Tag Archives: Jelani Willis

What We Learned: Summer Team Camps

 

East HS Guard TJ Moss
                                                                             East HS Guard TJ Moss

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

 2019 6'9 Luke Howard- Harding Lions
2019 6’9 Luke Howard- Harding Lions

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.

 2018 John McBride MUS (One Of The Best Forwards In Private School
2018 John McBride MUS (One Of The Best Forwards In Private School

Early Top 5: 2017-2018

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

 

 

“Cream Of The Crop” Camp Recap (2021)

 

Eli Federman (St George)
Eli Federman (St George)

The 8th grade class is one that is interesting because there are a  few nationally rated players at the top in Lawson, Chandler and Brown,  so it has some flair to it. It’s one that interesting too because it’s one that a few players will be the main causes in their team success this season, a position that they haven’t been in before. 8th grade is crucial because it can set the tone going forward as these players head to high school next year. I’m really excited about a lot of these players this year and to see how they react to having the spotlight placed on them.  The final rankings from the “Cream Of The Crop” Camp, the 2020 class.

Nehemiah Ausley (St George) was able to do some positives in camp. He came into against some of the best players in his class and held his own. Teaming up with Eli Federman this year, Ausley has a chance to get his name out there more. Fredric Morgan (Southaven) is a quick guard who should be one of the best players in that area this year. Jordan Hibbler (Southhaven)  is a talented 2-3, who looked pretty good in drills. He along with Morgan had to leave a little before the games started otherwise he could have put himself up a bit more here. Justin Collier (Desoto Central) is another Mississippi product, long frame, another who is trying to change positions as he’s been primarily undersized at the 4 in the past. Ball skills, handle and becoming more confident in his ability as a player will take him up this list because the talent is there. Jaylon Holmes (Kirby) is a high high motor player who was every where  during game play. Right now, his best attribute is as a rebounder and defender because he can guard 2,3,4 right now. He has infectious energy and is a worker and I think his upside is good with the ability to create offense for himself off his own and ball handling.

Jaylon Holmes (Kirby)
Jaylon Holmes (Kirby)

Thomas Kizer (MUS) put himself in the conversation as one of the best shooters in this class. He hit several deep spotting up, hitting the wing 3, handled pressure well and showed fight as a defender. I think he is capable of more offensively because of his jumper. Would love to see him add the pull up from 10-15 feet out in the future but Kizer is a good young player. Eric Roberts (Bellevue) Aggressive tough guard who can score and get to the rim. Strong with it, Roberts is player who you can depend offensively and I think he’s in route to a spurt that will really help him going forward. You can play him at the 1 some, 2 and against some teams, some 3 as well. Jace Lockhart (Arlington) one of the best on ball defender in this class, easily, he will draw the other teams best player nightly. You can put him on bigger guards or smaller guards, Lockhart competes has good hands and good instincts and quick feet that make for an elite perimeter defender.  I’ve seen him score in the past so I know the ability is there however, in camp, his biggest impact as as an on ball defender.

Thomas Kizer (MUS)
Thomas Kizer (MUS)

Ethan Roberts (Houston) Roberts is another shooter in this class who’s up there as a top 3-5 shooter in 2020 but that’s not all he can do. He’s a better than you think passer, can lead as the point guard as well. Really smart as a player, he’s another that plays to his strengths but again, the shooting ability stands out for him. Dorian George (White Station) Strong frame makes him able to play inside and battle with bigger players but shows some future as a really good player who you can put on a guard as well. His future projects as a guard and he’s been working on that as he showed the 2 and 3 dribble pull up from mid range and he’s improved as a jumper maker.  He can be a bit loose with the ball at times  which can lead to turnovers in open court but those are things he can tighten up on by staying lower on the dribble.

Tyler Harrington (Briarcrest) New to the scene in 2021, Harrington is arguably a top 2  shooter in this class right now. He has good mechanics on his shot which makes him a consistent knock down 3 shooter right now. He makes the right pass, uses the shot fake to get the defenders in the air where he can step in and take the jumper. Late bloomer type who can move up this list in time.

Tyler Harrinton (Briarcrest)
Tyler Harrington (Briarcrest)

Bryson Potts (Houston) another player who keeps getting better, Potts was really good when he set his feet on the jumper and he put it on the floor where he used the floater. He’s gotten a lot more confident in himself as a player and it shows in his play.  Potts showed a willingness to drive it tough to the rim, something that I haven’t seen in the past well. He’s coming along as a player and will be counted heavily this year at Houston. Eli Federman (St George) has blown up from fall leagues and he played well in camp. The thing you notice about Eli first is his scoring ability, off the dribble pull ups, the 3, off the catch, Federman can fill it up. He’s a player who can get into a groove and get you 25 in games. Just  knows how to fill it up and by now, most middle school fans will be familiar with him by the end of the season.. More of a 2 right now, Federman’s ability to be a pg in the future by creating for others by penetrating to find instead of to score.

Zander Yates (Briarcrest)
Zander Yates (Briarcrest)

10. Zander Yates (Briacrest) Upside, Upside, Upside!!! Reminds me a lot of Austin Nichols at the same age but Yates is bigger, Yates has the look of a high major player down the line. Runs the floor, soft hands, has the turn over the left shoulder short hook, keeps high on the rebound, has touch around the rim and can play with his back to the basket. Yates offensively is still raw but the key is, he shows that he’s capable of being a consistent back to back post because right now, he’s a traditional post player. As I said though, right now, more of a 4-5, he will need to be able to face up and take the dribble and power up and shoot the free throw line jumper so he’s not just a back to the basket player. He’s still growing into his body so it may take a little longer because he’s a big however, all signs point to him being really good and I wouldn’t bet against that right now.

Jelani Willis (On The Right)
Jelani Willis (On The Right)

9. Jelani Willis (White Station) Plays extremely hard, Willis is not going to let you out work him. He’s extremely effective free throw extended where he can use his athleticism and finish and get off the floor quick for put backs off offensive rebounds. An improving ball handler, Willis is much better spotting up than creating off the dribble for his shot but will shoot the pull up. He’s multi-dimensional defender who you can play against 1-4 spots and he will defend those spots well. As he becomes better with creating for himself going both directions and becoming a more consistent jumper maker, he will become a much more versatile player but right now, he’s highly effective because of his motor.

Kameron Jones (Cordova)
Kameron Jones (Cordova)

8. Kameron Jones (Cordova) Best shooter in this class, hands down, you can’t leave the lefty guard. He can get it with the step back, off the crossover dribble, spotting up, Jones is a consistent 3 point shooter. Creating his own jumper was a concern for me a year ago but not anymore. Jones  impacts games as a scorer and is deceptive with his handle and deliberate. He has the soft runner at the basket and stops and shoots the 15 ft shot which he didn’t do a lot of earlier in his 6th, 7th grade days. He’s definitely added to game from somethings that I saw in camp. As a player who will have the ball a lot this year in the go to role, Jones will have an opportunity to prove that he’s learning to be a point guard as well. I think he’s capable as a defender but taking certain angles will be important for him. Was kind of uncharacteristic at points during the camp with his shooting but again, he’s a great shooter so I expect the confidence to be there because he does it well. I think he’s headed for a great year and with that, a move ahead in the rankings is possible.

Tadarius Jacobs (Bellevue)
Tadarius Jacobs (Bellevue)

7. Tadarius Jacobs (Bellevue)  Added confidence from big time end to the summer, Jacobs is in the “elite” group of defenders in Middle School. In fact, I will that he is the best perimeter defender at the 1 and 2 position in the city because of his instincts and anticipation on the ball. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s going to defend his man and make an impact late with a steal or get in the passing lane for a deflection.  His demeanor never changes on the floor, takes and makes big shots, another really good shooter who gets through gaps in defenses using his slender frame, offensively his game is expanding. He’s a finisher in transition and makes the right decision with the pass in transition as well. Takes on challenges and is another player who score 15 quiet points and gets 4-5 rebounds because of his athleticism. I would love to see him attack the rim more because I think he’s one of the best finishers in the class.

Kaeden Laws (Center Hil)
Kaeden Laws (Center Hil)

6. Kaeden Laws (Center Hill) Should be the best player playing in Mississippi Middle Schools locally this year, Laws name is here and it will be here for awhile. A player who’s getting better and better, Laws known as more of post last year, now he’s putting it on the floor more shooting the jumper off the dribble and hitting the occasional 3 using his expanded ranged but still showing the face and post game. He doesn’t force much, he’s patient offensively and is very unselfish and  he works well from the high post.   Laws is also a good passer who displayed that on several occasions during camp and he finishes around the rim. He doesn’t give up on plays and he and his motor is pretty good.  Continuing progression as a guard/wing with added ball skills will be important to him.

Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)
Deebo Coleman (Lausanne)

5. Deebo Coleman (Lausanne) The 6 ft guard has made tremendous strides since the last time I saw him. For one, he’s added inches to his frame and he has a lot of confidence in himself now. He was driving to rim expecting contact, something I hadn’t really seen him because he’s been known as more of a shooter in the past. He looked more fluid with the dribble, attacked in both directions and hit the pull up jumper on multiple occasions and just was always on the attack when it was there to attack. Like most taller young guards, Coleman tends to stand upright at times especially when tired and sometimes when all else fails, he goes his strong suit, the 3 when he could attack off the dribble. Coleman should be the best player in Private School this year.

Calvin Jennings (Snowden)
Calvin Jennings (Snowden)

4. Calvin Jennings (Snowden) Had the most motor of anyone in camp, Jennings was absolutely relentless during the camp. He attacked, attacked and attacked again. If you played up on him, he attacked, if you played off, he attacked, he wasn’t letting his man off the hook at any point. A junk yard type of mentality, he tried to get every rebound, he pushed it in transition and he had a mind to score it by any means necessary. Didn’t turn down any challenge defensively either contesting and closing out on everything and plays a physical style of basketball that will bother other teams and he’s ultra competitive.  At this stage, not sure if he’s a combo forward of big guard as he hasn’t really defined his self with a position.  He’s stretched out some and will likely stretch some more because of his frame. Handled the ball well in attack situations and drove it hard one direction, would love to see him add going both directions and finishing strong with either hand. You just have to love how hard he plays right though and that alone make him one that could swing Snowden into the mix of things in their tough league.

Jalen Brown (Kingsbury Middle)
Jalen Brown (Kingsbury Middle)

3.Jalen Brown (Kingsbury) Another year but Brown has come back much longer than when some remember him from last year. A natural scorer, simply no other way to put it, a get the bucket type player, Brown does it with the best.  Takes driving lanes never afraid of big games or big situations, Brown has clutch game in him because he has taken and made huge shots in games. You can’t keep him from getting to his spots on the floor, handles it well and is one of the few players that shoots the mid range jumper on the regular with pull ups at the free throw line. Operates on the baseline, really good touch near with the float game and a better than you think shooter, there just isn’t a way that he can’t score it. Is a natural 2 right now but has some combo guard in him, he showed some underrated vision during camp leading teammates with passes for lay ups. Can finish with the bump and is a really good free throw shooter when he gets there.  Will be he go to guy easily this year for Kingsbury and I expect him to have a huge year for the Falcons. Would love to see him use his length for steals, he could create problems because he’s long. A good rebounder at his position as well and while he shoots the mid range jumper well on the move, hitting that 3 off the dribble and creating separation on it will be somethings he can work with. I can see him getting 30 on multiple occasions this season at his new school.

Kennedy Chandler (Briarcrest)
Kennedy Chandler (Briarcrest)

2.Kennedy Chandler (Briarcrest) Chandler has went from being a score first type to more of a true pg and it’s showing. Ball on a string, Chandler handles it better than anyone in Middle School, in traffic, in tight spaces  and he puts pressure on the defense and his defender by always trying to to push tempo and find or if you play off, hit the jumper. More shifty than quick, Chandler works out of hesitation dribbles and the crossover and uses them to get off the jumper with his quick release on his shot. Just always seem to be relaxed and under control as a point guard, he sees the entire floor has a IQ and great overall feel for how to play his position. Knows when to look for his shot and can get it off on bigger defenders where he gets them off balance with his handle and he just has a knack for big shots. Knocks down the 3 and understands how to play off the pick roll, is a play maker off penetration looking for shooters and he has  vision, chandler just knows how to play basketball. Improving quickness and getting better athletically for Kennedy are things to work towards but he’s not afraid of the work and doing what it takes to get to where he trying to go.

Johnathan Lawson (Bellevue)
Johnathan Lawson (Bellevue)

1. Johnathan Lawson (Bellevue) Do it all type of forward, Lawson is a combination of all his brothers before him. KJ’s fiery demeanor, Dedric’s passing ability and versatility , Chandler’s length, Johnathan is only getting better. A 6’5 touching 6’6, Lawson oozes high major talent, more of a play maker early on and it’s still in him but now he’s scoring it more to go along with that ability.  Lawson is just hard to guard for anyone, to long for guards because he can finish and shoo over the top of them, to skilled for bigger players because he can go around them,  he’s a mismatch nightmare for opposing coaches.  As a scorer, he scores at all 3 levels and with his length, it’s just hard to keep him out of lane and as a passer, he can see over the top of smaller players and find teammates for scores. He’s the best big passer in middle school and he  can raise up the level of play of others. Can score with his back to the basket as well with the jump hook and face  He rebounds it well, gets it and goes to find teammates for finishes at the rim. He can be almost to unselfish at times but when it’s time, can take over games. Probably a better 3 point shooter than a mid range shooter  right now but that’s something that will improve over time for him. There’s a reason why a few websites across the country have him as high as #7 in the country in the 2021 class. He could end up being the best of all the Lawson brothers.

 

 

 

 

MBL League Impressions (Week 2)

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Pictured Left To Right (Beverly, Willis, Donegan, Holloway)

After not getting a chance to get out on the first weekend of the Major Prep Basketball League, I thought Sunday was a good opportunity to see some the best young talent in the city and I came away impressed. Some players, I already had a feel for after seeing them last year and during the summer but a few players that I’d heard great things about but only had limited views on them as players like Joshua Holloway who some consider as the best player in the 6th grade class. Holloway is smallish in stature but big in game as a player right now who’s at his best scoring the ball. Has a little twitch to his game where he can change speeds, something you don’t see in kids so young and has creative ways to score whether off the dribble or through as assortment of floaters. He will team up with Cameron Donegan at Highland Oaks and make a formidable duo and make the Hawks a threat in Large Schools this year. Speaking of Donegan, the more I see him, the more I start to say that he might be the best pure point guard in this class in 8th grade. He’s the prototypical pass first who can knock down the shot, either the 3 or mid range and he’s always under control. He has a good feel for when to be aggressive offensively and he values the basketball.

Known as Turtle across the city by his peers and coaches, Cartier Beverly is a tough as they come as a guard in 2022. The stocky strong pg lives to get into the lane and is a fearless attacker off the pick or just straight line down hill. He gets to his spot off the dribble and plays with a lot of confidence and as his jumper gets better, he will be able to keep opponents more honest but his development as a finder is more important then just being a finisher because he has a solid future. 5’10 Jelani Willis is an athletic 2-3 with motor on top of motor and he plays a physical brand of basketball due to his football background. He’s at his best on the attack 10-15 feet out from the basket and is a really good rebounder from his position. Willis will be important to White Station this year and he could raise his stock in this class locally.

Other players who stood out on Sunday

7th and 8th Grade Division

Eli Federman 5’8 (St George) Filed it up off the pull up, runners, however he wanted to score, he did it.  He will be among the best guards in Private School this year. He leads the league in scoring right now and shouldn’t drop below the top 5 of scoring unless he starts to get doubled.

Cedric Franklin 5’6 (Colonial) Shows a lot of promise, scored 5 of his teams last 7 points including an and 1 to put his team up. Good fundamentally, improving as an athlete will up him in this class.

High School

Ashton Smith 5’8 2019 (Lausanne) Probably a starter this year but at no worse, will see starter minutes. Smith might be the best guard in the league. Can shoot the 3 off the spot up but is becoming for adept penetrating and making it happen as a playmaker.

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Kennedy Chandler 5’7 (Briarcrest) Shifty and looks to have added more quickness, Chandler’s talent was on display even playing up high school. Scored with the hesitation dribble, made decisive moves to the rim and constantly put pressure on the defense. Chandler certainly didn’t look out of sorts with older competition

Brogan Brewer 6’3 (Arlington High) The worker 3-4 looks like he has put on some weight and it’s showing in his game. Always a worker around the rim, he does all of the work that coaches value, whether it’s grabbing an offensive rebound or hitting the floor for a loose ball, Brewer plays hard and doesn’t take possessions off.

Matthew Murrell 6’2 (Whitehaven High) Looks like he has stretched some and his frame might see another inch or two added in his future but Murrell is a driver/slasher and a top 5 player in 2020 easily. Continued progression as a jump shot maker from the perimeter will add versatility to his game but there is so much to like about his future. The team he is on will force him to be more assertive in this league and he should benefit from that.

Jalen Brown 6’0 (Kingsbury Middle) Like Murrell, Brown has added some inches to his slender frame and will be a terror this year in Middle School.  Like Kennedy Chandler, Brown is playing up and looks like he belongs.  I think it will help him kind of get used to some of the physicality of high school.

I think Coach Brown has the best team in the High School division (Team Oregon) talent wise and on paper however some coaches are gunning for him. Next week might be there toughest challenge when they face Ethan Jones (BTW) who is senior and should give them some problems if they don’t rebound. Coach Drapers team with Federman should be pretty good along  with the Knicks, Raptors and Spurs (Donegan) all which play in the 7th and 8th grade division of the MBL.