Number 1 Player In 2020? 2015 Rankings Coming Soon

Cameron Matthews (Best Player In 2020)
Cameron Matthews (Best Player In 2020)

It’s been a long time but, I’m going to start to take a look at the best players in the city in different classes in the coming with giving top 5 and top 10 in 6 classes.  Who should represent the top 5 in 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 or 2016? Let’s hear your thoughts below in the Disqus comment section. It’s easy to comment, just log in through facebook or create an account on Disqus and just like that, your in and able to discuss under any article written.  The 2015 rankings are  coming soon!!

A Star That Never Shine? Or Did It?

Taurean "T-Head" Moy
Taurean “T-Head” Moy

 

When you have been around basketball your whole life you hear all kinds of stories. We have all heard about that one guy, who if had stayed out of trouble, could have  been big time, and maybe even made it to the league. It’s like every different part of the city has that one guy who is a super talented, “can’t miss” player. However, for some, their hoop dream just never panned out.  Most of the time, not making it is falls on them.  North Memphis, South Memphis, Orange Mound, these areas represent where some of the best players have come from, and those are just a few areas of Memphis that have had talented basketball players.

My cousin tells me about a player by the name of Danny McMillan from North Memphis who attended Northside High School. According to my cousin, he could do it all. McMillian could score with anyone, was a great passer and a great rebounder. What made him special was that could get it done whenever he wanted to and there was nothing any other player could do about. From what he and others told me, McMillian could give Penny fits on the court and I’m not talking about Penny from Good Times. I’m talking about the man in Memphis, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, the man who everyone is measured against once they get a name here.  No other Memphis player can compare to him since his days at Treadwell. However, McMillan may be just as good. I can’t say if he is as good as or better than Penny. Honestly, I don’t think there has been anyone better than Penny, but from those around him, McMillan was that type of talent. That’s just an example from North Memphis and every part of the city has or has had that type of guy.

We used to play ball behind the school when I was young and there would be this guy who would come up there.  At the time, he was probably in his late 20s maybe 30, old to us, but nevertheless, he was unbelievable.  He wore a torn up t-shirt, big huge Nikes and always had a 40 ounce in hand.  I’ll admit, the first time I ever saw him play I thought to myself, “who is this dude?” I mean he had bunny, I mean super bunnies, my friend threw him a lob and he went to the top of the square and got it, bad pass but he dunked it easily with two hands. He was hitting 3 pointers, dunking on guys, and doing it all like he had been playing for 20 years or more.

I know how this sounds. Sure, we were only kids and he a grown man. Of course he would be better than us. That didn’t make a difference because he did it to grown men, too. He wasn’t a huge guy, maybe 6’1 – 6’2, but he played like he was 6’8. He was the first person I ever saw, up close, do the off the backboard to himself in traffic, go get it, and finish it like no one was standing there. It didn’t matter if his opponent tried to block it or not, he was getting it off, draped all over him. I saw him hit every shot in a game to 24.  He made all 24 points with guys all over him. They talked crazy and all, but he would dominate them, anyway. He would do this consistently. I started to see him at the Mt Moriah basketball courts when I would play late night pick-up games. He was always wearing his torn up shirt, carrying a 40 ounce, and still killed on the court. One day I asked him, “Where did you play college ball?” “Nowhere”, he said. I said about high school career and he said that he went to Melrose but he never got a chance to play because his mom got sick and he had to get a job to support his family. Later, when he got fired from his job, he and older brother decided to rob a store and they got caught.  His crime earned him 6 years in prison. I wonder what he could have been if circumstances were different, would he be a hometown hero like Penny?

This is just one of many stories of a guy who could have been successful.  His circumstances, those he created and those he did not, stood in the way of making him great. No one knows for sure if success for him would be certain, but what is certain is that we will never find out. I don’t know if he was a sure pro, but with the stuff he could do, I know could have been a high major college basketball player. I think he was just as talented as a Tony Harris or Snap Hunter, who were also immensely talented.

Out of South Memphis, there is another story that you may be more familiar with. It is the story of Taurean Moy or T-Head as he is known around Memphis. I had a chance to meet him years ago, while I was at Southwest Community College. He was a down-to-earth, cool type of guy. I knew of his talents, and was supposed to attend a game that he would be playing in later that night. It was the legendary game against Manassas where Moy hit twenty-four 3 pointers for 83 points. It’s just my luck that I missed a game that went down in the history books as well as the stats sheets. That night Moy broke a national record which still stands still this day. Moy’s exploits before that game were already one of a mythical type, you know the mythical shooter who never misses, some guys you say are pure shooters, or “wet” that’s just what he was, he never missed. Lay ups were 3 pointers, and 3 pointers were lay ups. It didn’t matter if he was open or not, if Moy threw it up, it was good. He just had that “it” factor about him. He was a naturally gifted shooter and one of the best to ever do it Memphis. The way Moy played, everyone just felt like big things were in store for him. But there was just one catch. He couldn’t stay out of the way of himself.  The day after his 83 point game he was charged with assault and possession of marijuana.

One day he was on top of the world, the entire city was talking about his superstar feat . The entire country knew his name but twenty-four hours after one of the best high school basketball performances ever, he charged with two crimes and sent to jail. His team would go on to win the state championship that year (2001-2001) where he scored 26 points in the title game and set another state record for most 3 pointers made in the tournament. Just maybe, things were turning around for the young man, things were looking up but by now, you know this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Moy would go on to not graduate from high school never receiving his high school diploma and  later, he would get himself into more trouble outside of Memphis, while attending college in Nebraska. While I will not get into what his charges were, let’s just say it was enough to be sentenced to 36 months in prison.  It is sad to say but this is just another example of a young man with promise being reduced to a “shoulda, coulda, woulda” cautionary tale.

Moy was the star that never shined, as that is the name of the documentary being done on his life implies and although his story is tragic, it is one that could teach others? This man had so much talent but he seemed destined to do something that might derail an opportunity. His tale is so familiar. It is a familiar narrative of so many great players whose names we will never know.

Hopefully, Moy’s story is one that can teach those who maybe from South Memphis or North Memphis or East Memphis about what not to do and to give them a blue print of some of the mistakes to avoid along the way. Maybe Moy’s purpose was bigger than basketball. Just maybe, his life was meant to teach others. Is it possible that he can still make it as a basketball player? Maybe he will achieve success overseas or somewhere else on the professional level. It’s not likely at 33 years old, but maybe, for the greater good, Moy’s life went the way he did because he was meant to be a live coach. It is possible that his talents were meant to get him involved in the game that once garnered him so much attention for the purpose of helping others.

Experience is life’s best teacher and Moy’s experience has been filled with highs and lows, negatives and positives and maybe, his life as a basketball player didn’t go as planned because maybe he had a different purpose.  His story can be used to show young kids about life and mistakes and never giving up.  According to Moy’s Facebook page, he is now teaching young players the mechanics that made his jump shots legendary. He even came back recently and played in a Legends game held at Lemoyne Owen, where he played 1 year of college ball after getting out of prison with other local high favorites in a game spotlighting the city’s past basketball talent.

If there is a lesson that can be taken from any of the stories mentioned in this story, it is this; Life will throw you challenges along the way but you must be confident enough to get back up and take another shot. If not, it is possible that you will always wonder what would have happened if I you had taken that one more shot?  Moy is the best example because he is one person who was never afraid of that moment, the person who would take the 3 and  make the 3. That is Taurean “T-Head” Moy

 

 

Briarcrest Summer League: Day 1 Observations

 

Jaylen Fisher (Bolton HS)
Jaylen Fisher (Bolton HS)



The first official summer league of the city kicked off at Briarcrest Christian School today with several teams and coaches trying to get a feel for each other for the first time and some for the last time as seniors. Last season is a memory and now, the 2015-2016 season is coming and it’s not as far as one may think. We only have about 150 days or more until the season starts, I mean, that’s not a long time is it? Okay, well maybe but then again, it’s my favorite time of the year so I always look forward to it. I also love the month of June, the team camps as this is a first look at who can be contenders, the transfers and where the city’s best 9th graders will go and this year, it could a year of big time transfers. Below is a look at some of the teams that I had a chance to watch on Monday evening and again, these are just the teams that I saw as I didn’t get a chance to view everyone.

Harding – This is a team coming off a season where they went to state kind of out of no where getting hot at the end of the year, at the perfect time. There best player and leading scorer is back in Anthony Yarbrough who will be big time bucket guy this year for the Lions. at 6’4, Yarbrough can get to the rim off the crossover and finish and hit the 3 and go inside to rebound for his team which he will have to do. I really like his length and ability to slash for scores or get to the free throw line. As he goes this year, so will Harding and he has help in point guard, Bryant Lee, a bruiser lead who loves to attack and draw for teammates or finish at the rim and 11th grader, 6’3  Julian Isabel, an athletic 3 with bounce and scoring ability  around the basket.

Anthony Yarbrough (One of the City's Best Kept Secrets)
Anthony Yarbrough (One of the City’s Best Kept Secrets)

 

Southwind will always have a pretty competitive team and this year will be no different for them and they have some familiar faces to make  another run this year at district championship. Mark Freeman, CJ Marshall and Robert Boyd should all be back even though none played on Monday so that will make for a formidable trio to go along with Leiland Kirkendoll, Eric Turner if the knee is closer to 100 percent this year and one of the top 3 freshmen in the city, Antavion “Dude” Mccollum, a super talented 6’6 with handle and ability to be facilitator at his height. 11th grader Kendall Edwards will also play a bigger role this year as well as Tre Davis Fisher but it all starts with Freeman and Marshall. They are going to look a little different but they will be good team in Triple A this year.

Bolton will look much different but one of the best guards in the country is back to run the show in Jaylen Fisher and a big post presence in Martavious Wilson, a 6’8 270 5 who can score with his back to the basket. Fisher is as good a play maker as anyone is in the country and his vision is outstanding however, this year, he will be expected to score a lot more, maybe at a 18-20 point a night type clip. AJ Jones will play on the ball a lot as well and do some scoring but with Bolton, Jaylen has to have a great year to repeat the success that they had last year in 14AAA.

Arlington along with Southwind maybe the most talented team in this team camp with Nate Hoover, the city’s best shooter, Garrett Golday, a 6’6 getting better every time face up 4 who has improved athleticism, Luke Wiseman, who started last year and a big transfer in Demonte Person who led Kingsbury in scoring last year and was a best of the preps pick. The ball will be in Hoover’s hands and when it is, good things will happen but I also expect Person to be able to  have some big scoring game as well. This team is the popular pick for 14AAA this year and I can see why.

Briarcrest has been decimated by transfers as I’m hearing that potentially 3 starters will leave the Saints but we know this is Memphis so I will believe it when I see it but 3 of 4 starters were not there on Monday. Without them, Briarcrest might be a middle of the pack type of team but they do have another transfer who will give them a great lift in the scoring department, Nate Vaughn. He started the year off last year with a 40 point game and was in the top 5 of the city in scoring for Memphis Metro last year. Will Hrubes will be relied on heavily for offense this year and leadership and be given a chance to solidify himself as one of the best players in the city with a good year.  If they don’t get back the 3 that were not there, expectations will be lowered but if they can some how get French, Woodard and Thomas back, this is top 5 team in the Memphis but that’s a big if.

MUS beat Bolton by 4, 44-40 in a pretty good game with Luke Wilfong and others hitting timely shots. The 10th grade Wilfong has grown some and added some weight to his body and it will help him scoring the ball. Josh Gray and sophomore John McBride will play huge roles in their success this year.

Again, I didn’t see everyone but on tomorrow, I hope to finish some of the teams that I missed out on on Tuesday. While I’m not saying this is the best team because I think  that title belongs East, I think the best team at the team camp is Arlington and then followed by Southwind and Harding then Bolton or you could flip the last two teams  if you wanted.

You Missed, You Missed? You Missed Like This?

Cameron Payne Murray State ( Lausannae  pic from 2012)
Cameron Payne Murray State ( Lausanne pic from 2012)

In just a few weeks, 60 players lives will change forever as they hear their name called in the NBA draft. For many of them if not all, the NBA seemed unfathomable, improbable, well impossible but yet some how, they worked hard and more importantly had the talent level to make it to the epitome of basketball in the country. Do you know how hard it is for a player to make it to the NBA? Let me give you an idea of how hard it is, there are 15 players per team, 30 teams in the league which means there are 450 players only in NBA but you have a million players who all think they are going to get there but one player locally though has a chance to be drafted in the  and become the first Memphis born player to be drafted in the lottery in 25 years. Cameron Payne, a 6’2 point guard who prepped at Lausanne Collegiate School before becoming one of the best point guards in college basketball at Murray State from the jump as a freshman averaging 16ppg  and 5 assist and increasing that number this year to 20 and 6 as sophomore. He has a chance to become the highest drafted player born here as I said , key word being “born” since well that guy, “1 Cent” (Penny Hardaway)  in the top 14 picks. People may say well  What about Lorenzen Wright? Well yes, Lorenzen played high school ball in Memphis at Booker T Washington  and was drafted in the 1996 draft at number 7 however Lorenzen wasn’t born and raised here, he was from Lafayette County or Oxford Mississippi and moved here for his senior year.

Sure there have been other guys from the program to be drafted high like  Memphian, Shawne Williams who went 17th overall in 2006,  Elliot Williams was selected number 22 by the Portland Trailblazers and going back to 1997, Cedric Henderson (East) went 45th overall to Cleveland but none have been higher Penny in the last 20- 25 years  but Payne could change that June 25th as a possible lottery pick where he projected right now by nbadraft.net

How did this happen though? Cameron Payne wasn’t a hot commodity coming out of Memphis right? Cameron wasn’t even considered the best guard coming out to the city that year in Memphis but  now, he’s a  lottery pick seen as high as pick 13? He had great prep numbers averaging 20 points and 10 assist, even winning  the state at Lausanne his senior year and leading the way for his team also  winning Mr. Basketball in his final year. For those who don’t remember Payne young, he was at the age of 11, 12, the  best guard in Memphis but as years progress, guys got older and while still really good, other guys became bigger names including Nick King, Jajuan Johnson  and Johnathan  “J3″ Williams.

Looking at different sports groups on social media, tweets and other message boards across the city, the narrative has been, how did Memphis and Josh Pastner miss out on Cameron Payne? Man, see this is what I’m talking about, Josh can’t coach, he can’t evaluate talent, why wasn’t Payne a Tiger? Well, let me ask this question? Why wasn’t Payne a Tennessee  Volunteer, a Ole Miss Rebel, Mississippi State Bull Dog or Vanderbilt Commodore? Pastner wasn’t the only person who missed on Payne and what about all the recruiting services who didn’t even have Payne as a 2  star let alone a 4 or 5 star? A lot of people locally said that maybe  his success on the high school level was because he played private school and that he couldn’t be that good because of the competition level at Lausanne right? Cameron played in the Nike EYBL with Bluff City Legends(Team Penny), he played some on the Adidas circuit with the Memphis Magic, so I mean there was chance after chance to be seen by colleges right?   According to Rivals, Murray State was the biggest offer that he had. ESPN had him with a rating of 73 and said he was the 10th best point guard in the state of TN and overall the 57th best player in the region. This was according to the World Wide Leader in  Sports , ESPN, not WREG but ESPN. They have writers for days for high school basketball as it becomes big business once young players enter 9th grade where they start to rank them.  247 sports had him as the 291 best player in the country, we talking about a lottery pick, 291? Did people just really overlook Payne? After all, some locally did it as well downplaying his success due to whatever reason they could think of . There have been several players over the years who could be the “out of no where type” stories, like NBA hall of famer Scottie Pippen who was the team manager at Central Arkansas and didn’t play much high school basketball  or Avery Johnson, a champion with the Spurs after having success in high school but only being recruited by junior colleges going on to a 16 career in the NBA. There are examples and examples but when it touches the Memphis area so close with Payne, it kind of intrigues people as to why Payne wasn’t highly recruited especially by the hometown team. Am I saying Payne will be a hall of famer or have a 16 year career? No, however, it makes you wonder, how did so many people miss?

You mean to tell me that everyone but Murray State was right about Payne? According to his recruitment, many were wrong including well Josh but again, everyone else was too. Was it that Murray State’s staff was just that much smarter than everyone else? You could see the tools, the length, the passing and scoring ability, make other players better around him, the creativity he possessed as a play-maker but no one else but the Racers saw this? This isn’t the first time though that Murray has pulled one out the hat, former Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan wasn’t a big national guy coming out of high school but now he is a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after being drafted by the Houston Rockets as the 34 pick of the 2013 NBA draft.  How is it that everyone missed on Payne? We are talking about a lottery pick possibly here?

Is it possible that Payne went to the right situation, that best fit him and excelled so much so that he is in the position that he is in now? I see not only locally but around the country where players pick schools that may not necessarily fit them as players but are “big” time schools, that play on TV all the time so they assume that’s the best opportunity to shine and be a player who could become a NBA draftee when more times than not, it doesn’t always work out that way due to a lot of factors but never the less, it doesn’t work out. Word to the wise young players, when it comes time to make a decision, you better think long and hard, why is this the best school for me, academically, athletically? Does the style of play fit who I am as a player? These are things you must consider, when picking colleges.

Why is it so hard to see by some fans of our local program here that Payne was missed on? Is it such an indictment on Coach Pastner because if that is the case, wouldn’t it  also have to be an indictment on other local programs  around region and the country right?  Was it a miss? Perhaps it was but the Tigers are not the only ones who didn’t take their bats off their shoulders and swing.

Chandler Lawson Competes At Adidas Nations

Chandler Lawson 2019 (Last On End of Second Row)

Now that KJ and Dedric Lawson are on to the University Of Memphis to begin their college careers, a new journey begins for the 3rd Lawson brother. Chandler Lawson, a 6’8 skilled oozing crazy potential but with talent to match, competed as one of only 2 8th graders invited in the country to Adidas Nations in Houston Texas. He just was there 2 weeks prior in the John Lucas International Middle School Combine where he was named the best 8th grader at the camp by Clark Francis, of HoopScoopOnline.com. As May comes to an end soon, questions will soon begin to come around again, what school will Chandler attend as he enters high school as June summer league approach. IMG in Florida still an option? Perhaps however, the soon to be 9th grader may also decide playing in Memphis might be the option as well. We will soon see where he and family chooses but Lawson looks primed to continue what his brothers did and make his own way as well.

 

Nych Smith To The Atlantic 10 (Flashback)

 

As many know by now, White Station point guard Nych Smith has committed to Fordham University in New York making him another one of the city’s division one players in the class of 2015. Fordham, your getting a great one in Nych, a smooth pg with a get the bucket mentality but can shine in the role of a distributor as well. Nych can create his own off the jumper both ways, finish with both hands and hit the 3 consistently and has a great feel for the game and can score on all 3 levels. I think he will become of the Atlantic 10 best guards if not by end of freshman year, he will be an all conference player by his sophmore season. A few years ago (10th grade) I had a chance to get Nych on video and talk a little bit. I know it’s not throwback Thursday but hey, to those who watch or have watched Nych, I always find it nice to look back at the maturity of a player over the years as a person and a player. Congratulations Nych.

 

 

 

Do You “Believe” Or Are You Just Bluffing?

DO YOU BELIEVE???

It was all good just a week ago right? BELIEVE!!! The Grizzlies mantra, We Don’t Bluff right? Bluff is a term used a lot in poker and sometimes to indicate if someone is real about action or playing around but if we were playing spades right now, the Warriors would be running a Boston or 10 hand for the spade beginners on the Grizzlies. What happen is my question? No, I don’t necessarily root hard for the Grizzlies however I like to see them do well so I have some interest in them however, these last 2 games have been disastrous and tonight, the Warriors have a chance to end the season of the beloved Memphis Grizzlies. My question is, does this surprise you? After the playoffs begin with the thrashing of Portland, it was on to Golden State, the best team in the league with the league MVP, Stephen Curry,  Memphis believed. Memphis fans believed that they had a shot in this series because Golden State is a jump shooting team, the Grizzlies ground and pound attack and boasting a top 5 in the league front line in Zach Randoph and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies fans thought they had a clear cut advantage. The Grizzlies came out first game and took one on the chin with a 101-86 loss but they had reason for optimism, Mike Conley was supposed to come back in next one and that he did. Afterward his facial fracture  surgery, Mike Conley looked like a thriller zombie and the game before, I thought it would be unlikely that he would play in Game 2 but I gained a lot of respect for him. He came back like he never left, masked and all and came out in the first quarter and killed it and overall scoring 22 points as the Grizzlies tied the series, 1-1 behind his 22 points. Courtney Lee contributed big time as well scoring 15 points and that guy Tony Allen, he was everywhere, a one man defensive hawk. Allen is that guy that you hoop with at the gym that’s wild as ever, you don’t like playing against him,” hey man, you  guard him” he can’t score at all,  but playing with you, you love him on your team.

In Game 3, it was Grizzlies again with a dose of Randolph and Gasol who finished with 21 and 15 while Randolph had 22 points got another win. Curry looked normal for a change, going 8-21 and 2-10 from 3 and just didn’t seem like his self. Did the Grizzlies great defense have to do with this? The thing about jump shooters or 3 ball shooters, it’s great when you making them but there is a old phrase, you live by the 3, you die by the 3 and when you not on, it can be a long night for you and great night for the other team. The Grizzlies found themselves up 2-1 in a series that Charles Barkley said they would get swept in, that’s right swept and now, it’s 2-1, WE DON’T BLUFF RIGHT? “BELIEVE” Well, I can’t lie, they even had me saying maybe they can pull this series out but not so fast mr.postman. Game 4, Steph Curry with the shot woke up out of the slump he was in and went to work scoring 21 points in the first half. He had 21 the whole game in Game 3 and he got that amount in the 1st half. As I watched at Clicks with friends, that game got ugly and ugly quick and it seemed as though someone came in the Sports Bar and put a little needle in the building and let all the Grizzlies air out. The team seemed deflated after that game but once again, “BELIEVE” This is Memphis, we don’t bluff right? Game 5, the Grizzlies had a great start, it looked like they were going to make it a game even getting up by double digits early but once again, that man Curry came alive hitting 4- 3 pointers to put the Warriors up at the end of the 1st quarter, 26-25. Late, the Warriors toyed with the Grizzlies, it looked like a rec game with old college pros and college players playing against plumbers, lawyers and guys that own restaurants, it looked bad. Whatever the Warriors threw up, they hit but was it because Tony Allen didn’t play? No, people, let me reiterate that, Tony Allen wouldn’t have made a 20 point difference. Please stop with that, I love his effort on the floor but offensively, he is a  liability because the Warriors don’t have to guard him so he can be a hindrance as well.

So now it’s 3-2, the Warriors look like they have gotten their swagger back, the Grizzlies looked shaken and rattled and now have to figure out a way to snap out of it and play like are capable or be eliminated on their home floor. What can they do to bolster the offense? What role player is going to have to play out of their mind tonight? Can old man river Vince Carter get you 15 tonight and make you think about when he was half man half amazing or is just now old half man? I remember people really  being on Beno Udrih, like he was a really good player, what happen to him?  Who’s going to be the shot maker from the outside tonight? Speaking of shot makers, why haven’t the Grizzlies addressed their horrible shooting from the perimeter in the last 2 years? It’s great to have 2 guys be able to score on the inside but what happens when you can double 1 and sag off (Allen) to help out on the other block? There has to be a guy able to make a shot consistently for them and if they don’t find it tonight, the season will be over. Maybe it’s me but I think Gasol could be better, he produces okay numbers to be called a top 2 or 3 center in the league but his numbers should be 20 10 consistently. I think he plays passively at times and isn’t as forceful on the offensive side as he should be. He passes sometimes 3-5 feet from the rim when he should be powering up for and ones or getting to the foul line. In this series, he has a clear cut advantage, well I at least I thought he had one on Bogut and while has played okay, I guess maybe I’m expecting more. My prediction on tonight’s game, hmmmm, well since the Warriors have won the last two by 15 plus, although the Grizzlies will be at home and they should play better here, I just don’t think the Grizzlies can score enough to keep Golden State from winning comfortably by 10 besides they haven’t scored 100 points in the series yet and we 5 games in. Do you believe or are you just bluffing?

 

Rumored Coaching Moves Become Reality

Coach Faragi Phillips (New Head of Whitehaven HS)

All aboard, all aboard and welcome to the Memphis coaching carousel!On board snacks will  include popcorn, candy, cokes and transfers to the likes of which the city hasn’t seen in the last few years due to the recent movement of coaches around the city. All the talk in recent weeks that were “rumors” became factual on yesterday as two coaching positions were filled at prominent Triple A schools, Central and Whitehaven High.

At Whitehaven, this was one most  talked about by everyone and maybe the most anticipated as  former Mitchell High School Head Coach Faragi Phillips took the helm as the Tigers lead guy. Phillips brings along with him, winning which he has done at every level he’s been on so far including Middle School where he won a sectional state (Ridgeway) and at Mitchell,  where he was as successful as any coach in the state in recent memory. 4 state appearances in 4 years, two in Double A, a state championship in 2014 in Single A and following that up with another for back to back state titles this year. His credentials, they speak for themselves and for those who think that accomplishing what he accomplished at Mitchell was because he was Single A are down playing his coaching ability. All Phillips has done is won wherever he was and I don’t think it will be any different at Whitehaven. As a motivator, I think he’s one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory as his players speak the world of him as coach and mentor. This is a great hire for the community of Whitehaven and one that will pay big dividends very soon as Whitehaven featured one of the best freshman classes in the city last season.

John Anderson who was at one time the assistant to Coach Ricardo Patton  at Colorado, who in a surprising move resigned suddenly,  will take over for him at the school that he recently left, Central High School. Anderson  was the head coach at Hillcrest (1987-2005) where he had a great career including Coach of the Year awards in 94, 95 and 1996 and garnering a top 20 ranking (17th in country) for his team,  before embarking on a career at the D-1 level as an assistant from 2005-2007 (Colorado) and Northern Illinois University. Anderson’s teams at Overton improved greatly during this time there including making it to the semi final of the regional before bowing out to East. He has a very structured style of coaching but he allows his players to read and be creative within the comforts of the offense.

Now that the moves have been made, how many more transfers might we see across the city? These two coaching changes could shape the always perennially strong 16AAA and keep it as the best district in Triple A possibly in the state but again, with this comes questions that each coach entering new positions must wonder. Transfers in Memphis do happen but each must do their due diligence in regards to each player who could arrive or that may already be at their schools.

We remember the Hamilton Wildcats right? Hamilton was rolling along, undefeated looking like a team capable of challenging for the 2006 record in the state (Hamilton 39-0)  beating Oak Hill Academy on national TV,  ranked in the top 5 by most national polls in the country however shortly after, a player on the team was ruled ineligible  soon after and they were forced to forfeit a significant amount of games. Was it done in malice by officials? No, definitely not but sometimes when things are done early on by the parents who may not necessarily know all the rules and quirks of the TSSAA, then it could become an issue down the line for someone should they not do their homework. Triple A brings a lot of attention to it and Coach Phillips and Coach Anderson are both high profile coaches who some may not have the best wishes for. Is that right to say? Maybe not but this is Memphis and everyone doesn’t always want you to have terrific teams regardless of what school you are at.

I think both of these coaches are great coaches who will do big time things at their new schools. I will even go this far, I think based on what’s at Whitehaven right now and what is to come, I think Phillips might have a chance to compete for the district title along with East as soon as next year. Coach Anderson’s job much like his first year at Overton will be in the mix late in the year but I look for bigger things in his second season but make no mistake, Central will still be a team that will be able to beat anybody in the city because of Anderson’s ability to coach.

 

2021 Impact Soon To Be Felt

 

2021 Impact To Soon Be Felt
L-R (Johnathan Lawson, Kennedy Chandler, Willie Foreman)

Who is the best player in 2021? I get it, for some people, it’s to far away right? These young guys are to young to be talked about as far as ranking as the best. You shouldn’t do this, your setting them up for failure, your stopping them  from working hard by doing this so soon because if they see this, they will think they have arrived. I think that the furthest thing from the truth and here is why, that class locally will have a huge impact on the middle school season next year because I think it’s better than the 2020 class in Memphis. How can the younger class be better than the older class? Well, 2021 boast a very talented group up top and some more players who show potential to be really good players looking towards the future.

4  of the players in the class have garnered national attention already including Johnathan Lawson (Memphis Wildcats/Team Penny), Kennedy Chandler ( and Willie Foreman and Jalen Brown Chandler has been seen as high as #5 according to some while Lawson has seen himself in the top 10-15 range as well as Brown who’s been ranked as the 20th best player in the country by one source. Chandler is more of a scoring point  guard right now but he gets it done from the 3 and in an assortment of ways. The knock on him maybe size but Kennedy’s production is big time. Foreman is worker around the rim, a high motor rebounder with some ability to step away from the rim as well and hit the free throw line extended jumper. Improving handle will elevate him more.  Brown is in the mold of the classic Memphis guards, a get the basket type through the floater and jumpers. He’s trying to get back into the swing after a light leg injury but Brown in the conversation. Lawson is the last of the Lawson brothers but the talent didn’t stop at Chandler and he might end up being the best of them all.  Already at 6’2, he has vision from the pg position, where he’s a big guard, he loves to get others involved but has the take over attitude when needed. He’s much improved offensively over the last year but I think it comes from just wanting to instead of not having the the ability . Several other players will have a chance to become pretty good over the next fews year in this class including, Kameron Jones, a knock down spot up  3 point shooter who might be the best in the city in that role, athletic defender but with scoring ability,  Tadarius Jacobs, Ethan Roberts and 5’9 Dorian George.

When I decide to rank this  group, I will not base on national rankings but on my own merit because I’ve seen them so much locally as I will do with all rankings that I will do from now on but the discussion starts now, who’s the best 6th grader in the city?

 

 

 

Video Highlight: TJ Moss, Memphis East HS/Team Penny 2018

Here are a few highlights from Memphis East’s 2018 standout, TJ Moss’s freshman year. Moss can just about do anything on the basketball court. He’s a proficient shooter. He also can get to the rack at will. Moss has the ability to play the passing lanes on defense with great anticipation. At 6’4″, TJ Moss has good size and length. TJ is one of the top scoring guards in the state irregardless of class. Catch TJ this Spring and Summer on the EYBL circuit ballin’ for Team Penny.