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!!!
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
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!!!
It’s almost that time of year, basketball season is coming and it’s coming faster than some think as we will have our first play day coming up this weekend at Germantown High School on Saturday. For some schools, a lot of players are still playing football however, Saturday can give a good look at who’s who in the Middle School ranks. You just kind of know if you watch Middle School basketball all year and during the summer, you get a feel because you know what schools they are going to. For example, Bellevue is one of the more talented teams if not the most talented team in Middle School this year because they had several returning from last year including “Big O” Omari Thomas, point guard Jabari Small, Jessie Payne a few others however, they also added a impact guard in Isaiah Cathey, who played the last two years at Lester Middle. Bellevue is undoubtedly the favorite in Small Schools this year and the best Middle School in the city regardless of classification (Large or Small) because of all the talent that they have at various positions. I can see why Coach Harris says that he likes the looks of this team so much. Some may not remember but back in the day, Bellevue was the top spot for Middle School talent,basketball wise, have those days come back? Who’s after the Bobcats though is the question and I will try my best to give you remaining 4 and the reasons why.
It gets tricky because you could go with 2 teams for the number 2 spot in the city. White Station or Cordova could both make cases but I would probably go with Cordova but it’s not in concrete but’s that is where I’m leaning right now. I like White Station because because they have a chance to form a nice starting 5 leading the way for them would be Willie Foreman, a top 3 player in the 2021 class locally, who will be hard to keep off the boards a be good for double digits every game, newcomer Aldon Applewhite, a 6’1 G/F who started as a 6th grader last year at Colonial and 7th grader Dorian George who will be among others coming off the football field including Durias Dyer, another point player who will be heavily counted on by Coach Mcclain this year and a starter from last year. I like the look of their team but the reason that I’m going with Cordova at #2 though is because their experience at the guard spot in Alfred White and Jaylen Saulsberry and they can come off the bench with Cameron Jones or start 3 guards if you include him. Last year, they were so big and athletic and it’s changed a lot this year and I think that could be a spot of weakness for them this year, inside however guard play will carry them a long way and if you notice, if you have strong guard play in Middle School, you can make a run. They are not Cordova of last year, not close but they are good enough to be a team that wins their side.
At 3, I will go with aforementioned White Station and at 4, I will go with American Way who returns a good 7th grade class and one of the best 6th graders in the city, Terrance Jacobs Jr. Gone is big brother Chandler but 7th grader Johnathan Lawson is looking to take over the responsibility as the go to for his team including becoming more of a scorer but yet still looking to get players involved as creator. Jaylen Brown is back as well and will be a scorer for Coach Franklin along with Tadarius Jacobs and 8th grader Alvin Miles who is one of the better spot up shooters in Middle School. This year, there just isn’t much size like like last year all around and it will effect most but American Way is another team that will rely heavily upon guards. At # 5, I haven’t ranked a private school in awhile in pre-season but I’m going to go with Briarcrest Middle here. Here is why, they have a really good point guard in Kennedy Chandler who can score and make plays for others running the team and Reggie Neely, a not much talked player who deserves to be in the conversation as a top 10 player in 2020 in Memphis. Neely is a scorer, pure and simple and knows what to do with it when he has the ball in his hands. He can beat you with the jumper or the drive and is a pretty defender. If he’s not, I would like to think that he’s among the top 5 best players in Private Schools if not the best .
A few other schools have a chance to have a say in this including A Maceo Walker who has Antwan Smith and maybe even Hickory Ridge with Jaylon Sanders but right now, the teams I mentioned are who I think are the top 5 in the city. If you don’t think so, please tell me who you think are the better teams below in the comment section. I’m always up for good banter on middle school basketball.
So here we go, the Pre-Season Top 5
1. Bellevue Middle School – Key Players: Omari Thomas, Isaiah Cathey, Jesse Payne, Jabari Small, 2021 Jacob Roberts, Keshaun Harris, Chris McKnight, Ariyon Parker,
2. Cordova Middle School– Key Players: Alfred White Jr, Jaylen Saulsberry, Cameron Jones, Rodney Newsome Jr.
3. White Station Middle School– Key Players: 2021 Willie Foreman, Durias Dyer, 2021 Aldon Applewhite, 2021 Dorian George
4. American Way Middle School– Key Players: 2021 Johnathan Lawson, 2021 Jaylen Brown, 2021 Tadarius Jacobs, Marquan Dean, Alvin Miles, 2021 Terrance Jacobs Jr.