With a heavy heart ,I start this preview for the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic which gets underway this Friday in Atlanta.
I say heavy heart because Mr. Prather was a friend of mine and its hard to believe this man who had the vision and patience to create one of the best summer squads in the history of hoops...The Atlanta Celtics, is no longer with us.
I'm glad that this event is here to honor him and I know he would be happy as long as the kids had fun and were productive.
After a week in which no action took place the Prather brings a few teams from the Volunteer state down South to compete for the coveted prize as the top dog.
In the 17 and under division starting in Pool B, the Memphis Magic Elite, fresh off a title at the String Music Showcase in Nashville, ramble down to the ATL, to show down in Memphis we do it just as well. Big props for Ronald "Tank" Brown (Raleigh Egypt) who has in the short summer thus far, shown marked improvement off the dribble and is creating his own happiness with strong inside moves and an improved baseline jumper.
One of the most talked about players of the young season thus far will represent with the Nashville Celtics who will compete in Pool D. That young man we speak of Austin Hollins (Germantown) was a holy terror at the Real Deal and is moving up all charts faster than Brittney in her prime. Ish Sanders (Cleveland) has also been a beacon of light thus far in the young season showing marked consistency from outside and improved defensive effort.
Jumping to Pool H, Team Nashville has had a wonderful start to their summer pulling off some big wins behind the toughness and scoring of Emmanuel Andrews (Shelbyville). Inside Team Nashville has relied on Robert Wade (Maplewood) and Daniel McFadden (Ensworth) who have both performed well. Wade is showing his talents much more consistently and is confidence in himself away from really being a gem.
Over in Pool J the Tennessee Tigers look to make believers out of those who don't know how good their talent can be. Michael Bradley (Tyner Academy) has shown marked improvement and is a threat inside on both ends of the floor. Blake Bell (Lipscomb) has played well thus far and Carter Sanderson (Lipscomb) is scoring at a rapid pace but showing his overall skills to the masses.
Also listed on the program from Tennessee are the Nashville Celtics Green, which I believe is made of mostly players from Alabama and the Memphis Elite.
In the 16 and under division only three teams will represent those include the Nashville Celtics, winners of the 16 and under division at the Real Deal on the Rock, Team Nashville and the Knoxville Panthers.
The Celtics feature Kedren Johnson (Marshall County), who if healthy usually plays both 17's and 16's, and one of the most improved players in the entire state, Kendall "Ant Version 2.0" Anthony (Liberty Tech).
Team Nashville has surprised many with some sterling effort from sharp-shooting guard Weldon Garlington (Brentwood Academy) and steady inside play from the duo of Andre Brown (Clarksville Northwest) and Miles Davis (Webb School).
A tough draw for the Panthers as they tangle in Pool A with the host Atlanta Celtics. Cory Billingsly (Sweetwater) will need to make his presence felt and find some inside help from the likes of Joey Boedwig (Knoxville Catholic), Preston Vaught (Science Hill) and Chase Buckner (Union County).
The lone representative in the 15 and under division the Nashville Celtics will hope that they can play with a healthy squad for the first time this season.