1. Lester Middle (7-0) Big game tomorrow for the Lions with Lowrance coming to Binghampton in a battle for first place in Area 2B. It’s been a while since Lester has been tested so it should be interesting because when your #1, everyone wants to beat you. Tomorrow will be no different.
2. Bellevue Middle (9-0) After winning the MLK, the Bobcats move up the list from 3 to here. They beat a good Havenview team in the championship game and appear to be catching their stride right now.
3. Ridgeway Middle (9-1) The Roadrunners are at home against Highland Oaks on Tuesday who have a few losses on their record but a team that they shouldn’t overlook either as well as Cordova who recently played within 7 points.
4. Germantown Middle (8-1) Will be on the road at Hickory Ridge on Tuesday but a grudge match with #3 Ridgeway is looming, their only loss of the season. That will be a game you want to attend, if you love middle school basketball.
5. Havenview Middle (9-2) Beat #5 Snowden in the MLK tourney by double digits but lost to a good Bellevue team in the finale. With that being said, you must take the Tigers seriously as a contender in Large Schools. “We are an unselfish team that knows we have to play together in order to win” says head coach, Lawrence Myers.
With the MLK going this week, there could be some movement for 2 teams with FACS coming on strong at 5-0 right now and Lowrance Middle, currently undefeated as well.
1. Lester Middle (6-0) Beat Dubois last week and play at Kirby today. I honestly don’t see much trouble on the road for them in the coming weeks.
2. Ridgeway Middle (7-1) Put 3 wins in the column last week over Starkville, Holly Springs and a close victory over Cordova. Best part about close wins, it prepares you for later when its playoff time.
3.Bellevue Middle (5-0) In their first game of the MLK, they scored 75 points, that’s a lot for a middle school team. We could see a Bellevue Snowden game in that but first and foremost, Treadwell today.
4. Germantown (6-1) Had to come back down from 11 to beat Snowden at home. 2 things, Cameron Miller would not let them lose and 2, are the Red Devils the most tested team in the city?
5. Snowden (6-1) Close loss to Germantown but it showed one thing, they are legit if some didn’t think so. Jamarius Brooks has quietly become one of the better guards in the city in the 8th grade.
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.
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.
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.
For the second year in a row, the MBL (Major Prep) has put together a nice group of young talent with all games taking place at Lausanne Collegiate School in effort to get some run before things get serious in later on in September. I like to get out to leagues like this one and the upcoming Super 80 that will have a middle school division this year to see the progression of some players and to see some new faces. While I have not familiarized myself with 2022 class a lot, I’ve heard names and see a few players who are worth keeping a track of as they mature and come into their own as players. One name I’ve heard a lot and some say he’s the best player in that class is 5’6 Chandler Jackson, who as a mature game for a player so young, who looks to drive but looks for teammates on the kick out but also is right now a scorer to the rim mostly. He wasn’t afraid contact and moved well in tight space where he drew fouls. I was impressed with him really for the first time seeing him but there have been a few others who have caught my attention in the two weeks that I have been out to Lausanne. Here are a few of them to maybe take a peak at if you want to get out and get a chance to see some basketball in this league. Now I do not know their exact teams but just some players who fans may want to see and be able to associate with middle school teams this fall.
Cartier Beverly PG- Bellevue Middle School – 2022 Beverly has a chance to play some minutes this year on 8th grade loaded Bellevue team that won a state sectional last year. He’s a point guard looking to penetrate and make it happen but also has good form on the 3. He didn’t try to do to much and was good aggressive and showed some quickness and good handle with defender on him. He didn’t look to concerned about players playing him close and plays the game like a player who has been playing for a long time. He’s definitely a player that will among the best players in his class right now in the city.
Dylan Hayden PG – St George – 2022 Younger brother of basketball and football standout, Chase Hayden, Dylan reminds me a little of his brother at that age because of his speed and attack mode nature and I do mean attack mode. Once his mind is made up, he’s tough to contain and he can finish in the half court but is best in the open court. I love how competitive he is and he plays with a lot of passion.
Caleb Jackson PG – KIPP – 2022 – Of the younger guards, Jackson looked to be more of a shot creator for himself which his essential but you don’t see it much in players this young. Jackson used the 2 dribble pull up from the free throw line and looked comfortable doing so. He has good shooting mechanics and is extremely confident in himself as a player just from observing.
8th- 9th grade (Division)
Tayson Parker SG/SF – Home School – 2020- Parker is arguably the best player in this division from what I’ve seen but again, I haven’t seen everyone but it’s tough not to consider. Parker is athletic slasher, with great first step but his strength right now is how athletic he is. A few times, I saw him over the rim for tip ins but he’s not a shy player with the jumper that he can make, particularly from the top but is right now a slasher and he’s a problem in transition where he is adept finisher.
Sylvester Thompson PG – 2019 Quick point guard who does what small guards should do, best pesky on defense, get there’s when it’s presents itself and he was able to put himself in position to have an impact whether offensively or defensively. He seemed to want the ball as the game got closer and made good decisions with the ball when it was in his hands. He will have to make his mark as a defender to be a guy who gets on the floor for as a freshmen which may not be hard for him depending on what situation he’s in and where he goes to high school.
Dorian George SF/PF – White Station – 2021 Strong 3-4 in transition to wing and it’s possible due to increased handle and confidence in it. Strong enough to play against 4-5s, George is versatile defender and a solid rebounder where he can get it off the rim and push up to half court which I hadn’t really seen him do in the past. Right now, kind of hard to label him as position but he’s productive and will get the benefit of a lot of playing time this year at White Station.
Tadarius Jacobs SG – American Way – 2021- 18 points on Sunday in his first game, Jacobs for those who didn’t know, he can PLAY. Jacobs is known more as a shooter/defender but on Sunday, he looked to lead and was looked every bit like a player capable of having a break out year in Middle School. Thing I like most maybe is him defensively where you can put him on the other teams best guard and he can contain with his length, and good footwork Growing confidence will continue to make him one of the better 7th graders in the city and soon, more and more people will begin to know Jacobs.
Kaeden Laws PF – Home School- 2021 – Maybe the biggest surprise I’ve seen of the league, 6’1 Laws is legitimately becoming a top 5 player right in front of my eyes. Really active rebounder, he rebounds out of his area and is hard to box because he works hard and he goes after everything off the rim and sprinting the floor to contest shots and misses. Don’t think of him as just a rebounder though, he’s skilled, showing so with the catch facing up and making the spin move back of the left shoulder for a score, scoring off the euro step but is truly at his best around the basket. Laws has truly earned himself a look as a top player in this class and while there is still some more to see of him, he’s in the conversation. Remember this name as he continues to grow.