The Sixth Annual Memphis vs. Atlanta Roundball Classic is right around the corner. The event is scheduled for Saturday, December 7th, 2013 at Lausanne Collegiate School in East Memphis.
Memphis schools have something to prove, having gone winless for the last three (3) classics. Memphis won the first two times (2008 and '09), Atlanta won the next two (2010 and '11) while the cities split in 2012. With six (6) games on tap Saturday, Atlanta teams could leave the Bluff City tied once again this year before the event returns to Georgia next winter.
As always, the games are about match-ups.
The opening contest of the event pits Georgia private school power Paideia versus Tennessee private schools small division champs Lausanne. This game should come right down to the wire as each team is working through the kinks and trying to round into shape for league play. The young Paideia Pythons have only three (3) seniors on their roster, while Lausanne has only two (2). The Lynx will have home court advantage, plus the athleticism of senior Joseph Williams, a 6'6" jumping jack who is a Division II prospect, and the brute strength of Isaiah Stokes, the 6'7", 250-lb. younger brother of Tennessee All-America candidate Jarnell Stokes. Isaiah looks every bit as skilled as his big brother and will eventually end up on a high Division I campus.
At 2:30, Pebblebrook challenges Briarcrest Christian Academy. The Pebblebrook Falcons have a really nice D-I guard in Ty Hudson, a 6'2", 180-lb. lefty combo guard in the Class of 2015 with several low D-I schools like Samford after him. Tennessee has monitored him, as well as Alabama-Birmingham. With a strong junior campaign, he could catch the eyes of some larger schools. Briarcrest counters with four really talented (though extremely young) prospects of their own. Point guard Mark French has an offer from Gonzaga. 6'5" guard/forwards Micah Thomas and Maceo Woodard both have high Division I upside. Forward Will Hrubes (6'4", 195) is skilled, physical and athletic. All of the young pups are sophomores.
Next up is an intriguing clash between the Westlake Lions and Houston Mustangs. Westlake is one of the best programs in all of Georgia year-after-year, while Houston is trying to make the step into the elite of Tennessee and is coming off a runner-up performance at the recently concluded 43rd Annual MLK Invitational in Memphis. Powering Westlake are wing Domonic Joseph (6'4", 185), point guard Raymond Saunders (6'0", 160) and swingman Tyler Williams (6'4", 195). All are seniors and have won at a high level for their entire prep careers. Houston counters with guards Marlon Hunter (6'3", 180), Jerry Johnson, Jr. (6'2", 205) and Josh Davis (5'10", 155), plus forward Sasha Sobolev (6'8", 195). All except Hunter are seniors while Hunter is a junior. Hunter is the most underrated player in the city of Memphis and a true high D-I candidate with Arkansas among the SEC schools watching his progress. This should be a rugged, highly competitive ball game.
A very intriguing match-up comes next, between a pair of programs looking to make a name for themselves in this event. The Stephenson Jaguars have gotten off to a fast start and look to continue building momentum when they challenge the Bolton Wildcats. Stephenson has several strong college prospects while Bolton is disciplined and scrappy with a team full of plus shooters. The player with the most potential, and who has the most Division I coaches drooling over him, is Bolton's splendid pass-first point guard Jaylen Fisher. Fisher is a triple-double waiting to happen with his flashy ball-handling, incredible court vision and spectacular passes. Trebor Jackson is a deadly spot-up shooter who benefits from Fisher's ability to play drive-and-kick.
In the 7:00 p.m. semi-feature game, Tucker brings a band of hard-nosed Tigers into the Bluff City to do battle with the always tough Ridgeway Roadrunners. Tucker is led by physical shooting guard Shembari Phillips (6'4", 185), a junior who shot onto the national consciousness this year with a great summer of AAU ball. He holds offers from Ole Miss and Tulane while several other SEC and C-USA schools are showing interest. Point guard Hakeem Coney (6'1", 175) has been hearing from schools such as Charlotte, Dayton, Seton Hall and VCU. Ridgeway is undefeated early despite the annual prediction of their demise. Four-time state champion head coach Wes Henning has re-loaded once again behind seniors point guard Keion Peoples and two-guard Kevin Shields (6'3", 180) as well as some strategic transfers. Among those new to the program are young, athletic forward Eric Curry (6'6", 185), point guard Javion Hamlet (6'1", 165) (both from Melrose High School) and recently enrolled forward Terrance Smith (6'7", 180) from Sheffield. The Roadrunners have excellent size and length, and the transfers lend an extra dose of athleticism to a team that looks to be rounding into shape earlier than expected. Expect a physical, defense-oriented game that should nevertheless be very entertaining to the fans.
In the 8:30 featured finale, the Columbia Eagles fly into town with an impressive state championship resume' and do battle with the Mitchell Tigers. Columbia has been to the state title game in their classification (3-A since 2008, 4-A from 2005-'07) since 2005 and have five (5) titles during that time frame. They are led by junior guard Bryce Brown (6'3", 180), a hot prospect in the Class of 2015 being recruited by East Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast and South Alabama. 6'6", 200-lb. forward Maurice Rivers has signed with Rice. The Eagles are not a huge team but boast five (5) players on their roster between 6'4" and 6'6". They are among the favorites to win Georgia Class AAA once again this season. Mitchell is a prohibitive favorite in Tennessee Class A this winter with their generous war chest of talent. They have a pair of Division I caliber athletes: Jeremiah Martin and Khalil Spencer. Martin (6'2", 165) turned heads with his play this summer and the growing consensus is that the lefty combo guard could end up on the high D-I level. He has an offer from Cleveland State, who feel they won't get him because bigger schools continue to circle. Spencer (6'4", 185) is a rugged, physical specimen who would be a perfect power forward if he had a few more inches. His ball-handling continues to improve, though, and he's such a heady, instinctive ball player that he makes the people around him better. Both will have D-I college scholarships when they graduate in 2015. This should certainly be the best game of the event as the teams are very similar to one another. The clash could be an instant classic.
For further details about the event, contact organizer and promoter Revelle Williams, 770-906-7771.
Sixth Annual Memphis vs. Atlanta Roundball Classic Lausanne Collegiate School, 1381 West Massey Road, Memphis, TN, 38120 Saturday, December 7, 2013
1:00 p.m. Paideia, GA vs. Lausanne, TN 2:30 p.m. Pebblebrook, GA vs. Briarcrest, TN 4:00 p.m. Westlake, GA vs. Houston, TN 5:30 p.m. Stephenson, GA vs. Bolton, TN 7:00 p.m. Tucker, GA vs. Ridgeway, TN 8:30 p.m. Columbia, GA vs. Mitchell, TN