Former Central High standout and Team Penny 2018 guard Jordan Johnson is on the move. The 5’10 known for his scoring and 3 making ability is headed to South Memphis to play for Hamilton High School. This is a huge addition for Hamilton who will be in Double A this year and could have a huge say in who comes out of a much improved classification.
Johnson will give Hamilton maybe the best trio of guards AA this upcoming year pairing him with Kevon Williams, Martrell Brooks and you can’t forget about Delvin Lane, a 6’2 guard who can score. Hamilton who last won a state title in 2015 could find themselves back in the picture this year as a team you definitely have to pay attention to this season.
You always know what time it is when you see the GBC Lock-In, the start of high school basketball. For several years, Germantown Baptist Church has hosted the lock in where several of area’s high school come together for a weekend of bonding with teammates and fellowship on Sunday at church. It also gives players a chances to see old middle school teammates and AAU teammates before it get’s serious in the next few weeks. It consisted of 20 teams, some just trying to get a feel for what they had, some maybe even using it for a try out of sorts to see who will be on the varsity roster but for some, business as usual. There were the teams that you know are going to be pretty good, like East, Southwind, Houston, Mitchell but then were a few surprises as you can expect in an event of this nature.
Let’s start with the known, East has star power, length and size and are coming off a season where they won the state title and returning a majority of their team. They are led by Alex Lomax, TJ Moss and Chandler Lawson, the glue, Rodarious “Pig” Washington (picturedup top) and transfers Jay Hardaway and Dude Collum. Malcolm Dandridge will play a bigger role this season as well as Nick Merriwether who will likely be the back up point guard but Laquincy Parker is another back up guard who will be needed this year defensively. East lost 2 of the best defenders in the area last season so they will have to as a team make up defensively for what gave them last season. Roles will have to be established early on and they must know, that every night will be dog fight with teams looking to knock them off. As evidenced by W.E.B Dubois on Saturday as they escaped with a 41-40 win. Running clock games, you know never know and who knows what would happen in a real game with both teams however, they can expect that type of game on the average because everyone wants to beat you and some teams will have nights where they play out of their minds against you.
Speaking of Dubois, I was impressed with their team overall as they may have placed themselves in the thick of it in the Single A race to state. Coach Johnson has a lot to be excited about in Rameek Wooten, Chris Mitchell and Josh Conrad. The 6’4 guard is a knock down 3 shooter off the set, hitting I know at least 5 against East. His point guard, Branson Bush was getting where he wanted and when he wanted as well and Mitchell and Wooten can score as well. We are used to Mitchell and BTW being there for Single A but you have to throw Dubois is there as well, they are pretty good.
Arlington will be a top 2-3 team in 14AAA and they will be that on the heals of Luke Wiseman and 6’6 Garrett Golday. The 6’2 guard is as steady as they come and should be one of the top guards in that district and Golday will be the big who can step out and make the 15 footer on the regular as well as play inside with his back to the basket. He gives them a rebounding and shot blocking presence and might be the best big in that league. Southwind will be bigger than they have been in past years this season with the addition of Khaliff Davis. That gives them, 6’7, 6’5 (CJ Marshall) 6’5 (Robert Boyd) and 6’7 (KJ Johnson). That will help out Mark Freeman who is one of the best players in 2018 in Memphis. Davis gives them size and will be a starter for them at the season’s tip and will be vital to them as a rebounder. Freeman and Marshall will provide the scoring but that third person who can be in double digits for them will have to be Boyd. Ridgeway and Houston will have to something to say in 15AAA but right now, I might be more apt to say that Southwind should be the favorite in an always competitive district.
Mitchell should be pretty good once again but not the overpowering favorite as they have been in the past. They lost their leading scorer last year as well as several key players who stepped it up late in the season. Tyran Davis, a 5’11 guard will be their go to for leadership and points as he comes back to a team that will truly need him this year. 6’5 Tominique Marion will also be called upon for more this year particularly on the offensive end, rebounding and as a player who can protect the basket. Their will be a lot of new faces to this team including a few transfers however the quicker they adapt to Coach Andre Turner’s system will be big in deciding how far they go this season.
The Kirby Cougars are interesting because they have a lot of talent but a few fresh faces to Cheyenne Gibson’s team. Darius Carter, Shemar Chambers and Nick Jackson will likely be starters along with Desmond Johnson who some say is one of more underrated guards in the state. Johnson can score with the best of them and as he goes, they go. Carter is a bouncy combo who will be good for double figures virtually every game and lead them on some nights. There is no reason to think that this team can’t be right there with a shot to win the district. Houston was without Ryan Boyce when I saw them and that was big because of what he brings to them but they do have a lot to go around him. Expect to see a lot more of Takori Rooks this year along with guard Kavious Newsome. Freshmen Rodney Mason Jr and Jaylen Saulsberry could see time as well.
Central will be long and could have a Whitehaven like year last year this season, meaning being the second team in district but I still think that White Station could have a say in that as well. Brandon Mason, Jordan Johnson, John Anderson, Latrell Carter and 6’7 Karl Johnson are all back from last season, older, stronger and knowing what to expect every night. The leader must be identified and it’s Johnson’s job to lose. This has a chance to be a good team late in the season but early on they have to also establish a number 2 guy. Bartlett might be sneaky to play but losing their 2 best guards to transfer will hurt them. I like the job that Coach Real is doing there, his players are buying in. Sophomore Jeff Walker should be who he can count for production in tough games. Melrose also got hit with the transfer bug as their best player from last season left for the north side of town but Coach Jones is ready for the challenge for this upcoming. They beat Mitchell on the first night and he said, “we have somethings to work on but we getting there” Shajuan Jones and Ahmad Webster will anchor them and they have a 6’8 and 6’4 so they should be in games but the question for the Golden Wildcats is, can they improve on last year?
Germantown will be young and rebuilding after losing 10 plus seniors last year but do have 6’7 Demarcus Mitchell. City University has a pretty good guard in TD Bonds and Hamilton has talent in Martell Brooks and Kevon McMahon but needs someone else to step up and play with them this year. PCA (Power Center Academy) is a program still building but has some young guys who will get better this year and Craigmont, is Craigmont, tough, scrappy and will press you into turnovers. This is not going to be a team that you wanna play as the season progresses.
In all, a great weekend of basketball, another successful GBC Lock In but most all, a look into the the high school basketball season.
The Memphis version of the Williams sisters, not Serena or Venus but Lanyce and Lanetta (Central High School) have received an offer from Ole Miss after their stellar play at their elite camp. Lynette at 6’3 almost 6’4 has incredible upside as young player that can step out, make the 15 footer, post on both blocks and be highly effective and score with either hand or just finish over the top with soft hook and impact a game defensively and rebounding. 6’1 Lanyce has wing potential with his ability to handle some on the perimeter, shoot the jumper and defend multiple positions with her length. I see her being a 6’2 ish really versatile wing forward when it’s said an done and like Lanetta, be a division 1 basketball player. Could this be the next great sibling duo from Memphis? Lance Williams, the sisters father says, “It is a great privilege to be considered by any school with such a scholastic and professional, WNBA, Euroleague legacy, we only hope to rise to the occasion and we will continue to work hard, we know a lot of people are rallying for girls basketball” You will be hearing both names for the next few years, I guarantee it.
All aboard, all aboard and welcome to the Memphis coaching carousel!On board snacks will include popcorn, candy, cokes and transfers to the likes of which the city hasn’t seen in the last few years due to the recent movement of coaches around the city. All the talk in recent weeks that were “rumors” became factual on yesterday as two coaching positions were filled at prominent Triple A schools, Central and Whitehaven High.
At Whitehaven, this was one most talked about by everyone and maybe the most anticipated as former Mitchell High School Head Coach Faragi Phillips took the helm as the Tigers lead guy. Phillips brings along with him, winning which he has done at every level he’s been on so far including Middle School where he won a sectional state (Ridgeway) and at Mitchell, where he was as successful as any coach in the state in recent memory. 4 state appearances in 4 years, two in Double A, a state championship in 2014 in Single A and following that up with another for back to back state titles this year. His credentials, they speak for themselves and for those who think that accomplishing what he accomplished at Mitchell was because he was Single A are down playing his coaching ability. All Phillips has done is won wherever he was and I don’t think it will be any different at Whitehaven. As a motivator, I think he’s one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory as his players speak the world of him as coach and mentor. This is a great hire for the community of Whitehaven and one that will pay big dividends very soon as Whitehaven featured one of the best freshman classes in the city last season.
John Anderson who was at one time the assistant to Coach Ricardo Patton at Colorado, who in a surprising move resigned suddenly, will take over for him at the school that he recently left, Central High School. Anderson was the head coach at Hillcrest (1987-2005) where he had a great career including Coach of the Year awards in 94, 95 and 1996 and garnering a top 20 ranking (17th in country) for his team, before embarking on a career at the D-1 level as an assistant from 2005-2007 (Colorado) and Northern Illinois University. Anderson’s teams at Overton improved greatly during this time there including making it to the semi final of the regional before bowing out to East. He has a very structured style of coaching but he allows his players to read and be creative within the comforts of the offense.
Now that the moves have been made, how many more transfers might we see across the city? These two coaching changes could shape the always perennially strong 16AAA and keep it as the best district in Triple A possibly in the state but again, with this comes questions that each coach entering new positions must wonder. Transfers in Memphis do happen but each must do their due diligence in regards to each player who could arrive or that may already be at their schools.
We remember the Hamilton Wildcats right? Hamilton was rolling along, undefeated looking like a team capable of challenging for the 2006 record in the state (Hamilton 39-0) beating Oak Hill Academy on national TV, ranked in the top 5 by most national polls in the country however shortly after, a player on the team was ruled ineligible soon after and they were forced to forfeit a significant amount of games. Was it done in malice by officials? No, definitely not but sometimes when things are done early on by the parents who may not necessarily know all the rules and quirks of the TSSAA, then it could become an issue down the line for someone should they not do their homework. Triple A brings a lot of attention to it and Coach Phillips and Coach Anderson are both high profile coaches who some may not have the best wishes for. Is that right to say? Maybe not but this is Memphis and everyone doesn’t always want you to have terrific teams regardless of what school you are at.
I think both of these coaches are great coaches who will do big time things at their new schools. I will even go this far, I think based on what’s at Whitehaven right now and what is to come, I think Phillips might have a chance to compete for the district title along with East as soon as next year. Coach Anderson’s job much like his first year at Overton will be in the mix late in the year but I look for bigger things in his second season but make no mistake, Central will still be a team that will be able to beat anybody in the city because of Anderson’s ability to coach.