Outstanding from the word go!!!!!!!!
The Under Armour Association Finals at the always reliable Suwanee Sports Academy took on a next level feel this year.
A loaded field and an atmosphere of hoops that hasn't been seen since the inaugural EYBL venues from several years ago.
Tennessee representation came in the form of Team Thad who fielded squads in all three age categories and Team Corey Brewer who accepted an invite in the 16 and under classification.
In the 17 and under division Team Thad came up against some of the best competition on the circuit finishing 2-3 including a big win over the powerful DC Blue Devils organization.
This version of Team Thad is reliant upon guard and wing play so they prefer a faster pace so when some of the larger teams slowed the tempo and pounded the ball inside things often went array for the Memphis crew.
Guard play was a premium as Jalen Fisher (Bolton), Jordan Bone (Ensworth), Mikkel Normant (Fayette-Ware) and Nathan Hoover (Arlington) all preformed admirably.
In the bracket win over the Blue Devils Fisher led the scoring parade with 17 including a handful of foul line jumpers to go with his normal forays to the hoop. Bone was thrust to the forefront with the departure of LaGerald Vick to Kansas. He responded beautifully with a game high 16 against MBA and a dozen in the Blue Devil triumph.
Hoover kept Thad in several contests making deep and timely shots including 16 markers in the Blue Devil win and another 16 spot in a narrow loss.
Normant was a steady force never having a bad game consistently getting big buckets, defending on the perimeter and playing with his patented passion and heart. This kid is a mid-major dream, take note.
Special attention also needs to be mentioned for the outstanding defensive contributions from Demonte Person (Arlington). The little guy made several game winning plays that will never show up on a stat sheet but were obvious to those coaches in attendance.
On the wing Thad welcomed a very talented newcomer to the fray in Tres Young (Kentucky). A sleek talented lefty with a good stroke and a forceful method to the basket. Young had several double digit games and did his best despite being undersized at helping the vertically challenged Team Thad crew on the glass.
Tyler Harris (Ridgeway).
What more do we need to say when it comes to the 16 and under version of the Team Thad crew. The Class of 2018 phenom may be small but his game speaks volumes and volumes. He is fearless, has range to the parking lot, might be the quickest kid from the Bluff City since Joe Jackson and really likes to win. He tends to over dribble but his mistakes are in context with trying to make a play to win. His maturity and understanding will come as his game grows.
Harris led the way for a solid Team Thad 16 and under group who started the event with a couple nice wins including a 77-73 triumph over the Illinois Wolves with Dedric Boyd (Haywood) netting 20 and the aforementioned Harris dropping 19.
Thad got outstanding play from the rising junior Boyd. His range is next level and his motor is non-stop. Camren Taylor (Lausanne) also came to play this weekend. The 6'4 guard prospect showed a complete game scoring from the outside and making plays with and without the ball. Love his upside.
On the interior, Ruot Monyyong (White's Creek) continues to improve in all facets of the game. He is still rail thin but he is not afraid to box and bang with the heavier kids. He has developed some go to moves on offense and has improved his hand strength greatly. Adding a short jumper and working on his touch from the charity stripe will make his game grow exponentially. Gentrel Taylor (Arkansas) was a major post presence for Team Thad. Built sturdy to the ground, Taylor used his girth to carve out space and showed a deceptive first step scoring over much larger opposition. He was a grown man on the glass and gave inspired effort for this Memphis bunch.
Staying in the 16 and under classification, Team Corey Brewer accepted an invite to be a part of the event and competed with some of the best 16 and under teams in the nation. Grayson Murphy (Independence) garnered a great deal of publicity during the event. The 6'2 rising junior shooting star had a very nice tournament including a 29 spot on the SYF Players and 19 in a tough loss to a very good Philly Pride squad.
TCB was in nearly every game and proved they belonged against this level of competition. Trey Hollowell (Kentucky) had another fine tournament garnering praise from coaches and media alike. The talented 6'3 guard is moving up the recruiting rankings as we speak.
On the interior TCB used a combination of hard nosed players including Ke'Montre Jones (Oakland), Pedro Bradshaw (Kentucky) and A.J. Bowers (MLK).
Jones was effective throwing his football player body around. He was the teams third leading scorer with a double digit effort in nearly every game. Bradshaw, although more of a wig in body style, was needed to use his length and secure some boards. The Kentucky product is a very good passer from the wing as well. Bowers simply decided it was his time to play. The Nashville native used his relentless motor to get tough buckets, secure important rebounds and give overall effort that was contagious to his teammates.
In the backcourt TCB got solid relief help from a duo consisting of Imani Starling (Ensworth) and Jalon Cambridge (PJPII).
Finally the 15 and under division featured one cog in the bright future of the city of Memphis. I say one cog because the other cog, the Team Penny 15 and under team brought home the AAU National Championship in this particular age group.
A high bracket finish just fueled the talk about this deep and talented roster.
Running the show for the Team Thad 15s the next talked about guard in the city, let me introduce everyone to Joseph Cooper (Houston). Wise beyond his years, mature and one of the best passing guards to come through in decades. He has a strong build, albeit a bit short, his basketball acumen is what catches the eye. He makes winning plays, sets up teammates, understands the flow of the game and can score if needed.
Cooper was big from the lead guard spot while at the two another emerging force was hard to conceal. Rayshard Williams (Lausanne) is a gem, kid has length, can shoot the outside shot and uses his considerable handles to get easy buckets in the lane.
On the wing, Rodgerick Brown (Cordova) is making plentiful strides. At 6'6 and already chiseled he still leaning towards the power forward moniker but is working on his ball skills and outside shooting to make the transition to the wing.
A pair of outstanding wing prospects from the Class of 2019 were on display front and center, D.J. Jeffries (Mississippi) and Bruce Guy (Houston). Jeffries is a national prospect with outside shooting range ad the length and athleticism to a very special player while Guy is a bulldog with a nice stroke and the ability to get buckets in bunches with his motor and athleticism.
Finally on the interior, Team Thad turned to another Class of 2018 rising prospect in Garrett Golday (Arlington). Very skilled with his footwork, the ability to finish with either hand inside, Golday has added some range to his game and after a knock to the head during the MO Williams Academy game he came back with a vengeance. If this intensity and attitude manifests itself inside this young man his stock is poised for a meteoric rise.