The annual pilgrimage to the house that Dolly built, yes that's Sevier County High School for the 14U AAU state tournament was again a pleasure for me as this has always been one of the best events I get to attend.
A small rule change by the federation now allowing the presence of the grade exemptions had an effect on the overall talent level but the playing field seemed to be leveled as a result.
One of the top up and coming programs in the state, the Chattanooga Elite used toughness and hustle to carve out a hard fought 64-58 win over the Middle Tennessee Impact.
A close contest throughout saw the Impact take the early behind some scoring and playmaking from Keyshawn Davidson (Oakland) and Jaden Jamison (Oakland).
Anthony Watkins (McCallie) would exert his considerable talents finishing with a game high 16 for the Elite.
As always I like to make a list of the top players from the event. These players will be listed in alphabetical order. Understand the potential high school may change before the start of the next school year but these were the schools given to us by the coaches or the players themselves.
Wesley Allen (Austin East)
Active player who gave effort as long as things were going well on the court. His shot is low and needs some form tweaking but he made his fair share. He passes the ball well but dribbles with his head down to the ground. He will need to become more receptive to coaching and show less emotion on the floor.
Joe Anderson (Maryville)
Just a 7th grader, Anderson was one of the shining lights of the event. Off the charts basketball savvy, slick handles, excellent vision, he controlled the tempo of the entire game with his demeanor on the court. Once his body catches up to his skill level we may have something special on our hands.
Brandon Brown (????)
Young man was a good player with decent size and played unselfish. He showed good vision and could score when called upon. We had to many moments of non-production combined with no intensity from a player who really has some gifts on the floor.
Keyshawn Davidson (Oakland)
Dynamic young point guard with above average basketball IQ and the ability to control the tempo of the game. His shooting stroke is solid yet he is a bit reluctant to shoot at times. His length and skill level make him a player to watch for the future.
JaShawn Fenderson (Fulton)
High motor athlete who when motivated goes very hard and never gives up on a play. His shooting stroke is unorthodox but he managed to make more than he missed. Lefty has a strong body and can finish with contact, creatively even. Decision making and getting his emotions in check will benefit him greatly.
Dorian Goddard (Greeneville)
Solid athlete with good length, very strong on the glass and bouncy. He ran the floor and has a good feel for the game as well. Steps nicely into his shot but must improve his effort on the defensive side of the ball.
Teahzjawon Harper (Bearden)
Excellent athlete who has the size to become a really solid player down the road. His shooting stroke needs just a little work but he has a mid-range and will finish at the rim. He passes well but need more work on his handles to play the perimeter at a high level. Very bright future.
Jaden Jamison (Oakland)
Active athlete uses both hands to finish at the rim, smooth, can score in a variety of ways, knows how to get to open spaces and create scoring chances, runs the floor and has good athleticism.
Wes Kraker (CBHS)
Diminutive guard had a wonderful feel for the game and despite his lack of strength he saw plays develop and will fully execute once his body catches up to his skill level. Excellent vision, dynamic passer, good shooter despite the small wind-up to begin his shot. Excellent handles.
Maliek McCallister (Ensworth)
Inside player who was in complete control of the glass on both ends of the floor. He used his size to carve out rebounding space and showed a nice outlet pass as well. He was an outstanding foul shooter which will assist him greatly down the road. As his footwork improves his game will progress exponentially.
David Reynolds (Ensworth)
Long and athletic he showed some promise when motivated. He needs to slow down a little and let things happen, use his length to his advantage and become more of a force on the glass. He obviously needs strength as most do at this age group. He had back to back 25 point efforts so the potential is there just needs cultivating.
Tory Sewell (Red Bank)
Skilled athlete with some length and size, pretty good outside stroke but has a very low release he must get fixed against better athletes who guard. Decision making and slowing down his roll will make him a much more effective player.
Jeff Walker (Bartlett)
In my opinion the best player in the event. Good size, very active and smooth has a decent outside stroke but his strength was going hard to the cup and finishing despite contact. His first step is dynamic and he is a solid defender using his strength to take people off their chosen path.
Jaleal Washington (Oakland)
Small guard with great quickness and one of the best on ball defenders in the event. He pesters whomever he is guarding and creates takeaway opportunities for his teammates. He has a very nice floater and is excellent in transition. Will need to work on his outside shooting as he gets stronger.
Anthony Watkins (McCallie)
Winner who hits big shots in big opportunities, good size, soft touch from mid-range and a solid man on the glass. He has soft hands and catches the ball well for easy scoring chances. Must work on his ball skills as he has youngster post size but projects as a wing or stretch four.
Kam Watson (McCallie)
Solid lead guard who showed he could score when called upon. Can hit the open shot and showed a nice floater, a must for a small guard, and was a very good help defender. Decision making as he gets older, stronger and more confident will be his main focus.
Kevin Young (????)
Diminutive guard who appeared to be all over the lace at times. He played very aggressive but sometimes to his own demise defensively. He has a tendency to pound the ball way too much and likes to leave his feet to make passes. His effort gave him easy scoring chances and despite his size he was the ultimate competitor