Seven takeaways from the Ramsay Tip-Off Classic
Alabama’s high school basketball season officially tipped off last week, but this weekend’s Veteran’s Day events across the state really signify that basketball season is upon us.
I was in Birmingham for the Ramsay Tip-Off Classic, featuring several state championship contenders and some of the best individual players the state has to offer. In fact, I think three of the best point guards in the entire state — regardless of class — were all in the building.
But, before we get to all that, here are the scores from Friday’s action:
Oxford 55, Shades Valley 50
Huffman 48, Hewitt-Trussville 37
Homewood 48, Ramsay 39
Mountain Brook 48, Spain Park 36
Central-Phenix City 75, Carver-Birmingham 50
And here are seven takeaways from the event:
Jaylen Alexander is in the conversation for best point guard in the state
Despite only being a sophomore, Oxford point guard Jaylen Alexander has earned his spot in the conversation over the last calendar year. The savvy floor general was terrific down the stretch in Oxford’s narrow victory over Shades Valley, as he got wherever he wanted on the floor and did a nice job of drawing fouls. He drew several fouls and converted a couple of and-1 opportunities in the final minutes, effectively clinching the game for Oxford.
When Alexander wasn’t scoring, the 6-foot-1 floor general was dishing passes all over the floor with either hand. He made some impressive cross-court passes with his left hand that looked eerily similar to another talented guard in the state and that brings us to my second thing…
Ty Davis is still getting better -- and that's scary for other 6A teams
The Creighton signee came out firing for Mountain Brook in their matchup against Spain Park. Davis, a 6-foot-5 guard, showed his range from the parking lot early and often in this one, evidenced by this video. I think he’ll fit right in with Creighton’s ‘Let it Fly’ mentality at the next level.
And while Davis is still an extremely talented player, he’s only going to get better. It’s to the point where you’re more surprised that he misses a perimeter shot right now. When he gets in the zone, other teams are going to be in big trouble.
Peyton Wiggins is one of the best closers when the game is on the line
Huffman used a big third quarter rally to dig themselves out of a hole against Hewitt-Trussville and ultimately win the game, but not before another talented point guard, Peyton Wiggins, iced the game for the Vikings.
Wiggins’ overall talent and game is one thing but no one can deny his ability to win basketball games. He’s done it at a high level dating back to his middle school days, and it was on full display on Friday. Wiggins showed his poise and experience down the stretch, calmy controlling the basketball and stepping to the line to convert free throws to secure Huffman’s win.
Homewood & Spain Park have recruitable players
If I was a Division 3 coach, I would be having a field day with the rosters from Homewood & Spain Park. Both programs boast high academic prospects that should make some noise as the winter approaches.
Homewood’s David Stone is one of the best finishers with his back to the basket. He showcased that ability against Ramsay, making an array of post moves in the paint. Jake Stephens, a big, crafty guard at 6-foot-4, has a lot of skill and understands how to play the game. He mixed things up and scored from inside and out.
You can make the argument that no one lost as much production from last season as Spain Park. Nevertheless, head coach Chris Laatsch and the Jaguars are going to be ready to play each game. Korbin Long, T.J. Lamar, and Joshua Fonbah should all be on non-major programs' radars this season.
For what it’s worth, Lamar is one of the most intriguing players in the state for me. The 6-foot-7 big man has only been playing organized basketball for three years, but he runs like a deer and continues to get better.
Hewitt-Trussville will get better as the year goes on
The Huskies had Huffman on the ropes until the second half and couldn’t withstand some Vikings runs. That’s understandable for any young team, especially in the beginning of the season. But as the year goes on, I think you’ll see Hewitt make a rising trajectory.
I’ll get to senior big man Reid Stodghill shortly, but Jeremy Monceaux has a couple of talented sophomores that impressed me in point guard Colt Wells and wing Rashad Rolley. Wells plays with some fire and energy from the lead guard spot and Rolley brings a mix of length and athleticism.
Stodghill, the strong, 6-foot-8 big man in the middle, is finally getting healthy and comfortable on the floor. He’ll be a big man college coaches want to check out at some point this season.
Shades Valley is going to make some noise this season
Shades Valley lost a close one against Oxford in what ended up being the best game of the day, but I’ll be honest — I don’t want to see the Mounties in a regional if I’m a 6A school. They have a trio of talented players that can beat you at any point.
Raymon McCants, Rashad Bryant, and Jeremiah Williams are all capable of getting off and scoring in bunches. Throw in a coach like Audwin Howard and you have a team that will be a threat throughout the year.
Buy stock in Ramsay guard Jayden Williams
Ramsay took a loss to Homewood to open up their season, but it should still be a promising season for the Rams. For starters, Denton Johnson’s squad will get their football players at some point in December.
Secondly, they have junior Jayden Williams, who could be one of the most talented players in the state when it’s all said and done. The 6-foot-5 guard didn’t have his best game by any means, but he had a couple of ‘wow’ moments that left me wanting more.
Williams spent most of the game facilitating and being a point guard, showcasing his skill-set and feel for the game. Once the Rams get all their players back, I think you’ll see him take more of a scorer’s mentality. Williams is a rhythm scorer that can explode at any time — and I think we’ll see it happen plenty this season.