The inagural String Music Showcase left a couple of our Tennessee favorites just a tad short at the finish.
One short week after blistering the Atlanta Celtics to bring home the gold at the Real Deal in the Rock, the depleted Nashville Celtics 16's fell in the final to the Derek Smith All-Stars.
Playing without Kedren Johnson (Marshall County), who sat out the weekend with a foot injury and Bobby Parks (St. George's), who was injured during the tourney, the Cetlics simply did'nt have enough firepower to bring home the 'ship this time around.
Stepping up in the absence of the missing stars, Kendall Anthony (Liberty Tech) once again rocked with his performance.
"Ant Version 2.0" controlled the tempo of the game when he had the rock and proved he could score when his team needed tough buckets. DeAndre Barnette (Liberty Tech) had a fine tourney ,dropping seven threes in one contest, but proving he could play consistent the entire weekend.
Levi Randolph (Alabama) is the steady force on this Celtics squad. Scoring from inside and out he remains a go to guy even when the big dogs are in the lineup.
Alex Polythress (Clarksville Northeast) continues to impress with high basketball acumen and his workmanlike efforts on the glass. His offensive game is coming along nicely and he has a knack for passsing quickly out of the double team. He is as advanced a freshman in the post as we have seen, great high school coaching has been a benefit for this young man.
The Mid-State Ballerz South had some quality moments in the event ,special mention to Odgra Bobo (Liberty Tech), who played very well over the course of the weekend. Other Ballerz who deserve some ink include: Dion Fair (Bearden), Jacob Lloyd (Westview), Joevantae Arnold (Liberty Tech) and Jaeland Lawson (Bearden).
Miles Davis (Webb School) played a vital role in the success shared by his Team Nashville mates in this event. The 6'4 worker gave maximum effort on both ends of the floor, scoring on easy putbacks because of his efforts on the glass. He showed toughness in a very physical event.
Andre Brown (Clarksville Northwest) was a beast on the interior crashing the boards, getting easy putbacks and working hard defensively. Bre Hughes (Hillsboro) played a fearless game, making tough passes and getting his teammates involved.
Darryl Clack (Maplewood), despite his thin frame, was a frequent visitor to the glass, cashing in on some second chance points and showing a nice soft tournaround shot inside. Weldon Garlington (Brentwood Academy) played with passion on defense and shot it well from deep. He is fast and can pull-up from 15 on the dead sprint. Watch his progression as the summer moves along.
Over in the 15's the Memphis Select simply ran out of gas in the finale falling to All-Iowa Red 73-56. Jarnell Stokes (Central) was a man on the interior. His work on the boards continues to be on a high level while he gets a great deal of second chance buckets because he uderstands positioning.
Fred Yarbrough (Dyer County) caught the eye of my collegue with his hustle and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. He can score in a multitude of arenas and has a knack for grabbing long rebounds and finishing hard.
The Nashville Celtics 15's also had a nice showing loosing in the semi's to the eventual champion. Vari Craig (Riverdale) and Jarvis Webster (Columbia Central) both had solid showings, while Austin Blackwell (MBA), John Ross Glover (USJ) and Cornelius Elder (Ensworth) played tough.
Elder is a Class of 2013 point guard who is a slight to behold. His command of the game at this young age is fun to watch and he is fearless in his approach to the game. This will be a good one for years to come.
Tarius Johnson (Liberty Tech) netted 25 and the Mid-State Ballerz West defeated their sibling rival Mid-State Ballerz Central to capture the Eastern Sub-State held this weekend at Seymour High School.
Demarious Smith (Kenwood) and Kaneal Windom (JCM) both finished with 14 in the title game victory.
Johnson was simply a manster all weekend averaging around 22 for the event.
Julian Reese (LaVergne) had a gargantuan semi-final game scoring 27 and playing above the rim all weekend.
Cordero Williams (Liberty Tech) exploded in pool play for 43 markers, including 11 threes, but did not play in the title game for reasons too funny to explain.
Micah Ballard (William Blount), Caleb Barrett (Knoxville West), Juwon Cain (Liberty Tech) and Tyler Smith (Union County) all played well for the Ballerz Central squad.
Other 17 and under players from the weekednd who drew some attention:
Michael Bradley (Tyner Academy)
Playing with the Tennessee Tigers the big man showed a nice touch around the bucket, blocked some shots and is improving every time he steps on the floor.
Damien Suttles (Tyner Academy)
Suttles continues to show his fine stroke for the Chattanooga Warriors in every event he performs. His sweet shot is one of the very best in the entire state.
Cory Billingsley (Sweetwater)
Playing up an age group with his Knoxville Panthers squad, the smooth operator had some fine moments during pool play.
Blake Bell (Lipscomb) and Carter Sanderson (Lipscomb)
This dynamic duo was sharp the entire weekend. Bell helped the Tigers to finish 3-1 in pool play and had to assume the point guard duties on relatively short notice. Sanderson was a terror from the outside hitting 7 three's in one contest and scoring 40 points in one of the pool play games.
Special thanks to my colleagues who covered the event for me while I was scouting an event at Clemson University.
The smile tells the whole story.
Stat is headed to the Southern Conference.
Nathan Parker (Bearden) knew this would be the most important decision of his young life. Thusly he deliberated and scoped out his options carefully, but in the end decided playing for Mike Young at Wofford was what would make him happy.
The Terriers of Wofford finished 16-14 last season, but a relatively young roster has huge plans for the near future.
Parker gives the Terriers a versatile athlete who can guard every spot on the floor and has the ability to score points in the paint, on the break or in the half-court. His position is not clearly defined but I like to call it..basketball player.
Give him minutes and he will be productive.
Parker will not be alone on the Terriers roster when it comes to the Volunteer state. Former Tennessee hoopsters Tim Johnson (ECS), a junior and Kevin Giltner (Harpeth), a freshman will welcome another of their bretheran with open arms.
The commitment of Parker gives the Class of 2009 a total of 21 D1 signees. He joins his high school teammates Blake Jenkins (Bearden), who chose Belmont and Demonte Simpson (Bearden), who chose Florida Atlantic as D1 signees.
Dustin Craig (Bearden) had pledged to attend the Air Force Academy ,but has since had a change of heart and has decided to stay closer to home and sign with Lincoln Memorial University.
The Railsplitters under second year coach Josh Schertz are an up and coming powerhouse who plan on wreaking havoc on the South Atlantic Conference next season.
LMU plays in the NCAA DII and is located in Harrogate, Tennessee.
For those of you who did not have a big brother growing up the message of this story may not click for you, but those who did will understand immediately.
The Nashville Celtics 16's polished off big brother the Atlanta Celtics 51-35 to capture the 16 and under crown at the Real Deal in the Rock.
A perennial staple on the summer scene the Atlanta Celtics are the forerunner to what most programs strive to become.
Ray Parks (St. George's) seemed completely oblivious to the fact he was playing the older sibling as he dropped a game high 17 and picked up the slack for his injured comrad, Kedren Johnson (Marshall County).
Parks scored on a variety of twisting drives to the glass, a couple of threes and some nice efficient foul line jumpers.
Levi Randolph (Alabama) played very well all wekend and culminated his efforts with 13 in the title game.
The catalyst to this Celtics squad was the play of diminutive point man Kendall Anthony (Liberty Tech). Ant scored 11 points but his ball-handling and decision making were key in this contest.
This weeknd also was a coming out party for the likes of Celtics wing players DeAndre Barnette (Liberty Tech), Devonta Hamlet (Columbia Central) and emerging freshman big man Alex Polythress (Clarksville Northeast).
The Celtics relied on their core players with very little depth. Also playing well and ocntributing to the winning of the hardware were Whit Thornton (MUS), who played especially well in the semi-final game against the Memphis Hawgs and Cole Robinson (Hillsboro).
I must give some props to the aforementioned Memphis Hwgs who advanced to the final four of this event with players from the Bluff City not many have heard of before. This group coached by former Arkansas great Todd Day, thus the name, gave effort and never quit.
Denzel Hardy (Southwind), Damien Wooten (Lausanne) and Brandon Lewis (Ridgeway) led the charge for the Hawgs.
A great start for several 17 and under squads got a huge boost of adrenaline with some sterling performances at what most call the unofficial opening of the summer hoops tour, the Real Deal at the Rock.
The state had an awesome showing with one squad making the final eight another the sweet 16 and several had showings worthy of mention.
The Memphis Magic Elite had a tough run through the bracket banging a huge win over the pre-tourney favorite All Ohio Red then falling to the J-Smoove Celtics (Atlanta Celtics) on a last second shot from Tennessee commitment Jordan McRae.
Joe Jackson (White Station) was the buzz around the media contingent with his ability to rise and his improving floor leadership. As a scorer he has few peers but he has come to grips with the fact his position on the next level is the point and he is making much better decisions with the ball and looking for the open man. His points have become more efficient as he is taking less shots but still has the ball in his mitts when the game is one the line.
Chris Crawford (Sheffield) Played his best against the best scoring a team high 23 against All Ohio. Great size for a guard with a terrific outside shot.
Tarik Black (Ridgeway) The big man has found his way onto every high majors recruiting wish list with his non-stop motor and relentless efforts on the glass. He is limited to scoring around the bucket and when he adds the short jumper and maybe a go to move he could get paid to play one day. Regardless this cat is legit.
Mardracus Wade (Mitchell) Put Drake in with the other high major players in this group. His defensive ability alone seperates him from his peers. His outside shot needs a tweak or two but is consistent and goes in when the situation is big. Love his intensity and can never loose attitude, someone is getting a gem.
Ronald Brown (Raleigh-Egypt) "Tank" showed some much improved ability off the dribble scoring with a hard push to the right or left and finishing with either hand. He knocked down several short baseline jumpers and played his usual game on the glass.
Adonis Thomas (Melrose) One of the best finishers on the break I have seen in some time. His size and strength seperate him from the pack. He has added a short jumper that will serve him well if used properly. Played tough defense against some of the best wings in the country.
Other Magic hoopers who showed out this weekend include Todd Mayo (Houston) and Carlos Denton (Hamilton).
The Nashville Celtics showed the world they are for real winning their pool then swatting All-iowa Attacj attack before falling to the tourney runner-up Dallas Heroes.
Austin Hollins (Germantown) Those who have not seen him are missing a long athlete who can finish inside despite his slender frame. He can drop the outside shot and defends well. He had some good efforts in front of some big people so don't be surprised to hear his name mentioned prominently very soon.
Casey Prather (Jackson Northside) Was very solid defending one of the nations best scorers and showed he could score from the outside and is devastating in transition. His athleticism sperates him from the pack while he improves his game off the dribble.
Cody Henegar (Marion County) Big Cody had a fine tourney in Arkansas showing some much improved toughness and fight especially on the glass. His length allows him to block shots from the help side and I was very excited to see him battle some of the monsters this event threw his way. His offensive game is solid and he shoots well from the outside, nothing but upside from this long and talented young man.
Kedren Johnson (Marshall County) This Class of 2011 prodigy did some serious work over the weekend. Playing in both the 16's and 17's games he showed out in front of the folks with his leadership ability and fearless attitude. His game off the dribble is fun to watch as he seems to always make the right decision be it a tough drive or dish to scoring teammate. As he develops his body his stock is on the upward spiral... for sure.
Ish Sanders (Cleveland) Very impressed with his fearless attitude and ability to score against bigger and stronger players. He seemed to come up with big plays on both ends of the floor at crucial times in the game.
Other Celtics who had good weeknds include Aaron Cosby (Kentucky), Meiko Lyles (USN), Arthur McMillan (Hillsboro), Jay Murphy (Bolivar Central), Mitchell Hill (Cookeville) and Jeremy Purvis (Clarksville Northeast).
The Mid-State Ballerz advanced to the sweet 16 of the consolation bracket before falling early Sunday. Tarius Johnson (Liberty Tech) led the Ballerz in scoring averaging over 25 per game while outstanding efforts were put forth by Demarius Smith (Kenwood) and Thomas Greer (West Carroll).
Team Nashville also fought their way to the Sweet 16 of the consolation bracket before aflling to the powerful SYF Players. Emmanuel Andrews (Shelbyville) had a nice run showing his game is back where it needs to be this summer. Teraes Clemmons (Mt. Juliet) and Holden Mobley (MBA) both drew praise for their games this weeekend.