Tennessee standouts from Bama Jam, part I
It was so good to be back in the gym this past weekend and where better to make this happen than one of my favorite events the Hoop Seen Bama Jam. Tennessee was well represented and here are 5 players who caught my eye.
Jett Montgomery (Independence), 2024, 6'1 PG
STARS Nashville 2024 UAA Rise
Could the splash have been any louder? Jett was a whirlwind leading his squad to the 16U crown at Bama Jam in mercy-rule fashion. His body is growing tougher and stronger, his skill level is on an upward trajectory without losing any of the desire and chip that he always possessed. He loves to defend, his newfound strength allows him to body up to defenders, his quick hands produce defections and steals, he runs the floor like a madman, and he finishes on both sides with both hands at equal frequency. His outside shot is true and his range is a bit further than last year, another benefit of the added size. He understands tempo, he can blow by a defender or rock him to sleep then blast past him for a bucket. Perhaps nothing symbolized his emergence more than the coach of the opposing team in the title game seeking him out afterward and giving him his props.
Daniel Cochran (Brentwood), 2024, 6'7 PF/WF
STARS Nashville 2024 UAA Rise
He caught the attention of everyone in the facility with his overall skill level. He stepped outside and rained threes, he was good with his back to the basket, watching for cutters or finishing with either hand himself. He exploded on the baseline for a highlight reel slam and was relentless on the offensive glass keeping possession alive and getting extra buckets for his championship-winning squad. He showed some face-up ability, not overtly quick but smart enough to understand his opponent and savvy enough to know what works and when. He catches the ball cleanly and has an amazing report with his lead guard. As he continues his progress in the weight room, this prospect is certainly one to keep a very large eye on.
Devaki Garr (Ensworth), 2023, 5'11 PG
Tennessee Tigers 17U
Without question the quickest player in the gym. His explosion in transition is mind-blowing as he leaves defenders in the dust. He loves to penetrate and make the dish to open teammates for easy buckets. He draws defenders with his quickness and has the ability to finish if they drift away. He can knock down the outside shot with confidence. He was still acclimating himself to his new surroundings but you could see the confidence coming as he continuously made plays for others while getting his own all in the flow of the game. He is the ultimate tempo setter with his ability to cause havoc because of his speed and quickness. He disrupts the opposition and as his confidence with this new group grows, you will see spectators at future games of the college coach variety, I have no doubt.
Donovan Smith (NCS), 2023, 6'1 PG
STARS Nashville 17U-Moran
This young man checked all the boxes for a lead guard with his excellent play at the Bama Jam. Small guard with a toughness that belies his size. He was unapologetic on defense, he bodies up, he fights for loose balls, he battles for rebounds, simply put he's a winner. He plays with his head up, he sees everything, he's unselfish but can knock downs the deep three if disrespected or glide past and finish at the rim with either hand. He is a vocal leader, which was the trait that caught my eye immediately, instructed his teammate on where to go and leading by example, very impressive. He showed a floater and was natural with his quick pull up from anywhere in the vicinity of the paint. At the proper level this kid will be a 1500 point scorer in college go ahead and mark it down.
Gunnar Lewis (CPA), 2025, 6'1 PG
STARS Nashville 2025 UAA Rise
What a pleasure it was to watch this young man execute his craft. Solid old-school lead guard with enough moxy in his skills to make all those around him stand and watch. He runs the show, simple as that, he penetrates and dishes to open shooters, he draws defenders and makes snap decisions with the ball. He can finish off the bounce with a quick snap to the cup and has the ability to use either hand equally well at the rim. He pushes tempo on the break and keeps his head on a swivel. Love his competitive nature and his will to not lose. Very smart for his grade level, his basketball IQ is certainly above average. He has a floater in the lane, a necessity for all small guards. He guards with passion but had some trouble with ultra-quick opponents. The next step in his maturation will be to add some perimeter consistency to his overall package.