players and they make up what could make this area once again a prime location in 2020 for college coaches.

Murrell is probably the best scoring guard in the city in the freshman class and has star written all over him. Scores it in bunches from all 3 levels, unmatched athleticism at the 2 guard position and you can play him some on the ball as well. He showed off the leaping ability this weekend with an array of dunks and finishes and he looks a lot more comfortable taking hits and scoring plus fouls. That’s what a year in the best district in the state will do for you. Matthews is a 6’5 small forward who will remind some of Antavion Collum (East) in body structure , has definitely added new bounce to his game. Does most of his damage close now but is a player who can get it of the rim and go with it and finish strong and he looks at his best when attacking  where he can use his athletic ability to finish. He can defend multiple positions and is a good rebounder and weak side shot blocker. He’s improving his jumper and handle every year and I expect that to continue to get better the more comfortable he gets shooting it. Brigham is maybe the most intriguing because of his shooting ability from the mid game to the 3 and has some post up in his game as well.  Has a smoothness about him, loves the pull up from the elbow and short corner and utilizes the floater when necessary.  A mismatch because he’s a true big guard, most times to big for smaller players and able to drive around bigger players, the more aggressive he gets, his ceiling gets that much higher! Some say he could end up being the best player in this class in Memphis.

While I’m not ready to say that this class is better than another right now, I will say this, this class is starting to evolve into a pretty good and it starts at the top with these 3. Be on the look for these 3 as all run with Team Penny in the spring and summer.

East 2-Peats!!!

 

East HS State Champs
                                                                        East HS State Champs

 

I remember going to the 16AAA media day at Whitehaven at the start of the season and wondering a little if the expectations might be a bit much for this East team. Sure, I knew they were defending champs but I also knew that this year, there would be a  target big enough to fit on the side of the Fed Ex Forum on their backs, Every team in the city’s best shot, every night and it showed right at the beginning of the season. Melrose fought them hard in their first district game and was within 10 in the 3rd quarter of that game but after a 20 something to 4 run, East found it’s stride in that game and never looked back during the season.

By now we all know what the Mustangs led by Coach Penny Hardaway and Rocky Johnson did on Saturday, they repeated as TSSAA Triple A State champions beating Southwind in an all Memphis final for the second straight year in a row.  It wasn’t easy though especially the second game having to come back down from 6 a few times in the game against a good Oak Ridge team to win it with some big plays down the stretch from their trio of Moss, Lawson and Alex Lomax.  The title game I felt like was one that would be won in the 3rd quarter and I just knew that East would go on one of those runs  like they always do and win in by double digits because I just felt like Southwind was a good team but they didn’t have enough scoring to be able to keep up with East.

Let me say this, the story is amazing in a sense because this was years in the making. We remember the story of Desmond Merriwether and fast forward up to now and you just shake your head and say wow. These Mustangs have been to the state tournament 3 straight years and if you really want to think about it, players like Alex Lomax, Pig Washington and Nick Merriwether have been to the state 5 straight years with 4 state titles if you want to include Middle School in as well (Lester). This is a group that I will remember for as long as been doing middle school and high school coverage as one of the more memorable teams that I can recall.

Chandler Lawson- MVP of The State Tournament
                                                  Chandler Lawson- MVP of The State Tournament

 

Chandler Lawson was named MVP of the state tournament with Lomax, Moss and Malcolm Dandridge making the all tournament. Christian Jones, Mark Freeman and Carlos “CJ” Marshall were also members of the all tournament team for Southwind.  Southwind who won it a few years ago (2012) had a nice run to end the year I thought and Freeman and Marshall were their catalyst. Freeman will return next season along with Jones who played well in the state and Kameron Jones, a 6’7 touching 6’8 developing post who should start to draw interest from colleges this summer. Guard Quentin Williams who had some huge moments in the post season for the Jaguars will also return in a starters role and they should have big Kristian Williams back as well. Someone will have to take up the scoring slack for Marshall and rebounding of Robert Boyd in order for them to be in the running again next season but they will have as good a shot as anyone.

alltournament

East could return 4 of their 5 starters for next season and it will likely not only make them the state favorite again but also be in the running as a top 3-5 team in the country next season. Some are saying number possibly and that would be incredible for the school located in Binghampton. Could be see a 3-peat for East? One would have to think that they have a pretty good chance but we can wait till next season to give a definitive answer but for right now, congrats to the East Mustangs, your 2016-2017 State Champs.

Penny Hardaway and Rocky Johnson
Penny Hardaway and Rocky Johnson

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 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