A show so nice you had to see it twice or three times depending on how long you were there.
In my case, I had to leave the action in the hands of my more than capable scouting comrade, who had a unique take on the happenings of the weekend.
One thing was certain Memphis came out on top 79-53 over a talented Illinois Titans squad in the championship game of the 17 and under division at the inaugural String Music Showcase in Nashville.
The easy margin of victory in the title clash was not indicitive of the play for the event. The Magic had several late game comebacks and some sterling play from who else, Joe "The Real Thing' Jackson (White Station), but also an up and coming star in the Bluff City, Chris Crawford (Sheffield).
Crawford, who played under his potential last week at Real Deal, came out in this one with a vengeance. His outside stroke was found and he was using his size to make space and finish at the rim. Upside is huge with this one.
Jackson simply was in a world all to himself when the urge hit him. I am happy with his progression as a point guard, those who watch intently see that he is making big strides to improve that portion of his game.
Memphis was not a two man show by any means. Tarik Black (Ridgeway) was a manchild inside scoring on putbacks and simply keeping the glass so fresh and so clean, clean. Mardracus Wade (Mitchell) is a master on the defensive end and is knocking down his shots this summer, while Ronald "Tank" Brown (Raleigh-Egypt) has added some nice driving moves to his reportiore. I love his progression thus far this summer. And who can forget the "Wunderkind" Adonis Thomas (Melrose), with his above the rim exploits and game changing dunks.
The Nashville Celtics ,playing shorthanded, fell to those same Titans in the semi-finals but not before staging some fine individual efforts of their own. Ish Sanders (Cleveland) appeared to be the most consistent of the group, while the talents of Casey Prather (Jackson Northside) appeared when neccessary. His work off the dribble continues to improve, he is a high major talent just waiting for a nice snug home in the ACC, SEC or other.
Austin Hollins (Germantown) played fairly consistent. Meiko Lyles (USN) and Jeremy Purvis (Clarksville Northeast) had some fine offensive moments. Levon Tate (Siegel), Arthur McMillan (Hillsboro) and Mitchell Hill (Cookeville) also deserve mention.
Team Nashville, playing for the third weekend in succession, gave another strong performance. Emmanuel Andrews (Shelbyville) was a player that my comrad mentioned in excessive detail. He loved his efforts and ability to stroke the deep shot while playing hard on defense and never backing down from anything or anyone.
Fred Lee (Maplewood) and Robert Wade (Maplewood) were especially tough in a 61-57 overtime thriller in pool play action. Wade was a shot blocking demon while knocking down some tough buckets on some sweet dimes from his high school running mate Lee. Wade played with some purpose and motivation this weekend.
Other members of Team Nashville who drew some mention include: Daniel McFadden (Ensworth), Teraes Clemmons (Mt. Juliet), who started the event slow but came on strong with his offensive game as the weekend progressed, and Maxwell Ugboaja (Hillwood).
The Memphis Select played the eventual champion Magic to one of it's closest games of the entire event. Cedric McAfee (Craigmont), playing the point out of neccessity ,made the most of his opportunity scoring off the dribble and getting his boys involved.
Inside McCoy Polk (Overton) played big on the glass, while Octavious Ellis (Whitehaven) seems to want to play to much on the perimeter and not enough on the inside.
Out front, Marterrace Brock (Ridgeway) is dynamite off the dribble and to the tin. Rashard Harris (Raleigh-Egypt) started slow but came alive in the Magic game. He is a great on ball defender. Johnny Dunavent (Bolton) showed the feathery touch on his outside shot he is known for.
If the Select find a point guard to take some of the heat from Ced this squad could make some serious noise this summer.