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!!!
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.
1. Bellevue Middle (3-0) Test are on the way with the MLK tournament fast approaching but I don’t see any problems on the horizon for them this week. It’s easy right now but it could be a problem next week when competition gets stiffer in tournament play but I think they will be up to task.
2. White Station Middle (4-0) Was tempted by this team and I still am to put them at #1 heading into the King tournament. Played closer than expected games twice last week against league foes so they have to be careful to overlook anyone as a easy win in their area.
3. Schilling Farms Middle (6-0) Best team on the municipal side right now with their last win coming over Bon Lin last week. They are the best team that no one hardly talks about locally in Middle School but with an undefeated record, maybe it’s time to start.
4. Briarcrest Christian (2-0) Won 44-32 over FACS on Friday in the Harding Tip Off Classic and will play again on tomorrow night. 6’5 Zander Yates is one of the best bigs in Middle School.
5. Hickory Ridge Middle (4-0) Another team that’s doing it’s job under the radar. Be on the look out for this team in the MLK.
Back over a decade ago, Hamilton High School was a fixture in the basketball circle as a powerhouse in girls basketball. I remember the names of Patosha Jeffery, April Allen, Tiffany Beasley, Alshaa Hodges, Catriece Webster, Ashley Shields before she left for Melrose and so many more. There maybe another player that people will remember like the greats of girls basketball at Hamilton, Tesia Thompson because she could have a special year in her final season of high school basketball.
The 5’10 guard can do it all, versatility is her strength, she can guard multiple positions, play the 1,2,3 and some fours in some instances and defend all of those spots. She can facilitate and run a team, rebound, score at all 3 levels, you can put her anywhere and she will produce for you at a high level. She can stretch the floor with the 3, shoot the short jumper off the pull up but she’s more effective as a slasher and finisher when she gets there. When you think of “big” guard, that’s what she is and I think she could be a 20 point a night scorer if that’s what she wanted to do but because of her ability to do a little of everything well, you will regularly see 17, 7 and 6 in most games. There has been some debate as to who is the best player in the city on the girls side. I know many make strong cases, Elizabeth Dixon, Jayla Hemmingway, Myah Taylor (Olive Branch) and a few more however, Thompson can be utilized so much, which is why she is a special player in my opinion. While some are close, Thompson to me is the best girls player in the city, irregardless of class.
There was a discussion the other day on social media about the top guards in the city of Memphis and there was a lot of debate about who should be on the list. There were the same names mentioned by most, the consensus players and a few surprises mentioned by some on the post. One of the names though that I think should be on everybody’s list though, Jalen Crutcher. The 6’3 combo guard has good length, range on the jumper, the ability to make others better and great touch around the basket where he uses an assortment of runners and floaters. He’s really crafty with the ball and one of those players that just knows how to score it from anywhere on the floor. He boast offers from UC-Santa Barbara, UMASS who has for years been trying to get into the Memphis high school scene and have had success with a Ridgeway product before (Sampson Carter), UT-Chatt, Missouri State, SEMO and Missouri State and Murray State. Of course we all know the the success they had with now Oklahoma City player, Cameron Payne who played two years there before being a lottery pick last year. He has interest from LSU, Wake Forrest, Alabama and Arkansas but with the live period starting this week in Spartanburg South Carolina for his travel team, the interest could take a boost up in the right direction.
Crutcher also has value as a shooter off the spot up or creating the jumper off the dribble and could be a pretty good defender with his arms and instincts defensively. Memphis Magic Elite Coach Eric Robinson says, “he’s an all around point guard can score with the best but loves to get his teammates involved and people may not know he a great defender”. His best days are clearly ahead of him and those days are of Jalen being a D-1 guard at the school of his choice.
1. Bellevue Middle ( 19-1) Quality Wins- American Way, Cordova, A Maceo Walker. First loss of the season, I won’t count it against them to much because they have been so good all season but now everything about be favorites in Small School is about to come to light. I still think they are the team to beat but there are those who may feel they can beat them. Omari Thomas is the best big in Middle School, point blank period. Going to need Jabari Small and Isaiah Cathey to be more aggressive in the playoffs, they will need both to play well.
2. American Way Middle (16-4) Quality Wins- Briarcrest x2, Cordova, Bellevue, White Station. Got a huge win over Bellevue last week and ended regular season last night with win over Havenview. They will face Havenview again on Saturday at 11:20 at American Way. American Way can make a run but it’s a hard team to figure out at times it’s that time of year where everyone is even.
3. Cordova Middle (18-3) Quality Wins- Snowden x2, White Stationx3. Ranked #2 at the beginning of the season, few slip ups but now they find themselves just one spot down and going through their league, that’s impressive. Still talent wise, strong in their starting 5 but no one looks at them as being unbeatable anymore so that’s a new dynamic going into the playoffs but still, I expect them in the championship game on Tuesday of their league after Kate Bond on Saturday.
4. White Station Middle (15-5) Quality Wins – American Way x2, St George, Snowden x2, MAM title. Impressive set of wins, got back to winning against Germantown Monday night after losing final game in league play. Really tough draw in first game against Snowden who is capable of beating them but they way that their guards are playing, they are going to be tough to beat and especially if you cant keep them off the offensive glass. I expect them to advance but they must not take Snowden lightly, new season on Saturday.
5. St George’s (20-2) Quality Wins – Briarcrest x2, A Maceo Walker, Snowden, Germantown. Fully expect them and Briarcrest to be in the championship game.
6. Briarcrest Christian (17-4) Quality Wins – St George, A Maceo Walker, Snowden. Is Kennedy Chandler the best scorer in Middle School, one source tells me he thinks he is.
7. A Maceo Walker Middle (18-3) Quality Wins – Colonial, Hickory Ridge, John P Freeman. League champs with win last night at John P Freeman. Two years straight but now eyes turn towards finishing what they started last year after suffering a devastating loss in playoffs last season in overtime.
8. Bon Lin (18-2) Quality Wins- Ridgeway, Schilling Farms. Rewarded them for a great league season going 15-0. It’s a great accomplishment and one that makes everyone on that side looking to take the crown from them as the best team on the Municipal side.
9. Snowden Middle – Quality Wins – Cordova, Bon Lin. Don’t overlook them because of their losses. This team plays really hard and they have an elite scorer in Brigham but it’s going to be tough against White Station on Saturday at 2:00pm at Cordova. Can they pull the upset or will there season end this weekend?
10. Highland Oaks Middle (16-4) Quality Wins – Sherwood, Germantown. I think this a good team but just most young players, some are up and down some games but again, good team who will fight with Germantown and Hickory Ridge in their league tournament. On that side, like White Station’s side, some team that can make a run will get put out early.
We are down to 8, let’s take a look at the games today and my predictions on the outcomes of each.
MAM Elite 8 Match Ups
A Maceo Walker vs Briarcrest Middle – This is an interesting game because the point guards involved, Antwan Smith and Kennedy Chandler. The 2021 guard is coming off a 16 point performance but for those who think it’s just him, his two teammates, combined for 22 points and 17 rebounds against Germantown (Neely, Parks). Briarcrest will have to get off to a good start against a bigger and more seasoned A Maceo who has been in battles this year including one against #1 Bellevue. Key matchups will be I think with the lead guards and turnovers but if Neely has a strong game because he is capable then this game could go towards Briarcrest but I think A Maceo will win it behind Smith and his ability to get to his spot and score with his quickness and speed in the open court. Grizz Center 7:00pm
American Way Middle vs Hickory Ridge Middle – In an earlier game in the season, it was Hickory Ridge with the blow out win over American Way in the MLK but American Way did play without 3 of its starters for 3 quarters but HR capitalized off it and that’s what they were supposed to do. Now the attention is on today, the rematch as I saw some on Facebook calling it and I think both teams will come to play. The Eagles are led by a talented group at the height of it, Johnathan Lawson who injured his finger on yesterday; will it come into play today? Jaylen Sanders leads Hickory Ridge and a group that plays really hard defensively. Will they double Lawson? If so, things open up for Jalen Brown and Marquan Dean? American Way has tendency to start slow and if they do and Hickory Ridge is making shots early, they will find themselves in trouble. This might be a physical tough game but I think American Way pulls it out. Grizz Center 8:00pm
White Station Middle vs St George– Maybe the most intriguing game of the evening and one that I’ve been looking forward to since the schedule of the MAM came out. Why is this game one to watch, well for starters, Rodney Mason Jr is playing against his former team where he was at as a 6th grader. So there is familiarity on both sides but I’m sure he will be looking to show them what they have missed. With 24 points yesterday, I think he will be even more locked in today and come out very aggressive early and often. Issac Smith will be another player for White Station to contend with at 6’3 6’4 with the ability to hit the 3, drive and rebound and Nick Floyd, a fundamentally sound player who is really steady at pg and doesn’t turn it over much from what I’ve seen but also can score some so you can’t leave him defensively. White Station can counter with Amauri Abner, Wille Foreman and Aldon Applewhite and all 3 will need to be in double figures on tonight. They must also be careful, both teams of not getting into foul trouble and White Station will need to cut down on 3s taken because they will lead to lay ups. Unforced turnovers will be key as well as the Spartans have to take care of the ball. Both teams will have to but I’m more concerned with White Station because their best handler is Abner as I think Applewhite is more comfortable off the ball. This will be tight game with some emotion in it so both teams need to be careful of that but I like St George in this game. Streets 7:00pm
Bon Lin vs Snowden Middle – Both teams survived last night in close games (combined 5 points) and now face each other with Bon Lin’s undefeated record on the line. Snowden I believe will be their toughest test of the season and Bon Lin will have to play very well to beat them but even with that said, Bon Lin has really showed a lot of resiliency this season. Lots of close games but they have always found a way to win. Can they do it tonight in their toughest challenge? My answer is I don’t think so. I think Snowden schedule has prepared them for this and it will advance them into the final four. Streets 8:00pm
Week 2 Middle School Rankings
1. Bellevue Middle School (3-0) KIPP today, Treadwell tomorrow, not seeing a real challenge this week, so I’m going to assume they finish the week out at 5-0.
2. Cordova Middle School (3-0) Big one today against what is becoming some what of a rivalry, White Station. The Spartans are coming off a nice first week and bursting with confidence while Cordova is also undefeated and let me say this, at home for this game. Not saying it can’t happen but let’s just say, Cordova is hard to beat on their floor. Might be the best game of the week. Look for Alfred White to have big game.
3. White Station Middle School (3-0) Going into the “ice box” as Cordova fans call it, just another week in Area 1, the toughest division of Middle School basketball in the city. Need big games from Foreman and Dyer to neutralize Cordova’s outstanding guard play. If they can do it, they could be boosted to the #1 team in the city.
4. American Way Middle School (3-0) Got up big on Briarcrest thanks to Johnathan Lawson’s 25 points including 17 in the first half but they ended the game kind of sloppily. With no games this week, look for them to try to fix some kinks before they play Havenview next Monday and then on the road to White Station.
5. St George’s (1-0) Really was impressed with them on Saturday in the Elite Middle School Invitational as they beat a good Kate Bond team by double digits and looked impressive doing it. Their trio of Mason, Smith and Nick Floyd maybe as good as any and Mason and Smith combined for 43 points with Smith finishing with 27 points for the biggest scoring output of anyone on Saturday. Doing that, he put himself on the radar and a player I will be sure to monitor in 2020.
6.A Maceo Walker Middle School (3-0) Geeter at Geeter and on the road for Lanier (W.E.B. Dubois). I think both will be wins.
7. Highland Oaks Middle School (3-0) In what might be the second best division in Middle School (Area 3) Highland Oaks will be challenged and almost by every team in the division and tomorrow, they are at Germantown..
8. Bon Lin Middle School (4-0) Schilling Farms today at Schilling Farms, might be upset alert but this team is rolling early.
9. Briarcrest Christian Middle School (0-1) Lost to #4 American Way but have new to the rankings St George’s on Wednesday at Briarcrest. Can they beat suddenly nice looking Gryphon team?
10. Germantown Middle School (0-1) Had starters missing in an anticipated game last week against White Station, damper but reasons why, integrity and for good reason. At home against Highland Oaks might be a good game to go watch for those wanting to see both teams.
Opening night, good crowd, a little nervousness to start but it didn’t take long to figure out that the Spartans of White Station Middle would win big and that they did. In convincing fashion, White Station got a game high 12 points from 6’1 Durias Dyer and cruised to a easy win over a Craigmont team that looked overwhelmed from the start of the game. This White Station team is everything I thought, big, 9-10 deep possibly, a scorer in Aldon Applewhite who’s also versatile enough to step up and play point should Amauri Abner get into foul trouble. Abner is pretty solid, more of a pure pg but can score and really quick hands on defense, getting 2 clean steals for layups. Like him at the lead spot fo them. Watch for Applewhite to thrust himself into the top 5 in 2021, if he plays at a high level all year long. Lot to like about him but they have other pieces including a 6’3 in Rail Watkins, Dorian George and tonight, they didn’t get a lot from Wille Foreman but they didn’t need it, he’s also a vital piece to their success. Watch for 7th grader Jelani Willis, who gave them 11 points tonight and Davon Barnes who chipped in with 10. This is a team that’s every bit deserving of their spot but it’s up to them to keep it. We all know, any given night, this is Memphis basketball and next big test, Germantown and I think Kate Bond or Snowden on Wednesday and that’s just this week. It’s here, Middle School basketball!!!