The 2018 version of the National Hoopfest will go down this weekend starting Friday in Olive Branch with 2 games followed by 6 games on Saturday at White Station High School. There will be 2 games on the first day with Raleigh Egypt taking Huntingdon Prep and the headline game right after, Olive Branch vs Memphis East.
Here are 3 things to watch for on Friday and Saturday at the Penny Hardaway National Hoopfest.
Darius Garland Is The Real Deal In Memphis, it’s Alex Lomax, Tyler Harris, Mark Freeman but national rankings suggest that Darius Garland is the best point guard of them all. Ranked as the 11th best player in the country, Garland is as fun to watch as anyone nationally regardless of class. He has vision, ball like a yo yo in hand, the pull up game and what he was known before before he hit the growth spurt, the 3 ball. He plays like the new age point guards of today but he can play the facilitate role as well. Young point guards in Memphis, if you have a chance to watch him on Saturday, I suggest you watch how a high major point guard looks this weekend.
The Talent Will Be Plentiful There will be a lot of future division 1 players in this event representing their respective classes. When Sunrise Christian comes up, most mention N’Faly Diante first and for good reason. The 6’11 10th grader is ranked among the top 10-15 players in the country in this class but he has a lot teammates with a lot of ability. Malik Hall, a 6’5 guard who played with the Mississippi Express (EYBL) has a Kansas offer, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri just to name a few. He’s a scorer at all 3 levels. Austin Crowley, a 6’5 guard who transferred this season is a Mississippi native and holds offers from Ole Miss and Alabama. Huntingdon Prep doesn’t just have top 20 6’8 wing Jaemyn Brakefield who has been blowing up lately, they also have Quinn Slazinski, a 6’8 who holds a Unviversity of California offer, Marvin Price, a 6’4 guard and a top 20 freshman in the country,6’7 Johnathan Kuminga. Johnathan McGriff is a flashy small guard who plays an exciting brand of basketball from the point guard position for them and he’s in the 2019 class.
Simeon doesn’t have anyone the caliber of a Jabari Parker who prepped their years ago but Talen Horton Tucker is pretty good. The 6’5 big guard committed to Iowa State a few months ago and played pretty well against East 2 weeks ago at the City Of Palms. East beat them 70-60 but the game was much closer and source told me that they maybe better than University School who gave them their first loss.They are a top 20 team for a reason nationally. We also can’t forget about the local talent of Tyler Harris who’s averaging an other worldly 30 plus points a game, DJ Jeffries who is a top 5-10 player in the country in 2019 and teammate Joe Cooper of the Conquistadors who holds several offers. Those who haven’t seen East will get their chance with their roster which features the #1 player in the country by ESPN, James Wiseman, top 25 in ’19, Chandler Lawson, 2x Mr.Basketball and Wichia State commit Alex Lomax and UAB 6’5 wing, Ryan Boyce. 6’9 Malcolm Dandridge is another top 60 player in one of the strongest junior glasses that Memphis has seen in a long time. Paul VI has 2 really good guards in Brandon Slater who has committed to Villanova and another really good sophomore in this event, Jeremy Roach, a 6’2 guard who is ranked 14th by ESPN and holds offers from Texas, Maryland, Miami and Villanova.
Interesting Match-Ups Best thing about events like these, it gives fans a chance to see there favorite high school teams against some of the better teams across the country. Hungtingdon vs Whitehaven comes to mind. I’m looking forward to seeing Cameron Jones go head to head with Jameyn Brakefield and seeing 6’2 Matthew Murrell and Marvin Price go at it. Chicago is know to produce tough gritty guards and that game with Hamilton is going to be full of just that on both sides. Darius Garland vs Jeremy Roach should be a nice pairing of two of the elite guards in the country. Even looking at the Olive Branch and East game, there was a lot of talk about that during the summer and how close the game was when they scrimmaged at Olive Branch. That game has the energy of real game and tomorrow, it will be just that, real.
Remember, this event begins tomorrow at Olive Branch, first game is at 6 followed by the last game of the evening which will be at 730 pm. Games move to White Station on Saturday and start at 12:00.