The Invasion is Real.
Tennessee descended upon the Lakepoint Champions Center in Georgia eager to prove they belong among the best in the Southeast.
What better showcase than the Best of the South brought to you by the special folks from Hoop Seen for the Volunteer state uprising.
OUR TEAMS PROVE THEY CAN PLAY WITH THE VERY BEST
Sunday saw Tennessee teams representing on almost every court in the facility. Here's a rundown on how they did.
EAB 2020 continues to pile up championship trophies including a 72-69 win over the Atlanta Express to capture the Black Division Championship at Best of the South. Dalton Marsh (Red Boiling Springs) was a steady force throughout the event, using his 6'7 frame to score timely buckets, including a game winner to keep the dream alive.
EAB is deep and had several guys standout depending on which game you happened to catch. J.J. Platt (Stewart's Creek) was solid at the lead guard the entire event while Tariq Daughton (Knoxville Webb), Keshaun Lawrence (Ensworth) and Dusty Williams (Centennial) all had moments of grandeur.
Staying in the 16 and under realm, EOTO had themselves a nice run advancing to the title game of the Gray Division before falling to the Southern Kings 70-59. B.J. Marable (Grace Christian) caught some attention with his size and skill level while Kendrick Holland (South Doyle) was as dynamic as any lead guard in the event.
EAB 17U had an interesting weekend to say the least. They started slow but finished with a flourish as bracket play ensued. Through game winners, overtime and some serious scoring exploits, EAB advanced to the title game of the White bracket falling to the Alabama Celtics 70-59.
Keon Johnson (Webb School) had coaches from the likes of Auburn, Tennessee and more squatting at his games hoping he would catch a glimpse. K.J. Johnson (Marshall County) had made this the summer of K.J. with his scoring heroics including a 34 point outburst against AOT. He nailed a game winner in the semi-finals in overtime against Pro Select and continues to pile up offers. The brothers Johnson were both named to the 17 and under Best of the South All-Tournament team.
Julius Dixon (Fayetteville) was impressive as well showing his versatility on both ends of the floor while Nate Bloedorn (Nolensville) and Sammy Itodo (Hamilton Heights) provided highlights on the glass and blocking shots by the plenty.
As we stay in the 17 and under division one of the major surprises of the event, PSB Chattanooga went on a legen....wait for it...dary run. The boys from the home of the Choo-Choo advanced to the title game of the Black Division before falling to a very tough JSI Elite squad.
Tanner Shulman (McCallie) was extraordinary from the outside, draining several deep shots on a very consistent basis. Brett Newcombe (Stone Memorial) was the energy and perseverance for PSB with his effort and never say die attitude, his exploits earned him a spot on the prestigious All-Tournament team. These guys played smart and together. Never losing focus and making believers of everyone in the gym. Owen Honroth (Signal Mountain), Neil Dickey (McCallie) and Wiley Pippenger (Baylor) were all lauded for their efforts.
Just win baby. And that is exactly what they kept doing. The Tennessee Magic 15 and under crew were an unlikely entrant in the title game when the brackets were drawn up but the devastating combination of smarts, guile and passion made up for everything else as they advanced to the title game of the Black Division before falling to JSI Elite 49-41.
The inside/outside duo of Alex Rush (Upperman) and Collin Gore (Upperman) proved to be a puzzle nobody could solve. Rush was devastating on the block, scoring with a wide variety of post moves, scoring over either shoulder, snatching caroms and making life difficult for anyone who dared to guard him. Gore was a problem for the opposing guards with his quickness and tenacity. He found Rush inside on many occasions and the results speak for themselves.
Finally in the 14 and under division the Tennessee Fury went on an epic run culminating in a championship game appearance against the Atlanta Big Five. Will Biven (Bearden) was the go to scorer with his nice scoring stroke and decent size for a young guard prospect. Tia Cates (South Doyle) was an active scorer who came off the bench to provide a constant spark for the Fury. Mykell Slater (Oak Ridge) and Dillon Atwell (Farragut) were valuable to the success the entire event.
HOW ABOUT SOME PLAYERS WHO DREW SOME ATTENTION
17 AND UNDER
Blake Pruitt (Baylor), Shannon Walker (McCallie), Anthony Watkins (McCallie) and T.J. Daly (Stewart's Creek) were all double digits scorers for the Chattanooga Elite Navy 17 and under crew. Pruitt was selected to the All-Tournament squad.
What a pleasure watching Team Thad on Saturday before they left for Vegas and the Under Armour Finale. Damien Baugh (Tennessee Prep) is a special talent who is fielding offers like a major league shortstop. Matthew Murrell (Whitehaven) is the next big thing in Memphis.
The Tennessee Bobcats were forced to play without the best player, Chattanooga commit Grant Ledford (Grace Christian) but lack effort they did not with Ben Bryson (North Carolina) and Diablo Stewart (Kentucky) having very solid weekends. Bryson and Stewart were selected for the 17 and under All-Tournament team.
Dee Merriweather (Memphis East) will be that rising phoenix from out of the ashes as he will solidly put his name on most every recruiting board after his summer exploits. The senior guard was selected to the 17 and under All-Tournament squad.
Isaiah Johnson (Cleveland) is fun to watch. the rising senior guard for the Tennessee Tigers 17 and under crew continues to turn heads with his overall play. If your a D2 or NAIA school and your not recruiting him, shame on you. The rising senior was named to the 17 and under All-Tournament team. Justin Hedrick (Stone Memorial) is one of the best shooting big guys you will find, he's worthy of a serious look.
BMaze Elite graced us with their presence in the first few days of the event and did not disappoint in the least. Ques Glover (Bearden) put on his usual show while Jaden Springer (North Carolina) has folks talking from coast to coast.
Keishawn Davidson (Oakland) was spotted running the show for the Georgia Stars early in the week. he was gone by the time I got there but the legacy was still alive. One of my favorite players and kids in the entire state, mega bright future.
16 AND UNDER
If you don't know Will Pruitt (Mt. Juliet) its just a matter of time. The Tennessee Tigers 16U standout is an old school point guard who understands the game, doesn't force things and makes the right play with the ball, what a concept. He is fearless and can do many wonderful things with the ball.
The Tennessee Legacy had some highlights and turned some heads from the Best of the South. Masyn Winningham (White County) is an exciting young guard while Alex Garrett (Cookeville) is a steady force with much more to come.
Ryan Wilcox (Hillsboro) turned heads every time he soared and dunked one home. The rising junior from Team WHBH was one of the highlight reel players for the Best of the South. Jacobi Wood (Cleveland) showed a much improved floor game and his decision making was elevated as he helped his squad play until the wee hours on Saturday night.
Chattanooga Elite Gray boasts a steady force on the interior in 6'5 junior Michael Houge (Chattanooga Christian). Big man averaged 15 and 8 for the event. Brandon Jones (Red Bank) was also sited for his contributions.