Coach Carlos Lambert said “man, we got somethings to work on, we not there yet” after yesterday’s scrimmage against Colonial. That’s too be expected so early on but with the season a week from starting for the young Mustangs, you can see the ingredients of a good team.
The Mustangs are very disciplined team that plays within themselves with each player seemingly fitting in their roles. They have players who can make shots from the perimeter and make plays to the rim, they play unselfishly as a group and seem to all to enjoy playing with each other. Their style of plays seems to be fast but they won’t settle for bad shots either as they are content with running offense and being patient if they have to. They have multiple players that can hurt you offensively and but they also get after you with pressure on the defensive end of the floor as well which leads to lay ups for them. The Stegall twins, (Will and Ben) can play both guard positions if need be but also go inside and battle for rebounds. Ryan Stockton just knows how the play, makes great decisions with the ball in hands and he can score it with jumper along with Jack Haugh who will probaly start as well. Stockton I’m sure will lead them in scoring some games as he will probably be one of their more valuable players.
8th grader DJ Sharp should be their leader most nights having played a lot last year as a 7th grader but this season, he will be heavily relied upon not only to score but to rebound and play big when the big moments come. He can put it on the floor some and shows improvement as a ball handler which more than likely will be where his future will be as a guard but he does most of his damage close. He plays hard, can take a bump and foul for and ones, face up and make a move or turn and put up the short jumper. He’s extremely active on the offensive and defensive boards and could a player who you could put on a teams best offensive player. For Houston to really make some noise this year, I think he has to lead by example, every game and he’s more than capable to do just that. 7th grader Maverick Miller (son of Mike Miller) will be one to keep an eye on too. Has the shooters mentality but isn’t afraid to put it on the deck and make a move which he did a few times when I watched him yesterday .I think he’s more comfortable right now as a shooter and he will make some big shots this year for his team. Hayden Mitchell, a 5’11 post player with good size has nice touch close and will help them on the glass this year and Jamison Smith will fill in nicely in the back up pg role.
All in all, I like this Houston team and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing late into the season. First up for them, Highland Oaks in what should be a good game and maybe, just maybe we will find out more about them and those who go watch might be surprised.
On the campus of the Lausanne Lynx this past weekend, fans got a chance to see some the better teams in middle school go head to head and also find out who to watch individually this season. With the season 2-3 weeks away for most, these scrimmages are key in seeing rotations, who they count and who will lead by example for coaches. At the same time, it’s new for the 6th graders, a different year and more expectations for some 7th graders like Highland Oaks’ guard Josh Holloway and Regale Moore and for 8th graders, a time to lead and be focal points of their teams.
Due to a prior engagement, I wasn’t able to attend the early games to see Bellevue, coming off another state title and looking for the 4-peat this season but it will be hard this year because of who they have to contend with . I think Terrance “Jr” Jacobs is up for it but will see share of double teams and trap defenses this year to get the ball out of his hands. Who I had a chance to see, Germantown, Lester, Mt.Pisgah, Highland Oaks and Colonial, all showed somethings to be excited about this year at their respective schools
Let’s start with with Colonial, they will be led at the point by Jacquez Brown and have some talent in Cedric Franklin Jr, Courtney Carter, 6’0 Marreco Warren who will be counted on heavily inside and guards Avion Veasley and Antonyus Moore. They were in the game early against a a really talented Germantown team early but their inexperience cost them late. I think once Coach Franklin puts his signature stamp of defense on this team, they will be much improved from last year but need someone to be a counted on scorer for them as well.
Mt. Pisgah was a team who was in the Final 4 last year in the state sectional but Coach Garner was really impacted by 8th graders who are now in high school but should be solid nonetheless. They are really guard heavy so they will all have to gang rebound and be really active on defense putting pressure on the ball to generate turnovers. Lowrance is another team that should be better this year with Braxton Jumper who can play the point but will more than likely be off the ball and the improving play of Javar Daniels, a 6’2 7th grader who’s getting better around the rim with his touch and becoming a better out of his area rebound. You can’t teach his length at this age or his effort.
Coach Mark Freeman will have young guards to count and its definitely good for the future because he has them for 2 more years but will have their share of ups and downs. I think Regale Moore could make the single biggest jump of improvement this year of any 7th grader in the city. He was able to get his shot off from all over and hit the 3 on multiple occasions and he’s capable ball handler and has the look of an athletic big 2 guard in the future. He has a nice release point on his jumper and attacked in the half court as well. He will more than likely lead them in scoring and point guard Josh Holloway was solid looking to distribute. In the past, I’ve seen him be more of score first type but he seems to be trying to make the move to more of traditional style point guard. I think in that role, he could do really well and for them to be successful, they will have to find another guard or forward to help be 2nd or 3rd scorer for them on game night.
Germantown and Lester, I liked what I saw in both teams and you can make an argument that maybe Germantown could be the best team in Middle School right now and they don’t have their full team yet. Two are out for football, one who could be their best player and likely will be (Cam Miller) and 8th grade guard, Rayquan Williams who will be in a key role for them. They are also without Cartier Beverly who most know as one of the premiere guards in the city in 8th grade, due to injury but if they get him back, no doubt in my mind, they could easily be the best team in the city.
Deshun Dunn was all over the player displaying super motor on the glass as a rebounder but also a scorer muscling his way to rim for easy buckets. Dunn will affect every game and will be an absolute load for everyone they play as opponents as a defender as well being able to guard probably every position on the floor. Chris Martin, their floor stretcher is back in lead role and could see some ball handling duty early on with Jhamal Ross, a solid point guard who must be able to run the show with Beverly out. Daniel Egunbinwe was one of the better players I saw on Saturday, hitting the trail 3 and getting to the rim off the dribble better than I’ve seem from him over the years. He looks about 6’1 right now and will be able to be mismatch at his position in any game that they play. I think he has a new found confidence on the perimeter and it will play dividends this year. I really think that once they get their full team which will include Beverly if he’s able to get back, they maybe the best team talent wise that you will find in the area.
Lester right now is my pre-season #1 and they showed some flashes of why. They started a bit slow against Highland Oaks but got up 19 in the second half with the first group which consisted of Marquise Washington, Chauncey Holmes, Devin Jackson, Jamarion Harvey and Lemarkus Wilkerson. They will put so much pressure on teams defensively running and jumping, pressing and they will be able to do it because they are deep and from what their head coach told me, they were missing 2 guys who will be in reserve roles.
They could theoretically play 9-10 players most games and not drop off much. Wilkerson will be their catalyst on defense playing the passing lanes while also showing the ability to put up numbers as scorer in transition or in the half court. Washington’s approach looks different this year, he moves different and becoming the focal point can do that and he will show this year why he could be considered a top 3 player in middle school this year. Chauncey Holmes is a long 6’0 guard maybe 6’1 who will be versatile for Coach Terrell, able to play with the ball at the 2 spot 3 spot and some 4 depending on who they playing against. Devin Jackson will also be a contributor as well and could lead them in scoring some games as well. Expect 6th grade Khylan Page to play a lot to with the second group but speaking of Page, he could be the best 6th grader in the city right now. He just has that look of a future 6’8.
All in all, the excitement is starting to build for the approaching middle school season and it should be fun one to watch…
With tryouts which began on Monday officially, It’s almost that time of the year again, the 2017-2018 Middle School Basketball season is here in what promises to be one of the more interesting years that I’ve seen in awhile. There are a lot of questions this season but a lot of them will be answered soon as play days are on the way as well with the first being next week at Lausanne on October 7th.
Who is the best player in Middle School this year? Is it Chandler Jackson who finishing up his final year at St.Louis? Markese Washington at Lester? Are the Roadrunners of Ridgeway the best Middle School in Large Schools this year or the Germantown Red Devils who are equally talented in the starting 5? Speaking of Germantown, transfer Cartier Beverly, a two sport standout who won a state title at Bellevue last year hurt his leg and will be out for a substantial amount of time. If he’s able to get back during the season, Germantown could be become the favorite. Expect 6’1 Cameron to make a push as a top 3-5 player in this class this season.
Will Lester turn back the clock to a few years ago where they were the best team in the city or will Bellevue who lost a lot of production be right there with them with Jr Jacobs? Can John P Freeman put themselves in position to make a run this season? How much better will Lowrance be this year with Braxton Jumper and ever improving Javar Daniels, a 6’2 7th grader with tons of potential? Can Snowden contend with their guards? There are a lot of questions but soon and very soon, we will begin to see our thoughts and questions become realities as we are within a few weeks of the season getting underway.
Below, my pre-season top 5 middle school teams in the city based on what I think they have right now. Will it be the same when the season starts? Maybe, maybe not, can a team jump into the top 5, yes they can. Will the number 1 team right now but the # 1 team when the season starts, I can’t say, but it will be fun to watch and see.
1. Lester Prep- On paper, they are so talented starting with Markese Washington, to me a top 5 player in this class in Memphis. Nearing 6’2 if not there already, Washington will be there best player most nights and have a chance to be the best player in Small Schools and perhaps, maybe the city. Lemarkus Wilkerson and Ahmed Abdulahi will be besides him to form maybe the best duo in Middle School. Wilkerson and Abdulahi are to 5’10 plus guards who can score for Coach Steve Terrell who’s excited about this year’s team. Abdulahi has kind of flown under the radar but I think a lot of people will be high on him by the end of the year. 6th grader Khylan Page will be leaned on a little because of is size alone but with their experience, they will able to bring him along slowly along with Jamarion Harvey. Watch for Chauncey Holmes as well.
2. Ridgeway Middle – Was very tempted to put them at #1 for several reasons. Chip Brunt, EJ Smith and Kristian Spencer all got better last year put into situations where they had to play and it should pay off this year. Smith is getting better and better and should play the lead guard spot this year. Brunt had some big moments for them last year and Spencer gives them value as a defender and athleticism from the 3-4 spot. All of them should be big this year and take that next step up to be the early favorite in Large. They have enough talent to do so but they will also be counting on others to be help the trio. Adarion Miles must play big on the glass and Coach Stephen expect a nice group of 6th graders to play a lot including Kody Hickerson, Javion Stephen and Tyler Wilson. Might be the deepest team in the top 5, top to bottom.
3. Germantown Middle– Cameron Miller, Daniel Egbuniwe and Chris Martin are all back this year and will have them vying for a state title this season. Miller has a chance to put his name on everybody’s list as a top 5 player in 2022. He’s a scorer who you can put on the other team’s best player, go get you rebound and take over the game type and he will be all those things this year for this team. Chris Martin is one of the areas best shooters if not the best and Egbuniwe is quiet stat sheet stuffer. The key for them to make that run might be if Cartier Beverly can get back to basketball after a football injury. If he can and from sources, its possible, Beverly could put them above anyone locally in Large Schools. Rayquan Williams must contribute with Beverly being out but he’s a capable piece to their aspirations of becoming champions. Even if Beverly doesn’t return, the Red Devils will be in the thick of it at the end of the year.
4. Snowden Middle– Very guard laden team but a team never the less that will be tough to play against on any given night. Guard play reigns supreme in Middle School and if you have it, chances are, you can go a long way and Snowden as a lot of it. Kyler “KD” Dandridge, Madricus Pittman, another one of the area’s best shooters and Jamarius “Chunky’ Brooks give Snowden some firepower. Armani Mcfagdon will be asked to do a little bit of everything for this team but he’s more than capable of accepting that challenge.
5. Bellevue Middle- Beside White Station, not sure if one school lost more than them. Coming off back to back state tournament titles, the Bobcats will have a brand new look all the way around. Enter in former Kingsbury Middle coch, Mario Taylor who will be in his first year there but he will have a few players to help ease the transition. Terrance “JR” Jacobs, is diminutive in stature but big in game is ready to lead after playing some last year but will be in an entirely different role this year. Jacobs is very capable 15-20 point scorer and if he gets rolling, can put up big numbers. AJ Dillworth and Amar Knox will both have to play well this year if they are to continue the tradition of Bellevue and deep playoff runs.
Other teams to watch out for
FACS– Maybe the most talented private school in the city with Landon Jeffries, Kobe Wilks, Corey Savage and Tim Thomas Jr. Don’t be surprised if they appear in the top 5 next time around.
John P Freeman Middle- Bryce Dailey had a nice summer and he hopes to continue that into this season. He should lead this group along with Eric Steward and Harold Draper Jr.
Highland Oaks Middle– I’m really interested in watching Regale Moore and Josh Holloway this season. Their progression from last year to this year will determine how far Highland could go.
Lausanne Middle- A name you need to remember, Hayden Ledbetter is there and he’s one of the more talented 8th graders you may not know much about. Owen Babb and Peyton Piacetti will give them perimeter shooting.
Colonial Middle– Jacquez Brown and Cedric Franklin Jr will be trying to turn around a some what unmemorable season last year in Coach Franklin’s first year. He’s excited about Antonyus Moore as well.
So I received some feedback from the social media post that I made about transfers and I realized, I didn’t talk about any of the transfers, my bad. It would only be right if I did actually include the names of those who have went to different schools and what type of impact I think they have there.
Usually I wait a week or two to say who is going where because I have a 3 day rule meaning, if that student is at that school 3 days or more, that’s where they are going but does it always happen that way, no. Could there still be a player or 2 that could move to another spot, perhaps and it’s probably going to happen but as of now, I will mention only those that I know about and the schools where they have landed as of right now.
It all starts with literally the city’s biggest transfer, James Wiseman, a 6’11 top 10 player in the country in the 2019 class. The versatile 4 man go East after playing 2 years at Nashville Endsworth last season averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds. I’m sure right now with the all the attention surrounding the Mustang program, he is the most talked about transfer right now maybe in the state and his presence will be felt immediately around the city and he bolsters an already really good East team to elite status once again.
In any other year, Ryan Boyce would be the name that everyone would be talking about right now and maybe that’s a good thing for him. Boyce who recently broke his list down to SMU, Memphis and Florida comes over from Houston High School and will bring high major athleticism as well as rebounding and scoring ability to a team that lost some depth. With TJ Moss leaving and Dude Collum leaving for other programs, East depth will be tested some but with those 2 additions, don’t expect a significant drop off for East.
I talked about Jordan Johnson and his move to Hamilton some in a previous article that I wrote about earlier in the month and what I think he could bring to the Wildcats. I will say this, on paper, Hamilton may have the best guards in Double A in the city. 6’9 2019 Luke Howard comes over from Canada and will figure heavily into Harding’s success this season. I can see him being their leading scorer and maybe the league’s best player mid way into the season.
Brandon Brown will be putting on the green and white this year and playing for White Station after leaving Overton. The 6’4 to the rim guard will be big for the Spartans who needed another guard to score along side Allen Hatchett. His move outside of the obvious 2 up top could affect his team the most because it turns White Station into a top 2-3 in district. Not saying they weren’t before but Brown definitely helps them. Antavion “Dude” Collum left Memphis East and will be playing this year at TN Prep for his junior season. The 6’6 forward is a 3-4 who can handle the ball and from a source close, he could play some point guard this year at his new school.
Another nice pick up for TN Prep, 6’5 Bruce Guy who has several offers will be playing alongside each other this year. Guy is motor on top of motor, relentless rebounder, score out the face up game and hit the short jumper and the 3. Both players bring a lot of talent to prep school.
There are a lot of people excited about Raleigh Egypt basketball this year and one of the main reasons is the Devontae Williams. The 6’2 athletic guard finds ways to score and that will be key for the Pharaohs who are looking to return to the days of old after being down the last few years. Keep this in mind, Double A will be tough this year and even better if they can return to the old days.
Since they are Memphis players as well, TJ Moss and Caleb London must be included in this as well as high profile transfers out of the city. If you don’t know, Moss is transferring to Findlay Prep in Nevada while London will be closer, going to Conway Arkansas. London was rated by me as the city’s best 2020 player so a spot for #1 will open up there for someone.
Transfers To Watch
1. Mark Johnson 6’5 2019Forward (Southwind from Germantown) Adds length to Southwind along side Kameron Jones. Likely starts for the Jaguars.
2. Calvin Temple 6’0 (Center Hill from Olive Branch) Biggest asset is his shooting and his ability to make shots from all over the floor.
3.Jaylon Saulsberry 6’2 2020 (Kirby from Houston) Will start day 1 at new school at the point guard position. He will be as important to his team as anyone in 15AAA.
4. Rodney Mason 6’4 2020 (Bartlett from Houston) Should start the season as big piece for Bartlett. Brings some rebounding and scoring close.
5.Brandon Mason 6’2 2018 (Ridgeway from Central) Plays along Antwan Beans during the summer so the chemistry should be there for those 2. Mason gives them another ball handler and nice trio with Antonio Thomas as well.
6. Takori Rooks 6’5 2019 ( Bartlett from Houston) Along with Mason, should be a starter first day of practice.
7. Shemar Brown 6’5 2019 (TN Prep from Olive Branch) Part of the transfers that will make TN Prep pretty good for the next 2 years and he’s familiar with both Collum and Guy. They played together years ago during AAU. Brown plays hard and isn’t afraid to mix it upside inside.
8. Latrell Carter 6’6 2018 (Whitehaven from Central) Originally went to Whitehaven so he returns home and Coach Phillips hopes he can upgrade the position from last year.
9. Connor Richardson 6’7 2019 (St. George from Lewsiburg MS) Will at worst, their second best player this season. Rebounds, scores with short jump hooks close.
10.Marcus Lee 6’2 2018 (Melrose from Central) Melrose got hit hard with graduation last year so Lee should have an opportunity to step right in and play.
11. Jalen Clay 5’10 2018 (Southwind from Houston) With a starter leaving Southwind to head to a different state, a spot may have been opened up to play next to Mark Freeman who right now is playing football and may not be ready at the start of the season.
12.Jaylen Sanders 6’3 2020 (Southaven from PCA) Southaven has been up and down the last few seasons. Sanders is a reason to give them some optimism for the next 3 years.
13. Will Wilson 6’4 2019 (Ridgeway from Desoto Central) Along with Tylar Haynes and David Dixon, Wilson will have to rebound for them but right now he might be a better offensive player than both which helps.
14. Anthony Howard 6’6 2020 (Harding From Canada Just really getting here so it will take some time to get acclimated to the style of play here in Memphis. His older brother is ahead of the curve some (Luke) but he should be adjusted about mid way into the season.
15. Rodney Newsome Jr 6’4 (Briarcrest from PCA) Might be more so of football move but Newsome adds beef to go along with Omari Thomas on the court as well.
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.
When looking at prospects, everyone’s criteria isn’t the same as some others when judging players and seeing a future in them. Some players you see, they just pass the eye test but don’t perform up to the level of their look but one that does and he stands out in a big way, 2022 Chandler Jackson. When you see the 5’10 guard, you see length, lead ability, big time size, scoring ability, handle, a good get it off the rim and good player who can create for himself and others. I saw him last summer a little and I can tell he’s been working on his game in particular, his perimeter jumper where he can make shots from wherever on the court. He’s really tough to stay in front, has a really good first step right now and a problem offensively because at a young age, he can create his shot off the dribble but is most effective at this stage a finisher and player who gets to the rim at will due t his strength. He handles well, makes good decisions and is very unselfish for a such a talented player. Definitely a big guard at this stage and likely will always be in that role and right now, he looks like he has a big time future. Easily one of the better players in the 7th grade and I wouldn’t argue with you if you said he was the best player in the class right now.
The 6th Annual 901PrepScoop All Star Games will be held Sunday, February 19th at Lausanne Collegiate School at 1381 W.Massey Rd, Memphis TN, 38120. The games will begin a showcase 5th grade game, followed by the all star contest. These games has featured several players who have went on the play college basketball including Darrell Brown Jr (Bradley), Jaylen Fisher (TCU), Dedric Lawson (University of Memphis) and several players who are still tearing it up on the high school level as sophomores, juniors and seniors including Tesia Thompson (Hamilton) and Dontrecia Johnson (Whitehaven). This year is no different with talent on the boys side with players like Jalen Brown, Johnathan Lawson, Aldon Applewhite, Calvin Jennings , Kennedy Chandler, Deebo Coleman and Zander Yates. I could keep going but it would take me another 2 paragraphs to talk about all the talent in this game but the girls aren’t slacking in that department either. Sequoia Allmond, 6’4 Dionna Reed, Amaya Mull, Schilling Farms’s Destiny Todd, the Taylor twins at Arlington and many many more. This year’s 8th grade girls class might be one of the best in years with what looks like at least 10 division 1 caliber players in the future.
There will be some Mississippi flavor in this year’s game as well with Olive Branch’s Amya Black, Desoto Central’s Rachel Hightower and playing in the boys game, Kaiden Laws from Center Hill. This is the first year that I’ve ever had kids from out of the area in the game and they bring immense talent to the event.
Their are a total of 3 games on Sunday with the Memphis Wildcats playing Memphis United showcasing two of the area’s best team’s in the 5th grade at 2:00 pm. Then at 3, the All Star Games begin with the girls tipping it and followed by the boys at 4:30. The event is $6.00 dollar for the boys and girls all star games. Come see the future of Memphis high school basketball!!!
With the season heading into January and teams having their rotations set in place, a few freshmen are providing quality minutes and producing for their varsity teams. To even be able to play as a freshman speaks volumes for such a young player who has to adjust to faster, bigger and older players coming from middle school but a few have done it at a much quicker pace than most. Some of the names that you will see mentioned might not be at top of 2020 in Memphis however, their play thus far has put them in position to be mentioned among the best young players in the city. While they still have some ways to go, these young guys have impressed at this early stage of their prep careers.
1. Caleb London 6’2 (MUS) Easily, the most productive member of the 2020 class to the varsity ranks of this year. Not only is London playing well, he’s starting and playing like a junior and he might be their leading scorer overall. Has had more than 4 games of 20 or more points and played well against Memphis East, London has easily pushed himself into the upper echelon of the 2020 class. He’s made strides with his jumper off the pull up and is taking what the defense gives him and being more patient offensively. Right now, he could make a case as the best 9th grader in the city. I know there are other talented players but London has been really good.
2. Marcellus Brigham 6’5 (Briarcrest Christian) When you look at him, Brigham just looks like a division 1 basketball and with the flashes that he shows, that looks like it will be happening for him. Brigham is a long 2 guard with a good pull up game who has shown that he can play big minutes in the Saints system and for a program that rarely plays players so young, Coach John Harrington has to be happy knowing that he has him for 3 more years and watching him develop into maybe one of the best players that he has had there. I can see him leading them in scoring by next year as he continues to get better and better.
3. Kendall Thomas 6’2 (Harding) Quietly having an outstanding season, just last night scoring 27 hitting 7-9 from 3 in a tournament in Nashville. Thomas is big physical guard who can play some forward, who has grown a lot of height but has also gotten much stronger since the end of the summer. After losing Anthony Yarbrough last year who played 4 years there and was a big time stand out, Kendall was a welcomed addition to a team looking for another player to score. Thomas just recently was named MVP of the Battle Ground Tournament scoring 27 in game 1, 18 game 2 and 15 in game 3 of the event. When thinking of the top players in this class, Thomas has to be put into the conversation.
4. Rickey Shotwell 5’5 (Melrose) One of the smallest players in the city playing varsity in any classification, Shotwell’s play is shocking some who might have doubted him. He’s started some games for Melrose and had 15 in a win over W.E.B. Dubois at a Holiday Tournament in St. Louis. Coach Sherman Jones said “More poised than I could have ever imagined he would be, lost a lot of the scoring that came as a surprise but the IQ and toughness that as replaced the scoring has be vital and I have no reason to believe that he will take a step backwards” I remember Jones being high on him telling me, he would be more than role player this season and from the looks of it, he’s right.
5.Anterrius Jeffries 6’6(Overton) All arms and legs forward who’s also started some games for his high school team, Jeffries best days are clearly ahead of him. Jeffries is averaging 7 and 7 for a young Overton team that boast only 2 seniors so as to be expected, they will struggle in 16AAA but Jeffries has displayed some touch and rebounding ability and might end up being a player who can play some on the perimeter the older he gets. The more who adjust to playing with his back to the basket and as he gets stronger, Jeffries might turn into a big name in this class.
So much for my bracket, Highland and Kingsbury, you killed me lol. Seriously though, that’s what it’s all about, advancing to the next game at this point of the MAM which is the Final 4 today. Bellevue won yesterday, 70-55 after finding themselves down early to a Snowden team who was looking for the upset but in the end, Snowden’s guard play and Johnathan Lawson was to much for them to overcome. Highland Oaks beat Southaven 67-44, Kingsbury beat Lausanne, 44-36 behind Jalen Brown’s 22 points and Tristan Jones was pretty good with 18 points. He’s a player who’s improved steadily through out the season to me and one that could have a nice future as a big guard. White Station beat Briarcrest 45-40 in a game that Briarcrest was up in some in the first half. The Spartans sped up the pace some by pressing Briarcrest in the 2nd half and forcing them into turnovers which proved to be vital in the end. The Saints had a chances but as I said yesterday, they would have to do a lot right to win that game.
Today, the final 4 and title game will be held at Harding Academy. The times are 430 pm for both games as the old and new gym at the school will be used. White Station will take on an upstart Kingsbury team who looks like a different team from when I saw them just a month or so ago. They are getting contributions from role players, making shots and playing like a team that looks like they can beat anyone. This game will be their toughest one of the season thus far against a White Station team who hasn’t lost a game and at times has looked dominant. White Station looked a little vulnerable but I just think they are the most talented team and most of the time, the team with that wins. If Jalen Brown gets going early, he will score a lot of points for Kingsbury but Jones and someone else will be needed to score. Not only that, both will have to rebound with a bigger White Station team and keep them off the offensive glass where they thrive. They must take care of the ball as well and not have to many unforced turnovers because that gets them going. Set the tone early and don’t get into an up and down game and the Falcons can have a chance but again, White Station didn’t play great early on against Briarcrest last night because they played at Briarcrest pace. It wasn’t until late that they got going and were able to do somethings that they are accustomed to doing in games. White Station I think is just to talented and their depth will come into play but in the Final 4, you never know but I think they pull it out.
Bellevue and Highland should be a pretty good game I believe because both like to get out and go for easy scores but the up and down favors Bellevue. Highland’s Alex Anderson and Cameron Donegan both will present challenges for Bellevue because of their ability to pass and get others involved as well as score. Anderson will be the determining factor in the game for Highland Oaks because of his versatility but he also must stay on the floor meaning that he can’t get into foul trouble as Highland gets much much smaller when he’s off the court. Donegan must be aggressive offensively and not sit back and wait to get going. He’s a patient guard and looks for his spots but he will need to be a 15-20 point player today. Will it be enough though if just those 2 play well? Who else is stepping up for Highland? Josh Holloway is the kind of player who can but in a game of this magnitude, someone will have to relieve some of the pressure off their two key guys. Their will be opportunities when the ball is swung to make something happen and he will have to be ready. For Bellevue, it’s pretty simple, rely on what you have been relying on to get you there. The combination of Lawson, Beverly, Tuggle and Jacobs has been good in the MAM. Carlito and brother Cartier have been great of late, causing havoc defensively on the ball and off it. AP Paige has played well and they are getting contributions from the bench from a few. They are getting to the rim when they get ready and being the sparks that their team has needed all year. It looks like Bellevue is playing well at the right time and I see them winning the game as I said in my first post about the MAM a few days ago.
The sweet 16 has turned into the Elite 8 with teams advancing, some by small margins, others in lop sided wins. Today will be interesting because all of the championship bracket games will move to the Grizz Center to give it that true MAM feel before the final 4 and championship game move to Harding tomorrow. Below is a schedule of today’s games which go at 7:00 and 8:00 on both courts at the MAM on Ball road.
Bellevue vs Snowden – 7:00 pm Grizz Center East- Hearing that Calvin Jennings didn’t play last night and don’t know it’s he playing tonight. That will leave Snowden with one true big and that might not be good especially with a team that’s bigger and has rebounder in 6’6 Johnathan Lawson, Aryion Paige who played pretty well yesterday and along with Tadarius Jacobs. Lawson as a passer was as good as I’ve seen him yesterday. Look for him to continue to be aggressive today as a play maker and scorer.
Highland Oaks vs Southaven– 7:00 pm Grizz Center West- “He doesn’t think we can the game” That’s what I heard yesterday from a Highland Oaks player but let’s say this, it’s one way to prove me wrong. Southaven got a win yesterday over a Sherwood and Highland Oaks cruised to an easy win over Grace St. Luke. Alex Anderson was big time for his team last night as well as Cameron Donegan. If both play well tonight, they can come away with the win but they need both to play up to expectation. Southaven plays hard and Highland will see that tonight. Show and prove Highland Oaks, make my prediction on this game wrong.
Briarcrest vs White Station– 8:00 pm Grizz Center East- White Station should win this one going away but I have a feeling it won’t be easy. A few things go there way, the Saints can make it a game but the problem is, more things have to go right for them than have to go wrong for White Station. If they get behind early, I don’t think Briarcrest will have enough fire power to come back from a big deficit. If Briarcrest can keep it within a 8-10 game, it will be interesting late. Big if though…
Lausanne VS Kingsbury– 8:00 pm Grizz Center West- Maybe the best overall scorer in Middle School (Jalen Brown) against another scorer in Deebo Coleman and it will make for a great game. Problem for Lausanne will be if Dillon Woods doesn’t play tonight because he was out last night. My guess is though, he plays and he can cause problems for Kingsbury because he keeps a lot of missed shots alive for them. Kingsbury is really reliant on Brown to do a little of everything but Tristan Jones and Caleb Jackson both have to play well tonight. Watch for a big shot or 2 from Owen Babb and Landon Jeffries in this one.