It would seem as if the state of Mississippi has long been overlooked or bypassed in past years when it comes to basketball circles and recruiting. The truth of the matter is we actually are putting more players in the league in regards to our per capita than any other state in the COUNTRY. In an article written by Sports Ilustrated in 2004 we had 11 players in the NBA and a male population of 1.4 million, which solidifies what I’ve said about somebody needs to take note on what we’re doing down in “Da Dirty South”.
ESPNU has apparently taken note because they just recently updated their Top 1oo list for 2009 prospects, and we had 21 Mississippi players who are currently in high school, attending prep school, or in junior college on their list. They also ranked each class in which the class of 2010 we had 8 players, 2011 has 9 players, and 2012 has 4 players in their top 100. I have reported on some of these players and not on others so i will add what ESPN wrote about them on their site just to update everyone. Remember if you have players post the names in the comments section and get them some exposure, you’re not the only one reading this site, you could be the one to get him exposed.
Julysses Nobles 6’1″ 160lb PG Callaway H.S
ESPNU said: This quick and athletic lead guard is a terror in the open court. He attacks the rim in transition as well as in the half court with great confidence. Nobles finishes by flat out beating the defense to the rim. He also scores by hanging in the air and double clutching. He has great concentration on the rim as he attacks without fear. Nobles can knock down the open three when the defense backs away because of his ability to get into the lane. One hand floaters and slashes in between defenders are also executed with ease. He is a big time ball handler that can draw and kick to an open shooter. His passes are crisp and on the money. At end of clock or must score situations he can make a scoring play for himself or get a teammate a wide open look. Nobles applies great ball pressure and has the quickness to beat the offensive player to the spot. He must add strength in order to defend taller point guards, but this young man competes and plays with high energy every second he is on the floor.
Isaiah Canaan 5’11” 175lb PG Biloxi H.S
ESPNU said: Canaan is a true point guard. He is a good athlete that changes speeds and directions with ease. He also possesses excellent strength that allows him to finish through contact. Canaan pushes the ball in transition where he is at his best at finishing or finding the open man after drawing a second or third defender. Canaan is a good shooter from three but his mid-range game is what sets him apart. He can penetrate from the top or both wings to get off his pull up jumper. An excellent all around lead guard that can run the offense and be the coach on the floor.
Chris Brand 6’7″ 200lb. C Starkville H.S
Jontaveous Sulton 6’7″ 195lb. F Yazoo City H.S
ESPNU said: Sulton is extremely long and athletic. He plays hard and is very active on the floor. Sulton needs to develop his body and he needs to find a position on the floor. He is best suited to be a 4-man, but he does not play inside enough and he is not great at finishing with contact. At the same time, his skill level is not good enough to be a perimeter player. Currently, Sulton is a big time athlete and a big time talent. He needs to work on becoming a big time player.
John David Little 6’3″ 180lb. G Olive Branch H.S.
ESPNU said: Little is a versatile guard with good size and strength. He is a very good shooter that can score in transition as well as in the half court with his ability to get to the rim. Little is a good enough ball handler and passer to help at the point as well. He is a good athlete with excellent upside and will provide Middle Tennessee state with quality guard depth at he point and shooting guard positions as a freshman.
Andre Gowins 6’8″ 225lb. PF Gautier H.S
ESPNU said: Andre Gowins in a very unheralded big man with almost no national exposure. He is best described by sources in Mississippi as a “project”. Reportedly, he only averaged 5 points per game last season. Many were shocked that South Alabama offered him an early scholarship without waiting to see how he progressed during his senior season. Perhaps the Jaguar coaches think that Gowins is a true “diamond in the rough” and will improve. And he likely will. However, right now his most valuable attribute is his size and strong poweful body. With the national shortage of physical low post players, South Alabama appears willing to gamble that Gowins has the potential to become a solid mid-major post player. He needs much work to develop his all-around low post skills. So, time will tell.
Justin Hearn 6’7″ 205lb. PF Starkville H.S.
Keith Searcy 6’5″ 165lb. Guard/Forward Oxford H.S.
Jeremy Adams 6’5″ 215lb. G Madison Central H.S.
Conception Francisco 6’7″ PF Genesis One Prep
Josh Hollins 6’6″ 200lb SF Crystal Springs H.S.
Emery Kelly 6’6″ 205lb SF Provine H.S.
Nicos Norris 6’4″ 170lb. SG Genesis One Prep
Shaunessy Smith 6’6″ 200lb. SG Noxubee County H.S.
ESPNU said: Shaunessy Smith is perhaps the most under-the-radar, high talent player in the Class of 2009. He has incredible athletic abilities and very advanced guard skills. He actually can play both guard positions but will predominantly be at the second or off-guard position because of his excellent shooting and high scoring ability. As a junior, Smith was an All-State performer and averaged nearly 30 ppg., despite playing all season with a torn ligament in his right hip. In early May he had surgery to repair his hip and missed all of the summer basketball events. As a result very few have seen him play. According to his coach, T.J. Billups, Smith has recovered well and is back in the gym doing his hard workout and practice routines. He got his release to play on September 9. Coach Billups praises Smith’s work ethic, and high level all-around game. He is an incredible scorer from mid-range, and a high percentage three-point marksman. Smith can shoot well with either hand, and is a fine ballhandler, passer, and playmaker. Observers in Mississippi say that he has the talent and upside to become a “future pro”. Look for Smith to explode on the national scene this season. He had to tough it out playing with the hip injury last year. And now that he is 100% watch him go. Smith is a very low key, laid back young man off the court. But on the hardwood he is a fearless warrior, who rebounds, defends, scores, scrambles for loose balls, and does everything within his power to help his team win. He is a very unselfish, team-oriented player. His top schools now are Mississippi State, the school that has been on him the longest, Baylor, Mississippi, and Southern California. Do not be surprised if Smith is rated in the ESPNU 100 as he excels this season.
Latavious Williams 6’8″ 195lb. PF Christian Life Center Academy,TX. (Starkville H.S.)
ESPNU said: He is a tall, lanky, very athletic player who needs to get a lot stronger. He really jumps out of the gym but is not a very skilled player at this time. He has a big upside but needs strength desperately. All his points come around the basket, “garbage” guy at this time. He needs to develop skills, shooting, a post game, offensive moves, and a better understanding of the game. His athleticism far exceeds his skill set right now.
Jenirro Bush 6’7″ 180lb. SF UA Fort Smith CC(East Oktibbeha H.S.)
The 6-foot-7 sophomore played in 31 games last season and was the Lions’ third-leading scorer with 9.8 points per game. He averaged 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.7 steals per game. He shot 44 percent from the field, including 36 percent from 3-point range, and shot 69 percent from the free-throw line.
Rashanti Harris 6’8″ 240lb. PF The Patterson School,NC (New Hope H.S.)
ESPNU said: No one played with more intensity all weekend (2008 National Prep Showcase). He approaches the game with a strong work ethic and plays every possession like it is his last. Harris is a powerful, tough, athletic power forward who dominates the paint with his rebounding at both ends of the floor. On the defensive glass he puts his body on people then secures the ball with two hands looking for the the outlet pass. Offensively he attacks the backboard as if every shot is a miss and attempts to put back misses. His hands are extremely strong so as he powers the ball back up to the rim he carries opponents with him as he scores through the contact. To understand how powerful and strong he is, Harris took an offensive rebound and with his leaping ability went up with one step and slammed dunked it over a defender his size! Because he gets to the free throw line often with his tenacious style of play he must make an improvement with his FT percentage. He has a jumper that is solid from 15′ and will drive the ball going to his right from there as well. At Georgia State he should be a career double-double(points-rebounds) player.
Rashad Perkins 6’5″ 185lb. SF Starkville H.S.
ESPNU said: Perkins is a super athletic wing that can score in a variety of ways. He sprints the lane in transition and is looking to attack the rim. If he has an angle or step on the defender a big time dunk will be the final result. In the half court he is an excellent slasher with a nice mid range game as well. He’s a good, not great, shooter but is capable of getting on a roll from behind the arc and knocking down two or three in a row. He can drive either way but likes to shoot the pull up jumper or floater in the lane going to his right. When driving left he is usually trying to get all the way to the rim. He also moves well without the ball. Perkins likes to curl into the lane off a down screen and elevate into a turn shot in the middle of the lane. Also Perkins understands how to read dribble penetration and move into an open area for an uncontested three when his defender is forced to help. He is also a live body on the offensive glass. He is quick to the ball which makes him difficult to box out. The weight room along with being a consistent shooter behind the arc, are areas to improve in addition to having a better understanding of help side defense because at times he loses sight of the ball. Perkins is a player that can have a series of unbelievable possessions that could include a dunk in traffic, mid range pull up and a three. When he gets it going he is a treat to watch.
Andre Stringer 5’9″ 165lb. PG Forest Hill H.S.
ESPNU said: A scoring point that can slide over to the 2 guard spot in a small line up. He puts constant pressure on the defense with his attacking style. Stringer is always probing and looking to get into the heart of the defense. In transition he will pass ahead without delay or attack himself. Stringer has the ability to get to the basket and finish with either hand. He is good at scoring on twisting turning reverse lay ups on drives from the wing. His body control and concentration on the rim allow him to make these very difficult and contested shots. A good ball handler but is very right handed when he attacks in transition. Stringer has a great burst of speed after he makes his escape moves that include the right to left crossover and a great hesitation dribble where he raises the defender out of his defensive stance on a regular basis. He will shoot the three off the catch or dribble, not a great shooter but good enough to keep the defense honest. Very streaky, if the first three goes down rest assure another will soon follow. Plays with good confidence in his game and competes at all times. Stringer must work on limiting his turnovers. At times he will take risks with the ball trying to hit a home run like throwing a tough to catch lob pass or over penetrate and get stuck in the air. Overall Stringer is tough and talented.
Jalen Courtney 6’8″ 200lb PF Provine H.S.
ESPNU said: Courtney is a good athlete with a nice mid range game. He likes to operate in the high post area where he can shoot the 15-foot Jumper and make the high low pass to teammates in AAU, Johnny O’Bryant and Tyler Adams. Courtney is also a threat off the dribble. One of his favorite moves again from the high post area is the step back jumper that is set up with a hard left hand drive toward the rim. He does a great job of creating space to get the shot off. Good offensive rebounder and help side shot blocker. A very active player that made plays to help his team each time I saw him play.
Jeverik Nelson 6’8″ 195lb. PF Callaway H.S.
ESPNU said: A finisher in every sense of the word. Nelson is a very athletic power forward that is affective from 12-15 feet. He has good hands and footwork in the post. Nelson is an explosive vertical leaper that can take off from outside the lane and finish over defenders and through contact. The short corners on both sides of the court is the area he likes to hang out for drop off passes created by guard penetration. When he catches the ball and has an angle or clear path to the rim he becomes airborne immediately. Nelson is also a good driver from the high post area and deep corners along the baseline where his number one objective is to get to the rim. He has a knack for getting fouled because of his physical style and showed good touch from the free throw line. Defensive rebounding is strength. He snatches the ball at rim level outlets to the point guard and runs the floor with great urgency. Didn’t see him attempt any shots beyond 15 feet but after watching him shoot free throws he has a good release and follow through that suggest his range could be beyond what he displayed. Nelson seems to be a focused and composed player at all times. If he works on his skills and shooting range he could develop in a combo forward. Immediate impact player at the mid major level and role player for the high majors in the right fit.
Dundrecous Nelson 5’11” 165lb. G Murrah H.S.
Stephon Smith 6’7″ PF Provine H.S.
Marcellus Hansberry 6’0″ 165lb. PG Lanier H.S.
Kevin Nixon 6’2″ 175lb. G Heidelberg Academy H.S.
Tyler Adams 6’9″ 225lb. C Brandon H.S.
ESPNU said: Adams is a strong physical post with a wide body and long arms. He is a good athlete that showed limited bounce around the rim. Adams likes to score using power drop steps especially on the right low box where he finishes through contact. He also benefits greatly from guard penetration. He has good hands that allow him to catch bad passes and provide a positive outcome by scoring or getting fouled. Although still raw skill wise, Adams has a nice stroke at the free throw line where he displays good form and holds his follow through until he gets a result. Adams is potentially a good position defender because of his size and strength. At times he leaves his feet going for shot fakes or is out of position and allows his man to post deep into the lane. But when motivated he is a huge factor due to his physical style of play especially on the glass where he is a good defensive rebounder and weak side shot blocker. Adams must continue to develop his post moves and play harder on a consistent basis to go along with his size and strength.
Mychal Ammons 6’6″ 190lb. SF Vicksburg H.S.
ESPNU said: This young talented small forward has a great feel for how the game should be played. He does not force the action, allowing the flow of the game to come to him. He can and does make the 3-point shot although he excels in the middle game. When Ammons drives to the basket and pulls-up he has such great body control while he shoots over his defender. He rebounds on both ends of the floor with consistency. He handles the ball with confidence in transition or in the half court.
Rodney Hood 6’6″ 180lb. PG Meridian H.S.
ESPNU said: : Hood is another Mississippi product that has a bright future. Hood is a lefty combo-guard who has a plethora of talent, but is far from a finished product. Although he plays point guard on his AAU team, I foresee him being a versatile 3-man down the road. He has quite a burst going to the basket and he utilizes his length and athleticism to finish with regularity. His jump shot is solid as well as his handle, but he does have a propensity to go one-on-one too often.
Jeremy Newsome 6’4″ SF Gulfport H.S.
Johnny O’Bryant 6’9″ 215lb. PF Cleveland East Side H.S.
ESPNU said: O’Bryant has a long, athletic body with great hands and footwork that allows him to score inside and out. He sprints the middle of the floor or the outside lane in transition for layups or drives from the wing. In the low post, O’Bryant works extremely hard for position in order to catch the ball as close to the basket as possible. He does a great job making himself a big target for the passer by showing a target hand to indicate where he wants the ball and is constantly moving in a low athletic stance. His scoring moves are quick and fluid. On the left low box, he likes to shoot the turnaround jumper toward the middle of the lane after a quick fake to the baseline. On the right side of the floor, the low wing or the high post are the areas where O’Bryant will turn to face the basket before he shoots the 12 to 15 foot jumper. He will not hesitate to take the shot if the defender’s hands are down or he has backed off to take away the drive. He can be effective on the perimeter with his attacking drives along the baseline that starts with a jab fake to get the defender out of position. He will finish above the rim if the help-side defense is asleep. He can drive both ways but seems to be more comfortable going to his left, where he also has a spin move that ends in a fall-away jumper. The three ball is an option too with time and space. This aggressive, high-energy player rebounds on both ends of the floor and must be boxed out because of his hunger for putbacks on the offensive glass. He is a good defender who is not afraid to take a charge and works to deny his man in order to keep the ball out of the post. O’Bryant also has the lateral footwork to defend the drive. He must learn to stay under control. At times, he will try to do too much and make a costly turnover. He is a big-time talent with some Kevin Garnett tendencies on the offensive end of the floor.
Christian Robbins 6’9″ PF West Marion H.S.
Donovan Ross 6’4″ 165lb. SF Ridgeland H.S.
LaQuinton Ross 6’8″ 180lb. SF Murrah H.S.
ESPNU said: In the scouting business, evaluators ask this question to each other very often when observing players; “Is he a pro?” When asking this question about a player, “pro” refers to playing in the NBA, not simply just drawing a check playing basketball from any league. After taking a glimpse at Ross, he will become a “pro”, as long as he remains grounded and continues to work, a major question mark for many young players that achieve elite status early on. These players do not have another player to look to best, given the fact that they already rank as the top player. Instead, the challenge and motivation to become the best has to come from within, the mark of a truly great player, which Ross can become if he remains focused and hungry. Ross has an effortless, smooth offensive game and rarely changes expression, which may erroneously give off the impression that he does not play hard. He just possesses an array of skills that makes the game come very easy to him. Ross has range well beyond the 3-point line and he will shoot the pull-up from beyond the land of 3. He has textbook form, with a great follow-through and a nice, high release point on his jumper. He only misses when he does not finish his shot, drops his hands as opposed to holding his follow-through and he fades away. Ross also handles the ball very well and can easily get to the rim with his quick first step. His ball-handling skills allow him to get to the paint with ease even when defenders try to get up in him and apply ball pressure. Ross has the lift, length, and shooting ability to get off a mid-range pull-up jumper almost at will, but he does not utilize this portion of his game as much as he should. When he gets in the paint and not all the way to the rim, Ross has a tendency to negate his length and make himself smaller and easier to defend by adjusting in the air multiple times as opposed to going right up over defenders. He will become an even better finisher as he matures and add strength to his rather thin frame. Ross also does a good job of not forcing the issue, despite his immense offensive gifts. He drives the ball and dishes out to open teammates to easy shots.
Deville Smith 5’11” 160lb. G Callaway H.S.
ESPNU said: Smith is a true scoring point guard that can expose the defense in a number of ways. He is tough, aggressive and competes at all times. He can score in the open court in the blink on an eye with his speed and quickness to the basket. He can knock the three with ease. He has deep range and great confidence. Smith can stop and pop on a dime or raise the defender with his laundry list of dribble moves. He likes to go behind his back charge directions and explode to the basket. He ball handling and passing is flawless and he has a good feel for the game. Smith has the ability to get on a role and score in bunches. He can also draw and kick or start a penetration at will. Smith is a quick hands defender and does a great job of playing passing lanes. At the end of the clock or late in the game Smith, along with backcourt teammate Julysses Nobles, make winning plays. Smith must hit the weight room to help him prepare for the college level but his skill and ability to score and handle pressure for a sophomore is a treat to watch.
Twymond Howard 6’5″ 175lb. SF Pearl H.S.
Ladarius White 6’5″ 175 PG McComb H.S.