MEMPHIS, TN - A full schedule at the ARS Rescue Rooter Penny Hardaway National HoopFest at White Station High School left a lot to like. Justin Young runs down all of the things he liked from a busy Saturday.
I liked the Simeon-Memphis East rematch. And how could I not? The two teams are ranked in the top 10 in the country and both are anchored by studs and terrific supporting casts. The headliner of the event went to overtime in the final game of the two-day event and the packed crowd enjoyed a terrific show. Simeon won 78-73. The two teams played less than a month ago at the City of Palms tournament in Florida. Memphis East won that game 70-60.
I liked (no, I loved) the way Talen Horton Tucker played for Simeon. He has been nothing short of brilliant every time I’ve watched him play this season. The future Iowa State forward is a five-star player in my opinion and an instant-impact guy for Steve Prohm and staff as a freshman. He finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and a half dozen blocks. I’m still stunned how he’s a composite top 125 national prospect. That’s criminal. Horton-Tucker is a top 25 level player nationally and he proved that against Memphis East.
I liked (no, I loved) the way Chandler Lawson played for Memphis East. The 6-foot-9 sophomore played the best game I’ve ever seen from him in the defeat. He finished with 28 points on 10-16 shooting from the floor. Lawson made shot after shot for Memphis East who, to be honest, looked lost at times throughout the game. Lawson was locked in and terrific in defeat.
I like the value Simeon point guard Xavier Pinson brings to the table for Simeon and as an available prospect. His speed and control are top of the charts. Pinson made so many big plays against Memphis East before fouling out. His presence was a calming one for Simeon when he was on the floor. Pinson is great in speed and purposeful in his play. He’s one of the best available point guards I’ve seen this high school season.
I like the senior leadership Alex Lomax plays with. He recorded a triple-double for Memphis East in the loss to Simeon. The night before, he was the only player on his team who could find his focus from the foul line. He’s mentally tough and should be a favorite for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State.
I like the way Whitehaven recorded the best win of the day with their 60-55 victory over Huntington Prep. Jacksonville State-bound forward Cameron Jones scored 23 points in the win. The 6-foot-7 forward is the anchor of a very disciplined squad.
I like what I saw from Matthew Murrell of Memphis Whitehaven. The class of 2020 guard scored 13 points and pulled in five rebounds. The stat line may be modest but he was loud in his performance. Put him on your list of next studs from Memphis. Murrell has the tools to be a nice high-major player down the road.
Paul VI is a balanced squad with talent at every position. In their win over Brentwood Academy, junior guard Anthony Harris was the go-to guy. And I like that. The 6-foot-3 guard is just simply good. There isn’t a sense that he’s trying too hard to make overcomplicated plays. Instead, he puts his head down and makes play. While there are some wow plays in his arsenal, he just made the right play at the right time. There’s a great value in that. Harris was that guy against a good Brentwood Academy team, anchored by 5-star Darius Garland.
I liked the two-day stretch of Olive Branch sophomore forward Cameron Matthews. The athletic 6-foot-6 forward played well again for his Mississippi squad, scoring 18 points and collecting 13 rebounds. He is all energy and athleticism. You could make an argument that he’s the been the best take-advantage-of-the-stage player at the National HoopFest this weekend.
I like the scrappiness of Cordova point guard Tyler Harris. He scored 24 points in his team’s 49-47 win over Olive Branch. Harris, an unsigned senior, is one of the top unsigned point guards in the class of 2018.
I like the prospect Huntington Prep forward Jaemyn Brakefield is. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was as good of a player there was at the National Hoopfest. He was a match-up problem in every facet of the phrase. He scored 26 points (10-13 FG, 2-3 from 3, 4-6 FT) and reeled in eight rebounds in the loss. Brakefield is a top 10 prospect at the moment in the class of 2020.
I like the way Sunrise Christian big man N’faly Dante played in the first game of the day. The 6-foot-10 big man scored 14 points (7-12 FG), eight rebounds and eight blocks in the win. The class of 2020 center has five-star size and is still a world way from the kind of player he’s capable of becoming. That said, he’s uniquely large and a terrific shot-blocker. Kansas, LSU, Wichita State are involved.