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…
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Early Top 5: 2017-2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.