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.
In arguably the game of the year thus far, #3 Snowden took on #5 Germantown at the home of the Red Devils on Thursday night and they gave the fans a show. At the start of the game, it was apparent that Snowden’s guards would have a huge say in this game evidenced by Jamarius Brooks coming out like he was on a mission.
He scored on the first 2 of 3 possessions as Snowden jumped out to an early lead. Up 8 points in the 2nd quarter, 22-14. Cameron Miller quickly scored two buckets off steals and cut it to 4 and just a 5 point lead which could have been worse going into the half, 23-18.
In the third, both teams traded 3 pointers to start including one by Pittman who was quiet in the first half and then one by 6’1 Daniel Egunibwe. Brooks got a tough lay to go down to make it 37-26 for Snowden’s biggest lead of the game and it looked like Snowden was about to blow it open but Miller wasn’t having it. The 6’2 G/F scored the last 6 points for his team and made it 37-32, once again down just 5 and in striking distance.
The 4th was a repeat of the 3rd with early long ball jumpers but once again, Miller was there when his team needed a shoulder to lean on. After a Deshun Dunn steal, the Red Devils got their first lead of the game, 49-47 but like Miller was to his team, Brooks was for his. He rebounded his own miss and mustered it up over 2 bigger defenders for the bucket and foul to put his team up 50-49. After a timeout by Germantown, Dunn took it with 7 seconds left and shot the wing 3 but the ball took a bounce Germantown’s way and ended up going out of bounds setting up the last shot with 1.3. 8th grade combo guard, Chris Martin popped wide open with no one around him and knocked down the game winning 3 for the 52-50 win.
Great game by teams and at some point, these 2 could meet again, down the line during post season. Expect Germantown to move up a spot or 2 in the next rankings.. Brooks led all scores with 22 points, Cameron Miller had 20 for his team in the win.
1. Lester Middle (2-0) Everyone should be convinced that was in the building on Saturday night. This is the most talented Middle School team in Memphis. There won’t be many close games for this group all season until the MAM or Bartlett tournament around the Christmas holiday. You have to start mentioning Jamarion Harvey as one of the best 7th graders in the city but a bigger statement, Markese might be the best 8th grader in the city. Chauncey Holmes looked as good as I’ve seen him and Lemarkus Wilkerson was a spark despite being in foul trouble on Saturday in their win over Ridgeway.
2. Ridgeway Middle 1-1 How can they be in this spot still? Well it comes down to this, they lost to the best team around, no shame in that and it was 2 point ball game in the 3rd quarter. They also beat my pre-season at the time #3 Germantown. Now that they see somethings to work for going forward, this is still a very good team but they will need to identify their go to scorer in crunch time.
3. Snowden Middle 1-0 You won’t find a team in Memphis 4 good 8th guards and especially as experienced as this group but you have one here . Guards go a long way in Middle School and this team has the ingredients to be successful all year long.
4. Bellevue Middle 1-0 Dangerous team because of their guards, this is a group that their new coach is excited about. AJ Dillworth, Jr Jacobs who had 19 in the opener, Amar Knox and Dustin Richmond will be who they go to in every game. They are on the road tonight and then back at home Wednesday.
5. Germantown Middle 2-1 After a loss to Ridgeway, they were able to get back in the win column last week but this is a team capable of more, a lot more. With the early loss, it could make them hungrier to get back in the convo as a top 2 team again.
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.