Coach Carlos Lambert said “man, we got somethings to work on, we not there yet” after yesterday’s scrimmage against Colonial. That’s too be expected so early on but with the season a week from starting for the young Mustangs, you can see the ingredients of a good team.
The Mustangs are very disciplined team that plays within themselves with each player seemingly fitting in their roles. They have players who can make shots from the perimeter and make plays to the rim, they play unselfishly as a group and seem to all to enjoy playing with each other. Their style of plays seems to be fast but they won’t settle for bad shots either as they are content with running offense and being patient if they have to. They have multiple players that can hurt you offensively and but they also get after you with pressure on the defensive end of the floor as well which leads to lay ups for them. The Stegall twins, (Will and Ben) can play both guard positions if need be but also go inside and battle for rebounds. Ryan Stockton just knows how the play, makes great decisions with the ball in hands and he can score it with jumper along with Jack Haugh who will probaly start as well. Stockton I’m sure will lead them in scoring some games as he will probably be one of their more valuable players.
8th grader DJ Sharp should be their leader most nights having played a lot last year as a 7th grader but this season, he will be heavily relied upon not only to score but to rebound and play big when the big moments come. He can put it on the floor some and shows improvement as a ball handler which more than likely will be where his future will be as a guard but he does most of his damage close. He plays hard, can take a bump and foul for and ones, face up and make a move or turn and put up the short jumper. He’s extremely active on the offensive and defensive boards and could a player who you could put on a teams best offensive player. For Houston to really make some noise this year, I think he has to lead by example, every game and he’s more than capable to do just that. 7th grader Maverick Miller (son of Mike Miller) will be one to keep an eye on too. Has the shooters mentality but isn’t afraid to put it on the deck and make a move which he did a few times when I watched him yesterday .I think he’s more comfortable right now as a shooter and he will make some big shots this year for his team. Hayden Mitchell, a 5’11 post player with good size has nice touch close and will help them on the glass this year and Jamison Smith will fill in nicely in the back up pg role.
All in all, I like this Houston team and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing late into the season. First up for them, Highland Oaks in what should be a good game and maybe, just maybe we will find out more about them and those who go watch might be surprised.
On the campus of the Lausanne Lynx this past weekend, fans got a chance to see some the better teams in middle school go head to head and also find out who to watch individually this season. With the season 2-3 weeks away for most, these scrimmages are key in seeing rotations, who they count and who will lead by example for coaches. At the same time, it’s new for the 6th graders, a different year and more expectations for some 7th graders like Highland Oaks’ guard Josh Holloway and Regale Moore and for 8th graders, a time to lead and be focal points of their teams.
Due to a prior engagement, I wasn’t able to attend the early games to see Bellevue, coming off another state title and looking for the 4-peat this season but it will be hard this year because of who they have to contend with . I think Terrance “Jr” Jacobs is up for it but will see share of double teams and trap defenses this year to get the ball out of his hands. Who I had a chance to see, Germantown, Lester, Mt.Pisgah, Highland Oaks and Colonial, all showed somethings to be excited about this year at their respective schools
Let’s start with with Colonial, they will be led at the point by Jacquez Brown and have some talent in Cedric Franklin Jr, Courtney Carter, 6’0 Marreco Warren who will be counted on heavily inside and guards Avion Veasley and Antonyus Moore. They were in the game early against a a really talented Germantown team early but their inexperience cost them late. I think once Coach Franklin puts his signature stamp of defense on this team, they will be much improved from last year but need someone to be a counted on scorer for them as well.
Mt. Pisgah was a team who was in the Final 4 last year in the state sectional but Coach Garner was really impacted by 8th graders who are now in high school but should be solid nonetheless. They are really guard heavy so they will all have to gang rebound and be really active on defense putting pressure on the ball to generate turnovers. Lowrance is another team that should be better this year with Braxton Jumper who can play the point but will more than likely be off the ball and the improving play of Javar Daniels, a 6’2 7th grader who’s getting better around the rim with his touch and becoming a better out of his area rebound. You can’t teach his length at this age or his effort.
Coach Mark Freeman will have young guards to count and its definitely good for the future because he has them for 2 more years but will have their share of ups and downs. I think Regale Moore could make the single biggest jump of improvement this year of any 7th grader in the city. He was able to get his shot off from all over and hit the 3 on multiple occasions and he’s capable ball handler and has the look of an athletic big 2 guard in the future. He has a nice release point on his jumper and attacked in the half court as well. He will more than likely lead them in scoring and point guard Josh Holloway was solid looking to distribute. In the past, I’ve seen him be more of score first type but he seems to be trying to make the move to more of traditional style point guard. I think in that role, he could do really well and for them to be successful, they will have to find another guard or forward to help be 2nd or 3rd scorer for them on game night.
Germantown and Lester, I liked what I saw in both teams and you can make an argument that maybe Germantown could be the best team in Middle School right now and they don’t have their full team yet. Two are out for football, one who could be their best player and likely will be (Cam Miller) and 8th grade guard, Rayquan Williams who will be in a key role for them. They are also without Cartier Beverly who most know as one of the premiere guards in the city in 8th grade, due to injury but if they get him back, no doubt in my mind, they could easily be the best team in the city.
Deshun Dunn was all over the player displaying super motor on the glass as a rebounder but also a scorer muscling his way to rim for easy buckets. Dunn will affect every game and will be an absolute load for everyone they play as opponents as a defender as well being able to guard probably every position on the floor. Chris Martin, their floor stretcher is back in lead role and could see some ball handling duty early on with Jhamal Ross, a solid point guard who must be able to run the show with Beverly out. Daniel Egunbinwe was one of the better players I saw on Saturday, hitting the trail 3 and getting to the rim off the dribble better than I’ve seem from him over the years. He looks about 6’1 right now and will be able to be mismatch at his position in any game that they play. I think he has a new found confidence on the perimeter and it will play dividends this year. I really think that once they get their full team which will include Beverly if he’s able to get back, they maybe the best team talent wise that you will find in the area.
Lester right now is my pre-season #1 and they showed some flashes of why. They started a bit slow against Highland Oaks but got up 19 in the second half with the first group which consisted of Marquise Washington, Chauncey Holmes, Devin Jackson, Jamarion Harvey and Lemarkus Wilkerson. They will put so much pressure on teams defensively running and jumping, pressing and they will be able to do it because they are deep and from what their head coach told me, they were missing 2 guys who will be in reserve roles.
They could theoretically play 9-10 players most games and not drop off much. Wilkerson will be their catalyst on defense playing the passing lanes while also showing the ability to put up numbers as scorer in transition or in the half court. Washington’s approach looks different this year, he moves different and becoming the focal point can do that and he will show this year why he could be considered a top 3 player in middle school this year. Chauncey Holmes is a long 6’0 guard maybe 6’1 who will be versatile for Coach Terrell, able to play with the ball at the 2 spot 3 spot and some 4 depending on who they playing against. Devin Jackson will also be a contributor as well and could lead them in scoring some games as well. Expect 6th grade Khylan Page to play a lot to with the second group but speaking of Page, he could be the best 6th grader in the city right now. He just has that look of a future 6’8.
All in all, the excitement is starting to build for the approaching middle school season and it should be fun one to watch…
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I received some feedback from the social media post that I made about transfers and I realized, I didn’t talk about any of the transfers, my bad. It would only be right if I did actually include the names of those who have went to different schools and what type of impact I think they have there.
Usually I wait a week or two to say who is going where because I have a 3 day rule meaning, if that student is at that school 3 days or more, that’s where they are going but does it always happen that way, no. Could there still be a player or 2 that could move to another spot, perhaps and it’s probably going to happen but as of now, I will mention only those that I know about and the schools where they have landed as of right now.
It all starts with literally the city’s biggest transfer, James Wiseman, a 6’11 top 10 player in the country in the 2019 class. The versatile 4 man go East after playing 2 years at Nashville Endsworth last season averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds. I’m sure right now with the all the attention surrounding the Mustang program, he is the most talked about transfer right now maybe in the state and his presence will be felt immediately around the city and he bolsters an already really good East team to elite status once again.
In any other year, Ryan Boyce would be the name that everyone would be talking about right now and maybe that’s a good thing for him. Boyce who recently broke his list down to SMU, Memphis and Florida comes over from Houston High School and will bring high major athleticism as well as rebounding and scoring ability to a team that lost some depth. With TJ Moss leaving and Dude Collum leaving for other programs, East depth will be tested some but with those 2 additions, don’t expect a significant drop off for East.
I talked about Jordan Johnson and his move to Hamilton some in a previous article that I wrote about earlier in the month and what I think he could bring to the Wildcats. I will say this, on paper, Hamilton may have the best guards in Double A in the city. 6’9 2019 Luke Howard comes over from Canada and will figure heavily into Harding’s success this season. I can see him being their leading scorer and maybe the league’s best player mid way into the season.
Brandon Brown will be putting on the green and white this year and playing for White Station after leaving Overton. The 6’4 to the rim guard will be big for the Spartans who needed another guard to score along side Allen Hatchett. His move outside of the obvious 2 up top could affect his team the most because it turns White Station into a top 2-3 in district. Not saying they weren’t before but Brown definitely helps them. Antavion “Dude” Collum left Memphis East and will be playing this year at TN Prep for his junior season. The 6’6 forward is a 3-4 who can handle the ball and from a source close, he could play some point guard this year at his new school.
Another nice pick up for TN Prep, 6’5 Bruce Guy who has several offers will be playing alongside each other this year. Guy is motor on top of motor, relentless rebounder, score out the face up game and hit the short jumper and the 3. Both players bring a lot of talent to prep school.
There are a lot of people excited about Raleigh Egypt basketball this year and one of the main reasons is the Devontae Williams. The 6’2 athletic guard finds ways to score and that will be key for the Pharaohs who are looking to return to the days of old after being down the last few years. Keep this in mind, Double A will be tough this year and even better if they can return to the old days.
Since they are Memphis players as well, TJ Moss and Caleb London must be included in this as well as high profile transfers out of the city. If you don’t know, Moss is transferring to Findlay Prep in Nevada while London will be closer, going to Conway Arkansas. London was rated by me as the city’s best 2020 player so a spot for #1 will open up there for someone.
Transfers To Watch
1. Mark Johnson 6’5 2019Forward (Southwind from Germantown) Adds length to Southwind along side Kameron Jones. Likely starts for the Jaguars.
2. Calvin Temple 6’0 (Center Hill from Olive Branch) Biggest asset is his shooting and his ability to make shots from all over the floor.
3.Jaylon Saulsberry 6’2 2020 (Kirby from Houston) Will start day 1 at new school at the point guard position. He will be as important to his team as anyone in 15AAA.
4. Rodney Mason 6’4 2020 (Bartlett from Houston) Should start the season as big piece for Bartlett. Brings some rebounding and scoring close.
5.Brandon Mason 6’2 2018 (Ridgeway from Central) Plays along Antwan Beans during the summer so the chemistry should be there for those 2. Mason gives them another ball handler and nice trio with Antonio Thomas as well.
6. Takori Rooks 6’5 2019 ( Bartlett from Houston) Along with Mason, should be a starter first day of practice.
7. Shemar Brown 6’5 2019 (TN Prep from Olive Branch) Part of the transfers that will make TN Prep pretty good for the next 2 years and he’s familiar with both Collum and Guy. They played together years ago during AAU. Brown plays hard and isn’t afraid to mix it upside inside.
8. Latrell Carter 6’6 2018 (Whitehaven from Central) Originally went to Whitehaven so he returns home and Coach Phillips hopes he can upgrade the position from last year.
9. Connor Richardson 6’7 2019 (St. George from Lewsiburg MS) Will at worst, their second best player this season. Rebounds, scores with short jump hooks close.
10.Marcus Lee 6’2 2018 (Melrose from Central) Melrose got hit hard with graduation last year so Lee should have an opportunity to step right in and play.
11. Jalen Clay 5’10 2018 (Southwind from Houston) With a starter leaving Southwind to head to a different state, a spot may have been opened up to play next to Mark Freeman who right now is playing football and may not be ready at the start of the season.
12.Jaylen Sanders 6’3 2020 (Southaven from PCA) Southaven has been up and down the last few seasons. Sanders is a reason to give them some optimism for the next 3 years.
13. Will Wilson 6’4 2019 (Ridgeway from Desoto Central) Along with Tylar Haynes and David Dixon, Wilson will have to rebound for them but right now he might be a better offensive player than both which helps.
14. Anthony Howard 6’6 2020 (Harding From Canada Just really getting here so it will take some time to get acclimated to the style of play here in Memphis. His older brother is ahead of the curve some (Luke) but he should be adjusted about mid way into the season.
15. Rodney Newsome Jr 6’4 (Briarcrest from PCA) Might be more so of football move but Newsome adds beef to go along with Omari Thomas on the court as well.
Don’t look now but the class of 2022 isn’t as far away as it once seemed. The rising 8th grade class has a few players in it who could have bright futures as their games keep progressing. At 6’1 almost 6’2 with an imposing physical stature, Bryce Dailey is a name that will likely see among those when talking about the best players in Memphis for the next few years. He has pretty good handle, a natural feel for making the right play and is above average rebounder at this stage. Dailey can score the basketball close and is developing into a jump shot maker off the dribble. It’s easy to see him long term as likely one of the best in this class and if he grasp an aggressive nature offensively, he could become the best player in this class in Memphis.
2022 has a pretty good list of upcoming 8th graders in a city that most know about like Chandler Jackson and Jr. Jacobs but there are a few names coming up that you will want to keep an eye on. I got a chance to out and see some talent at the BluePrint tournament this weekend and few new faces made an impression on me.
Ahmed Abdulahi (M33M-Catholic), Quincy Porcha (M33M- Oxford) and Jon Chalmers(DMG-Southaven) all stood out with their play each showing signs of a good prospects in the future. Abdulahi is a long 6’1 almost 6’2 guard who played some lead guard for his team but seems to be more comfortable as a scorer for his team. He seems to project more as a 2 guard especially if he gets to 6’4 6’5. Definitely a young player who Coach Erik Buggs over at Catholic should be excited about.
Quincy Porcha is diminutive in stature but he gets it done with the jumper and off the drive to the rim. He plays within himself and he picked his spots hitting some big shots late in a win for them on Saturday afternoon. Porcha is from the Oxford area in Mississippi and should be one of the players in that area for years to come. 5’11 Jon Chalmers out of Southaven might have been the best prospect I saw over the weekend in the tournament showing off his athleticism to the rim that you don’t see from many at this age. Chalmers could get to rim at will using a good first step and when he got there using body control to score on finishes. When he missed, he was getting off the floor quickly for rebounds and stick backs and was the primary ball handler for his team. I think by his time next year, he will be playing above the rim if not sooner as he definitely has a future as an athletic 2. Cedquavious Hunter(DMG) is another player out of Misissippi (North Panola) who will people will start to hear about about very soon. Best shooter I’ve seen in the area in the 7th grader off the catch that I’ve seen this early spring. He hit 3 in the first half and when he wasn’t spotting up, he putting on the floor making plays for himself or a teammate.
These are names that you will want to keep an eye on, not only through the spring and summer but going forward as well.
When looking at prospects, everyone’s criteria isn’t the same as some others when judging players and seeing a future in them. Some players you see, they just pass the eye test but don’t perform up to the level of their look but one that does and he stands out in a big way, 2022 Chandler Jackson. When you see the 5’10 guard, you see length, lead ability, big time size, scoring ability, handle, a good get it off the rim and good player who can create for himself and others. I saw him last summer a little and I can tell he’s been working on his game in particular, his perimeter jumper where he can make shots from wherever on the court. He’s really tough to stay in front, has a really good first step right now and a problem offensively because at a young age, he can create his shot off the dribble but is most effective at this stage a finisher and player who gets to the rim at will due t his strength. He handles well, makes good decisions and is very unselfish for a such a talented player. Definitely a big guard at this stage and likely will always be in that role and right now, he looks like he has a big time future. Easily one of the better players in the 7th grade and I wouldn’t argue with you if you said he was the best player in the class right now.
The 6th Annual 901PrepScoop All Star Games will be held Sunday, February 19th at Lausanne Collegiate School at 1381 W.Massey Rd, Memphis TN, 38120. The games will begin a showcase 5th grade game, followed by the all star contest. These games has featured several players who have went on the play college basketball including Darrell Brown Jr (Bradley), Jaylen Fisher (TCU), Dedric Lawson (University of Memphis) and several players who are still tearing it up on the high school level as sophomores, juniors and seniors including Tesia Thompson (Hamilton) and Dontrecia Johnson (Whitehaven). This year is no different with talent on the boys side with players like Jalen Brown, Johnathan Lawson, Aldon Applewhite, Calvin Jennings , Kennedy Chandler, Deebo Coleman and Zander Yates. I could keep going but it would take me another 2 paragraphs to talk about all the talent in this game but the girls aren’t slacking in that department either. Sequoia Allmond, 6’4 Dionna Reed, Amaya Mull, Schilling Farms’s Destiny Todd, the Taylor twins at Arlington and many many more. This year’s 8th grade girls class might be one of the best in years with what looks like at least 10 division 1 caliber players in the future.
There will be some Mississippi flavor in this year’s game as well with Olive Branch’s Amya Black, Desoto Central’s Rachel Hightower and playing in the boys game, Kaiden Laws from Center Hill. This is the first year that I’ve ever had kids from out of the area in the game and they bring immense talent to the event.
Their are a total of 3 games on Sunday with the Memphis Wildcats playing Memphis United showcasing two of the area’s best team’s in the 5th grade at 2:00 pm. Then at 3, the All Star Games begin with the girls tipping it and followed by the boys at 4:30. The event is $6.00 dollar for the boys and girls all star games. Come see the future of Memphis high school basketball!!!