The name is legendary and what he meant to the city at a time when basketball brought people together, stands on it’s on. Larry Finch was a symbol of Memphis basketball and you couldn’t talk the sport without his name in the 70, 80s or 90s. His name still resonates when you talk basketball and those who still revere him as the face of the sport in Memphis and now to go with that, the first annual Larry Finch Classic.
The first ever event will pair some local talent along with a national power in Findlay Prep who will be traveling from Nevada for the event. The classic features Mitchell High School coached by one Coach Finch’s former player, Andre Turner and in the headline game, another one of his former players, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (East High School). Holly Springs will take on Tigers while East get’s USA today’s number 1 team in the country, Findlay Prep.
Mitchell has a good pair of guards in Michael and Mikell Rice and 6’7 twins Deante and Devante Logwood. They will want to get up and done at a good pace but will have a tall task in dealing with Murray State commit, Daquan Smith. The 6’2 dynamic guard can really score the basketball from anywhere on the floor. This will be the 6:00 pm game
In the main event at 7:30, there will be a few things to watch. For one, it’s the homecoming of TJ Moss, a 6’4 guard who playing his high school basketball at East for 3 years but decided to transfer to Findlay Prep for his senior season. I’m sure it will be different for him playing for another school in his hometown but one that will be interesting as well for fans. Secondly and it probably could have been the first story line, 7’3 Bol Bol will be in the Pilot uniform after transferring from Mater Dei in California just over a week ago . If you don’t know who Bol Bol is…
Now with that being said, Bol is easily a top 5 player in the country in 2018 and yesterday, he committed to Oregon and you have a chance to see him in action Saturday. He is one of the most unique players you will find in the country. Another reason you want to see to East and Findlay Prep, 7’3 Connor Vanover who is a University of Memphis commit. For Memphis fans, this might be the only chance you get to see him before he hits the Bluff City next season. For those counting, they have 2 players over 7′ ft tall and they could easily throw both out at the same time in the line up.
Findlay Prep also has a host of other division 1 commits for next year including Kyler Edwards who is heading to Texas Tech, 6’3 pg Jamie Lewis who may or may not play (Wake Forrest), Reggie Chaney, a 6’8 4 man who committed to Arkansas, and Jack Schweitz, another division 1 commit. 6’9 Nathan Mensah is also playing as well and brother of PJ Washington (Kentucky) Spencer Washington who is a 6’7 forward.
East will have a different looking team considering what could have been when they were picked pre-season as the #1 team in the country by Max Preps however, still the city’s best team overall and a very formidable one on the national level. Mr.Basketball and Wichita State signee Alex Lomax, 6’8 Chandler Lawson, 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge, top 10 freshman in the country Johnathan Lawson, a 6’6 guard and 6’4 Jalen Brown, another one of the country’s best freshmen will anchor this team this season. Expect for this game to be excitement from start to finish with story lines to boot.
Don’t miss out on what promises to be a memorable event. For more information, please contact 901 600-6136.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that I can’t wait for basketball season to come from so many people. Well the wait is over and we are finally here as the first week of high school basketball is upon us.
Now I know that many people are wondering, who is going to be good this year, what teams are primed for a state tournament run, who are the best 5, 10 teams in the city, what freshmen can make an impacts and on and on. I’m going to give you 10 things to watch for this season as we get ready to go on the roller coaster that is high school basketball in Memphis.
1. Obviously, East has a very very talented team, in fact, by some, the best team in the country. They return Mr. Basketball and now Wichita State commit, Alex Lomax, 6’8 Chandler Lawson, 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge and have added a consensus top 3 player in the country in James Wiseman, a 7 ft and 6’5 UAB commit Ryan Boyce. They also have a strong freshman class with Johnathan Lawson, a 6’6 guard, 6’4 Jalen Brown and 5’11 Tadarius Jacobs. 5’11 Dee Merriwether, Nautica Hartwell and 4 star receiver Keveon Mullins will provide depth nightly. Okay, enough with the semantics, the question is this, will Wiseman and Boyce be eligible to play and the answer is, I don’t know and neither does anyone else at the moment.
I’ve heard all that comes with it, it’s not fair, I’ve heard about coaches calling to the TSSAA and I’ve heard some other stuff that I can’t share here however, with the rules in place, I think those surrounding East including Penny Hardaway seem to think they should be fine. When will they have the answer to their question about their eligibility,? I’m assuming soon enough, as they have games approaching, one in fact his weekend at home against Mitchell. If the 2 don’t play, they will be hindered some but you still have to contend with Lomax, Dandridge and Lawson who are all division 1 players who have been in wars and played against the best players in the country. They will be a different team this year though based on the defections of TJ Moss and Antavion Collum and will rely on some inexperience and youth to counteract those losses. They will have to defend with bigs and depend on them to handle the ball in situations that they may not necessarily be used to and in some in game moments, you could see Chandler Lawson running the offense. All of this to though is contingent upon the TSSAA and their ruling which again, they hope to find out something soon on.
2.Are the Raleigh Egypt Pharaohs back? I know fans in that area are excited and they should be. Coach Moe Miller, a former player there as well as a GA Tech alum , is trying to resurrect it back from the past few years where they fell on tough times. Some people are saying, they are the best team in 2A this year and a team that can make that run to Mufreesboro this year.
Deovaunta Williams, a 6’2 guard will be a major catalyst for this year’s team as well as senior forward, Jadakiss Williams,a 6’7 who was able to get his confidence up this summer playing with a good Team Thad team. Ethan Burnett led them in scoring last season and they have some more guards in Darrell Christian, a 6’2 guard and another 6’4 guard in Quintavios Bailey. I think it’s great when certain schools are good and with this group, Raleigh Egypt should be in the convo as one of the best teams in Memphis. I can’t forget about 6’4 Jordan Johnson as well, one of the areas best kept secrets in 2020. There is no question in my mind, he’s right now a top 10 player in that class and can move up into conversation as a top 5 guy by the end of the season.
3. Is Double A this most competitive classification this year in Memphis? Perhaps it is and there are reasons. For one, I think there are at least 2 times right now that can get out of here this year, the aforementioned Pharaohs and the Hamilton Wildcats. I also think that Mitchell has a shot as well. The Tigers coached by legendary Tiger star Andre Turner will be good and get better as the season goes along. They will need younger guards to step up but have the height and size to compete everyone locally. Remember when I said that it’s good to see certain teams be good? Hamilton is another one of those teams.
They won a state title in 2015 in Triple A but since, things didn’t go so well.2 players from that teams are still playing, Kevon McMahan and Martrell Brooks. Both are starters this year but they got some big news when Jordan “Poppi” Johnson transferred in for this senior year. Johnson is legit as if not the best shooter, the second best shooter in the area. I’m telling you, barring injury, Hamilton is a top 2 team in Double A in Memphis.
4. Is there a better story right now in Memphis than Nick London? If there is, someone let me know but his comeback has been amazing to watch. For those who don’t know, Nick was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago as an incoming 9th grader. Fast forward a few years later, Nick is playing again and starting at Hamilton where his father played years almost 20 years ago. You can’t make up a story like his and it’s one that if you get a chance this year, you must see.
5. On November 25th, the first annual Larry Finch classic will take place on the campus of the University of Memphis at the ElmaRoane Field house. The event will feature 2 coaches who played for the legendary coach in Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, and Andre Turner. The main event will be East vs Findlay Prep who will feature TJ Moss who left for the Nevada school from East, University of Memphis commit, 7’3 Connor Vanover and 7’3, Bol Bol, a top 5 player in the country in 2018 who just transferred there recently. There should be a lot of excitement in the air for that one and some emotion as well headlined by a game that will have 10 or more division one basketball players.
6. Are the old powers of Memphis High School basketball coming back around? Raleigh Egypt seems to be moving in the right direction and reclaiming their position as school to fear when it comes to basketball, Can White Station do the same this year? To be fair, the answer is probably no if your comparing it to the days of Joe Jackson and more recently, Chris Chiozza (FLA) Leron Black but this team is capable of a top 2 finish in 16AAA and right there with Whitehaven vying for that spot. Allen Hatchett and Brandon Brown are going to have to produce numbers every night as scorers and rebound guys. Hatchett’s leadership will be key, it should be his team. Melrose who won a state a few years ago is still a few year away but a move to Double A should definitely speed up the rebuild for first year head coach, Joe Washington.
7. How good will Cordova be this year? It’s pretty much a new cast for Tyler Harris who many think is the best player in Memphis in 2018. Gone, Rod Brown who enrolled at Wichita State early and Blake Williams who’s he’s played with over half his basketball playing career. Tyler is a dynamic scorer who you simply can’t leave from anywhere on the floor. He’s been a player who played off the ball a lot but this year, the situation may call for him to be more on it which I’m sure he will be comfortable with. There has been a lot talk around his recruitment but I’m sure that Tyler is just looking forward to playing in his final high school season and he will have some help. 6’6 Bruce Guy will be there and should be able to take up some of the slack that Brown left. For them to be pretty good, he needs to adjust and adjust fast in a new district but Bruce is talented enough to get the job done. I can see him being a 18 and 9 or 10 rebound type forming a nice duo.
8. Does Lausanne have 2 peat in them? They like a lot of teams lost a few seniors and while maybe not their best players, they were invaluable as leaders for them for years. This is where point guard Ashton Smith and Sky Forrest must will come into play. They are the old guys on the team as juniors along with football players Cameron Simms and Eric Gray with a host of youthfulness and the second best freshman class in the city. Alden Applewhite, Calvin Jennings and Eddie Buxton are their future but at least one of them could be counted on to log some minutes and that will probably be 6’5 Applewhite. 6’4 guard, Bo Montgomery will step into a bigger role this year as well as 6’6 Johnathan Dejurnett who was lost last year to injury and 6’6 Kohan Thompson. On paper, I think this is the best team on the private school side in the city but they still must prove it on the court as well.
9.Outside of East who most think will be a lock to go to the state,who will be that other team? Southwind, Ridgeway? Southwind will have to replace CJ Marshall’s scoring and maybe they can do it by committee there with guard play. LIU-Brooklyn commit Mark Freeman will do his part and pick up his scoring but where else will it come from nightly? Christian Jones is capable from the outside and had some big games last year for them. 6’8 Kameron Jones who was probably just a bit in their offense last year will now be a big piece to the puzzle if Southwind want’s to go back. Ridgeway without Jalen Crutcher early on will be a transition. They have a nice trio with Antwan Beans, Antonio Thomas and new to the party, Brandon Mason. Tylar Haynes is a bit undersized but plays a bigger, will be asked to rebound and score probably more than he’s used to along with Will Wilson, a 6’6 who can go inbetween the 3 and 4 position. Maybe that other team can be Cordova? Anyone with Tyler Harris has a chance but a lot teams will be keying in on him and he will see his share of 2 guys on him to take the ball out of his hands and the keys for their state trip. Maybe it’s Whitehaven’s turn to make that ride with Coach Phillips who took several trips there while at Mitchell. Cameron Jones and Matthew Murrell will be in 2 front seats if they take that ride though.
10. Could Bartlett win 14AAA? It’s been a few years since you could mention Bartlett as maybe winning this district. I think last time it happened, Anthlon Bell was lighting it up there before he headed to Arkansas for 4 years. Now let me say this, are they favorites? No, probably not but that doesn’t meant they won’t end up winning over there but that league still goes through Tyler Harris and Bartlett has to get over that hump as well as a sound Arlington team who will be ready to play in every game. Coach Real has a few transfers who could help this year in 6’4 Rodney Mason, 6’5 Takori Rooks to go along with guards, Sylvester Thompson, Shemar Brown and 6’2 Jeff Walker. I could be a year early on the prediction but don’t be surprised by them this year.
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.
Do It For Dez, Do It For Ms Shaw, those were this year’s mantra for East High’s Basketball team and as you know by now, that was done on yesterday. For those who may not know the story, Binghampton legend and former coach of Lester and East died on last year after a long battle with cancer followed by Sharon Shaw. Shaw, the grandmother of Alex Lomax and loyal member of the community and team mom, suddenly during the summer. The season was dedicated to both and it came to pass as East defeated a good Cordova team, 64-60 reaching number 7 and taking over the state as the leader in titles in Triple A and it’s second title in 4 years but it wasn’t easy, not at all.
Up 36-21 after a great half by reserve junior TK Smith who scored 9 points along with TJ Moss who was good early, and holding one of the state’s best scorers to just 3 at the break, East was feeling good about their chances. They pushed the lead up to 18 after a Rodarius Washington steal under the goal produced a lay up plus the foul, it looked like it might have turned into a route in the 4th but that’s not what was on his mind of the WolfPack. Cordova went on a 17-3 run capped by an awaken Tyler Harris who’s Curry (Stephen) pretty behind the back move and rise with the deep 3 moved them closer, 58-53 late in the 4th. East had to make free throws down the stretch and after a missed free throw by Lomax, Cordova still had a chance to tie but they couldn’t get the 3 try to go down and Lomax was fouled again. Lomax was would go on to make 4 free ones and freshman Chandler Lawson was fouled with 18 seconds left where he made both. All year, the Mustangs didn’t fold in the final moments and it held true on Saturday for a 64-60 win a state title. “I’ve given enough speeches man, I just want to enjoy this” said Coach Rocky Johnson who brought the team down last year and came a game away from state. Penny Hardaway, who Coach Dez asked to come in and be coach years ago at Lester added, “All the hard work, it’s led to this, I’m really proud of you guys, I know Dez and Ms. Sharon looking down on us and they smiling, everybody get they fingers up, one time for D-MAC” Do it For Dez and Ms Sharon, now has turned into Did it for them both. Congratulations East, Triple A state Champs.
Mitchell Gets The 3 Peat!!!
It wasn’t pretty, both teams didn’t shoot it that well from the floor, it was a low scoring affair but it was the end that first year head coach Andre Turner wanted, a state title, his first at the helm and Mitchell’s 3rd state title in a row. The team’s had played each other 3 times before Saturday with Booker T Washington beating them for the city and district and Mitchell beating them in the regional and again on Saturday. I thought earlier, Mitchell just looked like they wanted the game more and late in the game it showed as well. I thought Coach Turner did a great job of it not being a track meet, his team was patient on offense and they leaned on state MVP Tevin Ollison who scored a game high 27 points. Ollison was the best guard in the tournament in Single A easily in my opinion and his college options should be flowing even more now. Mitchell got contributions all tournament long from who they relied on the entire season including Tyran Davis, Ladarius Lee and Tominique Marion, all who were named all tournament. 50-40 was the final, how sweet it is for the Tigers, 3 in a row, can they make it 4 next year? I wouldn’t bet against Andre Turner and his Mitchell Tigers next season.
Also, congratulations to Cordova and Booker T Washington on their year as well. Cordova honestly, I could see making another run back here next year. Tyler Harris, Blake Williams and Rod Brown will all return next year but replacing Jalen Dupree will be very hard. The Murray State commit is load inside and replacing his production might be a 2-3 person job. Coach Terrance Scales after the game said, “All year, all we heard about was East and Germantown, we wanted to prove that we belonged and we did that” For Booker T Washingotn, rebuilding will be even harder for them, they will lose a bulk of their scoring in senior guards Chauncey Blakely who is underrated in the city and Tyree Beason, their shooter but Tyrone Sumlin and Ethan Jones will return, both over 6’5. Booker T Washington always seems to come up with guards so it may not be a huge problem but losing guards of that caliber will be really hard to replace.
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.