Covering Prospective Student-Athletes in the SouthEast US and beyond
Memphis, TN – Thankfully I already know Memphis Girl’s Basketball fairly well, as I attended a few events that are either new or don’t get a ton of coverage, therefore I went a whole weekend without a media guide or roster. I’ve seen many of the these players over the past few years but still there was a number of new faces to me.
I covered 3 events –
Thursday night – Memphis Central vs MHEA scrimmage
Friday – SCIAA Jamboree & Arlington HS Playday
Saturday – SCIAA Jamboree
The SCIAA is a great event with 40 schools playing basically a half, so there’s a ton of players and teams to watch. Essentially you get to see every public school player in Memphis. The event isn’t without flaws though. A few things I truly think they could do to improve the event.
With those changes or at least some of them the event could really turn in to a must see event for schools who recruit Memphis. As it was, only a small handful of colleges attended on the girls side and I didn’t see 1 men’s program despite the overwhelming amount of talent, especially at East HS (boys).
The Top Teams – While I got to see many of the top teams in greater Memphis, I was not able to see Arlington (who didn’t play in their own playday), Munford, White Station & East (only because they didn’t play their Varsity). Also a number of the top players at Whitehaven didn’t participate because they were suspended for missing/showing up late to a practice. Those 5 teams could arguably be 5 of the top 10 teams in the greater Memphis area. The top teams I saw in alphabetical order –
(Memphis) Central – A guard heavy team lead by juniors Johne Stewart & Jireh Washington. They also have super sophomore Kynadi Kuykendoll. Those 3 guards are supremely athletic and gifted with the ball. All 3 can shoot it, and they really get after you defensively. Throw in some depth with sophomore Brianna Cooks and senior transfer Bionka Massie, they have the potential for a great season. The only piece they are missing is some size and rebounding was a problem versus both Ridgeway (Liz Dixon) and MHEA.
Collierville – They have 3 Taylors…Lauren, Alexis and Jada. Lauren is unrelated to sisters Jada and Alexis. The 3 are a nice group. Lauren is a 5’9 forward with loads of explosiveness and athleticism. Jada is a shooter who can get hot from the outside and Alexis is a steady PG, who can run a team. They have some depth too and will be poised for a good season, although they lack some star power, especially when they play teams like rival Houston.
Covington – Surprisingly to me, and probably others who know the area that a AA school could make the list but Covington has decent guards and are well coached. They also have what many teams in the area don’t, some legit players inside. Lamia Udley is a 6’1 junior and Tia Bland is 5’10 junior and both were new names to me but both can play. I would certainly expect to see them at MTSU the next 2 years in AA.
Houston – Without question by far the top team I saw all weekend. They have big time guard play in 2019 Jayla Hemingway, 2020 Destinee Wells, inside play with 2019 Melisa Carter and 2017 UTC signee Rochelle Lee and big time shooters in uncommitted 2017 Shaela Gardner and 2019 Madison Griggs. I would be shocked if they didn’t make a run at states this year and by my estimation have as good of a shot as anyone for a state title next season.
MHEA – Putting the ball in the hole can be so underrated in this day and age when we all get so excited over players’ natural abilities and potential. But MHEA does just that, they put the ball in the basket. Central tried to rattle them with nonstop pressure, but they took their time found their shooters (which they have quite a few of), and made shots all night, until finally Central’s speed and defense helped wear them down in the 4th quarter. They have a number of players worth mentioning like GiGi Lewis and 2018 Annaliese Burnett. They don’t play in the TSSAA but look for them to win the homeschool national championship, where they are yearly contenders.
Unsigned/Uncommitted Seniors –
Tesia Thompson – Hamilton – 5’11 CG/W – ESPN Top 100 player, has an amazing frame, lean and strong with great athleticism and timing. Grabbed a number of rebounds just by tracking the ball on the way to rim then aggressively going to where it was going to end up. Can shoot the 3 ball but it’s somewhat of a set shot. Her motor combined with her frame will help her end up at higher level than she’s currently being recruited (by mostly OVC schools).
Tamia Aldridge – Bolton – 6′ Post – Physically strong yet under sized post player Aldridge is still improving. She’s a good slasher and a great rebounder. Her perimeter skills are developing and she could be a project for a low D-1 or a player who plays 2 years of juco and ends up in D-1
Shaela Gardner – Houston – 6′ SG – Big long guard who can really shoot the 3 ball. Has D-1 game and ability along with the grades. Like many Memphis players just being under recruited and under the radar in general.
Bionka Massie – Central – 5’8 CG – Super athletic guard who is overly right handed but produces regardless. Struggled both games this weekend but excelled previously at a practice session I attended. Like Aldridge has good upside that could potentially be refined in juco.
Players to Keep An Eye On –
Jireh Washington – Memphis Central – 5’7 CG – When I first met Jireh 2 years ago, she was primarily a shooter. Her game has grown so much since then. She’s filled out some, gotten her handles tighter and her passing game has improved 10 fold. She’s a fairly complete player at this point but her recruiting hasn’t quite caught up to her ability. Still under the radar in many aspects.
Johne Stewart – Memphis Central – 5’7 CG – Johne has some really big moments and does some amazing things. She can really elevate and stroke the perimeter jumper but it needs to be more consistent. Likewise she tends to coast at times one of the few reasons she’s not being recruited at a higher level. That said she has all the physical tools and plenty of skills too…handles, speed, athleticism. She’s a big time talent operating just under the radar of major D-1 programs.
Sade’ Hudson – Trezevant – 5’7 CG – Seems like a lot of Memphis 2018’s are playing in situation where their recruiting doesn’t match their ability…Hudson is another one who has big time handles and deep range but is just an unknown name to many college recruiters. Unfortunately she plays in AA and doesn’t have much help on her HS team, but she has all the ability to be at minimum a mid major caliber player.
Annaliese Burnett – MHEA – 5’7 CG – A new name to me, and to most people I spoke to in Memphis. She had 35 points vs Central on a Thursday night scrimmage, torching the high octane Central defense in a variety of ways. She scored from deep but also had an array of moves around the basket including a nice Kyrie like move in the second half. Her ability to put the ball in the basket was uncanny.
Lauren Taylor – Collierville – 5’9 WF – Explosive athlete who can score in a variety of ways, mostly a slasher. Scored both the game tying basket and the sudden death basket for the win versus Covington. Is being actively recruited by Memphis, Southern Miss and UT-Chatt.
Alexis Taylor – Collierville – 5’6 PG – One of the true PG’s on our list from this weekend Taylor (no relations to Lauren), is a floor general with a good calming presence and the ability to run her team. It doesn’t hurt that she can shoot it a little bit too.
Lamia Udley – Covington – 6’1 Post – Lamia is a raw athlete who has good hands and natural leaping ability. She’s a new name, since she hasn’t played AAU before but she’s a D-1 prospect for sure….just needs some polish and refinement to her offensive game.
Tia Bland – Covington – 5’10 F – Bland is both an inside/outside threat with some slashing ability. She’s a good interior and hi-lo passer and works well with teammate Udley. She had one play where she caught back to the basket, reversed pivot, faced up and drove by her man from the block for an easy reverse layup. Another player who has upside and potential but has not played AAU before.
Carria Smith – Germantown – 6′ Post – Carria is somewhat a newcomer to the game, she only started playing basketball in the past few years but her work ethic and attitude are pushing her to be one of the better post players in the area. She’s still got work to do, but when you are coachable and have ability there’s definitely upside.
Liz Dixon – Ridgeway – 6’4 Post – Unbelievably skilled athletic post player who is already down to Baylor, Ohio State and few others. She’s spectacular around the basket where she rarely misses. Her issue this HS season is that the guards she plays with don’t have the ability to deliver her the ball each and every possession. She’s developing some perimeter game and she knocked down a few 15 foot jumpers which will help her for sure in the HS setting.
Kynadi Kuykendoll – Central – 5’7 PG – Clearly the vocal and inspirational leader at Central. No one plays harder and has a higher motor in Memphis than Kynadi does. She’s added a consistent 3 point jumper to her arsenal and should be consider a Power 5 level recruit.
Madison Griggs – Houston – 5’7 SG – Another player who has steadily improved is Griggs. 2 years ago we met her at the Insider Exposure Jr. All-American camp and while she was impressive that day she’s only gotten better. Her jump shot is like her game, silky smooth. She play’s with a nice pace and the game looks easy to her at times, she moves so fluidly.
Jayla Hemingway – Houston – 5’9 PG – It’s easy to see why Hemingway is considered one of the top players nationally in 2019….she’s got an amazing frame, thick & strong enough to be physical, yet athletic enough to be explosive. She scores in a variety of ways and was active as a defender versus Bolton and Gibson County on Friday in Arlington.
Melisa Carter – Houston – 5’10 Forward – Over the past 2 years Carter has become leaner and her sliming frame has given her the opportunity to become more of a perimeter player. For now though on a stacked Houston team, she still plays the role of physical rebounder and all around bruiser, which to be honest isn’t such a bad thing. She’s good at punishing opposing players and definitely has D-1 potential if she can keep her body going in the right direction.
Vertonia Bady – Mitchell – 5’10 WF – Bady has good size and good leaping ability but what really makes her stand out is her ability to shoot the ball from 3 point range. She can really stroke it. She can also get to rim and finish offensive rebound put backs. Being an excellent volleyball player probably helps her timing. D-1 prospect.
Keyanna Logan – Bolton – 5’3 PG – The speedy Bolton guard has so many things going for her including a great attitude and being a great teammate to go along with some blazing speed. She can also shoot the 3 ball when she gets hot.
Destinee Wells – Houston – 5’6 PG – Did a great job running the Houston offense and understands how to play with some major talent without getting lost in the shuffle. She’s got handles and savvy to go along with some good confidence. Playing with Hemingway and Griggs the next few years shouldn’t hurt either.