Tag Archives: Willie Foreman

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.

 

 

2021 Rankings Pre Spring/Summer (*Updated 03/29/2016)

2021 L-R ( Johnathan Lawson, #2 Kennedy Chandler, #3 Willie Foreman)
2021 L-R ( Johnathan Lawson, #2 Kennedy Chandler, #3 Willie Foreman)

 

  1. Johnathan Lawson 6’4 Guard/Forward (American Way Middle/Memphis Wildcats) Has grown 2 inches since the firs ranking of this class, the last in line of the Lawson brothers, is a special talent that  definitely takes after his siblings.  The freakishly long and skilled 6’4  guard has a piece of each brother which could lead him to become the best brother of them all, high praise but if you watch him, you don”t have to watch long to see. More of a play maker, than dogged scorer of older brother KJ but he’s very capable and he showed it during the season particularly late in the year when his team needed it most. Johnathan is a big time gamer, Lawson doesn’t shy away from the moment and isn’t afraid of the moment when it arises. He handles like a player much smaller, has vision in the open court as a passer and can finish to the basket. More driver make it happen type right now, he can keep you honest with the 3 and be a shot maker, taker  but is at his best finding where he uses his length to his advantage where he is creative with the pass  to find the easy scores. Improved with the 3 ball, the pull up off the bounce is where it’s at for him. He’s anticipates well defensively and knows when and when not to gamble in the passing lanes for a steal and can guard both guard positions as well as the 3 spot when needed. His basketball IQ is as high his age as any of his brothers and his will to win is  immeasurable. Lawson has the tools to make his own name and be not only the last out but the best in a long line of his brothers.
  1. Kennedy Chandler 5’5 PG (Briarcrest Christian Middle/Team Thad)– Diminutive in stature, Chandler gets it done with great ball handling and knack for scoring off the jumper or the drive on floaters and runners. What he may not have in size, he makes up for with skill and toughness and he can run a team in the half court and he can make shots from all over the court which makes him a very viable scoring option. He can put up points in bunches via the jumper but isn’t shy about attacking off the dribble. Not afraid to take a risk, he’s as confident as any guard in the city and isn’t afraid to challenge on as a defender or against a bigger defender where he can get his shot. He’s a sneaky good passer and pest as a defender able to bother his opponents using good positioning and quick hands for steals. He plays with excellent pace and savvy beyond his years and never gets rattled under pressure. While not the quickest, Chandler gets by you with handle and is good enough to get his shot on the pull up. Chandler already known around the country as one of the best players in the country, should be among the best players in this class for years to come especially locally.

3. Jaylen Brown 5’9 Guard (American Way/Memphis Wildcats) – Puts constant pressure on the defense by always being in attack mode, Brown is a classic scoring point guard that many have become accustomed to in Memphis. Can play off the ball and on, Brown scores it with an assortment of runners, pull up jumpers and hits the 3 at a above average rate so you just can’t play him for the drive. He’s tough to the basket, where he’s not afraid of contact from bigger strong players. He just has that ability to make the big shot in big moments for his team and seems to relish in that opportunity. He seems to really work well from baseline where he utilizes the floater game and the short jumper and can create space for the jumper from the free throw line to the short corners. He seems to be more comfortable scoring but over time, I think he becomes more  point guard who can score but also facilitate when needed but right now, Brown is a get a bucket player and he’s good at it.

4. Aldon Applewhite 6’1 Combo Guard (White Station/M33M) – Coming along nicely, the younger Applewhite, is a versatile guard who can facilitate and score it in a few ways. Really good off the spot up and catch 3, Applewhite is actively now looking for his shot more than in years past when I’ve watched him. He has all the physical tools that you like in future 2-3, can create for himself off the dribble, smart defensively, takes chances but doesn’t try to do what he can’t do. Potentially a top 2-3 guy down the road with added athleticism and growth. Tons of upside in this young player

5. Willie Foreman 6’2 PF (White Station Middle/M33M) -Relentless worker on the glass, offensively and defensively, Foreman’s biggest strength is his motor, athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. He fights for every rebound, using his long arms and is an improving offensive player outside of 5-10 feet where he can step out to the free throw line and make the jumper and shows some ability to handle in the open court off the rebound but will mostly score off energy and hustle. He’s a good help side defender where he can be a shot blocker/ shot alter type and he will go to war with bigger players for rebounds. He will expand his offensive game, because he seems to be a hard worker which will help him become more versatile as offensive player. Handle and jumper must become point of emphasis but Foreman is still a highly thought of player among players locally and a top 25-30 player in the country in this class.

6. Deebo Coleman 5’10 Guard (Lausanne/Memphis Suns) Coleman is new to the class but already might be the best shooter in this group. Coleman has spurted a little bit and added a little more quickness to him where he can be a driver of the basketball and become better rounded as an offensive player. Catch and shoot from the wing or off the spot, he’s one of the best in the area but he can also can play some on the ball and run a team if it calls for it. As he continues to grow, so will upside for Coleman who will become more known by middle school fans in 2021.

7. Tadarius Jacobs 5’9 SG (American Way/Memphis Wildcats) Solid guard who might be the best on ball defender in the city with his quick hands in this class but also good playing the passing lanes Capable scorer, Jacobs is a good shooter from the mid to 3 and is good to the rim off the jump stop, where he can draw fouls. Jacobs athletic ability is often overlooked but he has really good timing as I’ve seen him get blocks on what were thought to be lay ups. Confidence,  confidence is the key for him as he continues to develop offensively and if he does, Jacobs is a top 5 player in the city in this class.

8. Kameron Jones 5’5  (Cordova/Memphis WarEagles) Best spot up shooter in the class, Jones is trying to shed the notion of him being just that.  He starting to be able to get it off the dribble more instead of just being stationary has good range on the 3 and is showing more willingness as a stop and pop the 10 foot jump shooter. Evolution as a point guard is key going forward with decision making and added quickness to go along with his shooting ability.

9. Cameron Donegan 5’6 (Highland Oaks/Memphis WarEagles) Smart point guard with a good feel, knows when to turn the the corner and kick to teammates or tuck it to try and make it happen and finish. A traditional lead guard, Donegan never seems too high or low, plays the game at a good pace and is player you can lean on in key stretches. He shows leadership on the floor but can be counted on to score some if the team needs it but is right now more of a point guard than a “points guards”

10. Dorian George 5’10 (White Station/Memphis WarEagles) Strong 4-5 with good physical stature,  George is a worker off the glass, energy type who does most of his scoring off the put backs and around the rim. Plays to his strength literally and despite being undersized at his position, he’s consistently around the ball coming off the rim and has good anticipation of where it’s coming off. Projecting long term will need added ball skills and work on the perimeter jumper in case of 6’2, 6’3 future.

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-Season Top 5 (Middle School)

 

Willie Foreman (White Station)
Willie Foreman (White Station)

 

It’s almost that time of year, basketball season is coming and it’s coming faster than some think as we will have our first play day coming up this weekend at Germantown High School on Saturday. For some schools, a lot of players are still playing football however, Saturday can give a good look at who’s who in the Middle School ranks. You just kind of know if you watch Middle School basketball all year and during the summer, you get a feel because you know what schools they are going to. For example, Bellevue is one of the more talented teams if not the most talented team in Middle School this year because they had several returning from last year including “Big O” Omari Thomas, point guard Jabari Small, Jessie Payne a few others however, they also added a impact guard in Isaiah Cathey, who played the last two years at Lester Middle. Bellevue is undoubtedly the favorite in Small Schools this year and the best Middle School in the city regardless of classification (Large or Small) because of all the talent that they have at various positions. I can see why Coach Harris says that he likes the looks of this team so much. Some may not remember but back in the day, Bellevue was the top spot for Middle School talent,basketball wise, have those days come back? Who’s after the Bobcats though  is the question and I will try my best to give you remaining 4 and the reasons why.

It gets tricky because you could go with 2 teams for the number 2 spot in the city. White Station or Cordova could both make cases but I would probably go with Cordova but it’s not in concrete but’s that is where I’m leaning right now. I like White Station because because they have a chance to form a nice starting 5 leading the way for them would be Willie Foreman, a top 3 player in the 2021 class locally, who will be hard to keep off the boards a be good for double digits every game, newcomer Aldon Applewhite, a  6’1 G/F who started as a 6th grader last year at Colonial and 7th grader Dorian George who will be among others coming off the football field including Durias Dyer, another point player who will be heavily counted on by Coach Mcclain this year and a starter from last year. I like the look of their team but  the reason that I’m going with Cordova at #2 though is because their experience at the guard spot in Alfred White and Jaylen Saulsberry and they can come off the bench with Cameron Jones or start 3 guards if you include him. Last year, they were so big and athletic and it’s changed a lot this year and I think that could be a spot of weakness for them this year, inside however guard play will carry them a long way and if you notice, if you have strong guard play in Middle School, you can make a run. They are not Cordova of last year, not close but they are good enough to be a team that wins their side.

At 3, I will go with aforementioned White Station and at 4, I will go with American Way who returns a good 7th grade class and one of the best 6th graders in the city, Terrance Jacobs Jr.  Gone is big brother Chandler but 7th grader Johnathan Lawson is looking to take over the responsibility as the go to for his team including becoming more of a scorer but yet still looking to get players involved as creator. Jaylen Brown is back as well and will be a scorer for Coach Franklin along with Tadarius Jacobs and 8th grader Alvin Miles who is one of the better spot up shooters in Middle School. This year, there just isn’t much size like like last year all around and it will effect most but American Way is another team that will rely heavily upon guards.  At # 5, I haven’t ranked a private school in awhile in pre-season but I’m going to go with Briarcrest Middle here. Here is why, they have a really good point guard in Kennedy Chandler who can score and make plays for others running the team and Reggie Neely, a not much talked player who deserves to be in the conversation as a top 10 player in 2020 in Memphis. Neely is a scorer, pure and simple and knows what to do with it when he has the ball in his hands. He can beat you with the jumper or the drive and is a pretty defender. If he’s not, I would like to think that he’s among the top 5 best players in Private Schools if not the best .

A few other schools have a chance to have a say in this including A Maceo Walker who has Antwan Smith and maybe even Hickory Ridge with Jaylon Sanders but right now, the teams I mentioned are who I think are the top 5 in the city. If you don’t think so, please tell me who you think are the better teams below in the comment section. I’m always up for good banter on middle school basketball.

So here we go, the Pre-Season Top 5

1. Bellevue Middle School – Key Players: Omari Thomas, Isaiah Cathey, Jesse Payne, Jabari Small, 2021 Jacob Roberts, Keshaun Harris, Chris McKnight, Ariyon Parker,

2. Cordova Middle School– Key Players: Alfred White Jr, Jaylen Saulsberry, Cameron Jones, Rodney Newsome Jr.

3. White Station Middle School– Key Players: 2021  Willie Foreman, Durias Dyer, 2021 Aldon Applewhite,  2021 Dorian George

4. American Way Middle School– Key Players: 2021 Johnathan Lawson, 2021  Jaylen Brown, 2021  Tadarius Jacobs, Marquan Dean, Alvin Miles,  2021 Terrance Jacobs Jr.

5. Briarcrest Middle School – Key Players: 2021 Kennedy Chandler, Reggie Neely

 

Reggie Neely (Briarcrest)
Reggie Neely (Briarcrest)

2021 Impact Soon To Be Felt

 

2021 Impact To Soon Be Felt
L-R (Johnathan Lawson, Kennedy Chandler, Willie Foreman)

Who is the best player in 2021? I get it, for some people, it’s to far away right? These young guys are to young to be talked about as far as ranking as the best. You shouldn’t do this, your setting them up for failure, your stopping them  from working hard by doing this so soon because if they see this, they will think they have arrived. I think that the furthest thing from the truth and here is why, that class locally will have a huge impact on the middle school season next year because I think it’s better than the 2020 class in Memphis. How can the younger class be better than the older class? Well, 2021 boast a very talented group up top and some more players who show potential to be really good players looking towards the future.

4  of the players in the class have garnered national attention already including Johnathan Lawson (Memphis Wildcats/Team Penny), Kennedy Chandler ( and Willie Foreman and Jalen Brown Chandler has been seen as high as #5 according to some while Lawson has seen himself in the top 10-15 range as well as Brown who’s been ranked as the 20th best player in the country by one source. Chandler is more of a scoring point  guard right now but he gets it done from the 3 and in an assortment of ways. The knock on him maybe size but Kennedy’s production is big time. Foreman is worker around the rim, a high motor rebounder with some ability to step away from the rim as well and hit the free throw line extended jumper. Improving handle will elevate him more.  Brown is in the mold of the classic Memphis guards, a get the basket type through the floater and jumpers. He’s trying to get back into the swing after a light leg injury but Brown in the conversation. Lawson is the last of the Lawson brothers but the talent didn’t stop at Chandler and he might end up being the best of them all.  Already at 6’2, he has vision from the pg position, where he’s a big guard, he loves to get others involved but has the take over attitude when needed. He’s much improved offensively over the last year but I think it comes from just wanting to instead of not having the the ability . Several other players will have a chance to become pretty good over the next fews year in this class including, Kameron Jones, a knock down spot up  3 point shooter who might be the best in the city in that role, athletic defender but with scoring ability,  Tadarius Jacobs, Ethan Roberts and 5’9 Dorian George.

When I decide to rank this  group, I will not base on national rankings but on my own merit because I’ve seen them so much locally as I will do with all rankings that I will do from now on but the discussion starts now, who’s the best 6th grader in the city?